a-ja Resort Bad Saarow is a brand new hotel which opened 15th of September. As we are always interested in new openings, we decided to book a night for the opening day. Even though the hotel is brand new and has some characteristics of a luxury hotel, there are many little things that made our stay quite streaky. Overall, the hardware is good, but the software left a lot to be desired.
Arriving at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow, the first thing I recognized was that the building is very dull taking into account that the hotel is completely new.
There are no balconies, no large windows and there’s no interesting architecture at all. Anyway, the worst part of the first impressions was the waiting time at reception.
At 2:30 pm, the employees were totally overstrained to handle the people who wanted to check-in.
I waited full 20 minutes until I finally got the chance to check-in at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow.
Check-in itself was quick and efficient, but the employee forgot to tell me important information on the check-out date, the location of the pools and so on.
The reason for calling the room at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow just “room” in the heading is that there are no different room categories at all.
The hotel got two floors with 75 rooms each, all similar with a different view. Sadly, this one is rather boring in all rooms. Some face the street in front of the hotel, others the pools or the supplier driveway.
The room itself is on the small side with 20 square meters (215 square feet), but is furnished efficiently. There’s a large King Bed, a seating corner right by the window and a working desk with a chair. You may also enjoy watching television on the large and modern flat screen television opposite of the bed.
In-between the sofa and the bed there’s a curtain you may close to separate the areas. There’s another one between the bed and the bathroom which is separated by a glass front only. Strange enough, you will neither find a safe nor a telephone in the room at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow. All in all, the equipment is efficient, yet very basic.
The bathroom in our room at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow was rather small, too. The toilet is separated by a milk glass door which can also be used to close to shower.
The shower head is very strong and offers a great rain shower experience with the area for showering having the perfect size. There’s also a single sink in the very bright bathroom. Sadly, there are no real toiletries provided.
Instead, you’ll only find a shower gel by Nivea which you have to use for washing your hands, cleansing your body and washing your hair. Kind of strange for a hotel which wants to offer its guest “great holidays”.
Nevertheless, the efficient use of the available space in the room and the bathroom made a very good impression on us. Especially as there is also enough storage room in both, the room itself as well as in the bathroom.
All a-ja resorts in Germany work with a concept which may seem strange at first. Nothing besides the room is included in the basic rate which means you have to pay fees for entering the pool area, the sauna and the gym.
Even though we had all these services included, I was surprised that I also had to pay for the usage of a towel (3 Euro per stay) as well as a bathrobe and slippers (5 Euro per stay). Guests of a-ja Resort Bad Saarow who don’t have fares including access to the named areas have to pay 8 Euro per day to access the pools, another 8 Euro per day to access the saunas (or 11 Euro when you combine both) and 3 Euro for the usage of the gym.
Breakfast comes with an extra charge of 11 Euro while a three course dinner costs additional 19 Euro. All charges apart from towel and bathrobe rent are per person and per night, making an all-inclusive stay at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow anything but cheap.
The gym which is relatively cheap to access offers modern equipment for both, cardio and strength training. I was a little surprised that the gym was on the small side. Yet, the thing that bothered me the most was definitely that there was neither water nor towels.
After staying in several hundred hotels all over the world, I can safely say: I’ve never been to any other hotel regardless of the stars where no water was offered in the gym. That said, I decided to buy a Coke at the pool bar, just to get ripped off as I paid five times as much as when buying the bottle in the supermarket.
The prices at the bar are outrageous, especially for a resort which advertises itself with offering holidays and additional services for a fair price.
While the gym at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow itself is decent, the pools and the sauna are even better. There’s a large heated indoor pool and a medium-sized heated outdoor pool. Both offer a very good water quality and a fine temperature.
The loungers around the indoor pool are comfortable, but you won’t feel really cozy in this area. There’s also a terrace with several more loungers, but once again there’s a lack of privacy. I was also surprised to see that the quiet zone was also only equipped with loungers and no other interior to make the area more comfortable.
The saunas besides a single textile sauna next to the pool are located in another area which feels way cozier as there is a private and nicely shaped relaxation room as well as another terrace further away from the restaurant.
The three saunas (55 degrees and 90 degrees as well as a steam room) are large, bright and modern and have the perfect temperature. All in all, a very nice Spa area which lacks some coziness.
a-ja Resort Bad Saarow is no real luxury hotel and it doesn’t want to be one. Nevertheless, I was a little surprised by the concept used in the restaurant.
When entering, you get a card which can be used for purchasing food and drinks at the open kitchens in the restaurant. When leaving the restaurant, you can either pay cash or by card or put the amount on your hotel bill.
The only service offered is the clearing of tables. When ordering something, you get a pager which informs you when the food is ready, so you can take it yourself.
The quality of the dishes Sabrina and me enjoyed was pretty good and the size of the portions were decent, too.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere in the restaurant is average at best and the lack of service in a holiday resort is quite strange, at least for us.
After our dinner at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow, we weren’t surprised that breakfast is served without any service, too. This time, not even the plates got cleared while we were sitting in the restaurant for approximately one hour.
Even though there’s a terrace, we decided to take a spot in the inside, but got no attention by the waiters nevertheless. The buffet itself was surprisingly small with a selection of cold cuts, mueslis, some packaged yoghurt, fruit salad, scrambled eggs, meatballs, waffles, rolls, croissants, jams and some rice pudding.
Even though we didn’t expect much, we were a little underwhelmed by the buffet spread. The quality was good, but all hot dishes we tried were cold from the moment we took them from the buffet. Another strange thing, at least for us, was the fact that you had to get coffee yourself on one of two machines.
There are also two juice machines which offer orange and apple juice (not freshly squeezed). Overall, our impression of breakfast at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow was not the best. We’ve had way better breakfasts at several city properties which is never a good sign for a holiday hotel.
Bottom line a-ja Resort Bad Saarow
First of all, it’s worth pointing out that a-ja Resort Bad Saarow offers cheap basic fares which are way below the average holiday hotels in Germany. Nevertheless, several things bothered us. First, the location is way worse than you may expect.
Nice hiking tracks and the lake are 5 to 10 minutes away by foot. Second, the payment system is interesting, but very petty in several areas (e.g. towel rent). Third, the staff is rarely well trained as some members lack competence while others acted rude during our stay (there were good exceptions, too).
Fourth, the rooms are nicely designed, but too small for a holiday resort. Fifth, a self-service restaurant at a holiday property with some claim of luxury is a no-go. On the positive side, the design of a-ja Resort Bad Saarow is stunning, the Spa area with its pools and saunas is very nice and quality of food is decent. So should you book a room at a-ja Resort Bad Saarow?
If you can live with the disadvantages of a four star property with a special payment model and got a small budget, I’d say yes. If you want a more luxurious holiday in the area, you better choose A-Rosa Bad Saarow which is located just five minutes away.