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“Almost..... but not quite.... 3 star experience at 5 star price”

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Na Balam Beach Hotel
Ranked #11 of 37 Hotels in Isla Mujeres
Reviewed April 14, 2013

The location is the best thing about this hotel, it was fantastic, literally on the beach. the fact that beds and parasols were supplied was a plus.
The reception staff were very nice and the odd time we did make a query were very helpful. They are extremely nice and they go out of their way to help to the extent they can. the cleaning staff also are very sweet. although it did take 4 days to get across that we need 3 towels for 3 people. and we were only supplied with 1 pillow each on arrival. i had asked prior to our stay for a large double and a single but it seems this was pretty much ignored.
However, in the room no hairdryer or fridge supplied. For the price of the room, whilst not extortionate it was not cheap, I would expect these as standard. the quality of the room and furnishings was quite good although the side until did have a broken draw and only 1 chair and bedside table was supplied for 3 people. The fridge is essential in such a hot climate and meant we couldnt have cold drinks in our room. no tea/coffee kettle supplied either. Basically just beds and shower/toilet.

The complimentary breakfast at the supposed top class Zazil-Ha hotel restaurant was a joke - continental breakfast is the only option from their menu and this consists of;
*either a fruit plate or fruit juice - not both.
*1 cup of coffee or tea
*1 slice of toast with a sml butter/jam packet
this was 80 ps on menu and when we asked if we could change our sons for pancakes one morning which was on the menu at a cheaper 75ps were told 'No, we cannot change anything!! I think this is part of their customer service training.
Service in the restaurant was slow and surly, sometimes waiting 20 mins for breakfast after the order was taken, then half would not arrive and when we asked the waiter no apologies, just 'its coming sir'. i don't think i saw them smile once, their was no chat or interaction - not even a good morning how are you! we were made to feel as if we were a nuisance and inconveniencing the staff just by being there.
we met with a group of friends one evening and wanted to put two tables together as their were ten of us but were told we were not allowed, they have adifferent area for this. despite the place being empty apart from us.
after the first 3 mornings we decided that we'd rather pay for a better breakfast and better service at the Rooster in town.
The poor service score below is down to this mainly.

this was a shame as the actual food they serve is good but its just not worth the hassle, the wait and the attitude to eat there. Next door at the separate Fenix its a totally different story. Even though one of the waiters works in both - he smiled and was really helpful and chatty in the fenix but opposite in Zazil ha - strange?Could be their training as opposed to the actual individuals, in which case does the management not bother to read trip advisor or their reviews as this seems to be the key complaint about Na Balam.

they have a lovely pool and jacuzzi and yoga most days in their wonderful grounds which even though we did not use either was non intrusive and the chanting each evening and morning was quite relaxing.

If they changed the breakfast to an allowance or at least treated guests like adults with a sensible choice and trained the staff to smile and be observant and punctual it would make a big difference to their rating. They are a 5 star hotel with a 3 star rating and its such a shame as with just a few tweaks they could be scoring 9 or 10. The potential is there. However as it stands we will definitely return to the island again but having seen the choices of other hotels and rental apartments and the prices these are available for we will more likely choose these.

If you could get cheaper rooms here without breakfast then it is definitely worth a visit if your first time to the island and I would say one of best locations in the world.

Room Tip: ocean view is perfect for beach access but can be more noisy and are more expensive. Pool rooms are...
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank Shellems
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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384 - 390 of 873 reviews

Reviewed April 13, 2013

I have stayed at Na Balam several times over the years and have always enjoyed my time there. I have been hosting and managing yoga retreats since 2009 at Na Balam, and just returned from the 5th retreat with them. this March 2013 Satya Yoga Retreat was by far the best!
It goes without saying that Na Balam's location (playa norte) is the best beach on the island! The yoga palapa is beautiful and always a favorite. The staff is wonderful....Norma, Efren, Javier, Ruben, Adely, Francisco, David, Jorma, and many others made our stay so special. All 14 of my post-retreat evaluations raved about the service! Rooms are spacious and clean and comfy. New jacuzzi by the pool is great, and the food continues to be some of the best on the island!
I will continue to host retreats at Na Balam and highly recommend this Isla landmark!

