Sometimes you receive an email that can make or break your day. Generally speaking, when you see the word ‘Corsica’ in an email header, it’s likely to be good news. And that’s exactly what happened when Mark Warner kindly invited me and a group of other bloggers to their San Lucianu resort in Corsica a couple of weeks ago.
And if after reading this review you think you might like to visit too, you can get an additional £50pp discount on all Summer 15 & 16 bookings made by 31 July. (Not valid for free child place or infants and can’t be offered in retrospect.) Just use the code: KateBlog50
It’s amazing how you can move heaven and earth when the offer of a holiday is on the table isn’t it? But that’s exactly what I did. We were only given four days’ notice and I had to decide whether to take Dexter out of school or go on my own. He’s coming to the end of his primary education and I felt that his schooling wouldn’t suffer by taking him out for a week at this stage, so explained the situation to his headmaster and started packing.
For those of you, like me, who may not have realised quite where Corsica is, it’s a small island to the south-east of France and to the left of Italy, just north of Sardinia. (I think. I have many fortes, geography isn’t one of them.) The island belongs to France so (obviously) they speak French … but my attempt at speaking their language just involved add ‘o’ to every word and gesticulating A LOT. Amanda from Ana Mum Diary can verify this when we got a cab to the mountains … but that’s another story.
We flew out of Heathrow with British Airways, who are the charter airline for Mark Warner, and I have to say they were great. There’s a lot to be said for that extra bit of leg room! The flight time came in at just under two hours, and it really made a massive difference to how we felt upon arrival in the resort – a lot less tired! Also, the transfer time is only 30 minutes.
Even though the San Lucianu resort is ‘only’ a 3* resort, I thought that the exterior of the main building looked better in reality than it did on the website, which I don’t think does it justice. A long driveway leads up to a terracotta, three floor complex and we were lucky enough to be put in superior twin rooms. I didn’t get to see what the other rooms looked like but would really recommend booking a superior room. They are newly refurbished, the air-conditioning is great, the bathroom large, and the small balcony overlooks the garden, swimming pools and the sea. It really was the most perfect setting.
I thought it would be easier to break down the facilities so that you can see what’s on offer and also what my thoughts are:
As I mentioned earlier, we were in a superior twin room, which has been newly refurbished. The room has everything you would want – a massive shower with a waterfall showerhead and a smaller detachable showerhead. I would mention however, that I found the tiling on the shower floor quite slippery and I think you just need to be rather careful. There is no bath but it didn’t matter. It has a large mirror above the sink which is handy because there is no other mirror in the room – a full length mirror would’ve been helpful. The beds were sooooo comfortable and we slept like babies – I asked for an extra blanket one evening and one was brought up immediately for me – top service right there!
There aren’t many TV channels to choose from, which isn’t a deal-breaker of course, but just bear in mind there is nothing to entertain the children as you’re getting ready! Having said that, I think Dexter learnt loads about the stock market while we were there! As I mentioned, a mirror in the main bedroom, perhaps by the dressing table/desk would’ve been useful. The addition of a fridge is fantastic.
There is no doubt though that the view from the balcony makes up for every minor negative point I’ve mentioned.
All of the staff are English and I think the kitchen perhaps misses a Tuscan influence when it comes to the food. Breakfast was nice enough and there is always a varied selection of cold meats and cheeses, as well as hot cooked food like sausages, bacon. Loved the ‘egg station’ every morning, especially when ‘Ed Sheeran’ was on duty. Breakfast is missing freshly cooked waffles and/or pancakes but that’s just because I got used to them when I went to Mark Warner’s Levante resort in Rhodes. It appears I’ve become a bit of a breakfast snob! There is a tea and coffee station based in the main dining room so that you can make yourself hot drinks throughout the day. Fresh juices and milk are also supplied.
Lunch was quite basic, especially if your vegetarian, but I should mention that the freshly made pizzas were fantastic and I just ended up eating them every lunchtime. Which is no bad thing! Oh my … especially the four cheese pizza, that was amazing! Dinner was a grander affair with an à la carte menu most evenings. You have to book a table during the day for your chosen time slot in the evening, which I always forgot to do, but they didn’t seem to mind too much. The three-course menu was always delicious and the staff were happy to accommodate Dexter’s strange addiction to olive oil and balsamic vinegar, to the point where he didn’t have to ask towards the end of the holiday, they just brought it out. Strange child.
There is a good selection of drinks to choose from and there’s nothing quite like a pint of Amstel at lunchtime on a hot Corsican day. They are a little on the pricey side though but I had budgeted for this and put money aside for drinks, so it wasn’t really a problem. They also have a happy hour every day between 4pm and 5pm which I may have partaken in occasionaly, although I would be quite happy if they made them a little stronger 🙂 I should point out that there is also a town nearby where I bought some cans of pop for Dexter for the room – there is a fridge in the room so sometimes he popped up to our room for a drink during the day. (I probably shouldn’t say that, but figured you’d appreciate the tip.)
