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“The Good and The Bad”

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Finca Barlovento Cabana & Maloka
Ranked #2 of 114 Santa Marta B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Reviewed 12 October 2013

We were very excited when we read about this in Lonely Planet, it sounded amazing, maybe our expectations were to high...
The Good - we stayed in the open air house, the location is very impressive, the sound of the crashing waves, being able to watch the night storms and see the stars, watching the sunrise in the morning, all very nice! The house is basic but clean.
The Bad - it is is very rustic, the rooms are a little too basic, poor bedding, cold and damp, a mosquito net that was broken. The price is not cheap by Colombian standards, especially when you factor in the 2 meals a day that are included are sub-standard, meager and cost pennies to make. The food really put a damper on this place, if the food was average it would bring this place up a notch. I understand its simple food, but this was food made with zero heart and sole, mushy overripe papaya for breakfast (I think chopped up days before), for dinner oily fried fish and a blob of brown horrid rice. there is no fresh juice or fruit offered. No dessert offered at night, here is a city of fresh fruit, amazing ice cream and you cant ever serve some ice cream with fresh fruit or a slice of cake. Dessert was a joke a tablespoon of gruel, not even enough for all 8 guest, only 6 brought out by the surly staff.
The Worst - The unsmiling, grumpy and unfriendly staff. The did everything with a scowl. They seem very unhappy to work there, you greet them with a friendly "Buena or Buenos Dias" and you just get a scowl. I know they do not understand english and apparently they are shy, but smiles are international and there is a difference between shy and hostile. I believe this is also why the food is so awful, they take zero pride in their work and you get the sense you are nothing but a chore to them. Shame because a few smiles and a little effort would have resulted in tips for them and likely a better stay, this really put a damper on the stay. Definately a one star for service.
The Verdict - Don't expect much for service and food, bring your own snacks/food/drinks, just go to enjoy the view and property, but for the same price you can stay in a nice 5 star, but again you wont get the beach front. Go if you like rustic nature, but just keep your expectations in check.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank somoney3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luis fernando g, Propietario at Finca Barlovento Cabana & Maloka, responded to this reviewResponded 13 October 2013

Thanks so much for your comments.
The bad experience you suffered with the food has been passed to our staff.
Regarding the unsmiling housekeeper. She is an institution. Her nick name is vinagrette. In fact she is a kind woman and a professional nurse which is handy in a place like this. Some of our guests actually laugh and proudly mentioned that they made her smile once. Sure, she won´t get a job as a hostess in Disney World.

It is good you mention the rusticity of the place. If you want more comfort there is always the maloka (barloventomaloka.com) a few meters away. In any case, what you get in Barlovento is the experience of an unforgetable place and setting and probably the chance to meet very interesting people. But you are right, for the same amount you can find a posh hotel with all the commodities. Hope travelers are aware of this fact.

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Reviews (242)
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115 - 121 of 242 reviews

Reviewed 29 September 2013

Finca Barlovento really is one of these out of the world, almost once-in-a-lifetime kind of locations and experiences. The property has lush vegetation, with all types of birds and other wildlife being visible. Architecturally, the property is unique in that it is set on a bluff on the Caribbean where the Rio Pedras meets the sea, the interplay of these two water bodies and the resulting views are just stunning.

Luis, the owner is ultra-friendly and he was able to greet us at the property when we took the cab from Santa Marta airport. Breakfast and dinner are taken care of, lunch is a la carte. This is a very standalone property and has a wonderful tranquil feeling; you will spend a lot of time on the hammocks overlooking the ocean/river and wandering along the almost completely deserted beaches. You can swim in the river but the sea here is very rough and extremely dangerous, more than made by just how picturesque it is.

Luis and his friendly staff offered us the choice of the rooms on the ocean, or in the new construction "Maloka" opened in summer 2013 - we chose the Maloka since the rooms were smaller (and we were only 2 people), and it had a great view of the river, the ocean and the surrounding foliage where we spotted all sorts of birds, lizards and iguanas. The river has plenty of white cranes and we were lucky enough to see 3 pink flamingoes one day. Maloka is impeccably furnished and very colourful, rooms are very comfortable and its a great feeling sleeping hearing the sound of the thudding ocean waves.

Tayrona national park is about 15 min away, Luis can arrange either a taxi or a motorcycle ride which we chose to do. Its an all day excursion to the park with really nice jungle hikes, beach views and swimming in very select lagoons.

Our stay was amazing - we are both vegetarian, and Luis and his ever smiling and friendly staff treated us like royalty.

I recommend a minimum of 2-3 days here, you will almost forget that the outside world exists. The views of the sea and the river, the nearby mountains, the beach and the people will make it unforgettable.

