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“Great Vacation at Bella Vista”
Review of Bella Vista Hotel

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Bella Vista Hotel
Ranked #5 of 23 Hotels in Porlamar
Gatineau, Québec
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Great Vacation at Bella Vista”
Reviewed January 19, 2006

Hello! My spouse and I have just come back from Bella Visa Hotel on Margarita Island. We had a wonderful time; at this point, I would like to re-assure all of you that, like me, read reviews from this site just before leaving and got very very nervous.

The Flight
Our flight was delayed because of bad weather in Ottawa – happens all the time in winter country. The Airline staff really made the difference, and was most pleasant. It was a great flight after all. To ensure we did not arrive too late in Margarita, the pilot actually flew at a higher altitude allowing for faster speeds; at our arrival point, our delay was of least than 30 minutes. At the Airport, we were greeted by 2 of Go Travel Direct (GTD) Staff, Josée and Paolo (I nicknamed him Senor Meteo….)

The Hotel
At the hotel, we were promptly directed to a room (like for conferences) where we were greeted by hotel staff with drinks (that was kind of nice!). We picked up our key and were directed to the Front desk for Safe Deposit Box and Television Remote Control (free, or course). They will require you to leave an imprint of your card for “deposit” as the Safe will cost you 4000 Bolivares (Bs.) or 2 $US (convert Bs. To $US by dividing by 2000). Take the safe – GTD strongly suggests you do so, and as in any hotels, there are thefts. 2$UD a day is not worth risking ruining your trip.

The room we had was on the 8th Floor and it was perfectly clean, and a fair size – same as you would get in Canadian Hotels. Other people have told us that they did not like their room (air conditioning too noisy, another one was the view – they wanted the Ocean), but went back to the Front Desk and they were immediately changed. We did not have the Ocean View, and did not care for it either; our view was on Porlamar and its beautiful mountain scenery. When we wanted to go on a balcony (happened once…) we went to friends’ room (people we met over there).

The Hotel Food
At the buffet, food was okay – I did not say good, and I did not say terrible either; I have to say it was more Venezuelan than Canadian, and that is OK by me; I am there for a total experience, for better or worse – this was in-between. There was usually choice of beef, chicken, fish, and newly introduced thanks to our GTD reps, pasta, which many people including my spouse, though was good. Do not get discouraged over the buffet – think creatively; you can easily diversify your places of eating if you plan your stay well. Here are a few tips: there is a pizza restaurant (right next to the buffet) that is included in your all inclusive – no buffet then; an “à la carte” supper is included in your stay – another night of something else than the buffet; Tours sold by GTD usually include a meal at a restaurant in Margarita – yet another change from the buffet; you want to have a taste of home, well have some of the French Fries from the Pool Restaurant – although they are not free, they were not bad at all for the price (just under 1.50 $UD) – portions are larger at night than during the day. Burgers and Hot Dogs are served daily between lunch and supper at the Pool bar, are free and good!

The Bella Vista Beach
Unfortunately, the Beach was not what I either imagined or liked. It was not very clean or big. The Hotel had set up an area with a cord where there were chairs and umbrellas. An important thing to know about Margarita Island, is the fact all Beaches are Public (unless I have terribly been misinformed), so Hotels and Resorts cannot prevent anyone from going there (except in the “cord” area). A Security Guard was always on duty for the few times we went there to walk. On the day we left, Hotel Staff we working intensively at cleaning up the Beach, so it can only get better when you go there. I had actually read another person’s comment and remembered it about Bella Vista Beach and it read : “The Beach is useable but it will give you a perfect excuse for going to other Beaches”. I took this person’s advice, and that’s exactly what we did.

The Other Beaches

El Agua
Josée and Paolo informed us at our arrival meeting that a trip was organized to Playa El Agua; my advice, is for you to go! It’s free and Playa El Agua is considered by many the nicest of all Beaches. The Beach is about 30 to 40 minutes from the Hotel and you will enjoy some nice scenery. The Beach is approximately 1 Km long, aqua blue waters (unlike the Bella Vista Beach), and plenty of space for everyone. Two chairs and one umbrella cost us 20 000 Bs (I understand prices go up by 5 000 Bs on weekends). There are “BeachClubs” all along the Beach – some nicer and less nice ones. Go anywhere, you should be well served. Playa El Agua is a “Tourist Beach”. There are some sellers on the beach, and their prices are negotiable, but not as much as you will see in other Caribbean countries (I will keep the shopping hints and tips for another section). I recommend the Banana Chips (even if you do not like Banana, try them, they taste more like potatoes as they were made with plantain bananas) as well as the Cocos (sweet, coconut and sugar as a patty; don’t get the caramel ones, they get too sticky under the sun!). Beer is 1500 Bs (0.75 $US) and Coca Cola 2000 Bs (1 $US). Food is generally neither not very expensive, but nor dirt cheap either. Security is no problem – we left our bags on the Playa, keeping an eye on them of course, just in case; everyone is doing it, and there are always people around that you can ask to keep an eye on your stuff. We had a fantastic time at Playa El Agua.

