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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village – Holguin

Location: Beachfront – 60 minutes from Frank Pais International Airporty
All-inclusive Description from resort website: Restaurants including 3 la carte – Pool swim-up bar – Pedal boat – Kayaking – Beach volleyball – Tennis – Bicycles – Archery -Exercise room – Sauna – Bocce – Games-room Pool table
~ Reviews posted on this page  ~  17
~ Reader’s Vacation Photos  1
  ~ Cuba Resorts Review Index

 

Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Steve ~ PEI, Canada

March 2007

Three of us just returned from a wicked week in Guardalavaca, Cuba. Staying in the Guardalavaca section of the resort was ok – bonus was it was the quietiest section of the three areas to stay and the closest to the 24 hr snack bar where we ended up every night drinking beer and coco loco’s. The resort it self is starting to show it’s age – if you are fortunate to end up in villas your smooth sailing baby!

The food was alright – let’s face it – when you think of international cuisine, there’s italian,mexican,french,danish – can you think of an authentic cuban food or dish? Didn’t think so so shut up about the food sucked! You don’t go to cuba for culinary delight – it’s the safety, low crime pretty much non-existant, beaches, people, markets and lack of american company!

The beach is awesome. Plenty of room to stretch out and keep to yourself if that’s what you like. Lot’s of eye candy and no pesky beach venders trying to sell you their duds. The weather was not so good. It rained a litlle every day so we swam in ocean or one of 6 pools. You get wet swimming so what’s the diff. Tired of those complainers who ***** about the rain like you can change it right!

This was my second time to this resort and my fifth trip to Cuba. All I can say is it was amazing. My travelling partners were amazing. Plan a trip with people you enjoy being around take advantage of every moment. Only to remember your boss breathing down the back of your neck, customer service,a ringing telephone, deadlines, nagging clients and I’m sure you’d wish you were back there in a headtbeat!

Thanks again to my travelling buddies and the people we met this trip. And the COCO LOCOS !!

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Susan and Buck ~ New Brunswick

March 2007

Left from Fredericton with Sunwing on March 14. Good flight down, in-flight movie and decent hot meal. Arrived Holguin airport to the sun breaking through the clouds. Quick through immigration, changed money and picked up bags. Cold Cristal for the drive to the resort.

We had been to this resort in 2005 and had stayed in the Villas. We knew that this time we would be in the old (read OLD) section but we had found the place to be clean overall and the beaches, bars, and staff to be wonderful so we were not too worried how bad can it be! And, for the price, we had no complaints. We got a room in the upstairs of Block B. Room was small and dark (curtains closed), but very clean. Window opened wide. Room smelled a bit musty but I think that was due to the humidity as on our previous trip we were there in the middle of a drought whereas this year, everything was lush and green and the air was humid; quite a change from two years ago. Smell in room was taken care of by opening window and door and letting a breeze through or by running air conditioning. Everything was very clean and tidy, not a bug in site. Beds were comfortable. Bathroom has no shelving or vanity, but again, everything very clean. We did opt to try to move to a room downstairs (same section) so that we could at least have a terrace. We did do this on Saturday and were very pleased. Rooms downstairs were a little bigger. Same no shelves in bathroom but no big deal. I would suggest people request a downstairs room as it is nice to have the terrace when one person is in the shower you can sit out or sit out and have your coffee in the am. But as has been said before, how much time do you spend in your room!

Other than that, beaches were fantastic! Pools were exceptionally clean looking. Cant comment too much here as we didnt even dip a toe in the pool. Bars were great; I missed the slushy machines though. Drinks were all made with juices / mixes and the only blender I saw was at the pool bar. Finally had one of Abels Seducers drooling just thinking about it. Water was fantastic. We found the food better this time around. Not GREAT, but better. We dont go to Cuba for the food. Staff were wonderful and entertainment that we saw we loved. Joel, the violinist is not to be missed. It was nice to slow down and smell the ron!

All in all a wonderful vacation. Had reservations initially about the room as everyone talked about the Guardalavaca section with horror, but was not as bad as all that. We joked that we were in the Ghetto section. Did not do any excursions this time around, spent all of our time on the beach totally relaxing. Will be going back next year for two weeks and will be trying to book villas as for two weeks I would like to have a bit more storage in the bathroom and room.

How bad can a place with four pools, six bars, 4 snack bars, three buffets, and four a la cartes be? And a choice of three beaches, small, medium and large. And night life on the beach and down the road at La Roca if you choose! You can always find what you want whether it be company, a party, or solitude. Really do LOVE it there.

Flight home was uneventful except for some bad turbulence at the beginning! But, good meal, in-flight movie, all in all OK.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Alex 20 yrs ~ London, Ont.

March 2007

We stayed there for 7 nights and it was four of us from University in Canada. I found that there was a great variety of age groups there and entertainment to accommodate all of them. They assured us on the first day that the water and ice were okay to drink, so we did and didn’t have any problems at all.

We had two bungalow rooms with two in each. They were very clean and only had a few ants when we left a glass of coke sitting on the table. Even though we were the furthest from the beach, we still thought it was the best location because it was close to the entertainment at night and the disco too.

After reading the reviews on this sight, I didn’t have high expectations for the food. There were always really good things to eat at each buffet as well as some things that were disappointing. Overall we were pleased with the food. The Late Night snack bar is very handy for getting grilled cheese (which is excellent) and burgers and fries late at night. There are also drinks available all night long (despite the site telling you it is only until 11pm).

The disco is open from 11pm to 1:30am and is lots of fun. We went there every night except for Sat when it is closed and everyone goes to "La Roca". They played both local Spanish music and modern club music from Canada, as well as classics we all love to sing.

We got to know many of the employees personally and found out a lot about their life and culture. Our best friend Yosvany took us for a bike ride to see some scenery and he showed us a nicer beach about a 20 min bike ride away. We planned our day around seeing the employees there because they are so much fun and outgoing. When we were planning our trip, we weren’t sure what to bring for tips. After a couple days we realized that the things they need most are things we take for granted here. Things like: t-shirts, shoes, shorts, pants, cd players (many electronics), pretty much anything you don’t use anymore they would love.

We spent most of our time at the pool with the swim-up bar. It is closest to the beach and there are three bars nearby so you can usually bypass the crowd to get a drink quickly. Abel and "El" Carlos at the swim-up bar are lots of fun and full of "Happy Moments!" Bingo everyday is lots of fun with Yosvany, Mario and Maurice. The bingo, as well as learning from Yosvany, taught us a bunch of spanish.

Throughout the entire resort, they serve "Cristal", which tastes very similar to corona, a local light beer. There is a hidden bar, "los amigos" which also serves "Bucanero" and sometimes "Mayabe". It is across the pool from the late night snack bar and is to the right of "el bennys". We found it on our second last day on the trip, so I would suggest keeping an eye out for it if you are interested in a bit stronger beer.

We did most of the events on the resort including: basketball, soccer, archery, darts, bingo, salsa dance lessons, snorkeling, kayaking, "Mr. Atlantico" competition and biking.

As we were leaving, we checked out the duty free shop at the airport, and we noticed that the cigars and alcohol was cheaper there, not buy much (only one or two CUC (cuban convertible pesos)).

Overall, it was an absolutely amazing experience and so full of fun. I would reccomend it to all, and I would love to go back.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Darlene ~ Canada

March 2007

We stayed at Club Amigo Guardalavaca from Feb 13 -20th. We flew Skyservice and aside from being crowded, the flight left on time from Toronto and Holguin. Initially we stayed in the hotel section which was basic, clean and adequate. For the last 3 nights of our stay, we upgraded to a Villa for 15 pesos. The Villa was great value and close to all services. The food at the snack bar was decent. The buffet was bland and less than appealing.

The beach was great and there were adequate beach chairs for all. The beach attendant brought you a chair, swept any sand off it and placed it wherever you wished. A nice touch.

We felt our vacation was excellant value for what we paid–less than $700.00 each Canadian. We will definitely return to this resort in the future.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Doug ~ Canada

February 2007

First off, there is only 1 Club Amigo that flies into Holguin Cuba. It is one huge resort that has 4 sections: Club Amigo Guardalavaca, Club Amigo Atlantico, Bungalows and Villas sections. Beforehand, I thought it was 2 different resorts. It’s different sections of one resort and everyone has all the same wrist band.

Guardalavaca is the older section. Small rooms, needs upkeep, but cheap. The rooms are in 4 or 5 long 2 story buildings farthest from the beach, but still only a 3-4 minute walk. There is a large pool, buffet rest. and a grill/bar beside the pool. Everything we saw had two beds, shower only, walls that were dark beige that looked like they were coated in smoke for 30 years. Everyone on our trip that got rooms there either paid to upgrade to better rooms or just stayed in the room as little as possible. Our room had a big green section of mold by the ceiling and window and leaking toilet and sink. Reason enough to switch. There was no problem in upgrading by paying the difference, you just have to wait for another room in the Bungalows or Villas to be available. It took 1 day for us. The upgrade deal is the best way to do it because the good rooms are far more expensive if booked by your travel agent. You do risk not getting an upgrade if they are full, so be aware of this. Your tour rep is the best person to get things done if needed. Pester them, not the desk clerk. To be fair, if there are no rooms available or you are not reasonable about it, you may get nothing.

