It has been suggested to this blog to ask Mark Warner on what were/are the eating arrangements at the Ocean Club.
We decided to take the suggestion one further degree up: we “asked” those that have used it.
These are reviews covering about 4 years. Before, during and after Maddie disappeared.
As nothing has changed there is NO evidence that the Tapas Bar was ever included as an alternative to the Mill.
As nothing has changed there is NO evidence that the Tapas Bar was ever included as an alternative to the Mill.
I'm sure someone would be sharp enough to find that out if it was available, even those not complaining about poor standard of food at the Mill if only for a change of scenery.
On these kind of holidays (spread out facilities) it's standard practice to feed everyone at the same place. Meals are cooked in bulk for economy of scale.
As the Tapas Bar Sheets don't show a full Tapas Bar in any of the nights (not even Quiz Night!).... where were those people who didn't want to trudge to the Mill?
You be the judge on where the meals were supposed to be, what was included, what were the various alternatives to Mill, etc. Let's read what people had to say:
Review # 01
Date of review: 25 Jul 2006
“were on a half board basis and I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to buffets but the food was superb. The millennium restaurant had a great selection of food which changed every night. You got good quality wine included in the price and the staff were very helpful and friendly. We did eat at the a la carte Tapas restaurant but preferred the selection and quality of food in the millennium. ”
Review # 02
Date of review: 21 Jul 2006
“We had opted for the Half Board option and dined in the Millenium Club. We cannot express how impressed we were . We had imagined queing up for our food like we have at other buffet style meals. We never had to q for a table or for the food which was lovely and very varied, the dining room staff are very friendly and very efficient and the meal times are managed extremely well.
If you are not staying for lunch there are certain areas that you can’t sit in as the poolside area is mainly reserved for guests that are dining there, however we soon realised that you don’t have to pre book. Compared to the cafes on the beach front it was very expensive to eat there.”
Review # 03
Date of review: 19 May 2006
“We stayed for one week in early May 2006 and although the weather was sunny all week, it did get cold at night, so you might want to consider taking a jumper or coat for evenings out.
Our party went half-board and we found there was a nice selection of buffet style food provided to suit most tastes.
Morning breakfasts are served until 10am and consist of a selection of fresh fruits, tea and coffee, cereal, fresh juices, toast and spreads and a traditional English breakfast option. We had to walk 5 minutes from our apartment to the restaurant, (The Ocean Club Resort is that big) which was fine for most of our party, but anyone with walking difficulties might not be so happy about It. ”
At evening meals, the food had a different theme each night e.g. Mediteranean, Seafood, Portuguese, BBQ night etc. This usually consisted of soup, a selection of salads, sauces, bread and warm food, including meat dishes, vegetable dishes, and the usual rice, chips, or potatoes. Even if you are a fussy eater, or vegetarian, you should find something you enjoy. ”
The desserts didn't change much, but even so, there was a nice selection of chocolate mouse, chocolate cake, fruit salad and other sweet dishes. Some evenings had a little entertainment put on too. One night we had a magician entertain us and on barbeque night, we had a large group of traditional Portuguese dancers visit (who were very good). But generally, it was fairly low-key.”
Review # 04
Date of review: 24 Aug 2007
“we did use the Millennium pool (the nearest to us) and ate at the snack bar during the day on a few occasions because you cannot take your own food in, but found it to be very expensive”
Review # 05
Date of review: 29 Sep 2007
“Mark Warner do Half Board including watersport. Thomas Cook do Self Catering. We can compare MW and TC bookings.
My only snag about this brilliant resort is that depending on your room and board basis, you may have to walk quite far to breakfast and dinner”
Review # 06
Date of review: 15 Sep 2007
“We had a marvellous holiday despite our concerns over the awfully sad Maddie situation. The Millenium was alright but certainly not as good as some of the local restaurants especially the two opposite the church”
Review # 07
Date of review: 9 Sep 2007
“The Millenium restaurant where breakfast is served is a 5-10 minute walk away but the road has a pavement and I did not feel unsafe at any time walking along it. The breakfasts are the same every morning as they are in most establishments and whilst this is the case, they have a great selection of fruit, cereal, toast, pastries, cooked breakfast and continental style breakfasts which never disappoint. The evening meals which are served in the same restaurant can be quite samey but whilst we were there they had an italian night, a BBQ night and a Portuguese night so there is a lot of effort made and in the deal which we went on you can swap dinner for lunch giving you the opportunity to try the local restaurants for a change.”