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank BellaSFBayArea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2013

This hotel could be amazing but it is not...it has the best beach in Isla Mujeres but the worst waiting staff. There is this guy at the restaurant who is particularly rude, he even checks on other waiters making sure they don't go off their limits trying to be nice. He refused to serve us the coffee included in our breakfast in the benches inside the restaurant because the coffee included has to be served in a table...we also asked the the front desk who the manager was and they said they didn't know, a day later we met the owner who happens to live in the hotel too. Weird right?Our room was across the street so we didn't have ocean view and so was the swimming pool. This is a dark secluded in an area, so with kids who like to go back and forth from the beach to the pool it is pretty annoying, it's not an option.The hotel has plenty of un used space on the beach side to make a pool, wonder why they went across the street Lack of interest?. The continental breakfast included in most rooms is coffee, orange juice OR fruit, not both and two slices of toast. The waiters at the beach never come to offer drinks. One of the things I was mostly displeased with is that they rent to other people who aren't staying at the hotel, beach umbrellas and lounge chairs, so when we got there to lay on the beach after lunch there weren't any available! We finally got one when some people left but, we had to listen to these folks who brought their own ice coolers, beach toys, diapers of course, towels and loud music on a radio laying next to us. Since they aren't staying at the hotel they would use the restaurant restrooms and the showers. It was a group of 8 using a lounge mattress for two!! So if you want to enjoy this beach, stay elsewhere and come and rent an umbrella for 18 dlls per day and bring all the stuff you want, bring cash because you can't even charge your bill to your room, you must pay cash. so what is the advantage?Why pay for the rooms? If you to walk a few steps more and pay a lot less with the same advantages as the hotel guest which is close to none, same lack of service on the beach, pay cash and be on a crowded place... They could have an awesome place but they just don't care, and they even train their people not to care...

Room Tip: actually stay in another place close by and go rent their umbrellas and lounge chairs. Is just as go...
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank ChicktravelerTx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 10, 2013

We will preface this with the fact that we booked the room with another couple using a prepaid internet coupon that had a preset room price. That being said I'm guessing we didn't get the best rooms in the house.

The hotel has two areas of rooms, beachfront, and across the street with beach access. Ours were across the street with beach access (100'). Our room was on the ground floor and our friends was on the second floor. While the second floor room was nicer, palapa roof and updated bathroom (vessel sink, etc) the steps are very steep. Anyone having difficulty with steps or with children should request a 1st floor room. Our room on the 1st floor faced the pool and was kept very clean by the staff but in need of an update (bathroom, cracked floor tiles).

The restaurant was on the beach with a spectacular view, the food was pretty good, and we felt we had good service by the wait staff. While a continental breakfast came with the room it was pretty minimal and a restaurant credit would have been better as there were items with more substance that were actually less expensive than the continental breakfast price on the menu. While we were on the beach we never had a waiter ask us if we wanted a beverage or food so we walked the 75' to the bar to get our own. Not a big deal, just surprising.

We did notice that a LOT of boats also like the Norte Beach area and anchor there during the day so you might not get the pristine view you could be expecting but they don't arrive till around noon and clear out by sunset.

Based on its location on Norte Beach I would consider staying here again but spring for a beachfront room if I could get the right price. If you are looking for a laid back vacation that's easy to get to but a little off the grid, Isla Mujeres is the place for you!

P.S. Just a little advice. We've traveled in Mexico for years and have consistently found the beds are hard.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank b1j2m3c1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 9, 2013

Na Balam is in a terrific location on North Beach in Isla Mujeres. The beach here is the best on the island. My husband and I spent a week here, our room was a double, facing the pool. The room was very basic; no tv, no phone, no radio, very, very little decoration. Very basic but we were okay with that. The hotel is on the beach, it has a restaurant, spa services and offers yoga classes every day. Our hotel fee included the continental breakfast; a plate of fruit, coffee, bread w/butter and jelly. It was pretty good but on the downside, the service at the restaurant was terrible. We had breakfast there four days out of the seven days we stayed, the other three we just didn't feel like dealing with the bad service. The waiters at this restaurant were rude, usually ignored us. One day we had to wait over 15 minutes for someone to come to our table even though we were the only ones in the restaurant at the time. The only reason the waiter came to us is because my husband went and asked for service. Another time when we asked for the check the female cashier slammed it on the counter, in front of my husband and walked away. It was very unpleasant. There was one older gentleman, a busboy, who was very nice and professional. Always made sure the tables were cleared and our coffee filled. It's too bad he's not one of the main servers because he certainly works very, very hard and is good at his job. When I complemented him he looked out into the beautiful beach and said, "with this view how can I cannot be happy coming to work?" Unfortunately we didn't get his name, they don't wear name tags or we didn't notice any. Other than the bad service at the restaurant the hotel itself is very nice. If you can, stay in the rooms closer to the beach, they are more expensive but have beautiful views, unless of course you don't mind a very basic room like the one we had. And keep in mind that basic doesn't mean cheap. We spent about $1,000 for seven days and several hundreds more enjoying drinks by the beach. Overall, this is a great place and we would definitely stay here again, I just hope that management can improve the service at the restaurant. Or don't include it as free continental breakfast because it's offensive to have to deal with such bad attitudes. It may seem trivial but it was a big deal to us. We're on vacation, we want happy experiences. :) Last but not least, one of our favorite things about Na Balam, were the awesome iguanas running around the property! Big iguanas but absolutely beautiful! We couldn't get enough of them!

