This is a tough review to make fairly. Our 10 day holiday was 2/3 with the old owners of Brisas Santa Lucia and 1/3 with the new owners (BeLive). It’s not fair to comment too much on the former since they may have let things run down at the end and that’s not the fault of the new owners. As of Nov. 1st, BeLive took possession and the changes were easily noticed. Most of the staff were replaced, except the Animation team but even the band appeared to have been let go. Please read the review carefully because some of it applies to prior and some after the ownership change.
Comments posted before about not enough staff to handle the bus load of check-ins were correct. We were in the front of the line so we were off to the room fast but I wouldn’t want to be at the end. Staff handed out rum punch and porters took bags to your room very efficiently. We had emailed ahead with room request and were very pleased on the room location and a nice note and bottle of wine awaiting us.
Nice clean, large, bright rooms. We had requested a king bed and rec’d it. Beds are harder than we are used to but that is the norm for almost everywhere in the world except Canada & US. Air conditioning was a bit of a problem to figure out. Our unit had a sensor so that the air went off if you weren’t in the room, however this meant that the air went off part way through the night since the infrared doesn’t see you if you don’t move when sleeping. I usually woke up at 4:00 and pushed the button again to get it started. We found that if we kept the bathroom door shut, the temp was just fine but it was a bit warm otherwise. They were working on the problem once the new ownership came in. We didn’t have a ceiling fan or a screen for the patio doors which would have made all the difference in the world. No use in having the air on if you could have opened the doors without bugs invading the room.
Restaurants and Bars: OLD: Buffet was basic Cuban. Cold tables worked but steam tables and heat lamps didn’t. Hot item were often cold or just warm. Ya gotta wonder where the rest of the chicken went when they bring out trays of 30 pieces of chicken and 3/4 are chicken backs with no meat and 1/4 are legs. We went to breakfast one day just when they opened (forgot time change in Cuba) and the whole platter of French Toast was stone cold. People were checking their plates and for good reason – they were full of greasy fingerprints and often not washed well enough. Lots of people brought bacon or bread (for French toast)up to the omelette table to have them cook it. The bacon on the platter was almost raw. This slowed things down. One omelette cook was good, the other loved to smother everything in oil. Yuck. One loaf of bread was 5 days old, the next was almost fresh. Go figure. NEW: Changes were immediate. Food suddenly was presented much, much nicer and platters were refreshed much faster. Lots more staff in the buffet, both servers and cooks. More variety of dishes and especially more choices of meat – lamb, rabbit, beef, turkey in addition to chicken and pork. We went to every a la carte and they were all a nice change. All were at the Italian rest. while others were being renovated. We were on the Nolitours special and rec’d an extra BBQ plus Cuban dinner. Over all, we were pleased with the food and was some of the best we had in Cuba but you’ve got to lower expectations a long way. a Cuban 4 star is 2 star elsewhere.
There were 2 bars operational which was enough for the smaller crowd. Sadly, only one had a blender so couldn’t make blender drinks. One had a cappuccino maker that worked at the end of our stay and they finally located some mint for mojitos after Nov. 1st. Easy to say "this is Cuba" but other bars on the beach had plenty of mint. Once again, I think the new owners will make a difference.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: This is a smallish resort. Everything was within a 1 min walk and that’s a first for us. You really get to know everyone and feel more relaxed. The coffee bar is the center of the resort and the center of people watching. Wonderful breeze, nicely shaded and landscaped and just a great place to sit, sip a cappuccino, see everything and do nothing. Gorgeous beach but the guys who clean the seaweed with their tractors are on Cuban salary and they really need to do a better job. When we arrived, there was a 15′ swatch of dead seaweed the entire length of the beach. Very ugly. The next day, the tractor went by twice and basically just plowed the weeds into the sand. Each day, they spent more time and worked harder to clear the beach. Must have been the new owners complaining. Things near the end of our stay were acceptable but 10 workers with rakes and a wagon would have done a much better job. Pool and swim-up bar were very nice. One shallow area for kids and 1.5 m. depth in larger area. Beach snack bar was great. You’re just a few steps from the beach and steps from the pool.
We’ve been to many, many AI’s from 2 to 5 star and this is one of the few we both would come back to. Partly, the price is right but partly the new owners appear to be making the changes needed to bring this resort up from a 3 star to a 4 star (Cuban). It’s half the price of Mayan Rivera so you just have to expect a lot less. In talking to many on our plane load, a lot of little things would make this resort a whole lot better. Only time will tell if this comes to pass.