Last year, Visit Croatia holidayed at the Amadria Park resort with her young family. See what she – and the rest of the family – thought in this review!
If you’ve read our review of Jet2 Holidays and the dilemma of choosing a holiday destination, we’ll fast forward to the conclusion that we ended up booking a week’s holiday in July at the four-star Hotel Jakov, part of the Amadria Park resort near Sibenik. Off we set – waaaay too early for a Sunday morning, it has to be said – on our breezy 2-hour flight from London Stansted to Split.
I’m always amazed by how wonderful landing in Croatia is – once you’re in Croatian airspace, the view from a plane is truly spectacular with a gorgeous view of the stunning coastline and the many, many islands and islets and beautiful towns below. And such was the case on a beautifully sunny summer’s day in Split. Whisked through the airport relatively quickly with a bit of time to admire the new airport building, our transfer coach was waiting outside for all of us Jet2 Holiday holidaymakers. On this particular journey, we had a total of 3 stops with Amadria Park guests alighting at the final destination – making it about an hour’s transfer time from the airport.
Checking In…or not
Now, at this point, we encountered probably the biggest problem of our holiday. Sunday is clearly a big guest turnover day and the lobby was filled to the brim with new guests waiting to check in and be allocated their rooms. The Hotel Jakov is termed a “family hotel” so as well as plenty of adult guests there were many, many children of various ages and in various stages of behavioural boredom. And what with the hotel being full of families, all manner of family-related items were also in the lobby – prams, pool inflatables, bags of nappies, that sort of thing.
Despite the inconvenience, there was an orderly queuing system and the young staff were staying calm in typically insouciant Croatian fashion, managing to cope with the situation. They also placated us guests with glasses of a fizzy little something.
We probably waited over an hour before we were finally able to check in – not at all ideal after a longish day of travelling and a very early morning start. As an apology, we were given a free dinner for our party at the hotel restaurant – which worked out for the first night anyway, with us not wanting to stray to far or think to hard about what to eat.
Rooms at the Amadria Park Hotel Jakov
After all the check-in palaver, we were delighted to finally be given the key cards to our room. And a lovely room it was! We had opted for the 31m. sq. family room, which was ideal for two adults and two kids. The room had a smart, modern and welcoming decor and included a small balcony with a view of the hotel grounds.
If you’ve travelled with kids, you’ll likely know that kids and adults and hotel rooms are a terrible mix – no one wants to go to bed at an appropriate time, no one can relax properly and something bonkers like the adults “hiding” in the bathroom whilst the kids try to fall asleep always ends up happening. So a separate space for kids to sleep in is a must…which is exactly what this hotel room had.
With a bunk bed right by the room entrance (where there was also space for a baby cot), the main double bed in the room is down a narrowish hallway – past the bathroom – and well away from sleeping kids. A highly appreciated solution to give the younger holidaymakers and the older holidaymakers some space so everyone can rest appropriately.
Pool Area and Amenities
Although the pool area is nicely laid out with space for a good number of loungers, it did always feel busy. There are two smallish freshwater pools (right next to each other) and a smaller baby pool off to one side. We tended to sit by the baby pool which was a lot quieter and where it was always easy to find some lounger space – and shaded space at that, under sun umbrellas and trees.
The pools themselves were perhaps a little on the small side given the number of guests, and aside from swimming and bobbing around on their own inflatables, kids amused themselves by throwing themselves off a small rocky display next to one of the pools. Kids being kids, and all!
There was a beach bar where simple snacks (sandwiches and salads), freezer ice creams and drinks could be obtained which was very welcome in the heat. A suggestion to the hotel would be to have an ice cream menu on display – no one ever seemed to understand what we wanted (and everyone spoke English) but an ice cream is an ice cream…right?!
Part of the Amadria Park resort is the Aquapark Dalmatia waterpark, which you can see (and most definitely hear!) if you’re staying at the Hotel Jakov.
The waterpark is fairly small as far as waterparks go, with a lazy river, several jacuzzis, a large rain “fortress” with six water slides, a “kids zone” with smaller water slides and a number of smaller pools ideal for younger guests.
The waterpark cost €26.60 for adults and €13.30 for children “between 90cm and 120cm” in height which we felt was too much for what it actually was, although probably in line with these sorts of attractions! This was a discount from €33.33 and €16.67 for non-hotel guests. (Note: these are all 2022 prices)
A nice touch would have been to give us one free waterpark day as hotel guests. As it was, we weren’t tempted to return later in the week after spending the majority of one day there and given the price.
Note: AquaPark Dalmatia is also open to non-Amadria Park guests
Kids Club and Activities
There was a daily kids club at the Hotel Jakov (shared with the Hotel Andrija) which you could dip into as you wanted with your kids, I believe for those aged 4 and above. Housed in two little huts by the playground, it seemed to be well-staffed by young, enthusiastic adults going through the usual childcare activities of games and crafts. The kids club was included in the hotel price; private babysitting also seemed to be on offer for €33.35 per hour (2022 price).