Bungalows are situated just west of the older dection and are much larger, newer and many face the bungalow pools. They are two story units and have their own balconies, huge windows on each end and tub/showers, hair dryer, 2 larger beds and well worth the 7 pesos that was charged per room per night for the upgrade. They are the same distance to the beach give or take a minute, have their own buffet rest. and grill/bar.

Villas are between Guardalavaca units and the beach. They are a 10 peso upgrade per room per night and apparently worth the extra if you can get them. Similar to the Bungalows, with 2 floors, larger rooms, etc. Kids pool and 24 hour bar/grill is beside Villas, but is used by anyone.

Atlantico is the large hotel nearest the beach. I didn’t see any of the rooms, so I can’t say what they are like. It has a large buffet on the second floor, 2 small elevators, one bar in the middle, one pool bar plus one bar/grill by the pool.

This is one big place and the advantage is that regarless of where your room is, you can use any buffet, any pool, or any bar in the complex – it’s all the same. You can eat at a different restaurant every night of the week. That’s cool! Of course, it’s all the same food, not cool. The 3 buffet restaurants serve pretty well identical food and are different only in size and location. Typical Cuban food, nothing great, nothing terrible provided that you take care in selection. That should be standard at ANY buffet, whether Cuba or Canada. Don’t eat stuff that is at room temp that should be kept either cold or hot. This is Cuba. In 3 trips, we’ve never had great food, nor have we ever been sick. I wish I could spend a few weeks teaching them how to prepare meat without making it so darn tough and put a few spices into the food!!! The difference between what they serve now and being great is in preparation, not because the country is so poor and good food is not available! I used to run a restaurant and you have to be a terrible cook to make food that distastful. It’s what you get and you go to Cuba because it’s cheap and warm. The buffet had plenty of meats & cheeses set-out for breakfast that were hardly touched by 10:00 am. Can’t they see that most people want fresh fruit and breads for breakfast? The breads we had at every buffet were almost always ‘day old’. The Bugalows buffet had a meat/cheese section directly under a skylight and the food was well into the danger zone for safe keeping. I’m certified for food handling, and I could tell without needing a thermometer that this was dangerous. Hot sun shining on cold cuts for 3 hours – wow. Simply pass it by.

There are 4 a-la-carte restaurants. Everyone we talked to had different opinions on them. The truth is that they are serving the same food as in the buffet, simply slightly larger portions and it’s on a nice plate with quieter surroundings – usually. They call them different names with different themes, but pretty much the same stuff. We booked into each one after going back to the booking desk and pressing the issue a bit. Shrimp at the seafood one, but whole shrimp, with heads, overcooked and barely warm. Book as many a-la-cartes as you can and if you don’t like the food, go to the buffet or 24 hour grill afterwards. The grill is hot dogs, burgers, grilled cheese and fries – all Cuban style. If you eat every meal there, you will gain weight for sure.

The beach is nice. Far nicer than Puerto Plata in DR, we liked Veradero beach better because you can walk forever. There were always lots of loungers everywhere. The resort must have heard the gripping about not enough to sit on. There was a shipment of new tables & chairs for the bars being set-up on our second day and lots of new chairs being put on the balconies. There is one large beach that is partly with the resort and it blends into the public beach. We sat on both and had no problems or qualms about the locals being anything but friendly. That’s the second reason you go to Cuba – it’s safe and friendly. The kayaks, etc. were free and I did not see any motorized sports, which I really liked. I hate lying quietly on the beach trying to enjoy the sun & the view and constantly having power boats buzzing by you. There are also two smaller coves with very nice sandy beaches. Water depth for snorkelling is great, you can go a long way out at low tide and still be waist deep, but ther is little to see in the way of colourful coral or fish. Lots of fish, just brown, and a bit of dead coral poking between the sand.

The swim-up/walk-up pool bar at Atlantico is the best by far. The bartender is really good, knows how to mix drinks properly and uses the blender for Pina Coladas and Banana Mamas – also he talks to the guests. Many of the staff were courteous but not as friendly & outgoing as other resorts. The ONE thing that shocked me was I saw very little tipping. I tipped whenever we had good service, but I watched carefully and very few others were tipping. It was always discrete, not the tip jars stuck in your face that we are accustomed to. At Veradero, I watched the bar girl haul in 60-80 US$ per hour in tips – wow. BTW, I ran out of Converted Pesos and asked the bartender if they could still use US$ – answer was a huge smile. The CUC seems to be for tourists and is a rip-off, but that’s life. This resort has a lot of seniors. We spoke to some who had been here 15 & 25 times. Some were there for 2 weeks or a month. People don’t come or stay that many times unless they like the price/quality ratio.

We booked last minute with Sunwing for sub $400. in early Feb. and thought it was well worth it. Would I pay $900? Not unless everything else was over $1,000. The Sunwing flight was wonderful. Hot meals & leather seats on both flights, champagne on the way down, free wine, etc. The southbound plane had the most legroom I’ve had in any flight in 20 years. The extra 3 inches or so was wonderful. On the way back, it was 3 inches less, but the same as Skyservice last time we used them. I do not ever fly Transat again – ever. Too many problems we’ve experienced that were correctable if their staff cared. we did not take any excursions, just there to relax. The bus ride is a full hour to the resort. Buy a few beers and relax. And for crying out loud, why can’t people have the decency to get to the hotel lobby on time for departure? Our bus waited an extra 15 min. and left without them. I hope they had $$ for the cab.

CHANGES: Prevoius posts have said to get money converted at the airport. There is a bank inside Atlantico and one across the street. The exchange is the same. Take Canadian money for a better rate. THE HOTEL DID NOT TAKE CREDIT CARDS OF ANY KIND. That’s plain crazy. For our upgrade and anything else, it was pesos only. The stores all took Canadian credit cards, not anything that was a Canadian branch of a US bank such as Citibank. The store at the hotel I was in charged 11% extra for the credit card, then the added exchange rate – RIP-OFF. I travel with plastic, so we simply tipped less and bought less. Hopefully, they will change this soon. There was also some concern about buying duty free booze and being allowed to take it on the plane with the new ‘liquid’ regulations. We bought at the local store and packed it in the checked bags just in case. I got lucky and the rum made it without breaking. Lots of people were buying duty free and walking onto the plane with it – so that’s the current policy. Best to ask ahead of time with your agent.

We liked the Sunwing flight that left Toronto at 4:45 pm. It gave us a full 7 days without being interupted by 2 half days. We got in late, but it gave us enough time for a snack and a few drinks before heading to bed. Anything to avoid having to arrive at the airport at 4:30 am for a flight is great by me. Would I go back? I’ve never gone back to the same resort in my life of many travels, but many people had been there multiple times and that is probably the best answer. The size of the resort concerned me when booking, but it actually is a huge advantage. Each pool & bar have their own flavour for age of people, noise level, atmosphere, etc. That was very nice. The entertainment – well we walked by it a few times and there were 10 to 20 people sitting in 100+ seats in front of the stage and everyone else was way back to avoid getting their ears blown out. It’s Cuba, we go there to relax, not lose our hearing. Every resort has the same issue. Lots of people make a big thing of ‘animation team’. If I wnated that, I’d go to the local bar and spent $20. on drinks, IMHO.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Rob ~ Kitchener, Ontario Canada

February 2007

Dear Debbie:

Thanks for your wonderful service.

I recently returned from a one week trip Club Amigo, in Hoguin Cuba I visited the hotel in December to check it out for a team of 7 arriving January 27, 2007. Boy did they throw me a curve ball when we got there.

I was most disappointed that they bumped our group to the original Club Guardalavaca which I attended 20 years ago and had a wonderful time at. Unfortunately the facility is now 30 years ago and in terrible shape. On December 13 it was closed when I visited it and it awful shape. I had no idea they would put us there. It seems they are comfortable, slapping on some paint and opening it to milk unsuspecting tourists for 3-4 months per year. The rooms were moldy, ancient and would not rate a star. The beds were old and drapes awful. There was no counter space in the washroom and the walls and floors were old and stained. The towels were small and were not changed every day. Complaints at the desk to get better rooms in the newer section fell on deaf ears because they indicated they were overbooked. They did move us downstairs where the rooms were a little bigger but it was not much better. Many of the rooms stank and if people had asthma, allergies or breathing problems they would have severe problems. Tiny ants came out of the sink and bit me in a swarm before I knew what was happening. When we moved the rooms the bell boys failed to move the luggage after 4 requests. The public relations man indicated this resort was disgraceful and should be bulldozed.