El Yaque
We had also heard of other beaches before leaving, and wanted to explore them a bit. Playa El Yaque is located just South of the Airport (25 minutes from Hotel) and is frequented mostly by Europeans. There are only small waves at El Yaque – it is known internationally as an excellent site for WindSurfing and Kite Surfing. All equipment can be rented onsite. It is a smaller Beach than El Agua. Although it was very nice and had clear aqua blue water, be thought El Agua was better. There were a lot of things to watch around us as people were coming and going with their kites and Windsurf Boards.

Parguito
Last Beach we visited and it was the very ultimate best one of all!!! Very close to El Agua, the scenery, the facilities, every thing was perfect. This beach by itself was worth the trip! A definite must! GTD reps were not familiar with this Beach, but we gave them info and hope others can benefit from our finding. How did we find this beach – I basically asked hotel staff what the best beaches were and they answered Parguito because it is the beach for the Venezuelian people; not many tourists there. Can’t blame them for wanting to keep the best part for them!

But how did we get to enjoy this trip so much?
We had very little choices – either stay at Bella Vista and complain about the Beach (which is no fun at all in my book) or make a small effort, and travel elsewhere, a little further, and that’s what we did. Friends we met there actually came with us to Playa Parguito and were in agreement – this was the best of all Beaches, and we all had a spectacular day. And wait, it gets even better….

The City – Porlamar

At Bella Vista Hotel, the main advantage IS the fact you are in the City. You can walk on Santiago Manio Street all the way to Quatro de Mayo and shop, shop and shop…. We did not feel threatened in any way – I do realize that it’s all a matter of perspective on things, but I tell you, I was very confused when I remembered what I had read. Anyway, fact is, do not go out at night. Some people don’t today, and they live in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto…. Same there, except, at night for us meant 6:00 p.m. By then, we were exhausted anyway; we did go out at 9:00 p.m. at one point to make a call from a public phone and even that was no problem. Car alarms do go off frequently in the City, and it is not all due to crime. There were 2 factors for when we were there (that was also true for people having been to Margarita before us) – Basketball or Baseball finals (I don’t remember which one). Tradition is to make noise when you Team wins, and yes, car alarms make noise. I believe this all finished this weekend. They have very fancy alarms, even on the worst cars. When parked, cars are close, and when an older car parked in parallel started its engine, it would often tip off the car behind it’s alarm (and that is something we witnessed).

The Tours
We only went on the “Highlights” Tour – my spouse is pregnant and many tours were not recommended, if even permitted. It was a great day-long tour. Totally worth the 35 $US. You will find Tours to be generally cheap for what you get. This Tour is sightseeing bus tour, with a nice finale, you are taken to a refuge and get to touch and take all kinds of animals and reptiles (including a Tarantula that I took – nice! Also a monkey) from Venezuela. Drinks are included and practically bottomless. Lunch is also included and was at Casa de Reuben (right next to the Hotel) and was superb; we had the chicken which was very good. Other people had beef I think, and fish, but prepared in a typical Venezuela style (like lasagna). All finished their plate and were very happy.

Book early for Tours as you might not be able to get what you want on the day you want. There are plenty of places, but better be safe than sorry. The most popular Tour was the Jeep Safari. I have little to tell about it because we were unable to go as explained earlier. Those I saw coming back were as happy as possible; comments we heard were: “fantastic tour, best view of the island so far, great beach, there was alcohol aplenty…” The Dolphin Swimming was also popular because of its low price (75 $US I believe).

Tricks that will make your stay more pleasurable
Here are a few things we learnt in Margarita that I hope will give you an advance on all others. We got most of the stuff

Getting Money (Bolivares)
Get enough for the tax money first, and then put it away. Get 100 $US (200 000 Bs.) worth to start (unless you are a heavy shopper).
Change your money at the Foreign Exchange Office in the Hotel (Cambio in Spanish). Do NOT go at the bank as you will get a poorer rate and pay a commission of at least 8% When we were there, we got a rate of 2125 for 1 $US – this is better than the official rate. The gentleman there speak perfect English and we though he was a valuable resource for providing tips on how to get around the city.
Banco Provincial is 4 blocks down on Santiago Marino and is reputed to accept many credit cards and Interac Cards. I confirm they work with Desjardins and CIBC cards. Language options are on the screen, but even if you select English, it might be in Spanish; the sequence of the steps is the same. You have to be quick as the teller has a 5 seconds timeout (slightly annoying). Think ahead of the amount you want to withdraw, 5 seconds is short...

Tip
The best trick I have is tip – tip, tip and tip. Tip little, but often. They will appreciate and demonstrate their gratitude. A good tip is 5000 Bs.; a regular tip is 2000 or 3000 Bs. Who to tip? Bartender, waitress at restaurant (they have 2 shifts, morning and evening.) On your first day, notice the staff, and on the second day, tip someone you have seen the day before (that of course looks friendly enough to you!). By doing that, you ensure you are tipping a regular staff (as opposed to someone just helping out that night) and also you are guaranteeing yourself good service throughout your stay. I suggest giving them a “reminder tip” at the middle of your stay. Managers might refuse tips. The average employee at the hotel makes 420 Bs. per month; this should give you an indication of how much tip is required if anything extraordinary happens (like us, when my spouse lost and found her passport, a particular person received a generous tip as he helped us tremendously). I will write out the passport story later, as it actually illustrates well the friendliness of the Margaritans. You also tip Room service, and bring them items from Canada, especially things for children. Venezuela is a poor country, in as in many poor countries, people have many children. Our maid had 8 children, and she was really thankful for the plush tiger and crayons we had given her on top of a 5000 Bs. tip; I wish we would have had more toys and stuff for her. Typical things you would buy for Cuba/Dom. Rep. such as nylon socks and gum, they have over there. I was giving my gum as Canadian Gum; they were laughing.


