Cuba Resorts Getting married in the Caribbean Reviews – Getting married in the Caribbean – Cuba Reviews

Marvelous!
Hotel Gaviota Playa Costa Verde
User Rating:  
Fournier >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2011 | Leisure | Family
My hole family fell in love with this place and the people working at this resort. The food from the grill is great, the drinks made mostly from real fruit juices…The cerveza is cold, the rum is generous…The entertainement staff: Scoobidoo, José, Richard became good friends and later our adopted sons :))There are plenty of fish and corals accessible from the playa. Tips: bring a hot dog bread for them to feed on…you will see them so well! Incridible! The jeep safari is so fun: speed boat, hoseback riding, visit of a farm and tobacco factory all in one…one of the best day of my life!!!!
Do not hesitate, this hotel is great!and the people working there are terrific!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Jeep safari incredible! Shows excellent, specially beach party.
Arrival
Really prompt check in. You get your dining reservations.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful pool. Bring shoes for beach, lots of rock and corals….but fish in bonus!
Other Comments
Say hi to José, Richard and Scoobidoo!
Restaurants and Bars
Grill food is good. Fruits excellents. Japanese and cuban restaurants great.
Room Number
3315
Rooms
So big!!!!Nothing luxury, but very clean and confortable. Good matress. Big bathroom. Showers work well. There are no facecloths in Cuba, bring your own.
Was more then I expected
Hotel Sol Río de Luna y Mares Resort
User Rating:  
Pauline >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | Family
November 20 to November 27 2010. The weather was great. Between 27 and 30. The last day was 34. Little rain but nothing to get upset about. There are many things to do between a little sprinkle. We have done so much don’t know where to begin. The service was excellent. Cuban staff beautiful and friendly. Big resort and well kept. Everything you need. Doctor’s office, gym, spa, lots of restaurants, bank, gift shop, post office, cigar shop, hair dressing shop, waxing, pedicures, manicures, disco, public relations for reservations and any questions you had. Our air Canada rep was very hard to reach, not there most of the time but found out they have a desk to reserve tours and whatever you need if your rep is not available. That was the only downfall was with the rep.Thank God we had the VIP because it was all arranged by public relations.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Wow!!! where do I begin. We have had a few trips to Guardalavaca by horse and buggy for 20 pesos for 2 hrs. to the market to do some shopping. Lots of vendors. That is the place to buy your goods and cigars. You must also try the beach. It is also beautiful. We only stayed for 1 hr at the beach and enjoyed live entertainment. They came and sang 3 songs for us. It was very special. Going back our driver from the horse and buggy took us to the village and gave us a little history about the village and the Cuban people. Very interesting. You can take a double decker for 2 pesos but 20 pesos for a horse and buggy and a bag full of beer and a quiet and intimate ride was more enjoyable for me. He would stop and let us take pictures and so on. Good way to give stuff to the Cuban people. I have known a Cuban family for 6 years now and went to her home town in Banes.(Twice now)by taxi. It’s 45 minutes away and took a cab which cost us 65.00 tourist pesos. We got there at 1p.m. and left at 8p.m. Our taxi driver was so nice and also explained about every town. He was lot’s of fun. His name is Hermes. We had so much fun with him. We had Christmas in November with my Cuban family. Got all 6 of them a pair of p.j.’s and each a makeup bags for the ladies and shaving kits for the men. I wrapped the gifts with Christmas wrapping in my room. Watching them smell a bar of soap, happy to get shampoo and asking what toothpaste was, smelling the perfume and happy to get a razor with blades was very emotional for all of us. They have nothing!!!! The child picked vitamins over candies. 8 year old folding the p.j. he received and admiring it with care when we give our children clothes and they toss it waiting for the next gift. They gently opened their gift not to tear the wrapping paper. I can’t begin to express what I have seen. It was very emotional.
Arrival
Our flight was very good. First time with Air Canada and will travel with them from now on. I live in Northern Ontario and used to have to drive 8 hrs to get to the airport. Left from Timmins for only 96.00 extra. Did not have to get a room. We arrived in Toronto at 1:30 and left at 4:00p.m. We arrived in Holguin at7:45 by the time we got to our resort was 10:00p.m. We had someone greeting us and brought our luggage to the room. We then went to the 24 hr buffet on the Luna side for a bite to eat then went and checked out the disco on the beach.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Not too much of a pool person but had to try the swim up bar. The waitress was funny and very friendly. The beach, the beach!!!!! Nicest beach I have seen in all my travels in Cuba. Wide and white powdery sand with aqua waters. It was a little rough but not that much. I was told by a Cuban friend because it was the time of the year. I believe her because I have been to a resort not far from there in March and the water was calm. There is a bathroom and a snack bar on the Mares side. The beach on the Luna side is a little rocky but they also have a snack bar and a bathroom. I have been to Melias Las Dunas in Cayo Santa Maria which had no bathroom and I did not like that because it was a far walk and I don’t believe in pissing in the ocean. (Pardon my language) Going to the beach from Mares side has quite a few stairs. This hotel might be difficult for the elderly and the disabled.
Other Comments
All in all in 1 week we have done quite a bit. We savored every moment. Never again will I ever go for 1 week. Not long enough. If you plan on doing tours stay for 2 weeks. If you want is just the beach 1 week is enough but why go to Cuba without learning their culture. I also have to mention the dolphin tour (bring extra pesos for photos) which you can see from the hotel(not to far). You can go half a day by bus(79.00 pesos) or take the catameran for a whole day which gives you a lobster lunch and snorkeling . I have done both at the other resorts and it’s an awesome experience. You will love to walk the beach there. Lots of trees and lots of sombreas for shade. I will return to this resort. Between Playa Pesquero where I have been twice and Sol Rio de Luna y Mares resort it’s a tie. Scenery and beach Mares win. Playa Pesquero night life wins. Don’t get me wrong, you have to try both.(they’re not too far from each other). Service was very good at both. You will love the Cuban people. Treat them with respect and you will get 10 folds. Very family oriented, respectful and happy. Every time I go, I come back with good memories and I am great full for what we have and how lucky we are to be able to leave our country to experience their culture. Don’t forget to bring stuff for them. Things we take for granted like toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, vitamins,underwear, shoes, sandals, crocks, clothes. You don’t have to buy anything. Any clothes that don’t fit your children or yourselves, watches you don’t wear, hats you don’t wear. If your tired of your summer clothes leave it. Any medication, band aids (I always packed a medicine cabinet before I go) Anything you have at home in your medicine cabinet I always buy and leave it before I go. You never know you might need it and if you don’t you can leave it behind. Hope this review helps and if you have any questions you can reach me at pas_lynn@msn.com
Restaurants and Bars
They have the main buffet off the lobby named Colon buffet. Lots of choice in food. You can have them cook fish, steak, pork, eggs, omelets and so on if you want something done a special way. The variety is very good. No complaints. I have been to Cuba 6 times now and I am used to their foods. My niece and my daughters friend had a hard time adjusting but most of the times it’s all in peoples heads. They had someone making smoothies every morning and the juice was freshly squeezed. The Cuban coffee is awesome. You won’t miss Tim Horton’s.
We ate at 4 a la carte restaurants. My favorite was the French. We went to the Italian, International. You must experience the French The banana pie is to die for. Ate lobster 4 times while I was there.
Rooms
I traveled with my sobrina, eeha and amiga. We had 2 rooms side by side adjoining. I was very happy about that. Our view was spectacular. Ocean view facing the pool and the sea. Room 3034 and 3035 smack in the middle of the resort on the Mares side. Leaving our room was the most breath taken view of the mountains and vegetation. It was lush and green. We were close to the elevators. The beds were very comfortable. The room itself was a fair size with t.v. which we never used, cd player. Our fridge was stocked with beer pop and water every day. VIP you get beer but with regular room you only get 2 1 litre bottles.
I absolutely loved it!!
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
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Francine >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | Solo
The resort is huge. One lady clocked her steps & averaged 7 kilometres a day. The buffet is really far from the beach. There is a restaurant down by the beach that serves lunch but if you want to go to the buffet, it`s a long walk. The theatre is located right in the center of the resort. There are shuttles to get you around but most people walk instead of waiting for a shuttle. Also, since the resort has 1000 rooms, the shuttles are usually full – the drivers of the shuttles also expect a tip, for the most part. I really enjoyed my 2 week stay here & would go back in a flash. I met one couple who had been there 5 times – many visitors were repeat customers.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Lots to do at the resort – the night entertainment is amazing. There is aqua aerobics at the beach every a.m. around 11:30 a.m., followed by dance lessons on the beach. The activity team is great!! They work hard.
I went in to Varadero one day – it was o.k. but mostly just shops. People who did the Havana trip really liked it but it`s a long day to be gone from the resort.
Arrival
Arrival was not the best. They took us to this large room – you had to line up to get your room key, line-up was slow -there were a lot of people- no drinks or food offered to us – the buffet was closing for supper in 15 min.- we had to go back to the bus to get our luggage & then bring it to the buffet with us, then get the shuttle to the rooms. it was late, we were tired. The resort is huge.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is amazing. I read one of the reviews where it said the beach was small – don`t know what they were talking about. You could walk to your right ( facing the water) for 45 minutes, up to Barcelo Marina Palace. You could also walk far to the left, once you went around the point, although the sand was a little sharp around the point. Sometimes it is too windy for the hobie cats to go out. But the water sports staff are all very friendly & accomodating. I went out to snorkel with them – they charge a fee but it was worth it – saw some amazing fish.,Just a ride on the hobie cat is free & you can go each day, as long as there is an opening for a booking – you book in the a.m. There is the activity pool & the quiet pool. I never swam in the pools,

The grounds are beautiful – well-kept.