Review # 08
Date of review: 27 Aug 2007
“Yep, this is the same resort where Madeleine McCann was abducted. The streets are NOT good for a buggy because you have to hug the walls as you walk about 10 mins to the Millennium Restaurant. The food at the Millennium was okay, you'll find something to eat but it is Britishfied meaning you'll find sausages and chips on the dinner menu. Breakfasts are boring and that's when you have to make the trek to the Millennium! Foodwise, I HIGHLY suggest going to some of the restaurants near the Church and along the beachside.”
Review # 09
Date of review: 9 May 2008
“Mark Warner Ocean Village: set up on 3 sites, with accommodation doted around the resort, which I believe is privately rented from owners. Far too difficult to get between sites, up and down cobblestone hills and alleys, to get from accommodation/breakfast/kids clubs/tennis/beach/dinner etc....
Food: wasted money booking half board when it is for 5 of your 7 nights stay, only 3 choices of a la carte per evening with no REAL choice ( pasta/risotto or battered calamari anyone?).”
Review # 10
Date of review: 6 May 2008
“Relatively quiet as early season (despite the Maddy McCann papparazi !). TERRIBLE food at the Millenium restaurant. School dinners. If this is included in your price, budget to eat elsewhere. Will def be back to Portugal, and maybe even with MW if we want the childcare, just be prepared to eat out or cook for yourself. ”
Review # 11
Date of review: 2 Oct 2007
“Our half board option with free wine was very good but we decided to eat one evening at the Fortaleza de Luz, which is opposite the church. ”
Review # 12
Date of review: 13 Jul 2008
“Basically restaurant - awful , rest - fantastic. A few tips about the restaurant: Firstly breakfast......
Dinner is worse , in part because despite what it says in the brochure it isn't buffet style , so there is normally a long delay before it makes it to your table, if it gets there at all......and when it does often you wish it hadn't. So by the time you have finished it is too late to go and raid the supermarket. Menus come and go quite quickly because for some bizarre reason they don't have very many. The waiters are very good at bringing extra bread because they appreciate you are hungry. The waiters are all very nice people, they are let down badly by something in the system, and some guests complained quite vocally to them . My advice would be to make sure you have had plenty to eat before you go there. . . or better still go to a proper restaurant. ”
Review # 13
Date of review: 5 Jul 2008
“Unfortunately we were half board! It took us an hour to find the millenium....The waiting staff were running around like headless chickens but not actually doing anything & they cater for 100 but they only have 5 menus! you have to wait your turn.
Review # 14
Date of review: 29 Jun 2008
“Having read previous reviews I was concerned when I arrived at the resort about what to expect, particularly from the half board option. The food was absolutely amazing. Apparently a new chef was brought in very recently, and I can honestly say the food served at the Millennium restaurant was one of the highlights of our holiday. They encourage guests to socialise and by the end of the week lots of families and couples were dining with friends they had made during the week. ”
Review # 15
Date of review: 4 Jun 2008
“I couldn't fault our very well kitted out apartment though was right at the back of the resort, but handy 2min to the restaurant. As other reviewers have said, the Millenium restaurant was serving mediocre school dinners. We were on half board. Bland overcooked/reheated food, no veg, rather like school dinners along with overpriced wine, in the background there were hectic harassed waiting staff even though the dining room wasn't particulary full. we did manage to escape & eat out”
Review # 16
Date of review: 20 May 2008
“Our half board option was a waste of money as the food in the millenium restaurant was awful to say the least.