Room Tip: This is not a business hotel with Wi-Fi, pool and cocktails - come prepared to enjoy nature and have...
  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Vijay K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 September 2013

I was with 2 friends and we stayed in the Finca with the sea pounding below our bedrooms. The birds are all around you: herons, egrets, king fishers and I even saw a pair of ospreys strutting along the coast (who had made it probably from Florida). Behind the Finca is a large shallow lake that flows into the sea. The sun heats it but at night it cools so it is full of birds fishing and I saw a cayman (look out for a log doing funny things). Also a pair of humming birds.

Room Tip: make sure you book the Finca
  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Jeremy V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 August 2013

I decided to write this review to clear up the confusions that myself and other travellers we met expressed.
Firstly one of the reviews expressed the delight of the swimming pool. This is NOT in this property and is part of Casa Barlovento which is a hotel a few minutes walk away.

Finca Barlovento has 2 properties. The first is the property on the cliff in the photo's (Finca). Maloka is the sister property which only newly opened in June '13. it is owned by the same owner. We also had difficulty trying to make a booking through the Santa Marta office (as did most travellers we spoke to) and I was told there was no space in the property on the cliff but they had places in a similar property (Maloka).
When we got there I was extremely disappointed as the properties are not similar. In hindsight though, my gut reaction was probably unfair as Maloka has many plus points that the Finca lacks. Although It doesn't hang over a cliff like the Finca, it does have the same stunning view of the mountains, river and the beach (make sure you get the rooms with a beach view as the ones at the back have no view). The rooms in Maloka are well decorated, very spacious and have lovely bathrooms. There is no hot water but you don't need it in the heat.
There is a lovely living space with a nice couch and hammocks. We did not find the staff in Maloka particularly helpful. You eat with the other people in the hotel and we loved this. The food was ok but not amazing and unfortunately they serve the food in family portions from a big plate in the middle of the table and there often wasn't enough. We asked for extra but would only get a small bit more rice. Also the room was only cleaned once in 5 days. This is not something I would normally even consider but our room and balcony were full of sand which wasn't swept and the bins not emptied. Crazy for the price being charged.
Also just to mention the beach- there is one called Los Angelas beach 5 minutes from the property and has very few people on it (especially down the end) but it is not possible to swim in it. It was actually not possible to get in at all when we were there as the waves were enormous but we may have been unlucky. At the best times though I'd say you would only be jumping in the waves. The river beside the hotel leads into the beach in front of the hotel. Again in this beach the waves were extremely rough so we swam in the river but I was not confident of the cleanliness.

Overall we had a relaxing trip here but we stayed 5 days which was too long without a way to cool down during the day. It is easy to get to the park though but it is a 2-3 hour walk to a swimmable beach and that walk on return also. I feel Maloka itself is too overpriced. I was willing to pay those prices in the Finca as it would have given us an experience that we had never had before. I don't think this experience applies to Maloka and although the rooms are nice I felt the food and staff let the place down. It is only newly opened so hopefully these are teething problems that will be ironed out.

Room Tip: there are 3 cabins with a view of the beach so try to book one of those. There are 3 cabins at the b...
  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank littlebella2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luis fernando g, Owner at Finca Barlovento Cabana & Maloka, responded to this reviewResponded 24 August 2013

I really appreciate the time and effort you have taken in writing your review which all in all seems fair.

- Indeed both the cabaña and the newly built maloka belong to the same owner but have nothing to do with the hotel that has the pools. The confusion stems on the fact that the three properties carry the name barlovento which is the name of the original finca.

- Our own web pages are barloventotayrona.com for the cabaña and barloventomaloka.com for the maloka. We do not have offices in Santa Marta or elsewhere. Some travel agencies carry web pages with our name and thus the confusion.

- The back rooms at the maloka have a view to the jungle and the garden. One can enjoy the sounds and creatures from the terrace. That the rooms do not face the ocean do not detract from their beauty.

- I have the impression that the problem some mention of not finding the staff more helpful originates not on ill will on the staff but on the fact that they speak only spanish. When I am at the property I am more than happy to assist anyone.

- We have taken notice on your comment about the quantity of the food and immediately will be taken care of. We apologice if you had to suffer on that respect but the beginning of any project always causes some turmoil. Thanks for letting us know.

- We are extremly picky about cleanliness so I was very surprised by your comment. Upon investigation my cleaning girl told me that some guests lock their rooms and she thought they did not want anyone to enter the room. I have told her that from today she should open and clean unless direct instructions to the contrary.

