We have to admit Villacana timeshare actually looks quite quaint. It’s designed to look a bit like it’s built in some sort of old Spanish village architectural style, with most of the apartments backing onto each other and courtyard walkways between them. The blocks are just 3 stories high with mainly small shuttered windows to keep out the fierce summer heat. This is what we think defines the place – something that would be really nice to look at if you’re out and about, but not a good place to stay on holiday. Macdonald Villacana Resort fills a thin parcel of land between the manic A7 coastal highway, which is just outside reception, and the original Villacana residential community to the south, which fills the space between Macdonalds and the beach. The way Macdonalds is built, just over half the apartments face south west, while the rest are dark gloomy north east facing units that barely get a shaft of light through the tiny shuttered windows, let alone any sunshine. But even the south west facing apartments are darker than you’d expect due to the small windows and the blocking effect of the old-fashioned shutters. One bedroom apartments are all on the same level, whereas the two and three bedroom units are duplex, so you need to be able to climb stairs if you stay in these. There’s a small quiet pool that bisects the apartment blocks and a really good larger main pool and gardens right at the bottom of the plot well away from the road, plus an indoor pool and bar-restaurant in the same location.
The traditional design means there aren’t the usual balconies here off everyone’s lounge, which you tend to expect and get in typical holiday apartments. If your apartment has a ground floor entrance then you’re lucky and you get a large terrace space or garden outside of your lounge. This means apartments that are south west facing will get excellent sun on their terraces from lunchtime onwards. If you visit out of season, the north east facing apartments still won’t get any sun whatsoever. Ground floor apartments with terraces also have outside barbeques. One bedroom apartments with entrances on the first or second floor have the use of an allocated terrace space on the roof of their block – plenty of sun perhaps in winter when it shines, but totally exposed to the cold winds that often blow here in autumn, winter and early spring. If you have a duplex with an entrance on the first floor, then you’ll end up with a really poxy terrace upstairs on the second floor. Because of the design, half of these terraces look outwards, but the other half are miserable internal patios that directly face the terrace of the opposite apartment just a few metres away – great view, we don’t think, just what you don’t want for your outside space on holiday. The design also means that half the upstairs terraces are north east facing and out of season, apart from the crappy view, you only get a bit of sunshine on just one corner of the terrace in the mornings. Total rubbish.
And the closer you are to reception, the more road noise you’ll get from the A7, which doesn’t let up at all from 7am to midnight, and being the major east west route for the area continues all night long too, but at a reduced rate. One of the problems here is that Macdonald’s Villacana is built at the brow of a small rise, which means lorries on the A7 are all pulling hard as they climb the slopes from both from the west and from the east – so you get the worst of it here. The second problem is the fact that windows don’t seal well and some let in masses of the road noise. If you can, you want to be in an apartment that is south of the small pool, these will be the quietest. If you’re north of the quiet pool and not used to road noise, you’re going to have terrible nights’ sleep here, even if you’ve got an internally facing bedroom that you can use, because the traffic noise just bounces around between the apartment blocks.
We swapped for a two bedroom unit. Although Macdonalds are trying to force change on the remaining reluctant owners, this is still a traditional timeshare where you own the right to occupy a particular week in a particular apartment. So units won’t be available for others to occupy unless weeks have reverted to Macdonalds, or the owners have banked their weeks. We’d forgotten that, especially since we’ve been going to the Marriott a lot over the past 10 years and they allocate units much like a hotel. When we arrived, we found that we’d swapped to a north east facing duplex with a ground floor entrance, but we now know it was in the good place for less road noise. We didn’t appreciate the road noise bit when we were checking in. We just thought dark, gloomy, miserable and our hearts sank. We asked if there was anything else available and as it happened, there was a south west facing duplex much closer to reception. We thought that would be much better and so we took it. Wrong move by us. First off, it had a first floor entrance up a flight of steps. That meant we weren’t going to get a sunny ground floor terrace like we’d hoped. Then we discovered that south west facing apartments remain pretty dark due to the narrow windows and shutters, as we mentioned previously. After that we discovered our outside space was one of the poxy second floor patios, but worse than that, it was an internal facing patio, directly opposite the block across the courtyard, and also north east facing and therefore got little or no sun – so the worst of all worlds. Add to all this the fact that the apartment smelt really musty. It was so bad in the cupboards that Macdonalds had put air fresheners in them, (but only one had some smell left), and all the clothes we hung up ended up smelling really fusty. It was embarrassing to be out and about in bad smelling clothes and all the unused clean clothes we took home had to go straight into the washer. We really wish we hadn’t used up our exchange week for this.
To be fair, fixtures, fittings and furnishings were pretty decent. For us Brits you get UK terrestrial TV channels and Sky Sports. The bed mattresses were fine. The overbath shower had good pressure and there was always plenty of hot water. There was plenty of cupboard space in the bedrooms, but as we said above, they just smelled so bad the whole place reaked. There’s no charge for the room safe. But two basics are useless here. If you want WiFi you’ll have to pay €20 to have it. In 2017 when WiFi is a standard expectation, Macdonalds should be ashamed that they operate like this – but we don’t think they are. Secondly, it was pretty darned cold at night when we stayed but 2 of the 3 aircon units in the apartment wouldn’t give out any heat – not good, and totally unacceptable to place holidaymakers in accommodation with faulty heaters. We reported them to reception but wonder if the repairs were made? Also, Macdonald’s standard operating practice is to charge for electricity on departure. So if you pay for electricity in your home resort maintenance fees you’ll end up paying twice if you exchange here.
We really like the main pool area and the contracted out bar-restaurant that overlooks it is decent enough, although at quiet times in the winter, you’ll find it closes at 6pm right after the 2 for 1 Happy Hour. As a result we didn’t eat here, it was too early for us. Coffee in the bar is from pods. It’s acceptable enough, just a bit weak like most pod systems, and you’ll get better elsewhere. If you’re looking to eat out locally around Cancelada, you’ll find some of the restaurants close for lengthy periods over winter but there’s still plenty of choice for a week or so. And you could go further afield if you want to.
As we said, this was a second visit. Now we’re sure, we wouldn’t ever come back, and we wouldn’t recommend Macdonald Villacana to anyone else.