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“A Diamond in the Rough”
Review of Decameron Baru

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Decameron Baru
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Isla Baru
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 3 March 2013

My sister and I stayed at this resort from Feb. 8 - Feb. 22, 2013. The price was good because we were part of a large group tour. A fantastic rep greeted us at the airport and she made sure that everyone was on the right bus. The bumpy 90 minute ride from the airport to the resort was an experience that I will not forget. Also, the barge that is used to cross the canal made me nervous. When the bus arrived at the resort, I saw a dramatic change in the surrounding vegetation. The check-in process was very efficient. Our luggage was delivered to our room before we got there. The room, located in bloc 3, was large, very clean and well decorated. It was on the third floor so we had a good view of the pool and the ocean. There are many stairs and ramps that lead to the ocean, buffet, lobby and bars. The long treks up and down were difficult so we made our steps count. The heat was oppressive from 11:00 am - 5:00 pm, so we were swimming or under cover. We had to use a lot of sunscreen and we both peeled within a couple of days. The service at the buffet was poor at times almost to the point of serving yourself. By the end of our vacation, we knew whose section to sit in. The language barrier was difficult because we speak mostly English. The Cartagena and Rosario tours were good, but very rushed. We have travelled to Punta Cana on three different vacations, and enjoyed ourselves much more. It was an experience to visit Colombia, but I will never return.

Room Tip: Rooms in bloc 3 are closer to the buffet and the lobby. Higher floors have a better view.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank jeannette d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 27 February 2013 via mobile

Here goes... Columbia is an up and coming hot spot. They have only been in the tourism game for a few years. Thus english isn't that common and tours etc are limited. The people are friendly and do try. If your out and around the smaller villages you will find the the locals haven't learning about recycling or garbage cans for that matter. Hopefully this improves as in the villages on the way to Baru the amount of garbage is noticeable to say the least.
As far as the resort, you must be part billy goat. ...stairs everywhere. ..dinner= stairs, room =stairs , come back from the beach=stairs, and so on. This is not a resort if you have mobility issues.
Food was descent always something good to eat...never outstanding...but good. Rooms were large and clean, could use a fridge. Beach was nice, weather great(no guarantee it will be when you go). Excursions very expensive. Day trip/ tour to town via boat $185 sounds like a deal...oh did I mention that is per person...ha not a deal now, is it.
The pools at Baru were very nice, never overcrowded. The only thing I would change is decrease the number of rude french people from Quebec...as say...Quebec not Canada. Im not worried about offending them cause they proba would refuse to read this because its in English.

  • Stayed: February 2013
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9  Thank Walsh3032
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2013

