Old Reviews – Decameron Marazul

  Decameron Marazul    Liz & Mitch ~ Brampton, Ontario

May 2009

Arrival: Nov 2008

We had wanted to go to San Andreas for many years but always delayed because it was Thursday to Thursday. When we arrived we were suprised to see the tour operators piling people into taxi cabs. 4 prople to every cab plus all your luggage. Good thing the island is small and the ride was not very long.

We picked Marazul as it was suppose to be the best resort. The beach was the worst of all the 5 Decamerons it looks good in pictures but is really like a swamp. You could take the shuttle boat out to the little island every morning for free but had to get in line by 7:30 to get on it (sign up office opened at 8:00) To book an a la carte you also had to get up and wait in line for 1/2 hour or more. The best beach was at the resort that was closed Islano. The second best beach was San Luis, but there are lots of rocks and a drop off so be careful if your not a strong swimmer. Highly recommend water shoes but if you forget they sell them for reasonably cheap. The best place to swim in San Andreas was at the natural pool $1.00 to get in and you could stay all day. They rent life jackets if you can’t swim. It is 5 meters deep but crystal clear. Take an under water camera you will get the most amazing pictures, they give you bread to feed the fish and there are lots of them.

We rented a scooter for the day $25.00 plus gas (4.00) and we went around the entire island and saw all the resorts, it was a fun day and a great experience. It’s very safe and you have nothing to worry about. It’s hard to get lost as one road goes around the whole island. The city is a busier and you have to be more careful. Shopping is ok, you can get some things for a great price and other things not so much. I got nike shocks for $15.00 each, I lucked out as they only had small sizes 5 1/2 & 6.

The food at our resort was good you could always find something to eat. You would have to be really picky to not eat. San Luis had much better selection and food at their resort. We spent more time there because their beach and food was so much better.

The shuttle that use to run between all the resorts is no longer working. Don’t take a taxi they cost an average of $5.00 to $10.00 per ride. Take the local bus, $.50 and its safe. We took the bus everyday to get to a better beach.

Overall the island was nice the people were friendly, food was good but we wouldn’t go back. We didn’t think it was worth the extra 2 days off you need.

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  Decameron Marazul    Marcus ~ Hamilton (Grimsby)

April 2009

Arrival and Flight
The flight was fine, but having to go to Montreal to pick up passengers almost doubled the length of our trip and was a real turn-off, we could have flown to Cuba in that extra time. Check in was quick and easy, but do yourself a favour and pay the extra few bucks and pre-book your seats, especially if you’re tall like me and want an aisle seat because Air Transat really packs you in, and demanding you to check in 3 hours early is bullshit !!! They feed you on the plane(unlike AC), but it would be nice if it were at least edible, as my egg thingy was revolting… Rooms
Our room was clean enough but it was 25+ year old and in need of updating. Our toilet didn’t work very well, we never had hot water and the water pressure was a joke if others showered at the same time. You cannot drink the tap water, and that can be a real pain when you’re brushing your teeth. Our bed was old, creaky and rock hard and the pillows a waste of time, but at least the sheets were usually clean. The electricity failed a lot while we were there, but it wasn’t that big a deal, but if you have a problem with ants, bugs and lizards in your room, be prepared to get creeped out. There are also no elevators anywhere so if you have mobility issues, ask for a ground floor room. Despite all that, it was still okay I guess. Restaurants
Overall the food quality was very disappointing, average at best, so stick to things they don’t can’t screw with, things like fruits, eggs, pancakes, salads etc. The seafood was the most disappointing, they are on island, you’d think they could cook it well, but during our time, that wasn’t the case. I tried seafood at every meal and it was overcooked and over salted. You need to book your meals for every meal that’s not at the buffet, so remember to do that, pain in the ass that that is. Regulars to the island say the drop in food quality this year is because they have no supplies as the supply boat is on a reef, but that sounds like bullshit. They are cutting costs by lowering the quality of their food and cutting trained staff and that will come back to bite them. Bars
The bars are fine, but don’t expect too much. The house wines must be very cheap because they are disgusting and almost undrinkable, this despite their close proximity to Chile and Argentina and that is unforgivable. The spirits are the cheapest possible brands, and while it doesn’t make much difference in a pina coloda, don’t ask for a scotch and soda, stick to the local beer (Aguila) and Bloody Mary’s. Beach and Pools
No complaints here, very clean, very nice, free kayaks to use, free windsurfing stuff, but be sure to use water shoes Grounds
Same as the pool, very clean, very nice, well maintained Activities and Entertainment
It’s the same usual lame stuff we’re all done before, so you take it for what it is. The disco is dud, but the who goes there anyway?. Internet is now in the hotel itself, but there is no wireless networks for my IPhone to access. Tours
You have to do the Zip line, it’s great fun and only about $20.00 plus taxis, and you should swim with the rays, we loved that, most of the other tours and things didn’t interest us much.
Departure and Check Out Very quick and easy, you can tell they do this a lot, but we cautious of the cabbies, they think nothing of screwing you. Conclusion
Overall, we would say it was 6 out of 10, average, and anyone who gives them even 3 stars is crazy. The food was average, the room was average, the wines average and the drinks average. We will not be returning, not because it was that bad, but because it was only average, and there are lots of other places to see rather then go back there again. We might go back if we knew a few things had changed: 1. Bring back the resort shuttle. We ended up spending another $100.00US in cabs and buses and raises the total cost of this trip to the same as Mexico would have been. It’s a small thing you might think, but it was a big thing when there trying to get around a strange place at night and cutting it is a stupid idea. 2. Raise the quality of your food and spirits. I know it costs more, but we paid $2500 to visit and we will not be back because of the quality, we can go to back to Cuba for the same money and get FAR better food and drinks. We know they have cost issues, but they need to do better to compete for our money and get us back. 3. Update the resorts, especially the Marazul. The place is 25+ yrs old and it has barely been touched, and that’s not good enough anymore when Mexico and Cuba have new places that are aggressively chasing my money with newer hotels and facilities. 4. Get some infrastructure!!. I know this a national thing, but getting CO2 poisoning from my cabs and buses is hardly an incentive to come back. One final note is that we were happy to be ourselves and be openly "out" in public, and that’s not always the case, but even with that, they will have to do better with everything else if they want us, and our money back.
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February 2009