Other Comments
Be prepared to walk a lot. It wasn`t until my 5th day there that I really felt I knew my way around – sometimes you end up walking around in circles. They have a beautiful lobby. Food is served somewhere basically 24 hours a day. If you get a good price, take it. I really don`t think you would be disappointed.

They also had a good program for children`s activites.

Restaurants and Bars
The Gourmet a la carte restaurant wasn’t good at all – air conditoning was on too strong, freezing in there, very small portions of food, slow service. I liked the other a la carte restaurants. I didn’t try the Steakhouse or the Mexican. The Italian & the Cuban were very good. The buffet was great. I ate for 2 weeks & didn`t get tired of it. I have been to several resorts & this was by far the best. Didn`t have any indigestion or intestinal problems at all. I didn`t have any alcoholic drinks – only wine with meals which was great.

The bartenders were all friendly, especially done at the beach bar.

Room Block
32
Room Number
3214
Rooms
I found the rooms nice. The other reviews described them very accurately. They were clean, good water pressure – everything worked – no complaints. If you like quiet,it would be wise to ask for a room on the outside perimeter of the hotel. If you`re close to the activity pool, it is very noisy , especially on Fri. nights when they have the kareoke,
Hotel is great, food was good, but I think ONCE is plenty for a visit to Cuba
Hotel Melia Varadero
User Rating:  
nimi >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2010 | Leisure | Family
In general, I think the hotel, the people and the food were all good. This hotel is old and it shows. We took a full day tour of Havana from Sun wing agent. In this tour, it was a unique experience of having your first stop at a massive grave site. Personally, I found Cuba boring — I think next time I want to see a communist country then China is going to be my first choice. I don’t think I would visit Cuba again.
Not an ideal place
Hotel Paradisus Princesa del Mar
User Rating:  
Blair >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2010 | Wedding | With Group
Overall, I don’t think I would ever return to this resort. It was definitely not a five star. The food was awful, the staff was rude, and I caught bed bugs (as my doctor has informed me), from my room! Other guests in my group also caught bed bugs from their rooms. The spa was okay. I have been to better ones that charge way less at home in Canada. I had a "Serenity Massage". It was nice, but I wouldn’t spend the money ever again on a back rub that your partner could give you just the same.

Don’t count on anything being on time or according to schedule. We ended up canceling our horseback riding due to multiple delays which left us waiting for hours in the hotel lobby.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Went on a Catarmaran to snorkel and see the dolphins. Was not impressed when the crew refused to turn back to shore when the whether turned to heavy winds and rain.
Arrival
Arrived early in the morning, had a little wait for my room, was given cocktails until room was ready which was okay.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Alright. Found that the beach in town was better. Pools were clean and well kept. There was no fighting for lounge chairs as I have found at other resorts.
Restaurants and Bars
Decent. Not a lot of alcohol selection. Still had to pay for certain liquors. Entertainment was fairly good, but always was too late in the evening (10 or 11pm).
Rooms
Infested with bed bugs and ants. The room appeared to be fairly nice and clean.
Our Wedding (May 2009) not October 2010
Hotel Sirenis Playa Turquesa (formerly Occidental Grand Playa Turquesa)
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Kristine >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2010 | Wedding | With Group
When we arrived in Holguin Cuba it was just after the whole Swine Flu epidemic so we were a bit nervous to see so many Cubans wearing full face gear, but hey, can’t blame them for being health conscious. My husband and I were getting married on the beach and we were so excited to have our best man, maid of honour and her family with us. When we checked it, it was about 2000hr so it was dark, but we were welcomed by friendly faces, and welcome drinks, which I think I had about 3 I was so thirsty. We checked in no problem, took the little taxis shuttles to our rooms, and relaxed. My husband noticed that we had the view of dirt, and it wasn’t very romantic for us, so we changed rooms the next day. Not only did they change our room, but also our best man’s with no hassle at all. Our other friends had to change that evening because they were to had adjoining rooms for their kids, and that wasn’t right, but not a problem there. They were changed as well. We had read so many reviews before going that we really didn’t expect much out of the food. We were very surprised, and happy that the reviews were wrong. It’s Cuba people what do you expect to get? The Buffet was perfect for breakfast, and lunchs, we spent most of the time at Don Bartolo’s getting some polo fritto!! We actually made it through the drink list that’s painted on the top of the bar. Try it, it’s fun.

The wedding co-ordinator Yjami (spelt wrong I’m sorry) was absolutely amazing. She sat down with us for about 30min, that’s all we needed, she asked me the flowers I wanted, the song I wanted, type of cake and goodies, and all done. The day of the wedding i had my hair done in my room, we had champagne every day in our mini fridge, not high class but hey it’s free, and my wedding day. Put my dress on, and then took one of the taxi shuttles to my beach setting. As I started getting closer to the beach the driver was honking his horn for dear life. I thought it was to announce my arrival , but I found out later it was to tell the staff to hurry up and finish decorating. My husband and best man found it very funny. Goes to show you that there’s real time, and then Cuban time. The ceremony was perfect, the flowers amazing. We shared our goodies and champagne with people on the beach, took amazing pictures, stood in the ocean in my wedding gown. How could it be so wrong. It wasn’t. Not one bit.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did the catamaran and dolphin lunch excursion, if you have the 103 pesos, do it. OH MY GOODNESS!!! it was the best thing I have ever done. It was a rainy day, so we were a bit worried, but the captain of the catamaran made us feel at ease, and kept the beer coming. It was the greatest day besides my wedding of course. Plus to swim with a dolphin was one of my husbands to do things on his list, it was incredible.

My husband and the best man went into Holguin, and did a tour there, but they realized that the "children"/"beggars" were probably working with the tour company because they seemed to be everywhere the bus went, but they did enjoy themselves. They did tip a guy to keep everyone away from them, and that helped the situation.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
It was fairly windy the week we were there, so we didn’t hang out on the beach at all, except for the wedding of course.
Other Comments
There are a lot of stairs, I think we counted 185 going from the pool bar up to Don Bartolo’s washroom. I found on the last day that my room was closer, lol. I loved every second of this trip and wouldn’t have changed anything.
Restaurants and Bars
The restaurants and Bars were perfect. Food was always good, and the bar, could you ever go wrong with drinks? Never, we did learn as we are resort virgins to bring your own sippy cup. They are bigger and you don’t need as many refills as often, plus you get more alcohol in it. The disco was awesome, loved every minute of it.
total pleasure and relaxation for me
Hotel Gaviota Playa Costa Verde
User Rating:  
pierre >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | Solo
going in decembre for the fifth time.needles to say hotel enviroment ,staff food ,drinks,and hawsome excursions .most of all staff becomes family ,hugs when you arrive and leave.the natural smile and warmth these people have cannot be described in words.making friends with people from around the world confirms my sentiments for this resort"ultimate we all agree".a must is an hour with a dolphin ,jeep tour,the beach and snorkell in corals ,visit of city of holguin and more everytime i return .i give this 5 stars .
Arrival
unforgettable
Beach/Pools/Grounds
animation staff "love em"
Restaurants and Bars
got to try it
Rooms
5 stars
Perfect holiday – going back next year… PPDM, you rock!!!
Hotel Paradisus Princesa del Mar
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Mon >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Sep, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We stayed for two weeks and can’t fault anything. The manager is out and about at all times, checking that everything is up to standard – and it helps!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Good choice of sport activities, we played voleyball every morning on the beach and afternoon in the pool, pool aerobics and games every afternoon very entertaining. Night entertainment after dinner – every night different, a band, fashion, dancing, pool ballet, karaoke…. Spanish lessons in the afternoon are fun as is the banana boat and the snorkling.
Arrival
Very efficient, a lovely cocktail served while doing paper work.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach very quiet, the already mentioned bar is great, a lot of lounges available. Pools very clean, although I missed a proper swimming pool. Gardeners working every day, keeping everything nice, chatting to you and making things out of palm leaves or handing flowers to ladies – how sweet!
Other Comments
See you next year!
Restaurants and Bars
Staff very friendly, would push their limits to get us what we wanted (even if it involved a walk into other restaurants to make us happy). Food choice enormous, you either book a la carte or go into a buffet restaurant – didn’t find anything we didn’t like. The best of all are the bars with even international brands in the all inclusive price – pool bar, rocket bar and beach bar are highly recommended, the staff are incredible – they enjoy watching you get high!!!
Room Block
Holguin
Room Number
4010
Rooms
Spacious, air conditioning worked well, nice and clean, bar stocked up every morning, a couple of mosquitos but -hey – you are in CUBA!!! Cleaners folded our towels into incredible creatures and things every morning – marvellous.
My home away from home
Hotel Cubanacan Club Amigo Marea del Portillo
User Rating:  
lois >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Just returned to Marea del Portillo after an absence of 20 years. There were still friends there who recognized me. THe arrival at the airport is well organized. The ride to hotel gives you an amazing insight into the way of life of Cuban people. THere is help at the hotel for your luggage. The rooms are adequate and have hairdryers and towels provided. Beach towels are provided as well. THe hotel is located in a rural setting which makes it a very relaxing quiet place for all ages to enjoy a safe and fun filled vacation. The hotel is clean, the food is plain but tasty. Lunch can be served at the beach bar. The staff are very friendly and helpful. There is a money exchange and internet access in the lobby. The beach is just delightful and uncrowed. Enjoy the excellent snorkeling in the lagoon. Take every opportunity to explore the surrounding country side, the locals are delighted to meet you. Take the planned excursions available, the horse riding is great. The evening entertainment is a colourful and musical introduction to the Cuban culture. Feel safe to explore the beach and surrounding area. Enjoy this very special place.
Chow
One very hot week (sometimes too hot actually!)
Hotel Sirenis Playa Turquesa (formerly Occidental Grand Playa Turquesa)
User Rating:  
Pierre >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Aug, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went to swim with the dolphins; well, actually, our 2 daughters went. My wife and I didn’t have any interest in doing the swimming part so our daughters took our "20 minutes swim" coupons and went again for a total of 40 minutes. They had a blast. One of our daughter was selected to be thrown out of the water by 2 dolphins which made unbelievable memories. Glossy picture from the so-called "expert photograph" (a regular guy with a above average camera) is 10 pesos but not really worth it. We were right next to him while he was taking pictures and we barely see any difference when we compare our pictures with his. But even if we didn’t swim with the dolphins, my wife and I were still allowed to go on the platform to have our picture taken with a dolphin between us. There is a different show every evening at the theater. On our second evening, we sat behind two guys who had too much to drink and they really ruined it for everyone around them. Remember that seeing a live show is no different than seeing a movie: Shut up! It’s even worse as the performers are there to see the lack of respect compared to a movie. One guy stood up and asked them to shut up to which the other reply "We have the right to speak". When the pissed spectator loudly yelled "You’re a f—–g idiot", we thought "Ding! Round one", but no, he just left now that his show was completely ruined. The two drunk idiots kept taking. Please, people, if you’re not there to see the show, just leave.

