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.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.