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“Dont believe the hype”

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Las Palmeras Eco-Hotel
Ranked #1 of 4 Isla Grande B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Dont believe the hype”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 23, 2014

Ok , well this was my first introduction to an eco hotel experience and I have to say I found it overall a disappointing one. The accommodation is a wooden shack, which although authentic if you are looking for that ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ experience, was however expensive compared to decent hotels in Santa Marta which my partner and I enjoyed for well under half the price. The island and the general state of the paths is not maintained well, and there is an air of despondency, that nothing should be fixed or be expected to be fixed. I counted about four dogs, mangey looking ones, which wandered around the clearing looking for food, and I suspect they might have had the cooking areas to themselves when the patrons were looking the other way. Cooking areas are not clean, note! When I asked about the shower and wash basin there was a shrug of the shoulders and I was directed to a large and not very clean looking water container from which you draw your water to wash with. After about an hour on the island I really wanted to get off, but there we were stuck there for the night. On the positive side we got to explore the lakes and mangrove swamps by kayak led by one of the owners called Jesus, a very gentlemanly and polite chap and it was a pleasure to be in his company. Ana Rosa, well, she appreciates if you speak Spanish, if not, well, she didnt seem impressed. I was glad to leave the island though as it falls short of the kind of qualities you would expect from paying the equivalent money for a hotel. My partner advises that its better not to pre/book this place with a travel company or you might get fleeced. Its better to just barter a price at the embarkation point for the boats from Cartagena.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank thedude473
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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77 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (5)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 28, 2013

Definitely one of the coolest places I've ever stayed. We were thinking we'd just come for one or two days and ended up staying 3. We were worried that it would be busy but it was really quiet (right before Christmas) with only 1 other couple staying there. A few others would come during the day to use the beach and eat but most of the time it felt like our own private paradise.

The food was wonderful and fresh -- all from the island (ie. fish or langosta caught that day). Drinks are extra (but still cheap) since it's expensive for them to bring everything by boat from Cartagena. The water isn't potable but we brought cheap (ie. $6.00 for 50) water purification pills with us from Canada.

Everything is solar powered and you shower with a bucket of water and a coconut shell which was surprisingly lovely. The place is clean and feels very safe, although the barking dogs were annoying at night.

We highly recommend taking a couple tours with Jesus. He'll take you around the whole island in a canoe or by canoe into the three lagoons. Definitely check out the Laguna Encantada at night where phosphorescent algae lights up as you swim or canoe. The town of Orika is also cool to visit - a different slice of life. You can also go snorkelling.

The beach one minute from the hotel is nice, but just a 5 minute walk away is Playa Bonita which is much nicer. Tourists do come spend the afternoon there from 10-3 but it's minimal compared to Playa Blanca on the nearby island of Baru. There are vendors as well but we had no problems and a really nice one name Francisco even lent us snorkels for the afternoon for free.

I found the prices confusing to get over the phone and the staff spoke pretty much no english so I've spelled them out here. Everything includes 3 meals but no drinks.

Low Season
Hammocks: COP 70,000 per person
Room: 110,000 per person

High Season (Dec 26-Jan 15)
Hammocks: COP 75,000 per person
Room: 115,000 per person

The boat is COP 40,000 each way per person in low season and 50,000 in high season
You also have to pay a small tax before getting on the boat as the area is a national park.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank LD_DGR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 25, 2013

My husband and I decided to spend a night at Las Palmeras after reading all the reviews and mentally preparing ourselves for what to expect. We knew there would be no showers and no AC (we actually brought our own mini-fan that was battery operated), and were really expecting a local experience with hospitable hosts (we had read that Ana Rosa (AR) was very friendly and great cook). However, we were EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED with how we were treated during our stay. it was also pretty expensive, considering what you get. When we arrived Ana Rosa's husband picked us up and took us to the hotel. Once we got there, it was kind of awkward - the husband wasn't really talking to us and when AR came over, we greeted her very warmly but she barely said two words to us. Our spanish is pretty basic but we were definitely trying to communicate with them and they made absolutely no effort to communicate with us most of the time.

