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“Must Speak Spanish” 4 of 5 stars
Review of GHL Comfort Hotel Costa Azul

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GHL Comfort Hotel Costa Azul
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Zona Franca Pozos Colorados Km 19, Santa Marta, Colombia (Formerly Costa Azul Beach Hotel)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #33 of 59 Hotels in Santa Marta
Manizales, Colombia
1 review
“Must Speak Spanish”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2012

My four year old daughter and I spent Christmas here. It is very close to the airport and the weather was hot and sunny everyday. From other reviews, I asked for a room in the new building and it was a very clean room with modern finishings...a little too modern for my taste and I do wish that Hoteliers would realize that it is preferable to have somewhere to hang a towel, or to be able to assess the temperature of the shower without having to be in it, than to have granite countertops. The room only had a shower, so if you need a bathtub you will have to stay in the main building. There was lots of hot water, a minibar, flatscreen tv, a safe and a hairdryer.

Other than walking through the lobby to get to the pool and the restaurant, I was not in the main building of the hotel. There are two large pools, one for adults and one for kids and these are in between the restaurant and the hotel. The restaurant is basic as is the breakfast, bread, fruit, arepas, eggs, coffee and juice. The menu is also pretty basic and it is Colombia so the food is decent and well priced, but not super tasty. We did not have the all inclusive package so we usually ate lunch by the pool and had a small supper in our room.

The pools are definitely the best feature of the hotel. If you have small children, you will be very happy. There is a huge kids pool, 1/2 meter deep with a slide, and some fountains and because it is beside the restaurant and the restaurant has no walls you can sit and drink your coffee and watch your kids in the pool. The adult pool is only about 4.5 feet deep, but it is also huge and has a swim up bar, volleyball net and fountains. And the best thing about both is that the water is actually warm. They were also both very clean and Wilfredo the life guard is very accommodating. He took my daughter into the big pool because she wanted to learn how to swim and gave her some tips and let her sit on his back while he swam around the pool.

The beach was disappointing. There is a good view of the ocean from the hotel but you have to walk down some stairs beside the restaurant to the hotel's small section of the beach. The one time we went it was very rough and the water churns up all of the sand so that it is very brown. Also the fact that there are cargo and fuel ships a short way off shore doesn't make it feel very clean.

To address some of the issues in other reviews, you absolutely must speak Spanish because the staff knows very little English. My daughter, though 4, is fluent and I speak passable Spanish so we were fine. Also, having lived in Colombia for a year and a half now, I understand that service is never fast so I found that the staff were very helpful and friendly and went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

As for it being a day-use facility, I only noticed a few families using the hotel for the day. This is a bit ironic because one of the reasons I chose this hotel was due to the review that complained that there were too many Colombian families at the hotel. Having an only child I wanted to make sure that she had lots of playmates, so I thought this would be a good thing. There were children staying at the hotel but not swarms of them. The pools were never over-crowded, in fact the adult pool was almost empty a lot of the time and the common areas and the washrooms were very clean. I also had no security concerns and often left my bag with Kindle and camera on the pool chair while I was swimming with my daughter and had no problems.

So perhaps it comes down to culture, language and expectations. I would definitely recommend this hotel to families that speak some Spanish, who just want to relax and play in the pool. I know that if we return to Santa Marta we will definitely stay here again. Fabian the bellman, Marietha on the front desk and Wilfredo the lifeguard always had smiles and ensured we had a great vacation.

Room Tip: If you want a tub ask for the main building. If you want new, modern rooms ask for the new building...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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125 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    3 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2012

This is a difficult review to write because there are some very real discrepancies amongst the various areas being rated. Unit satisfaction is quite high; the room was clean and well appointed and the beds and linens were satisfactory albeit they‘re now well worn. The activities and amenities were also quite good; the two pools are huge and kept clean and well maintained except for one glaring issue which I’ll get to in a minute. The hotel is VERY isolated so there’s not much in the way of restaurants or shopping anywhere nearby but the hotel can’t be held to blame for this; it is what it is. And while the restaurant had a limited menu the food quality was quite high and the prices were reasonable given the circumstances.

The real downfall however was the level - or lack thereof - of anything remotely resembling customer service. My wife and I were the only two non-Colombians in the hotel for six days and we were made to feel like second class citizens. The way we were treated in comparison to other guests was glaringly obvious and while mildly amusing at first, quickly became frustrating and made us feel awkward, uncomfortable and unwelcome. We were in Colombia for four weeks and have traveled extensively through Mexico and Central America and this was the first time we have ever come across such behavior or have ever been treated in such a manner.

The other disappointment was the hotel is a day use facility on week-ends and the two pools were overrun with large family groups all day on Saturday and Sunday. I have to be careful in how I present this because it would be easy to interpret this as a prejudicial remark but this couldn’t be further from the truth. How the resort generates cash flow on week-ends is entirely at the hotels discretion. I just feel that this should be published so paying guests are made aware of this fact and understand that they most likely won’t have access to the pool facilities on weekends. There are also security concerns because during the day any number of people were able to wander at will from the beach to the hotel with no controls in place whatsoever. The other concern was cleanliness. The number of day-use customers obviously overwhelmed the cleaning staff and the washrooms and public areas quickly became dirty to the point of being a health hazard because of overflowing toilets etc.

My overall review is therefore completely unsatisfactory and I would urge anyone but a Colombian family to give this hotel a wide berth.

Room Tip: The rooms in the new tower are much better apppointed
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 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.
Tampere, Finland
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2012

As a non-spanish speaking couple we struggeled a lot in this hotel. One of the bellboys spoke english a bit, and a girl at the reception even less. We missed a lot of information because of this language barrier.
With a help of an other guest we managed to book a tour to Cartagena with an english guide at the hotel tour agency. We waited at five in the morning as planned but nobody ever showed up, and we never got an explanation what happened (or we did- in spanish, didn't help a bit). Bad, bad service!
The rooms were old and we had a troop of ants there. The floors were so dirty I used shoes all the time. But the view over the ocean was great and that saved a lot. Plus we had wi-fi connection on the balcony. Also a big plus for the small mercado on the property.
The pools were big but dirty, and no clear water at the beach either. The food wasn't anything special and El Rodadero and Santa Marta were too faraway...
Wouldn't recommend this place, stay in Santa Marta instead wich is a lovely city.

Room Tip: Ask for a room on higher floors- the view is great!
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2005

This is a very peaceful small hotel with a huge swimming pool and one for the kids as well. Nice little poolside resaurant. Ok beach. No white sand or clear water, but ok. No AC in the rooms but not a big deal. Nice balconies. Suspect the maid pilfered some pesos so make sure you put all the valuables in the safe when you leave. OTherwise good service, although they lost the reservation so if you make it on line you may want to confirm with the hotel. Very clean and overall a good experience with minor problems. Not much English spoken by hotel crew.

Stayed November 2005
Was this review helpful? Yes 17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about GHL Comfort Hotel Costa Azul

Address: Zona Franca Pozos Colorados Km 19, Santa Marta, Colombia (Formerly Costa Azul Beach Hotel)
Location: Colombia > Magdalena Department > Santa Marta District > Santa Marta
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #33 of 59 Hotels in Santa Marta
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3.5 star — GHL Comfort Hotel Costa Azul 3.5*
Number of rooms: 67
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