My wife and I traveled to RD Baru Feb.1 - Feb.8, 2013. We flew CanJet out of Toronto. The flight there was good, approx. 5 hours. Luggage claim and immigration went quite smooth. Boarded a bus to take us to the resort. There was only water or pop offered but you could purchase cervezas (someone will show you where - we didn't). The road was ok for the most part but there were some rough (washboardy) spots. The ride was approx 1.5 hours (at night) which took you through Cartahena and by the walled city, then through the industrial section, onto a barge across a canal (very short ride), then through the country side to the resort. Check in was quick and easy. We were placed in block 5, second floor. There are three floors on each block. The rooms were nice and clean with a modern feel yet tropical. We didn't really spend much time in the room except for sleeping but felt it was the nicest room yet on our tropical vacations. Food was good. The buffet had an assortment of chicken, fish, beef and pork. If you are going to eat a little of each everyday, you might feel the food is boring. Have one, one day, something different the next. With their hot sun...really, how much does one need to eat anyway. They also have a 'fresh prep' beside the buffet to receive other foods - breakfast, lunch and supper. The buffet also has a 14 day rotation of themes so if you had rice yesturday, it isn't prepaired the same today, etc., etc. We went to two of the three al a cartes. 'Rest. Eurasia' is a Japanese/Thai. It was nice, food tasty, portions ok. There was a little mix-up with booking this al a carte but after thinking about it...I asked for 'Tuesday' but believe (with language barriers) they understood 'Today'. However, they were accommodating and seated us for an enjoyable dinner. Had fun playing with the chop sticks and taught a spanish couple beside us how to use them. The 'Rest. Il Forno' wasn't as much of an enjoyable time. We had been warned from other travellers at the resort, they are unorganized and screwed up orders. After ordering, one employee brought us both fish dinners, we stated we didn't order this, a few minutes later another employee brought us the same two plates, again we stated 'no', then a third person came by with the order slip and confirmed what we ordered and then the meal arrived. With my wife working in the restaurant business I don't understand this mix up but we 'go with the flow', on vacation with no rush to be anywhere quick, and we did get our food. The food was tasty, good portions and presented nicely. Just the mix-up spoiled the ambiance. The third al a carte 'Rest. La Pesca Del Dia' turns into the beach snack shack. Like I stated above we didn't go to this al a carte but did visit during the day for the beach snacks. Here they have a fish plate, hot dogs, hambugers, fries etc. etc. Food again was good. We never had any issues with the food/water/sickness. They do supply bottled water and the bars will refill them with safe water if you run out. R.D. has a central filtration/water purification system for the whole resort, so the water in the taps are ok, however they do suggest to drink the bottled water just to be safe and not to spoil your holiday.
The sun IS intense!!! We used 30 spf sunblock every day and re-applied often. We didn't get burnt but you have to be re-applying! You don't and you will NOT enjoy the rest of your vacation. Normally I can lay for 30 min. before having to cool off in the pool/ocean. I could only last about 15 min. HOT HOT HOT. Loved it!!!
The beach was beautiful and the water crystal clear. From pictures you can see some rock forms sticking out into the water from the beach. You can go on a snorkeling tour and pay or you can have just as much fun by these rock forms. Lots of fish to see, perhaps not as many coloured fish, but if you enjoy placing your feet down in the sand and watching the fish instead of bobbing with the waves, this is the spot. We even loaned our masks to two sisters who went on the tour and said they had a better time out off our beach!
We did only one excursion. Mostly because we just wanted to laze around the resort and relax, but also because of the price. We took the boat ride to Cartagena City. This was a boat ride which took approx (1/2 hour or so) then a bus shuttled you to the 'Covent of the Popa', 'San Felipe Castle', 'Zapatos Viejos - Old Shoes' monument, then to the Walled City. Where you walked to a restaurant for lunch, a stroll through the 'Historic Center of the City' for some sites and shopping and return to the boat for a ride back. This was almost a whole day...but passed quickly. We started at 8am and returned about 4pm. The cost was pricey but if you do the cheaper similar tour...you spend more time traveling (by bus it takes about 2hours each way) and you get back to the resort much later! Anyhow we paid 320,000 pesos each! Which works out to approx $185 Canadian. If you factor in the round trip boat ride, the entrance fees to the monestary and fortress, the bus shuttle, lunch, tour guide and your time saved in travel...I feel it was worth it. You can also pay a little extra to have a private tour, and some did, however every time we turned around those people were right beside us - at every location. I don't think they received anything different or better by going private. I have some prices of other tours if you are interested in what R.D. offers - just message me here on tripadvisor and I will respond.
The resort as a whole is beautiful and lush. Hard to believe it is only three years old. There are stairs there! Lets face it, it is built on a hillside. However if you take them slow or use the ramps (and still go slow!) you should be ok. If you have health issues you may want to look elsewhere. By the third or fourth day, my wife and I were climbing the stairs a little easier with all that practice. The three pools were located on the top of the hill with the buffet, show area, and rooms. It was the beach, two al a cartes, dive shop that you needed the stairs.
There is another beach to visit included with R.D. You walk through some mangroves to a boat, cross the SMALL canal and walk a short distance to the beach. Here they have an other snack shack with food and beverages. Benches and loungers. The water is a little more wavey than the main beach and the water seemed to be not as crystal clear. Enjoyed ourselves there but only went the one day. It is all included with R.D.
They have some people selling their wears down on the beach and they, like most locations, work on the barter system. I purchased a necklace for $5US which started out as $20US. I just kept saying 'I would think about it' until he asked what I wanted to pay. The necklace wasn't anything special and don't believe he go ripped off either. I was fair. There are people giving massages down on the beach as well. Don't let them touch you if you don't want to pay. You can barter a price with this service as well.
All in all, we loved this resort. Would we go back? No. But we like to travel to different locations every time and part of our adventures is finding your way around the resort. We know were everything is now and a second trip would not be as fun. Would I recommend this resort? Yes. My friends would enjoy themselves.
If you go to Baru or any spanish speaking country for that matter, learn some phrases, words etc. Show some respect for the people there, they will respect you more for trying. My wife picks up language a lot better than I, and we were treated quite well just for trying speak spanish. You would think the same if they traveled here to visit Canada!

