Overall we had a good holiday and got what we paid for but if you are used to staying at good resorts in the Caribbean you will be disappointed. That said, the hotel seemed only half full and I imagine this was because other tour operators had told potential guests that the hotel was carrying out renovation work. First Choice didn’t let us know that in all the time we were there the Jacuzzis would be out of bounds, the wave pool wasn't working, there was only one slide available, and because the theatre stage was being refurbished, the shows had to take place in the disco. The team did the best they could in the space available but trying to do a dance routine when they were limited to about 12 square feet was difficult for them. Consequently, very few people managed to squeeze into the disco to see the shows.
The hotel consists of two buildings, both exactly the same, one houses the Italian restaurant and one the Mexican. We only went to the Italian once as, although the food was good, it seemed that the staff couldn’t wait to get us out, our next course was on the table the minute we had finished the previous, and we weren’t offered coffee, etc. We much preferred the Mexican restaurant, the food was excellent and if you like your food really hot, ask for salsa sauce. Everyone should order a Mexican coffee because even though it tastes like lighter fluid, the show that the waiter puts on when making the coffee is a delight to watch. We had upgraded to a junior suite and our room had an absolutely massive bed, and three sofas. When we got back to the room after the chambermaid had visited the air conditioning would blast us away, but if we turned it off the floor became damp and slippy.
We preferred not to have lunch in the restaurant on the beach as the birds waiting to steal whatever they could from our plates were such a nuisance. We usually ate lunch at the restaurant in the grounds beyond the largest swimming pools. This is covered in netting so you only get the occasional bird able to get in. They serve a good menu and I can recommend the burgers and pizzas. Amusingly, the English language skills of the staff aren’t that good so after taking your order, the waiters always had a conflab and then returned just to check that a cheeseburger isn’t just cheese in a bun, or “do you want milk in your white coffee?” It was always such a lottery as to whether we got the right meals that we were always smiling in this restaurant.
The beach is not in any way reminiscent of any “bounty advert” beach you have found elsewhere in the Caribbean and I wouldn’t suggest you try snorkelling from the beach as it is too rough, but the sea is wonderfully warm and jumping about in the waves kept me amused on the days we went to the beach. Put your sunbed into the surf to enjoy the relaxing movement of the sea.
Usually we stayed around the pool nearest the hotel. The beds have gazebos around them which are lovely, and could be useful when a breeze became a bit strong, or when there was the occasional shower. The iguana are so used to people that they wander around and beneath the sunbeds, they are beautiful colours. The drawback to spending time around this pool was that the music track, which seemed so good at the start of the holiday, drove us crazy by the end. It lasted several hours but never changed, the hotel definitely needs to invest in a different tape.
The staff in the restaurants and bars are very good, the staff in reception not quite so. We particularly enjoyed Peewee’s Spanish lessons and all the staff appreciated that we took the trouble to try to speak our limited Spanish. In our personal case, when we booked trips the coaches tended to turn up late but this is a very laid back kind of place so we just went with the flow.
My only real complaint relates to the overnight trip into the Orinoco Delta / Canaima. We had looked forward to this trip so much and I feel we were let down by the accommodation. There were a great many wonderful things about this trip, flying over Angel Falls is an unforgettable and magical experience (but if you do this trip in a 12 seater plane, please note that you do NOT need to scare your fellow passengers by getting up to take a photograph from the opposite side of the plane – it turns around so that you get the view from your window too). Another great experience was walking behind and above a waterfall in the National Park. When we were there we experienced a shower of hot rain which really brought home to us that we were in the rainforest. Sadly, upon arriving at the camp the first thing we encountered was a mammoth satellite dish - not what we expected from an eco-park. The netting in the restaurant windows and in our room did not keep the mozzies away from us and we were eaten alive. Although we had brought electric mozzie zappers, there was nowhere to plug them in. Also, if you are given room 11 ask for a different room, the bathroom door doesn’t close and it is very close to the generator which is very noisy. Between the noise and the mozzies, we were awake all night. Although there are showers, the cold water trickles out of them in a very thin drizzle, there is no hot water in the camp. If you are vegetarian you get the same food as everyone else, you just have to leave the meat. Also be aware that a great many people who book this trip do not get to see Angel Falls, the cloud formation can come down very quickly indeed and if the pilot thinks visibility isn’t good enough, he will abandon the trip and return you to the airport. We count ourselves very lucky indeed to have seen this wonderful spectacle as when our pilot came into the restaurant, he said that we should pack up straight away because if we missed our take-off time, we wouldn’t be able to see the Falls and it was touch and go as one of our party wanted to go shopping.
We wouldn’t return to this hotel, even though we met some really nice people, and the splendour of Angel Falls and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking. One last recommendation, take extra money and pay cash for your excursions. We found the rep quite useless at sorting out one of our problems and were most disappointed with his assertion “the way the tour company manages the currency exchanges it works out a lot cheaper to book the trips by credit card”. We found exactly the opposite and had a shock when we got the credit card bill and wished we had paid in cash.
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- Also Known As:
- Laguna Mar Pampatar
- Laguna Mar Resort
- Laguna Mar Margarita Island, Venezuela