We had a wonderful week at San Andres. The Island is beautiful and you will not be disappointed if you select a vacation here. But, study your travel books carefully as every hotel has it’s good and bad points. We liked the Decameron Aquarium very much, but we would not stay there again if we return to San Andres. First of all, if you’re from the United States, you will probably be the only Americans on the entire island. Not only that, but other guests will express shock that you are from the states. We felt sort of like conversation pieces, although everyone was very pleasant and friendly. Most guests are from Canada or from Colombia. Of course, Colombia owns San Andres. Now, the hotel……….it’s so very unique because all of the buildings are in the water………..but not all rooms have an ocean view!! If we stood or sat at the very far end of balcony, we could face the sea. For a lot of the rooms, the view is the next building. But we found the room quite nice and very clean. Ours had 2 three-quarter size beds although we would have preferred one king. But, we were not given an option. The air conditioner, even on low, kept the room chilly. But, if you turn it off, it gets quite humid and had a strong humid, musty smell. It’s so humid there that your bathing suit never really dries. If you hang your towel on the balcony to dry……forget it…it won’t. But, that’s no reflection on the hotel. That’s just the way it is. I found the layout of the hotel grounds rather congested. Everything is very close together.
A most important thing you should know is there is no beach here. So, if you’re looking for sand, stay somewhere else. What is here are wide wooden docks or piers with lots of lounge chairs for sun bathing. Really, it’s quite nice and unique. Even though there’s no beach, the swimming is great!! There is a pool which we felt was on the small side. There was also a kids’ pool. But, the great swimming is in the "ocean pool", which is a piece of the sea roped off where you can swim and snorkel. The water is so very crystal clear and there are lots of beautiful fish. This is where we spent most of our time. It’s a thousand times better than a pool!!
Food: The food at the Aquarium was not much more than "okay". Even the breakfasts weren’t that great. The pancakes were always cool even though they were kept in steamer pans. There was no bacon. "Sausage" is hot dogs. (they do a lot with hot dogs here). The scrambled eggs are mixed with something (cheese maybe?) to keep them moist, but they’re not good tasting. There’s usually ham but it looks like really processed stuff, not like regular ham. But, of course there’s fruit and rolls and pastries, so you won’t go hungry.
You must make a dinner reservation every day, even if you’re just going to eat in the general buffet, "la Barracuda". This is a huge hassle. You make your reservation at a designated spot (which they may change without letting anyone know), and they open at 7:30am for reservations. There are 4 a la carte restaurants besides la Barracuda; an Italian, a Thai, a steak house, and a seafood restaurant. If you get to the designated spot at 7:30, there will be approximately 30 people in line ahead of you, and it will take you about 30 minutes. (multiply that by your 7 days and it takes a good bite out of your vacation.) I found the system absolutely absurd. But, the a la carte restaurants are pretty good. Our least favorite was the steak house – we ordered t-bone and the meat was extremely tough. People later told us that we should have ordered the baby beef instead. But the Italian, Thai, and the seafood were quite good. The cornflake shrimp at the seafood was really excellent, and the Vietnamese rice at the Thai was great. Desserts at the specialty restaurants are a little itty bitty wedge of cheese cake or chocolate cake. So, if you’re big on dessert, you will be a little disappointed. We went to the Decameron Marazul one day for lunch and found the food to be of much better quality. In fact, everything at the Marazul was nicer. That’s where I’d stay if I went to San Adres again. It’s beautiful except that the beach is small and it’s a man made beach, and we didn’t care for that. Like, you really can’t dig your toes into the sand!
Grounds: You have the option to visit any of the other Decameron Hotels on the island, but you must make a reservation for the shuttle the day before, and you will be given a pass for lunch or dinner. Without it, you will not eat. You must also bring your towels with you, which is a pain in the neck. The only tour we took was called "The Island Tour", and it was $20 a person and we were gone for about 4 hours. It was nice and informative, with some history of the Island. You could probably do the same tour with a taxi for about half the price. We walked into town a few times…….it’s only a matter of a few blocks away, and it’s a nice walk – very safe and lots of pedestrian traffic. I wasn’t thrilled with the shopping as it’s all stuff you can buy right here. But, we did find a few vendors in town and at different stops we made on the tour. Downtown there is a fantastic public beach!!! Internet cafes are everywhere and they are really cheap!! The one across from the hotel and down a few yards was 75 cents for 30 minutes. Can’t beat that!!
I hope this info helps you make your decision. We liked the Aquarium but would definitely stay at the Marazul the next time. The Aquarium is advertised as a 4 star, but in reality it’s about a 2.5.