Telephone
A little bit flaky down there – sometimes they say the line is busy while it really isn’t. At the airport, phones were down…. All to say, do not call direct from the hotel to Canada, it is too expensive. Get a calling card, but not from Canada – from Venezuela. Josée had bought some for us guests; the price was 5000 Bs. for 55 minutes. No matter what you say, but this is dirt cheap! Canada Direct (Bell Canada) long distance is like 1.37 $CAN per minute. Calling Card is a 0-800 number and the hotel will change you something like 0.50 cents per call at most. Before using your telephone in the room, you must ask front desk to open a line for you.

Shopping
GTD reps will tell you about Rattan and Sambil (expensive apparently). We wanted to go the Venezuela way, and asked staff for their help. We directed to the Mercado de Conjehero (pronounced konyéhéro – I suggest you write it down). It is like a huge outdoor covered market, with T-shirts, copies of your favorite brands of sunglasses, caps, they also have beach towels, fruits, music. Go before 2:00 p.m. as stores start closing around that time. We went at 10:00 in the morning and all was opened. Do not wear jewellery and watch your pockets – it is a market with many people. I suggest wearing a wallet around your neck, in your shirt. No problem then. Why no jewelry? Many reasons. You are probably already identified as a tourist just by the color of your skin – if not, consider yourself at an advantage. You do not want to be seen as having money; your will be less tempting for anyone with bad intentions, but more importantly, if they think you have a lot of money, they will not want to bargain with you and will send you packing if you are too pushy. Less jewelry equals better prices. Bargaining is harder than elsewhere in Margarita.

Tours
Keep enough USD to pay your Tours – you get better prices that way.

Taxi
Prices are listed in the Lobby – negotiate before taking the taxi as there are no meters, and even if it feels awkward, pay the driver when embarking, at departure point if your Spanish is “so-so” like mine. Friends of ours got into an argument with a driver as the drive they requested was negotiated using a hand, showing five fingers. Driver interpreted it as 50 thousand while the intention was 5 thousand. Ended up paying 5 thousand as other taxi drivers intervened at destination point. Bottom line, pay upfront, we never gto into trouble by doing so, we only avoided it.

Staff and Spanish / English translation
Many staff speak English. Some perfectly, some okay, some say “yes-no-toaster” and others not at all. Learn a few words, they will feel flattered; very flattered! In turn, they might ask you how to say things in English. This hotel is used to serving Venezuelians and Brasilians mostly. I never spoke Spanish before in my life, never took lessons, and I was practically having small conversations with them by the end of the week. I was even asking for “Could I get 2 towels for Room number “X” please” all in Spanish and they would answer “Muy bien” (very well!). It was a lot of fun. If you hear the Pool Towels Guy speak French, it’s because I gave him my Spanish / French dictionary. By the way, forgot to cover this, but there were enough towels – no problem.

Now the part that no one want to hear….. Sickness
Yes, there were a lot of people sick when we were there. I heard of at least 3 different couples that called the doctor. Why, I will not talk about specifics of their case, but, people sometimes do stupid things (although they might be very smart). Think about this – you are close to the Equator, almost on it. The sun is about 40 times stronger there than here. If you go in the sun, for even 1 single hour with no cream, you will burn. I personally burnt to a crisp (serious, I never burnt so bad). In our case, it was a problem with the sun lotion which was in my opinion defective. Second time we use it, second time we burn. We changed brand over there, works A-1, but it was too late. Why do I tell you this? To make sure you do not mess up your holidays; a sunburn is a serious thing – it can be just like a burn on a stove or in the fire. When you get a serious enough one, you get a fever (that we had), and when it is worse, your system will simply refuse to process any food and some liquid resulting in dehydration, and difficulty to re-hydrate the person. It was the case of most persons; I personally, strongly do not believe there was any food poisoning at our hotel. One of the reasons that makes me think that is the fact we spoke with other hotel guests and the situation was the same. This is not Mexico – the heat and sun is brutal. With lotion and a hat, they are your friends, but beware.

A good trick is to bring reasonable supply of Imodium and Pedialyte (re-hydration). A friend of ours got sick and had purchased a Venezuela version of Imodium, and after 2 days of taking it she was still sick. She had one of ours, and she was back up on her feet quickly. I have no idea what their medication contains, but our Canadian stuff seems better.

