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“A beautiful -but very awkward- place to stay”

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White Sands Cove Resort
Ranked #6 of 54 Hotels in San Pedro
Certificate of Excellence
South Brunswick
Level Contributor
19 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“A beautiful –but very awkward– place to stay”
Reviewed November 26, 2012

It is truly difficult to review White Sands Cove, as my up-and-down experience here was at some times pleasant, others tiring, and yet other times baffling. In some ways, it was one of the most beautiful places I've stayed. As far as island paradises go, it fulfilled many of my expectations. But in other, more bizarre ways, the hotel experience was unfulfilling. Often, I felt the company was having an identity crisis.

Let's begin at the beginning. White Sands Cove is situated a few miles north of San Pedro proper, making its situation so-so. On the one hand, it's remote enough that the property is shielded from the tourism and noise of the town, but it also means you'll need to pay $10 US a person to get in and out of San Pedro by (often late) water taxi. A plus for seclusion, but a minus if you'd like to see more of the city or eat on a reasonable budget.

For these reasons, the shuttle driver Isaiah came to pick us up from the docks upon our arrival to the island. It was nice to have a personal taxi service, though it does cost double the rate of taking the water taxi to White Sands.

Isaiah was a nice guy, but he put us in a bad position for our first two days at White Sands. He stopped us at a grocery store and advised us to buy "snacks" for our hotel, so we picked up chips, beer, cookies, etc. Upon our arrival, we learned the on-site restaurant was not open for breakfast, so we really should have bought eggs, cereal, and other essentials, not snacks. We ended up biking half an hour and paying a decent chunk of change for breakfast the next day as a result.

This was not the only inconvenience afforded my wife and I by the restaurant. While I could take or leave some of the dishes (wings were great, fish was okay), I was happy to have a convenient dining spot 30 seconds from my room. But a few days into the trip, when we were returning from a long day of adventure, we found the restaurant closed at 8:45 pm. Even though our hotel info book and the sign outside says it's open till 10, the bar/restaurant closed early because "nobody was showing up." To me, this was a huge disappointment considering the hotel restaurant is the only safe, easy way to get food. What is the point of having restaurant hours if they can be changed with no notice? We were forced to eat our "snacks" for dinner and go to bed hungry.

It's weird because it isn't anyone's specific fault. The staff is, for the most part, nice. However, there is a very odd dynamic that made us feel unwelcome. You see, the groundskeeper and (presumably) the manager, Marlon, has been there for a long time. He's worked at WSC for years, to the point where people in the city asked us how he was doing when we mentioned where we were staying. However, more recently, there is a couple that is related to the grounds owners that moved in, and it seems like they are positioned to take/share Marlon's job. It is not immediately clear who is in charge of what or when, which makes seeking help awkward. And I get the feeling that the group dynamic is not cozy.

As a result, getting straight, timely answers is not always easy. You will go to the office, and nobody is there. Or sometimes too many people are there. Or Marlon will help you with something, but Ben will too, and then two taxis will show up instead of one! I am not sure what the endgame is, but in the interim the situation is inconvenient, and I hope Marlon isn't getting pushed out of something he has worked for for so long.

The miscommunications between the staff led to other strange problems. The day before we checked out, my wife an I were returning to our (double bedroom) room, in hurried need of a bathroom. When we got inside, we strangely found that the door handle to the bathroom we had been using was replaced with a lock! Not a locked door handle, mind you, a locked deadbolt (see photos). I honestly thought I had walked into the wrong hotel room! All our possessions from the room had been moved, and there was no notice or obvious reason why this had happened.

When we spoke to the staff, they told us they locked the bedroom because they were concerned we would run the A/C in both bedrooms (we hadn't done this) and they wanted to save power. You would think they could just talk to us, or leave us a note, or... I perhaps (is this insane?) just wait the 12 hours for us to check out before locking us out of our rooms. Ironically, when they agreed to open the door, we found whoever locked it had left the ceiling fan running! In their effort to save power, they actually wasted untold hours of power. What was I to think?

Unfortunately, the staff was not the only awkward element of our stay. During our trip, we came to realize that half the "guests" at the hotel were actually condo owners. While there was nothing wrong with them as people, they all knew each other and hung out together, which made the hotel feel cliquey. The other traveling couples we talked to agreed the dynamic was weird, and they felt uncomfortable striking up real conversation with all the friends and family that owned White Sands Cove. We felt like we didn't belong, and that, in the ideal world, WSC wouldn't have hotel guests at all, and it was just a temporary evil until they could finish selling condos.

