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“Ruined a Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity to Swim with Whale Sharks” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of CasaSandra Boutique Hotel

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CasaSandra Boutique Hotel
Ranked #10 of 19 Hotels in Holbox Island
Certificate of Excellence
Ringoe
Level Contributor
132 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 129 helpful votes
“Ruined a Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity to Swim with Whale Sharks”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 21, 2011

I apologize for lengthy review - but please read through. We are very experienced travelers including Africa, Ecuador with Galapagos, Belize, etc. We cherish "off-the-baten-path" experiences.

The reason for our trip to Mexico was to swim with the Whale Sharks. We had done a lot research and read that Holbox is the place to go for easy access to whale sharks in season. So much so, that they offer complete money-back guarantee if the customer does not see whales.
Once we made CasaSandra reservation, I called to arrange a private whale shark trip but was told that we would do that when we arrived.

CasaSandra is charming upon arrival. Despite marketing to English speaking clientele - we were grateful that a member of our family is fluent in Spanish because most of the staff speak little English.

We felt manipulated from the start. They tried to put us in a non-ocean view although we had paid for 2 ocean view master suites. When we refused, they put 1 of our couples in a room over the kitchen - noisy and cooking smells.

The rooms had charm but...the windows and doors are not fitted...so many mosquitoes flying around including while using toilet...in shower and in bed. Get the picture?

We chose a private whale trip that was to include snorkeling coral reef, and flamingoes. We specified that the crew had to speak English, however only 1 of 3 crew did. Many things were not "right" from the beginning but let's focus on what happened with the sharks.

Once in the beat-up panga, we were told if would be 2 hours before we got to the whales! Old cushions thrown on side benches, nothing to cushion the blows to the back from waves, no toilet facility. We had traveled to Holbox (instead of Cancun) so that the time from land to the shark would be the shortest possible. It is shorter from Cancun!

Our crew brought us to a place with only ONE WHALE. We were VERY DISAPPOINTED. In all our research, these animals travel together and are rarely single. When we questioned our crew, we were told that we were "so lucky" because this whale shark was swimming slowly and allowing people to swim along-side without a problem. We asked – where are the groups? He told us that there was a group a little further away but that the water around them was “red.” He said something about the plankton dying and turning the water red. We let him know we were disappointed and had expected several sharks. But nothing changed what the crew wanted to do.

We are experienced scuba divers who spend a lot of time in the ocean. We love and are experienced with fish. It is our opinion that something was not right about the whale shark we saw. It likely was in poor health and that was the reason it was alone. There was no plankton in the water (yes, we know it is tiny and hard to see – but it still can been seen if the person viewing knows what to look for – and we do.) It was not eating. It was barely moving.

Then to our shock, the person who swam with us in the water as our guide to the shark (who did not speak a word of English), took out a fishing line with hook and bait WHILE WE WERE IN THE WATER AT THE SHARK!!! There was a Cobia fish swimming against the underside of the shark, and the guide used the hook to catch the Cobia, while it was close to touching the shark. COMPLETELY UNPROFESSIONAL….and, if the Marine laws are anything like the United States…..completely ILLEGAL. The guide risked snorkelers getting hurt, the whale shark getting hurt. When the Cobia was brought aboard the boat, it was quickly put into a cabinet under one of the seats. Later in the afternoon, we saw one of the crew, filet the fish.

We were upset but stayed quiet as we were very uncomfortable with the crew. As the boat left the shark, the guide kept telling us how “lucky” we were that this shark was slow. But we weren’t lucky – we had traveled a long distance from the North East coast of the United States for the opportunity to swim with whale sharks and this crew decided to take an easy way of doing things instead of seeking out a group of sharks.

Then they suggested that we skip snorkeling and fish instead. Everyone was given a line and the 3 crew members fished as well. We caught a lot of fish – way too much for ceviche for 7 people…yet we kept fishing. We have traveled a lot over many years – we knew what they were doing….they were catching fish to take home for their suppers.

A family member received a deep gash which needed to be flushed and bleeding brought under control. NO MEDICAL SUPPLIES at all onboard. Not surprised. But we know from experience what happens when bacteria from fish isn't removed from a wound. They flagged down another boat and borrowed their med kit.

They then took us into the mangroves telling us how peaceful and beautiful it is. It was beautiful but not peaceful….there were many other non-professional boats there pulling onto a sandbar. The crews all chatted with each other. A party!