They cancel katamaran and pedalos reservations as soon as it’s too windy, so better go make your reservations very early in the morning. Katamaran was quite boring anyway as they just go straight toward the ocean for 10 minutes then just come straight back. Pedalos were most pleasant for that.

Arrival
We were greeted at 20h30 with a cold towel and a drink they simply call the "Welcome Drink". My wife got hooked on these and didn’t drink much else during out 7 days stay!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pool with bar is the most popular but also has the most kids who play more with the plastic glasses than anything else (like others have said, where are the parents?!). The barman at pool is called Ivan and he’s impossible to hate. Like I told him the last day I saw him, he’s part of our best memories.
Other Comments
General rules: You can tip everything, you can bargain any homemade stuff (my 16 years old single-handedly bargained a 30 pesos item for 22 pesos!) and there’s rum in everything. Everybody expects a tip although they will not frown if you don’t give any. The only "I really don’t wanna work" face I’ve seen was from the cook on the beach. Some people told us it was the raining period, some others said it wasn’t so. Verdict: We had rain for a total of about 3 hours during our 7 days stay.

When it came time to leave, I found out the cashier had no canadian coins meaning no less that $5 bills. When I went to exchange my pesos for canadian money, I was offered $35 for my 37 pesos, which didn’t make any sense. The cashier told me that if I could manage to find 1 more peso, he could give me $40 instead. This means the initial amount was somewhere in $39 but he had to round it down to $35. That’s so bad!

Restaurants and Bars
Buffet is the same everyday although slightly different between lunch and supper. It’s not fine cuisine, but hey, you’re in Cuba; you have to expect the food to be different.

Restaurants à-la-carte are not on the map provided by the reception and it wasn’t obvious to find them on our own, so we had to call reception who did their best to explain it in this huge resort. By the way, the stuffed chicken at the Italian restaurant is just awesome!

Rooms
Rooms are grouped in individual blocks of rooms making it harder to have connecting rooms. We were 3 groups of 2 people and our daughters had to stay in a separate block (at least close) which didn’t make us a bit worried. We had room 504 which was better than the other 2 rooms (506 and 512) because it had an additional sofa, table, bar stand and 3 stools. The rooms wasn’t physically bigger, but more places to sit which was useful for the 6 of us when we wanted to relax in an air conditioned room. The resort is huge, but it doesn’t take long to learn its layout. Beds are a bit too hard for me but still acceptable. The pillow is thin but wide (like 1’x3′), so you can easily fold it to make it the thickness you want. The fridge is filled daily with at least two 1500ml water bottles and 2 pops (flavor randomly vary). It seems we had a small problem with our shower as the water was only warm, but my brother-in-law said he had plenty. We didn’t complain because it was enough to make it refreshing anyway. I had to kill only 2 bugs in my room during my stay. You might want to bring tape to block the gap under the room door because it’s quite big allowing most bugs to easily get it. My daughter (who’s terrified of bugs) used a little flashlight we initially bought as a gift for room service. She couldn’t leave without it in the evening because this is when crabs come out.

The curtains are not thick enough and light brightens the room at 7am.

Paradisus Varadero Royal Service Raves!
Hotel Paradisus Varadero
User Rating:  
Fiona >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This is our 3rd trip in 2 years and we were lucky enough to experience the Paradisus Varadero’s brand new Royal Service. I reviewed the main resort previously; this review is largely specific to the new Royal Service. Butler service

The PV has chosen their most experienced, charming and multi-lingual staff for the Royal Service. They bent over backward to make our stay great. Extensive room service is available 24 hours a day.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Spa and gym: A gorgeous, full-service 5* spa and fully-equipped gym are now available.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The lovely private pool is surrounded by lots of those big, square palapas with mattresses, bolsters and room for 2 or more. Curtains tie up for sun or hang down for shade. Also very comfortable lounge chairs. It was marvelous to have the option of this (usually) quiet pool in the Royal Service, or the bigger pools with more going on in the main resort.
Other Comments
The rest of the resort: Well, we wouldn’t be back again if we didn’t love the place! Check out the newer reviews for more info on the fabulous beach, lovely grounds, great restaurants, big pools and friendly staff!
Restaurants and Bars
Pool bar Has its own mint patch for freshly-made mojitos! Really great service unless there is a large group of guests on hand, in which case they need more backup. Private restaurant Excellent food, excellent service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the closest to really fine dining that we have encountered in Cuba – we have always enjoyed the food in the main resort but this is a step up! There are lots of choices of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, as well as soups, desserts, etc. Lobby bar

Air conditioned and therefore mosquito-free if that’s a concern for you. We didn’t encounter many mosquitos this trip but have on trips later in the summer. The 24-hour lobby bar is small and not many people used it – but we enjoyed getting an early morning tea or a drink after the show. If you’re looking for more action, head over to the main resort’s lobby or disco. You can always ask for a ride in one of the little guest transports.

Rooms
Most of the villas have 2 suites upstairs and 2 downstairs. Ours was downstairs and had a private patio with table, chairs and a lounge/sofa. The bedroom-sitting area is attractive and large, and has a couch, 2 armchairs and a coffee table, flat screen TV, built-in bar fridge (fully stocked) and picture windows/doors out onto the patio. Full water view. The king-size bed is more comfortable than the usual PV beds; still not luxurious but a definite improvement. There is a pillow menu, from which you can choose various shapes and fills. We tried several – lots of fun! Large walk-in closet with lots of hanging and drawer space and a safe. Bathroom – yes, it rates its own review!

The bathroom is as wide as the bedroom, with a large spa-bath. There are various aromatherapy products for the bath and your butler will actually come and draw your personally-selected bath for you. I didn’t avail myself of this, but if you’re into that kind of service, have a blast! There are “his” and “hers” counters, each with a sink, large mirror, lots of counter space. Between the 2 counters is the door to your private Roman courtyard with a latticed roof for semi-shade and privacy, little palm tree, gardens and a path down the middle to the outdoor shower in the tiled wall. WOW! Gorgeous! I couldn’t get enough of standing in the warm Cuban air while showering. It was a very clean vacation!

Your Arrival
Once again, the best staff have been assigned to Royal Service. Check in, check out, questions, etc. were all handled very quickly and easily.

