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“Beautiful location but not worth the hassles” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Xaman Ek Resort & Spa

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Xaman Ek Resort & Spa
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5.5 miles North of San Pedro | PO Box 227, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize (Formerly Playa Blanca Beach Club)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #49 of 53 Hotels in San Pedro
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
20 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Beautiful location but not worth the hassles”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2010

We recently finished a five-night stay at Xaman Ek, and it was pretty disappointing. As some previews reviews have noted, the owner, Mike, is just a very strange person.

But Mike's biggest problem is that he just doesn't know what good is. This is a very small operation, with two full-time women who act as cooks, housekeepers, servers and gardeners. They aren't especially personable, and we usually felt uncomfortable when ordering breakfasts (which was free, but I'll touch on this later) because the women always acted as if we were bothering them. Also, Mike spent much of his time trying to convince us that the on-site restaurant had the best food on the island. The food is average at best, and it's overpriced. Two bland sandwiches cost $25 US, and breakfast each day was cooked poorly, with ingredients that seemed to come from a can. They also frequently ran out of key ingredients, such as tortillas and bananas. Still, Mike said again and again that there was really no point in going to another restaurant, in San Pedro Town or near the resort, because very few places matched up with his kitchen. This, of course, wasn't true; we found some terrific places (Rojo, Ak'bool in the north, and Jambel and Blue Iguana in town), and the restaurant at Xaman Ek was firmly in last place among the places we tried. That didn't stop Mike from his unusual sales pitch. He went so far as to insist that the neighboring restaurants have tried to poison his guests just to even the playing field. How do you respond to something like this?

Regardless, we experienced our share of issues over those five days. The first 24 hours, though, were the most interesting. Here's a list of things we experienced in our first day on Xaman Ek:

- A scorpion in the bathroom towels.
- A broken air conditioner in one of the bedrooms of our two-bedroom suite. It was about 90 degrees each day, so the AC was a must. We tried opening the windows, but ...
- The screens don't fit the windows, and mosquitoes come through the openings. So, sweat through the night or itch? What a debate to have at 4 a.m. We switched rooms on the second day, which was easy because we were the only guests at the property the entire time we were there.
- The electricity went off for most of an afternoon. This was a problem throughout the northern part of the island, but when we asked Mike what the issue was with the electricity, he replied with: "Well, it's off" and offered nothing else.
- When we insisted on going into San Pedro Town, Mike encouraged us to use his friend, Armando, for the 15-minute boat ride in. This was $30 US each way, which is very expensive, and Mike said it was much cheaper than the water taxi (This is true only if you're going to go into town once. A week-long pass would've saved us a good bit of money). Armando dropped us off, and we ate dinner, saying we'd call him when we were ready to head back to Xaman Ek. I called him, and he said to meet him at the boat in 15 minutes. When we reached the boat, Armando was gone, and in his place were two early-20s men, who appeared to be drinking alcohol when we reached the boat. They took us back to the resort, but not before some apprehension on the leap of faith we were giving these drinking strangers long after dark.
- Before we went into town, Mike warned us that we should be careful in San Pedro because tourists are frequently offered cocaine. He said that if we so much as expressed interest, we would be arrested. I assured him that this wouldn't be a problem, but he warned us anyway.
- After two of us ordered breakfast on our first morning, Mike insisted that breakfast was not included in our deal. He argued with us, saying it would be an additional cost, until I asked him to pull our reservation. Sure enough, it was included, and Mike backed off -- but not before that confrontation.
- When one of our friends received her huevos mexicanos, there were two rocks in the black beans. Rocks. Mike said he was embarrassed but that "things happen."

Remember, this is just in the first 24 hours! Things did improve slightly after we confronted Mike with a list of these concerns, but the service was still very poor. Neither Mike nor the staff ever asked if we needed anything or if there was anything they could do to make our stay more enjoyable.

Yes, there are a few good things here. Scuba Steve, the property's contracted dive and snorkel guide, is amazing. If he or someone like him were part of the full-time staff, this property would be much better. The location is terrific and quiet, if you can come to terms with the fact that you're a 15-minute boat ride from the center of town. It's close to the Mata Grande grocery store, and you can either walk the 15 minutes south along the beach to load up on beers and burritos, or email them for free delivery. Mike does keep the property fairly clean. It's not perfect, such as a rusted and old refrigerator, but it's fine. It's because of these things that we're giving Xaman Ek two stars.