There you go, I hope this will help you enjoy your stay at Bella Vista. It is a great Island, with fantastic and friendly people. Get to know the place, travel by taxi (it’s dirt cheap!). GTD reps are there 2 hours a day and some days 4 hours. If you see Josée and Senor Meteo (Paolo) tell them Marty says Hi! GTD Reps were fantastic – I know some people gave them a rough time because they were unsatisfied. I looked on my last day and compared it to my first, and I even saw changed and improvements, thanks to them. I cannot criticize them in any way; they are doing an excellent job!

Feel free to e-mail me and please put VENEZUELA in the title somewhere, I will ensure my “Junk Mail” filer does not intercept it. I have a few photos I can send if you are curious. Enjoy your holidays!

  • Stayed January 2006
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Helpful?
38 Thank charrma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed January 17, 2006

Hello Travelers,

I would like to try and shed some positive light on this beautiful Venezualan Island. If you have not done your research about Venezuala before you book the trip then yes, the cities on the island will seem run down and a bit intimidating. Venezuala is a politically volatile country, that has recently experienced a "boom-bust" cycle that has created a great gap in the affluence of its citizens. Poverty and wealth are seen side by side. But if you can get past the litter outside of your resort on Margarita Island, you will see that it is a beautiful island, with prestine virgin beaches, palm trees, gorgeous mountainous countryside and desert - as well as a rich cultural experience, with locals who are jovial and want to please and make your stay pleasent. As well it is important to keep in mind that until very recently, Margarita Island was only a tourist destination to Venezualans, NOT North Americans (hence the language barriers).

We stayed at the Bella Vista, I guess we are the third week that has. My two companions and I did get sick from the food (2 of us only the last day of the trip). However, this is where I would like to say how impressed I was with the GoTravel people. One of my travel companions was quite sick, partly due to the food, but also from a medical condition. The Gotravel rep was there every step of the way, and reccomended an excellent english speaking doctor for us. He even spent 4 hours with us one evening when his shift was over, with me and my other girlfriends ,at a private clinic where my friend was being treated, that we would not have been aware of if it wasnt for him. He went far beyond his duty as our travel agent. As well, I felt they were informative about the island and answered any questions we had, even when off duty.

As for what they told us about going out at night - they must have changed it from the previous peoples reviews. We were warned not to walk alone at night, and not to wear our most fancy and expensive jewelry if we did, and not to venture down any dark alleys. Personally, I would do the same thing walking in downtown Ottawa at night. Its just common sense. They did recommend good (and safe to eat at) restaurants and night clubs to go to at night too.

The excursions were excellent. They were very cheap and you got alot for your money. Our only qualm was that our sick friend did not get her money back when she missed them.

We were dissapointed with the food, but then again you have to realize you arent in North America and the food is not going to be the same. The pizza was awesome though! As for the bar, the service was great and how many bars do you really need? It was located perfectly (outdoors) next to the dining area and between the pool and the beach. The beach was not bad for a downtown beach (alot better than you would get at Mooneys bay in downtown Ottawa). I suggest that travelers looking for pristine white beaches should venture out of their resort. Cabs are DIRT CHEAP, gas is 2 cents a litre there, so a 15 minute cab ride to a nicer beach will cost you about 5000 bolivar ($2.50 American!).


If you do your research ahead of time from credible sources, you will learn that it is best to bring American greenbacks (banks dont exchange travelers checks). Food and booze is really cheap so you dont need to bring too much extra cash.

Our room was great and had an awesome view of the ocean. The hotel was clean and well staffed. Although there was a language barrier (which we came prepared for with a Lonely Planet Guide that was really helpful), staff seemed to want to help you and make your stay as comfortable as possible.

All in all - I thought it was a good vacation and I am sure it will only get better with the more experience the hotel gets with being all-inclusive and catering to North Americans. I would go back there for sure!


PS: Do the Cubagua tour if you are looking to see the most beautiful untouched beach in the world- AMAZING!

  • Stayed January 2006
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
24 Thank kizza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed January 10, 2006

Just a quick note from week two (Jan. 2 - 9) at the Bella Vista. Some improvements were made thanks to the "Guinea Pigs" and "Music Teachers" et al of week 1. The snack bar ran daily from 3 - 5 and although the line (and subsequent wait) was long, the burgers were good. The pizzeria was open for two hours each day and you needed a reservation at 7:00 or 8:00. With 540 all inclusive guests and about enough tables to sit 50 -60 people, you can see that reservations were not always possible. The wait time was reasonable. The shuttle to Playa El Agua happened twice. It was free but nothing was included at the beach -- expect to pay $8 to $10US for two beach chairs for the day. It was lovely but had a vicious undertow so make sure to continually count the heads of your loved ones (and others) while they frolic or play football in the waves. We had one night in the à la carte restaurant, but without the full menu or bar service available. In case you aren't told, there are two pool tables there (upstairs) that even us all inclusive types can use when the restaurant is open (to the other non all-inclusives) during lunch and dinner.
IMPORTANT to NOTE: Departure tax, payable in bolivares only is now 99,500 (i.e. about $50US) per person. Plan your money accordingly.
And as to the rest, we recommend that you bring along kleenex, playing cards and ping pong balls. When things break or disappear, they are gone for good. Not sure whatever did happen to the French toast but we enjoyed it the two days it was available.
And as to the rest, my sentiments are the same as I have been reading since my very late (plane delayed, luggage difficult to remove from plane) return on Monday night. They summed it up so well. I would concurr that they have definitely not figured out how to incorporate all-inclusive into their hotel. And, as for what we were originally promised by Go Travel? We would not have been at the Hotel Bella Vista if we had known that there would be one bar, one buffet restaurant and that the food service would end at 9:00 p.m. With two of three children being teenage boys who had influence on our decision as to our vacation destination, this was a major disappointment. We'll see what GTD has as a response. And, quite literally, I have to run...still!