The entire reception, lobby, etc. is air conditioned and therefore mosquito-free if that’s a concern for you. We didn’t encounter many mosquitos this trip but have on trips in the summer. There’s a nice little lounge area with a decent pool table for a lazy end to a long, hot day!

Beautiful resort and well worth the money!
Hotel Barcelo Cayo Santa Maria
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Sara >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Very nice resort. Perfect for couples and young families. Not enough action for most teens or people in their 20’s. Be aware that it is now low season and only the Beach side is operational.

LOTS and LOTS of walking if your room is in Building 7!!! Flip side is that you are very close to the beach boardwalk over the dunes. There are carts that you can wait for to get around, but be prepared to wait for them.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There are pool-side activities (follow the leader dance, bingo) but the female animator was a little on the loud and annoying side. There is nightly entertainment at the resort Theater. Theme varied each night. Female animator was the hostess – could she be even louder at night??? Yep.

We did the catamaran excursion. HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ONE!! We went snorkling, interacted with dolphins, spent a couple of hours at a private beach, had a lovely lobster lunch (chicken for those who don’t like lobster) with an open bar. There are nets where you can lay down and get some sun. A lot of fun and the highlight of our trip.

Arrival
From Santa Clara airport, it is an hour and a half drive to the resort. You go through two little towns and it is a chance to see how real life is for the Cuban people. If you think of this drive as an additional "bonus" excursion, you will enjoy it. Buses are air conditioned and almost new.

Check in was a breeze – luggage arrived at our room in minutes. Room was exactly what we asked for, with a partial ocean view from the balcony. Be sure to keep track of your blue beach towels!! You will be charged if they are not returned and at check out, they can refuse to give you the check out card for your tour operator that allows you to get on the bus to the airport.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beach is gorgeous. Turquoise water and white flour sand. Hard to describe how nice in words – it really is paradise. Depending on wind, it will be either bobbing waves or bigger waves that break on the beach. Lots of palapas – arrive early to guarantee a spot, as they go quick. Pool is beautiful – but they need to provide more shade!!

Grounds are well kept. Gardeners are out early morning, working hard to tend to the flowers and trees.

Other Comments
The pest control truck was a little nerve wracking. It would pass by nightly, leaving a huge trail of blue smoke. Smelled like turpentine. We nicknamed the truck "Agent Orange" and would cover our faces when we heard the plane-like noise it made. Know it is a necessary evil, as the mosquitos would have been fierce without pest control.

As we were leaving the resort at the end of our stay, we saw the pest control truck on the main road that leads to the hotel. It was like a flame thrower – flame was shooting out at least ten feet behind the truck. Not sure if it was a malfunction or if it was cleaning out the spray gun. It sure was scary to see, though.

Restaurants and Bars
Food was very good at the buffets. There is a pizza station, pasta station, two grills where they will cook your breakfast omelet or eggs and your steak/chicken/fish as to your liking. We did the seafood and italian à la carte restaurants. Appetizers were the same at both, food was tasty and wine very good. They had musical entertainment, which gave a nice ambiance to the restaurant. Loved the lobby bar! We played cards there every evening, enjoying a drink or fancy coffee and listening to the live music. They had one piano player / drummer duet who were very, very good. We tipped well and got very good service. The Swim Up pool bar and Beach bar were both nice, but waiters aren’t too attentive, even when you tipped well. Long line ups at both spots. Must be horrible during high season.
Rooms
Rooms are clean and adequate. Many problems with patio door not closing/locking and we had the shower curtain problem too. They have added rings to try to lower it down, but the pole was installed much too high, so you have water going everywhere. Toilets broke one night, was fixed quickly next day. We had some small spiders visit inside the room at night – nothing horrendous, but they were there every night. Had to ask for an iron – our housekeeper (Dayli) brought us one the next day. She did towel art every day and the room was kept very clean.
Pleasantly Surprised!
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
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Amy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jul, 2010 | Leisure | Family
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t do anything outside of the resort (we’ve already been there, done that) but on the resort we did participate in the beach volleyball every morning as well as bocciball shortly after. The entertainment staff had activities throughout the day but that’s all we chose to participate in because it was located conveniently on the beach. At night, there were different shows every night. We never really saw a show because it started late (9:30pm) and by then we were already asleep.

They also have a games place where there is a pingpong table and a pool table. For pingpong, it’s best to bring your own ball and paddles as I’ve noticed the ball went missing at one point. The pool table has its own equipment always there.

Arrival
We travelled as a family which included my parents, myself(20) and my brother(14). Arrival was very speedy. The front desk had everything ready for us. We asked for 2 rooms and they had put them next to each other.

We were also pleasantly surprised to find that our beach towels were also waiting for us in our rooms. We did arrive after midnight, so it wasn’t really necessary to have them but it was nice not to have to find the club house the next morning while we still had no idea where everything was.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds were meticulously kept. The beach was always clean. The palm umbrellas (that’s not their correct name, but it doesn’t come to mind right now…) were maintained and plentiful.

The staff that dealt with the beach chairs were sometimes hard to take. This one guy in particular was incredibly lazy and would often attempt to ignore my request for chairs. I would’ve preferred a lack of staff for that on the beach. I’m quite capable of getting my own chair, but we had to put up with them for 2 weeks. They also collect the chairs at 5ish and if you want to stay longer they give you looks. Their shift ends officially at 5:30-6:00 I believe and they always want to be done earlier. I just ignored them when I wanted to stay longer which was just once or twice during my stay anyways.

Other Comments
The hotel’s gym/spa also offers manicures, pedicures, haircuts, etc. For the most part these are generally less expensive than at home. However, don’t expect the kind of manicure you get here. It’s very basic there: cut the nails, file, do the cuticles, put on the polish. The manicure and pedicures were each 5 CUC. The haircut was also 5 or 10 CUC (I can’t remember exactly at the moment). They also offered massages. Ranging from just foot massages to full body, whole hour massages. We didn’t try as we found these to be expensive in comparison to other resorts. The foot massage was 10 CUC and it went up from there to 25 CUC for a full body massage for half an hour I believe. Overall, we really enjoyed our stay. We would definitely recommend this resort and would go again if we didn’t want to try a new resort each year. The manager of this resort (tall, young and bald) is always walking around. He’s glad to talk to tourists and often comes up to people randomly and asks them how they’re enjoying their stay and if there’s anything that needs changing. Feel free to introduce yourself to him, he looks scary but he’s very friendly. If you have any kind of problem that you can’t resolve in other ways, he’s always happy to help.

Also, keep in mind that this is a very small and very, very quiet resort. I would definitely not choose it for a spring break vacation with my friends. But it’s perfect for R&R and families with small children (which by the way, they do have a daycare for).

Restaurants and Bars
The main buffet restaurant was where everyone ate generally. Since the resort was not even half-full, all the seating was outside though they also have inside tables which they set up if there are a lot of people. The food was good. Every night they had a different theme such as Asian night, Italian night, etc. The food was very varied from day to day. Breakfast was generally always the same thing, but lunch and dinner were always different from the day before and from each other (this is something that at other hotels bugged me because they used to have the same food 2 or even 3 days in a row at times). The waiters were all amazing. If you stayed long enough like we did (2 weeks) they had memorized our drink orders. They were always smiley and eager to get you whatever you needed. We didn’t try the pool bar, as we spent all our time at the beach but I’m sure the service there is exactly the same as on the beach. The beach bar was actually being extended while we were there. The service was good. The bartender was always at his post and made whatever drink you wanted. The only thing I personally disliked was the lack of martini just at the beach bar. It’s pretty much the only alcohol I drink and I had to find something else to enjoy while on the beach. In the end it wasn’t a huge deal but it would’ve been nice. I assume with the new, larger bar they’ll have all the drinks they have everywhere else in the resort.

There are cats in this resort and they enjoy strolling by while people eat as some insisted on feeding them. And yes, they’re fuzzy and adorable but they have fleas so I recommend you stay far away from them.

