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“Tranquil but not worth it”
Review of Cat Ba Eco-Lodge

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Cat Ba Eco-Lodge
Ranked #26 of 77 Cat Ba B&B and Inns
Reviewed 5 May 2014 via mobile

We've been living and traveling in SE Asia for 7 months and this hotel was extremely disappointing. We found it because of it's "top choice" ranking in Lonely Planet which we've used in the past and been very happy. This was different; the food was mediocre and over-priced but they have you trapped out there with no other choice, service was sub-par, everything had to be paid out of pocket (including a bottle of water - unheard of in SE Asia usually 2 are complimentary), and you can hear everything going on in other rooms so what's the point of a tranquil location if you can't sleep well.

Maybe if the hotel was half the price, okay, you could let some of these things slide but not for $50/ night. You can find much more for your money elsewhere and avoid the hassle of being far away from everything, subjected to the hotel's flaws, and take a day trip to that part of the island instead.

  • Stayed: May 2014
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1  Thank Sarahfll
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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30 - 36 of 87 reviews

Reviewed 11 April 2014

This place is funny.

The setting is undeniably beautiful, and the rooms are very nice, really nice. There is a garden, a wonderful badminton court amongst pine trees (but with ancient badminton gear), and lovely jungle sounds and scenery all around. Confusion comes from their advertising which promises unlimited trekking, including hiking to a new private beach every day. Plus billboards and brochures that show a resort layout with swimming pools and expansive grounds. Nothing that mentions that you should bring your own water and snacks, because otherwise you'll be paying Resort prices.

This place could use a little help with its identity. Add some bird feeders, composting and recycling, regular-priced foods, and maps to accessible hikes, and you would have a desirable eco lodge. Also, I think it should lose the advertising on which it can't deliver; my husband introduced our daughter to the concept of "truth in advertising" here.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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3  Thank Joslyn T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2014

We had planned to stay in Cat Ba Eco Lodge for a more relaxing and peaceful break and the setting was wonderfully conducive for that. The rooms were decent too and most of the staff friendly. However, the food was over priced for what you got and there was almost an aggressive hard sell over the tours that they offered - tours that were far more expensive than you could get in town and were of no better quality (if not of a worse quality). I have tried to be balanced in my score giving it the 2 stars for the quality of the accommodation and the friendliness of the staff but the hard sell and the food let it down a lot. A real shame as with a bit more of a customer service ethos this place could be brilliant but as it is it feels like it's using its name to imply a higher quality service and its remote location as an opportunity to rip you off.

Stayed: October 2013, travelled with friends
2  Thank John O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 January 2014

We did love this Eco-lodge. With no scooter horns or traffic to be heard, it was a great place to recharge your batteries and enjoy some rare quiet time. The staff were friendly and the accommodation great. A good choice in food too, which is good as it's your only option unless you rent a scooter. Our only complaints would be the prices of food, drinks were inflated for what you got, and the price for a motorbike was three times the price of one you could get in town. You had to work in to the resorts travel options or pay approx 200,000 vnd for a taxi. That all said though, I'd probably stay there again and just take some of our own drinks and food :)

  • Stayed: January 2014
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2  Thank MyssCe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 December 2013

This is not the hotel you go to if you wish to stay on the beach. This is up in the mountains on Cat Ba Island. But that is what makes it so charming. It is quiet, away from the continuous buzz that is Vietnam. There are some great walks to do. Staff are friendly and arrange everything you wish to do, including a fabulous day out to Ha Long Bay by boat. The rooms are cozy, comfortable and clean. The only negative is that the dining area has no form of heating so on a cold night (as we had one evening) one needs thick jackets and warm clothing to enjoy your meal. Most nights though this should not be a problem, even in the winter.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank Travel_regularly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 November 2013

We checked in for three days and stayed an extra one because it was so nice and quiet.

It took a day to settle into the groove, especially as the manager insisted on explaining all the tour choices to us before we were shown to our room. This left me a bit cranky as we had just endured the long bus-bus-ferry-bus-van journey to get there and really wanted to relax.

My mood improved when we saw the room, had a good dinner (with a bottle of very affordable Dalat red wine from Tom's, our waiter's, home town) and watched the only other guests enjoy their free cooking lesson. (We did ours the next night and had just as much fun.)

Yes, it's an isolated location but there are three excellent trails to explore and there are ways to leave the grounds if the van isn't available. Early in the morning, I'd take a walk along the trails to watch the sun rise and listen to the bird calls and watch the butterflies -- hundreds of them -- flutter around. At night, a short walk down the road away from the lights of the resort would reveal the night sky. Less welcome (at first) was the scary-sounding gecko calls in the middle of the night outside the window.

Our first day was a rest day and we just wandered the local roads on foot -- watching a team of two dozen labourers slave over a new road into the resort. We had been told there was a beach nearby but it took us two more days to find it. But the local village was interesting and a neighbouring farmer invited us in for a look at her gardens and her family altar.

