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“Very beautiful, but be prepared”
Review of Decameron Baru

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Decameron Baru
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Isla Baru
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 12 April 2012

I recently went to Cartagena Colombia and I stayed at the Royal Decameron in Baru. Although I thought it was a beautiful resort, there were somethings that I wish I had known about. First they don't tell you that the 3 hour drive to the resort is rough as the roads are not modern. And on the way to the Resort I was expecting a nice ferry ride but it was not. It was just a smalll barge! Also on the actual Resort, it is very beautiful but if you need any medical care be advised that there is an extra charge and they do NOT accept credit card for medical services. Needless, to say I was very inconvenienced about the lack of medical resources. Baru is three hours away from the nearest hospital so you have to pay a private doctor for anything you need including an over the counter medication. Also becareful with wild dogs. I was bit by a dog while in Cartagena when we stopped at a small place to get a drink. I don't blame anyone, it was just a little scary. Also, there were no clean towels a couple of days because there was no water in Cartagena. But the staff does need to work on being more customer service oriented.

Room Tip: Make sure to tell them you want a room right on the water because they have them, but you have to r...
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  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with friends
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6  Thank mery m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 April 2012

We visited the Decameron Baru the last week of March. The bumpy road was not that bad and the barge to cross the river was no big deal, it fits 2 buses no problem (previous commments stated that it barely held a bus) They will be building a bridge soon so the barge will not be necessary. It was about 90 minutes from the airport.

The rooms are beautiful and clean. We paid extra for an oceanview room but I don't recommend this as the hotel's idea of oceanview was very different from ours. We looked over the pool and a large tropical plant blocked most of the view. We also did not get our king sized bed but no big deal. We heard many people complaining at the front desk about the same thing.
The whole block of building 1 was practically empty, they were the true oceanfront rooms, but you have to pay even more to upgrade to those so we did not bother.

The food was excellent but as mentioned in many other reviews service was an issue, mostly in the sense that they were understaffed. We always got our first drinks but if you wanted refills you had to track someone down and ask. Everyone was constantly busy so you could not get too upset it's not like they were standing around, and at least they were quick to remove your empty dishes.

The Thai a la carte was fantastic we went twice, The italian was also very good and they actually did refill your wine glass there..many times. The only bar open in the evening was at the lobby and it could not handle the capacity. You had to wait a very long time for your cappucino or drinks, no problem just order them 2 or 3 at a time there is always a way around it. Some cocktails needed work so we stuck to the ones they made well. We suggest that one of the pool bars remain open in the evening to alleviate the long line ups. The lobby area had some beautiful loungers where you can look at the stars and sip your drinks.

The beach has a sandy area but little shade, we preferred the other side where there were umbrellas and excellent loungers (better than sandals) there were steps down to the ocean and the water was crystal clear with good snorkelling. The water was a refreshing temperature and very calm.

We took the day trip to Cartagena, we went by boat (I was skeptical but I did not get sea sick as you follow the coast ). We were met at Boca Grande by an air conditioned bus which took us around. Do not buy the cigars! the cubans were obviously fake so we took a chance on the colombian cigars which fall apart when you smoke them and are not good for much except kindling for your bonfire. You will visit a shop selling emerald jewellery but their prices are not great, you can get them cheaper in Canada. Lunch was at an excellent restaurant in Cartagena, you walk to it through the narrow streets. The vendors will follow you the whole way so you will have to keep saying no or ignore them. The city has a lot of history and was very interesting.

There is not a lot of shopping unless you go on a day trip, the hotel gift shop is small, there is nothing at the airport as it is being renovated, and there are a couple of beach vendors. The prices in Colombia are not cheap even after bargaining most will let you walk away rather than agree to your price. Coffee is also overpriced, you can get an equivalent coffee cheaper at home.

We enjoyed a bamboo massage at the spa, we chose to go inside for the air conditioning as the outside tables had a pool and people all around we did not think that would be very relaxing. We were very happy with our choice, the rooms and ambience were wonderful.

We enjoyed a wonderful relaxing holiday here. English speaking guests were definitely the minority but if you know a few words of spanish or french you will get by with no problems, the staff have limited English and like to learn more from you, they are also very willing to help you with your spanish. Important to note there were very few bugs and I returned with NO MOSQUITO BITES this has never happened to me before! We would not hesitate to go back, the price is very reasonable for what you get!

Room Tip: Building 1 has the true oceanview rooms
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Awaynext
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 April 2012

We just returned home a couple of days ago, and we totally loved it. This was not our first trip, we have been to many all inclusive resorts in Jamaica, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, DR etc. This was our first Decameron Hotel though. More in details:

Rooms: We had block 4, on the second floor. We really liked it, though it was more of a vegetation and pool view from our balcony, but we were really close to all the amenities. Walking to the buffet was literary 5 mins. Little walk to the beach downhill though, and you must walk up after! The room was super clean, beautifully designed, the A/C was working perfectly (thanks god!). The only negative point here is that there was no hot water at all, so we had to take cold shower! We had plenty of water bottles in the mini fridge.

