“ Address: Plaza de Pradollano s/n / 18196 Sierra Nevada / Granada / Spain „
The Hotel Melia is a 4 star hotel in the middle of the Sierra Navada national park in the Andalucía region of Spain. I visited during February, and as such I am reviewing it entirely from the perspective of a hotel in the ski resort, although I am sure that it is equally attractive during the summer months. The hotel is located right in the heart of the village - actually called Pradollano, although many people refer to it simply as Sierra Nevada. Pradollano is also known as Sol y Nieve, which means 'sun and snow' in Spanish. Pradollando itself is a small but lively village perched on a hillside. Many of the bigger hotels are located much higher up the hill and accessed by a chair lift, a steep road or a set of 90 steps. The Melia is one of the few larger hotels which are set right next to the major cable cars and give direct access to the slope without having to walk a long way. In addition, all the bars, restaurants and shops are only a few steps away from the main hotel entrance, making it ideal in many ways. The hotel itself is large and comfortable, with 221 rooms, two bars, a spa centre and a big team of professional and friendly staff. My one week half board stay was very comfortable, with the only down-side being the overwhelming heat in the bedrooms; something that a quick browse through Trip Advisor will confirm is a problem for nearly all of visitors. ~~Welcome~~ We entered the hotel through gleaming glass revolving doors which were being energetically polished by a uniformed employee. The lobby was very Spanish in style, with dark carved wood and terracotta flooring and heavy dark furniture. There were 3 members of staff on reception and we were immediately shown to our room which was on the 7th floor. Our bags were taken upstairs by the porter and we were given two card keys for the door to the room. All of the staff spoke reasonable English and were very helpful and professional. ~~The Room~~ The room itself had a beautiful view of the snow-covered mountains, with double patio doors leading out onto the large balcony. Floor to ceiling curtains covered the doors and a black-out curtain inside the heavy decorative curtains ensured a good nights sleep. The room was tastefully decorated in a deep ochre colour on the bedspread, curtains and carpets. Once again the style was Spanish, with dark wood headboards on the beds, plain wooden floors and dark wooden furniture. Inside there was a large double bed, which was made up of two large singles pushed together. This bed was firm and very comfortable and had an adjustable side light on the wall on each side of the bed. There was also a small wall mounted shelf on either side of the bed to hold books, etc. A big desk with a chair contained information and writing material; a flat screen TV on the wall had a variety of channels and a good remote; and a very large wardrobe was built into the lobby area which led to the bedroom and contained the en-suite bathroom. Indside the wardrobe was a safe, the code of which could be set by the guest. A smaller round table had two comfortable chairs. A mini bar was well stocked and had a child lock which could be set if necessary. The wardrobe which is next to the double bed turned out to be a very comfortable, pull-down third bed. Slightly larger than a single bed, this was a very impressive and inventive addition to the room - I didn't even realise it was there for the first two nights! My son slept on this bed once when he wanted a bit of respite from his crowded teenage shared room, and he found it extremely solid and had a very good night's sleep. The en-suite bathroom was spacious, containing a full sized bath, overhead shower, bidet and large sink. The shower always has plenty of hot water and a very clean and very water tight glass partition. The flow was strong, and didn't seem to be affected at peak times. A complimentary bathroom kit supplied shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, a sewing kit, cotton buds and a selection of other essential items that a guest may have forgotten. A very large mirror on the wall and a smaller magnifier mirror were very adequate, but the hair dryer was the type that was fixed to the wall, much like the hairdryers found in swimming pools. This hair dryer started up immediately the nozzle was lifted up, and only had one setting - blastingly hot. Although not perfect, I found it adequate - but friends complained that it was too harsh and dried out their hair. There was a free wifi connection all through the hotel and this was very reliable and very fast. A telephone by the bed allowed connection with other rooms as well as the ability to order room service. As I have mentioned previously, there was one very major problem with our room; the overwhelming heat that come from the one radiator in the room. The weather outside was obviously very cold; the snow was thick and the skiing good - but despite this we had to turn off the radiator and sleep with the balcony doors wide open all night. Even with these measures we found the level of heating overwhelming and soporific - there was no escape and it took away all our energy and disrupted sleep every night. ~~The Restaurants~~ There are two restaurants in the hotel; an a la carte restaurant downstairs which is also open to the public, and a buffet restaurant on the second floor in which most of the guests eat breakfast and their evening meal. We did not try the a la carte restaurant at all as our stay was half board, but we all found the buffet restaurant delicious. The restaurant itself is huge, with large windows looking out of the front of the hotel. The staff set up a table for 12 which was reserved for our group during the entire stay, both morning and evening. The restaurant has tiled floors and a large counter at the front where food is cooked to order by chefs in white uniforms. In the middle of the floor are three oblong counters, each holding different types of food. The