If it were based on service alone, it would be much worse. We enjoyed our time on Ambergris Caye, but only after we resigned ourselves to the fact that Xaman Ek wouldn't be the curve we graded it on.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Owner at Xaman Ek Resort & Spa, responded to this review, August 10, 2010
We are very sorry that these guests did not enjoy their stay. The reason was they wanted to be closer to town and made the wrong choice of hotel and have chosen to lie about their stay because i did not refund their money.
I picked them up in town and they checked in in the early afternoon. The electricity went off for about 2 hours in the afternoon. I explained to them how the remote location lead to power outages and the crews immediately went out looking for the fault but there was no way to know for sure the duration as we did not know the cause but usually the outages were corrected in a few hours at most. I also gave them a battery lantern in case they came home from town and it was still off. Fortunately it came back on before they left for town. It was not at all as they represented.
They, two couples, wanted to go to town as do some of my guests. On the first night I told them that most of my guests did not go to town that much and the $75 gold card was only worthwhile if you intended to go to town a lot. At their request I sent them to town the first night with Armando and told them that after they had seen the town they would know if they intended to go to town frequently or not. I told them they could return that evening on Coastal Express and if they wanted to buy gold cards they could at that time. They chose not to.
Regardless of what they say Armando was and is the best deal for 4 persons at $30 US each way and its an anytime charter.. They continued to request his services. One trip he was not available and I could find no one cheaper than $35 US and I will assure you his staff does not drink and drive.
The restaurant advice I gave was accurate but not as they stated, I referred them to several restaurants as its fun to eat at different places when you are on vacation. I never claimed that other restaurants poisoned my guests, that is ridiculous as they are all my friends and we do spa services for our neighboring resorts as well.
The first night they were here they went to town and did not return till late. The next morning they approached me in a very offended fashion and said the AC had failed in the night and the screens were allowing mosquitoes in and they had seen a scorpion on the floor of the bathroom and they wanted their money back. I told them I would have the AC repaired by afternoon and they said that was not good enough so I changed them immediately to another room where they stayed inside with the AC going for most of their stay.
From the first day they brought in their groceries as do some and did not use the restaurant at all except for the breakfast that is included in their room rate. When they checked in I mistakenly told them it was not included as I did not remember the rate they had paid. When they asked about it in the next morning I checked my records and confirmed that breakfast was included, took about 30 seconds. There was no confrontation or argument of any kind.They never ate lunch or dinner in the restaurant ever. They also never ate at Rojo's as the claimed. North Ambergris Caye is not the best place for a budget traveler. Usually my guests let me know if something is wrong and I fix it, as I did with these guests. They emailed me to mail eye glasses they left and told me how much they enjoyed their stay. The old rusty refrig is also not so.

Bessie has been with me for 10 years, long before I bought this place and Miriam for over a year. Bessie is an excellent well trained cook. They are very nice gentle people that have a lot of pride in their work as do I. The guests did find 2 rocks in the beans as the girls had missed them and they were very embarrassed at their mistake. Fortunately the rocks were very large and no one bit them. The stuff about poorly cooked food out of a can is just not true we make all our bread and tortillas and make ever order fresh with no prepared ingredients at all. After the first day they complimented me on Bessie's cooking. The girls do not do the gardening but do pick fresh flowers for the rooms everyday.
We happily dealt with their few complaints but they showed no signs of wanting to socialize. They simply chose the wrong place, they needed to be in town where the action is and not relaxing on a private beach, which they never did.
We could never understand why they had picked us, they stayed inside with the AC running for most of their stay and we are a very outdoors place with lots of wildlife and snorkeling etc. They refused to turn off their AC's when they left which was also a bit off by our standards as we are environmentally very aware. We try to respond to our guests needs and desires and leave them alone if they want to be left alone, which seemed to be the case this time. It is summer and we do have high humidity and 90 degree weather which made them very uncomfortable.
I am in the hospitality industry by choice, I like meeting all the new people and like helping them come to love Belize as I do. I don't drink and never go to bars. I am very active in our politics and environmental and conservation issues both locally and on the national level and appear on national TV and radio every two weeks discussing issues in Belize so not everyone shares their personal opinion of me.
As our website accurately depicts the place and location I am not sure how they made the mistake they did. We treated them in a professional and courteous manner at all times.
We are a small family here and take great pride in helping our guests have the best time we can and were saddened to read such a distorted review.
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54 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Tampa, Florida
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2010

We have been to San Pedro and North Ambergris resorts every year for going on 20 years now, got married there. This is by far the worst trip we had, food terrible, service worse. Owner/manager? very unpleasant person, won't be back Mike!