Helpful?
17 Thank too-much-sun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2006

Hello Travellers

We stayed at the Bella Vista on Margarita Island, approx. 30 km north of the Venezuelan mainland from Dec 26th until Jan 3rd. Our travel agent was Go Travel Direct, based out of Ottawa, Canada. Many of my fellow Canadian tourists are undoubtedly still recovering from resort food-inflicted bodily malfunctions. This will not be a report glorifying the all-inclusive resort. That is what those ridiculously glossy travel brochures are for. I intend to explore why this vacation was considered a disaster by the majority of my fellow Canadians.

The Hotel and surrounding area

Our guide gleefully informed us not to venture outside the hotel after dark. Muggings are a serious threat to all tourists, even in broad daylight. They were not kidding. The area is dangerous but the guidelines for this site dictate that we are not permitted to detail any dangerous activity we witnessed.

The Hotel is clean and the rooms are a decent size. Definitely not a 3 ½ star that is advertised but it’s not awful. We were fortunate to have a balcony where as most of the people we spoke with had a lovely view of the parking lot…with car alarms going off all night! Also, since we were there over New Year’s, people were constantly setting off fireworks and firecrackers everyday at all hours of the day and night. If you were a jumpy kind of person, you started to wonder if they were firecrackers or gun shots.

The Beach

Please envision white pristine sand, turquoise water, gently lapping waves, tranquility only thought possible from listening to the sounds of Yanni or Kenny G, fresh salt-laden air and gracefully hovering birds. Now envision the opposite. Welcome to our beach. Yes, ladies and gentleman... a raw sewage pipe leading into the water 100 meters down the beach from our hotel. Locals throwing their cooking grease happily into the brown, murky mess. Barbed wire fences to keep the locals off hotel property. Fisherman giving the cutthroat signal if you wander too far in one direction. Stray dogs contributions turning the romantic beach walk into a smelly game of hopscotch. Interesting how Go Travel Direct advertised this hotel as having an ideal beach location. You couldn’t even sit in a chair without getting a whiff of garbage or dog poop.

The Excursions

The highlight of our trip. We snorkelled around a shipwreck. We bounced along in a jeep through rainforests high in the mountains. We traveled in those same jeeps to beautiful secluded coastal beaches and even participated in a mud bath. As with most poorer countries, once you leave the population center, you begin to see the true beauty of the land. Make sure you book your excursions early. We waiting in line for two hours our first day and were glad later that we did. Many people missed their chance since not all excursions run everyday. There were only 50 spots for snorkelling and more than 500 Go Travel Direct guests throughout the various hotels in the area. All three of the tours we took were well worth the money: Snorkelling for $45, Jeep Tour for $45, Island Highlights for $35. (Prices are US$ and are approximations as you will pay in Bolivars).

The Language Barrier

No one spoke any English anywhere at our hotel (except the federalist Canadians). This created quite a problem for check-in and check-out procedures, towel distribution and most importantly ordering a drink at the bar. My wife ordered the special three times within three hours and received three different drinks. The bartenders seemed to enjoy the macabre act of crushing ice in a blender more than getting drink orders right.

Bartering on the streets is also difficult. I suggest you bring a pen and paper and write down what you want to offer. There isn’t a lot of variety in what you can buy from the local venders. Mostly tacky jewellery and such.

The Food

The advertisement for this resort indicated that there was a choice of three restaurants. This was not true. The first night we were there, we had the choice of…(drum roll please)…the buffet…or…go hungry. After much complaining from the guests, pizza was included the second night. The “fancy” restaurant on the second floor of the hotel was still not included by the end of our stay.

Not all Latin American countries have discovered spices. Venezuela seems to be one of them. Imagine sticking a spoonful of flour in your mouth, letting it congeal and then throw in some expired mayonnaise to moisten your palate. That was our dining experience night after night. Over 75% of the hotel patrons vomited at some point during our stay. An entire diving expedition was cancelled one day because everyone called in sick. We surprisingly stayed healthy.

Breakfast usually consisted of hot dog wieners cut in into shapes that curiously resembled baby carrots, slices of cheese that stuck together from the humidity and could only be separated with a crowbar, hard-boiled eggs that curiously were all pre-cracked in places and of course, watermelon juice. Watermelon does not need to be made into juice.

Lunch usually consisted of five curious looking conglomerations of beef, poultry, fish, pork and mystery meat. We didn’t eat much of the meats and were glad that we did. One day all of the people who ate the fish got sick.

Supper was usually the left-overs from lunch with the exciting additional of food-colouring to heighten the visual appeal.