Pools / Beach : We haven't been a lot around the pools, we found that the water was way too hot, almost unpleasant and not refreshing at all. But the pools are beautiful, big enough with areas for kids, and well maintained. The pool at the spa was our favorite, it's so calm there with an amazing view, the only sound is birds and parrots song.
The beach is where we spent most of our time, there is plenty of chairs, no need to "reserve" a spot. You can easily find some shadowy area under some palm trees. The beach is nice, a little small but still really good. There's another rocky 2 floor part on the side with chairs and red "parasol", there is stairs to get right in the ocean. That place was one of our favorite, it's so pretty with so many flowers everywhere, really enchanting. There is some nice big waves in the ocean, we really enjoyed it.

Playa Blanca: Really worth to go there, its a beautiful place to take pictures and to enjoy the beach. We didn't want to walk cause my mom have a knee injury, so we went to the little marina at the hotel, and made some arrangements with a guy to get there by boat. ($) Took 15-20 minutes. I think the hotel should really offer that trip by boat.

The food: I can't say anything bad about the food, was really great. There was always a lot of fresh fruits to choose from, morning, lunch and for dinner. Food tasted really good, there was a lot of varieties every day. Was always fresh. We tried the snack bar on the beach once for lunch, was ok. French fries and hamburger, if you like that kind of stuff. We preferred the buffet. My parents found the coffee and the wine really good, so nothing negative there. The pasta at the buffet were really good as well as the desserts. One hint though, bring a big plastic cup, the barmans will be happy to fill it with your favorite drink, and you don't have to go back to the bar every 10 minutes. A la carte restaurant were really good, we tried all of them. Italian was the most disappointing one, we had pasta/lasagna just like we would get at the buffet, and the ambiance was so noisy and unpleasant. The other two were much better.

The service: I think that's where all the negative critiques comes from the other reviews. Seriously?! We had a great service. At the buffet, we were not waiting for coffee, waters or for someone to empty the table. The secret is simple; be friendly! Smile, try to talk in Spanish, tell them your name, try to make them learn a little bit of french or English! These people are so nice, treat them like friends, and you'll get the best service possible!

The hotel in general: I think it's one of the most beautiful hotel I saw in my life. Flowers everywhere, beautiful grounds, lots of vegetation, the red & white color theme, the rooms, the spa, the little mangrove path to get to the water sports...etc. Plus, there is cleaning crew everywhere at all times. Lots of stairs to climb though, and the road to get to the hotel is bumpy, but not that bad. It's also really safe to walk there, even at night. Give this place some more time and it'll be paradise.

Weather: Sun is intense there, so bring a lot of sunscreen! We had only two cloudy days (the days of our excursions, so I wont complain!), rest of the week was all sunny, clear sky. No rain at all.

Excursion: We went to Cartagena by bus (18$ US per person) from 8h30 to 6h30. Was great, its a beautiful city with a lot of little shop to buy some souvenirs. The Decameron office there is really convenient. They are providing drinks, beers, bottles of water, a map of the city, snacks for lunch, and you can also use the internet for free there. And they have A/C ! Was a really great trip, super safe, and we didn't have to follow a group or a strict schedule. ( That's why we picked the bus instead of the boat).
We also visited the Botanical garden and 2 small villages. (110$US per person I think). We started by a 1hr bus ride to get to the botanical garden. That was my favorite part, the guide was really nice, we saw one big red monkey in the trees, a lot of butterflies, a lot of little black & yellow frogs, some lizards, parrots etc. Great place (but really hot!). We stayed 1hr in there, following the guide. Then we got back in the bus for a 2hrs ride, to get to a little village named San Jacinto. There we saw the real life of Colombians peoples, there was a typical dance show with a local band. We also visited a little museum. Then we went to another little village named San Juan, we had a really typical lunch in a small restaurant. We like it, but we didn't know it was a 6hrs bus ride in the entire day...that was kind of a unpleasant surprise! But it was really interesting, for sure.
One last thing to say, when they gives you the little book where all the excursions are (about 20) the guy from Nolitours told us that they need 10 persons to officially book it, so most of them you cant really pick them cause they are not popular. For the botanical garden we were exactly 10. Apart from Carthagena and Isla Rosario, it might be really hard to try something else... And I was disappointed by the lack of wildlife, I was expecting something like national park, volcanoes, canopy tour...something to discover the wildlife of South America. But, no. forget it. At least I had my little hour in the botanical garden! =)

So far, It's an amazing destination, and I would go back at anytime!

