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Hotel Playa Scondida
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Reviewed 15 April 2016

Playa Scondida is a bit of an interesting place. You must get there by boat, which takes about an hour in pretty choppy waters. The return trip in the afternoon was not exactly fun. The afternoon winds in this area make the seas very rough. Make sure you stow all your bags in the hatch and put a towel around you, if possible. Be prepared to get soaked. The place itself is very clean and the staff are nice. The meals were all very good and we actually had to ask for no desserts or afternoon snacks because we're not used to eating that much! The owner, Fernando speaks excellent English and tries to make sure you are happy. Unfortunately for them, the locals from Cartagena come to a beach bar 400m across the inlet from them to party. So, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons it is filled with partiers and boats all blaring their stereos. I feel badly for the owners, but I wouldn't recommend staying here on weekends. The only blessing is that they all leave to boat back to Cartagena about an hour before sundown. You can swim off the dock in front of the property. It has a bit of a mushy bottom, but nothing too yucky. The water is warm, but gets a little choppy in the afternoon. They have A/C, but sometimes the power goes out. It did so a couple of times while we were there, but came back on fairly quickly. Fernando said they are looking at installing a salt water pool on the property, which would be nice for the afternoons.

  • Stayed: April 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank McLeod9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Beatriz Helena U, Asistente administrativo at Hotel Playa Scondida, responded to this reviewResponded 19 April 2016

We thank you for your comment. Each day we aim to improve on every detail to achieve such good reviews

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 February 2016 via mobile

We did considerable research before our trip and decided that we'd like to spend a couples of nights in Baru. What most attracted us to Playa Scondida was the natural beauty and tranquility it seemed to offer. We wanted to stay in a smaller property where we could be active if we wanted or just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Through their website, we made all of our inquiries and finally reserved a 2nd floor bungalow for two nights.
We travelled to Baru via "Private" Launch (Lancha Privada) from Santa Cruz Marina in Manga, Cartagena. While Playa Escondida is not affiliated with the Lancha service, they did facilitate the arrangements and we paid the Captain on site and in cash the morning of the trip. The boat trip took approximately 45- minutes and we were deposited right on the dock at Playa Scondida. They call it a private launch as it is privately owned and we travelled with 15 other passengers who were bound for Sport Baru, another property closeby.
Immediately upon arrival we were greeted by our gracious hosts, Beatriz and Fernando, and their excellent staff: Loida, Edilfredo and Arneidi.
Keeping in mind that we arrived at the hotel before 10am, they made us feel very comfortable and provided us with fruit and juices, and beer or water, if we wished, while we waited for our room to be readied. We waited for less than an hour and were escorted to our room.
The room was on a 2nd floor of one of the two thatched bungalows. It had a very tropical design, a wooden structure with balcony which had window screens that swivel open or, if kept closed and coupled with the ceiling fans and air conditioner, make for a cool respite from the intense heat of Baru. Each unit also has a private bath and shower. Our room had a queen bed and two twins. Each bed had its own mosquitero, although we didn't need them. Room also had a bureau. The balcony outside the room had comfortable rattan seating.
A hotel stay at Playa Scondida includes three meals daily and this feature was one of the best!
Breakfast always started with fresh fruit: pineapple. melon, papaya and some of the most delicious juices we had ever tried: Maracuja, Lulo, Corozo, Tomate de arbol, as well as some more familiar ones: Tamarind, Orange, Lemonade. Yogurts and breakfast cereals are always available as well as Colombian coffee and an assortment of teas. Breakfast also includes a hot dish such as Arepa de Huevo or other egg dishes.
Lunch was the largest meal of the day with fresh fish (we had chicken one day) salad, squash puree, yuca (cassava) fried and/or boiled.
Dinner usually consisted of some kind of fish many of which were new to us: Robalo, Mero, Pargo, Sierra etc...all were deliciously and expertly cooked and served.
We could not have been happier with the food. The menu design was exquisite. The desserts were also very special and innovative. Never did we find the food to be too salty or too sweet. The food served was always healthy and very fresh.
Throughout your stay, you're on the honor system with the consumption of liquid refreshments. These are not included in the package. Beer, mineral water, juices, soft drink etc.. are always on hand in the refrigerator and are very reasonably priced. You pay for this consumption upon departure.
During our stay we were 7 adult guests in total, none were children.
Most people stay to themselves although mealtimes are quite communal as is the fantastic swimming done off the deck in the lagoon. You do interact with other guests at least during these times and more if you wish.
Activities which are offered are kayaks, mountain bikes: (we rode to the Aldea of Baru which gave us a true culture shock. We saw much wildlife, including various tropical birds, pigs, donkeys, oxen, cows, buzzards, frigate birds, iguana, etc...
The hotel's launch is made available to guests who wish to travel to Playa Azul, a gorgeous stretch of white fine sand only a 5 minute ride across the lagoon where Playa Scondida sits. Edilfredo is your shuttle driver and is happy to accommodate.
Back at the hotel,there is a rustic Spa room set up close to the shore with massage therapy available.
No TV at Playa Scondida or nightlife to speak of. Everyone is so tired after a day of swimming, kayaking, biking, snorkeling and EATING.
One evening we sat on the boat deck after the sun had set and while we marveled over the myriad stars that were popping out of the sky in front of our eyes, Beatriz had the staff serve us each a tall container of popcorn. Nice touch!
What a show that was!
This is but one example of how detailed Beatriz and Fernando are in delivering their exemplary product.
We got no bug bites at all during our stay although we were prepared for the worst. Breezy nights made for a very comfortable sleep.
The day we were to depart, the seas were quite choppy and the launch that was to deliver us back to Manga could not make the journey. Fernando told us that there was a plan B which entailed his driving us by 4wd jeep to a junction further up the beach with a modern more easily passable road. There we were met by a pre-arranged taxi to bring us back to Cartagena.
This is yet another example of how the folks at Playa Scondida look after their guests. We were actually happier to ride in the Jeep as we got to experience another new and exciting experience.
We'll be back in Baru and Olaya Scondida in our lifetime.

