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“Free the dolphins from this hotel please. Stop animal cruelty!!!!”

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Decameron Isla Palma
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Isla Palma
Lecheria, Venezuela
Level 6 Contributor
98 reviews
43 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Free the dolphins from this hotel please. Stop animal cruelty!!!!”
Reviewed December 27, 2012

The rooms, food, service were ok to very good. The beach excellent.... But they have two grown dolphins in a very small cage. This is not right and refuse to go to this hotel ever again please decameron let them go!

  • Stayed December 2012
    • Value
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    • Rooms
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Helpful?
19 Thank pelorrucho38
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Date | Rating
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English first
Stockholm, Sweden
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed June 5, 2012

I spent my honeymoon in this hotel and I loved every minute there. It was relaxing, private and romantic. I am a bit shock from the other reviews because I do not feel we were in the same hotel.
I do understand that if you are single and want to have fun and go out at night this is not the place to go, or if you are a spoiled turist used to 5 star hotels, and everytime leave your country you want exactly the same commodities as you had back home, if that is the came stay home! This is about a little adventure, relaxation and getting away from everything.
The entertaining was great, the food was amazing and the beach is warm and calm.
Be prepared for mosquitos at night and take a boat early in the morning because the sea gets rough in the afternoon. I would like to go back someday, hope you enjoy your visit.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank GSofiaM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
maine
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed February 22, 2012

   I will preferance this review with the fact that i am a pretty spoiled traveler. I tend to stay at high end hotels. There is little to no information on this resort, so I will try and give an extensive informative overview
  The San Bernardo islands looked to be a better option than isla Rosario for some beach time in Colombia.  The rosario islands do not get good reviews. Decameron hotels, who own Isla Palma provide transportation, offered us lunch at the hotel in Cartagena while we waited for the bus pick up. On the bus you are offered a sandwich, chips and a drink in both directions. You get there via a 3 hour bus rid from Cartagena, and you will not be napping on the bus, the road is pretty rough. It does take you on a route you would not normally take in Colombia as a tourist through an industrialized area near Cartagena, and then about two hours through the countryside with is mostly agricultural. You go to a town called Berrugas, which is not friendly, but they just transfer you on the boat. 
  The boat rid takes bout 30 minutes, and the ocean gets rough in the afternoon. Take the earlier boat for a better boat ride. The boat is a small skiff and they just packed it with people, dumping your luggage in the bow, the perfect place for it to get soaked. Which it did. Considering I have some fairly pricy luggage, I was not pleased. I understand boats can get wet, but they could have tarped it, or put your bag in a garbage bag, avoiding this problem altogether. I though the wet luggage was quite uncool.....Colombia or not. They could at least issue a caution on their website so guest could bring an old suitcase they don't mind the zippers rusting on, or a plastic bag of your own.
   The hotel, although less than high end had sort of a funky Colombia Caribbean vibe. It is frequented almost exclusively by colombians, and the standards are not that of the US. So you want to get over that.The building itself is way off of BOCA code, creaky wood floors, steps everywhere, but funky.The employees were all very nice, very friendly. Although i speak a very small amount of Spanish I was able to make myself understood with the help of the nice employees there. 
  The island is mostly mangrove, but there is a ton of birds including about 7 wild macaws we saw the day we were leaving, and a mangrove swamp full of flamingos. The beach is about a half mile walk. It is a small,thin sand spit with nice water on either side. Very clear and warm, probably 87F. Nice for swimming. The snorkeling off the beach was less than spectacular, but I suspect there are probably some very nice reefs offshore that you can get to by dive/snorkel tours which are offered by the hotel.
  