Rooms
The rooms were very nice. They appeared to have been renovated recently. Contrary to some of the reviews I read before we went, the safe in the room was free. There was plenty of room for clothes and the such. The closet was roomy (and the top shelf has blankets in case you need them) and there were drawers in and out of the closet. Each room also has a minifridge which is stocked daily with beer, soft drinks and water. The AC in all the rooms was centrally controlled which we have never encountered at another hotel (this was our 8th year in Cuba). This bothered me slightly because if you turn it off, you fry overnight but if you leave it on, it tends to get very chilly some nights, which is when I was very glad for the blankets. Also, contrary to many hotels, the card slot only controls the electricity and not the AC. The AC runs all day unless you turn it off. The maid came by everyday. We found that there was a different maid almost every day. Which didn’t concern us in the least. However, I noticed that some of them cleaned more thoroughly than others. Sometimes our floor was swept, other times it wasn’t. Some would wash the bathtub and others would not. Just little things. The room was by no means ever dirty, just not always as clean.
I Love the workers at this resort, second time there and would defiently stay again.
Hotel NH Krystal Laguna Villas & Resort
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Shannon >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jun, 2010 | Leisure | Family
My sister and I have just gotten back from a week at the N.H. Krystal Lagoon, this is our second time here at this resort and can’t wait to go back. From the Bartenders to the Gardeners to the entertaiment staff and the maids it was a wonderful stay, the only complaint that I would have is the bathrooms on the pool side had very limited of toilet paper and wern’t very clean, but over the week it had gotten better, we had just gotten back so it is very slow this time of year so there was not much to choose from at the buffet, but always somthing to eat. Alexander the bartender at the main pool we meet our last stay there two years ago and soon as he saw us remenbered us right away he is a amazing guy, very friendly and prompt at trying to help with anything you need, there was always a drink in our hands. The garderners also great and friendly people, would do anything to assist you, weather it was to give you a coconut or make you something handmade they would do it tip or not they were just happy to give you something.the weather was amazing, very warm this time of year, alittle to warm, but the pool was there to cool of anytime you got hot, which was often. you had no problems to find a lawn bed due to low season, out of 690 room there might have been 200 guests, which was great for service if you wanted a drink or anything for that matter. Check in when we arrived was very slow due to low staff this time of year, it was a hour wait to check in, they served coctails while waiting in line which was very nice. The room were very clean and spacious, the maids kept it very clean and if you run out of something she will always go out of her way to try to assist you. There was 3 out of the 7 la carts open for service, the Steakhouse, seafood and Italian, you book them the next day apon arrival, from 9am to 5pm, they take ahour for luch.there is a bank on site and you can also get cash at the front desk but better to change at the bank, there is also a gift shop and hair salon open daily. During the day for luch you can visit the buffet resturant or snack bar which is located by the main pool, which serves from 10am in the morning sanwiches and fries and 12 noon pizza, chicken, pork, salads this is open until 5pm. the buffet resurant opens for supper at 630 and is open until 10. So if you are looking for a great place to visit for the price I would recommed this to you. If you are looking for a 5star resort this is not the place to go, but like I said this is cuba and for the price I would stay a month or longer if I had to, I hope my review was a help to you, CHEERS and have a great stay if you deside to make this your destination,I would call the people here my family and my home.
Perfect Wedding
Hotel Sandals Royal Hicacos
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Janis >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
I absolutely loved it.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went on 3 trips off the resort. The catamaran, the speed boats, and Varadero. The boats were fun and definately recommended.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Very clean, the beach was like heaven!!
Other Comments
We went with a group of 14 to get married. It was a stress free, perfect wedding. We were given a letter at check with a time to meet with the wedding specialist. We met the next day at 10:30 for about 20 min, long enough to pick flowers, location, cake, restaurant, book spa and hair etc. Then I didnt hear anything else until the day of the wedding. A phone call to say she’d be there with the flowers, and then after she arrived with the flowers she said "wait for my call". Once I got her call I, along with all of the girls, walked to the gazibo and everything was set up perfect!!! We didnt have to do a thing, I would definately recomment getting married or renewing vows there.
Restaurants and Bars
The restaurants were great, because it’s a couples resorts there weren’t any exciting clubs. There was the disco lounge with the best bartendar, Rodney!
Rooms
Our room was beautiful and spacious! The maides kept them extremely clean and always had cool towel art on the bed with nice notes. Our beach towels were always exchanged in the night as well.
Your Arrival
We arrived late and it was a quick, and I mean quick drive to the rooms. I would have liked it if the guy that drove us to the room was friendly. However we did get there late.
Excellent time at La Salina
Hotel Sirenis La Salina
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Gary >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
Our trip was from 1 to 8 May, we had a excellent time and would return to and recommend this resort to others.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Went on 3 day excursions while there, Jeep Safari, had a very good time, long and hot and was able to see allot of the beautiful country, hand a very nice lunch at Rancho Gaviota, spent lot of time there. Overall very good and would recommend to anyone that wants to see Cuba. We also did the Catamaran….very nice and enjoyed very much, except for some obnoxious people on the boat we had a lot of fun…

did the day trip to Havana on the Friday, very nice and clean City, would recommend this one to all, I would do it again if i go back to cuba

Beach/Pools/Grounds
We spent only a little time at the beach, it was very nice and not to crowded. We were usually there late in the day after spending time in the quite pool and then moved down after lunch. Water was beautifully warm and clean. The pools were Ok and sometimes not very clean but what the heck. Only went to the activity pool once, very noisy and crowded,
Other Comments
Overall our trip was very nice and relaxing, would recommend Cuba and this resort to anyone. Yes the resort is big, but if you cant walk about a Km to go from the lobby to the beach then you have a problem, once you see some of the other resorts along the way and how cramped they are then you will like the openness of la Salina. It only took us 15 Mins to walk the resort at a leisurely stroll. I would definitely return to this resort Next year
Restaurants and Bars
We ate breakfast everyday at the buffet, very good food and no complaints about what you could eat….something for everyone, didn’t eat lunch there usually ate at the snack bar by the quite pool one day we ate at the beach grill and had the best pulled pork sandwich ever, the bbq chicken was good as well. the snack bar at the quite pool was very good to. Had the a la carte breakfast once at the beach grill, it was good but that was about it. A La Cartes we had were Italian- was good and the Japanese- it was excellent.We usually drank at the pool bar in the quite pool, didn’t matter if you tipped the bar staff, service was the same either way, some nights we drank at the Tacon theater bar, drinks were good and service ok. Never went to the disco at the piano bar, was never up that late.
Rooms
Our room was in Building 29 on the first floor, however our friends that traveled with us were in Building 40 Near the center of the resort, tried to change rooms but no luck, as well we had 2 single beds instead of a King as requested, no big deal, we just pushed the beds together. The room was clean and the maid cleaned the room everyday and restocked the fridge if needed the bathroom tub did leak, however i think this is just due to poor design
Your Arrival
Our arrival was about 1030 at the Varadero airport, lots of people coming in on different flights, however we were in the airport quick and found our luggage after a bit, however this was due to other travelers taking it off the carousel thinking it was theirs and not putting in back on. We arrived at La Salina about 1130 after stopping at about 3 other resorts on the way. Check in was quick and we were in our room at about 1200.
beautiful swimming beach/well maintained restaurants/lovely staff
Hotel Gaviota Playa Pesquero
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kenneth >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2010 | Business | Solo
I have been returning to this hotel every year since it opened in 2004,it is almost my home away from home, the staff are lovely people, respectful and pleasant, always willing to satisfy. Especially beautiful is the swimming beach with almost no wave action, almost a lagoon with transparent water 100 ft off the surf line 10 to 15 ft deep. (There is also a small sheltered bay near the river, but sand flies can sometimes be a problem there.Don’t lie on bare sand!!!!).
Arrival
There is usually a cocktail reception on arrival, but as the bar is also in the very large and beautiful reception area, there are many varieties of cocktail that the barmen will be happy to make for you!!!!
Beach/Pools/Grounds
beatiful large pool with swim-up bar, comfortable lounge chairs and sun shelters. An exercise gym also contains a jacouzi pool.Lots of pool activities.
The vegetation is beautiful once again,(3 yrs after the hurricane Ike passed through),many palms have been replanted.
Other Comments
The hotel is especially popular for marriage ceremonys, and welcoming parents with small children with open arms.There are organised baby-sitting/playing to give the parents a rest!!!!, and private baby sitting can be obtaines too I believe.
Restaurants and Bars
Very good variety in the restaurants, for the ladies who like to dress-up at least once for a special night the Romantica restaurant is a favourite. The buffet resto is very good too, as is also the pool resto for lunch which is very clean.Five "a la carte" restos are on the grounds with wine service.
Rooms
The rooms are large and spacious with a well equipped bathroom, (bidet and hair dryer and 110v plug-in). Repeat clients also receive an upgrade from a standard to a superior room. There is a TV, a dial-in security box and a small refrigerator in the room, plus coffee machine and ironing board with iron. The bar is refreshed every day with bottled water, beer and soft drinks at no charge.
Great vacation at a beautiful resort
Hotel Gaviota Playa Pesquero
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Francois >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I traveled with my wife and 2 year old son from March 21st to March 28th 2010. This was my first trip to Cuba but my 3rd all-inclusive vacation in the Caribbean’s. The weather was just great, mostly sunny and 30ish every day, and the resort was excellent. Here are some thoughts on my personal experience and impressions of the PP.
À la carte
Reservation was a breeze; I didn’t bother on the Sunday, but when to the reservation desk around 10h00 on Monday morning. There were three people taking the reservation and only two were busy. It took five minutes and I had four reservations for 6h30. We booked the Vegetarian, Seafood, Italian and Caribbean. They were all very good, if I had to choose a favorite, I would say the Seafood one. The service was good at all of them and they have some decent wines also. They give you the bottle of wine, which is nice; they had a selection of Chilean and Spanish wine. It’s a lot better then the “house wine” they are serving at the buffet for dinner, which taste like what my father makes in his basement(not very good). I did book a fifth reservation on a day we didn’t have any. I just went to the reservation desk and asked nicely if there was a spot available somewhere for 6h30. The lady was very nice, as I didn’t realized it was already 3h15(the reservation desk closes at three), so she couldn’t enter us in the system and she had to make a few phone calls. It took her five minutes, but she did get us another reservation at the Vegetarian for that night, which was great as we preferred the à-la-carte to the buffet. Beware of one thing, when they serves you a plate and they tell you it’s really hot, you better believe them: my wife and at least 2 other people got a burn after lightly touching the side of the plate that was just served to them at the veggie – it seems like they cook the dish in the plate itself! At the Italian, they have a separate kids menu and at the Seafood and Carri bean, they offered to cook something for my son that was not on the menu, like burgers and fries.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We took a cab to the Guardalavaca market one morning. It’s about a 15 to 20 minutes ride and it cost 12CUC each way (for the cab, not by person). The cab driver was great and he waited for us to bring us back to the resort. The market itself is not really big and was pretty crowed, we didn’t stay there long, there is a beautiful beach just a short walk from it and the kid played there for about an hour and we walked around a bit and then we got back to the resort. There are a few small bars around the area also. There are other options to get to the market, there is a train( which is not really a train, it’s the same sort of train that runs around the resort all day ) and it leaves around 9h30 to come back around 1h30, it is 5 CUC’s each way. There is also a double Decker bus, that you can hope one, I believe it’s the same price as the train and it goes by the resort around 9h10 and stays at the market for 2 hours. You can also take one of the horses-trolley to get there, if I remember well, it’s around 35 CUC’s if you go by horse. We did take a horse ride, for an hour, it was 15CUC’s and we rode to the small village of Melia, where most of the resort workers live. It was an interesting ride, too bad the driver wasn’t very chatty, but we did see the living conditions of some of the locals’ which are pretty basic. There is also a small school in Melia, if we have known that before, we might have brought some school gears with us to give to the school.