We kept asking when we would see the flamingoes and told “next.” However, that turned out to be few birds on the shoreline while our boat stayed far from shore. Our guide told us that, when we get back to shore, we could rent a golf cart to try to get closer to the birds.

What a “rip-off.” .

We had spent thousands of dollars to travel and swim with the whale sharks and ended up with a very poor quality boat tour that ruined this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

When we told the hostess at CasaSandra, they didn't care. They told us how great it would be the next time we come back.

We rented the golf cart which then got stolen from in front of CasaSandra.

Their general attitude was "Oh well...."

Our hard-earned money and precious little vacation time blown because of very poor customer service.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank EnjoyExploring2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SandraHolbox, Propietario at CasaSandra Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, September 27, 2011
I am sorry for this opinion. We took with the tours people. Thank you, Sandra
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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423 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (51)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Key Biscayne, Florida
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 14, 2011

Casa Sandra.... AAAHHHHHHH... the place were you find peace and magic. BEST KEPT SECRET!!!!

Everything is tended to with the utmost care. The minute you walk in the door you feel like you are in somebody's house, but this someone has staff who want to pamper you and make your life pleasant and lovely!!!
Every little detail of the decor has a story- the wood beams are local, the lamps are hand painted, the butter dishes are antique english porcelain bought in a flea market in cuba, the paintings by lovely owner, Sandra...

Rustic meets 5 star in every sense of the word. The food is made from scratch with the freshest ingredients and it is, in a word, GLORIOUS. We knew it was more expensive to dine in Casa Sandra compared to most places in Holbox, nevertheless, we tried to be there for EVERY SINGLE meal, because we couldn't get enough of cuban chef Dana's creations- it was more than worth it!!! Especially if you compare it to eating out in any good restaurant in practically any city of the world- i bet you can't find food of this quality for its price. Good value for money, for self-proclaimed foodies like us!

It's the ultimate 'Shabby chic' boutique hotel. The beach is some steps away from the front door, virtually tourist-free or people free, for that matter!!! there are no rows of beach chairs by the sea, - they're a few meters back, so you feel like you're going into a virgin, unspoiled beach- which you are- of transparent turquoise waters, walking on white, baby-powder-like sand. No wave runners, no high speed motor boats, no crowds. Just a few, sporadic fishing boats... idillyc.

Going back to the staff and owner Sandra: what lovely people!!! we became quite friendly with them over the week, having long, laid back conversations by the pool bar over delicious mojitos and very interesting, varied and appropriate background music. No 'chart' techno stuff, never the eternal cliched resort music... just stuff that's pleasant to listen to.

To sum it up: we're in love with the place, it exceeded our expectations in every aspect. By the way, 'we' are my husband, myself and 4 and 6 year old girls. We're going back again before the end of the year and we can't wait!!!
We've been to several of South East Asia's popular beach spots- Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia... always staying in tucked away, off-the-beaten-path high end boutique hotels, same in the Maldives, the Caribbean... Casa Sandra and Holbox are at the top of our list. the combination of desirable elements is just PERFECT!!!!!!!

PS: there's yoga every morning (free of charge), poolside or at the beach, more or less at whatever time you agree upon with lovely instructor Maggie :)... just bliss.............................

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank carmenlups
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SandraHolbox, Propietario at CasaSandra Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, September 27, 2011
Thank you, so much, for this opinion. The best with love, Sandra.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 17, 2011

"While I'm writing, I'm far away; and when I come back, I've gone." — Pablo Neruda

When our original honeymoon plans to Europe went bust the day after our wedding, we decided to go somewhere easy to get to, yet far enough to disconnect, visit a new place and embrace our newlywed status. When a friend strongly suggested to go to CasaSandra on Isla Holbox, I immediately googled it then reviewed it on TripAdvisor…we were convinced! We would soon discover that it was the best decision that we made after saying “I do!”

As soon as we landed in Cancun, we were greeted with a friendly smile (hotel can organize a car, then 20-min ferry). I didn’t even notice that the ride was two hours. Once we stepped on Isla Holbox, paradise started to unravel itself. We were whisked off on a 3-min golf cart ride, enough for me to notice that cars are prohibited on this cute beach town where sand-paved streets make way to shops, restaurants and a park where locals, expats and visitors mingle. When we reached the charming, artistic hotel, I knew right then and there that I would forever dub CasaSandra as one of my favorites.