Like everyone says, food is great, decent service, decent and clean rooms, nothing extraordinarily fancy. Beautiful island and people. You should note, however, that the free shuttle service between the resorts has been cancelled. Our party of six found it a bit of a pain to have to rent two taxis, although we found ways to get van service and used the local bus into town. Probably spent about $100 USD extra on taxis as a result. Very windy, not quite prepared for that. Should have taken one more pair of summer pants for cooler evenings.
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  Decameron Marazul   Marlene ~ Kingston, ON

November 2008 Myself and 4 friends were on the first flight into San Andres. After a 30 minute delay on Air Transat to fix a minor problem, we were flying the friendly skys by 9:50 a.m. We were served a snack and not breakfast. It was a cardboard-tasting pizza but not having only coffee for breakfast, it helped stop the stomach grumbles. Note for next time to self – eat breakfast at the airport before boarding. Air Transat didn’t have enough visitor visas to pass out to all the passengers so they were told they would be OK without one. Standing in line at Customs, some people behind me got through without it. I heard from someone else that Canadians weren’t required to fill out a visa – new legislation, apparently. Time will tell if that is truth or myth. We quickly got through customs and our taxis whisked us to the Marazul where dancers and complimentary drinks welcomed the first Nolitours/Air Transat guests for the 2008/09 season. This was our first time at the Marazul (stayed at San Luis in 2007). I was assigned Room 311, which is the building to the left of reception and behind the buffet…..no good views of anything but it was quiet. The resort is small so it takes just a few minutes to get anywhere. We arrived after lunch but the snack bar was open serving chicken, chips, burgers, hot dogs and salad. It didn’t take long to get our bearings around the grounds. The next morning, I was able to book our first a la carte meal between 7 and 10 a.m. It was busy with weekenders flying in from Colombia and other parts of Central and South America so there wasn’t much to choose from if you arrived to book just a few minutes after 7 a.m., as one Colombian would reserve for a dozen people.
That issue was solved by Monday when the weekenders left. To go on Mario’s shuttle to Acquario and Haynes Cay, the sign up sheet was at the Activities/Towel hut between 8 – 9 a.m. each morning. Again, it was difficult to get a spot on Saturday/Sunday but when the mainlanders left, it was no problem getting the shuttle Monday to Friday at 9:15, 10:45, 11:00 or 12:00. Mario’s last run back to the Marazul was at 1:30. For those who know Mario, he had an exhausting week from working and dealing with an electrical fire in his house. All is fixed but it was a worrisome few days for him and his family. No one was injured, thank goodness. The fire broke out when they weren’t home but neighbours spotted it early on. With no Decameron complimentary shuttles provided between the resorts now, we found it very easy to catch the public buses that run every 7 minutes by any given spot. The price is 1100 pesos; the drivers no longer can accept American dollars. I got quite used to taking the bus into the city central or out to the San Luis. They stop running at 8 pm and then the taxi prices go higher than in the daytime. A taxi from the Marazul to San Luis was $10 for up to 6 people in a van after an a la carte supper. During the day, we taxi’d into the city from the Marazul for $5.00 for 5 people. At night after an a la carte supper at the Aquarium, we couldn’t get a taxi back to the Marazul for less than $15 at 10 p.m.. I suppose we could have walked down the street and tried to negotiate a better price from a taxi driver not sitting in front of the Aquarium but we didn’t bother to do that. The food quality was as excellent at all the Decameron hotels as the first time I visited and the red wine from Argentina that was served at all the Decameron restaurants was very good. The white wine was a bit too dry for my liking. I was disappointed in the instant potatoes they used at the Seafood a la carte (Aquarium) and Italian a la carte (San Luis) but everything else was wonderful. There is a Canadian named Lorraine that teaches English as a Second Language on the island. English to Spanish dictionaries are in great demand and I will be on the look out for them as I save for my next visit. Meanwhile, one of the guards at the entrance to the Marazul was very appreciative of some magazines I had brought down; he was taking lessons and any english book, magazine or teaching tool is welcomed. It seems all the islanders know or have heard of Lorraine, the English teacher on the island. A few of us were interviewed by the local TV crew one day as we came out of the sea from snorkeling on the San Luis beach. They asked us to tell their viewers what we liked about San Andres. Of course, everyone said how beautiful it was. The TV crew were at the airport as we were leaving and the second flight came in, so the Canadians were made to feel very welcome on the island. There was one incident near the end of the week when a guest from the Marazul lost a gold necklace in a scooter drive-by snatch and grab as she walked across the street a block back from the boardwalk near the large duty free stores. It was at noon, just as the stores were closing for lunch siesta. The police were very quick to respond and the lady spent the rest of the afternoon riding in a police van as they stopped all the red scooters they came across. Then she spend a lot of time at the police station trying to identify the thief in pictures, drawing pictures of her unique piece of jewelry. Petty crime does exist so please exercise caution when you are walking on the streets of San Andres and wearing jewelry that would be attractive to these hooligans.
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March 2008