We were shown our room - it was very basic but we knew what to expect. It was actually quite cozy with the hammock outside and rocking chairs. We had a nice evening hanging out there. Note: we got VERY lucky with the weather -- it was mid 70s, which is very rare - had it been its usual 90s, I don't think it would've been as nice to sit outside as there is absolutely no breeze. There's also a bed net but we didn't end up having to use it. One thing that was really annoying at night was the dogs barking endlessly!

We actually were the only guests at the hotel that night but the family made no effort to get to know us or to help us explore the area. The worst part was at the beach - AR's husband walked us to the beach (10 mins) and told us that we should not pay for the chairs on the beach nor do we need to buy any souvenirs if we don't want to. However, once we got to the beach (we were the only tourists there), we were approached by a guy selling necklaces. We said we weren't interested and expected AR's husband to tell him to leave us alone, but he just left. For the next two hours while we were at the beach, the guy kept coming over to us and telling us that we had to buy something from his because "it was his beach". It was absolutely ridiculous and we kept saying no and that we didn't have money with us, but any time we came out of the water he would come back and kept getting more and more aggressive to the point that we got really scared and decided to head back to the hotel. Only at this point he said he would come to the hotel with us because he knows AR and we could pay him there. He had some of his buddies with him and we had no idea how to get out of the situation. He ended up taking us to the hotel and I immediately went to AR to tell her that they were harassing us and that we didn't want to buy anything but she did NOTHING! So we had to pay him for some crappy necklace in order to have him stay away from us at the beach.

After that we basically realized that AR doesn't care at all about her guests and just sees them as a way to make money. It was very disappointing. We also heard about the lagoon that lights up at night and really wanted to see it. We asked AR's husband if he could walk us there because it's pretty difficult to find your way around (and plus we were pretty shaken up by our earlier experience) but he said we'd have to pay him to walk with us. Seriously? What else is he doing at that point that he can't just take care of his guests and walk 5 mins with us? We decided to brave it and went ourselves only to discover that it wasn't at all lit up that night - because it had rained the night before apparently. He obviously knew this but failed to mention anything before we left.

One good thing was the food. It was all very well prepared and very fresh. All typical Colombian food, but very good! We did have to pay for all drinks but it wasn't too much. Also, you only get lunch, dinner and breakfast. Even though the boats don't leave until 3pm, they don't include lunch and you have to pay extra for it. We did because we figured it wasn't too expensive and definitely less than Cartagena, but it was annoying. They also insisted we had to eat at certain times each day for each meal which kind of restricted our schedule.

Overall, we enjoyed our getaway from the city and had a nice and relaxing time at Las Palmeras but if you're looking for a local experience with warm and welcoming hosts, this is not the place! Just know what to expect!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank TravelingChica_333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 23, 2013

We stayed here for 3 nights and it was a wonderful experience but there are definitely some things that must be noted.
Firstly I would definitely recommend emailing the nearest hotel to organise transfer with them. The nearest hotel is Hotel San Pedro de Majagua and it is only 5 mins away. We booked our transfer through the tour group in the lonely planet but they were very little help and didn't even tell us when the boat was returning. The boat was overpacked and uncomfortable. We got Hotel San Pedro's boat back and it was only 7e more. The port in Cartagena is manic and I really wouldn't recommend trying to negotiate it if you don't speak Spanish.
We loved the island and the hotel. The shower is a bucket of water and there isa separate bucket to flush the toilet also. The rooms are basic but very clean. The staff were really helpful but no- one speaks English. There was always someone there who could translate for us though.
I can see the difficulty with payment as it's 90,000 pesos a night including meals but no drinks. There is no price list for the drinks so we had no idea of what our bill was going to be. We guestimated it but were pleasantly surprised when we went to check out.
The food is nice but I wouldn't rave about it like other reviewers. We did a few tours with Jesus the hotel's guide. He also has no English but we got the idea and sometimes there were other people to translate. We went on a canoe through the lagoons during the day and also went to the lagoon with the flourescent plankton at night which was amazing.
It is extremely hot and difficult to sleep. There is one room with a fan which we were given on the last night as I had had 2 nights with no sleep. The fan made such a difference and I could have stayed there for a week with it but I don't know if it is possible to pre book this room (the fan is very loud!)
Overall I would recommend the hotel and the island and we loved our time there.
We loved the beach Bonita.