The hotel staff were otherwise very nice and pleasant typical of Cuba. The food was adequate but inferior to many of the 4 star resorts. The restaurant and cleaning staff were very nice but had little to work with in terms of quality. I think it is awful that travel agents do not inform the guests who end up in this section. If I was from Europe and staying there for two weeks I would be really upset. Ironically most people in this section seemed to be in jovial moods to there credit.

There is a great Pentecostal church run by Jose and Rebecca Marino (called Salvation Mount which services 20 plus poor churches in the countryside). Heavens Gate Church in Melilla, near Playa Pesquero beach has a wonderful pastor named Edit who speaks excellent English. 100 pesos supports a church for 6 months for those who are interested- We can do so much with so little. I have sourced baseball equipment to start a church league there. I had a problem with a total lack of customer support from Air Canada to bring the equipment down and everyone was disappointed. Wake up Air Canada; you have a lousy grasp of customer service. I understand that the other airlines willingly help. If anyone could help me bring down donated baseball equipment to start a church league it would be much appreciated (I have the equipment; each hockey bag would weigh about 50 pounds). They are crazy about baseball and they are excitedly awaiting the first shipments and will have 1,000-2,000 kids at a summer cap that will use it and then individual church teams will be set up afterward. I will get a lot more equipment in May also. The other airlines can give approval to bring it down with no charge. Customs does not stop sports equipment and it is in addition to your regular luggage constraints. My friends just brought road hockey equipment down and started up hockey games at one resort and the Cubans had a ball with the tourists. Remember the people off of the resorts have far less then the resort workers, so look a little deeper at their needs and you will be blessed to help. Let the pastors know that Roberto says hello from Canada. We had a great time with them.

If you would like to email me to help contact me at globalhealthnet2@execulink.com

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Ali ~ Canada

January 2007

General
This review is based on the trip my girlfriend and I took to Club Amigo Guardalavaca in Guardalavaca (Holguin) Cuba from December 3rd 10th, 2006. Trying to find reviews on this resort can be tricky as there are several different sections within the resort. NoliTours, our tour operator, books solely within the Cameleon (Bungalow) section. There is the main building, where mostly Europeans are booked (Atlantico), and a third section which is the Villa section (also the newest section). All three sections are part of the same resort and you have access to all the facilities on the property, regardless of your room location. At the time of travel there was a section between the Bungalows and the Villas sections, roughly 100 rooms, which were under renovations. That being said, there did not seem to be much activity during the week we were there and in all honesty the Bungalow rooms looked like they needed more renovations than the ones closed off!

Flight Our flights were on Air Transat and meals were served in both directions. The meal consisted of a 6 inch Subway sandwich with a choice between meat and veggie. Only one type of meat was available per leg. The similarities between the sandwich served and one you would receive at a Subway restaurant location ended at the wrapper. The bread was soggy, meat and cheese scarce, and rotten lettuce. But hey, its edible.

The fun began in Toronto when our A330 aircraft was determined to have a mechanical failure. Couple the necessity for a new aircraft with the shortage of extra available aircraft of the size required and the fact that the only one available was in Montreal where a snowstorm was wreaking havoc and the result was being delayed 5.5 hours. A voucher was issued for $14 per passenger to dine in Terminal 3. For anyone who might end up in a similar situation you are not relegated to eating at the overpriced cafeteria style restaurant located close to the gates. You can go back through security and there is a Swiss Chalet, New York Fries, and a Pizza Pizza. For all you smokers there no longer is a smoking lounge after passing through security so if you must smoke do so before crossing through! The flight home left on time and without incident.

Arrival Since we arrived much later than anticipated we were the only ones going through customs. You debark the plane onto the tarmac and it is a humbling feeling walking alongside the beast of an aircraft they call the A330. Smoking is allowed in the terminal building but do all non-smokers a favour and do it in the seating section to the left side of the building! Make sure you have completed both sides of the tourist card before going through customs or you will be turned back and you will have to rejoin the back of the line. There are examples of how to fill out the card on board the aircraft. Once you have collected your luggage you have the option of carrying it out yourself or having one of the locals lingering around the terminal bring your luggage to your coach bus. There will be a tour rep waiting with a sign indicating which tour operator they are with and will direct you to the appropriate bus.

One thing I noticed on the bus was the general age group of the other travelers. It appeared to be that many were older than the 26 years of age both my girlfriend and I are. That being said, upon arrival at the lobby of the Club Amigo Cameleon it was a madhouse dash with much pushing and shoving. As we were seated closer to the front of the bus I figured we would be one of the first to reach the front desk; a mere 100 feet from where the bus drops you off. I was very wrong. I was shoved out of the way and my girlfriend had to fight her way through the crowd so she could sign the required paperwork for EACH guest. You are given two towel cards to be returned upon departure or you will be charged 25 pesos per missing towel/card. Since we arrived under the cover of darkness, and the fact that the lighting was mostly burnt out or turned off, it was quite the experience locating where our room was; and I am very adept at reading maps. As well the buildings are not very well numbered and it will take some time to determine which building your room will be in. Take a long moment orienting yourself in the lobby, and when you take the path from the lobby note that the buffet and the disco will be to your immediate left and the next covered area you reach will be the snack bar. From there the pool will be directly in front of you. The front desk staff for the entire length of our vacation were surly. However take a quick jaunt over to the Atlantico and they were sweet as pie! Wake up calls and routing of inter-room calls are done through the Atlantico so please make sure to mention that you are in the Bungalow section.

Grounds
Having been to several all inclusive resorts ranging from a 3 to a 5 star I would have to say the grounds are rated between 2 and 3. We rarely saw any grounds crew out and about and many areas were in dire need of maintenance. That being said, we were in Cuba and it was a 3 star, and we did begin this voyage with full intentions of getting what we paid for; I am merely commenting so others know what is in store for them; good and bad! The resort is huge, with a fair chunk of it under renovations; but not really. It appears to be more of a storage facility that is not lit at night. It is unfortunate since cutting through this section is an excellent short-cut between the Bungalows and the 24 hour bar in the Villa section. There are 3 sections; the Bungalows, the Villas, and the main hotel, the Atlantico. The disco, cigar and gift shop, and the entertainment stage are in the Bungalow section. The gym is located in the Villa section along with the 24 hour bar. There is another gift shop, currency exchange, guest services, pool and ping-pong tables (all damaged and in poor condition), and beach towel exchange located in the Atlantico section. Be very careful of the slippery floors in the lobby, restaurants, and snack bars when it rains. All are marble or tile and all become very slippery in flip flops when wet! Everything is in dire need of a paint job, concrete is broken in several areas, lights are missing/broken, and there is one staircase off the pathway to the beach near the Atlantico that leads to nowhere, as you would have to be 8 feet tall to make the next step! The vegetation is great although not many flowering plants. There is an archery set-up and a run-down mini-put located in the Bungalow section. Tennis courts are available but looked to be in poor condition. Bicycles can be borrowed at the Atlantico. Note about the public access washrooms; all stalls are equipped with half doors. That means as you sit down to use the toilet you can see the people walking by and they can see you from the shoulders up.

Rooms
Our room number was 63; on the ground floor across the pool from the entertainment stage. All evening shows are conducted at the Bungalow pool area until the renovations are complete. Each Bungalow has 4 rooms in it. Be wary of the stairs to rooms on the second floor as they are located outside and get really slippery during the rain as well as not being of standard dimensions as used to at home. There will be a much shorter stair at the top that becomes a hazard when inebriated! The rooms are of decent size but sparsely furnished. We had 2 beds that we pushed together but they tended to push apart during the night. There is a small TV (13 inch tops), a luggage table, a desk, 2 chairs, and a mirror hung in an odd place; right beside the window! There are 2 full wall windows running from floor to ceiling at each end of the room. One of these is the door to the patio/balcony. The air conditioning ran perfectly all week and is controlled by a remote. You do not need a card to run the AC. The closet has about 15 hangars (with room for more), a small 3 drawer dresser, and the safe. The safe will cost you 7 pesos for the week and uses a metal key issued at the front desk. The bed only comes with 2 pillows and we never got the requested extra pillows. The bathroom has a large tub, medicine cabinet that looks like it might come off the wall at any given moment, and an old Soviet style toilet with a flusher located on the top of the tank behind you. Pull up once and release to flush. The ceiling is sheet metal. The windows in the bathroom open outwards but did not have any screens. The porch has 2 plastic Muskoka chairs on it; excellent for lounging in between showers and dinner. There is a well-insulated Thermos in the room for you to get water from the bar in. There were only two towels in the room to begin with but we left a note in rudimentary Spanish requesting more. Lo and behold we had 4 towels in the room every day! Towels are very small and thin, so a room of two people will need 4 towels. There is no mini-fridge, no alarm clock, and no remote for the TV. That being said we didnt turn on the TV until our 5th day there and did so only because of the rain! Try and catch one of the cartoon anti-US propaganda commercials; they are a riot! You will need a power converter to use any outlet at this resort; it is all 220 volts. Our plugs will fit in the outlet but you will fry any of your equipment! Rooms located on the second floor of many bungalows leaked during the three days of heavy rain. Ours never had a water problem or an insect problem. Rooms in the Villa section are much more modern while rooms in the Atlantico section are to be avoided. The Atlantico section was built in the 1970s under heavy Soviet influence and resembles an old army barracks. The Atlantico lobby however is fairly nice.