The watersports on offer are a massive selling point for a Mark Warner holiday and we had every intention in trying most of them out. Unfortunately, Dexter got a really bad ear infection halfway through the week and couldn’t take part in anything because he was in so much pain and we couldn’t risk it getting wet. You may want to read some of my fellow bloggers’ reviews which talk about the activities in more detail – I’ve listed them all here for you to check out:
Monika @ Family (M)adventures
Alice @ Life As Alice (post to come)
The children in our group ranged from ages 5-13 and they tried all of the watersports out, from windsurfing to paddle boarding to kayaking … and they proved really popular. We stuck to the swimming pools, but I did take part in aqua aerobics which was good fun. Julie attended the aerobics/fitness sessions because that woman is a machine, and Charly and her husband played tennis a fair bit. You can pay extra for 1:1 tennis lessons or if you want a member of staff to take you out in a boat – most requests are catered for, even if there is a nominal cost involved.
The lovely Anya and her boys off for an organised kayak to the next town
I wanted to go out on a guided mountain bike ride with Dexter but was told that he was too young. I was disappointed. Dexter wasn’t.
The only other thing he really wanted to do was play football but the only organised football match was cancelled because not enough children wanted to play. He was devastated (football really is his thing) but we spent the next hour trying to get on the lilo which distracted him! (They’re not designed for women with a fuller figured disposition shall we say!)
Dexter has never been a fan of kids’ clubs on holiday, he’s just really independent and likes to do his own thing. However, the Mark Warner club is the closest we’ve got to him joining in! He joined in some swimming pool games, which basically involved everyone pushing each other in – which are the best type of games really aren’t they?! The staff were really strict about the children wearing hats and T-shirts, which is great and totally understandable, but Dexter struggled a little with that rule as we can never find a hat big enough to fit the afro! But rules are rules.
We left the resort twice – once to walk into town, which took about 15-20 minutes, and the second trip was a taxi ride into the mountains.
The town had a large supermarket, pharmacy, clothes shops, cafes and I think I even spotted a burger bar. As you walk further into town (it’s not that big), there is a short strip that takes you from the main road to the sea, which is full of cute restaurants, cafes and ice creams shops. This is where I ate the most delicious yogurt and strawberry flavoured ice cream I’ve ever had. Ever. Nectar of the Gods that was. We decided to walk back to the resort along the beach which was simply stunning. It was almost deserted and I took my time walking back, just chatting to Amanda putting the world to rights as we dipped our toes in the warm Mediterranean water.
Our second trip was to Cervione, a small village in the mountains near to the resort. The taxi only took 15 minutes and cost 20 Euros, and it was a beautiful trip along the winding road. Dexter came along with Amanda and I and even though there wasn’t much to do per se, he really enjoyed himself. The taxi driver stopped near the top to allow us to take photographs and once we’d finished, we drove on a little further until we arrived. We spent the next hour gently strolling up and down the quaint cobbled streets, until our noses found a small patisserie where Dexter chose an apple and custard tart that he still talks about! The views were stunning and we just spent another hour sat outside a café watching paragliders jump off the top of the mountain whilst we sipped on beers and Oranginas. I’ll remember that day forever.
I think the quality of the Mark Warner staff is what sets this company apart from others. They are young English adults, most of whom speak at least one second language. Although young, they’re professional, polite and always friendly … and are particularly great with children. Nothing was too much trouble. I appreciated the fact that there was always a lifeguard on duty at the children’s swimming pool from the moment it opened until the moment it is closed. That really gave peace of mind to us adults, especially as Dexter is of an age where I can leave him quite safely for short periods of time, but know that there is someone to watch over him.
When Dexter got an ear infection, which was at its worst on our final day, some of the staff took me to the local pharmacy and explained to the pharmacist what I needed (my O-level French wouldn’t have got me very far). The resort manager Jen tried to get a doctor for me and then let me cry on her shoulder when I broke down under the pressure of being a lone parent in a foreign country with a sick child. (Sorry Jen!) The staff went the extra mile to make sure my visit was the best it can be, even when things didn’t go to plan, and it’s for that reason I would travel with Mark Warner again.
I had the best time at the San Lucianu resort. It has a very homely, villagey feel and I think the 3* rating is quite misleading. Yes, there are a few areas that could do with a little TLC, but when you’re sitting at the beach bar, the sun is setting and you have an ice cold gin in your hand, it’s hard not to be impressed. I was utterly smitten with Corsica and San Lucianu offers me everything I’m looking for in a family holiday. Would I go back as a paying guest? Most definitely, and I have every intention of doing so next year!
Disclosure: Mark Warner covered the cost of the flights, accommodation and half board for this trip. All opinions are my own.