We are 3 couples in our mid 40’s to early 50’s…..we have travelled togethe to Mexico, Cuba and Dominican in the past and were looking for something different.
SAI delivered!. The Marazul is a very pretty resort about 128 rooms. We emailed the resort a few days ahead and requested 3rd floor in the newer building with king size beds close to each other…..we got exactly what we asked for! Our room had an amazing view of the ocean and pier bar. We arrived in SAI and were very quickly ushered thru customs and out to awaiting cabs. (they do rush you into the cabs but don’t panic they know what they are doing)….4 to a cab so two couples in one and one couple in another. They put another couple going to the Marazul in their cab. Luggage is put in the trunk with bungie cords and you would swear at the speed and scary way they drive your luggage would end up all over the road before you got there, but all was well. We arrived at the resort at about noon and were given our bracelets and were allowed to keep our luggage in a secure room where the Nolitours rep is. We were told to come back around 2:00 to check to see if rooms were ready. Off for a little tour of the resort and the pier bar……This is such a fun place to hang out either day or night. You meet the best people and the bar tenders are a blast, especially Marly who is fantastic. We spent alot of time around the pier bar. You meet alot of interesting people, mostly Canadians and Columbian mainlanders. We did get our rooms at 2:00 and we were very please with the size of the rooms and how clean they were…..we had a king size bed a table and two chairs and a couch….nice balcony. Spent the rest of the day just checking out the place, ate at the buffets that were surprisingly good all week, checked out the pool, beach and the pier bar again! We did eat at 3 different a-la-cartes and they were all very good, steak’s were cooked as asked, seafood was very delicious and past was so yummy

(steak house at Marazul, seafood at Aquarium and Caravelle at Marazul)

We went to town one day and wondered the shops, none of us are much for dutie free shops with stuff we can buy in Canada so were happier with some of the smaller local shops both in town and outside of town that had local crafts etc. If you are into Emeralds they have beautiful rings, bracelets, etc. but be careful where you buy. Check out the "big Juice" website on SAI and you will find all the information you need about where to buy Emeralds. We spent one afternoon and an evening at the San Luis….great party atmosphere at night, nice beach and there are a couple of venders on the beach. I bought a beautiful hand carved mask, very large for $40….. We hired a cabby (Raymond who parks at the San Luis who was full of information and alot of fun) for an afternoon and he took us on a tour of pretty well the whole island….lots of refreshment stops, blow hole, baptist church, and we stopped at the Isleno for drinks….(closed for renos but serves lunch and drinks to Decameron clients.)….I would love to try out this resort next time as it is right on the most beautiful beach….just needs a beach bar.

We walked to Rocky Cay for a day and met the most interesting person who lives out on the little island with his dog and a hammock….great snorkelling again and a really good lunch(drinks and food included for Decameron guests) One of our best days was the snorkel tour with Mario and his wife…..what a day. They park right at the Marazul pier and you go out for over 2 hours….snorkel for over an hour and see more fish, coral, sea creatures than I have ever seen snorkelling! and then they take you to see and feed and touch the sting rays. You get out of the boat and you can actually hold them. They are very calm and will swim between your legs if you stand still…..Just amazing!! Make sure you get his CD with pictures of you and your group snorkelling….fantastic….

We spent another afternoon on Aquaro Cay with the Big Juice crew and again snorkelled, drank more and met some great people. Bibi’s place is a small restaurant on the Cay that serves fish about as fresh as you can get it……we watched the guy fishing, then clean the fish then bring to the kitchen….. We went kayaking in the mangroves beside the Marazul (used free kayaks at the resort) One week was just not enought to enjoy this island. The people that live there are the friendliest people you will meet anywhere. The island is only about 15 miles by 5 miles so it is very small but it just seems so large with culture and life that you are sure that you missed something you would want to see next time. If you are used to 5* accomodations and are expecting that, SAI is not for you….The Marazul is the nicest in presentation but you won’t find the miles of marblel or meandering pools or pool/beach boys that bring you drinks but what you will find is hot weather, great people, amazing snorkelling, very clean accomodations and fabulous food…… We were sorry to leave and hope to return some day to this small piece of paradise.
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  Decameron Marazul   Brad ~ Ontario, Canada

December 2007 We recently enjoyed the first 2 weeks of December in San Andres. The first week we were at the Marazul. We had incredible meals, and were treated so well. The rooms were great and the staff couldn’t do enough for you. I can’t see anyone not enjoying them selves. We ate dinner at all the resorts and couldn’t believe the great meals and fantastic presentation of each meal. Marley at the Pier bar is one of those people that goes out of her way to make you feel great and to have a great time. Unfortunately we booked last minute and the Marazul was booked up for our 2nd week. We were moved down to the San Luis. The food at the San Luis was very good. Even at times better than the Marazul. Unfortunately the rooms at the San Luis reminded me of a old cabin. What dumpy rooms. Air Conditioner didn’t work. They sent some one up twice to fix the air conditioner, but it was old and still worked like crap. We tried to get moved to any one of the other resorts but they said they were full. Will we go back to San Andres? definitely! but we will be booking early so we can stay at the Marazul.
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  Decameron Marazul   J and R ~ Manitoba, Canada

