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“el secreto” 5 of 5 stars
Review of El Secreto

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El Secreto
4.0 of 5 Small Hotel   |   11 miles north of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize   |  
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Hotel amenities
Special Price
Summer Special 30% off
Ranked #5 of 17 Ambergris Caye B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Boston, Massachusetts
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“el secreto”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2014

My husband and I just returned from a 5 night stay at El Secreto and we miss it already! The resort is beautiful and feels much more secluded than the other large resorts on the caye. It seemed like we had the place to ourselves for the first two nights, but even when they filled up it never felt busy or crowded. The rooms were amazing - we loved the hot tub and outdoor shower - and the jacuzzi was also fantastic. We did have some difficulty getting it to be hot enough, but once it was working it was really wonderful. The staff at this resort are also excellent - we enjoyed talking with Marco our waiter as well as Hector and Ethnie. Marco's recommendations on the food and drinks were spot-on and we miss talking with him! Mario, who drives the water taxi, was also lovely. The transportation could be tricky at times - we were delayed on our pickup from town after a diving trip as we waited for another couple to arrive from the airport, but Ken was very nice about the inconvenience and did make up for it. They do try to lump together water taxi transports so you can't duck in and out of town whenever you want, but the resort is so nice you don't need to go there at all. The food was also excellent, though pricey, but it seemed to be the cost of staying so far from San Pedro which we felt was more than worth it. We loved our snorkeling trip with Victor and also our trip to the Blue Hole with Amigos Del Mar (arranged through the resort). All in all, it was a fantastic trip and we would go back in a heartbeat!

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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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126 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    67
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (44)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Phoenix, Arizona
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 8, 2014

Ok - on a scale of 1-10, this acutal resort is a 13. It is BEAUTIFUL. It is modern, each villa has its own hot tub, comfortable bed, outside shower, etc.

But once you kick the tires, there are quite a few problems. In our room a number of things did not work: the air conditioning never got below a few degrees cooler than outside, the remote to control everything in the room never worked, phone service (cell phone or room phone) was super sporadic, internet was the same, our hot tub didn't work for 2+ days (well - more on that story later), bugs inside the room, too many bugs outside the room to ever use the outdoor shower, etc. (Can't really complain too much about bugs though - it is the jungle after all...)

So we called the front desk a few times for various issues (A/C, remote, hot tub), and depending on whom answered we got totally different reactions. There was one front desk attendant who was ridiculously helpful and went above and beyond the call of duty at all times, and another that we asked hotel management not to have contact us anymore (I have never made such a request at a hotel before).

On the broken hot tub - we said many times we just want it to work. It was storming for about 1 1/2 days while we were there and there wasn't much else to do. If you are going to be soaked from rain, you might as well enjoy it in the hot tub. So after two days of pestering, and asking when ours could be fixed or we could be moved, we were told that it was never broken - that the 4-5 times we had checked in on it, nobody had bothered to try turning it on!!!! That answer was relatively infuriating. Just sheer laziness... not an actual mechanical problem. When I asked what was suggested that we do for the day - the front desk person who we later stayed away from - told me to talk to the spa and get a treatment (not comp'ed). She then said oh but we are totally booked for today and tomorrow. ???? Thanks for the help...

Pluses:
The restaurant staff was superb - every time, every meal
The food at the restaurant was good
Ken was very helpful in planning excusrions for us
Our spear fishing trip was AMAZING! THANK YOU VICTOR!!! Best part of our trip.
ATM cave tour Ken arranged for us - expensive but worth every penny: from the amazing to-go breakfast the kitchen cooked for us, the private plane chartered for us to Belmopan, the tour itself... so cool!
The banana chocolate muffins - maybe the best I have ever had (I hope my mom doesn't read this review)
Free loaner kayaks were great

Negatives:
Ridiculous service charges on everything - including sunscreen that didn't work - tax I get, but super high service charge in addition on sundry items? (Especially when the hotel doesn't have a boat to get you to town to go buy your own sunscreen - something I consider a safety hazard in many cases)
Not really a swimmable beach - I mean, you can, but the sea weed is gross and as soon as you get past that somewhere you can swim - you are in the boating lane on the side of the reef and the resort forbids you swimming there for safety
The "free boat shuttle" to town - often doesn't run when they say it runs, and really is more of a "if someone else pays for the boat you can tag along" (which worked in our favor once, but most of the time, had us being the responsible party to charter the boat and other people getting a free ride - instead of just splitting the cost of the ride evenly between however many people are aboard.)
Bike riding nearby seemed like a great idea - until it was literally like riding through a dump. 6+ inches of garbage for at least 1/2 of our slow going bike ride (a lot of walking through trash). My legs got cut walking through the plastic and glass bottle trash quite a bit and I was certainly grateful I had an up to date tetanus shot.


Bottom Line: This resort has 5 star potential - but they need to figure out the villa problems and how to respond to those from a service perspective. Until they do, save your money.