restaurant is self service, all you can eat Andalucian food. Breakfast consist of omelettes, eggs and bacon cooked to order at the front to your taste, with pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt and cereals, cheese and meats - all on the central counters. In the evenings there was a choice of two or three meats and one or two fish dishes, cooked to order at the front. In addition, on central counter held a vast selection of starters which included the most enormous prawns and crayfish, as well as typical Spanish starters such as Gaspacio. Another counter held a very varied selection of salads and breads, whilst another held cheeses, olives and meats. The waiter served wine and other drinks to the table, and these were put onto the bill. We all thoroughly enjoyed every meal we ate in this restaurant; the variety of food was broad enough to give us a large choice every night for a week and the quality was excellent. ~~The Pool, Spa and Gym~~ The pool and spa complex was free to all guests and we enjoyed it every evening after a hard day's skiing. The complex was on the third floor and organised in a very professional way, with elegant uniformed spa assistants. Guests usually put on the white robes provided in the rooms and took the lift directly to the complex dressed in their swim suits. Wearing a swimming cap is compulsory throughout the pool and spa, and orange swim caps are sold by the pool receptionist at 3 euros each. These too are added to the bill although you can bring your own cap if you are organised enough. Each guest has to sign in and is presented with a very large white towel - these are left behind after the swim. The large male and female changing rooms both have a large number of lockers where you can leave robes and valuables. These, like the room safe and ski lockers, have a programmable code which can be entered individually by each guest. The pool is fairly big and has a jacuzzi section as well as several fountains which can pummel your back. There is a smaller, shallow kids pool at the end of the main pool and both became very crowded with small children in the early hours of the evening but tended to empty out after 8pm. The whole pool complex is very impressive, with one entire wall made of glass and looking out onto the snow covered mountains, subtle lighting both in the water and out, and a very high level of cleanliness. The spa complex closes at 10pm. Leading from the pool is a steam room, a sauna and a variety of multi-directional showers. Both the steam room and the sauna are large enough to sit around 8 people comfortably, and my group particularly enjoyed sitting in the steam room after skiing, chatting whilst being sprayed with aromatherapy oils in the steam. There is also a rather strange foot spa which we were not so keen on, which requires the guest to walk over large pebbles whilst being sprayed by jets of cold water. This seemed like much too painful a way to get healthy. Massages were available but these had to be booked at the spa reception and were fairly expensive. We were too tired to use the gym after a full days skiing, but I looked inside and saw that it was well equipped and looked new and very clean. ~~Bars, Games Room, Ski Lockers~~ The games room was a fun place for the teenagers in our party to relax. It had around 5 video game consoles which were surprisingly not well used. More popular was the pool table and the two air hockey tables. The games room was on the first floor and adjoined the sophisticated and ridiculously expensive Bar Ingles. This bar is a piano bar which had live music every night, but the price that you pay for sitting on the plump white leather sofas and being served by uniformed wine waiters was high - drinks were nearly double those found in local bars or in the hotel's tapas bar. There is also a Kids Club which has its own separate room, but we had no need to make use of this, although it seemed very popular. Our favourite place to meet before dinner was the much more reasonably priced La Bodeguita tapas bar, which could be accessed either by crossing the public restaurant, or by going through the street and entering through the public door. We bought huge and very reasonably priced glasses of Rioja, which were always served with enormous portions of tapas. In the end we had to turn the second helpings of tapas down as we were getting too full for dinner - but each dish was a different Andalucian speciality. The ski lockers were a very big selling point for me. The whole of the basement was kitted out with modern ski lockers; one for each room, with a self-programming coded lock. Each floor of the hotel had a different colour ski locker, so it was easy to find the yellow lockers of the seventh floor. The locker had space enough for up to 4 sets of skis and boots, but it was not heated to dry out boots after a days skiing. Nevertheless it was free of charge, so I was not complaining. The ski lockers had an exit which led straight out onto the street (at street level) and this was a real plus when staggering back exhausted at the end of the day. A few hundred yards from the cable car, a simple swipe of the hotel card gives access to plenty of clean benches and the lockers. The locker area was obviously cleaned regularly as I never saw any of the dirty puddles of melted snow that usually decorate these areas. ~~Getting There~~ We flew into Malaga and hired a taxi which seated all 12 of our party. The taxi cost 268.50 euro each way and took around one and a half hours to get there. Obviously this high cost was split 12 ways - a smaller taxi would not cost as much as this. ~~Prices~~ We paid £657.80 for a double room with half board for 6 nights, placing our booking through Travel Republic. ~~Conclusion~~ Everybody in our party was full of praise for the hotel, despite problems with the heat. Any small problems had been sorted out quickly and graciously, the food was enjoyed by absolutely everybody and overall our party gave the hotel a unanimous 9.5 out of 10.