More about Salamander Hideaway
we love Salamander!!!
We enjoyed of the most wonderful hollidays.
Very much fun and we found many international friends by the Salamander.
It was like in the Paradise: expecially we were enjoyed of the boat excursions and the snorchelling..
We enjoed the good fresh food - a 6 course dinner every evening with food from Belize and of course a real Italian pasta too .Now we are back to Italy and when we see our pictures miss our cabana and the people there.
I and Mario and me just want to come next year again.
Many thanks to all.
Alessandra e Mario Monchelli
perfect break from it all
The Salamander was the perfect getaway for my husband and I. Hans and the staff were helpful and friendly, available but unintrusive. Even before we arrived, Hans went out of his way to help us plan/book our stay & activities for our entire Belize stay. Food/drinks were excellent. Kayaks/hobbycat/fishing equipment/snorkeling gear (excellent snorkeling!) were readily available to guests.
And, to top it all off, there's something just so darn cool about arriving to an absolutely beautiful hideaway by boat.
Get away from it all!
We stayed here for 4 days in November and had a great time! I had fresh coconuts everyday and the 6 course dinners were fabulous. We would go snorkeling in the morning, pick up live conch right out of the ocean and elsa would make fresh conch ceviche for us that afternoon. It does not get any better than that! Days were spent lying on the beach reading, playing scrabble, enjoying belikan beer and doing nothing. Hans and his friendly staff went overboard to ensure our comfort and enjoyment, from picking us up personally in san pedro to dropping us off at the airport on our last day. Elsa's cooking was by far the best food i had in belize! The cabins were small but clean and we liked the open floor plan; if you are not comfortable with your partner, this may be a problem for you. There is no A/C but the fans in the room work well.
This is the place for you if you want a private remote location that is rustic & free from typical tourist traps. Great diving at the mexican rocks canyon is a short boat trip away.
P.S. bring bug spray.
One of our best holidays, ever.
My wife and I spent a week at Salamander Resort at the end of November and it was an incredible experience. The oceanside cabanas are small, but practical. Usually the wind was from the sea, but at night when it wasn't, sometimes the mosquitos would try to get in. We would use mosquito coils from the Resort and that helped a lot. The 5-7 course dinner were always superb. We were originally only scheduled for a 5 day visit and I was a little nervous that I would be a little bored away from all the conveniences, but it was never a problem. In fact, I didn't get nearly as much sunbathing as I had wished. There is lots to do. Snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking, and more. The staff at the Resort were incredible. And with only about 7-8 cabanas the Resort takes on a very family-like atmosphere. If you are a stargazer, the skies at night are brilliant. There is only a bit of light from San Pedro and the air is clear, so the stars come out in full force here. Add a warm tropical breeze off the Gulf and you've got the recipe for romance (at least, that's what my wife said). While it's true that a holiday here involves a bit of roughing it, my wife and I both agree we enjoyed a five star experience. Hans, the Manager, and his family of employees go out of their way to provide and the ambiance is excellent. As very frequent travellers, this was one of the best holidays we have ever had.
Make no mistake - this is a campground
I could not discourage people from staying here enough. This was easily the biggest travel disappointment of my entire life. Everything the hotel is promoted as, both on the Web site and in travel books, is absolutely false - other than the fact that it is remote. It is remote. However, here are the major things to know about this "hotel" before going:
The huts are not rustic, they are crude. The bathrooms are completely open to the room and not only do you have to shower in salt water, you cannot flush toilet paper. You have to put your toilet paper - even with feces smeared on it - into the trash can which is exposed to the room. They do not clean your sheets or towels the entire time. The mattresses are so old and uncomfortable that I actually got bruises just from laying on mine.
There are no mosquito nets, as photos depict. So while the hotel provides coils, you are either bitten to death at night, or you experience hundreds of dead bugs falling all over your bed, and when you crush them in your sleep, the sheets become smeared with blood (and, again, they are not changed).
There is absolutely no spa. No yoga, no massages, no facials, no spa teepee - nothing that is claimed in the reviews. The hotel will arrange massages for you at another hotel, but they will force you to pay gas money to transport you there by boat. (Which they also do if you travel to town, so you don't realize that you actually need to pay extra to leave the remote location, which should be mentioned prior to arrival.)
There is absolutely no way to swim at the beach. Aside from it being littered with trash and sea grass, the beach in front of the hotel is essentially a bog - mucky mud, sea grass, murky water. And while sitting on the beach, you get eaten alive by sand fleas. We learned from other resorts that they combat the sand flea problem by "fogging" the beach - something that Salamander does not bother to do.
The staff, while charming, spends much of its time sitting around the restaurant. We recognized that the amount of time they spent sitting around would be better served raking the sea grass off the beach that served as a giant fly and flea nest.