Hector, the general manager, was anticipating our arrival as he walked over to us with his welcoming smile, introduced us to the receptionist (Jeeyvl is now a friend) and offered us fresh juice. We were directed on a paved pathway filled with bougainvillea to our honeymoon suite. Our air-conditioned room was absolutely gorgeous with spacious living and dining areas, a heavenly bed, and a large bathroom (I love the conch shell showerhead). The private hammock on the balcony offered an intimate spot for amazing ocean views. We were also touched to see the extra surprises that awaited us as newlyweds. CasaSandra is gracefully adorned with paintings inspired, and some created, by the owner, artist and songwriter, Sandra Lopez. Our passion for the arts was re-ignited here.

We’ve had so many ‘bests’ but the ones that still stand out for me are the chilaquiles and tostadas (after the third order, our chef knew my tostada lunch schedule), the team went above and beyond to set the most romantic candlelight dinner for us (as a surprise to me), dessert and cigars with Christian (Jeeyvl’s companion who manages a restaurant next door), lunch at the Frida Kahlo decorated restaurant La Isla del Colibri, our night out dancing salsa, the excursions…there are too many to list. Oh, one more, we had the best cat naps, prancing our way over from hammock to chaise lounge with an occasional mojito delivered to us. We lounged on the beach by day embracing the sun and traipsed through town barefoot by night admiring the stars.

The serenity and peacefulness of the island, the impeccable service provided by CasaSandra’s staff and the memorable experiences that we encountered will forever be embedded in our hearts. We just celebrated our six-month anniversary and we haven’t stopped dreaming about CasaSandra!

Room Tip: Check for seasonal deals
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  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank MrsTessII
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SandraHolbox, Propietario at CasaSandra Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, September 27, 2011
Thank for this "bella" opinion. Live is the best, and Holbox is live. With love, Sandra.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minnesota
Level Contributor
42 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 10, 2011

We stayed at Casa Sandra during Christmas of 2010. We found the hotel to be lovely and relaxing...perfect for helping us get out of our work-induced stress and into the vacation mode. What we liked:
* Beautiful room
* Nice pool area
* Good location right on beach
* Food at the restaurants in the town was fresh and inexpensive
* Breakfasts. You could order eggs, pancakes, or just have some fruit and pastries.
* Nice staff.

What to know about Casa Sandra:
* Dinner is good but expensive
* Lunch is good but expensive
* Drinks by the pool are good but expensive
* No televisions or computer access

If you go, be aware that further east of Casa Sandra is a beach area where seaweed rolls up onto the beach. Being an eco preserve, the seaweed can't be removed so it decomposes and smells bad. That smell can sometimes waft over Casa Sandra, but it depends on the direction of the wind.
*

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Gailymegan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SandraHolbox, Propietario at CasaSandra Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, April 20, 2011
Thank you very much by its opinion. We already are in March and the restaurant in the hotel changed much, for good. A hug, Sandra.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
brittbutton
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 1, 2011

We had an amazing time at Casa Sandra. Casa Sandra was recommended by a friends and I am so glad we followed up on their recommendation. It is a small hotel with a dedicated staff, nice accommodations, great location and excellent food. While it is more expensive than other hotels on the island it was well worth it. The staff (especially Jose Maria and Olga) are dedicated to making sure your visit is as enjoyable as possible. The food, especially on Cuban night, is delicious. The location is perfect, it is on the outskirts of "town" and close enough to be able to walk to town for dinner and but not surrounded by town.
Casa Sandra is a great hotel, I almost did not write a review as I would like to keep it my family's secret, and I highly recommend a visit!!!

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank brittbutton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SandraHolbox, Propietario at CasaSandra Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, April 20, 2011
Thank you very much by its opinion. We work every day to maintain our concept and to improve it. A hug, Sandra.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 31, 2011

If you want peace and quiet, this is the place to be. We spent the first few days at Casa Sandra in a comfortable and rustic suite located in the main building. It was spacious and had a dinning and sitting area, walk-in closet and bathroom with 2 sinks. We finished our stay in one of the newer and FABULOUS suites located in the more recently build additions in the garden and around the swimming pool. Definitely ask if the suites are available - they are worth paying a bit extra for.