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank Chichi15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 February 2013

First we have to say it's a beautiful resort,great food, lots of fresh fruit. And the weather was nice and hot.
Yes like some others say, not a lot of people speak English and my husband was a little dissapointed with that. And yes sometimes it was hard but there are not a lot of English speaking tourists and Spanish is the main language. So learn a little Spanish!! Maby!!
We were also in bld #6 and we had just bad luck that there was a group of people that had a wedding party and didn't care of anyone else. So they partied in the rooms after they came back @ 2pm.The day after they came back from Puntilla(where they had the wedding) @ 3:30pm and again started the party with loud music in the rooms. Called the receptie and they did send out the security. Came right away, but as soon as he was gone again they started. So we were glad when they were there only for the weekend. (and so were the hotel employees)
It would be great if people (you know who you are?) took only each 1 chair @ the beach.
So that other people have a chair too.
There are enough chairs but not if everyone claims @ least 2 chair each(1 in the sun 1 in the shade)
We found that some people that worked in Baru were nice, but most weren't that friendly. and believe me I say Ola, Buenas dias to everyone.My husband waits until some one says something to him, so he found that even less people would be friendly to him.
Have to say, that more were getting friendlier the 2nd wk we were there.Have to say it's not always easy for the employees to stay nice if tourist can be rude aswel.And we found the Colombian people not as friendly as some other places we've been( El Salvador is one of the friendly places we've been)even to their own people!
Cartagena was beautiful, but the tours sorry are a little steep. Almost $ 200 pp. We would have liked to go another time, but that was quite pricey for us and more people complaint about that.They felt stuck(including us) because even if you wanted to go and pay the high price to other sightseeing places they didn't go because they didn't have enough people and so the tour doesn't go. We stayed 2wks and normally do more tours.We didn't know that the shuttle bus from the Decameron doesn't go anymore to Decameron in Cartagena?This wasn't anymore for @ least a year?? Nolitours should show that on there website and tell travel agents about that. we really counted on the bus! So try to stay in Cartagena for a few days if you go. There is so much to see:>(and they have tours going out of the hotel Decameron in Cartagena)
The ferry ride was not that bad on the way going (yes they need a toilet, so don;t drink),but bringing us back to the airport was a different story. We got stuck because they had to many tourist busses on(4) and than still a lot of local people with their cars.It took them almost a hour to get us loose and so we tought that they would offload us. That wasn't they case and so a lott of people in the bus were praying(included us) that we would cross the canal safely.We did, but hopefully they learned from this and wouldn't do it again. Not a nice feeling. It now took us 2 1/2 hours to get to the airport.The bus driver drove another way. Very fast thru little villages?? Opened our eyes. And was "good" to see the poor side of Colombia.
Anyways we don't want to discouredge anyone not to go This review is just to show you how we experienced it,hopefully it's helpful info. Everyone experience it different and it's a beautiful place to visit.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank erikpat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 January 2013

This is a great hotel for a beach vacation for families. My husband and I would have preferred less children or a least some segregation. There were 3 very nice pools it would have been easy for them to designate one adults only. That being said we did really enjoy the food and the resort is kept spotless. Was worth the cost of the vacation for sure.

The bus ride from the airport is long but check in was very well organised and efficient. The bar drinks was mediocre and the wine was poor quality. Beer was usually ok.

Buffet restaurant was great for any meal of the day and we really enjoyed the Asian restaurant. Neither of us really enjoyed the Italian or seafood restaurants and we even though we would book the later sitting there were still many children at the a la carte restaurants even at 8:30 pm.

Room was great and the beds fabulous. Very clean.

We stayed at this resort Dec 28 2012 to Jan 11 2013

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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4  Thank Karenbparisien
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 January 2013

Very, Very good location and customer service. 300 USD per couple a night - we were right on the ocean - first floor. The food is very, very good but nothing about it is incredible. The beaches are very clean and nice - the bar on the beach is great - beer in kegs which is unusual for Colombia but typical for Decameron which is a Colombian chain. It's all you can eat and drink. They have numerous pools - and lots of space to roam - plus a private beach across a channel with a bar and another restaurant. I would return but check the weather before going as it rains more in Cartagena than it does here in Santa Marta.. Service is very good and the drive is nice and interesting as you need to put your car on a barge and go over a river as there is no bridge..

Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
3  Thank HK2LS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 January 2013