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 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.
, Owner at Xaman Ek Resort & Spa, responded to this review, July 20, 2010
We would like you all to know that we had no one from Florida staying in the Hotel during March. Thanks Mike
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 11, 2010

I had a great time here. Scuba Steve got me my certification and I had a blast. The hotel was very relaxing and Michael was very friendly. I would strongly recommend staying here to any travelers. As a single woman traveling alone, I felt very safe and comfortable. I would definitely come back.

Stayed December 2009, traveled solo
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2010

When we first arrived we thought it was far...but soon we realized the Ambergris system. Mike picked us up from the airport and dropped us off after a one week stay. The rest of the time you take the water taxi which comes buy regularly. Week bought a gold pass for the week which pasys for itself after threee trips.

Mike and his staff were great. The food is good, especially the breakfast. Mike is quick to help, I appreciate the ability to interact with the owner. He arranged some great dives with Steve and a day trip to Laminai with Daniel. Both the of guides new the area, what to see and where to go.

The snorkling just about 300 yards (you can swim or take the kayak out there) was great. nice clear water coral heads and fish.

Rooms were clean and serviced every day including fresh water.

Mike is fun to talk to, helpful, and been living in the isalnd a long time.

Copntrary to others claims, we had not mosquito bites but did encounter some noseeums if you go around the back, which is not needed. Did not see any cockroaches, but a few cute geckos and hermit crabs.

San Pedro is a scream...good food with friendly people.

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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.
Washington DC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2010

We had some fun on the trip but were disappointed by a few things and surprised by others. If you plan on visiting, we highly recommend taking the day trip to Lamanai (Mayan ruins). Unexpectedly, we did not have a single bad meal at any restaurant, and had 3 incredible meals at Rojo. The meals at Xaman Ek were also pretty good. A large downside to the trip was that it was hard to go snorkeling and you had to kayak for a long while or take an boat ride before you could really see anything worthwhile. The 2 bed apartment was reasonably sized, but the beds and pillows were not at all comfortable for adults. We slept extremely badly. The kitchen was large, but scantily equipped.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2010

Just returned from 5 days at Xaman Ek on Ambergris Caye. It is 5 units tucked into the quiet beachfront 5 miles north of San Pedro. Spacious, clean, relaxed atmosphere. Mike, the owner, goes out of his way to arrange a getaway matched to your desires. Some may choose a treatment at the spa on the premises. We dove every day. Mike arranged a local dive guide who was outstanding. Great knowledge of the reef at a fair price. While there are restaurants easily accessible by water taxi, Mike runs a kitchen that puts out excellent breakfasts and a variety of local seafood for lunch and dinner. Wireless internet if you just can't leave the world behind. We will definitely be returning to Xaman Ek. Unqualified positive recommendation.

  • Stayed February 2010, 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
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Louisiana
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 29, 2010

Xaman Ek is a large home on Ambergris Caye, Belize. If you are looking for relaxation, seclusion from tourists, beautiful blue water, great food at the on site restaurant, massages on site, pool and an owner ready to please, this is the place to visit. We went in January. The owner provided us with a guide who took us out snorkeling, diving, and fishing each day. There are 5 units available and we were one of two occupied, so literally had the place to ourselves. I would highly recommend it.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Xaman Ek Resort & Spa

Address: 5.5 miles North of San Pedro | PO Box 227, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize (Formerly Playa Blanca Beach Club)
Location: Belize > Belize Cayes > Ambergris Caye > San Pedro
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#28 Top resorts Hotel in San Pedro
#44 On the Beach Hotel in San Pedro
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Xamanek is located 5.5 miles north Ambergris Caye, Belize Central America. We are what you can describe as Paradise. Home Away from home. Our New and friendly staff and management awaits you to make your vacation a very reasonable and memorable one. We have a Spa and a Jamaica, Belize Cuisine restaurant {Jambel Jerk Pit} Our Prices are affordable and our Quality is on the high end. Book with us and you will experience what it is to be pampered. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Xaman Ek Hotel
Xaman Ek Resort & Spa Belize/San Pedro

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