So, with so many problems, why did I give WSC an "average" review? Well, there were a decent number of positives. The rooms themselves were nice, clean, and quiet (minus morning barking from the otherwise cute dogs). The grounds are well maintained, easily traversed, and very beautiful. The views overlooking the ocean are gorgeous, and while the hotel isn't perfectly situated, it's not hard to get to places you need to go. Most importantly, the pricing was very fair, as long as you keep in mind you will be paying more to go into town.

The on-grounds scuba/snorkeling shop was also good, with friendly, enthusiastic staff. They're a little averse to bad-weather trips, which I guess is good, but if you're planning a short vacation, you may be forced to hire another company if WSC's crew won't take you out.

In summary, White Sands Cove is having an identity crisis. It's nice to look at, but it doesn't feel like the management has figured out how it wants to run, who's in charge, or what amenities it wants to offer, when. Hell, when we were there, the staff had only just learned they owned a coffee pot! As a result of this confusion, the customer service is often absent, ambiguous, or simply unfathomable, as noted with our door lock issue.

It feels as though WSC is trying to "grow up" from being a hotel to being a condo resort, and it's in the middle of its awkward teenage years. There are some growing pains, some acne, and a few social faux pas. Will White Sands Cove mature by the time you arrive? Perhaps. But if you're not willing to take the chance, there are many comparable options along the beach.

Room Tip: The garden rooms are only a 30-45 second walk from the beach. Unless you absolutely need an ocean vi...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank WiNG_Vacances
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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436 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (126)
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Tallahassee
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed November 23, 2012

My husband and I stayed at White Sands Cove for five nights and loved every one of them. The hotel is beautiful. The room had a small kitchenette, TV & DVD player, very comfortable bed, and nice, hot shower. It's located a mile or so north of San Pedro, which we found to be the perfect location. It was easy to get into San Pedro when we wanted - either via water taxi or bicycle - and easy to get back to the hotel when we were ready to relax. There are numerous restaurants along or near the beach, in close walking distance to the hotel. Nikki and Ben are incredibly friendly and helpful. Anything we needed, they helped with. Nikki, Ben, & Marlin helped us organize outings, and helped us to order dinner in on the nights we needed down time (which we often needed after all day snorkeling trips). I don't have one complaint about my stay at White Sands - in fact, I've decided to make it a new annual tradition. So, if you're thinking about going to Belize? GO! And if you're thinking about staying at White Sands? DO IT!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank cfgonzalez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Orleans, Louisiana
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed November 19, 2012

White Sands was very relaxing. Marlon,Doris and the cute lil guy that took us diving were all very accomadating. Bikes available on premises to ride along beach with the locals, book excursions or just lay around in a hammock drinking coccunut thanks to the personal service you get from Marlon. Grounds were quiet and clean. Between bikes and golf crts we covered most of the island and I would like to say we were at the best Resort by far. I don't like to visit the same place twice but I will be returning to White Sands in 2013.

Room Tip: All great view. Upstairs closest to beach.
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Barca1971
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Level Contributor
14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed November 18, 2012

We stayed at White Sands Cove at the beginning of November. It's well-located on the island, being just a short water taxi ride away from all of the action, yet still separate enough to provide tranquility. The resort offers the perfect balance of fun and relaxation. You can do simple things like ride the bikes on the beach or take a kayaks out for swimming and snorkeling. It's also the right place to depart for some of the islands more adventurous activities. The onsite dive shop was a convenient way to snorkel, fish, and SCUBA. We ate and drank at the bar every day and thought the food and staff were great. The staff even made fresh ceviche with the lobsters that we brought back from a spear fishing trip. It was awesome!
The biggest surprise of the trip was the balance of a small perfectly manicured resort with the company of a nice group of guests. I do believe that there were more guests at White Sands than there may have been at some of big commercial-looking resorts nearby. Yet, it always felt intimate. It was my son and I there, on our first ever father-son trip and so many of the guests at the resort embraced him and his young adventurous spirit. It was pretty amazing.
Special thanks to Ben for picking us up one rainy night and to the kitchen staff for going out of their way to accommodate some special request.
We like to try new places often, but White Sands Cove will definitely see us for many repeat visits. Great resort!!