December 2007 We wanted a clean quiet oceanfront hotel and we got that and more at the Marazul. Visited the San Luis, Aquarium, Delphines but did not get to the Maryland. Isleno is closed and renovations seemed to have come to halt. We lucked out because the week before we arrived there was some rainy days.One of the advantages of staying at the Decameron chain of resorts is the ease of using all of their properties on this beautiful little island.. Rooms: clean and spacious and quiet. Our third floor room had a balcony facing the courtyard and as stated in earlier reviews there are no canopies over your balcony on these rooms. No problem for us as the rain we did get was shortlived or latenite.Beds are very hard so if cannot sleep on a firm bed you may be disappointed. Every service on this compact resort only a short walk away. Our shower was large, warm not hot and had good pressure most days. But friends of ours two rooms over had little water pressure most days. Friends at the Aquarium had a gorgeous ocean view from their balcony but our room was two to three times larger and well maintained in comparison. Food: Very good selection service and freshness at every meal in the buffet. We tried a la cartes at the Aquarium’s seafood, Marazul’s steakhouse and the international gourmet and they were all good to excellent. Tried to get into the Thai at the aquarium but they were closed some nights. I think they rotate opening the a la cartes until the high season really gets going. Beach: We knew before we got there this was a manmade beach not a long stretch of powdery coral sand and we were not disappointed. If you want a long stretch of beach you should stay downtown. You could swim there but not all that appealing and the water sports equipment had seen better days. One sunfish sailboat was being used most of the time. Kayaks and windsurfers readily available. Rocky Cay Beach Club (operated by Decameron) also offered good swimming and white sandy beach area just a few kilometers to the south of the Marazul. Rocky Cay Beach Club is open to all Decameron patrons but to eat there you need to reserve at your hotel drinks and loungers are provided without reserving ahead. The shuttle goes to and from each resort about three times each day and the schedules are posted in your hotel lobby. Bars: Good service with some international brands not watered down like some other destinations. Pier bar is lively and open 24 hours. Liked the fact that tipping on this resort is not expected but appreciated. Activities: Mario’s shuttle service and snorkel tour is something no one should miss. We also rented a stretch six person golf cart and had a blast cruising around the beautiful coastline. Four hours about $65 US delivered to the Marazul from downtown. Ask big Mike in the lobby to arrange for scooters or golfcart delivery to the Marazul. Natural swimming pool on the west coast was cheap and interesting. Overall the attraction of this island is its great people and an its stunning ocean that really has seven shades of blue. This island is totally different on the east and west coasts. Shopping downtown is duty free and relatively inexpensive but crossing the streets filled with motorbikes and scooters is noisy and challenging at times. Emeralds, booze and perfume seem to be a popular purchase downtown. If you have respiratory problems you may want to stay away from the downtown fumes because of the exhaust from all the motorbikes. ATMs (4 digit pins) easy to use and offers your best exchange rate. The islanders and the local columbians have their own differences that speak about openly, poverty is not hidden away behind the walls of some mega resort but they are honest friendly and helpful people. Over one hundred thousand residents on this little green island so you will not find a golf course as space is limited. Divers seem to flock here and one told me five two tank dives will run you about $250. Never felt unsafe wandering downtown even in the evenings. Internet service is not available in any of the Decameron resorts but easy to find a I-cafe downtown. All baggage is checked on the way out of the country at the airport. My wife bought a conch shell from a local girl on the beach and it was confiscated during the baggage check at the airport. Hope this helps you in your travels to this great little island. I would love to return someday for more than seven days. All baggage is checked on the way out of the country at the airport. My wife bought a conch shell from a local girl on the beach and it was confiscated during the baggage check at the airport.
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Decameron Marazul Patrick and Tammy ~ Ontario

February 2006

San Andres Island, Decameron Marazul, February 16-23 2006

Patrick and Tammy, Ontario early 30’s, love outdoors, getting off the resort

Flew Air Transat from Toronto to San Andres, we left about an hour behind schedule ( 0720 hrs )due to freezing rain. Good flight, the airport in San Andres is small and a little unorganized. Got through airport in about an hour and got a taxi ( provided by resort ) to the resort which is about a 10 minute ride. Had to wait till 1500 hrs to get in our room, but got our bracelets right away.

Pool: 1 pool with wading area and swimming area, nice pool, water volleyball, relatively small but you never felt crowded, you could get a spot at the pool at any time of day.

Beach: relatively small, rough sand, small swimming area, again not crowded.

Bars: the pier bar is open 24 hrs! , very nice view out on the water, usually only 1 bartender working so it could get busy at night, 1 other bar near pool open from about 1000-1700hrs and a bar in the lobby Hemmingways was open from about supper time to 2200 hrs, both nice. Luis at Hemmingways made awesome drinks and Marlee at the pier bar was great.

Restaurants: Buffet was smaller than a normal buffet but still good. The a la carte’s were barbecue which we did not particularly enjoy and the International cuisine which we found to be actually quite good, not a lot of seafood at any of them though. We also went to the Italian a la carte at Aquarium and it was OK and the Japanese at the San Luis which was really good but more Chinese than Japanese.

Room: We were in room 305, large room, 1 king size and 1 twin bed, table and chairs, big dresser, balcony. Air conditioning was fine until second last day went on the fritz in our building for a few h! ours but we told the staff in the lobby and it was fixed within a few hours. Hot showers were hit and miss if you tried before breakfast or supper. Pay for room safe. There is a fridge but only stocked with water. Small resort but our building was still quiet.

Staff: All very friendly and spoke GREAT english, a real surprise for a Caribbean country.

Tours: Did the jet skis at the resort $20 for two to ride and follow an employee out around Haines Cay and back, they had a speed regulator on the jet ski, went real slow, still good siteseeing trip. We did the boat trip to Haines Cay and Aquario with Mario, which was free if staying at Marazul, very crowded, neat to see, you can walk from one island to the other in waist deep water, order drinks etc.snokeling is very good, take some bread and the fish go wild. We also did a group night cruise with Mario, he told some history of the island and it was ver! y nice to see things from the water at night. We took a taxi to the diving board on the west side of the island where the snorkeling was incredible, you pay 25 cents to get in and they give you bread for the fish. We took the local bus right outside the resort to town (note there is only 1 town on the island) several times for 1100 pesos( 50 cents ) for shopping. The perfume and liqour were very cheap, name brand clothes etc were normal prices like at home. Jhonny Cay was very hot, good prices for food, drinks, cost $10 to get there with Mario from the resort. Went diving with Werner at Karibik diving in town- great time-see review in scuba diving section.

Also went to a local Restaurant called West View, small and very charming local authentic cuisine, our group were the only tourists there, paid about $30 for a dinner with two lobster tails, rice potatoes.

Resort: al! so had a disco which we did not really check out, opened at 2300hrs and a small casino- about 15 slot machines and a roulette table.

Overall: the locals were very friendly and all spoke remarkably good english. This island was also very safe, we took the local bus and taxis several times during the day and night. Money exchange is bizarre, if you go to a bank you have to give your passport which they photocopy and a fingerprint, we got about 2150 pesos to a US dollar. You could ask a cabbie or just anybody on the street and they would take you to a guy who would give you about 2050 pesos to a dollar. You can take free shuttles to the other Decameron resorts, we went to Aquarium and San Luis and thought the Marazul was nicer, also met people from the other resorts when they came to the Marazul and they seemed to prefer the Marazul.

