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“Lovely - but make sure you know what this place is about!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Playa Koralia

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Playa Koralia
Km. 47 Troncal del Caribe, Buritaca, Colombia   |  
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New York, NY
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Lovely - but make sure you know what this place is about!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2012

Overview:

The people and the locale are absolutely beautiful. The management could not have been more helpful and flexible, and the people could not have been more willing to give us a wonderful stay. Service was exceptional - not stiff 5 star, but familial and wonderful. But it is very rustic - so be the kind of person who likes that!

Location:
The beach is remote and beautiful. I'm not sure what it's like to swim in because the water was a bit murky and turbulent from the horrible rainstorms.

Food:
The food is the best I ate in Colombia. Fresh juices at every meal, salads, delicious desserts, yummy coffee...truly wonderful.

Services:
The masseur was amazing.

Excursion:
We didn't get to try them, but they sounded awesome.

Rustic-ness
This place is not for everyone, and management tries to be very clear about this. It is very rustic. Not only the showers are outdoors, but so are the toilets (there is an overhang so you avoid the rain in most cases). The huts are made of thatch - we were there during a torrential downpour and flood, and we had no water in the rooms - but nonetheless any insect could come in the room at any time. Lighting is poor around the grounds at night, so you must bring a flashlight (I recommended to the owner that they provide all guests with flashlights. It's a small thing but I think it would make a big difference). There are definitely a lot of mosquitoes, as others have mentioned. That said, I have stayed in $10 places all over SouthEast Asia, and it is not *that* rustic. The place is clean, the sheets and towels are plentiful, clean, and comfortable, there is a safe in the room, etc.

There are excursions nearby, but if the weather is not great there may not be a lot to do. (Great for me - I had a lot of books I was eager to dive into without the distraction of tv or internet).

All in all, I personally loved the place, but my friend I was with liked it a little less. The owners try really hard to direct people who are not suited for this place away (read their responses to other reviewers). It is no fun for them to have complaining guests. This place is heaven for people like me who want serenity and amazing food and friendly competent staff, but who don't mind a little roughing it.

One other note - I think part of the reason my friend was disappointed was because we expected more luxury for the price. My sense is that Colombia is just no longer very cheap in US dollar terms. Perhaps in Ecuador or Honduras - much poorer countries - you could get luxury at that price. But Colombia is too well developed now. To get a beach this untouched is getting difficult, hence, I think, the price.

Room Tip: Careful - a "suite" is not really a suite - it's just a bigger room. If you want two...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
koralia, Public Relations Manager at Playa Koralia, responded to this review, November 22, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to write such a great review!

You really made a lot of great points for us!
And yes - Koralia is not for everyone, but perfect that those who are looking for what we can give!

Just to make a brief point on the differences between the room types. While we strive to make all of our rooms special and exciting, the Suites are definitely suites - I think perhaps you just did not see what a standard and Jr. Suite were :)

The suites are closer to the beach or river and thus more private, for the most part are individual bungalows, have a larger footprint, larger bathrooms, are palm-roofed, have outdoor terraces and/or hammocks. They are basically what foreign tourists are expecting to see when they come to Koralia.

The Junior Suites are similar, but lack the outdoor spaces, are closer to the main areas of the hotel and thus a bit less private.

The standards have conventional tile roofs (not as airy and open), are closer to public areas fo the hotel and are not adorned quite as specially.

I would not want people to look at the photos of suites and then arrive to a standard expecting the same type of room. Please see our website for photo of the 3 room types:
Suite: http://koralia.com/eng/suite.html
Junior Suite: http://koralia.com/eng/jr-suite.html
Standard: http://koralia.com/eng/standred.html
- we also have camping :)
http://koralia.com/eng/camping.html

Which while it is quite nice, it is not the same as a Suite either :P

Also you make a great point about Colombia's economic strength. Anyone who expects to come to Colombia for a cheap trip will be quite surprised at just how expensive it is here. Everyday things are quite pricey - Gas is over $4.50 / Gallon - and for anything that is of a higher quality, the prices are close to (and many times more expensive) then the first world.

The one thing I can say without a doubt about Colombia is to leave your expectations behind. It will amaze and surprise you at every turn! Just laugh and go with it and you'll have the time of your life!!!
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204 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (22)
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London
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 28, 2012

Stayed three nights here in October 2012 and enjoyed it very much. Every guest has their own separate hut which has a private outdoor toilet and shower. Having a shower in the sunlight and looking up at the sky was one of the highlights of the trip. There is no hot water for the shower but as the climate here is hot it really does not matter.

You are provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner as part of the price of staying here. Please note that you do not have a choice of what you get to eat but all meals I had were absolutely delicious and were an ample size.

This place is very quiet and there is hardly anyone on the wild beach. The sea was a bit rough when we were there so I am not sure how good a swimming beach it is but that may have just been when we were there.