Room Tip: I think the hotel has a facebook page- it may be possible to book a fan room through this.
See more room tips
  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank littlebella2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Helsinki
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 5, 2013

Okay, maybe our stay did not start in the best way but I must say that the hostel was a dissapointment in every way. Ann Rosa who owns the place had told us that 90 000 pesos / night / person includes everything except drinks as bear or soft drinks. Well, it turned out to be that the price didn't include any drinks except coffee in the morning. With 95 000 pesos we could have got two glasses of juice each day but still we would have had to buy water with ridiculous prices (6 000 pesos per 1,5 liters), which turned out to be 7 000 pesos two hours later when we had refused to pay the higher price.

The food was very basic as everywhere in Colombia. This would have been fine if the food had been fresh (and note, no what so ever drinks with the meals). But it was not. I got very sick. Even the cooks on the treck to Ciudad Perdida could prepare better and fresher food alltough they did not have fridge or electricity in four days.

The room a was reasonably clean with a twin bed. No shower, just a bucket of water. Definitely no air conditioning.

I feel bad that I have to write so bad review. However, I feel that I must do it. We were lied to. We also tried to explain and negotiate politely with Ann Rosa but she literally just ingnored us and had no intentions to serve us as paying customers.

My greetings to you Ann Rosa: Lying is not exeptable. Trying to rip off tourists is not a sustainable way of doing business.

So, if you still feel like going to Ecohostal las Palmeras here's advice
- check and ask (black and white) what is included in the price
- bring your own water or buy it with lower prices at a small store located between Las Palmeras and the dock where the boat leaves you

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Reeta K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
denver
Level Contributor
9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 14, 2013

we recently stayed one night at las palmeras and it was all we expected and hoped it would be! it was a challenge for us to get to the hotel, though. we would recommend now working with one of the large resorts on the island and arrange a ride with their shuttle service. the staff are so sweet they welcomed us with open arms and a good drink, the entire time they made sure we were ok. some of the sweetest people ive ever met. the food was good and accommodations basic but clean. be prepared, it is hot and you will need a ton of bug spray. playa bonita is a must visit while on the island. the entire place is solar powered and overall a great experience.

Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank mivoy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
34 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 5, 2013

We spent 2 nights here recently and thought it was very good. Food is generous and tasty, cooked on a barbecue, the owners are friendly and clearly very proud of their ecohotel. Accommodation is basic but very clean ( towels included which we didn't expect), with hammocks at the door. Outside bathroom which was fun, nice to take a shower in the open air. Beach is a short walk away, bring insect repellant definitely. We also stayed at fun a Barlovento in PNN, and the ecohotel palmers compared very favourably to this, in terms of value, friendliness and food.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Racvacmac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Las Palmeras Eco-Hotel

Property: Las Palmeras Eco-Hotel
Address: Isla Grande | Islas del Rosario, Colombia
Location: Colombia > Bolivar Department > Cartagena District > Islas de Rosario > Isla Grande
Amenities:
Beach Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 B&Bs / Inns in Isla Grande
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our hotel is 100% ecological and in nature, managed by five local families of islanders. We produce electricity from solar panels. We offer fun activities for adults and children: snorkeling in the coral reef, luminiscent lake at night, tour of the lakes and mangrove by kayak, bird sanctuary, forest hikes, and visits to the local village. The island is also perfect for just relaxing with a good book on a hammock or on the beach. ... more   less 
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