We also went to the dolphin aquarium, and I did swim with the dolphins, and it was a great experience. It was 79CUC’s for swimming, 35CUC’s if you were not swimming and it was free for the kids under 4. It’s only a short bus ride from the resort, around 10-12 minutes and then a 5 minutes boat ride to the aquarium. We left the resort at 8h45 and we were back at 1h30. It was really hot over there and a bit too long with the kid, the sea lions and dolphins show were nice to watch, but they were pretty short and there was a lot of down time with nothing much to do.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
I thought that the beach was great. It is kind of split up into two portions by some rocks/corals. The portion to the right where is the longer beach area where you can walk to other resorts, and a smaller beach area on the left side of it. We tend to spend our time on the smaller part of the beach, since it was closer to our room and felt less crowed. The kid had a blast at the beach and the water was very calm all week, even thought some days were quite windy. Yes, some portions are a bit rocky, mostly on the smaller portion of the beach and it is not the smoothest sand I’ve seen, but it is still a great beach with the water having beautiful different shades of blue/turquoise. As I’ve read in a lot of reviews, it’s probably not like the Varadero beaches, I’ve even overheard that comment a few time on the beach from other guests. So, my suggestion on this is: If you want the beach to be like the ones in Varadero, then you probably should go there. There are a lot of free activities available and you can have some decent snorkeling not very far off the beach. There is no problem getting loungers, as some guys will even bring it out for you anywhere you want. As for a spot under the palapas, like I’ve mention before, unless you go later in the afternoon, you will have to wake up pretty early to get one.

Pool:This is one huge pool and it’s beautiful. It’s the warmest pool I’ve been in at an all-inclusive. The main bar is the pool bar, which was really busy, but there are smaller bars around the pool. It was great with the kid, since a lot of the sections are very shallow. It’s not the cleanest pool I’ve seen, but I did see some staff trying to clean it a few times during the week. There no problem to get a lounger, but if you want one under a palapas, then I guess you will have to wake up early, as the towel game (which I’ve never understood) is played intensively on the beach and at the pool. We would usually go to the beach in the morning and at the pool in the afternoon, after the kid nap, around 3h30 – 4h, it was not a problem to get a good spot at that time.

Bugs
We didn’t see any mosquitoes are got bitten until the last night at the resort when we went to eat the Italian restaurant La Gondola. I don’t know if it’s because it’s at the far end of the resort or because it has ponds of water around it, but we did got a few bites that night. Me and the kid didn’t got much and they didn’t bother us, but my wife started to have a bunch of bites coming out, mostly on her legs as soon as we were back home. Seems new ones were coming up for at least 2 days. Fortunately, by Thursday it was getting a lot better. Make sure to bring Benadryl with you if you are a mosquito magnet and usually react to bites.
Other Comments
Yes, it’s a big resort and you will have to walk quite a bit during your stay, it’s not a problem for us, but if it’s not your thing, then it might not be the best place for you. A stroller is definitely a must with a young kid. A Bubba Keg, or something similar, is also a must if you want to have drinks. Because at the beach/pool bars, they will only give you small plastic cup, that holds maybe half a beer. Before leaving, I had read a lot of reviews about the different bathroom on the resorts being disgusting. I’ve visited, at one point or another, pretty much every bathroom on the resorts and my only problem with them was that most of them don’t even have a window. So, it’s like a sauna in there and obviously it will not smell like roses, but they were all kept clean and it was a non-issue. There are some Internet workstations in the Lobby, you have to buy card at the Lobby desk with an access code on it. It sells by the hour and it cost 8CUC/hour. The Internet connection is quite slow, but it’s good enough to check and send e-mails.

There are a few shops on-site, where you can buy cigars, alcohol and some souvenirs and stuff like solar cream, chips and pops. There are also some vendors around the pool everyday selling stuff. They rotate each day, so if you see something you like, you might not see it again if you are only staying for one week. As for the alcohol, the best rum were : Havana Club 15 years : 150CUC, Havana Club 7 years 11.90CUC, Havana Club bullet proof 29.50CUC and Ron Santiago 11 years 40 CUC. The prices were pretty much the same at the airport and the bullet proof was even more expensive as it was selling for 35CUC. So, unless you are worried about your luggage weight allowance, I don’t see any benefits of buying it at the airport.