If this all isn't enough to convince you to find another hotel, you should be aware that dinner is a fixed menu and if you don't eat what is prepared for you, you don't eat. That said, the food was the only moderately redeeming aspect of this place.
More like prison not paradise!
We have just returned from 9 days at Salamander so we feel we can honestly write a current review. After viewing the website and reading the reviews here on tripadvisor, we felt confident in our choice of Salamander for our pre-paid Holiday travel.
Upon arrival we were met at the airstrip and taken by boat to the "resort". We were met by the manager, Hans who showed us to our Cabana (using the term loosly)..more "hut" like. He explained all the do's and the dont's.
1. No fresh water, just salt water to shower and brush your teeth.
2. No locking the door.
3. No clean sheets during our stay.
4. Throw all toilet paper in trash, NEVER in toilet.
5. Two bath towels for 8 nights!
6. No beach towels.
Then he proceeded to INSTRUCT us on the other rules as he showed us to the Restuarant. We were "informed"...Meals were served only when he says, what he says and how he says! Over a period of 9 days one is likely to get hungry between meals or grow tired of chicken for three days in a row! You are unable to purchase ANY snacks- NOTHING. His wife, Elsa, works very hard but I believe strongly that when on Holiday one should be allowed choices.
Even after we were allowed to catch our own fish one morning, we were told it would not be served to us. We waited 3 days to eat our catch. Not so fresh.
During our stay thier four small children had full run of the place. While they are beautiful and sweet, many guests found it stressful listening to them cry during the quiet hours of the afternoon or to have them sleeping on the floors in the main dining room during dinner.
Equally stressful was the constant sound & sight of Hans complaining. He treats his employees and guests with little respect. How many places do you go where the management pressures you to carry liquor over the border back for him so that he can sell it to you later that day?
The inability to leave the resort when you wished was fustrating. Hans made it clear time and time again the cost to take us to town,($200.00) the labor involved and what an inconvience this service was to him. We were prisoners on our own holiday!
There was NO yoga available. NO massages within miles. No mosquito nets on beds as pictured on website. In the evening we were left to be eaten alive without protection. We were given coils to burn which helped a bit but as the bugs died in the "hut" they had no where to fall but in your bed as you slept.
We booked Salamander aware of the location, the lack of tv, phones, etc..(There was a TV in the main room that Hans did not allow guests to use. It played children video's hour after hour.)
While we managed to have a good time at Salamander it had NOTHING to do with the management or Resort. We met some wonderful people who also were sharing in the prison known as Salamander. Where there is no freedom to leave, child labor and harsh treatment to employees and guests.
We did our research. We corresponded with Management for two months before our arrival. We viewed the website and reviews before commiting to our Holiday. We feel cheated. Lied to and completely ripped off. We left Salamander eaten alive, hungry and stressed out.
How to decide if the Salamander is the place for you
I stayed at the Salamander Hideaway for five nights in December 2005 and had a lovely time there. It's the kind of place that might be magically perfect for you or it might be horribly wrong: it's important to understand the reality of what it's like there when deciding whether it will suit your personality.
If you want to stay somewhere that's extremely comfortable, easy to get to (and from), and that has a working spa, don't stay at the Salamander. If you want to stay somewhere that's very remote, has wonderful food, has a commitment to the environment, and where you'll be welcomed like family, the Salamander might be just the place you're looking for.
I've read all of the reviews on TripAdvisor - from the disappointed single-stars to the ecstatic five-stars - and the interesting thing is that they're *all* accurate. I can relate to both the disappointments described so passionately by New York, New York and to the satisfaction described by Toronto.
The problem is that both the Salamander's website and the Moon Handbooks Belize guide are misleading in their descriptions of the Salamander and its amenities. Because they're inaccurate, they set people up to be disappointed and that's a shame.
I'll start by describing some of the things that are potentially bad about the Salamander, and then I'll talk about things that are particularly good.
1) The accommodations are rustic.
The beds are uncomfortable and the sheets are quite old and don't smell particularly nice. The water in the shower and sink is somewhat salty and smells vaguely of sulfur. Because electricity is somewhat more difficult to come by (when you're on solar, wind, and generator power), there aren't a lot of lights in the cabanas. It's true that you cannot flush toilet paper, but I think that's fairly common in Central America, and the housekeeper always kept things very clean in the cabana so it wasn't a problem.
There is no privacy in the cabana. The bathroom area is open to the room. Because I was traveling alone, that wasn't a problem for me. But I can see how it might be uncomfortable if you are traveling with a companion and would prefer a bit of privacy. Also, the windows of the cabana are covered with screens on the inside and wood slats on the outside, but there is no way to easily close the slats for privacy. This isn't a problem during the day (because it's so bright outside that people cannot see into the cabanas) but at night it made me feel a little uncomfortable because anyone who is outside can easily see in. I would have preferred to have blinds or curtains that I could temporarily close while changing or showering.