We have been to Panama, the Mayan Riviera and Sosua in the Dominican Republic in the ! last 2 years and would highly recommend San Andres Island. We feel it matches or exceeds those places.

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Decameron Marazul Jackie ~ Marathon Ontario

February 2006

we visited the island of san andres in January 2006 for our honeymoon. it was our first time leaving canada and we loved it so much that we made a packed to travel every year for our anniversary…we just hope all place are equivelant to san andres.

the marazul is by far the best Decameron resort on the island, we went to all the other ones either during the day or for the a la carte diner at night…we did enjoy the seafood restaraunt at the aquarium but my husband and i did venture off the resorts to eat at some seafood restaurants in town and it was fabulous. you could taste the freshness in the lobster compared to canada’s! the marazul did have the best quantity and more to choose from then the others and i loved the fact that for breakfast they made me omelettes to my liking and fried eggs for my hubby! the scrambled eggs didn’t look to appetizing cause they were premade in bulk and very wet looking but alot of the columbians seem to like them that way…the juice was to die for …freshly squeezed or should i say blended..i realy enjoyed the watermelon juice the most. the one thing i did miss not having was bacon..but the rest of the food made up for it…fresh friut was in abundance..mango and papaya were my faves…the a la carte at the caravelle was very good as well, i had the shrimp and loved it and my husband had the fish( red snapper) i believe and loved it also.

the shopping was great…i have heard through other travelers that they were the cheapest prices they have seen compared to other caribbean islands. we stopped in to one jewelery store downtown called esmeralda’s and my husband bought me the most beautiful emerald and diamond ring there for only $300 us and when i returned home i went and got it appraised and it is worth $1,200 in canada…what a bargain!!! but just a little hint to those looking to purchase an emerald…pick the darkest and clearest stone..they are the best quality!

i bought san andres t-shirts for $2.50 each for my family but you have to shop around to get a good price cause some places are $10 us and $5 us…we just happened to walk into the right little shop!

excursions….we went on the horse back ridding excursion and it was o.k. we had to follow the guide at all times and never went into the mountains, it costed $30 us each for this…not worth it! we took a taxi cab tour around the island and visited the famous blow hole with complimentory drinks…then the pirates cove..interesting….and the one place i insisted on going to was the school for special children due to the fact that i worked with them in canada and i was curious to see how it was there…we brought gifts for the children and they loved it..this one little girl just clung on to me and i fell in love with her, wanted to bring her home with me! 🙁

we also went snorkeling Mario was the guide and his wife showed us how to snorkel..it was my first time and i loved it, i got alot of nice pictures but did accidently swallow the water…very gross!

the rooms were not bad my bed was very comfy mind you we had the honeymoon suite so might be a bit better then other rooms….they give you a galon of spring water in your fridge everyday…the rooms are kept very clean but you do have to watch for aunts they only come out at night and they are gone by morning but we didn’t get very many and we were also on the ground floor…if you are on the second floor you never seen any. in the morning when we woke up and sat outside on our terrace for coffee we had our little blue friend there everyday to great us…it was a blue lizard who climbed the tree outside our room and once in a while his friend crabby would come around to say hi too…land crabs walk around to see the scenery too!…they are all harmless and quite exciting to us canadians to see…

while you are there you have to get a hot rock message!..it was so relaxing that my hubby fell asleep on the table!…it costs $25us but well worth it.

then there is the pier bar..that was the hang out for most everynight before the show started at 10pm and some people may say it takes awhile to be served but what they don’t tell you is that there are so many people there that everyone just has to be patient and take their turn! the service was great as far as im concerned and the bartenders did a fantastic job…my fav bartender was Marlee, she was funny and very efficient! so if you decide to take a trip to san andres marazul and you meet Marlee, please tell her that Jackie and Kevin the honeymooners from canada say "HI!". she will also give you the low down on the island and tell you were to go for the best buys and were to have the most fun.

the pool area apparently was small compared to others but i found it just fine for my needs..and there was daily activities like water volleyball and water competitions…as for the nightly shows they were awsome! they included the people and it was halarious!

all in all my husband and i have decided to return there some day in the near futur, we had a blast!!! it was worth every penny and i truely believe i chose the right place for our honeymoon! i give this place a 4 star!

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February 2006

This resort was advertised as a four star property, but I think even a three start rating would be generous. There were many things that I would not expect in a four star resort, some of which are listed below:

The outside areas including the beach were well maintained and groomed. The inside was clean, but the furniture, which must have looked grand at some point a couple of decades ago, was dirty and stained. It looked like it belonged in a basement of a frat house, not a four start resort.

About the only thing in the room that wasn’t broken or malfunctioning was the floor.

Ceiling: The dropped-ceiling tiles were dirty and deformed, some were shifted. There were holes in the ceiling. It made the room look like a cheap motel rather than a FOUR STAR hotel room.

Bed: The bed was hard and not very comfortable. I like hard mattresses, but this was just too much. The pillows smelled and there were occasionally unexplainable stains on the bed linen. yuck. We can just hope that the sheets were actually washed.

Electronics: The TV worked and there were about 20 channels in Spanish and all of 3 channels in English. The remote was broken. The fridge was simply disgusting. It was leaking a yellowish fluid. I would not put anything non-sealed in the it.

AC: There were two settings – OFF and F^^^^ freezing. Kept it off for the most part.

Other: The furniture was old and drawers didn’t open.

Neither did the window.

Overall: the room was decrepit and smelled of mildew and mould. Barely usable. We were truly disappointed with how it looked. If there is one thing that I would single out as the biggest disappointment, and trust me it’s not an easy choice, it would be the room.

There was the expected recycling that occurs in all-inclusive resorts, but truth be told, there was very little to recycle. The food selection was poor.

