Bad experience at Charela Inn, Negril Jamaica

Old Feb 7th, 2004, 03:14 PM
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Bad experience at Charela Inn, Negril Jamaica

Just got back from a week in Negril, Jamaica and wanted to provide some thoughts/comments on Charela Inn for those who are considering going with their family.

For starters, I realize that many on this site have had good experiences and really like Charela Inn. In fact, the testimonials as well as travel guide reviews really compelled us to book at trip there nearly a year ago...Which is why I feel equally compelled to save someone from a lousy experience.

To set the stage, our family was looking for a good value destination that had some character and charm, great surroundings with some character, relaxation, and good food. We've got two little ones so being in a comfortable room was important as well.

Upon arrival to Charela we were shown to this dumpy two room "garden view family unit" which was akin to a prison cell. Both rooms were small, sparsely decorated (think Motel Six), had hardly any light-- the kids room had no windows to speak of. The bathroom looked as if it were pulled right out of a Youth Hostel. There were no comfortable chairs or areas to lounge on, nor did the telephone system work (we arrived on a Saturday and they said it wouldn't work until Monday--not because of the phone company but because of some software glitch on the hotel's end).

The hotel cribs were way too small for our toddler (would've easily crawled out), and each of the cribs had paint peeling and chipping all over. We're not fanatically protective parents, but I'd rather my kids not be eating paint chips.

The food was mediocre at best, though I'd say when considering price it's a lousy value. Breakfast was bland, lunch we had elsewhere, and dinner was simply average. The outdoor seating area was lovely, however, sitting in Jamaica in an outdoor veranda eating Conch chowder and Lobster entree's while listening to "Lady in Red" blaring on the restaurant stereo isn't exactly my idea of either an authentic or charming environment.

The pool at Charela Inn is totally useless. The water temperature is about 60 degrees, way colder than the Ocean so there's absolutely no reason you would want to use it--unless you bring a wetsuit, and that would merely enable you to use it, you still wouldn't want to.

After our first evening my wife and I were ready to turn back to the U.S. and would've if it weren't for the cost of the flights. On the second day I spent about two hours looking at other resorts or destinations in Negril and Mo Bay to try to get out of the pentitentiary we'd found ourselves in. We didn't find anything that had many openings or was a reasonable price.

Instead, we decided that if perhaps we could move rooms to something more comfortable we'd have a better time. I must say that the rooms along the beach looked quite nice, so much of my complaint is geared toward the family unit rooms themselves (though I think the overall resort is totally overated). After talking with the Charela management they explained that they had no other two room units and that, instead, the could give us two one-room units side by side but that we'd have to pay for the difference (they reduced the rate, but only slightly). Even these alternative units looked uncomfortable to me, though, again, they were not the nicer beachfront rooms. Not wanting to pay another $100+/night above/beyond what we were already committed to we decided to venture out of the hotel and grab some food on the beach and hopefully stumble into an alternative resort. The staff, and ultimately the owner, was totally lame in offering up a reasonable solution to our dissatisfaction.

After walking a quarter mile on the beach we found a fantastic villa-style resort that was set in a rainforest like setting (lots of gardens, vegetation, trees, etc.) with a fantastic staff, amazing food, and a charming environment. We moved there on our second day, therefore salvaging our trip to Negril. What started out as one of my worst vacation experiences ended up being one of my best.

I was pleased that Charela let us leave without penalty, though I felt like after our experience that wasn't exactly an "above and beyond" measure.

Again, I know many have enjoyed Charela Inn and no doubt the crappy family rooms led to a significant portion of our dissatisfaction with this resort (the beachfront rooms looked quite nice). However, in all of my personal and business travels (all over the world and U.S.) I've only once left a destination earlier than planned because of a disappointing environment/set-up.