Food
You are never far from food here! There is a smaller buffet located in the Bungalow section serving breakfast and dinner. There is also a snack bar adjacent to the Bungalow pool that serves food throughout the day; pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers (pork), french fries, and grilled cheese. Water, pop, and alcoholic drinks are also available. A definite perk is the availability of espresso and cappuccino at all snack bars. The machine looks sketchy but you must try one! The main buffet is located on the 2nd floor of the lobby in the Atlantico section. Breakfast here is better than the Bungalows as you have the availability of syrup for the pancakes and there is a fresh orange juice machine. The juice is to die for! Normal breakfast fare at the two buffets, both having made-to-order omelet stations. There is another snack bar located poolside at the Atlantico and one in the lobby, which is open for snacks during the day. Drinks and coffees are also available. There is one more snack bar located in the Villa section that is open 24 hours; an excellent place to hit after the disco! There are three a la carte restaurants and you can visit them all. In the Bungalow section you are able to book youre a la cartes through your tour rep the day of the informational meeting. I advise you to do so! The Cuban one (El Benny) is located in the Villa section. Due to excessive rain we cancelled our 8 minute walk to El Benny and did the buffet instead! The Italian restaurant is a closed off section of the 24 hour bar in the Villas section. I did not like the food but most of the others did. I had to return the chicken breast (which is really a regular quarter chicken Swiss Chalet style serving) since it was well undercooked 2 times before giving up since everyone else in our dining group had finished dinner! Salads are composed mostly of cabbage. The Brochette restaurant is located across from the main buffet and was the best a la carte. You are served the side dishes and then your waitress will bring skewers of meat to your table and will pile chinks of it on your plate. You can choose from shrimp (tails, legs, heads, shell included), beef, pork, and chicken. You can have some of each if you like! The beef tasted like stewing beef and the shrimp were the best I have ever tasted. The buffets were very repetitive for lunch and dinner with many leftovers making it in to the next days servings. Not anything I would write rave reviews over but I never did go hungry either!

Beach
There are three beaches on the resort. The one located at the Atlantico is the largest and most populated. There never seemed to be a shortage of beach chairs and there was an excellent choice of shade vs. sun. Catamaran tours (included with package but tips widely expected), snorkel gear, beach volleyball (only during specified 1030 am time and then the net is removed) all run on this beach. There are also 3 beach bars on this beach that are pay bars not run by the resort. These bars are open into all hours of the night and are frequented by locals and tourists alike. The end of this 1 km beach is also open to the locals. Vendors will come by asking you to do tours. Beggars did come by as well although not as often. The second beach is very small and located between the Atlantico and the Villa section. The third beach connects to the beach of the Brisas hotel next door and is fairly large as well although we did not spend much time there. For the first few days the water was fairly calm, and the beach was fairly clean. Do be careful of the exposed tree roots. There is a large amount of sand fleas that really enjoy nipping at your ankles. If you enjoy collecting shells and coral do walk towards the end of the Atlantico beach furthest from the resort; you will not be disappointed! The last three days the current was the strongest I have ever experienced in an ocean and not suitable for swimming. The sand was fine but more of a golden colour. The water was turquoise mid week only; the rest of the week it was more of a grey colour but that was due to the weather.

Pools
There is a pool in each section. The Bungalow pool is the quiet pool and there is hardly anyone ever in it. The Atlantico pool has a swim-up bar (have a Banana Mama with Abel), and a volleyball net. This is where the majority of the population hangs out. The Villa pool has its share of visitors late into the night after a visit to the 24 hour bar. Each pool was cleaned every day.

Nightlife
The entertainment staff put on a decent show every night although shows including audience members appeared a little disorganized. These tended to have a bit of action from one or more participants followed by a random burst of music requiring dancing of the participants and an abrupt stop in the music where they had to sit down. The speakers were on way too loud requiring us to sit as far away as possible. We were able to hear the show in our room with the door closed as if we were outside. Saturday is beach party night but there is nothing planned if weather cancels the beach party. As well, the disco is closed on Saturday nights. The disco is located in the Bungalow section in the same building as the buffet. The air conditioner is cranked and you are greeted with a blast of ice cold air when you enter. You are very thankful for it halfway through the night though! Our best bar service occurred within the disco. Pupo had our drinks ready before I could reach the bar. The DJ has a very limited play list in music and preferred to spend the majority of his time playing online poker on his computer. I had specifically burned 3 CDs as a gift to the DJ to which he played 2 songs from over the 6 nights we were at the disco. The songs were played in the same order; prepare to hear Sean Paul, Bon Jovi, lots of reggaeton, and maybe you will get to hear Bob Sinclair (thats from my CD). Even though the sign says the disco closes at 2 am it closed at 130 every night (despite being packed).

Staff
Staff seemed to have the worst attitude here over any other resort I have been to. The bartenders were fantastic, 98% men, and the friendliest of all staff members. Our maid was wonderful and loved all the gifts we left behind for her and her family. Restaurant staff and front desk staff were downright sullen and rude. Tipping was very much expected everywhere. Our tour rep even made mention of this during our orientation meeting. This was the first resort that I have ever been told this.

Excursions
Did not go on any although a friend of ours did the Santiago de Cuba tour and had an amazing time. Lots of architectural and natural wonders to see and worth the money to do it. A good way to see an urban centre within Cuba. Excursions were reasonably priced compared to other destinations. If Havana trips are desired it is best to stay at another resort closer to Havana; like Varadero.

Market
There is a market adjacent to the Atlantico that is open every day during the week. Vendors change but the fare usually remains constant. You can haggle prices down and some vendors will chase you down to give you your desired price. Rainy days drive prices up; three consecutive rainy days really drive prices up! If you are looking for cigars buy them in the gift shop located in the lobby of the Bungalow section. Rum and coffee can be bought in the cigar shop, or any of the gift shops. Save the market for trinkets or clothing. Coffee beans can only be found in the cigar shop.

Departure/Airport Since our flight was leaving in the evening we had wanted to arrange for our room to be extended. We had been told during orientation that this could be arranged the morning of departure before 10 am and would cost 1 peso per hour. The morning of I attempted to arrange this to no avail. Having made some travel friends during the week we had decided to keep one room between the three groups of 2 that we were. None of the three rooms were available until our departure time and one of the rooms was available for 2 extra hours. Our luggage was placed in an unlocked room by the front desk. Be careful putting breakables in this room as the front desk clerk actually dropped a bag to the floor from a precarious pile of luggage in front of me and nonchalantly put the broken item back into the bag as if nothing had happened. As well they want you to give up your towel or towel card upon checkout or you have to give a 25 peso deposit per towel. They clip your bracelet and give you a card to show to restaurants and bars and security guards if asked. It made for a stressful last day. This is the first resort that has treated us this way. The bus ride to the airport was eventful to say the least! We were on the second bus out of the resort and stopped at one other to pick up a small group of passengers. The heavy rain was still coming down for the 3rd straight day and as we drove down the divided 2 lane highway a tree came down and blocked the entire side of the road we were on. Our bus driver threw it in reverse; and at night, in poor visibility backed us down the highway until a break in the median was located and then zipped into opposing traffic. We drove up a hill, without the aide of high beams, against traffic until we were able to get back on course. A hair-raising experience to say the least! The airport appeared to be as leaky as the resort was and had flooding in several places. The duty free gift shop had decent prices on liquor and smokes if you hadnt already purchased you limit!

Travel tip: If you booked with Air Transat and pre-booked your seats prior to leaving Canada ($15 per leg per person) then there is a separate line-up at the airport. It is much shorter and it took only 8 minutes upon arriving at the airport to get through ticketing, departure tax payment, and customs.

Conclusion All in all we wont be going back to Club Amigo. It is a good place to go for the budget traveler. Had we not met the group of people that we did our holiday would not have been as enjoyable as it was.

We paid $1700, taxes in, for 2 to travel from December 3rd -10th and would not pay that again. We heard prices as low as $1400 for 2 to as high as $1900 for 2.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Gloria

March 2006

This was my second visit to this resort, I was there in February 2005 and stayed at Club Amigo and again this year from February 17th – March 3rd 2006 at the Cameleon. The friends that I travelled with had been a couple of years before and recommended it. I found the rooms adequate, really how much time do you spend there anyway, they were clean, roomy enough and had working shower and tub. There was also air conditioning which was welcome many nights.