Desserts all looked different but all tasted the same... usually patrons only took one bite and left the rest...

At the pizzeria, the average three hour wait resulted in us ordering take-out to be delivered to the restaurant. Curiously, that move was applauded by many other guests... Unfortunately the pizza guy on the scooter hassled the management claiming our party paid him with a 5000 Bolivar note instead of a 50000 Bolivar note. He was not allowed on the resort to argue his cause. We still don't know how management dealt with him...

The snack bar is open for a couple of hours in the afternoon. However, there are several hours between breakfast and lunch, and then from snack time to dinner time where you cannot get food unless you buy it from the pool area bar. We have never been at an all-inclusive where you couldn’t get some kind of food from 7am-midnight.

Events that cannot be categorized

The first information our Go Travel Direct rep gave us was don't use the beach and don't travel outside the hotel at night. Great first impression...

Our welcome drink at the hotel was non-alcoholic and tasted like a cheap version of the orange drink McDonald's serves at kiddie baseball games...

Our shower curtain in the hotel room held water like a screen... hence the drain in the middle of the bathroom floor.

Music was played at the resort from 7:00 a.m. in the morning until midnight...loudly. Only one song too...called Chihuahua.

There are no stop signs or traffic lights. Intersections are basically proceed-at-your-own risk endeavours. There are no crosswalks, just sprint-walks to avoid getting run over...

New Years Eve featured the hotel staff illegally setting off fireworks bought off the street. The manager lit the fireworks himself and ran like hell... Most exploded within five feet of the nearest hotel patron...

Never complain about the state of Canadian roads and sidewalks ever again... you know that feeling you have when you walk down the steps and don't realize there is still one more? Sidewalk repair in Venezuela doesn't happen. Apparently in Caracas, the capital city, sidewalks do not exist...

All residential apartment balconies have bars...wow, your own personal jail...

Broken bottles molded into the top of concrete walls serve as a deterrent to enter private property... Sadly, if you do make it over your journey would result in seeing the same scenery on the other side...

Money under the table is how 75% of the countries in the world operate. Especially at our hotel. One of our friends indicated that hotel staff that served him efficiently were on his payroll. Boy, was he ever right...

Margarita Island has almost every single ecosystem you can imagine at that latitude. It makes for quite a geographical tour de force... Interestingly enough, the water here is not turquoise for the most part due to the Atlantic and Caribbean currents mixing. This creates quite an undertow which mixes up the sediment on the ocean floor. This also prevents hurricanes from arriving since there is not a strong, single current to follow.


Wrong Impressions...

We loved this vacation. It was not a nightmare contrary to the impression you must have at this point. Why? Because travel is all about experience. When you travel, you set yourself up to experience the good and the bad. We were enlightened, we were disgruntled, we were horrified, we were exhilarated. We made tons of new friends and are even having a “I Survived Margarita” Party very soon. Their company while we were there made everything more bearable.

In Venezuela, the locals - like most people in the world - are genuine, friendly and warm-hearted. It is unfortunate that corrupt government, mismanagement of natural resources and a monetary system that has no tight control, produces some harsh economic realities. There is no middle class here. Only the very rich and the very poor.


Congratulations….

You made it to the end of our report!!! Just to put things in perspective for you, we are a young couple and have travelled through more than 90% of Canada and the US, much of Europe, and many places in the Caribbean. We are not fussy and are very adaptable. Don’t think that this report is written by travellers expecting the comforts of home when away. We are very seasoned travellers but prefer to know what we’re getting into. The advertising of this resort was completely wrong and they really aren’t ready to cater to North American tourists looking for a relaxing vacation. Most people travelling to the Caribbean are not looking for a risky adventure in a ride-on-the-seat-of-your-pants sort of way.

The Bottom Line

If you have already booked your trip…plan on booking excursions and getting off the resort as much as possible. Make lots of friends while you’re there and make the most of your stay.

If you are thinking about booking…look elsewhere.

  • Stayed December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
22 Thank MusicTeachers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Ontario
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed January 7, 2006

The review, below, is an edited extract from an e-mail posted to Gotravel Direct. It reflects our experience both with that Company, and with the Hotel Bella Vista.

Dear Sir or Madam:

Normally, I wouldn’t take the time to advise a vendor of a problem I experienced in dealing with them, I’d simply take my business elsewhere. However, in this case, I will make an exception given a previous satisfactory experience with you in Cuba.

The subject of my experience, in this case, was our recent trip to Margarita Island, and our stay at the Bella Vista Hotel.

Let me preface my comments and suggestions by stating that not all was bad; but let me work through the experience on a time line, as my memory permits.

Check-in was fine, and the flight was fully satisfactory. The meal served on the way down was just fine, and the complementary wine was appreciated.

Entry into Venezuela was no fun at all, but that was beyond your control. The buses and luggage handling at the airport were just fine, and all in all, our transport to the hotel was just fine, as was the organization of handing out the keys at the hotel.

In summary then, we left Canada, and arrived in our rooms at the hotel Bella Vista in a fully satisfactory manner. But then…..

