We stayed at the Brisas Guardalavaca from October 4 – 11, 2008. We went there as a family of 9 people (with 2 kids). Most of our family members have been to Cuba many times before, but this was our first time in this resort. We originally booked our stay at the neighbouring Club Amigo, but it was so severely damaged due to the hurricanes, that we accepted the alternative option of staying in the Brisas villas.
FLIGHT: We flew with Sunwing and the flight was excellent. There were no delays or problems, everything went smoothly. We were given an excellent, filling meal, which I haven’t got with Air Canada in a long time.
WEATHER: We had great weather, with only occasional and short periods of rain. It would last for only a few minutes, we did not even bother getting out of water or from the beach. Considering that we came there right after the bad hurricanes, we were extremely lucky with the weather.
ROOMS: We had 4 rooms in villas section. The rooms on the upper floors are marked as suites, because they have a small seating area. Out of four rooms that our group had, the three had a very bad odour. It could be due to the recent hurricanes and air-conditioning not working for some time, but whatever the reason is, it does not make you feel better when you have to breathe in that smell. The air-conditioning was old and very noisy, so I turned it off for the first two nights. I was then coughing the whole night and suffered from an itchy throat. For the rest of the week, I kept the A/C on and slept on and off due to all that noise.
As for the seating area in the suites, it consisted of one sofa and two armchairs. They were in poor shape, with suspicious and very visible stains on the fabric. The rooms seem to be recently painted, but the paint stains were everywhere! What a waste of time and money, the rooms still looked shabby and dirty.
The maids were replacing the towels really quickly and we never had to look for them (it happened to us in other resorts). Cleanliness has a very high spot on my must-have list and, although I could not say that the rooms and bathrooms were spotless, they were fairly OK.
FOOD: I am usually not complaining about the food, because I think that we can always find something to eat. Therefore, the food there was not bad to the point that the guest were starving. But it was far from good either. Tasteless and very limited choices, day after day. It was taking forever to have the empty trays refilled. The dishes that should be served cold were served warm and vice versa. The result was lots of leftover food, what a waste. The choices were poor, but again, it could be due to the food shortage that area had after the hurricane. Overall, I think the food could have been much better with just a little bit of effort and a little bit of salt. We went to the seafood restaurant once and the four of us were served one quarter of a lobster which was all the seafood we got. Again, I understand that the food choices were limited due to the problems with the supplies.
BEACH: That was the biggest disappointment of our vacation. The water (even the shallow one) was full of seaweed. Every morning the guys would look for the porcupines in the shallow water and would find a few. One of our kids stepped on the porcupine and got two quills in his foot. I have almost stepped on a water snake, missed it just by an inch. It all happened in the shallow waters, up to our waists. Due to all this, we did not have a chance to swim at all. Later, we heard from the locals that Brisas is famous for having a bad beach.
There was not a lot of shade on the beach, but since there were not that many guests, it was not a problem. Almost all the trees on the beach were knocked down by the storms. If you do not like to be surrounded by the locals asking for clothes, food and money, do not go there. I felt so bad for those people, I was constantly giving them food and money, which just seemed to draw more and more of them. I understand that they live in a poor country, badly damaged by the hurricanes, but I also work really hard and want to have a little bit of peace while on a well-deserved vacation. They just made me feel bad for not being able to help all of them.
POOLS: I cannot give you much info, we did not use them. They seemed to be clean and well-kept.
BARS: None of us is a big drinker and we had only a few drinks. I drink only Pina Colada and I can honestly say that they served the worst Pina Coladas ever. They did not mix it on the spot; they would open a carton and pour it from there. Terrible. We also tried Strawberry Daiquiri. I don’t know what it was, but it was awful. Rum and Coke was bad too. For the rest of the week, we sticked to the plain bottled water, the tap one had a strong metal taste.
ENTERTAINMENT: Another not so good part of the whole package. I love salsa, meringue and other Caribbean rhythms and whenever I go there, I do not miss the evening show programs. Most nights the entertainers were speaking mainly in Spanish, addressing only their friends and telling them jokes in Spanish. The rest of us were sitting there like we did not exist, waiting for them to stop having those lengthy private conversations we could not understand. One group of the musicians were really good, with great voices and great music. Unfortunately, they were performing for only two nights. One night we had a fashion show, which was interesting. The rest of the nights we had to listen to a lousy group who were singing some kind of rock & roll, their way. The music was far too loud, and the sound system was not good, so it was sometimes really painful to listen to them. Only one night we could enjoy some kind of funny and entertaining program, but even that was far below the usual program you can see in this type of resorts. This was the first time that I would rather spend the evenings in my smelly room then listen to that torture of a program; I have never thought I would experience that.
PEOPLE: That was the highlight of a not so good vacation. The people working there are so nice. Tip them or not, they were equally helpful. I have only great memories when I think of them.
OVERALL: I find it really hard to understand why this is labelled as a 4 star resort. I hope that those problems can be related to the hurricane damages, but the beach will always be bad. I am definitely not going back.
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