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Reviewed 3 April 2011

Stayed here for a week as a part of a timeshare exchange, so I can't really speak to the value for money of the place.

Our stay was probably not a typical indication of what it may usually be like as it had been taken over by the government a couple of months earlier to house people made homeless by flooding. One of the two buildings still had the flood refugees in it and they hadn't re-opened the restaurant yet. They had a caretaker manager there sorting the place out.There was also some serious water and electricity outage issues (from the town, not the hotel).

The two level apartment was spacious and clean with wifi. Two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. Small kitchenette and living room with a small balcony overlooking the pool. The dining table seemed like an old outdoor setting brought in, but the beds were comfortable.

There is a small store next to reception (rarely open when we were there), and the centre of town is about a half hour walk.

Overall, we had a nice and relaxing week by the pool. If you have high, international resort like standards, based on our experience this place will fall short but may improve a little once restored to its pre-flood standard.

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank Sparkbat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2008

My husband H, daughter B, and I left Calgary, Alberta, Canada on Wednesday afternoon, March 19, 2008 and got to Caracas, Venezuela on Thursday morning, March 20th. Howie's son Ch and his girlfriend C left Edmonton on Sunday, March 16th and got to Caracas on Monday, March 17th. Howie's daughter T left Penticton on Monday night, March 17th and got to Calgary (by bus) on Tuesday morning, March 18th. T left Calgary on Tuesday afternoon, March 18th and got to Caracas, Venezuela on Wednesday morning, March 19th. H, B, Ch, C, T, and I spent Thursday night, March 20th in Caracas. We left Caracas (via two taxicabs) for Hotel Aguamarina in Higuerote on Friday evening, March 21st (it took about one and a half hours or so to get there). H, B, and I had the Interval International timeshare accommodation at Hotel Aguamarina booked from Friday, March 21st to Friday, March 28th.

Ch, C, and T had flights home early Friday morning, March 28th; H, B, and I had flights home early Saturday morning, March 29th. Accordingly, H, B, and I also paid for an extra night (Friday, March 28th), in a smaller room, at Hotel Aguamarina. The airport is about two hours or so away from Hotel Aguamarina.

H and I are unlikely to ever return to Venezuela, not that we are sorry to have gone this time. We do not regret going, but it is not exactly a cost-beneficial place to go to by any stretch of the imagination. It is expensive – akin to Calgary prices – but for low to average quality, in particular with regards to food and accommodation.

Thank goodness that Ch, C, and T came as not only was it wonderful having the whole family together but, in particular, to say that it would have been difficult for us to have managed without C would be a major understatement. I knew that C spoke Spanish and it turns out that she actually speaks very well. As few people in Venezuela speak English, had we not had C, H and I shudder to think of the hellish week we would have experienced. Even with C, we still had some problems occasionally, but having her as a translator lessened any and every problem to the tiniest fraction of what would otherwise have been the case. For example, obtaining (and then having to wait for) taxis was an issue (exacerbated by the necessity to get two taxis most of the time, being as there were six of us). For the Easter mass, only four of us were going to go, but we were unable to get even one taxi that day. Without C, taxis would have been much more of an issue by far.

H, B, and Ch did not get sick at all. I had a bit of a bout with diarrhea but nothing too bad. T was unwell for pretty much a whole day after throwing up in the wee hours of Sunday morning, March 23rd and experiencing stomach cramping pretty much all day. C came down with diarrhea on Thursday morning, March 27th and then had a really bad day as she suffers from motion sickness (especially seasickness) and we did a day boat tour of a few different beaches that day. C continued to be ill for more than two days (even with some medication), suffering from both diarrhea and vomiting.

The weather in Venezuela was wonderful – too wonderful perhaps – we all ended up burnt - even trying for the most part to protect ourselves and using sunscreen (which is a particularly expensive item - kept locked up in all of the stores).

Hotel Aquamarina had a very nice lobby and a very nice pool and Jacuzzi (not hot but with jets). Surprisingly, the vast majority of the music played by the pool (most of the day and evening) was English. The restaurant was okay but not great - expensive with poor to average food. There was a little store that was seldom open. Only a couple of people working at the hotel spoke English and they were seldom to be seen. Everyone did try hard though to be helpful.

There was an office to arrange activities, but the man had to be requested in order to have him come to the hotel and he was not much available - and showed up an hour or so late both on the Wednesday, March 26th when we arranged to first meet with him to book something and then again on the Thursday, March 27th when we were having our boat tour of a few beaches.

Our hotel room consisted of two floors.

The first floor had (a) one main room with a small kitchen, a small patio type table with six chairs, two portable beds (that Tara and Bonnie slept in), a television up high on the wall (that did not always work but which did have English shows - in particular, CSI - as well as Spanish with the English shows usually having Spanish sub-titles), a bathroom sink with a non-working light; (b) a small balcony off of that main room; and (c) a bathroom for a shower and toilet off at that main room by the bathroom sink with the non-working light - with a door warped so that it would not close.