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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6  Thank Killashandrad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 April 2012

like everybody said the road is rough but its an experience to see...rooms are beautiful clean and new staff are willing to help you in english,french or spanich very willing at all times.
get coffee to your taste (expresso,cappucino,cafe latté,cafe espanol....I don`t yousually drink coffee but there I did.Fresh fruits and pasteries were excellent.Weather was amazing we love the heat and heat we got....if you love to shop, sweat and crowed places Cartagena is the place to go either by boat is 135.00$ us or by bus its 18.00 $.
A la carte restaurants seafood 5 out of 10 , thai 7 out of 10 and italien 8 out of 10.
Go to Playa Blanca, minutes away beatiful beach you cross over on boat from Decameron resort it takes 2 minutes walk the whole beach there and back it takes about 2 hrs.(white sand turqoise water beautiful....)
Disco is ok If you like salsa,merengue but don't expect ACDC unless you ask before 2:00am ha ha.
The bartender at pool no.2 is amazing he's the best his name is JOSE tip him well and you will get full service and more...he will remember you, I'm telling you he brings your drinks to your chair....I tipped him for two weeks long and gave him an exta 25.00 dollars just before we left because he deseved it.
The only bad thing about this place is that you are 90 minutes away from the city.
I`ve been travelling for 16 years and did many different places but I have to say this place rankes in my top three.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank nadine l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 April 2012

Loved every minute of it. The ride from the airport to the hotel was not as bad as I expected, just the part of passing by the oil refinery is not nice, but I guess it is unavoidable. Once at the resort you forget that small inconvenience for sure.
Hotel staff is fantastic. I particularly want to commend Jaime, the Guest Service Manager. He goes out of his way to make your stay comfortable.
Can't wait to go back

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Thank Mile13Cleveland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 April 2012

This was my first trip to Colombia, it won't be my last. The resort facilities are very nice. The resort is clean and new which is obvious. Not much sandy beach area but still a fantastic location. The food was alright, not great. The service was probably the biggest negative about this resort. The staff are new and have little to no grasp of the english language, if you do not speak Spanish you will have a hard time. The weather was great, the water was warm, and the drinks were cold. We were on vacation after all and that was all we were concerned about. The drive from the airport to the resort is a little rough but sit back and enjoy the view, and remember where you are, it is worth the drive. I have been to many all inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and the service here is way behind what you would expect, but the place is clean, and beautiful. Enjoy the weather, the food, and the entertainment. Given time and training this place could really be a gem they are hiding from us gringos.

Stayed: January 2012
3  Thank Claudia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 April 2012

Just returned home yesterday from Baru, loved it !!! The bus ride is a long trip from the airport, but interesting to see Cartagena and the countryside. If you are looking for limo service, this is not for you, but, having a few cold beers on the air conditioned bus, this is a great trip !!
The rooms were very nice and clean, the service was very good. The beach is very beautiful, love the man made coral reefs, saw many fish, large and small crabs, needle fish, jelly fish, pelicans, lizards, gecko's, etc..
Love the cabana's at the beach, a nice break from the sun, take lot's of sunscreen !! I have travelled to many islands but the sun there is very intense :))
We had great meals everyday, a la cartes were great, really loved the Italian and Seafood ones.
Even tho they don't speak much English, knowing a bit of Spanish will suffice, we had no problems.
Lots of entertainment happening all day long, right from the main lobby, to the pools, to the beach, no dull moments but you can get away from it if needed, it is spread out, which means lots of walking, stairs, ramps, but OK if you are in good health.
When you get to the airport, look for Serge, he is excellent, he will make sure you get on the right bus, and when at the resort, look up Jamie if you have any issues, all is good !!
We had an excellent trip, will return again, and ignore all the negative comments as those people are narrow minded, hey, you're going to Colombia, not the Walmart places like Cuba, DR., Mexico, etc...been there, done it, time for new adventures and this place delivers !!
Cheers !!!!

Room Tip: If you want ocean view at it's best, choose blocks 1,2,3.....we had block 4, still perfect but p...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank SandiGary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Decameron Baru

Address: Baru Km 7 | Sector Portonaito, Isla Baru 130017, Colombia
Region: Colombia > Bolivar Department > Cartagena District > Isla Baru
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Isla Baru
Price Range: £204 - £367 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Decameron Baru 3.5*
Number of rooms: 366
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located at the paradisiac Baru peninsula, 75 minutes from Cartagena and member of the TripAdvisor ‘Hall of Fame’ for its certified excellence during 5 consecutive years, the Decameron Baru allows guests to enter a magical experience that will disconnect them from the outside world. The resort is located amidst a tropical forest and its architectural design intermingles with an ecological environment surrounded by many beaches, among which is the popular ‘Playa Blanca’, considered one of the best beaches of the Colombian Caribbean, and the luxurious ‘Playa Puntilla’ beach, where our travellers may enjoy a private club and several sports such as kayaking, rowing, scuba and snorkeling. Partying and enjoyment are guaranteed, enlivened with the rhythms from the countries of the great Caribbean basin such as ‘champeta’, a genre that mixes African and Colombian Indigenous sounds and that introduces travellers to the local culture. As a complement to pleasure, you may sharpen your senses with the delicacies of typical and renowned Colombian Caribbean cuisine. From this destination you may explore Cartagena’s colonial history and visit other important cities from Colombia’s northern territory such as Barranquilla, a commercial, river and sea port and seat of the multitudinous Carnival, as well as historic Santa Marta, considered the most beautiful bay in America. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Royal Decameron Baru Hotel Isla Baru

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