The food was good, there was always enough to choose from, I certainly did not go hungry. We went to three different a la cart restraunts, El Bennys which I did not find as good this year as last year, also went to El Fuente which served chicken it was excellent, the chicken cordon blue was very good, also the the chicken and almond soup very tasty and finally to La Espada which served skewers of shrimp, beef, chicken, and pork all very good. The service was very good. Breakfast was always a very good meal, with fresh orange juice, omlets made to order and fresh fruit. Our group brought a few things to make our dining experience more pleasant, such as single size salad dressing, peanut butter and relish. The various snack bars were good, they served hot dogs, french fries, pizza, spaggetti and hamburgers (made of pork).

We stayed in the bungalows, at first I was not sure if I would like the location as well as where we were last year, however, I found the location just fine once oriented. We were close to the pool, the Atlantico hotel, the market and one of the diningrooms and snack bar Yaguajay. There were plenty of lounge chairs at this location, and I noted that there were many more chairs in all locations. A walk to any location we wanted to visit was just minutes away.

There was entertainment every night. The show I enjoyed the most was the Auqua Ballet it was well done and very entertaining.

We went on a very inexpensive 10 peso tour which took us to a small village Canadon, there were stops along the way where we had some fresh fruit, coffee, a ride on horseback (for those who wished). In the village we visited a school and theatre, along the way we passed a maternity clinic and pharmacy. I found it a nice tour which gave me a glimpse of the land and the lifestyle.

The staff were wonderful, everyone I came in contact with were pleasant and helpful. The one change that I found not to be great was the way the staff are now being moved around, on my trip in 2005 the staff worked the same restraunts, bars and snack bars. On this trip in 2006 the staff were being moved around to differnt locations, some of the staff that we had met the year before were difficult to track, we had pictures to give them from our last trip and really wanted to see how they were. We did find most of them.

I would definately return to this resort.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Mark ~ Edmonton, Canada

February 2006

We are a family of 4 who were at the village from Jan.30 to Feb.13.The weather was very nice( 27 to 33 Celsius). I am going to make points that I think people will find useful. Make sure you look for your tour rep as soon as you get outside the doors of the airport with your luggage since some of them are not holding up signs, but instead wearing I.D. cards around their necks.After they give you your bus number for your resort, there is a beer stand right by the buses.5 dollars Canadian will fetch you 2 cold ones. The most important advice I can give you: BRING CANADIAN CASH ONLY!!! You CANNOT use your ATM "debit" cards to get money in the guardalavaca area. If you choose to use a visa or MasterCard; you get charged an extra 11% surcharge on top of whatever purchase you make. You can keep your cash in your room safe for peace of mind. The safe costs 1 peso per day. Your room swipe card will operate both the door and the safe, so put your passports, airline tickets and cash in there. 100 Canadian dollars will get you about 72 pesos.There are horse and buggy rides for 15 pesos per family,scooters for 12 pesos for 2 hours.Internet at the cafe costs 5 pesos for 60 minutes.

Restaurants:
There are 3 buffets:1720 ,Las Panchitos and Los Arcados. There are 3 a la carte: El Benny’s which is fish and chicken or for an extra 10 pesos you can get shrimp and lobster. El Fuente is a chicken speciality place where the cordon blue is amazing. Finally there is one upstairs in the atlantico that serves skewers shrimp, chicken pork, or beef It was also good. There is a 24 hour snack bar in the villas. It was a great hangout place for us. You can get pizza, hot dogs, spaghetti or hamburgers that are all pretty good. The snack bar also has the best fresh breakfast in the place, but there is no fruit there(They serve fried eggs, hotcakes and bacon).You can also drink "24" hours at the snack bar.

Pools:
There are pools at all 4 areas of the whole resort. The Atlantico pool is where the pool bar is and all the action(water volleyball, water aerobics and more) as well as the steps that go down to the beach. There is no bar on the beach that is all inclusive but there is 3 bars that charge 1 peso per drink. These beach bars also go late into the night if you wish there’s people dancing and drinking. It is very safe down there as there is resort security everywhere.

Beach:
You must reserve chairs on the beach before 7:30 a.m. or you will never get any, since there just are not enough. Before 9:00 or 9:30 should be ok. for the pool chairs.White powder sand and crystal clear water were spectacular. If you book a paddle boat and go out about 200 metres off shore, there is some excellent snorkelling with lots of fish.

Rooms:
They are very nice rooms with remote control air-conditioning.As the building numbers get larger,you get further from the Atlantico and all the action.We were in the 2000 building which was right next to the snack bar.

Shopping:
You could buy 1.14L of Havana Club Rom for 7.90 pesos and Banana Liqueur for 3.10 pesos. At the airport it was only .50 pesos cheaper per bottle not worth the work of carrying them.

All in all this 3 star resort was very impressive to us since we have been to 5 stars in Mexico and the Dominican republic. The food we thought was very good and have no complaints.There is a market right beside the Atlantico as well as a little strip mall just south of the bungalows. I would like to say a hello to Che and Maurico as well as Rigo and Abel the pool bartender. I would deficiently return to this resort some day. The only thing this resort can use is more lounge chairs.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Suzanne ~ Canada

January 2006

Wonderful vacation! My friend & I visited Cuba, Club Amigo, Guardalavaca for 1 week, Jan 10-17. We were looking for a last minute deal and found the perfect place that offers great value. With the resort’s rating in mind, our expectations were more than met. Clean rooms, wonderful beach and the most friendly staff. The food was much better than expected, a huge improvement since our last visit to Cuba in 2004. Freshly squeezed orange juice, 24 hour snacks and a variety of restaurants to choose from. Great pools, lots of bars, daily activities & night life. We made great new friends, both Canadian and Cuban and thanks to all for making our vacation the most memorable and we will definitely return.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Gerry ~ Canada

January 2006

We spent our third Christmas in Cuba at Club Amigo Atlantico from December 23-30/05. Everyone was very happy with the property and what it had to offer. Let me provide you with some details:

The Property: As I read in other reviews this is one huge property. Four pools and I believe three separate reception areas to sign in upon arrival. One of the pools is half Olympic size; the biggest Ive seen in my travels. Where we stayed we walked perhaps five minutes from our room, 3007, to the beach which is quite superb. The water is excellent and offers a perfect depth for swimming and as it turned out, to snorkel about the reef which is just off the property and show cases a lot of tropical fish and a great morning of entertainment. The evening entertainment was very good with entertainers who gave it their all to please. Amble snack bars and bars were available to guests who wished a drink or some food.

The Beach: Features a lot of trees so if you are burning up as I was its easy to retreat and yet enjoy the beach and heat. Having been to Varadero and Cayo Coco, this beach competes VERY well except as walkers we missed the length of Varadero; this beach is perhaps one kilometre long. Our week the water was calm, warm and seemingly clean. The western end of the beach is used mostly by Cubans so its interesting to visit with them and miss the mob at the hotel portion of the property. Our first experience with Cubans who asked for things from us; indeed they are needy but we had not seen such before. We left everyday items on the beach (no money) confident it would stay put and indeed we lost nothing while there.

The Food: The best yet in our Cuban travels. I dont think one goes to Cuba to dine; we certainly dont but here the food was good but not excellent. High marks to the fish served at the snack bar near the El Benny restaurant; its worthy of a five star our teenaged boys went back for more!!!!

The Staff: A great bunch of workers served us; everyone was pleasant and tried their very best to make our stay a good one.

The Room: Met our needs, had a king size bed and the ability to open up windows to take in the fresh air. A/C worked very well but we also spent a couple of nights with our windows open and slept bug free. Shower worked well and the facility was very good. We missed not having a fridge but it was never an issue for us. The safe costs a peso per day to rent; well worth the piece of mind.

The Flea market: Next door to the property is a really good flea market with a wide range of products offered and a two minute walk.

Off property activities: We went on a two hour tram ride and it was a good outing to see the surrounding area for ten pesos. We also rented a horse/carriage for a 45 minute tour that was quite pleasant indeed. We used the free bikes but passed on the scooters having seen one guests badly mauled leg and arm; he took quite the tumble apparently.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Cindy

October 2005

Hi everyone who is reading this and we hope all of our new friends are reading this too. 5 ladies went to Cuba a week Oct 14 to the 21st. Don’t worry we were fine Wilma was leaving us alone. We fly into Holguin and stayed at Club Amigo Guadalavaca Villiage. This is a our 2nd time there at this resort and our 6th time to Holguin for some of us. Yes the resort is a 3 star. But its great, its clean, friendly and has lots to do. We stayed in the bunglows highly recommended. The food is ok but its Cuba and never went without any food. Breakfast is always good, snack bars are great and at supper there is the buffa, 2 restaurants, and we ate off the resort twice, but thats us we like to see whats ourt there, thats what travelling is all about. A trip is how you make it, you want to be quiet then be quiet but if you want to meet people then mingle like we did. We meet so many different people it was an honor. So this is one trip that we won’t forget in many ways. To all of our new friends, Pat, 2 sisters, June and his 2 new friends, Drew, Wayne, the newlyweds, Alex, Galla, Peter,Leon, Richard, Tyler and Uncle Fred(thanks), and last but not forgotten Martin, you people will never be forgotten we thank you for our wonderful time. And just maybe we might see you there again next year, we usually try and go that week. If anyone want to talk to us we will check the review ever now and then so please don’t forget you email address. LOL the Yellow Team

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Angela

May 2005

I have visited this hotel on 4 seperate occasions and can only speak highly of this. Last visit May 05.