The poor restaurant waiters have to take the flak from complaining clients daily -morning and evening, considering this is an activities based holiday you do need your food but it is awful and reading the reviews on here it has been for some time? Warning - Mark Warner clients and I include anyone going with Thomas Cook don't go to the Millenium restaurant in Praia da Luz for the food try to negotiate not half board!! ”
Review # 17
Date of review: 1 Sep 2008
“Bit of a trek getting to the restaurant / beach (about 10 minutes in each case) but only a small negative. ”
Review # 18
Date of review: 17 Jul 2008
“.........we booked half board with Thomas Cook. The food and service at the Millenium restaurant at Ocean Club was dreadful. We booked 7 nights to eat an evening meal at the restaurant, however, on a Saturday its a welcome buffet for Mark Warner, Sunday its a "bonding dinner" for Mark Warner and Tuesday it's closed ! As said in earlier reviews the staff were only interested in Mark Warner guests. The Portuguese reception staff were very helpful but their English counterparts let them down at the restaurant.”
Review # 19
Date of review: 6 Feb 2009
“ The Ocean Club is a vast spread out complex”
Review # 20
Date of review: 14 Sep 2008
“.....only about a 7 minute walk to the main eating area. The food provided under the Mark Warner package (breakfast daily and 5 evening meals per week) was really delicious - plenty of variety (although perhaps a little less if you are vegetarian) and all food really well cooked. The Portuguese evening (Thursdays) and BBQ (Fridays) are well worth going to. ”
Review # 21
Date of review: 12 Sep 2008
“We were a bit concerned having seen the comments about the Mill Restaurant, and were quite prepared to abandon it and eat at the local restaurants.....In practice we needn't have worried. We enjoyed all the meals at the Mill"
Review # 22
Date of review: 10 Aug 2009
“Only negative thing is the price of food and drinks at the tapas bar”
Review # 23
Date of review: 17 Jun 2009
“Our package with MW gave us all breakfasts (good), 5 dinners (also pretty good), but no lunches.”
Review # 24
Date of review: 23 Aug 2010
“Oh and there's a restaurant too, and half board included in the price.
The centre of the whole holiday is the Ocean Club and the 'Mill' restaurant. It has a tough job on its hands. In the morning it is the breakfasting, booking and meeting point for the days activities. From late morning onwards it is the poolside bar for the main pool and light lunch venue. Then, by evening it transforms again to become an a la carte restaurant and bar area
One evening we sat at the Mill eating pork tenderloin listening to two Crooners singing Frank Sinatra songs. It was like sitting in one of those ex-pat colonies in Spain or anywhere where English people retire. It was the start for me of what developed into 'Mill fever". a desire to escape,
We ended up eating elsewhere and coming back to the Mill later to socialise and for the kids to tear around with their mates. We'd be interested in talking to Mark Warner about doing less meals at the Mill and more out and about.”
Review # 25
Date of review: 15 Jul 2010
“We were on half board through Thomas Cook and this apartment was 10-15 mins walk, a lot of that uphill to get to restaurant, not good when the temperatures are in the high 30's, common sense says not to put people on half board that far from restaurant. We complained to Rep at welcome meeting who said nothing could be done until the Monday and she told us to go to Main Reception which we did and they told us to come back at 4pm, this went on for 3 days, we went to see Rep again on the Thursday who said she would contact reception again, I gave her my mobile number to save us going back to reception, I am still waiting for her to contact me, we went back to reception that evening to be told there was nothing unless we paid 150 euros, ”
Review # 26
Date of review: 10 Jul 2010
“We were on half board which was at the Mill restaurant”
Review # 27
Date of review: 19 Sep 2010
“The half board is good value as the restaurant was very good. ”
Review # 28
Date of review: 2 Sep 2010
“We went half board and quickly found that they only served food in the millenium restaurant which was about 15 mins walk there and back for breakfast and dinner. When you go for evening dinner, it's only a buffet on Saturdays, the rest is choose one of the four options”
Review # 29
Date of review: 27 Aug 2010
“I would not recommend going for half board, especially if you are on the other side of town from the Mill”