   
Rooms: the rooms are to put it mildly,Spartan. I can not remember the last time I had a room with no toiletries at all, just a bar of soap, so bring your own. There are two bath towels, no face cloths, and overall the bathroom is pretty rough. Clean, but basic.
  Rooms have a/c but mine started clacking at about 2:00 am requiring an ambien and earplugs to get through the night. Large kings size hard bed with thin sheets, with an additional twin bed that was more like a normal bed. Tv had 10 channels, one in English. Lighting is minimal. There is a small empty fridge in the room, two chairs and a table.
  Outside the rooms there is a large common deck with furniture for sitting or lounging in the shade. Quite nice for relaxing.
   Dinner the first night was a sit down affair at common tables, no menu, just a service of salad with no dressing, a horrid bean soup, followed by an entree of frozen vegetables, bad lasagna, fish, and a rude imitation of fettucini Alfredo. For dessert a strange coconut pudding. This was a dreadful beginning, and I was wondering how my husband and were going to survive 2 days on Isla Palma with a bag of cashews, a pack of M&M's and some Tic Tacs.
 The food situation became less dire at breakfast which was plentiful and good: egg station 4-5 hot items like scrambled eggs,pancakes, chicken, rice with beans. Bread and toast selection, excellent fruit, juices, and cereal.
  Lunch is again a buffet, but good. Not a huge selection like you would find at a large Mexican or DR hotel, but fresh fish,rice beans, bread that is made om the premises.
The following night was a mexican buffet which was much better than the horrible dinner the night before. Not great but you could survive.
   They do a have a bakery onsite, and I am sure the food logistics are quite difficult. They have to haul everything out in a small boat, and it isn't like the mainland is a metropolis serviced by large food distributors

   One thing I can say is neither my husband or I felt any intestinal distress from the food, which kind of surprised me. I peeked in the kitchen and it seemed quite clean an hygienic. Pleasant surprise. 
  
  One kind of depressing aspect of the hotel is a dolphin pen. They have one dolphin swimming around in a probably 200 x 200 foot concrete and chainlink enclosure. It bummed me out a lot to see the poor lonely dolphin swimming around in the pen. If I had a pair of bolt cutters I would have gone out at night and tried to let him out. I hope they don't keep him there until he dies.
   I am going to write to Decameron hotels and complain. Maybe you will too if you read this review. If you go to isla palm bring some bolt cutters to cut the chain link fence that keeps the poor dolphin in the pen. It will give you something to do after dinner.
  If you are a high end traveller, IP is not the place for you. If you like entertainment and good food and drink than IP is not the place for you. If you hate to see wild intelligent animals kept in a tiny pen, than IP is not the place for you.
  If you would like to try a Colombian laid-back off the beaten track low to medium end hotel, don't require a comfortable bed, don't want to get food posioning, don't mind one English channel (The Channel) on TV, don't mind a teeth jarring 3 hour ride to get there, you should be just fine. I would not recommend anymore than 2-3 nights.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
17 Thank lobco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Level 5 Contributor
88 reviews
87 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed June 5, 2011

I would not recommend this hotel. It had a nice setting but:
- Our room had no window whatsoever, which made it like a cave
- Loud music from speakers on the stage on the dock blared at various times of day and was inescapable, even in our room. We might not have been the target demographic, but I looked around and didn't see anyone else who appeared to be, either
- Service was desultory, except for the entertainers, who were as enthusiastic as summer camp counselors
- There was essentially no coral in the designated swimming area, and very few fish (1 small colorful fish at one of the head-size coral heads, and lots of grey minnow like fish)

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank rogerbowman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
23 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed June 26, 2010

My teen-aged girls loved this little tropical island in the Caribbean. The beaches are some of the most beautiful anywhere and you can have a large section of the beach to yourself. The water teems with sea life, which kept our girls busy.

The island is so small that there are is only one resort with 40 rooms and they do not allow visitors on the island that are not guests of the resort. On our first day, we went to the beach and a couple, which we hadn't noticed, politely asked us to move down the beach so that they could have their little beach to themselves. It was no problem to accommodate them, as there is so much beach and so few people, that we found our own little beach to ourselves that was well equipped with chairs and a large grass umbrella.

The main building is basically an enormous grass hut with spacious rooms. The decor of the rooms is rustic and dated, but they are air conditioned and clean with comfy beds that gave us great sleeps after days of swimming, snorkelling, and birdwatching.

The food was excellent and the staff was typical Colombian hospitality where they take pride in the quality of the food and the graciousness of the service.

In the other reviews, there was mention of a bus-and-boat transfer to the island. We went by boat from Cartagena in July, but you may want to check and see how they work the transfers in the off season.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank RobVee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bogotá, Colombia.
Level 4 Contributor
11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
Reviewed June 8, 2010

Most of what you can read about this hotel here in the reviews is true. I’ll try to talk about things I haven’t read here.