Breakfast: Pre-made scrambled eggs tasted like detergent. Juices were watered down and made from vegetables that were not ripe enough. The fruits were mostly green and tasteless (thanks, I can have that in Canada). There weren’t any cold cuts, and there was only one type of cheese – processed. The bread/buns were often stale. The only thing worth eating was made-to-order omelette and we ate different variations each of the seven days we were there. Needless to say I won’t have omelette for a while.

Lunches and dinners were much the same. I honestly don’t think that they had a trained chef on staff.

The a la carte restaurants were not much better. In one (Caravelle) they prepared the food ahead of time and served it re-heated, which ensured quick service, but a really crappy dinner. In the other, the food was good for the most part except that I got sick from the grilled chicken…

Didn’t really expect much since it was advertised as ‘free domestic drinks and wine with dinner’. The wine was really bad…it would’ve been better used as vinegar on the salad…Everything else was OK I guess. Not a lot to chose from.

This was another big minus. I have seldom seen a place where staff are so openly concerned with their own comfort over that of the guests. Three people would manage to either stand around talking to each other or look busy while I was looking for someone to bring me coffee or wine or whatever. At the pier bar it would sometimes take over 15 minutes to get a drink.

Terrible. Dirty Water. Algae. Crabs. Completely unappealing. The only good part was that there was free transportation to the keys across from the hotel.

Not much of either worth mentioning.

We loved the island, the nature, and the greenery but the resort was simply horrible. We visited Isleno and Aquarium and they were not much better. I would love to go back to the island, but would not stay in any of Decameron ‘resorts’. I really feel ripped off. I don’t expect to be treated like royalty, but I at least like to know that my business is appreciated.

Nolitours and Decameron – you miserably failed to provide a four star experience. Not even close.

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Decameron Marazul Bruce ~ Canada

February 2006

This is my fifth review on this site and covers a January 12-26, 2006 trip to San Andres staying at the Decameron Marazul. My wife and I are in our 50’s and have had recent vacations to Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica. We tend to prefer smaller hotels away from large cities with easy access by foot or local bus to the surrounding area. I do speak some Spanish which is always helpful. First I’ll give you a bit of background on the island, followed by a description of the hotel and finally some suggestions on what to do during your stay. While San Andres is familiar to people in the Toronto/Montreal parts of Canada it is much less known in other areas where it is not promoted. It is a very small island (8mi x2mi) located in the southwestern Caribbean 120 mi off the east coast of Nicaragua. In its early history it was settled by The Engish who brought Jamaican slaves there, but now it is owned by Colombia. Languages spoken include English, Spanish and a delightful creole blend of the two. Most people speak both of the major languages making it a culturally interesting place to visit.

Of interest to potential vistors from the north are the facts that:
1)It is warmer than Cuba and the Dominican Republic in January

2)It is an extremely tourist-friendly spot where you can strike out on your own, mingle with the locals and South American tourists, shop till you drop, and do it all at prices considerably cheaper than Mexico, Jamaica or the rest of the English speaking Caribbean.

The Decameron Marazul is located on the east shore about a 10 min drive from downtown San Andres and about 15 min from the airport (a remarkably busy place I might add) . It is the best of five Decameron hotels on the island (3 downtown and 1 farther away from downtown than the Marazul. Free transportation and use of all facilities including restaurants with reservations are provided to guests of all 5 hotels. We chose the Marazul because others on this site had reported the food selection was bigger (I would agree) and because of the free boat trips to the offshore islands.

The hotel has about 120 rooms (the hotel size we most prefer) in 3 buildings and ours was in Building 3 on the top floor. It did have an ocean view and was spacious (25.5ft x 12 ft+9 ft ceilings). The balcony faced east with a view of the cays. The furniture wasn’t fancy, but the bed and pillows were comfortable (not excessively hard). There were no bad smells (inside or out), no bugs, no noise except between 9-11 pm when the entertainment was on and even then it wasn’t disturbing. The water was hot most of the time and the pressure was fine. The central air con- ditioning was not too cold and all in all, the room was similar to others I’ve stayed at in Mexico and Costa Rica with a 3 star rating . If you have the services of a tour representative on site and are not happy with the room you are given use the Tour Rep as an intermediary to get something better. It works (the Tour Reps. have clout!)

Some other hotel observations include:
1) Excellent service from our English speaking maid 2) Beautiful grounds constantly being renovated and maintained
3) Friendly staff from the reception desk, bellboys, bartenders, hostesses and food servers. Because the dining room is small the wait staff there are very attentive . Within a few days you will know all their names and they yours if you take the time to introduce youself .
4) A typical buffet selection of meats, fish, fruits, breads, and desserts with a somewhat scant selection of vegetables (raw and cooked) and dairy products (no ice cream, or butter–little cheese, sour cream). Food was tasty, well prepared with good sauces and I overheard few complaints. All food prep people and servers wore masks.
5) A la carte restaurants were good as well, although the BBQ restaurant needs a new menu as it is pretty limited. We ate at 4 different restaurants for dinner and 3 different buffets for lunch (you have unlimited a la carte visits). Compared with other all inclusives in the same price range I have visited I would rate the food 4 stars.
6) Two culinary items stood out for me: the seafood soup at the Caravelle was delicious, definitely good enough for seconds, and the juice selection at breakfast was the best I’ve ever encountered (minimum 9 choices). Guava juice to die for!
7) The pool was refreshing, relatively quiet, had chairs available most of the time and water temperature was 29 degrees C.
8) The beach is made of "trucked-in" sand that compacts quickly and is not that soft to walk on though it is cleaned and fluffed daily. There were lots of chairs (no pads so bring an air mattress) and shade wasn’t a problem with palapas and palms. The ocean part of the beach was not good however. Because the water depth is so shallow around the adjacent mangroves sea grass is constantly being washed up on shore and removed by staff. Beach erosion is a serious problem and the bottom has a "mucky" feel to it as a result. Add the numerous jellyfish inhabiting the bottom and I suggest you look elsewhere for your swimming, wading and snorkeling activities. Water temperature was 32 degrees C. matching the air temperature. You won’t find that in Cuba in January.
9) Beach activities and watersports were, however, as good as any I’ve seen on other vacations due to the shallow, safe water. Jet skiis $10/hr, kite boarding $35/hr with lessons, kayaks, paddle boats, wind surfing, sailboats, floating loungers, snorkeling equipment etc–all free. Banana boats rides were an unbelievable $5.00 available from Aquario Cay opposite the hotel.
10) As for the weather it was windy. This is apparently a Dec/Jan/Feb thing. It wasn’t a big deal nor were the brief showers.