The first major problem was that unless you had a supply of currency (Bolivares), you could not procure water at the hotel. And given that we were advised not to drink the hotel water, and that we were further advised that walking about at night was…unwise…, this became on major headache. As I recall, your web site advised the use of US dollars, which, as it turned out, was totally incorrect. Indeed, forcing an exchange of US dollars for Bolivares, which I finally managed to do in order to buy water, ended up inadvertently exposing me to criminal charges in Venezuela for black marketeering in foreign exchange. Definitely not good.

Come morning, we met for a briefing by your local representative, which provided a minor amount of general information, and which, as I recall, primarily served as an opportunity for your rep to present a variety of optional excursions which could be procured through her lather that evening.

Prior to the morning meeting, I had approached hotel staff, asking to have my room exchanged for a non-smoking unit, furnished with 2 beds. The hotel personnel were not proficient in English, and I was ultimately directed to contact a member of your staff, which I did. Noting that some of our traveling companions also had balconies, I added that to our “wish list”. Your staff member advised that she would approach the hotel, and get back to me.

We were disappointed to find that the hotel was not actually “all inclusive”. 1 of 3 bars was available to us, and 1 of 3 restaurants ( later expanded to 2, including the Pizza pit. )

From a facilities perspective, I was reasonably satisfied. The hotel was clean, the pool was good, the food was satisfactory ( ignoring the possible contribution of mass added by the flies ). Maid service was good, and the room, while small, and a bit noisy as a result of the air conditioner, was mostly acceptable.

Major disappointments with the hotel must be highlighted by the incessant, horribly loud, music. It literally ruined my entire stay, given that it was inescapable. Despite repeated requests from myself, my wife, my sister and a variety of traveling companions, the music turned the Bella Vista into the hotel from Hell. Given the positioning of the speakers, no outdoor location could be enjoyed, including the polluted cesspool of an area which was laughingly captioned as “The Beach”.

No area, with that amount of garbage, and a sewer pipe emptying within 100 meters of the area, should be described as a “beach”. Perhaps the loud music was a blessing in that it discouraged patronization of the area. No, wait, on second thought, I’d sooner swim in the sewage.

Back to my room for a moment. Your rep finally advised me that it was impossible to move me, but they could add a second bed to the room. I responded that, given the size of the room, we would prefer to pass on the offer. You can probably guess the rest; we didn’t get the no-smoking room, we didn’t get the balcony, but we DID get, yes, the second bed. AAAArrrggghhh.

Onwards. We decided to subscribe to some of the “optional tours”. We joined the end of an interminable line which ended at ( your rep ), but it never seemed to move. Your rep was dedicated to personal service. She could spend at least a half an hour per client, which means that if we’d waited in line, we’d almost be to the front by, well, by now I guess.

At this point, we can’t go outside (the music), we can’t go to “the beach”, we can’t get on the “tours”, and we have no information available to help us. By accident, I discovered a magazine in my room, which at first I took to offer information in Spanish only. In fact, there was some good information available in that magazine in English. Without it....well I can’t even imagine just HOW bad the trip would have been.

Meanwhile, via your rep, we’ve now been directed to exchange funds at a nearby facility (Cossco, I think it was.) The exchange rate was terrible, and on top of that, they charged a 12% fee. My goodness, this poor advice by your Company, cost us a LOT of money.

I could go on and on, but let me summarize my impressions:

Zoom Airline Fair to Good

Hotel Interior Fair to Good

Hotel Service Staff Good

Hotel Front Desk Staff Poor to Fair

Hotel Food Fair

Hotel Environment Poor (music)

Beach Horrible

Gotravel On Site Rep(s) Poorly informed and very poorly organized

Correspondence between Web portrayal and reality poor

Value for money Poor

We had a great experience with you in Cuba. We had a poor experience with you (and/or the hotel )in Venezuela.

I think that you should offer your clients on this trip an incentive to risk travel with you again. As I understand it, this was your first group to Bella Vista. In my business, I’d call this Beta product, maybe even Alpha. As such, I think the price should reflect this fact.

Would I travel to Margarita Island again? Possibly. Would I stay at the Bella Vista again? Never. On the other hand, and as reflected in other reviews, we had a great time with Life's Beach tours, the weather was great, the dolphins and natives were friendly, and there were a few bargains to be had in the market (cheese, rum and pearls).

BUT, loud, bad music I can get at home 24 hours a day; the sounds of surf (unavailable over the hotel music), I can get only on vacation at the beach.

  • Stayed January 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
17 Thank data.doc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kanata
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed January 3, 2006