Restaurants and Bars
The food is not great, but it’s pretty good. I’m not a fuzzy eater, but they had plenty of selections at the buffets and you also had other options to eat during the day. It is a bit confusing at first, as there are a lot of different places to eat at different time of the day and some places have different names during the day and at night. They could certainly do a better job of giving you a good document (at the front desk checking-in) with all the different options you have for breakfast / lunch / dinner. The paper they give you, doesn’t have half of the options on them, it should definitely be updated. But, if you want to eat, there is always a place you can find food 24hours a day, same for drinks. And, unless you don’t like fish, pork, chicken and pasta, you should not have any problems finding something you like. The fruit selection wasn’t great, as it was pretty much bananas, pineapples and goyaves for most of the week. The last two days, we started to see some apples, cantaloupe and honey melon also. There is also a very good ice cream bar that is open until 10pm. The buffets and all the restaurant (except the Romantico) are open air style places. So, yeah, like any other open air buffets I’ve been before, you do see some birds flying and the odd fly, but it’s was not worse than other all-inclusives I’ve been too. Neither of us had any stomach issues whatsoever and I didn’t heard of anyone having issues either during my stay. You won’t have any problems getting a drink at the resort; there are bars pretty much everywhere. They have Crystal, Buccaneros and Mayabe for beers and even some Beck’s at the beer garden. The higher-end alcohol is at the lobby bar, the best dark rum they have is the Havana Club 7 years. The Mojito’s at the Mojito bar were excellent! Most of the bars are closing at 5pm, except for the beer garden and the lobby bar that are open 24 hours I believe. At night, they have the usual entertainment shows at the theater, some nights were pretty good when they had Cuban musician playing. Some other night it was pretty lame, but that’s where the action is at night. It’s was always full of people, the same for the lobby bar. They had musician playing at the lobby bar the nights they were not playing on stage, which was kind of cool. There is a nightclub beside the theater, I just took a peak inside, it’s not really big and it was pretty dark, but it had a decent amount of people dancing. There are also always people hanging around at the beer garden. I’ve always had great service from the bar staff and I’ve never felt like they were expecting a tip, or that tipping was making a difference in the service. I believe, that a: Holà, por favor, gracias and a smile goes a long way on the kind of service you get. I did tip here and there, and they were always grateful for it, but they do put it in a pot and split it amongst all the staff.
Rooms
We had a second floor Superior room, in building 46, which is not the best location, but not the worse either. The room was quite large which was great with our son. At our arrival, the maid was waiting for us and as soon as she saw the kid, asked us if we wanted a crib in the room (it wasn’t in the room even if we had requested it in our reservation and by email prior to our arrival), but within 5 minutes they brought one in. The small fridge was already filled up with 2 colas – 2 beers (Bucanero) and a big bottle of water. A few minutes later a guy came in and brought us another bottle of water and two more beers (Mayabe). He also had a 700ml bottle of white rum (Ron Cubay) for us, which I believe we received because it was a superior room. I saw the rum selling for 4.50CUC’s at the airport. It’s not an expensive one, but still pretty good with cola. Inside the room there is a small TV, with around 20 channels. I really didn’t pay much attention to the TV stations; most of them were Spanish, with a few English ones and one or two French. There is also a small portable cd / radio / tape deck player in the room, it’s very basic, so there’s no Ipod connexion on it (I had an Ipod FMtuner that worked great). The bathroom was big, with a full bathtub with shower, a toilet and a bidet. We had more than enough closet space and there is a good size balcony with two chairs and a small round table. We also had a small hair dryer, iron and ironing board in the room. The in-room safe was big enough to fit my portable DVD players and all the stuff we wanted to put in it. The air-conditioning in the room was not great, but it was good enough to keep the room at a decent temperature. You do have to have a key in a slot for the air-conditioning to work. One of the first things I did was to get another key for the room (as they only give you one at check-in), so the air-conditioning could be running all day. The kind size bed mattress is somewhat hard, but it didn’t bother either of us, as we found it quite comfortable. The maid did a great job of keeping it clean and overall it was a great room. We did see some small ants in the room, they are everywhere outside the room, in the stairs and outside the building, so obviously some were in the room also. We really didn’t notice them until we left some food on a table; not a good idea. Make sure any food you have in the room is sealed.
Your Arrival
The flight was with Sunwing and it was great. Nice friendly service, free earphones, hot breakfast, gift bag for my son and a glass of champagne. Plane was on time for departure and arrived on time at the Holguin airport. Bus transfer was with a comfortable air-conditioned bus, but without a working toilet. It took around 1h to get to the resort, with one stop along the way. We arrived at the Pesquero around 11h45 am, and they had welcoming drinks waiting for us. Since we had book a superior room, we even had a choice of having a glass of champagne instead of the usual drink. The room was ready, and it took 20 minutes to get all our stuff and be carried over to our room.
Clean resort, good food amazing people. Loved it!!! Just got back yesterday! Would go back again
Hotel Paradisus Princesa del Mar
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Debbie >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This is a wonderful resort, great staff, clean and great service. Would not hesitate to return. There is something for everyone there depending on what you like. It is not a huge resort but certainly what they have is very nice. They have one of the best gyms at any resorts we have travelled too.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Fantastic gym. One of the best we have ever been to on a resort at the Islands. Peter in the gym is very knowledgeable. 5 spinning bikes, 3 computerized bikes, 3 computerized treadmills, eliptical and lots of weights.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool is incredibly clean. The beach is nice although they could lean the seaweed that is along the shoreline but if that’s my only complaint – then there isn’t a complaint because it was awesome. Sandy to walk out into the water and they were very helpful along the beach at the resort to find you a spot and get your chair.
Other Comments
I ran off the resort and felt very safe. The staff are very friendly and helpful and go out of their way for you.
Restaurants and Bars
Lots to choose from. Food was great. Something for everyone!
Rooms
Clean but not fancy. Mosquito’s were the only issue we had at night. The maid must have left the patio door open when cleaning the room because there were quite a few in the room at night. Suggest you bring bug spray.
Your Arrival
Excellent. Desk staff very friendly and everything was well organized. Flew with Sunwing and they were awesome.
awakening
Hotel Brisas Guardalavaca
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joe >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
This place was truly heaven for my familt and me the people are amazing that was most important. As well i found that the people visiting this resort were amazing i look forward to seeing my friends there again soon VIVA Cuba lol
Perfect
Hotel Sandals Royal Hicacos
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Laura >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
April 11 to April 18/10 – beautiful resort, excellent service, great and friendly staff, all restaurants and buffet were excellent, cannot complain. Bars were quick and excellent. Travelled by Taxi to Havana one day – shared with another couple, worth every penny $220.00 Pesos. Arranged by Sunwing rep Manuella who was excellent. Also had a hour drive around Varadero in 1949 Convertible Cadillac – awesome! $32.00 Pesos also arranged by Manuella – Went to see the Bueno Vista Social Club (arranged by Manuella) play at a concert hall 5 km. down the road, they play once a year and we struck it lucky, awesome and very very enjoyable and saw 2 of the original band members. Loved Cuba, absolutely loved it, well worth the money. Beautiful beach and you can walk for miles, rooms were spacious, clean and kept orderly. Balcony on mostly every room, we over looked the green area towards the ocean. Ocean view was blocked by vegetation, but you can hear the waves. We stayed in a Premium suite, stocked fridge and bar daily 🙂

take a converter for your curl iron and battery charger etc. and a wash cloth, they don’t supply this. Shampoo and bath gel and cream supplied. Hair dryer in bathroom along with magnifying mirror and iron and ironing board. Beds were very very comfortable.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool a busy place, but 3 on site, we tended to stay down at our quieter end. Ocean was rough, red flag everyday, but lovely, sand was clean.
Other Comments
Use your rep to book your trips off site, they are there to guide you and get you the right guide, it is well worth to ask questions if you want to go places.
Restaurants and Bars
fabulous – you won’t be disappointed at any of them. We were not.
Rooms
spacious and clean and everything working
Your Arrival
quick and greeted with champagne.
Fantastic Resort For Nearly Anyone
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
User Rating:  
Jim >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Beach activities were abundant with 4 Hobie-Cats available and 5 paddle boats. Several sail boards were there but only one was used. Two Lasers were on the beach, but neither were available for use. Plenty of snorkeling equipment available for use. Resort Activities Staff always seemed busy with one thing or another going on; archery and shooting, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, Bocce Ball, beach and pool volley ball, etc.

Off resort, we only took the bus to Guardalavaca and didn’t take part in anything else organized.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
I should mention first that this resort was built with thoughts of someone physically challenged in mind with elevators and ramps as required. Someone in a wheelchair or walker can access anywhere on the resort I went from the entrance, to any of the restaurants and all the way to the beach. In a word, the beach is fantastic. Yes, you should wear water socks to go close to or in the water, but that is probably a necessary price for the coral providing the great snorkeling so close to the shore. Personally, I found "towel wars" non-existent here. Plenty of room and loungers for everyone. One morning at ~ 9:30, I counted 80 loungers still stacked and by 11:00 AM, still some left. We didn’t use the pool, but it looked clean and well tended with plenty of space around for relaxing.

The grounds were very well trimmed and manicured, and in very good shape, maybe excellent, considering this was the very end of dry season.

Other Comments
Overall, a wonderful vacation spot, and one we will surely be returning to.

Only negatives I can speak of could have happened at any resort and were guest related; trash tossed around for gardeners to pick up, groups of inebriated guests being loud and abusive without regard for anyone (employee or otherwise) or the time of day (or night), and one of the worst was the adult couple walking up and down the buffet treating it like it was all "finger food", reaching in with their hands and sampling as they wanted.

Restaurants and Bars
The buffet was by far over and above any other of the 5 resorts we’ve stayed at in Cuba. Maybe somewhat repetitive, especially at breakfast, but very good food. We ate at the Italian a la carte twice, and enjoyed both times. We did not eat at the Cuban restaurant, and heard mixed reviews about it. We ate once at Mar y Sol, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The beach bar was quick and very friendly. The pool bar was the same, with obviously a larger selection of drinks. While the Espresso was somewhat over-extracted, overall the coffee at the pool bar was very good.

Rooms
Rooms are very typical of Cuban resorts. Dated decor and furniture, with plaster or stucco walls and ceramic tile floors, and as usual, very clean. We didn’t find the beds as hard as many others mention, and the thin pillows easily "plumped" by stuffing a spare blanket into the pillow case. This resort (or at least our block) had central air that was faultless.

We stayed in Block 5, The only complaint I have was it overlooks the pool bar and I was kept awake every night, and woken in the wee hours, except for one.

Your Arrival
Booked through and flew via Air Transat. Welcomed at the airport by 3 Air Transat reps and check in was quick. (Note: They were very picky with checked luggage weight, but not concerned with carry-on size or weight.) Departure was just a couple of minutes late (only due to a quick deicing) and arrival at Holguin was early. Immigration was quick and painless, as was the late night bus trip to the resort. Check in was quick, with plenty of men to get us to our rooms with the luggage.
Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/prolab/CayoLargo?authkey=Gv1sRgCLTUkYaJm5rjdg#
Much more than expected
Hotel Playa Blanca (Formerly Barceló Cayo Largo)
User Rating:  
Spunky >  3 contribution(s) 
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We booked this resort back in October when Air Canada Vacations didn’t have a rating, description or Star rating. Sounded like a Barcelo we had checked out before and the price was good so we checked it out and booked for 2 weeks 13-27 March.