Room Tip: Ask for one that has working amenities :-/
See more room tips
  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
washington dc usa
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 24, 2014

We enjoyed a beach front villa for 3 days. Such a peaceful and quite little gem. Villa was very comfortable with a beautiful bathroom and I love the outdoor shower. My husband loved the fact that there was a bigscreen TV in the room with all the cable/sports channels you can possible want. Staff are plentiful for this little resort and they provide excellent service. Restaurant is open from early morning until 11pm and food and drinks were good too. Extra plus for having free wifi through out the resort. We took advantage of the canoes and paddle boards and one day we went in to SanPedro on the free boat shuttle - really 2hours in town for some shopping is enough until you want to head back to the relaxing surrounding of El Secreto again. This might not be an option if you are looking for a place to party or go barhopping. This is a place for those who wants to just unwind, relax, read a book, go snorkeling, eat good food and have a margaritha by the infinity pool in the hammock.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fergus Falls, Minnesota
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 19, 2014

We had a ocean front villa which was beautiful, however, the resort is a 30 minute boat ride from anything. We felt trapped and they charge $40.00 per person to taxi you. There is no accessible beach, it is filled with seaweed and garbage. Our view of the beach was the workers hauling seaweed in wheel barrels. The staff is very nice and accommodating. But if you are looking for blue water and white sandy beaches this is not for you. We were very disappointed.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2014

We are staying at La Perla del Caribe, Ambergris Caye and decided to take a short boat ride up to El Secreto Resort for dinner. Wow, what a first class resort. The owner, Abraham, gave us a tour of the villas and property. Gorgeous design, style, amenities, hi-tech control of everything, Outdoor shower, your own hot tub etc. Then drinks at the barefoot bar followed by dinner. The food was top notch.Very original in its presentation and content. Beet and scallop carpaccio as well as the portobello and apple carpaccio were hits. The tortilla soup as well the lobster bisque to die for. Our group of 6 thoroughly enjoyed our experience and we all want to book into one of these luxurious villas soon.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Baltimore, Maryland
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2014

My husband and I stayed at El Secreto for the second half of our honeymoon in November. We spent the first part of our honeymoon in Placencia. The property is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. We booked via Jetsetter and got an amazing deal - otherwise, we wouldn't have shelled out the money for this place. As other reviewers have stated, it is far from town so you have to be committed to staying on the property at least some of the time, though getting to town was pretty easy. They provide complimentary boat service at appointed times during the day, or you can charter your own boat for about $40 per person, round trip. If you take any tours, most of them stop in town for an hour or two so you can walk around and grab lunch. We went scuba diving and snorkeling - our guides were fantastic! The reef is so close to the beach too, just 100 yards or so, and you can take kayaks out there on your own. Our room was modern and stunning. The amenities were a little frustrating to work - the Ipod remote didn't always work correctly but staff was always available to come to our room and fix it. Our room also had a lot of mosquitoes in it. It was pretty gross, but the staff did everything to help make it less so, including giving us a mosquito net and cleaning the room both morning and night. They do spray for bugs so the mosquitoes weren't biting us, just dying in our room by the hundreds. Not sure there was anything else they could have done given each villa has a thatched roof and bugs can get in. We stayed in the tropical villa that is furthest from the bar. Apparently, it's where the owner stays when he visits, but we had booked it in advance after looking at a mao of the property and he stayed in the one behind ours. I must say, I think it is the best villa on the property. The sea view villas were much more expensive and I don't think they're worth the extra cost. We could see the ocean from our villa too. The food was really good. They did a special Thanksgiving meal for us since we stayed over the Thanksgiving holiday which was delicious! The resort is small and feels very private. We definitely preferred the village of Placencia to San Pedro (Placencia was more laid-back), but the reef is so much closer in San Pedro so it's a trade-off. All in all, despite the bugs, it was beautiful vacation.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Rabat, Morocco
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 17, 2013

We spent 3 days at El Secreto last december with my husband for our honeymoon and had the best time ever !

You just feel special thanks to a the little details :
- extremely confortable boat ride to the resort
- towel and welcoming cocktail upon arrival
- fresh juice every morning waiting for you on your terrace
- room cleaned twice a day
- complimentary beach bags
- ipod control of the room (lights, music, door, tv..)
- private Jacuzzi
- complimentary bikes, kayaks, catamaran, snorkeling gear
- good restaurant food and very good cocktails
- very friendly staff
etc …

The resort is secluded and far from the city. But you are just so well taken care of, that you never think of leaving the resort !

I would definitely recommand this place and stay there again ! Try the ocean villa. It's the best !

  • Stayed December 2013, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Secreto

Address: 11 miles north of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Location: Belize > Belize Cayes > Ambergris Caye
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 17 B&Bs / Inns in Ambergris Caye
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — El Secreto 4*
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
El Secreto is a unique barefoot luxury resort located in Ambergris Caye, Belize, surrounded by the turquoise blue waters of the caribbean and lush tropical views.El Secreto nestles 13 exclusive individual thatched roof villas with a smart combination of contemporary and traditional elements. Fine belizean tropical woods, marbled finished bathrooms with a tandem bathtub, outdoor private jacuzzi and shower patio. All the villas are equipped with a king size bed, a state of the art led lighting system, air conditioning, ipod dock station, LCD TV, mini bar, safe, Melita coffee maker, 400 thread egyptian cotton Vivenda linens and Malin & Goetz amenities.El Secreto Restaurant offers a variety of international cuisine with a Belizean touch. El Secreto is a perfect setting for honeymoons and weddings as well as to celebrate special occassions with a variety of activities for couples to enjoy together such as non motorized watersports like paddle surf, hobbie cat, kayaks as well as bicyclesor simply relax at Ikal spa with our signature hot sea shell massage. . Let us pamper you in this true and authentic paradise to create lasting memories for a lifetime. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Secreto Belize/Ambergris Caye

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