Information not on Decameron’s website:

• There are two hours of departure from Decameron Cartagena to Decameron Isla Palma: 11am and 1pm. (We were misinformed about this).
• For the 11am group, there’s breakfast included at Decameron Cartagena. (We had not been informed about this).
• It looks like there are several ways of getting there. In our case, a bus picked us up for a 3 hour ride (Last 30 minutes on unpaved road) until a town called Berrugas and then a 30 min speed boat ride to the hotel.
• On the way back there are two hours of departure from Decameron Isla Palma, to Decameron Cartagena: 9am and 1pm. For the people of the 9am shift, there’s complimentary lunch at Decameron Cartagena.
• Sandwiches, chips and beverages are offered during the rides and half way there, the bus makes a stop for people to go to the bathroom.


About the hotel itself:
• It’s a 3 star hotel at the most.
• There’s noise all day long. Really, this was such a turn off for me, I went there looking for some peace and relaxation and it was hard to relax when there’s latin music playing all day long, loudly. The only place that has no music is the beach.
• There’s a briefing, but they’d do better to print this information on a piece of paper and leave it in the room, cause there’a a lot to memorize.
• The hotel is clean, though there are some run down areas that could do with some maintenance.
• Unlike some old reviews mention, there’s running water and power all day long.
• Our room has a private bathroom, very big.
• Service was really good and you can tell that most of the staff go out of their way to provide you with anything you need.
• There’s a water jug in the mini-freezer in the room. This water comes from mineral water dispensers located throughout the hotel and is safe to drink.
• There are a couple of soda bottles in the mini-freezer, but nothing to get them open with!
• Activities and meals start and end strictly on time, as well as transportation.
• Shampoo is not included. You’ll only find towels and soap in the bathroom. The rest, you need to bring yourself or buy at the only boutique at the island for an inflated price.
• They charge you for the safe-box separatedly.
• If you don’t attach the “Arrange this room” sign to the doorknob, they won’t tidy up your room.
• They have this weird thing, they give you a card for your beach towel. So to get a beach towel, you give them your card and when you return the beach towel, they give you back the card.


About the beach:
• 10 minute walk to get to the beach.
• No vendors, private beach with warm water.
• Coral sand beach, not too soft. Shallow water. Not many waves, no surfing. Ideal for children.


About the activities:
• The dolphin show is a bit sad. It seems that on weekends it varies a little bit, but during weekdays it is the same three stunts over and over again.
• The shows in general are mediocre, but the staff really do try hard to entertain you.
• Dance lessons are a hoot.
• Eco-walk is a bit sad, there are many things in desperate need of maintenance, like the huge fish tank with its water spilling and filtering from cracks. Drinks during this walk are not included.
• Massages at the spa are great, I recommend those.


About the food:
• In general, the food is mediocre. The selection is all Colombian typical dishes which are supposed to be amazing, but… not here.
• Bread seemed stale most of the time.
• Beware of birds picking on your food.


Beware of:
• There are lots of mosquitoes. Perhaps this changes depending on the season, but we were unprepared.
• From what we saw, it is possible to bribe the dolphin trainer, especially if you’re a woman, because (unless the two women we saw with his are his wife and her friend) it seems he likes to get a little grab here and there and in return, he’ll allow you to swim with the dolphins, feed them and get really close.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank CulturalTravelGuide
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southampton, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed March 2, 2010

Sure the bus is rough and it plays the music loud and constant but the isla is a gem. Rooms are large, unique and clean. Meals are varied and plentiful. Staff are friendly.
Isolated, away from the beaten path, but with nature surrounding you and a beach that cuts through the ocean with waves on one side and tranquil waters on the other will keep you occupied. A jacuzzi area that has a dolphin show and the sunning area is set around a pretty big jacuzzi with a well-shaded area and a palapa bar. We were asleep before the night show but probably didn´t miss much..and we slept well. Oh, the water supply? As much as you wanted and as hot as you could stand. Drinking water was always available. Our 2 night trip was extended to three and we could easily have stayed for weeks!

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank anintrepidcanuck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Decameron Isla Palma

Property: Decameron Isla Palma
Address: | Archipielago de San Bernardo, Isla Palma, Colombia
Location: Colombia > Valle del Cauca Department > Isla Palma
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Isla Palma
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Decameron Isla Palma 3.5*
Number of rooms: 42
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Also Known As:
Decameron Isla Palma Hotel Isla Palma
Decameron Hotel Isla Palma
Isla Palma Decameron

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