If you are a family looking to go to Negril, I my experience suggests that you bypass the Charela Inn.
razfamily is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2004, 03:27 PM
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Thanks for the report...and the incredibly good timing! I was just looking at those family units on thier site today. Charela is quite nice looking from the beach, I guess those are the beachfront rooms. I have never eaten there.

So which place did you wind up? Sounds like Whistling Bird, Moondance, maybe Nirvana?
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Old Feb 7th, 2004, 04:26 PM
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Perhaps it was Negril Cabins ... It looks great but i do not know of anyone who has been there . Faith , would be interested in knowing as well . Faith
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Old Feb 7th, 2004, 06:05 PM
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I don't think Charela caters to families - they used to be considered more of an adult location but I obviously they allow kids in some rooms. Did you check out Coco Lapalm nearby?
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Old Feb 7th, 2004, 06:21 PM
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we ended up staying at whistling bird. overall, that place was fantastic. we went to about eight different restaurants in negril (including Rick's, Xtabi, Rockhouse, Sweet Spice) and Whistling Bird's Chef Snow prepared some of the best meals we had while on the island. i would recommend taking the simple meal plan which is about $24 per person per day (includes breakfast and dinner), then go off on your own for lunches. as a side note, i'm usually not one to do the meal plan thing b/c i like to get out and explore and try lots of different things, but the meals were so good and such a fair value that i would stay onsite for nearly all meals if i did it again.

the only downsides with whistling bird, from our perspective...lots of pot smoking on premises by guests. we don't touch drugs but this didn't really bother us either (partly b/c our kids are still too young for that to be an issue) as, in some ways, pot smoking is less obnoxious/invasive than individuals who are big boisterous drinkers. this is probably prevalent throughout negril, so it's not specific to whistling bird, i suppose.

also, bring earplugs because during the evenings there are some neighboring dogs that bark and on thursday nights there is a nightclub that is LOUD and open all night long...that, coupled with the fact that all the accomodations are very caribbean villa-like with lots of open windows equals not a lot of noise insulation. in my opinion this should not be even close to a deal breaker, but ear plugs will solve the problem if it bothers you at all. overall the place is quite peaceful and relaxing.

another thing we really enjoyed was the staff. we got to know them individually and they couldn't have been more accomodating or helpful, especially with our children!!! if you have any other questions i am happy to respond.
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Old Feb 8th, 2004, 11:32 AM
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I'm so glad you found Whistling Bird though I'm sorry it was under those circumstances.

We really enjoyed our stay there. Bim, the gardener, got coconuts not only for us but for our friends staying next door and would NOT take a tip for it. He did have plenty of tips for us though, about htings to do and such that we really appreciated. Andrea the manager is a sweet lady too, and I hope you got to try Marlene's massage service at least once...under that tree with the water right there and a nice breeze...I'm relaxed already.

I had to look back at when you were asking about resorts for this trip and see if I'd recommended anything to you...I had, it was Nirvana, Rondel or Whistling Bird!

On the smoking...that is pretty much true all over Negril (somewhat less so in other poarts of JA...Negril is the party place). Some guests/hotels are more open about it than others. I agree with you about drunken people...I'll take the smokers over the loud drunks any day...it does make for some interesting questions from the kids, though.
liza is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2004, 01:24 PM
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Wow, that is a first for Charela. I guess they must be slipping. I have to admit that I was in one of the Oceanview deluxe rooms...which are nice. Maybe you should e-mail this thread to the management there.

The oceanview rooms would not accommodate a family. They should have been honest and just let you know that they did not have another multi-room set-up that would satisfy your needs.

I did not view Charela as a family-type place. It's good for a 2some.
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Old Feb 16th, 2004, 11:24 AM
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Sorry to hear you were disappointed: I've been to the Charela repeatedly and always had a wonderful time. I wonder if you're being unreasonably tough: The pool is NOT 60 degrees--that sounds like hyperbole to me. I'm not sure what you were expecting and the garden view rooms are certainly the budget rooms at the Charela, but a prison cell? Please! As far as the food is concerned, the C is pretty well recognized all over Negril as about the best on the beach. Is it possible, that whatever got you in a bad mood, colored it all for you?