- As to overpriced, I agree, but is a problem of Exchange Rate. 12 years ago the RE was $3,000 per USD today is $1,900 and on top of that add 12 years of inflation.

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Reviewed 18 August 2013 via mobile

Long story, but we give you the short version. Location, views from the hill, beaches etc of the property are stunning. We had some serious issues getting the booking done ( very confusing although we live in Colombia now and speak Spanish) and in the end we were moved to a newly developed Maloka building ( all on the same grounds).Although the upper rooms do have something of a view the lower rooms dont have a view at all and are extremely basic and too expensive for what you pay for. As Maloka is a different building you wont have dinner or breakfast in the building of the finca, you just dont come there. Anyway the surrounding is fantastic, but we will book at our next visit accomadation in the park and not pay the top prize for something it is not worth the prize. The dog ( Kiwi) is a plus and can guide you indeed to one of the beaches.

  • Stayed: August 2013
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Thank Andries G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luis fernando g, Owner at Finca Barlovento Cabana & Maloka, responded to this reviewResponded 20 August 2013

There are 2 rooms on the lower part of the maloka and both are rooms which are not for rent as they are the ones our family uses when visiting the property. We enjoy the privacy of those rooms as well as the private terrace overlooking the garden and the jungle with its multitude of life and sounds.

Chances are, if you ended up there, that someone made a mistake with your booking and both the upper rooms of the maloka, as well as the cabaña, were totally full. That rearly occurs but sometimes it happens in periods like august that have almost 100% occupancy rates.

We are sorry noentheless to know your experience was not as you, and we, would have expected.

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Reviewed 13 August 2013

I stayed in Finca Barlovento for 4 days, and I cannot recommend it enough, if you are looking for solitude, natural beauty and being away from the backpacker rat race.

As the other reviews state, you are perched on top of a cliff, and there is no wall between you and the crashing waves. I walked along the beach in the opposite direction to Tyrone (Playa de Los Angeles) for about 5km without encountering a soul.

The semi private beach is heaven, and fortunately you can swim in the river as the sea is too rough.

My only reservation about this place as a lone traveller is its a bit couply! But that depends on when you are there. Contrary to other reviewers, I did not find the staff overly helpful or friendly.

Stayed: August 2013, travelled solo
Thank Rohan P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2013

My husband and I stayed at Finca Barlovento for a few nights on our honeymoon in Colombia, and we cannot say enough wonderful things about this place. We have both done a great deal of traveling, and of all the places we have ever stayed, this was the most original. Our room was literally perched out over the water, and the sound of waves sang us to sleep each night. The view from the house was simply breathtaking. From the front you could see waves crashing against rocks, and a nearly deserted beach in both directions. From the back you could stare out over the calm river and get lost in the mountain/jungle view. You really had the best of both worlds at Barlovento; we could never decide which view we wanted to enjoy. We walked to Tayrona Park from here (I think it was about 4 kilometers away) and had a great day there. After an exhausting day in the park, it was so nice to return to the comfort and warmth of our place at Barlovento. The hospitality of the owner and Emi, the full time cook, were second to none. The food was absolutely amazing and we enjoyed the family style meals with the other guests. The owner made us feel right at home and truly did everything possible to help us on our journey as we left. We loved the trust factor there; they have an "honesty bar" where you keep track of your drinks and pay at the end of your stay. This epitomizes the vibe of Barlovento: laid back, inviting and peaceful.

A note of caution to some travelers, though: if you enjoy being pampered and are not into nature, this place is not for you. The views and location are amazing, but the accommodations are basic (bathrooms are not in the room). However, everything was clean and the beauty of Barlovento is certainly enjoyed by being outside in nature. If we were ever to return to Colombia, a return trip to Barlovento would be a necessity. However, this place would not be for everyone. If you are adventurous and enjoy nature, you will not regret staying at Barlovento.

We agree with Lonely Planet that this is the best place to stay in all of Colombia.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Jessica J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Finca Barlovento Cabana & Maloka

Address: Km 33, 1 Via Riohacha, Los Naranjos, Next to Tayrona Park, Santa Marta, Colombia
Phone Number:
Region: Colombia > Magdalena Department > Santa Marta District > Santa Marta
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 114 B&Bs / Inns in Santa Marta
Price Range: £98 - £121 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Finca Barlovento Cabana & Maloka 3*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Cabaña hangs on a cliff over the beach and ocean. It has been featured in documentaries, tv and magazines such as Maison Marie Claire french edition. Maloka has lovely views to the river and sea or the jungle, its quieter than the cabaña and the rooms are spacious and with a private bathroom. The web site of Maloka can be accessed through "go to maloka" on the cabaña's web site. ... more   less 
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