I didn't experience any problem with mosquitoes or sand flies inside the cabana (there were tons of bugs outside, but I'll talk about that later). I think you should be okay in that regard, as long as you close the door before sundown.
The person who said that it's like camping was pretty much right. As long as I thought of it as camping I was quite comfortable, because it's some of the most comfortable "camping" around. It's camping with showers, toilets, gourmet food, and wonderful people. If you're expecting a really comfortable hotel, you'll be disappointed.
2) Amenities are not quite as described
Although I wasn't going to the Salamander for the spa or the yoga, I would have been extremely disappointed if I had been. The "teepee" that is talked about on the website and in guide books does not exist and it would have been very weird to try and have a yoga class on the pier. Regardless of whether the staff will arrange for you to have a massage somewhere else, the reality is that none of those types of things are currently easily and conveniently available.
You absolutely cannot swim or snorkel directly off the beach, and the deep mud and grass make it difficult to wade or to search for sea creatures on foot. You can take a kayak out to the buoy and snorkel from there - but it's sort of far to paddle and you have to cross an area of water that's got boats coming and going. If you want to snorkel or swim, you should really plan on having the boat captain take you out to the reef or arrange for the marine biologist (Greg) to take you out. He's wonderful.
3) The location is remote
I don't really want to put this down as a bad thing - for me and lots of other people the quiet remoteness of this place is just perfect - but you should know that the Salamander is really, really far away from everything else.
You cannot get there any way other than by boat (there are no roads that go that far north) and it's at least a 30 minute ride to town. If you're going there to be THERE, it's perfect. If you're going there but planning to take lots of day trips and side trips to town, it's very inconvenient. If you plan to bring your own entertainment (reading, writing, drawing, napping, sunbathing, snorkeling, fishing, walking, talking, etc.), you'll be happy. If you want lots of other people to be around or to be able to find entertainment from someone other than yourself, you'll be disappointed.
1) The manager and the staff at the Salamander are wonderful. They're kind, respectful, helpful, and interesting. They really go out of their way to make sure that you're happy and to make you feel welcomed as part of the family. If part of the reason why you're traveling is to meet new people and to experience a bit of a new culture, you'll be happily rewarded.
2) The food is spectacular. It's true that the menu is set - if you don't want to eat what they serve, you're not going to be happy. But why wouldn't you want to eat what they serve? If you're a food person with curiosity and a broad palette, the food that Elsa cooks will blow your mind.
3) The place is beautiful and their commitment to the environment is sincere. If you want to go to a place that's very peaceful and quiet and to live simply, the Salamander is lovely. I especially enjoyed lying on the pier at night because the stars are beautiful (and because the wind keeps the evil mosquitoes away). While the beach is not pristine (as you might find at the Victoria House and elsewhere), it is kept quite clean and the grounds in general are raked every day.
Which brings me to the issue of bugs. The bugs *are* horrible there, that's true. However, I don't think that you can fairly fault the Salamander for that. Because they have a commitment to the environment, they don't fog the beach (or the air) or to do anything destructive to try and fix the situation. They do warn you about it, provide oil for your legs, and burn mosquito coils to help keep the bugs away. Be warned, be prepared, and be diligent about applying baby oil to your feet and legs. You're going to be bitten by bugs.
There is something quite magical about the Salamander and I will go there again, but just make sure that the inconveniences are something that you can live with.
Would have loved a bathroom and hot shower
After reviewing the website, my girlfriend and I thought Salamander looked like a great place to get away from everything and enjoy island life.
However, there are a couple things which really made our stay there very disappointing and feeling mislead.
The four primary problems we had were as follows:
1) The hotel is FAR from town and out of range of the public water taxi. While we knew the hotel was remote, we did not realize that we would be soley dependent on the hotels one boat to get to and from any tour we booked in town, dinner at another hotel or just walk around town. Consequently, we had to neogtiate with the manager of the hotel to go into town every night and eventually landed up paying an extra $100 USD in gas charges. Being dependent on the resort for transpotation and being charged for gas was a major misrepresentation in my mind.
2) Food was also a major issue. Being vegetarians, we expected that food would be made accordingly. However, the menu is a set menu for dinner every night and while the food we could eat was very good, as vegetarians, we were just served the regular meal plate minus any meat.....
3) We also had much different expectations of the room from the Salamander Website. The first and most important thing to know is that there is no private bathroom in the room. There is a toilet with two half walls seperating it from the bed. So needless to say you should be pretty comfortable going to the bathroom in front of your room mate. Another room issue was the shower which was ice cold 90% of the time and sea water, which obviously does not make for a clean shower, especially after not recieving clean linen or towels for the entire five night stay. Overall the room was not the best and bugs were an issue.