Playa Koralia is a place to relax and take time out - you will be hard pressed to find a better place to do this. The scenery is very beautiful here and you will spot various wildlife. If you would like to do some activities some days the staff can arrange this for you and one day we went walking in Tayrona National park with a guide which was very enjoyable (take walking shoes and make sure you have plenty of water).

If you enjoy massages there is a spa here that does that.

To summarise this place is in a beautiful natural setting, the staff are very friendly, the food is good, the weather hot and the vibe is very relaxed.

Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
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koralia, Front Office Manager at Playa Koralia, responded to this review, November 22, 2012
Thank you very much S_

While we do offer a chef's daily menu, the kitchen will always work with your dietary restrictions (allergies, vegetarian, vegan, raw, etc .. )

As noted before, the ocean at Koralia is much like the rest of the country: Never static! Some days calm and clear, other days oceanic it's power. That is part of the natural brillance of Koralia (I think :) - that you truly are a part of the greatness of nature!

~pk
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Perth for now
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2012

Wow, this is a fabulous place for peaceful,restful holiday. The rooms are wonderful and they all have special touches. The use of flowers adds to the ambiance. The food is fabulous, beautifully presented and plenty of it. The massage therapies are really good and I reccommend a chiropractic session - quite unlike anything I've had before.

Room Tip: The rooms are done out in colours so if you like a particular colour then you might like to specify...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
koralia, Public Relations Manager at Playa Koralia, responded to this review, November 22, 2012
Thank you very much for mentioning your enjoyment of the dining at Playa Koralia!

We have worked very hard of the past 2 years to improve in that area!

best
~pk
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Halmstad, Sweden
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2012

I had the most amazing time in this tranquil place. I needed to be in a quiet loving place to kick back and get new energy after travelling far too much and Koralia gave me that. When being at the beach I felt I had it all to myself, just me and the sea, no restaurants at the sea front, people selling you things or loud music, just the waves. If I wanted music I could go to the bar or the restaurant, but when on the beach I could just let go and relax. Lovely! The hotel arranges tours if you want to see the surrounding area with the national park etc. The food is delicious! I stayed for two weeks, got a real tan and lots of new energy. Koralia is a true gem that I can highly recommend!!! Read my blog if you want to see photos and get some more info, www.mariekarlsson.blog.com.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dollar, United Kingdom
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2012

Just back from Playa Koralia - what a place! We spent the first part of our stay with a group of friends and then stayed for an extra 6 days. Pure bliss, so tranquil. The accommodation is unique and surrounded in nature and right next to the hotel's very own quiet and rugged beach. The food is first class, the spa treatments are amazing and there's great local day trips - Tyrona is a must! This place is a hidden gem, only 45 mins - 1 hour from Santa Marta airport by bus / taxi. The owners and staff are so welcoming, friendly and helpful - you feel at home on holiday. A very big thanks to everyone for making our stay perfect!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
koralia, Public Relations Manager at Playa Koralia, responded to this review, November 22, 2012
Thank you J_

You're words fill us with joy. It seems as if you truly enjoyed every aspect of your stay!

Thank you
~pk
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Los Angeles, California
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 13, 2012

Traveled with a big group of friends and was blown away by the awesomeness of Playa Koralia. Beautiful landscape, wonderful staff, delicious food- all of it contributed to one of the best experiences of my life. Thank you!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
koralia, Public Relations Manager at Playa Koralia, responded to this review, November 22, 2012
Hi D_

As with S_ you're group was a hoot from beginning to end. Some lasting memories from amanacer to tardecer!!

~pk
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Los Angeles, California, United States
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2012

I went down with about 40 friends into the unknown and what we ended up with was the most beautiful... open hearted ...gorgeous land..best food ever trip I have ever had! The staff were simply the most thoughtful and lovely...Koralia was absolutely beautiful. The food made me remember why i should eat organic....and their hearts were something to write home about. Getting a break from the city to shower in the open air....feel the sun and rain on me as I was doing so was magical. The treated us like family and for that i am forever grateful. This is a wonderful place to undo the daily grind and remember what life is all about!

Room Tip: Go for a room away from the office...they are a little cooler ;)
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
koralia, Public Relations Manager at Playa Koralia, responded to this review, November 22, 2012
Hi S_ !

You're group will live forever in the annals of Koralia lore as one of the most cohesive and happiest!
Best to a wonderful future!!
~pk
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Playa Koralia

Address: Km. 47 Troncal del Caribe, Buritaca, Colombia
Phone Number:
Location: Colombia > Magdalena Department > Santa Marta District > Buritaca
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 7 Specialty Lodging in Buritaca
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Privacy is found as the ocean breaks on the beach and you are the only one to witness its fall. Playa Koralia gives you that experience and more, one hour away from Santa Marta (Colombia). Time stops as nature defines each space; sand, paradise, sea, fresh water, palms, light & shade. The elements come together where the rivers flowing from the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada flow into the blue Caribbean. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Playa Koralia Hotel Buritaca
Playa Koralia Colombia/Buritaca

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