Barcelo Castillo Beach Resort, Fuerteventura, Spain

A hospital visit, three debilitating doses of the ‘Canary Island Splatters,’ and shards of chipped plates in an omelette did their best to ruin what should have been a memorable family vacation.

Yet despite those issues, along with a number of others, Barcelo Castillo Beach Resort in Caleta de Fuste still makes our list of recommended holiday destinations.

Spain’s Canary Islands, off the coast of northwest Africa, promise year-round sun and good value for European holidaymakers. Caleta de Fuste, on the island of Fuerteventura, is billed as one of the quieter resorts, suitable for families and those who aren’t in search of rampant parties.

With an eight-month-old baby in tow for our first overseas family holiday, it sounded just right for us.

The reception is bright and welcoming, with friendly staff on hand to fill us in on the details we’d need. Rather than regular hotel rooms, the resort offers bungalows – again, ideal for our needs. And the bungalows are top class.

Our one bedroom villa was spotless and not too far a jaunt from the beach in one direction and the town centre in the other.

We went for the half board option, figuring we’d not be able to drink enough all inclusive booze (what with a baby to look after) to make it worthwhile, and also taking into account previous bad experiences in other European resorts where all inclusive was a real let down.

But at breakfast the morning after our arrival, we quickly realised this was all inclusive on a different level. The food looked and tasted fantastic, while red and white wine was on tap alongside the excellent local beer, Tropical. Additionally, branded Coca Cola company soft drinks were included.

The resort also allowed us to choose lunch or dinner as part of the half board deal, and we were able to change that up from one day to the next. A nice touch, and we ended up having lunch most days as dinner fell at around Baby Gangsta’s bedtime anyway.

The little guy was violently ill on day three, requiring a visit to the (quite excellent) hospital in Rosario where he spent hours on an IV drip – all free of charge by the way, at least until Brexit fucks that up for us once and for all. Once the vomiting subsided, we were left to deal with stunningly explosive diarrhoea for the remainder of the seven day holiday. And, perhaps inevitably, both adults were struck down with the same bug later in the week.

We’d followed the advice on water to the letter, so it wasn’t that. And really, it’s impossible to say for sure where the bug came from, so there’s no blame implied at all here.

On the day when Mrs Gangsta was bedridden with the illness, hours of noisy digging and work of some sort was taking place outside our bungalow. Again, I don’t mean to criticise Barcelo – if something’s broke, it has to be fixed. We get it, but it was unfortunate.

All that said, there were some real issues. Particularly enraging was the hotel’s policy of not providing drinking water for non-all inclusive guests at lunch or dinner. I specify at lunch or dinner, because for some fucking reason you DO get water at breakfast – as well as fresh fruit juice, tea and coffee. An inexplicable inconsistency which got on my tits all week.

Things got especially disappointing towards the end of our stay. Breakfast on our day of departure was at first fantastic, just like every other day. However, Mrs G was horrified to find what we initially thought were pieces of plastic in her omelette.

Staff were alerted, a kitchen manager came out and explained he thought the unwelcome ingredients were actually parts of a plate that had somehow fallen into the cooking process. Copious apologies and a suggestion to speak to the hotel manager followed.

The hotel manager again apologised…and that was it, until our obviously not impressed faces led her to give us free vouchers for lunch that day. Now, when you almost consume shards of crockery in a buffet restaurant, the last thing you want is more fucking food from that restaurant. However, the voucher included drinks, so we made the most of it as we waited for our late transfer to the airport.

Another annoyance was the hotel’s stingy policy of charging for things like use of a high chair and baby bath in your room. It made little sense, considering a travel cot was provided for free.

A €10 deposit was also required for each beach towel, but what really grated was an additional €2 charge every time you needed a fresh one.

With us not having taken up the all inclusive offer, we bought drinks with our lunch a few times. At €4.10 for a small beer, the resort prices are outrageous when compared to local bars not attached to Barcelo, most of which charge just €1.50 for a large brewski.

The resort’s man-made beach is fantastic, but prepare to pay €10 a day for sun-bed hire. All resort pools feature salt water, and there are plenty of (free of charge) beds on offer.

Like I said at the start, I would 100% recommend this resort. It’s beautiful, the staff are excellent and the food fantastic – putting the near-death chipped crockery experience to one side.

But if you go to Barcelo Castillo Beach Resort, take this advice and make sure to opt for the all inclusive option. That’ll keep you clear of the nonsensical water bullshit, and you’ll get unlimited great beer, wine and soft drinks on tap.

And brace yourself for having to hand over deposits for everything from beach towels, to use of the room safe and everything in between. Ain’t shit for free up in this gaff.

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