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“Come to relax….shower with iguanas….no better beach.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Na Balam Beach Hotel

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Na Balam Beach Hotel
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Calle Zazil Ha 118 | Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres 77400, Mexico   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #18 of 35 hotels in Isla Mujeres
Evergreen, Colorado
Top Contributor
103 reviews 103 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
139 helpful votes 139 helpful votes
“Come to relax….shower with iguanas….no better beach.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2013

This was our second visit to Na Balam and this time we brought my wife’s bother and his family. What was supposed to be a one night visit turned into a two nights because quite frankly it is hard to drag one’s self away from this bit of paradise. Located on the picturesque Play del Norte, Na Balam is a boutique hotel catering to those that want a quiet and relaxing Mexican vacation….however if you are looking for the Ritz, party life or a Four Star resort, them may I suggest staying over in Cancun. This is after all rural Mexico on a Caribbean Island with the main transportation is a golf cart.

This is a place that you want to spend the whole day on the beach reading a book and sipping your favorite adult beverage under the palm trees. The waters in front of the hotel are probably the best you will find on the island.

As for the rooms, large, minimalist, with firm beds. The first night we were over on the beach side and the second night we had to move over to the poolside – if staying over on the poolside, make certain you get a room on the second floor as the thatched roofs give a more open feeling and during the hot summer months, will help displace the heat buildup in the rooms…even though there is air conditioning. Word of warning for those that are squeamish with large lizards, I had the opportunity to share the shower with one of the local iguanas. He hung out on the top near the thatched roof and slept / observed my showering activity. If you are squeamish, Cancun is right over there…..

We did rent a golf cart to tour the island, and the front desk arranged for it and it was dropped off right at the hotel…so if this is your first trip to Isla Mujeres, do take advantage of the gold carts and spend the day touring the island.

If you have read these reviews you will see that they are pretty much polarized between people who expect the very best….and those that realize that this is a taste of “Old Mexico” which is the charm of Na Balam. Quite frankly, take a few days and sit on the beach and in the water and just chill….who cares about showering with iguanas and warm watered showers or if the hotel is under construction.

Room Tip: Do get a room over on the beachside.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (115)
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2012

We had a great time at Na Balam when we visited in March 2012 and I wrote a very positive review. This made us want to come back and we stayed at Na Balam again in November this year. As last time, we stayed in a room on the poolside. When we arrived, we realised that the pool was being worked on and when we questioned whether it would be finished during our stay the answer was simply no. Not even a sorry from reception. Not only the pool was being worked on but also the entrance to the hotel. The wonderful quiet area near the entrance where you could sit and go online last time was gone. Again, not a sorry that this might inconvenience the guest. The rooms in the back have a straw roof. This is generally not a problem, but this time around we saw a rat climbing across it, which was not great. After a few days, we asked to move rooms because of a very strong sewage smell, maybe because of the work outside. We were moved to an inferior room without so much as an apology. I also don't think it is appropriate to have separate types of beach towels for guests in the poolside rooms than for the others, it makes one feel like a second class guest. I still feel that the location of the hotel is great and the restaurant is very good. The guys in the restaurant, Ephraim, Romeo and Gabriel were always fantastic. Having said that I would not chose the hotel again. For the price charged, they did not deliver on quality.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2012

The room smelled pretty bad and as other commenter said, an iguana crawled on the walls of the Palapa we slept. The staff is is not very friendly and the breakfast is just basic (coffee or tea, toasts and juice, anything else needs to be paid). No wi-fi at the rooms, only near the reception.
I liked the location, since the sunset from the hotel beach is spectacular.

Room Tip: Ask to stay in the rooms close to the ocean, never the ones in front of the pool.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Louisville, Colorado
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

My girlfriend and I spent 8 nights at Na Balam this past week. We chose this hotel based on a few friends who had stayed there, as well as the reviews on TripAdvisor. Also, the location seemed really good, and the hotel looked cute. As for our experience...
A previous review on here mentioned that Na Balam is 2 hotels with 1 name. I hadn't thought of it that way, but it's true (more on that in a moment).
We stayed the first 7 nights in room 29, on the pool (ie. non-beach) side of the hotel. The pool was under construction. Oddly enough when we checked in they didn't mention that, and we only found out when we walked over to our room and saw it completely taped off. My girlfriend was immediately upset as we specifically chose that room because she loves pools. We went back to the front desk and the Italian lady (who is very sweet, honestly) simply tried to convince us that we were not going to care because the beach is so beautiful. Anyway, would've been nice to get a heads up that the pool was not working.
Our room (29) was a thatched roof room (palapa) on the 2nd floor. As mentioned in the previous reviews, they have sort of a funky smell. They're dimly lit, a little dirty, and the shower doesn't really get hot (it does get sort of warm). The bed was insanely hard - didn't bother me but my girlfriend woke up with a sore back most days. We had a serious rainstorm one night, and the roof did leak. We were up at 4AM moving our belongs around so they didn't get damaged. Weather isn't the hotel's fault, but be aware they can leak. Also, there are lizards in your room (it's a thatched roof after all!). That didn't really bother us, but they sometimes "yell" at each other, which is more or less a high pitched sort of "laughing" sound. It's unpleasant at 5AM when you're going diving at 8AM. That only happened once or twice.