We have just returned (my wife and friends)from Margarita Island (Parlomar)with GTD. We were there from 26 Dec 05 to 3 Jan 06 and this hotel (Bella Vista)is not ready for tourism at the international level. It was sold as an All inclusive 3.5 star with GTD - it is a two star and a half at best. Also the hotel is not all inclusive - there are paying customers from the mainland which means two standards of service and constant competition with paying (cash) customers vs "all inclusive" bracelet gringos. In addition, also note you cannot exchange canadian dollars or any other currency other than US anywhere and any leftover "Bolivars" cannot be exchanged back to US $ at departure. This is the Hotel's first ever participation in an "all inclusive" deal and the first of international tourists in a decade - the hotel shows 5 stars on the building roof (they borrowed two from someplace else)! The staff does not speak english or extremely limited (except for one mgr)so it is nearly impossible to get any thing from the staff, this is especially critical at the Front Desk when asking for simple things like wake up calls, extra pillows, information, or directions. You are usually passed to someone else who knows/cares even less and then the process start all over again, non-english guests are served first regardless of line or process you are engaged in with the staff. The telephone from your room is useless, as Room Service never answers (not once in 8 days/nights) and the front Desk will answer and hang up since they donot understand or just don't care to talk. The rooms were fine - the room service was inconsistent. Some days you got towels - some days you did not, if you asked the maids in the halls and gestured -they would go into another guest room and take theirs and give to you - which explains why some days you had towels and some days you did not. When they clean the rooms, they leave the rooms unlocked and open and do the entire floor hopping from room to room - I had to find the maid one day in another room down the hall to inquire about my open room concerns - futile ...she did not understand and said "no problemo". The security guards are not - enough said! The main course buffet (Dinner and Lunch)food was the same for the entire stay : fish, pasta, rice with no variations whatso ever. Most people from our trip approximately 50-60% were ill with gastro intestinal bug (blowing out of both ends), some for several days and not from dehydration as suggested by staff and GTD rep - Great way to spend the New Year's!! Breakfast consisted of Omelettes, boiled eggs and boiled leftover hot dog sausages - every morning. There was no flavour to any of the food - do not expect spice, it is all bland. The drinks (alchohol or pop) is inconsistent and only available from one bar for the all inclusive where eveybody line up and with only one server maybe two - you cannot get the same drinks twice and the same with pop on certain days, water is provided by a tap from a commercial camping cooler and provided as "filtered water" (????!!)not a chance - check the floaties in the water glass or the soap suds. The "Snack bar" was eventually open from 3 pm - 6 pm only, some days at 4 pm or whenever they got organized. All there is is boiled hotdogs and hamburgers (there may be ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise depending on what day it is). The "pizza" was only available at night from 7 pm on after getting them to provide it with the all inclusive as promoted/sold and was only availble for a few days - they shut it down as of 2 Jan 06 stating the "Wood burning" stove was broken( suspect too much problems with reservations, tables, staff etc...), a 3-3.5 hour wait for a pizza may have been a contributing factor !! There are not enough chairs in outdoor (covered) buffet area to accomodate everyone in the morning especially - so get in line! If the weather is bad (such as our very last day) there is no other place to eat and get away from rain and wind. There are also no other activities (no sailing, kayaking, etc...)anywhere else on the resort -just the pool volleyball. The pool only gets cleaned later in the am (0930 plus) from previous day activities. The pool is aso clsed after 6 PM. The beach you say ?? - accesible from a single guarded gate with barbed wire and only opens late in the am and closes at approximately 6 PM. It is also a Public beach (rememebr high crime)and not the resort's. Only 75 meters away from the gate is a raw sewage outlet (nice...) and also any attempts to walk more than a few hundred meters either way down the beach will be met by local fishermen waving you away with frantic waves and slashing motions across throat - such warnings proved correct as my wife was mugged (there was 3 of us with her)across the street from the hotel in broad daylight where we were advised by GTD rep to exchange money. The travel rep was of no assist and knew less about the area than we did 24 hours later. Walking out at night is not advised even in a group by the rep or the locals - even a short distance 2 blocks requires a taxi for safety. Be advised, if you want to extract money from ATM there are limited places (Sambil Mall, Hilton Casino, and Parlomar Main drag)to do so and must be in small qtys of 100. The noise from the Hotel parking lot out front due to constant car alarms going off (remember high crime) goes on all night. The hotel evening entertainment is non-existent and seems put together by kids without much thought - just add music. Towels are available from about 9:30 am on maybe or when towel boy shows up - they usually run out of towels within minutes - line up again! They may have someone ther until 6 PM to take your towels back, they may even have the receipt you signed for the towels - if not, you will be told "no problemo" - I suggest you get them to sign a piece of paper and keep for checkout. Also remember to get your credit card impression (for required for water and safety deposit)complete with your 3 digit security code back from checkout staff. If you are sick/ill at the airport upon departure, expect to be whisked away from the lineup at immigration by the "Anti Drug Commandos" at the airport and questioned in spanish only for nearly 40 minutes as to why you do not look well, nervous, or sweating as was the case for one unfortunate couple from our group.

In summary - The weather was fantastic, the Jeep Safari with "Life's Beach" was great, we managed to make our holiday great with the help of great company and good friends but we will not return for the reasons above.

The Budha

Helpful?
20 Thank Budha2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Bella Vista Hotel

Property: Bella Vista Hotel
Address: Avenida Santiago Marino | Nueva Esparta, Porlamar, Margarita Island 6301, Venezuela
Location: Venezuela > Insular Region > Coastal Islands > Margarita Island > Porlamar
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 23 Hotels in Porlamar
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Bella Vista Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 170
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Travelocity, Orbitz and TripOnline SA so you can book your Bella Vista Hotel reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Bella Vista Porlamar
Bella Vista Hotel Margarita Island, Venezuela - Porlamar

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