The beaches around are beautiful and getting in the water is fantastic, its so warm. I have always stayed in the villas, which are kept spotlessly clean. I travel with The holiday Place and the reps Felix, Miguel and Yordi go out of their way to help make sure your holiday runs smoothly, nothing is a trouble to them, they do not put you under any pressure to book trips (which I have found in European destinations), however each trip I have done I have really enjoyed, usually I find organised trips to be boring. I have changed flights and itineray with no difficulty whilst in Cuba.

Each time I have seen the food improving, yes lots of people still complain, I am amazed at what some people expect for their money, yes Cuba is good at improvising but they can’t make the money that we pay for packages stretch as far as some expect. The bread is out of this world. And the returners dinner that I had at El Bennys this month was one of the best meals I have ever had.

I have read mixed reports about this hotel which have shocked me, particularly when people say the staff are abrupt and unfriendly. I have found all the staff to be very warm and helpful from gardeners to bosses. In particular I would like to thank Alberto the barman for his wonderful service and singing along with all the other bar staff.

Special thanks to Louis and Carlos El Benny’s double act for their Cuban jokes. KoKo jambo for their entertainment. I found that using this resort as a base is great and it is easy to travel to other places at your leisure. Its also great to meet people from other countries and share news.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Kelly ~ Canada

April 2005

My husband, 11 year old daughter and myself travelled to Club Amigo, Holguin on April 9, 2005. We had booked through ITravel about 2 1/2 weeks before. We went with Hola Sun through Air Canada and had the early 6:20 flight out. Hola Sun did not provide the Tourist Card with our tickets so we had to pick them up at the airport that morning at the Hola Sun desk. I was a bit nervous about that but we got them after we checked in our luggage. The flight was delayed almost an hour because the water tank had not been filled.

Arrival: We arrived and had to wait in the longest line up for the Tourist Card and security check. The airport was fine and the same as any other I had been in. Our luggage came very quickly and I stood in line for the currency exchange. Since this was the first day of the new rate people were a bit frazzled and upset. Our Hola Sun guide did not want us to wait in line and rounded us up for the bus. We grabbed beer and pepsi with Cdn cash before boarding bus to start our vacation!

Check In/Room: This was very quick and we were in our villa room within 20 min of arrival. We were thrilled with our room as it was a suite with a king-size bed and a single bed for our daughter. There were 2 televisions and a lovely balcany. The view was only of the playground area but we were fine with that. The room was spotless clean and the maid was wonderful all week. She was delightful with her towel creations and attended to any request we had. We brought a suitcase of gifts so we had lots of things for her.

Pools: All of the pools were lovely but we stayed either at the villa pool or the bungalow pool. We like to relax and have quiet time so we did not require the activity of the main hotel pool. We never felt the need to rush to get a lounger, there were always plenty. The pools were kept very clean and we had no complaints. We brought a floatie so we quite enjoyed that and a blow up ball for my daughter.

Food: The food was fine and we never went hungry. My daughter is picky and did not eat the meat or dairy products all week. She loved the spagetti, french fries and pizza. Breakfast was great for all of us at the buffet because we could choose any type of egg and the juice was fabulous. We have travelled a fair bit and we know before leaving that the food is never going to be the same as home. We went for the sun/pool/beach and not really for the food. We went to 3 a la cartes and they were all good.

Excursions/Activities: We took a taxi to do the dolphin swim as we did not want to tie up the whole day going. We loved it and that was a highlight for my daughter. We took the train ride throught the country and we gave out most of our gifts to the people at this time. The banana plantation was really cool! We also went by carriage to the local school and gave out paper and pencils etc. there. I got the impression that the teachers were getting used to the gifts as they did not express any appreciation. We went on the catamaran twice and loved it! Otherwise, we just relaxed, drank and had a good time! It rained one evening and one afternoon.

In conclusion, I would go back to Club Amigo for the right price but would also like to try another resort just for comparison. I had no complaints really about anything. I did hear some talk with staff that the resort may be closing but I don’t know if this would be due to renovations or something else. It will be interesting to see what happens since the rate of the CUC has gone up so much compared to the Cdn dollar.

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village The McLeod’s

March 2005

My Family and I just got back from Club Amigo Resort in Cuba!We had a fantastic time.

Food:
The food was ok. After a couple of days the buffets did get a little tiering but there were four a la cartes to choose from.We ate at 2 a la cartes and the first was El Bennys. We had lobster fish and shrimp for only 10 dollars. The lobster was not the greatest, the fish we didnt even eat;it was dark and the whole family perfers white fish.The shrimp was dilicious.The second was El Frueta. It was a chicken restaurant and was very good; no complaints.One night we went just near the resort to an Italian restaurant and that was very good food.People may want to bring your own salad dressing and syrup for the pancakes.

Rooms:
We had 2 rooms 1 for the kids and 1 for the parents. We stayed in the Bungalows. It was very nice to stay in. Air conditioning works great.Showers were good. If you like to have long showers you may want to cut down the people after you will have freezing water.There was only 2 bugs during the whole week. One being a cockroach.Very conveinent place. Bungalows were near the shows at night and near one buffet and one a la carte.

Staff:
The staff was very nice.The entertainment was great.The maids did an awesome job and left very different things on our bed. They made swans and hearst out of blankets and towels.The entertainment staff put on alot of things during the day:dance lessons,spanish lessons,beach volleyball,pool volleyball,archery and so on.Everyone was helpfula nd nice. We stayed and the swim up bar most of the week and Abel is very sweet.The best drink I think was a banana mama. Ask for the Abel"Suducer" it is very good!

Fun Stuff:
Every noght there was a house band which we only saw once.Afetr that there was a show from 10:00-11:00 and was usually very funny!At 11:00pm there was a disco dance nearby and they played canadian music and was very fun!A beach party ran from midnight to 5-6 in the morning(not recomended that women go alone/children dont go)And there were many excursins to choose from and were somewhat expensive but were worth it!

Overall we had an awesome time and is recommended!

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Art & Jeanne

March 2005

We were at the Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village from Dec.31- Jan 14th,2005 with our 2 & 7 year olds. There is nothing wrong with the resort for a 3 star. The only complaint I have is that we booked through Signature because they state in brochure and website that the kids club is for 2 & up. When we arrived we were told that the club is for 4 & up . Major disappointment since that was the only reason we booked this hotel.Of course hotel blamed Signature and Signature blamed hotel.

Our 7 year old still used the kids club but it was very poorly organized. We’d ask in the morning what the kids would be doing and it was never the same as the listing on board by door of club. One morning we were told they’d be playing soccer then mini golf. When we picked up our 7 year old later he told us he’d been swimming. Not only did they take him swimming without permission but he does not swim. He always wears a lifejacket and is within reach of us at all times. They took him to the Olympic sized pool with no lifejacket and 1 supervisor for 14 kids.

On another outing on a train ride to the countryside they also had 14 kids to 1 supervisor. The kids were spread out all over the train with no supervisor watching. We just happened to be there with our 2 kids. They were willing to take younger kids only if you paid them. After this we kept our son with us because we did not trust the kids club.

The resort is fine if you want a cheap place for some sun and beach.They had other things like basketball and ping pong but I heard a lot of complaints about equipment missing. We had read all the reviews on a couple of forums and even asked questions about the kids club but received no info. Just thought I’d send this in to give other people the info we wish we’d had. If anyone has any questions I am Holidaypinettes and you can just PM me.

Just don’t go for the kids club because you will be very disappointed!!!!

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Club Amigo Guardalavaca Village Susan & Buck ~ Canada

March 2005

Qualifiers:
We are a married couple, I in my late 40’s my husband in his late 50’s. First time anywhere in the winter time, first time to an all-inclusive – in short, very green. We are lucky to live on the beach in Northeastern New Brunswick and very much enjoy our summer "beach bum" life, and were looking for a week away from work and have the experience of sun, sand and sea. It was also my husband’s 57th birthday and he wanted to make it down south at least once in his life.

