My wife and I recently returned from our 2nd trip to Isla Mujeres. This time, we stayed at the Belmar for 3 nights (previously, we stayed at the Bucaneros Hotel, right across the street, but it was fully booked this time, so we chose Belmar instead).
Before getting to Belmar's dishonesty, I'll first briefly discuss the room. Having stayed at many Mexican hotels of this price-level the past few years, I'd say that Belmar was slightly below average for this range. The room was pretty run down -- cracks and dirt in the floor tiles everywhere, and the walls as well. A pipe in the bathroom leaked, and the water pressure for the shower was barely more than a drip (at various times during the day). And the noise level the room, despite being on the 2d floor and all the way in the back (away from the street), was quite high. We could hear lots of noise from the restaurant below (we tried it one night; very bland, and barely average), and the street as well, quite late into the night.
We paid an average of about U.S. $65/night for the room. And that's pretty cheap for the island, so maybe we got what we paid. But we paid even less at Bucaneros the previous trip, and that room was better.
Now for Belmar's dishonesty, and why I would recommend everyone to stay away from Belmar.
When we checked in, I asked for the lock & key for the safe / strongbox located in the room. I was told by the man at the front desk that a 300 peso deposit was required. I gave the man 300 pesos, in cash, and asked for a receipt. He smiled and said, "No, not necessary, just return the lock&key when you check out, and we'll give you the 300 pesos back."
Having paid a similar deposit at other Mexican hotels to use the safe in the room, I didn't think too much about this. Until we checked out several days later.
We checked out quite early, in order to catch the ferry and get to our next destination. And when I returned the lock & key to the safe, I was greeted only with a smile by the man at the front desk. When I asked for my 300 pesos back, the man -- a different one than the one who checked us it -- expressed puzzlement and said, essentially, I don't know what you're talking about.
This in itself surprised me, since I'm sure it is Belmar's standard practice to obtain a cash deposit for the key & lock to the safe. As I've already said, this is a practice I've encountered numerous times at various Mexican hotels.
I then demanded that he call the manager / supervisor / owner about this, and he eventually did. After he got off the phone (speaking in Spanish; my Spanish is very rudimentary, so I didn't understand much of what he was saying), he smiled and asked me, "Do you have a receipt?"
Of course, I realized immediately that I just got scammed. When I explained to him that the man at the front desk who gave me the lock & key and took my 300 pesos told me I didn't need a receipt, I was of course told, "The boss says, 'no receipt, no money.'" And since we were in a hurry to catch the ferry, that was the end of it.
300 pesos is not a lot of money. And we had a great trip to Isla Mujeres (and therafter, to Isla Holbox) anyway. Nonetheless, it's the principle of the thing -- Belmar Hotel behaved dishonestly and shamefully. This should be known by anyone thinking of booking a room there in the future.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the eastern-most part of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, this little fish-shaped island right across Cancun is famous for its tranquil turquoise waters and its friendly inhabitants. Some say Isla Mujeres, meaning "isle of women" took its name after Spanish explorers in the 14th century found female figurines in the deserted beaches. It is believed that the island was only used as a religious site by ancient Mayan pilgrims. If you are looking for the best affordable place to stay in this natural paradise, well, Hotel Belmar is the choice for you. Come on in and let us show you why Hotel Belmar is the perfect location for the adventurous traveler... ... more less