Stayed: February 2016, travelled as a couple
5  Thank David L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 February 2016

My girlfriend and I were planning a trip Cartagena from Chicago and knew that we wanted some beach time. After conducting extensive research, we learned that we had to go to Baru if we wanted to experience the best beaches in the area. We decided to stay at Hotel Playa Scondida and are SO glad that we did. I'll start from the beginning.

A day or so before our trip, we received an e-mail from Hotel Playa Scondida stating that we needed to get to the marina by 8:15am. Our flight didn't arrive till the afternoon, so that option was out of the question. I replied to the e-mail and they offered a pick-up from the airport to a private boat for 300,000 COP. While we thought that was a little expensive, we decided to do it because we didn't want the hassle. Even though our flight was delayed, our transportation was there waiting. We learned the seas were too rough to take the boat and instead they drove us there. The car ride was not ideal, as the car has to drive along a narrow beach and there were cars getting stuck. It was a little scary at first, but we arrived safe and sound after about a 90 min drive. This is no fault of Hotel Playa Scondida, but just be warned that I have no idea what we would have done if we did not arrange this transportation though the hotel ahead of time. The hotel is difficult to get to--which is part of the appeal.

Upon arrival, my girlfriend and I were a little surprised that there wasn't a beach on the property. This is my fault and I didn't do enough research. However, this turned out to be a good thing. The hotel has a private boat that takes you to this little island across the way that has a private beach. It was very cool to be on this private beach, but the beach wasn't exactly our favorite given the amount of trees on the beach. It was beautiful, don't get me wrong, but we were expecting something different.

The next day we took a boat to Islas del Rosario. The blues of the water were breathtaking. We opted not to go snorkel and instead went to this pretty cool aquarium that is in the open sea. Following the aquarium was the best part of our trip--our boat driver took us to this island that seemed to be completely disserted. We had a BEAUTIFUL white sandy beach literally all to ourselves. I wish we would have learned about this the day before and spent more time there. It was an experience that was just like out of some romantic movie. It was so so nice.

We also spent an afternoon laying out on the dock. It was so relaxing.

My girl is OK at speaking spanish, but not great. But english-speakers: have no fear. Fernando (whose wife owns the place) was always available and was willing to go out of his way for anything we needed. He and his team worked to arrange transportation from his hotel all the way to Minca. He told us that he was willing to do anything to make our trip to colombia as stress-free as possible.

Every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) is included in the cost. Every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) was exceptional. The cook does an awesome job at exposing you to local dishes. We had a smile on our face for every meal.

A few things you should be aware of before you go:
Bring bug spray and reapply often. While you have a roof over your head at night and are in a private cabin, nothing is completely sealed off. The outdoor showers were pretty fricken neat, and romantic.

Be aware that every where at Hotel Playa Scondida is exposed to the elements. That means that besides your rooms, everything is open-air. This is how all hotels are in Baru (and hence, you need buy spray). Also, reapply sun block often.

