We booked our summer 2011 reservations for Hotel Sula Sula before we left the US. We were so excited about the reviews here on TripAdvisor that we thought we made a great choice for Isabela. We landed in Santa Cruz just in time to catch our boat to Isabela that Julio had reserved for us. We approached the boat operator Julio told us to use. The English speaking operator told us we were not on the list and the boat trip to Isabela was full for the day (in fact all of the boats to Isabela were full). She even called Julio, had a "heated" conversation for about 3 minutes, and hung up on him. She then told us he forgot to make our reservation. We put our names down for the next day just in case we still wanted to go to Isabela...
Frustrated, we looked for lodging for that night since we could not get to Isabela . We did find a nice place in Santa Cruz... look for a review on that in the future. We called Julio asking what happened. He blamed it on us. He said we did not respond to an email he sent us. That is 100% incorrect. Each email Julio sent that required our response explicitly said "please respond". His last email confirming our details did not say "please respond" so we did not see a reason to respond. Julio, in an attempt to save face, said he would pay for our travel to Isabela for free (which was not part of the original deal). That was a savings of $50.00. We were considering not going to Isabela as a result of the mishap. We only had 6 nights in Galapagos and we wanted to maximize our time! Julio was putting his best foot forward with a free boat ride. We agreed.
Upon arrival Julio was there to greet us. He spoke English, was kind in our first interaction, and was helpful in arranging a trip to the volcano the next day (he did not forget this reservation). The room included a basic breakfast. One egg, some toast, fake butter, jam, juice. The staff which was his wife and another hotel employee did not speak English. After we saw Julio the 1st day we arrived, we did not see him for the rest of our stay at Sula Sula (two days). In fact we did not see him until we were preparing to leave Isabela for Santa Cruz… more on that later.
Our first night:
Don't remember our room number. I think it was unit 3? It was facing the street above the sign. The room did not have a balcony. It was spacious. AC, TV, two beds, clean. The bed sheets were too small for two people to share a bed. We were constantly fighting for covers! It was cold in the evenings when we were there. Dogs kept barking all night. It was like a barking contest at certain times during the night. Then, the wind would whip up and make the windows rattle loudly. Then loud vehicles would drive by. The windows were closed the entire night so it was not for lack of trying to keep out noise. I woke up trying to prevent the windows from rattling by shoving paper in the window tracks... helped a lil. The night was hard to sleep through. This happened again the second night... that is when we decided to look for "alternatives". The location of Sula Sula is 8-10 blocks or more from the central plaza. It is not near the beach and located in between the boat landing and the main plaza area.
We had reservations at Sula Sula the entire time in Isabela; however, we wanted to find out what else what out there. After speaking to a few other places we stumbled onto a location on the beach with a view of the ocean for the same price!! It was only 1 block from the main plaza. It was also across the street from an English speaking tour operator. Check our other reviews for this special place just added to TripAdvisor.com. We asked TripAdvisor.com to add the hotel we stayed at since it was not available to view online and no website.
My advice to anyone not happy with a reservation: Look and ask around for other accommodation. I am very glad we did versus sucking it up and living with our decision.
Because of the lack of Julio we were forced to ask the hotel worker to cancel our reservation for the remainder of the stay. She called Julio's wife who came and collected our payment for the room, beers and trip to the volcano. Both did not speak English so it was challenging to communicate our desires to leave early... but we stumbled through it. After an uncomfortable 30 minutes we finally were on our way to a MUCH BETTER HOTEL FOR THE SAME PRICE ON THE BEACH 1 BLOCK FROM MAIN PLAZA / RESTAURANTS / BARS / ETC.
This was not our last run in with Julio... you must read on for the two other encounters with Julio after we left for the other Hotel.
To be fair, the staff (sans Julio) was very friendly and caring. Julio's children were very cute and friendly. Julio's dog was even very lovable. The ground was clean, and there was a covered area to eat at. There was also a main refer to store food, beer, etc. They even sold beer / water at okay prices.
The night before our scheduled departure from Isablea (return trip back not reserved with Julio) we were walking in the dimly lit streets of Puerto Villamil looking for a place to eat dinner. Julio approached us. He said we "forgot" to pay his wife for our boat trip to Isabela when we paid for our room. We informed him of his statement to us 5 days earlier that he would pay for our boat trip to Isabela because of the "mixup". Julio said he told us he would "cover our payment" to Isabela but would want us to pay for it once we got to the island. That is not what was communicated to me over the phone. He was lying. After I told him no several times, he asked for half of the money saying it was half our fault and half his fault. He said we could split the boat cost 50/50. I laughed... and continued to say no. He gave up and left us alone. The conversation left us feeling uncomfortable and frustrated even more!!
Our last encounter with Julio was at the boat docks to leave Isabela. We were standing in the customs line with about 10 other tourists to get our bags searched. The line was moving at a slow pace. Ecuadorians and foreigners were patiently waiting in line with us for the search. Julio and his departing guests arrived via taxi while we were in line. Julio escorted his guests to the front of the line bypassing all of us who arrived before him. His guests cut in line and were searched before us. The cutting in line was useless since everyone needs to be checked in order for the boat to leave. The boats would never leave because someone was still being check at customs. It was a clear testament to Julio's character. I would never consider staying at Hotel Sula Sula again.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com and BookingOdigeoWL so you can book your Hotel Sula Sula reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Hotel Sula Sula Galapagos Islands/Isabela, Ecuador