The Playa Tortuga Resort is a good example of why a large, motel-like resort should never have been built on Isla Colon. While guests may want to stay at the only so-called "full service resort" on Isla Colon, beware of what you wish for. Let's face it--you are better off choosing between the hotels in Bocas Town (if you are here to party and don't mind the noise and wild night atmosphere) or in one of several quieter, bed and breakfast and villa properties up the road from the Tortuga in the Bluff Beach area.
From the time we were banded with our plastic wristband at the Tortuga, we had a sinking feeling we had made a very bad mistake. Our room on the bottom floor (the floor nearest to the sewage treatment facility) smelled pretty rank and when one of the local gardeners revved up his weedwacker and blew grass and dirt all over the terrace while we sat admiring the limited beach view, we just smiled because you can't make this stuff up. The limited beach view is a function of the rather limited beach (about 50 feet of not very appealing dirty beachfront) and this is a real pity because just up the road there is 8 kms. of some of the nicest beach you will every experience (separated by a pot-holed road that insulates it from the squalor of the Tortuga area).
We had planned a boat trip from the Tortuga the next day, so we still felt committed and we went to find the activities desk to see about when we should be ready the next morning. Well, finding the activities desk was easy enough, but finding the activities dude Maurizio was another matter. Maurizio is a friendly kind of guy who really enjoys his lunch breaks, coffee breaks, and just about everything about his job. The problem is that he (and the hotel management) are just not very good at it. Yes, they had lost our reservation for the boat trip, and yes, they recommended that we call our tour operator to see what had gone amiss. Well, our tour operator did manage to straighten things out with a few phone calls, but not so much as a "sorry for the inconvenience" from Maurizio or the hotel management.
Before you dismiss this review, let me say that we are not extremely picky or unreasonable, but we do like people to care about their guests and to try to do their jobs in a friendly and reasonably effective way. This only the second negative review I have posted on TripAdvisor in over 8 years.
So, we headed out to lunch at the pier on the property for a forgettable meal and wondered what to do next. We fired up TripAdvisor and found a number of great options on the island, including the Bluff Beach Retreat where we secured a room for (amazingly) about the same price.
When I went back to the desk to check out hours after we had checked in, the young man at the desk somehow didn't seem to be very surprised, although he did say that he had a message that he had neglected to give me earlier and he seemed pretty busy with a few other urgent concerns. No one from the hotel management inquired as to why we were leaving. It was Carnaval week, so occupancy was good, so why bother?
From then on, we were about 20 minutes away from Paradise up the beach at the Beach Bluff Retreat and we didn't look back. (I am posting a photo of the beach just up the road from the Playa Tortuga to give you a sense of what you are missing.)
Try to find a room not too close to the sewage treatment area.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.