Booked with Signature vacations after reading many reviews on this site. Were hoping to get the Villas but really no guarantees so kept our fingers crossed. Our travel agent was a little horrified that on our first trip south we were booking at a 3 star resort in Cuba and tried to steer us toward the DR, but we were determined to stay with Cuba and the Club Amigo Village suited our budget and travel times. Our expectations were more for beach, sun, and sand and less for food and entertainment. Left Halifax on Friday evening at 6:10pm, for an uneventful and good flight to Holguin. Arrival in Holguin was great, quick and painless. I changed money at the airport while hubby waited for luggage. Not too many on the flight and seemed to be the only arrival so as I said everything was good. Recommend to anyone to change your money at the airport if you have the chance. Tour bus at the airport, cold beer for 1.50 cuban convertible pesos – Cristal; finally we got to taste what we had read about. Excellent. We had a 1 hour drive to the hotel with stops on the way for other hotels. Arrival at Guardalavaca hotel was good, we were the only ones on the bus for this hotel. Reception was ready for us – I think they actually had two rooms ready as they had two envelopes. The receptionsist was not the friendliest, but I did ask if we were in the Villas and she said yes. Good news. Bell boy took our luggage to our room.

Room was excelent. The bell boy showed us every light switch, closet, room safe, patio doors, how to work the remote for the air conditioner and the TV – He was very helpful if not vocal. First tip in Cuba (our bags very heavy and no wheels). Then, on to explore a bit at 1/2 past midnight. We left our room and made our way to the 24 hour bar by the Villas pool. We actually did not even think twice about going out exploring at this time of night – just went. When we were in our room we noticed a security guard just across the way so that was OK. At the bar, had our first Mojitos – Excellent, 2nd tip in Cuba. Then went on to a Pina Colada, a walk along the walkways and down to the little beach back to the bar for a mojhito and then back to the room. Sleep and tomorrow is our first day.

We were advised by our rep on the bus that we would meet the signature rep for orientation at the El Benny’s restaurant by the 24 hour bar in the Villa’s area. So, Saturday morning we were up and to the bar for excellent cafe con leche. It was absolutely heaven. Our first glimpse of the water (in daylight), the different colors of blue, the sky, the sun – we were overwhelmed. We made our way to the Atlantico hotel for a buffet breakfast, and back to the Villas bar for the meeting with our rep. Although we certainly did not want to spend time at this we are glad we did as the rep had information for us as to where to book excursions and a la carte restaraunts. After this info session, we went straight to the Atlantico to book a few a la carte restaraunts. One for Buck’s birthday on Sunday, the 20th.

Complex:
As stated in other reviews, the complex is made up of four areas, the Amigo Atlantico (hotel rooms), the Guadalavaca (hotel rooms and Villas), and the bungalow area. It is very easy to get around and all areas are open to all guests. There are tennis courts that we did not use but we saw people using them – not sure what kind of shape they were in. A basketball court, again, no one using it and mini-golf area that did not look great. There is a market just outside of the Amigo Atlantico area that has lots of vendors selling mainly leather goods, wood carvings, crochet items (coverups, cardigans, hammocks), paintings, hats, T-Shirts, jewellry, and musical instruments. Also, on the other side of the road from the complex, there is a commercial area with a few shops and a bank, a place to rent cars, a cafeteria of sorts, and this is where the horseback riding and the train ride are. The horses were in a large area and did not look to badly off. The same for "horse ride" horses everywhere. They had lots of hay and lots of shady areas in their "paddock".

ROOM:
We had a room in the villa area. Ground floor with an ocean view. Two 3/4 beds, small table with rattan chairs, tile patio with table and one chair. Nice bathroom, with tub, shower, toilet. Large closet with small chest of drawers and safe inside. Air conditioner with remote control and TV with remote control. Everything worked great except the shower head was a little loose and shot water out of the side. No problem. There was no fridge, no hair dryer – not a big thing for us, we weren’t expecting anything. Rooms were EXCEPTIONALLY clean. No bugs. Actually, no bugs anywhere, inside or outside, night or day. I took deep woods off and never even took it out. No facecloths though so bring your own. Lots of toilet tissue, and not too bad for quality. I had brought two rolls with me just in case. Lux soap but no shampoo or other little freebies. We took all of our own and left it there when we left.

BEACHES:
There is a large very wide beach in front of the Atlantico hotel accessed by long, wide steps. This is the main beach where all of the equipment (paddle- boats, snorkle gear, catamarans) is located. We walked on this beach a lot but did not loung here. There seemed to be lots of chairs, and lots of shade areas. Not too far from the bar by the pool. As you made your way down the beach there were a few bars (a little further from the hotel) where you could buy a cold Cristal for $1. This is also (I believe) where the local disco was at night, although we did not frequent it. The water is amazing and the beach is long and very wide and extremely clean. Frequented by Cubans also, but just families having fun. It was georgeous.

Just a little further up the opposite way was the next largest beach in a little cove. THere are also steps going down to the beach area and a beach bar there also. This beach had lots of shade trees and seemed to have lots of chairs also. The water excellent as well. They had two weddings on this beach while we were there. We did not see the weddings but saw the preparations and they made a lovely huge heart with flowers and had chairs and tables with table cloths and covers and it did look special and lovely The third beach was a little cove behind the 24 hour bar in the Villas area. This turned out to be the place where we spent all of our beach time. Not a lot of chairs but we did not get into the "saving" chairs thing as we were just as comfortable on our towels in the sand. There was room here for about 15 or 20 people maybe; that, and the proximity to the 24 hr bar and our room made it our favorite place of all. We swam here in beautiful water and there usually was shade available if needed. We saw quite a few people snorkeling from this little beach also. One of the big advantages of this hotel in our minds was the fact that there were three areas to choose from for beaches.

POOLS:
There are four pools in this complex. A large pool with a swim-up bar at the Atlantico Hotel, another large pool in the bungalow area with a bar right next to it, a large square pool at the Guardlavaca hotel, and a large pool at the 24 hour bar in the Villa area. All pools looked very clean and well kept. I can comment most on the pool in the Villas area as it was the only one we used and was pristine – although we only used it once during the week we were there. there is usually an outdoor shower by all pools so that you can wash of the sand and such before you use the pool. I noticed one by the Villas pool, Atlantico pool, and the Guardalavaca pool. Did not notice one by the bungalow pool but I wasn’t really looking. Seemed also to be lots of chairs and shady areas by the pools.

Restaurants:
There were three buffet restaurants, the Atlantico (in the Atlantico hotel), Panchitos (in the Guardalavaca) and I think it was called the 1700 in the bungalow area. We had breakfast at the Atlantico and at Panchitos. Both had excellent coffee and juice, a bread bar where you could make your own toast, ample items on the buffet such as scrambled or boiled eggs, french toast, pancakes, bacon (a little undercooked), chorizo sausage, weiners, cold cuts, carrots, cereal, yogurt, and lots of fresh fruit. Service was excellent, tables were well set with tablecloths. Panchitos was a little older but both were very good. We ate at the Atlantico twice for supper, and had good food – turkey, pork, chicken and fish. The vegetables were lukewarm to cool but we had expected this from reading previous reviews and I think this is not exclusive to 3* resorts. There were lots of salad vegetables, not a lot of lettuce but more cabbage, cold cuts, cheese and a wonderful bread bar. The ice cream for desser was wonderful. At the Atlantico on the both nights we were there had musicians come in and sing at the table. Beautiful voices and guitars. This was special. We also ate one night at the buffet in the bungalows, the 1700 I think. I am sorry we did not try this more often as their food was good and more selection for vegetables. I had excellent swiss chard that was very warm. We did not go to the buffets for lunch but mainly stayed at the 24 hour bar during the day and had fries, burgers or pizzas when necessary. The pizzas are bready with a tomato soup like sauce with good cheese, the hamburgers are made with ham, almost like a mild sausage, and the hot dogs are hot dogs. Fries are frozen but very good. We ate at two a la carte restaurants, El Bennys (Cuban) and the 24 hour bar restaurant (Guiatos ?) which is Italian. El Bennys was good, we had the pork and a really good soup. Everything very hot. This restaurant is open air and there were a few cats roaming around. They certainly do not bother you or hang around the tables. They are looking for food that is dropped on the floor. I am a cat lover and did drop something on the floor. A cat came over, made quick work of it and then left. At the Italian restaurant, we had wonderful bruschetta, and I had spaghetti bolognese and my hubby had ravioli. Both were excellent – certainly not like the restaraunts in Montreal, but very good and a nice change from the buffet. There were quite a few snack bars around the area, we only tried the 24 hour one but were at the bar beside the pool at the Atlantico one afternoon and they havea small buffet for snacks like french fries and hot dogs, and there were snack bars at the bungalows pool and the Guardalavaca pool. We saw the restaurant El Feurtes and it looked very nice. I am sorry we did not get to eat here, but only so many days in a week. Coffee in all of the bars a choice of con leche (with milk), capuchinno, and espresso. Both my husband and I loved the coffee, in fact I had to stop drinking it after supper as I finally figured out why I could not sleep Saturday and Sunday night!!! Coffee in the buffets was fine serve yourself out of large urns with hot milk also. My husband found the food bland but there was never anything that tasted or was bad. For us, gourmet dining was not a priority. One thing, if you want room temperature red wine, as for wine "not cold". We did not our first night at the Atlantico and we got icy cold red wine which we don’t care for. As for the a la cartes, I am not sure because we always asked for "not cold" after that. At home, we usually drink French or Italian wine and found the red wine in Cuba comparable to what we would have at home (we do not spend a lot on wine at home unless it is a very special occasion – usually a cabernet sauvignon for $11 or $12 or Australian for same $$). It was dry and had some body.