There were always plenty of lounge chairs by the beach and around the pool. Most of the time you had a feeling that you were one of just a few guests in the hotel. Very peaceful !! We did lots of reading looking out on the beach from one of the tented palapa beds, sipping cocktails and enjoying delicious lunches/snacks. Very attentive service. Olga, at the reception, was a great help in organizing our trip. We always took breakfast at the terrace facing the ocean while checking in with friends via the free-of-charge wireless network. We also loved our outing to Musquito Point (barely any musquitos (but do bring your repellant)) - we were the only ones on miles of beach. Very romantic and an ideal place to find beautiful shells. We also rented bicycles for a day to explore the town and the beaches.

The ocean water has all shades of turquoise blue and green. The town of Holbox has about 2.000 pleasant inhabitants and most people get around in golf carts on unpaved sandy roads. The island has a feeling of how the Caribbean must have been 40 or 50 years ago. There is not a building that has more than 2 or 3 floors.

We'll definitely be back !!

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Stella10023
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PJsMM, Director of Sales at CasaSandra Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, February 21, 2013
Dear Guest, What a wonderful review, we hope we have had the pleasure of serving you again since your visit in 2011. Our most sincere apologies for not replying earlier, please come and visit us again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kongsberg, Norway
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 19, 2011

I had high expectations as I had heard that the hotel was among the best on this newly discovered paradise island.
I can assure you that I was not let down by what I experienced during my stay. The room I stayed in was spacious, the bathroom was delicate and the interior gave gave proof of an aesthetic mastermind behind every detail. I do not know if it was the seaside view, the Egyptian linen, the fragrance from the carribean flowers or the gentle whisper from the ocean, but I slept like a baby every single of the 12 nights I spent there.

The cuisine was, as expected, among the best on the island, and a great example of carribean and continental fusion taste.
I spent many a morning at the poolside, drinking freshly made drinks from a coconut, the walk from the pool and down to the ocean for a saltier feeling was worth every 30 yards!

The hotel is on the outskirts of the small village centre, and the distance gives an extra calm and tranquility to the hotel, but the small handicraft shops, restaurants and nostalgic carnivalistic town heart is only a few minutes away by foot. I would recommend this hotel to everyone who is considering a visit to this exotic and laidback destination.

The whole community is so different from all other places I have visited, whether being big towns og small backpacker villages. And during a stay here you will be sure to meet many interesting people, but even better, you will get a fantastiv opportinity to get to know the most important traveller you will ever meet- yourself!

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank majonesfabrikken
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SandraHolbox, Owner at CasaSandra Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, March 28, 2011
Thank you for your comment, we look foward to welcome you again.
Sandra
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 CasaSandra Boutique Hotel

Property: CasaSandra Boutique Hotel
Address: Calle de la Igualdad s/n, Holbox Island 77730, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Holbox Island
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#9 On the Beach Hotel in Holbox Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — CasaSandra Boutique Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
For a long time owner, Sandra, wanted to write by the sea. She went in search of a remote world, quiet, where the blue was obvious. One day, she landed in Cancun and the attraction of the Mayan land was overwhelming. She took a small plane and flew over the island of Holbox.Nothing was more attractive to her than the Feast of the colors of nature, barefoot fishermen with their gold teeth, women weaving hammocks or sheathed with their heels in the sand. "I want to do something here, " she said and began to imagine in her head this project now called "the hotel with a human touch" on this very beach.The land of more than 150 species of birds, whale shark, or Damero world's largest fish, mangroves in each corner, all were an inspiration to this artist.Then she wanted to welcome friends from around the world and to express, through a hotel on the island of Holbox, a point of view on life: "peace and art are a great treasure for humans. " Because of this she thought of a place that is romantic, sexy, creative, where the personalized, warm, rustic atmosphere in a luxurious twenty rooms that look to the sea, where one could meet the privacy and whims of its guests. All done out of love and passion. The same place where one can dream and create, and in the best case, where one can rest.The joy of giving and expressing a new way of caring for guests, has been the commitment of the hotel. Every detail has a reason: from the small art gallery with paintings by renowned artists to the beautiful furniture that inhabit the halls.Feelings, emotions, poetry, touches of color, aromas of black coffee, hammocks, fabric on the balconies, fluffy sheets, the sea at every angle, and romantic evenings create the magic of the "place of your dreams." ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Casa Sandra Hotel Holbox Island
Casa Sandra Holbox Island

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