Well, best to you on your next vacations!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2004, 01:50 PM
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liza, good call re. your suggestions in response to my post months back. you provided some great suggestions! originally the pool was a dealbreaker but once we got to jamaica it became irrelevant.

bach, i'm not sure if you've been in the garden suites but the second room (the kids room) is dark and literally is comprised of four stark white walls with a small small window at the very top of a tall wall with a plain tile floor. i've not stayed in a prison cell, but it sure as heck looked like one. charela's food is highly regarded on the island, but again, i thought it was only average food and when considering price simply a poor value. pool might not always be that cold but when we were there it was freezing. it could be that perhaps they had recently drained it and refilled it.

i'm sure that my feelings are compounded given our experience with the rooms and a few other issues (and the fact that mgmt was pretty unresponsive). many people recommend charela and have had great experiences there. we just thought it was a little generic and didn't like the rooms or food particularly well, among other things. i'm glad others have gone and enjoyed themselves. perhaps in a different setting we would've enjoyed it more.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 09:55 AM
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I didn't believe anyone that we wouldn't care about the pool...but it's true, the sea is just like a pool, really
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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 10:02 AM
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razfamily,

I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience at Charela, but not surprised by it. We just got back from Coco LaPalm, but visited friends at Charela who had a very dingy garden view room. Also had dinner one night at Charela, and it was by far the worst meal we had in our whole stay. Glad you were able to salvage your trip! We checked out IDLE AWHILE when we were in Negril, and that looks like an amazing resort, too. Maybe next time?


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Old Jul 4th, 2005, 11:42 AM
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I staed at Charela last year and was extremelyy disapppointed with the room. Very old, bathrooom was horrible and the shower didn't work properly for two days. I read somewhere else that some of the rooms have been renovated and some have not ( obviously we had an " older room"). It made no sense at all considering it was off season and they put us in one of these rooms. Staff was very nice and beach area was nice also. We love Jamaica but would never stay here again!
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Old Jul 4th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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Weadles, I would love to hear about your stay at Coco LaPalms. We are going with our family of 10 at Christmas for the first time. I don't want to change this thread into my questions. Would you e-mail me at [email protected]. Thanks
 
Old Jul 4th, 2005, 03:28 PM
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Glad you found something suitable. To go on vacation and discover your accomodations are a pit is a major drag. This happened to us once and you just have to move. we tried Trelawny, now renamed and it was shoddy. We met some folks who had been regulars there and who commented that things were on a decline. Luckily we relocated to the Jamaica Grande where we had been at before and all went well.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 12:36 PM
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Personally, the Charela Inn was perfect for my husband and I. I will say, though that not all rooms are considered equal by any stretch of the imagination. The second floor ocean facing room that we stayed in was great. However, hurricane Emilie came through on our last day and for our safety we were made to move to a garden room facing the courtyard. Because of the weather, we stayed inside all day, thankful for the satelite television and books we had. The room was sad, depressing, dark and had we been put in that room initially, I would have left. I loved the outdoor patio, the garden was gorgeous, the staff was friendly and the beach was amazing. I would definitely go back, but I would make sure that I had the same ocean view room as before. Oh, and the fact the phones didn't work, didn't really matter. Who was I going to call? As if anyone makes calls from a hotel phone anyway.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 09:49 PM
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Best place on the beach IMO is next door at Idle Awhile....not inexpensive, but very nice. Small, boutique hotel with same owners as Swept Away. Not a bad room in the place. Great location, rooms are comfortable with wonderful patios or balconies with couches. Great music and food at the beachside bar/restaurant. Last Christmas we tried the Mariposa which I also liked (the upstairs beachfront deluxe room) but beach area not as nice. Great views and restaurant, though. Wish I was there right now! Lori
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