Room Tip: I would recommend staying in the rooms on the side with ocean view. The property is split into two s...
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Flaquita395
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 7, 2013

Tonight is our last night's stay at Na Balam. Oh, how I wanted to depart tomorrow with fond memories of this place. The property is situated on, without a doubt, the prettiest beach on isla mujeres. But a quiet room with working amenities is more important to ensure a night of restful sleep. I wish that was in store for me tonight. But it is not. Unlike the previous four nights, I get to look forward to hearing the compressor on the ground floor (room 33 is up a precarious flight of wooden steps ) turn on every 7 minutes and run for 3 minutes. I get to listen to the uneven purr of the A/C unit and to the tap tap tap of the overhead fan. I had requested a room change yesterday but that would have relocated us to near the restaurant that features music on Saturday night until 2 am. And the waitstaff in the restaurant and on the beach--if you want to have to ask two or three times for something, or feel like you are being ignored and/or treated rudely, Na Balam is your kind of place. It must be mentioned, however, that our room was spotless and once housekeeping figured out we like more than one bar of soap and replenishment to footer toiletries, things were fine. To end on another positive note--the beach here is stunningly superb.

Room Tip: Avoid room 33
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank Julie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2013

Love the small Island of Isla and noticed Na Balam on a day visit last year. Decided to visit and stay a few days last month. Arrived on the Island and decided to walk the 1/2 mile or so from the ferry terminal to Na Balam. If it's a very hot day and you dont feel like walking, rent a golf cart for the day or have one of the numerous guys with 3 wheeled cart-bikes take your luggage for you while you walk with them. Arrived a couple of hours prior to official check in but was greeted immediately and checked in with no trouble/no additional cost. Our Room (#13) happened to be right next to the wonderful beach by the Fenix Bar so location was convenient, but could get noisy during evening/night hours due to the partying/music at the Bar. No TV in our room, which was fine for us. May be an issue for others. For younger folks who come to party, this may be a perfect room location. It was not for us. However, the sound of the in room AC unit helped create a bit of white noise that cancelled some of the bar music out. the king sized bed wass VERY firm but thats how my wife and I like it..we both slept soundly through the entire night even with the music from the bar thumping. When we arrived my wife and I both noticed a LOT (as in..10-15) mosquito-like bugs in the room. They seemed to congregate mainly near the closet/safe area. Initially I didnt think they were mosquitos due to it being March and because I didnt see the usual black and white stripes on them, but they were the same size and based on the numerous small red itchy bumps I had the following morning(and some that I still have today over a week later), appears they were indeed mosquitos. And I had even applied bug repellant to myself just prior to going to bed. Silly me for not buying insecticide and spraying the room to kill them before going to bed. On day #2 my wife and I both noticed LOUD gurgling emanating from the shower and sink drains. A few minutes later we both witnessed water bubbling up from the shower drain and sink drain, and the bubbling up included water and old hair coming up from the drain into the sink and some sort of black debris coming up into the shower. We contacted the front desk who immediately sent a maintenance guy who stated that since it was late, nothing he could really do and it had to wait until morning. My wife contacted the front desk who stated that they would offer to move us to another room, but the hotel was completely booked...so we had no choice but to remain in the room and endure the loud gurgling and backed up drain issue all night. The next day the issue subsided as the front desk mentioned that they were aware of the issue happening previously and its due to sand clogging up the sewage system/drains. Perhaps a build up from previous guests, because we surely didnt haul in a ton of sand oursleves. I also noticed that almost each morning, Island Utility workers on motorcycles seemed to be working on the sewage system under the manhole cover in the street just outside the hotel..so perhaps that had something to do with the issue. Whatever the root cause, it was not a pleasant experience to have the drain backing up like that.

All in all, our overall trip was very good. Location of the hotel itself is excellent. I'd suggest being on the lookout for the mosquitos and making sure you select your room location within the hotel wisely. While we will repeat our visit to the Island, we will opt to check airbnb for one of the many private villas available on the island. Many are like small apartments with kitchens, etc for the same price as NaBalam. Location wont be directly on this near perfect beach, but the beauty of Isla is everything is within a few minutes golf cart ride away.

Room Tip: Room #13 is within just a few feet of the beach bar (Fenix) located next door. Depending on your pre...
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank RB954
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Na Balam Beach Hotel

Address: Calle Zazil Ha 118 | Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres 77400, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Isla Mujeres
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#5 Spa Hotel in Isla Mujeres
#7 On the Beach Hotel in Isla Mujeres
Price Range: $123 - $239 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Na Balam Beach Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 32
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The love for nature, an admiration to the Mayan culture and a concern for holistic wellness are reflected in this haven of peace and serenity. Na Balam offers you a place to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean sea and its sunsets with personalized services and attention. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Na Balam Beach
Na Balam Beach Isla Mujeres

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