The playground itself was also a welcome draw – reasonably large with a number of fun climbing frames, slides and similar. It certainly drew the kids in the evenings once the temperature was cooler!
A hotel mascot – a bear – popped up occasionally at the hotel, either delighting or frightening children (depending on their temperament). This same bear would also delight/frighten the kids on the daily train parade that ran a route from next to the Aquapark along the main promenade.
There were additional daily entertainment activities, including yoga on the beach, t-shirt/bag painting at Sweet Dreams Cake Shop (for an extra charge), aqua aerobics and aqua fun, and a pirate competition – whatever that may be – on the minigolf course.
The welcoming, large dining room at the Hotel Jakov is open for a buffet breakfast and buffet dinner. Our booking only included breakfast and we found the breakfast options plentiful – cereals, cooked breakfast, pancakes and sweet treats, fruits, yoghurts, continental cold plate breakfast options, juices, hot drinks…the list goes on.
There was more than enough food supplied and replenished throughout the breakfast session, plenty of seating for hotel guests (indoor and outdoor) and enough baby chairs for little ones.
Dinner was again buffet style – although not part of our booking, we received a free dinner the first night and had the option to pay for other nights if we wanted to. This was less of a hit for us – the choice and portions were more limited, and we never returned after that first night.
So, where else to eat? Well, the Amadria Park resort is huge with a number of other eating options dotted around the resort – from fast food (burgers) to a pizza/pasta-style cafe to more high-end dining. We tried a number of these and although perhaps on the pricey side, all served good food and we welcomed the fact that we had these choices just a short walk from our hotel.
In particular, the Dalmatian Ethno Village is a treat for the final night of your holiday – the little village showcases a typical Dalmatian village from many moons ago. The menu as well offers garden-to-plate cooking, and the bread, cheese, olive oil and brandy are all made by hand using original tools. A very tasty meal was had here, with some good wine options too.
We personally also ate off-site a few nights – once at a restaurant just by the resort, another time in Sibenik.
Every early evening a kids’ mini disco seemed to spark up by the neighbouring Hotel Andrija with hotel employees doing their best to inject a bit of fun into the location whilst some younger guests played football. (Because of course that’s what some boys do!)
Probably the most spectacular bit of entertainment we enjoyed during our week was a “train” (the resort’s motorised train vehicle) that summoned guests over to the Mediterranean Square, Pied Piper-style. Once there, an actually DJ-controlled disco started – still suitable for young ones – with dramatic disco lights, fantastically dressed dancers and performers including a fire-eating lady. A great atmosphere!
Amadria Park – Family Hotel versus Kids Hotel
As I’ve mentioned, the Hotel Jakov terms itself a “family hotel” in contrast to its next-door-neighbour, the four-star Hotel Andrija which is billed as a “kids hotel”.
What’s the difference? Well, I’d say that the Hotel Jakov is aimed at adults with young kids that want to stay at a nice hotel with pretty decor and great amenities that also caters to and thinks of its young guests.
From what I could see of the Hotel Andrija – we often went to its outdoor bar for an evening ice cream – that hotel fully targets its young visitors with child-friendly decor and furnishings, and amenities such as a gaming room. (Yes, really!)
Personally, the Hotel Jakov is much more my style!
The Amadria Park Resort as a whole
The resort is huge – but not in a way that overwhelmed us or ever felt too crowded. It is home to five hotels AND a camping resort at one end, plus mobile homes dotted around. There are numerous cafes and restaurants and other attractions such as the En Vogue Beach Club. The resort is so large, that we didn’t even have the time to fully explore all it had to offer!
(It has to also be said, we were not on the kind of holiday where a beach club would have fitted in!)
I haven’t even mentioned some of the other features and amenities of the resort such as the entertaining mini golf course, the outdoor cinema on the beach, bumper cars, bike rental, tennis lessons, the sweet shop and the very useful on-site mini supermarket. Or even really talked about the beach!
To rectify that here, the beach (pebbly, of course) offers loungers and beach umbrellas that must be paid for, although of course, you can sit yourself down anywhere else. The shallow, calm waters are ideal for kids, and there’s a lifeguard on duty for safety as well. There is also a large inflatable “fun park” a little distance out which was clearly enjoyed by kids and big kids alike.
Another big draw was the lovely seaside promenade which is the main path along the resort. As well as being the main way to get between the different hotels, restaurants and the like, it was a lovely walk particularly in the evening as the sun was setting.
Overall, I’m a big fan of the Amadria Park resort and I would say it is definitely suitable for a family holiday. I would certainly return for a future vacation!
Note: This is NOT a sponsored post, and Visit Croatia paid for the entire holiday. All thoughts in this review are Visit Croatia’s own and not influenced by any company.