This is our 15th visit to Cuba, but our first to Holguin. We are low-maintenance travellers who have very reasonable expectations, especially of a 3 star hotel.
We got a very good last minute price of $208 for the week and we felt that we got good value for what we paid. However, this is an older hotel in need of alot of updating and repairs.
We arrived late at night and the room we were given was mouldy. We were very tired, so didn’t bother to unpack and just pulled the covers over our heads so we wouldn’t have to breathe the mould. When we reported this to our Hola Sun representative, Susanna, at 8 a.m, she immediately went to the front desk to request another room for us "for health reasons". She kept on the staff all day. Finally, at 5 p.m. we were moved and were able to unpack and settle in. Be prepared to be persistent with frequent returns to the front desk if you need to change rooms.
We found some very wonderful staff here which is why Canadians return again and again to Cuba. Any problems we had were handled professionally by Liuba or Barbara at the guest relations desk inside the front door by the gift shop. The front desk have less decision making power, so we learned to ask elsewhere. There is a new manager here, Carlos, who is very friendly and very visible at the hotel. He is receptive to constructive criticism and is slowly trying to make improvements.
The food in the main buffet was mediocre but we tried to remind ourseves that some Cubans don’t have food on a regular basis, so we were grateful we could have what we wanted when we wanted it. We ate at 2 of the a la cartes – Benny More (Villa section) and La Vega (Bungalows section) which were a nice change from the buffet.
We were also able to get a voucher to eat at Brisas Guardalavaca (about a 10 minute walk) in their buffet dining room. It was a nicer atmosphere and there was a greater variety of food with better quality than Club Amigo.
Cappucino and espresso are available at all of the bars and snack bars, but we found other non-alcoholic drinks to be very limited in variety (cola, orange and sprite and some overly sweet fruit drinks). We drank the regular water and had no problems.
The gym is not air-conditioned as advertised in some of the travel brochures. We tried to use it very early one morning, but it was stifling hot in there. There are no stair-steppers as advertised, but free weights and a stationary bike are available.
Crystal clear water:
There is a nice section of reef out front of the hotel that is marked by orange buoys. The coral is beautiful, but there were very few fish and nothing large at all. Perhaps this is because the locals fish here on a daily basis. The water was crystal clear.
There are 4 pools onsite, all of which are good size. Usually you can find a quiet spot if you want to get away from the music and people.
Returning guests: The majority of the guests here were Canadians (alot of French Canadians and some English speaking), a fair number of Brits and a few Europeans. On the weekends, there are alot of Cuban guests who stay here as a "reward" by the government, so it can get very busy and noisy.
There are alot of repeat guests here (one man we met has made over 80 visits), so obviously the "bumps and bruises" of the hotel are overlooked by those not expecting fancy amenities.