Following is a list of some of the things we did during our two week stay:
1) 3 1/2 hour tour of the island with English speaking native guide–$20 including open bar
2) 2 hour snorkeling trips to Aquario and Haynes Cays from the Marazul Pier–free (went twice)
3) 1 1/2 hour submarine tour of the inner reef–$15 with drinks Spanish speaking guide
4) Walking trips with swim to Rocky Cay/Cocoplum Bay . Although the walk is about 15 minutes south of the Marazul a 2 hour round trip is reasonable. We went twice as it is a very nice beach, once on Sunday as the locals were going to church. We met some of the hotel staff at the beach. Drinks are available for purchase, otherwise it’s free.
5) Public beach in town. Lots of activities, boat trips to Johnny Cay ($4 each way). Nice beach for swimming as it’s a little deeper. Free use of the facilities at the Decameron Isleno across the street from the beach.
6) Although we didn’t know till our second last day, the public beach is the place to hire a boat to take you out snorkeling on the inner reef, I’m sure for $5 you could get an hours worth and the presence of the boat would protect you from other boat traffic in the area. We saw some snorkerlers way out but it seemed dangerous without a boat to signal their presence.
7) And last but not least there is SHOPPING on San Andres. I am going to go out on a limb here and state that (based on having been to 14 other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America) San Andres is unique as a vacation shopping destination. They are way more stores than in Playa del Carmen with prices 50% less. Ladies do I have your attention? Tommy Hilfiger, Benetton, Nautica… stores and stores selling everything from jewellry (emeralds and 18k gold), linens, appliances (coffee maker $6), incredible shoes, clothing for everyone, perfume, liquor, watches, home furnishings, sporting goods etc., etc., etc. What to do with all the money I saved on excursions? Cruise ships come here for one reason only.. The good rum (aged 8 years) is $9 a bottle, the value stuff is $4.

The city of San Andres is a friendly place to shop–everyone is very polite, you can bargain if you’re so inclined, but won’t feel bad if you don’t and end up paying $20 for a three strand pink pearl necklace. Most shopkeepers speak some English and in the larger stores at least someone speaks very good English. The town is clean, it’s fun and no one hassles you. You’re best to use a credit card or exchange money at a cambio. Traveler’s cheques are cashed there and it’s faster than at a bank. The rate is better than at the hotel (2180 pesos/ USD).

In summary then, if you want to go to San Andres you can go from Toronto/Montreal in the winter (4 1/2 hr flight). It’s a low key type of place frequented by Canadians (1/3) and South and Central Americans (2/3); the latter definitely came to shop, and they provide the competition that keeps the prices low. Although duty free status helps too!

Most people we talked to enjoyed their stay and said they’d return. Check it out! I think San Andres has a lot to offer.

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Decameron Marazul Sue ~ Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

December 2005

I visited the Royal Decameron Marazul with three other women (mid forties). The Marazul is one of five Decameron resorts and the good thing is you can visit them all and eat for free (with reservations) at any of them, returning to your own room at night. The Marazul is a little more ‘up-scale’ than the other resorts, very clean, staff very friendly and helpful. We stayed in rooms near the pool. Two of us didn’t like the room (due to mold/mildew) so were moved to another room. The other two stayed by the pool and were quite satisfied with the room. No probs with changing the room. The food was plentiful and varied. Many different places to eat. The Japanese at the San Luis was a good experience. The International Restaurant at the Marazul was also good, but all of the restaurants were fine with a good selection. We visited the San Luis, the Maryland and the Aquarium and were very glad we had chosen the Marazul. Did not take the organized island tour but chose to take a taxi. We visited the ‘blow hole’ and Captain Morgan’s Cave with the Coconut museum and the Pirates cave. Also a swimming hole with tons of fish, people were snorkeling there too. It cost us $10 each and we had an excellent tour guide who even took us into town shopping and told us the best places to shop. There is a rumour that the perfume is not all legit ?? Don’t know if it is true but we did have our suspicions when sampling. We’re pretty sure we got the genuine thing with the help of our guide. Without the help of our guide I bought a bottle of Baccardi at a little store in town and it has definitely been watered down (or something).

The shopping in town is great .. shoes galore (my favourite). Great little boutiques with nice items and great prices.

We took Mario’s boat over to the Aquario island. It was a zoo when we arrived. Wall to wall (or maybe beach to beach) people waiting to leave. You have to pay to rent a chair to sit on. And, if you don’t have beach shoes, you pay $3 to rent those. We were advised to go later in the day when there would be fewer people and sure enough 1/2 hour later most of the people had departed and the island was a nicer and calmer place to be. The water there is crystal clear and aqua blue it is quite rough and I scraped my shin on the rocks out there so watch out. (I wouldn’t bother to do that activity again). Instead I’d take the catamaran from the Marazul beach – it’s about $20.

The shows are a lot of fun. The Animation staff are very handsome and very funny … the audience participates in the shows and it’s just hilarious. There are also shows with dancers … very entertaining. Two of us took the catamaran and one took the seadoo and had a great time. This is not really a place for singles .. very family oriented. All in all we had a great time. It’s a beautiful island and the people are great. I always felt very safe. Staff work very hard so don’t forget to be good to them.

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Decameron Marazul Janet/Rob/Carol/Kent ~ St. Catharines, Ontario

March 2005

Flight: AirTransat – no problems either way – however they do charge if your luggage is over 44 pounds. WE paid $10 each to reserve our seats ahead of time and that was worth the money. Since we had our seats already we didn’t have to worry about being the first to arrive at the airport.