Room Tip: We got to stay in the unit closest to the water and on the upper level. It's spacious enough fo...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
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    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank David R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rochester Hills, Michigan
1 review
Reviewed November 17, 2012

We stayed at White Sands Cove during the first week of November and had one of the most relaxing vacations that we have probably ever had. Getting there is an adventure, but well worth the effort. Our accomodations were perfect, an out of the way suite with a large bedroom, seating area with kitchen and large screened-in porch. It was private, very clean and well maintained. Sitting on the beach or around the pool and looking out over the water, the view is like something from a travel magazine. I could have spent the entire week drinking a great Rum Punch by the bar (thank you, Ben and Doris), enjoying the view and the warm tropical weather reading a book; it was just so relaxing. We did go on a couple of excursions; fishing, snorkeling and to Caye Caulker, all arranged by the manager, Marlon. Our fishing trip was great, this was the kind of fishing my husband loves, throw out a line, and reel in a red snapper. We rented a golf cart for the week to get into town, and really enjoyed eating at many of the local restaurants, (the pupusas were a definite favorite), and shopping the small stores in town. White Sands is a great destination for a true vacation experience.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank heathermi6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norwalk, ca
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed November 7, 2012

We stayed here at the end of October. The resort was near empty. The grounds are kept up nicely and the property is beautiful. The staff was always helpful and friendly and by the end of our stay it was like having to leave friends. A couple of notes, 1 - PIZZA Wednesdays (kitchen is closed Wednesday night) and 2 - Say "hi" to Chico and Chica (just go and find out).

Overall, our stay was great. We stayed in the hummingbird loft suite which was nice. My only complaint would be the kitchen was a bit slow at turning out meals during dinner and the food selection was small although the food was excellent. There are plenty of other resorts within walking distance which gives you a lot of options for food and entertainment.

I would certainly recommend this resort to anyone staying on the Island. A side bonus is Scuba School Belize has an office out of this resort making it a great place to go diving from.

Tips for staying here:
1 - Food at resorts (any) is expensive for dinner
2 - Travel into town is best by water taxi ($5 pp each way)
3 - Bring bug spray, seriously.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank shanerene02
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
girlchisholm, General Manager at White Sands Cove Resort, responded to this review, November 14, 2012
We are glad you enjoyed your stay. We are continually working to add new entrees our menu and appreciate your feedback. Thank you for choosing White Sands Cove.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chandler, Arizona, United States
Level Contributor
20 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed October 21, 2012

It's hard to put into words how great out experience was at White Sands Cove. The staff exceeded all of our expectations, It was like having our own personal assistant, we let them know the excursions we wish to take they made it happen, we asked them about a golf cart to travel the Island within the hour they informed us it was on its way. They arranged to have it delivered and picked up eliminating any hassles for us. Ben was our man at the bar his Rum Punch was the bomb he made sure you were never thirsty. If you ever get by as Ben about 3's a fun little game of dice. For us White Sands Cove will be a place we use to measure how well other resorts take care of there guests.

Room Tip: Rooms near the pool and bar have a fantastic view
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Brent M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
girlchisholm, General Manager at White Sands Cove Resort, responded to this review, October 25, 2012
Thank you for your review. It was our pleasure to have you at the resort and we wish you many more Happy Anniversaries!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about White Sands Cove Resort

Property: White Sands Cove Resort
Address: Laguna De Cayo Frances | 2.5 Miles North of San Pedro, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Phone Number:
Location: Belize > Belize Cayes > Ambergris Caye > San Pedro
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in San Pedro
#4 Romantic Hotel in San Pedro
#5 On the Beach Hotel in San Pedro
#15 Family Hotel in San Pedro
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — White Sands Cove Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tucked away among tropical fauna and turquoise waters, White Sands Cove Resort sits 2.5 miles north of San Pedro, on the Island of Ambergris Caye. Just off the coast of Belize, our cozy boutique resort is tastefully defined by its unique balance of tranquility and adventure. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
White Sands Cove Hotel San Pedro
Hotel White Sands Cove
White Sands Cove Resort Belize/San Pedro

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