We had a beautiful stay at Hotel Playa Scondida and would definitely come back in the future.

  • Stayed: January 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Doug R R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 February 2016

I partly enjoyed our stay at Playa Scondida, the staff are friendly and attentive. They want you to have a good stay.

When we arrived they offered the Spanish speaking couple that got off the boat with us a choice of what room they wanted, we had no say and got the room they did not want on the ground floor. The other couple took the top floor room with a mini balcony.

It was not a major issue but we had booked a 3 bed room via Expedia, we instead got a 2 bed room which is not what we had booked. It seems that the room the other guests chose had the 3 beds. We still paid the same price even though we did not get the room we booked. Not good practice to allow one guest to chose what room they want but not other guests!

You are only 5 minutes boat ride from Playa Azul which is beautiful. They boat you across or you can kayak. It is a white sand, turquoise water beach. Nice to spend a few hours relaxing.

The rooms are rustic, essentially beach huts! They are nice but too expensive really for what you get.

We knew they were rustic before we booked and the fact that they were beach huts was part of the charm.

The bathrooms offer limited privacy, the shower is sort of outdoors. You can hear everything in the room next to you as the walls are paper thin.

The food tastes great although I had a really bad stomach later in the evening, unlike a previous reviewer I had not drunk anything at the beach so have to conclude it was due to the hotel food. It is I guess just one of those things that happens when you travel!

It is a small property but there are multiple areas to sit, the hotel has no beach front so the seating areas are decks, hammocks etc.

It is tranquil, very relaxing.

It is nice!

It just feels too expensive for what you get, we paid Colombian Peso $1,090,000 which is about UK £250 at current exchange rates.

An OK hotel, fantastic staff but you can get better for the amount you pay elsewhere in the area. We stayed at a great Rosario Island hotel for much less.

To compare the same date we stayed at Playa Scondida you can stay back in London at the 5* London Hilton on Park Lane for £212. Whilst this hotel is nice it is not in an expensive city like London and it is not worth over a million Colombian peso a night!

If you know what you will get is rustic meaning basic then this hotel may meet your needs. They have trips like snorkelling and the drinks cost extra but the prices are very reasonable. They don't rip you off with the cost of drinks.

I enjoyed our stay here apart from the upset stomach, a nice hotel with great staff.

  • Stayed: January 2016, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank mp609
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 January 2016

I stayed at Playa Scondida during the Christmas holidays and - although the staff, especially Rafa and Eddiefredo - are absolutely lovely and the venue is pretty, and the hotel still deserves a rating of poor.

Cons:
1) We came to Playa Scondida to relax. Unfortunately, this was impossible, as during the whole time we were there music was blaring from the opposite beach from noon until at least 5 pm. We could barely sleep an afternoon nap and definitely couldn't sit on the deck to relax. Another family came during this time, heard the noise and checked out on the same day. Other guests also complained - at least between ourselves. It might have been different had management, which was aware of this, taken the initiative to offer some sort of recompense to the guests to make up for this.
2) Traveling to Playa Scondida was a nightmare. We were offered three options to get there, including the public boat, which we chose. When we got to the port, the public boat was not allowed to take off by the authorities. Okay - not the fault of the hotel. However, a representative of Playa Scondida who was there - instead of telling us to wait for the next boat - took us to wait for an hour and a half in a house which she locked and kept telling us "15 more minutes and a taxi will come, the driver is stuck in traffic"- and didn't update or provide any information. The taxi did come nearly two hours later, and the taxi driver explained that he was so very late because his car was broken (not traffic). Why they couldn't arrange another car is beyond us. We ended up arriving at 2 pm instead of 10:30 - wasted hours on a short holiday. The first thing the management told us when we finally arrived "this was out of our control". Surely, for real service, the first thing they should have said was "so sorry, here, have a cocktail and we will make it up to you"
3) Tons of mosquitos, continuously bitten despite putting on DEET. As were other guests.
4) Stayed one night in the top room, where the bed was pooed on by some creature during the night. Again, no recompense offered.
5) Worst mojito I have ever drunk

Pros:
1) 5 minutes away from a beautiful Caribbean beach, where if you walk far enough away you will not be hassled by vendors
2) Lovely staff and continuously changing menu
3) Beautiful architecture
4) Free snorkeling and kayaking (which other hotels charge for)

Room Tip: The upstairs rooms don't have a bathroom, you have to go downstairs to the bathroom
  • Stayed: December 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank 972Dana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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