That all being said, the grounds are amazing. You're basically in a little jungle. Staff does a good job on keeping the grounds picked up. Also, as you may have guessed, the location is absolutely perfect. You're in playa norte, but you're not on the main streets (in other words, it is very quiet and chill). The hotel's beach is also amazing. Probably the best on the island. Not joking. I'd stay here again just because of the location.

Now on our last night they had to move us to the beach side (room 6). This is where the other reviewer got it right - the rooms are way different. You can tell they've done renovating on the beach side. The bed was soft and comfy, the room had "furniture" (chairs, a couch, coffee table), and the bathroom was way nicer. The shower got hot! These rooms are far more well appointed. If you're considering staying here, seriously consider springing the extra money for a beach side room (I have no idea how much more they are).

Now to the staff - it'd be generous for me to say they were "pleasant." The best way I can describe it is, they seem like they're on auto pilot because they know the tourists will just keep coming. Who knows, that's probably true. Of the 3 front desk staff we dealt with, not one of them ever said, "thank you" or "sorry." One of the girls generally just seemed annoyed to be there, and when I asked her (a few days in a row) if we could get hot water she'd just send a maintenance person over without the slightest concern. Nobody ever asked how we were doing, if we needed anything, or if we had any questions or concerns. We were sort of just there, and they were sort of just dealing with us.

Overall - the location is amazing and the beach side rooms are really nice. Don't expect the pool, or your amenities to generally be working, but do expect that Isla Mujeres is an awesome island with great food and lots of things to do.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2012

I tried to be open-minded about our experience at this hotel until we got robbed, 4 days in. Our electronics and money were stolen out of our hotel room. Suspcion was that the cleaning person/maid was the last to be in the room when those belongings were last scene. When we reported the incident, the hotel was extremely rude to us and pretty much accused us of lying about the situation. We checked out immediately, and they didn't bother to compensate in any manner, nor apologize.

And just to top it off, there was no hot water in the shower, and the only "ammenity" provided was a piece of bar soap. No hair dryer, no TV, no shampoo/lotion, etc. You are paying for a room with an ocean view and for someone to do a half-decent job sweeping sand from your hotel room floor.

Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oakland, California, United States
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 14, 2012

Let’s be clear, Na Balam is really two hotels under one name. The beach-side of the hotel is the nice side (rooms #19 and under); with modern building, nice views, everything they show on the website. The other side, across the street, is the side on which we stayed (rooms #20 and above).

I will concede that we chose Na Balam because of the 45% off-season discount. Figuring this referred to that fact that it’s not as sunny and hot during the end of November and the hotel wanted to fill its empty rooms when tourists weren’t as plentiful. What this really meant was that our “pool-view” room was of a pool for one day, and the next was emptied and jack hammered away at from 8am to 8pm every day of our weeklong stay.

Our first room, a Palapa hut on the second floor, smelled of mold and leaked when it rained. We could feel the springs in the mattress, and after an iguana crawled into the bathroom through a gap in the roof, we decided it was time to switch rooms.

It was impossible to move to the other side (the nice side).

Once you are on the bad side, you are treated as a second-class citizen, lucky to be able to use the amenities on the nice side. And let’s remember again, this place touts itself as being one hotel – but then, why do they offer fluffy, striped beach towels for the guests on the beach-side , and stiff, stained brown towels for guests on the other? It could not be more clear, the differentiation.

So we switched rooms to a ground floor unit, trying to escape the stinky palapa and iguanas that crept in unaware. Closer to the jack hammering of the now–closed pool, the bed was softer, but there was a smell…a smell of sewage whose noxious fumes permeated our room and everything in it.

Tried again to move to the “other side”, offering to pay more to just enjoy the last few days on the island – nothing. The front desk staff completely unhelpful, and would not admit the differences between sides.

“Some people like the palapa’s” one of them stated straight-faced.

Oh yeah? Some people like to smell mold, have water leak on their things and go to the bathroom with wildlife? Not anyone that is paying over $100/night. That I can guarantee.

To be fair, the positive things (again all on the nice side of the hotel), included the restaurant with excellent service and a really satisfying breakfast, included in our stay. Fresh fruit, good, coffee, we were happy with that at least. And, the hotel really does sit on one of the best beaches on the island.

Basically, everything but our room and side of the hotel was good. But really Na Balam, you are guilty of false advertising, uncomfortable and old accommodations, unhelpful staff and sewage problems that I don’t want to think further about. Buyer beware.

Room Tip: Rooms #19 and under are the better ones.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Covington, Kentucky
1 review
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 10, 2012

It was advertised as a yoga retreat center, but only after we arrived did we learn that the yoga was not included in the price. We had pool side rooms, but the pool and hot tub were under construction--which wouldn't have been soon bad except for the distracting construction noises and paint fumes all day right outside our rooms (and during yoga). There was only one place to do yoga, not two as advertised. The rooms were okay (except for the paint fumes) and the staff was mostly friendly. I liked that there was no TV or phone in the room. The beach attached to the hotel was wonderful. But don't order mixed drinks from their bar though--I don't think they put any alcohol in mine.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Na Balam Beach Hotel

Address: Calle Zazil Ha 118 | Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres 77400, Mexico
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Isla Mujeres
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Isla Mujeres
#6 Spa Hotel in Isla Mujeres
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Na Balam Beach Hotel 3*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The love for nature, an admiration to the Mayan culture and a concern for holistic wellness are reflected in this haven of peace and serenity. Na Balam offers you a place to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean sea and its sunsets with personalized services and attention. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Na Balam Beach
Na Balam Beach Isla Mujeres

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