ENTERTAINMENT:
We are not too qualified to comment in this area as we were in our room or on our patio by 10 or 10:30 in the evening. As mentionned earlier, we had entertainment in the Atlantico buffet restaurant during our two evenings there. After supper we would go to the Guadarlavaca hotel for the house band from 8 to 9 pm – they were very good but just a basic band – no big show with dancers or anything. At 9 o’clock the announcer would come on and give out prizes for activities during the day, volleyball, pool, etc… We left when this started and went on to the bungalow area for their house band which was from 9 to 11. Usually gone from here by 10 or so and make our way to the 24 hour bar for a last drink or two, a chat on the deserted beach and then another drink to take back to our room. The Atlantico hotel and the Guadarlavaca hotel had schedules posted for activities such as salsa lessons, spanish lessons, etc… but we did not participate. On the beach at the Atlantico there was volleyball going on frequently, pool tables and ping pong tables were being used at both places, and people were playing bocce ball. We preferred the sea and sand.

EXCURSIONS:
We were informed of all excursions available during our orientation session with the signature rep. The only one we signed up for ($69 cuban con. pesos each) was the catamaran tour. They had a morning one and an afternoon one. We could only get the afternoon one and took it on a Thursday (the day before we were leaving). The day dawned warm and sunny, and we met the tour guide at the Atlantico hotel (where we had booked) at 2pm. On a bus, stops at other hotels to pick up other guests and then on to the marina. The ride to the marina was great as it took us through the countryside and a look at real Cuba. the rep explained things to us on the way. We got on the catamaran at about 2:30 or so. There were 61 people total including the two guides, captain and one crew. Sun was shining, water was great, sat on the nets on the way out, got splashed a bit but it was fun. Drinks were plentiful, although they did not have Cristal beer, only Mayabe which we did not think was as good. All other drinks you could want though, wine, and many rum drinks. It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get to the reef where we were to snorkel. Once there, we were broken up into groups of experienced and amateurs. My husband and I were amateurs, having never snorkeled before. The experienced got geared up and off the boat, and then we got a short but very informative lesson. There was a small motor boat in the water for extra safety, and we had the option of using life jackets. Into the water! My experience was not great, I am used to the water and a decent swimmer but the snorkel gear was for me, very hard to get used to. I did see some beautiful fish. My husband got back on the boat and took a life jacket then went back out and he really enjoyed the experience. We stayed at the reef for about 1 1/2 hours. The boat got under way and there was a little salsa dancing lesson with prizes (drinks) and then out into the ocean to catch some waves. Those who wanted to sat on the nets and got soaked. It was an amazing experience even sitting in back of the boat – going up and down into the waves. THis went on for about an hour and then it was time to watch the sunset. By this time we were wet, and had brought dry T-shirts but we still got little splashes from the wave catching so were getting cold. Sunset was beautiful but with so many people on the boat it was hard to see. After the sun was down it was another hour and a half back to the marina, under sail on high seas with a wind blowing. The poor people who had been on the nets to catch the waves were really, really cold and shivering. Most had not brought dry clothes and if they had, it was really hard to keep anything really dry. The bathrooms were very small and by the end of the tour had gotten kind of smelly. We arrived at the marina, after receiving T-Shirts comemorating our trip, around 8 o’clock. Dry land at last. On to the same bus to the restaurant for our supper (included in the cost). Supper was a choice of lobster, chicken, pasta, or fish. Fish was blue marlin and one gentleman said it was good, chicken was a quarter chicken leg, deep fried but with no breading or spices, good though. My husband had the lobster which he said was a bit overcooked and not as tasty as New Brunswick lobster (we are spoiled by our cold water lobster). You had one drink included with the meal and any other you had to pay for. Although by this time, all we wanted to do was eat and go back to the hotel. Back on the bus and to the hotel. In hindsight, I would not have done this tour. I enjoyed the experience but found it much too long. By the time we were sailing back to the marina most people were cold and a few were feeling very queasy. But, I am glad I did it because you have to experience stuff in order to decide. We would have been happy on the beach. This was the only excursion we went on although we spoke to people who had been to the one-day Holguin excursion and loved it and the $10 peso train ride (2.5 hours) and loved it.

TIPPING:
Since so many people seem worried about tipping, I will include this as a category. First of all, we had a hard time getting $1 denominations of pesos so that left us with $3 and $5 bills. Usually at the 24 hour bar we tipped $5 in the morning and that did us for the day, at the buffets sometimes but not all of the time (usually $1 peso). When the musicians came around we did not tip, the first time because we had no $$ with us and the 2nd time we just did not feel it was necessary. At the a la cartes we left usually $ 5 pesos – that is what we would tip for the same service at home and the service was excellent. We left either $1 for the maid daily or a little gift, never both. I took bras, panyhose, feminine hygiene products, shaving gel, soap, and left these with the staff at the 24 hour bar. It was there that we spent most of our time. On days that I did not have any pesos, I did not tip. There was no change in the service at all. Tipping is a personal thing, and if you don’t have the $$, don’t sweat it. It is all inclusive after all. On the way to the catamaran tour the guide informed us that tips for the captain, and the guide would be appreciated. There was a tip box on the boat when we disembarked, and people handed tips to the guide when we got out of the bus at our hotel. We had not taken money with us so we did not tip, but neither did we feel bad about it. You do what you can. I would suggest taking things like scribblers and pencils and pencil sharpeners and taking them to the schools, tylenol or ibuprofin for the clinics, anything like soap, toothpaste, gloves for the gardeners, ball caps, feminine hygiene products, razors, etc… I think these things are appreciated more than $$. Check out different forums to see what is needed.

CHECK-OUT
We were scheduled leave at 8pm Friday night with the bus picking us up at the Guardalavaca. Check – out was at 12 noon but we arranged to keep our room until 3pm for $2 per hour. Actually it was not necessary as we packed up everything early that morning, with a change of clothes in our carry-on. At 3 o’clock we left our luggage at the Guardalavaca and back to the beach. Had a light supper at the 24 hour bar, said our good-byes (tears for me!) and back to the Guardalavaca. I don’t know if there was a courtesy room available for showers as we just changed in the bathrooms, and put our wet suits in ziplock bags. Vacation was over and I didn’t mind going back to Canada with sand in my hair. This all went very smoothly, got a drink and coffee and waited in the lobby for the bus. SAD, SAD.

The people here are wonderful. The only person who did not smile at us was the hotel receptionist when we arrived, other than that everyone was very warm and friendly and very helpful. We felt very at home. Communication was not an issue, except for one day I asked the gardener about a certain kind of bird and he could not understand my English, French, or sign language, but answered me with a smile and a "no comprende". I gave him two ball caps and smiled back. That is a universal language. The resort has security people along all of the walkways and you feel very secure day or night. Most of the clientele of this resort is European, (German & Dutch), English, and Canadian. We met a few people and all seemed to be enjoying their stay. We are not really "people" people so we mainly kept to ourselves but everyone was happy with a "good morning" and if you asked questions they were happy to answer. This is how we found out about the snorkeling off the beach and the other tours.

All in all we came back to Canada with not one negative about our trip. We have no scale to compare it to having never been anywhere else and no idea what the difference is between a 3, 4 or 5 star. This suited us to a T. We could have privacy and quiet when we wanted it or lots of people to watch and meet if we wanted it. I would say this resort does not cater to the younger crowd a lot as we saw more people over 40 than under 30, although there were a few families with small children and when I say a few probably about 7 or 8 that we saw. A few kids on their March breaks but we had lots of quiet space. We are looking forward to going back to this resort as it has all we want, is very reasonably priced (especially for our budget), and even if we don’t get the Villas I think we will be OK, only next time it will be for two weeks – one week was just not enough.

One more little thing, all of the bathrooms in the complex were very clean and all had toilet tissue. Put the used tissue in the little can provided in the bathroom cubicle their septic systems can only handle so much. At the Guardalavaca hotel the washrooms in the lobby area had no toilet seats. Weird but not horrible. This was the only place where I encountered this. The toilets are divided with little wooden wall that only go up to about your torso so you can see peoples heads when they are in the bathrooms. Again, strange for us but not a negative for me.

Hope this review is helpful. Vacations are what you make them. Get your priorities in line and read reviews. That is what we did and after lots of worrying about did we pick the right place had an excellent, excellent vacation.

Thank you Debbie for a wonderful site with great reviews and an excellent forum!

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Last updated: March 31, 2007

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