Please note that there was nothing akin to a couch. To watch television (high up on the wall), we had to use the two beds - which could fit four people comfortably, five people uncomfortably, and six people only with great difficulty.

The second floor had (a) a bedroom with queen-size bed where H and I slept; (b) a bedroom with two twin beds where Ch and C slept; (c) a bathroom sink with a working light; and (d a bathroom for a shower and toilet by the bathroom sink with the working light.

On Saturday, March 22nd, we had no water at all for most of the day. During the rest of the time, while we had water, it never was any warmer that lukewarm. That is, most of our showers were not only not hot but also were more cool than warm.

They did clean the rooms every day and gave us fresh towels. There were pool towels available too. Soap and little plastic bottles of shampoo were provided for the bathrooms. [The kitchen did not provide anything like dish soap (we bought some, leaving it behind when we left) or dishcloths or tea towels.]

There was no place to do laundry so we paid for laundry to be done one day. We only did two small bags and it cost $20.00 plus tip. Unfortunately, not only did the laundress use bleach for whatever reason but obviously a fair bit of bleach to boot. Ch's shorts were rather ruined by bleach blot stains on them and one of H's shirts - a relatively new, expensive, and nice shirt - is falling apart.

The room that H, B, and I used on our last night had a television on a chest of drawers so at least it was not way up on the wall. Again, B's bed had to be used to sit on.

That room did have water that, when I showered, was almost hot and was certainly warm and H said that his shower actually was hot. This room was in a different building from our first room.

Unfortunately, this room was so damp that all of the bedding and pillows were as though they had been washed and then not dried long enough.

There appeared to be a shortage of food in the restaurants as, for example, several times when one of us would ask for something on a menu, we would be told that it was unavailable. Fresh fruit drinks such as melon and papaya were probably our favourite food type items. There was also some partaking of beer (cervezas) (beer bottles are about half of the size of ours) and rum. We all had sangria in a restaurant in Caracas. And I had a glass of red wine in Higuerote one evening.

The "supermarkets" or stores that we shopped in also had very little in the way of selection. There were street markets though for things like fruit and vegetables. And there were people selling a variety of things on the street in little booths.

Getting milk was difficult - we got some in the hotel store one day but that was it. Most people have milk delivered and it is not often sold in stores.

Service tends to be poor to average too (but then, in Calgary these days, service tends to be pathetic). On Thursday evening, March 27th at the hotel restaurant, we were getting very tired of waiting for everything. At one point however, we realized that our waiter was obviously not only the waiter that evening but the chef as well. Hopefully, he did not end up having to do the dishes too. He did an amazing job under the circumstances.

There were many police and national guardsmen around I Higuerote. The national guardsmen typically walk around with large guns.

There were dogs around, not a lot but more than cats which I only saw a few of. While the dogs all looked well taken care of, not all of the cats did.

Hotel Aquamarina is a bit of a walk to town - not too bad though. We walked back and forth every couple of days.

During and shortly after the Easter weekend, we were disgusted by the amount of garbage everywhere. However, by the end of our time there, the garbage was being cleaned up with garbage bags of garbage abounding. It appears that the tourists there for the long Easter weekend (Thursday to Sunday) were the culprits and that Higuerote is not always so dirty.

Tourists are largely Venezuelan tourists, secondly South American tourists. English speaking tourists are obviously a rarity. As I understand it, it is only in the last couple of years that Venezuela has been opened to tourists. Over time, I expect that English will become less rare. English is actually taught starting in about grade seven and is, I think, mandatory.

On the day boat tour of a few beaches that we took on at Thursday, March 27th, we were provided with two small surf boards. Also, H, Ch, and I tried fishing - with three fishing 'reels'. A 'reel' consisted of a small wheel with a clear plastic fishing line wrapped around it, and a hook at the end, with a bit of fish on the hook. H, Ch, and I did not catch anything and, as Ch commented, had anything besides a small fish taken the bait, likely our only option really would have been to let go of the whole thing. On our return that day, we could see a lot of smoke in the town on the opposite side of where Hotel Aquamarina is. It looked like a bad fire, but we never did find out what had happened or how bad it was.

On Tuesday, March 25th, we took a taxi to a boat dock and hired a boat to take us to one beach (one of the beaches that we visited again on Thursday, March 27th). We spent about half of the day there. While the beach is likely much in use on weekends, it was deserted that day except for a few people who appear to live there (caretakers perhaps?).

The trip was definitely an eye opener. For example, our life in Canada is indeed taken too much for granted. And it is amazing how difficult communication can be when one does not speak the same language as someone else. We should be much more compassionate and helpful when meeting someone who does not speak English or whatever our language is. Travel is an enlightening experience and our trip to Venezuela was very interesting and worthwhile, made so not just by the highlights and good points but by everything.

  • Stayed: March 2008, travelled with family
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3  Thank HPB0y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 January 2017
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  • Stayed: November 2016, travelled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 November 2016 via mobile
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Stayed: November 2016, travelled with friends
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 September 2016
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  • Stayed: September 2016, travelled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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