Resort: It is the nicest of the 5 Decamerons. I would give our room 3* – it was clean and the kingsize bed was comfortable. It could use updating but how long are you really in your room. The a/c is noisy but we didn’t find that a problem. Friends of ours did have problems with their air not working. They continually complained and maintenance would come to look at it but they never really did anything. The 1 couple was eventually moved to another room where it was a bit cooler.

Food: I would give this 3*. We could always find something to eat. What was very important to our group was bacon and it was only served every other morning and then it was doled out –you couldn’t help yourself. They consider sausages to be hotdogs and there was plenty every morning – just sliced differently. The snack bar was open at certain times of the day 12-5 in the afternoon and then again at midnight. You need to make reservations for dinner even if you are having the buffet – we had good meals at both a-la carte restaurants. You can also eat at the other resorts you just need to make reservations the night before. The Italian restaurant at San Juan was very good. One night we went out for dinner to the Rincon Seafood Restaurant – we had filet mignon and lobster tails – cost $53 US and it was an excellent meal.

$$$ – we brought American $ which was accepted everywhere. We exchanged a little into pesos but you can’t change back to US when you leave. We found that the best exchange rate would have been US travellers chqs at the bank or use an ATM machine when you go into town. The ATM gave you approx 2000 pesos / CDN $ which was the same rate as the US $

We called home from downtown at a Telecom building. It was very reasonable.

Mostly Canadians visit this resort and Colombians vacation here from the mainland. Overall people were friendly. We found that a lot of the staff didn’t speak English –we managed to communicate no problem. There is no pool bar but they have a pier bar instead and that was excellent. The Maryland has a pool bar so we took the free shuttle 1 afternoon and spent it there. Shuttles between the resorts are available at certain times of the day. Taxis are very reasonable approx $4 US so we did that a lot too.

Shopping is great. It is a duty free island. We got cologne reasonable and Crown Royal – you still need to look for the best buy though because it does vary from store to store. A lot of designer labels available and shoe stores.

The Marazul supplies a free trip over to a little island to snorkel – it leaves 3 times a day for 2 hours and Mario runs it. He hooked us up with a cab driver also and we toured the island for 3 hours for $40 US. It was worth every penny.

We felt very safe on this island. Scooters/golf carts/jeeps are available for rent but we never did it because it would have been too dangerous. There are no lights or stop signs and no speed limits – we saw up to 4 people on a scooter with no helmets. Medical insurance comes with a rental but not coverage if you wreck the scooter.

Overall we had a great trip but we consider it a 3 – 3.5* resort.

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Decameron Marazul Bernard ~ Penticton B.C.

February 2005

My wife and I just got back from San Andres Island .We flue out of Toronto with Air Transat Club Class ,verry nice ,the only way to go!

we stayed at the Hotel Marazul It is suppose to be 4 Star !!we only give it 3 ! or less ! Checking in was smoth also the welcome drink ,but when we got to the room we got a shock [ 129 ] the rooms are 40 years old and the door where frechly painted with oel paint still wet .We could not open the windows becouse no sceen and lots of noseem ,and they bite like heck.We complaint and got moved next day to 233 it was a lot better but never got bedspreads not always hot water ,not always towels and we tiped every day and gave out presents! The weather was perfext 30 every day ,also the drinks no complaints for the smokers free cigarets The food is ok if you stay for a week not for 2 weeks, People from Toronto paid 1040 for a week a good deal but we live in B.C. AND PAYED 3000 for 2 weeks and it was not woerthit .Also the free boat chuttle to aquaris Island is a jocke they only give you 1 hr and if your not ready you pay big time to get back.The beach and water at the Hotel is bad not to many people went in [weeds & dirty ] a lot of tourist from South America with there kinds and they are loud !! the circle Island tour was good and a must , you learn a lot !! the trip to town is also a must ,but tell every body to watch there step on the sidewalks in town they are 100 years old and verry uneven ! a lot of people where limping at the hotels ! Depature tax is now 30 U.S. and every body smokes at the Airport bad for non smokers,.like us .If you ever went to a 4 star Hotel in Cuba or Mexico don’t go there you want like it . it is perfect for the young, smokers ,drinkers &Partys.

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Decameron Marazul Dale & Stella ~ Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada

February 2005

We stayed at the Decameron Marazul and this was our first time to a warm place for vacation. Check in was great and the staff was very friendly. Our room faced the pool and was not far from the beach. As far as the food goes the buffet was great for breakfast, but we had a hard time with the rest of the meals. We managed and went to other side of the island to eat at a seafood restaurant. The food was just different and the texture was not what we wre use to. Hey we didn’t starve. The pier bar was exellent and Marlyn was always on the ball as far as keeping you in drinks all night. The regae band was nice to listen to also. didn’t care to swim in the water at the beach. Too much seaweed for us,but you can go by boat with Mario to aquario cay and snorkle and walk across to hays cay. The water out there is something I have never seen before. Just beautifull. The day where nice and hot all the time. Did not go to the disco and only to the casino once, did not win any thing. The animation group were wonderful. They sure have lot of energy. Never a dull moment with them around. We went down town a couple of times and it was sure different to see how these people live and to go into the shops. There is a great store to buy duty free booze at good prices. We went to the Aquarium resort to eat and look around and it look real nice there. We thought this was a very nice and relaxing vacation and at a good price.

We have spent the last 20 years going to LasVegas once a year and no were else, so this was an eye opener as to what the sunny south has to offer. We sure will return again. The same day we got to SanAndres and called home to our daughter to say things were fine, her and her husband booked the four of us a trip in april 05 to Riu Palace , Cabo San Lucas Mexico This is a 5 star plus and just opened in December 04. Looking forward to that trip. Once again San Andres was just great and we will return. Any one wanting to ask any questions please email at janssdale@sympatico.ca

PS. Dave And Moreen from Calgary who we met there , if you read this email me.

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