We spent our Xmas & New Years holiday 2012/2013 (Dec 21 thru to Jan 4th). Having surprised guest/friends show up did change our plans, but what a great trip we had! That being said we flew in from Toronto via Canjet, no complaints, on time and well organized. The bus ride there took 90 min, but well worth it as you could see the great walled"Old City of Cartagena" lite up at night, then travelling the terrain of local villages & farmland along with crossing the short ferry ride over to Isla Baru made you know that you wanted to see the "Old City" for sure.... First & foremost I need to mention the great staff. They were so willing to help you with anything, you just needed to ask. This resort is absolutely beautiful. Our rooms were top notch, having a great view of the ocean as well. The maid service was super, on time everyday,(but I suppose she got to know our schedule). Hot water was mostly available, but hey it is 33 degrees C most days so that was never an issue with us. We were greeted with wonderful folklore dancers when we arrived (approx 10pm)and a wonderful check-in. Just leave you bags and they will deliver to your room. The next day we made a point of figuring out the resort, and with the help of Emily(our Nolitours rep) we sussed it out. First of all we did 2 one stop snorkelling dives, my Husband did both & I did one with him all for $30.00US. each time for each of us. This booking was done at the dive shop near the beach bar.(you could also do a 2 stop island snorkel for $65.00us, each, 3 hrs long, but 1hr snorkel open water was good for me) We also took the shuttle bus into Cartagena that only ran a couple days of the week for $20.00 US each. This excursion was worth every penny, they dropped us off at the Decameron Office in "Old Cartagena", having left the resort at 8:30 am and arrived in the "Old City" by 10am served us water/beer and snacks and a rep explaing the map of the city. We were told to be back at the office 4:30pm to return back by bus to the resort in 1hr because there is no traffic at this time. The bus ride was awesome, you got to see the countryside, villages and farmland in the daylight. Was brilliant! That being said you can also take a guided tour that runs every other day by Boat for $90.00us, which friends of ours took and said it is well worth it. They left at 8:00am & returned by 7pm. One way or another it is well worth going to the city, if not just to see the 500 year old history of this fantastic walled city, the fort & plazas, churches, cobblestone streets, everyday life and the coffee, emerald shopping(if you are into that) , crafts , artwork and such. So much to experience, kinda reminded of me of Old Havana, but different too. That being said, getting back to our resort, this place is gorgeous. Everything is clean, well groomed, the grounds are spectacular. There are 4 pools, I can only say we swam in 2, piscina 2 & 4, other than that we are ocean people and spent our days by the seaside. Our favorite place was Playa Puntilla which is a short ferry ride over (I mean short, 1 minute, no kidding), that is a small quaint part of the resort that many people do not bother to go to. It still has yet to be over touristed YET! This is the beach if you wanted to take a 30min walk to discover Playa Blanca. This wee strip of Puntilla is magnificent, the RD runs a small portion of it, so you have all the offerings of the resort here as well,(ie: drinks and lunch & loungers, bathrooms, etc). They suggest to arrive here before 10am and the last ferry(if you can call it that) leaves @ 4pm. So well worth it, but I suggest water mocs for this beach, only just to enter it, as it is broken up coral, then it is lovely sand, and so clear water. My other fav spot was under Bld #1 which had the tier steps leading to the ocean, so private, great for a beautiful private ocean swim. We did have friends that just loved the resort's sandy beach as well, they loved to feed the fishes here.Don't forget to see the Mangroves too, just super ecologically sweet. All alla cartes are for you to discover & yours to book how many you want, no restrictions. They need to be booked at least a day ahead, only time I had to wait in line was for New Years which is typical I suppose in any place. The food was great, especially breakfast, fresh fruit was bountiful, and the omelette station was superb. The ala cartes consist of an Italian rest (squid carpacio to die for), a Thai rest (beautiful atmosphere, the best) and the Seafood Rest(had great seafood soup one night, along with a terrific Lobster dish another night, just depends what they bring in that day), other than that you have the main buffet which in my opinion (I am a foodie too) was just fine. You had to find the main idea/course of the night and go with it, their are always options, their chicken was always good. Their is a hamburger/hotdog/ fries buffet if you are hankering for that kind of food everyday at the beach bar(good for kids), that turns into at night the seafood restaurant. Drinks at the bars are dependent who is your bartender and how well you treat them. I never felt underprivleged that's for sure. Luved the Amber Rum.. My coffee go to place was the main Lobby bar for a Cap, as they had the real deal Espresso Machine. Columbian coffee is sublime. Also if you go to "Old Cartagena" be sure to check out Juan Valdez's coffee joint for the best coffee to take home. Not hard to find, just ask. By my observation most rooms have a oceanview, somewhat anyway. But Bldg #3 I think would be the loudest as it is near the main buffet and the main pool (lot's of kids I think & teens). But that is just my observation. This resort is only 3yrs old, and Nolitours has been offering to Quebec (Montreal) from the beginning, & only Ontario (Toronto) the last 2 yrrs. My husband in fact did not want me to write a review in fear the prices will just go up, but I feel the wonderful people here in this part of Columbia need to be recogonized for their wonderful tourism. Hope this review helps. Salude...

Room Tip: Most rooms have lovely balconies & are somewhat facing the ocean/pools I would not make this a...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with friends
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19  Thank Jubeyjubey
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: £208 - £472 (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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