Day two, we opted for the $50/person boat cruise and kayak trip around the islands with our guide (and friendly waiter) Tom. He was good company and we had the little boat to ourselves. After a couple of hours of putt-putting around fabulous limestone islands, we switched to kayaks (not as good as the ones at home but they worked and had life jackets) and found a quiet island beach for a swim and a wander. A visit to a local floating fish farm was interesting, especially when the family insisted we join them for a rice and fish lunch (not on the itinerary). They refused to accept payment and kept calling me professor because I'm bald and have a beard.

After a bit more paddling, we returned to the floating paddle shack for the scheduled lunch (huge and good but we had already eaten) and witnessed two bigger tour groups' antics -- and were glad that we had a small boat and Tom.

The sun was setting on our return via Cat Ba Town, a busy tourist town, and the famous Hospital Cave. It was a perfect day.

Day Three, we decided to climb the National Park "mountain" ourselves so instead of a guided tour, we rented a motorbike for $10 from the resort and made our own way there. We resisted all offers of being guided up the steep path by the locals who live at the park entrance and enjoyed the afternoon ourselves. Once we hopped back on the bike, we motored along the coastal road and explored a few more beaches. The manager and Tom rushed out to see us on our return -- they had been worried about us being gone so long.

We could have used another day to lounge in hammocks and explore the butterfly trails behind the resort but will do that next time.

The staff was great, the food was good (and not as expensive as some cranky reviewers suggest) and the place was totally relaxing -- a great break from Hanoi and Hoi An.

The staff was all hired in the past three months so there seems to have been a major change here and from what we could tell it was all for the good. They were friendly, had good English and were really customer oriented.

This isn't a party place, so won't be appropriate for everyone -- including the crabby South African woman sharing her son's 2nd anniversary getaway who complained about everything. But it's peaceful, close to nature and offers excellent food and service. I really like the way the front desk, bar/lounge and dining room are all open pavilions so that you always feel close to the outdoors.

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank F_B_E_2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 November 2013

Cat Ba Eco Lodge was our second stop on our honeymoon and we stayed 2 nights. The staff were very kind and the ambiance was great when we arrived. This hotel was part of a Junk boat package and we were told that it was a beautiful resort. I feel like this was misleading as it was fairly simple accommodation. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against budget accommodation, but it was not sold to us that way.
The room was nice, although the beds hard, but the walls were paper thin and the building itself made a lot of noise. We had a group stay in the two rooms on either side of us and they were up very early. Needless to say we heard everything until they left on their tour. This wrecked the peaceful quite Eco lodge atmosphere I expected.
There really isn't much around the lodge itself, which is the whole point, so we rented a motorbike to take around the island. We toured the hospital cave and hiked in the national park and I would recommend both of these trips BUT I wouldn't pay for a tour guide! There is a man across the street who shows you the hospital cave for a cheap fee and the hike doesn't need a guide. After our day trip we headed back to the lodge just as the sun went down and we quickly found out that the bike had no working headlights. We hit a pot hole and must had damaged the tire. We were not told until check out that we had to pay for this repair. We felt this to be unfair since they did not have lights and we couldn't see the road (which was not in good shape). They also gave the bike to us on empty so we had to put gasoline in it too.

All in all the staff were nice and rooms were okay, but it was not the jungle oasis I expected. We paid too much money for this package, but still managed to have a decent time. I would be careful with those bikes though! It was a lot of fun riding around the island but they aren't in the best of shape and you are not told about being responsible for any damage.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Danielle C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cat Ba Eco-Lodge

Address: Lan Ha Bay | Xuan Dam, Cat Ba, Vietnam
Region: Vietnam > Cat Ba
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Room Service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #26 of 77 B&Bs / Inns in Cat Ba
Price Range: £24 - £37 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Cat Ba Eco-Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Cat Ba Eco-Lodge is nestled in dramatic forested hills 13 km from Cat Ba Town. (Information on arriving and getting around.) We have a warm, friendly, Vietnamese staff and our restaurant proudly serves some of the best Vietnamese and International cuisine on the island. Even if you do not stay at our hotel you are still invited to stop by for a memorable lunch at our acclaimed restaurant. Our Eco-Lodge was designed and constructed with comfort in mind and it is immaculately maintained. The rooms are arranged in three separate buildings centered around the restaurant and common areas. Each room offers total privacy and has: Full Bathroom Hot Water Heating / Air Conditioning / Fan Mini-Bar Flat Screen TV Telephone Wireless Internet Luxuriously Comfortable Beds In the hotel's common areas you will find our restaurant and our full service bar and lounge. In the lounge computers are available with free, fast, reliable Internet. Scattered around the 7 hectare property you will find our garden, fruit trees and hidden hammocks at your disposal. We also offer free cooking classes for those interested. There are marked walking trails of different intensities leaving from our lodge's front door. A self-guided walking tours explain the area's natural features including the unusual karst landscape that makes Halong Bay so famously beautiful and a UNESECO World Heritage Site. Several beaches (including our gorgeous private beach) are within 15 minutes on bicycle. Many guests like to discover a new beach or panoramic mountain top everyday of their stay. ... more   less 
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