4) The last issue was just a general misrepresentation of the of hotel. There is no spa or spa treatment at the hotel. The only thing offered was to have a person boated in from town for $150 USD which was not an option. We landed up going to another hotel (after paying for gas for the boat) for spa. There was also no Yoga and generally, the hotel seemed to be run with the minimum required.
I am an avid traveller and don't mind roughing it, but there was a major descrepency between perspection/information given and reality.
While I sit and sip my last Belikin brought back to the States, I find myself filled with nostalgia and a longing to be back in Belize at The Salamander, basking in the Central American sun and so far away from the trappings of the ordinary vacation and resort.
My wife and I traveled to the Salamander in December for our Honeymoon. My wife Lillian had found The Salamander as part of our research for a isolated, private resort with cabanas on the beach, without the destractions of tv, phone, radio, and tourist crowds. The Salamander provided all this and more.
We arrived via Maya Air to San Pedro where we were cordially met and taken by boat to our resort. Being avid boaters from the coast of S.C., USA, we were immediately pleased with such an enjoyable boat ride up the coast of Ambergris Caye. Upon arrival we were introducted to the amiable staff by Hans, the manager, who was waiting on the dock to collect our baggage and show us our beachside cabana. From our first look, we grinned from ear to ear, knowing that we had happened upon paradise. Our stay consisted of eleven days and ten nights, which slipped by in island fashion. Lillian and I enjoyed day trips, with resort staff, to San Pedro. From there, we traveled to Caye Caulker on our own for exploration. We also took day tours to Maya ruins and into the jungle of mainland Belize and managed to visit other resorts by boat for a variety of food and ambience. Back at The Salamander we spent lazy days subathing on the beach, strolling the isolated beaches of Habanero Plantation, kayaking, snorkeling, and fishing with the staff out near the reef.
Meals were served three times a day, and we did find ourselves craving a mid-morning or afternoon snack, (which was not available) if we skipped a meal.
We frequently found ourselves at the funky, inside/outside bar, listening to lounge music or reggae and chatting with the friendly staff. Each person made us feel comfortable and was eager to make sure our stay was memorable. From fresh bananas and coconuts, to frosty libations, the bar was a focal point to visit and make you wonder why you ever go home. Tasty local choices were available for breakfast and lunch. Dinner was an event! Salamander serves a six-course, two-hour dinner which is a marathon. This provided us with a chance to sample many local favorites as well as dine on fresh fish and conch we had caught earlier. On the flip side, a few nights we were too exhausted to enjoy such a dinning experience. Also, the menu is set with no additional choices or substitutions at dinner. By the end of our stay, we were a bit weary of this type of dining. However, for a shorter stay, one would be hard pressed to find better food (and at $17US each) while traveling in Belize.
Visitors should keep in mind that The Salamander is eleven boat miles from the town of San Pedro. Salamander is isolated, and is not for the traveler looking for live music, the bar scene, or tacky t-shirt shops. I think the Salamander strives to and does not want to create any of this atmosphere at their resort. Lillian and I came to Belize, C.A. to experience the country and its' mix of cultures, not to have all the ammenities of home back in the Sates. Therefore, you do experience mild discomforts that could prove trying for others. There is not fresh portable water at The Salamander and as in other Central American countries, toliet etiquette and privacy are not exactly the same. Having said this, a bashful couple might find the open shower and toliet area difficult. We did not as this is part of what makes a journey. Also, be prepared for bugs and pack approximatley for the climate.
I can tell you that waking up to a sunrise over the reef with the local bird calls will surly restore the soul. Our cabana was more than adequate, although at times the mattress and tropic heat could be a bit uncomfortable. But, with thatched roof, hardwood floors, large shower, wooden blinds, and less than two hundred feet from the shore, our cabana provided a tranquil and romantic setting.
Hans, the resort manager, is a resource himself, having spent so much time traveling and living in Central America. His experience and discussions helped us get the most out of our excursions. Hans was a bit apprehensive about boat transportation, which could be improved upon in the future. But, he did always provide and make arrangements for the two of us to travel.
Would we visit again, the answer is yes and hopefully soon. Enjoy Belize now, before the rest of America spoils the beauty of its' people and places.
Beautifull and cool vacation at Salamander
We spent 5 days at beautiful Salamander Lodge near San Pedro and had a great time. Everything - the place, the staff, the guests, the food and activities were unbelievable wonderful. We were treated like friends and did not feel like any customers and it was the perfect chill-out. Before we came to Salamander we spent 2 days in San Pedro to have some night life and then we were ready to enjoy the perfect place to just relax at Salamander. Thank you Elsworth for some guided hiking tours, thank you Mike and Hans for some great fishing, thank you Marlon for your delicious cocktails and thank you Elsa and the other ladies in the kitchen for an adventure in dining - we loved your special Salamander way!