Our flight from Fredericton to Montreal was good. A small Jazz turboprop plane. We checked our luggage, 100 pounds each was allowed, through to Cayo Largo and stayed in the security section once in Montreal. A short wait and then a full AirBus to Cuba. Traveling the night before Daylight Savings we arrived just after dusk.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We had planned to go to Havana for a couple of days but the weather was so nice we didn’t. Took a tour of the village by Rosie and a fellow animation team member, saw the Turtle Hatchery and wandered around the Marina and shops. Did a private trip a few days later and had a whole 24 passenger bus and Carlos to ourselves for 10CUC; stopped and took photos for other resorts and checked out the lobbies. Took the Choo choo train twice to the big beaches and had a blast. The ride is pretty rough but if you imagine an amusement ride through all the other resorts that take 30 minutes and is free, what the heck.
There are small 4WD jeeps for rent, scooters and plenty of taxis and mini vans. Everything is so close, the taxis are only 2-3CUC’s/person.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
What can we say about Cayo Largo beaches? Just believe the hype about white powdery sand spits that go on for miles and miles; it’s all true. So is the fact that some of the beaches can disappear overnight, then reappear 2 days later. We had great weather but the main beach had been eroded the week before so we picked a cloudy day and visited the "Big" beaches Sirena and Paraiso. Wow! But the hotel beach was back in a day or two and went in and out for two weeks. Playa Blanca had the better hotel beach and those "backup" beaches are gorgeous. The almost 6′ deep upper pool was nice and you could get a palapa all day there or at the crescent, 4′, lower pool. Plenty of chairs, no wars. Both are seawater pools and very clean. Lots of activities all day but the loud speakers aren’t cranked too high. Grounds are mature with beautiful plantings and the most amazing "Shaving Brush Tree". All are patrolled by birds, cats and the odd iguana including a big guy who lives under bldg 28 and likes boiled eggs. There’s a medical/gym/hairdresser building, tennis courts, B-Ball hoops and an archery range too. Walkways are even and mostly safe except some smooth tiles. Like all over the south, they are slippery when wet .. especially when wearing those cheap sneakers with hard plastic soles.

While we were there the waterfalls and the fountains were restored and are beautiful. Gardeners constantly worked their plots and handed fresh cut blooms to morning walkers.

Other Comments
Sirena beach is huge and there are lots of palapas and chairs. Bar service is a wandering waiter who will bring the best pina coladas on earth for 3CUC. Paraiso is my favorite of the two because it isn’t as commercial and the beach-combing is better. The resort Tienda has plenty of choices, rum, cigars and cold cans of beer and pop for excursions. The airport stores have about the same inventory but the hotel prices were better. As said before, the staff is fantastic and the management work very hard at making this place shine. Besides the website that the staff manage http://www.playablanca.cu they also run a Facebook page and do their best to answer questions quickly. I could go on for ever .. oops maybe I did. We booked a 3.5* and got much more than we paid for.

We’ll be back.

Restaurants and Bars
The buffet is enclosed and air conditioned; capable of seating 300 guests it’s a huge room that has the food areas at one end and 3 room divisions for seating. Double cotton tablecloths, heavy cutlery and good china and glassware plus super service. Breakfast omelette stations and smoothie bar. Plenty of choices and the best grapefruit ever. Dinner had carving stations, flambe desert bar lots of variety and themed nights where the staff dressed in special outfits and hats. As mentioned by all, the service was top notch. There aren’t a lot of resources on Cayo largo but the staff do their best to make everything special. The Ranchon restaurant sits at the top of the main beach,seats about 100, has blinds for wind screens and offers great service. By day it’s the beach restaurant and at night it is an a la carte. The Opalino restaurant seat about 200, is open air and has a late breakfast at 10:30, then a BBQ lunch from noon to 3:30 or so. At night it is an a la carte and has very good service. Rafael is a great waiter. Bars at the Ranchon and Opalino have a good selection and the usual frozen mixes. The Opalino had the very best frozen lemonade. The 24 hr bar, Daiquairi, had the best coffee and espresso and the best frozen Pina Coladas; lots of drink choices and Cristal on tap and by the can. Alexis, Boris, Roberto and the gang are pro’s in every way. Start your day with a double espresso and finish your evenings at the "Show", all served from this bar. The other bar is a small beachside hut to the left of the main beach. Right at the end of the boardwalk starting between bldgs 28 and 29. This is where the lifeguards hang out and Maceau runs it with a big smile and a song. Basic Bucanaro and fruit punches here so bring your Bubba.

There’s also a special hut that’s used for repeat visitor a la cartes and special occasions. We were treated to a lovely romantic meal to celebrate our anniversary, complete with a floral arrangement and candles, our own waiter and visits by Eddour and Livan from management. Did we feel special? Sure did!

Rooms
We booked a bungalow room, typical Cuban decor, super clean and quite large. We were oceanside and the views were terrific. Corner decks having a 270 degree view is nicer than other resorts. All 2nd floor oceanfront bungalows had some ocean view.
The room had a small fridge, a good TV with 4 or so English stations including CTV from Alberta. A nice desk, king size bed and a couple of nice rocking chairs as well as deck furniture. A large dressing area, safe that opened with our room card, lots of closet and drawer/trunk space and a big bathroom with plenty of hot water at any hour of the day. Central air was quiet and not on all the time.
Your Arrival
It’s a small airport so a little jammed when a couple of hundred people are there. Aduna and security were quick and nurses were on hand to check for ill passengers. A few mosquitoes but not bad. A very quick bus ride to the resort.

Check in was a little slow but as others have remarked, go and get a drink and have a look around while others stand in line. The luggage is secure and attended and is delivered quickly.

Home Away from Home
Hotel Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  
kelsey >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I’m 19 years old and i just returned from the Melia Cayo Santa Maria, in Santa Clara! My family and I went for a week and found it marevllous. Our flight came in really early in the morning of our second day (i think it was around 3 am?). Air transat was picking up dropped flights from sky service….i hope thats not a normal flight time! Anyways, when we got to the airport in Santa Clara, it was time to go through customs and stuff. I mean it when i say, i would would rather go through the Customs in Cuba than the ones in Canada any day. Though it is a little bit on the slow side (a solid half an hour until we found our baggage) everyone was very pleasant and suprisingly good at communicating with us cranky Canadians.

I dont know where someone was getting 10 km from the airport, cause our bus ride was a solid 9 minutes or so. Shockingly, i can’t complain about the bus ride. Im someone that gets car sick often but the ride to the airport was spectacular. You got a deep inside look at the town of Caibairien (sp?) which was a real eye opener into Cuban culture, as well as getting to learn the History of the infamous causeway as you ride on it.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Generally after luncht we’d go and have a little siesta in our room for a couple of hours (the sun wears you out, ye know?). However there were some days when i just wasnt sleepy and would look for things to do instad. I didnt have to look far! I met a guy named Yoelkis, who was basically the resident sports guy! He showed me where the volleyball net was, started a gane of water polo, ping pong tables, archery, beach soccer, tai chi in the mornings, dance lessons , and MORE. Honestly, you are NEVER bored. But if you are the kind that likes to chill in your room for a couple hours, be not afraid, you do get american/canadian channels. I must have watched ESPN and the Disney Channel every night before bed.

Also, there’s buses to and from the market every two hours! Frequent and flexible!

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is also marvellous. It’s wide, first of all, and DEEP. i had friends stay at the Barcelo and few weeks earlier and they said their beach was HALF as deep as the Melia’s was. The Man who worked on the beach….never got his name (we called him Dawn of the Chairs) was extremely friendly. He would offer to find you a Pilapila (cabana) as well as brush the sand off your chairs and lay your twoels out for you. It was unnecessary, but lovely none the less. The water was absolutely stunning as well. Beautiful turquoise and clear as crystal. The waves get pretty rough at night but there will always be a red flag if the staff thinks its unsafe to swim.

The pools are great too. Big enough so that you rarely run into someone, and alot safer than most because there’s a ramp into the water instead of stairs, and it gets deeper GRADUALLY. There’s also a killer swim up bar:)

Restaurants and Bars
The breakfast buffet was also wonderful, there’s a seperate fresh fruit buffet in the middle of the dining room that serves fruit, juice, smoothies and yogurt and stuff, where the buffet that serves the hot food was in the kitchen at the back of the room. One of the cooks, his name is Daniel, soon became one of my favourite people ever. He was polite, had eloquent enlgish, and made the best french toast i have ever had.

For lunch we generally went to the Pool side restaurant. We could have gone to the buffet again, or the Beach retaurant, but the one on pool side served the BEST chicken sandwiches i have EVER had, along with all the cervexa you could ask for 🙂

Rooms
Our room (all rooms, because they all look the same) was absolutely STUNNING. There were three beds: 2 doubles (Which felt more like queens) and a day bed. Luxurous curtains hung from the doorways, and the bathroom was huge. The toilet, badet, and tub were in a separate room off the side of the sink and linnen closet. The safe was digital and we had excellent water pressure.
Your Arrival
When we got to the hotel, we were greeted by VERY pleasant….bellboys i guess you’d call them. Since the flight me and my mother took was later than the one the rest of the family was on, we met them in the front lobby. The "Bellboys" (who i called the multitasking team) loaded our personal luggage onto the little car thing and took it to our room for us so that me and my mother could go have a dinrk with the family in the lobby bar.
The bar is 24 hrs thank god, and is a good center for entertainment. Every night, the activities coordinator (one of the most pleasant people i have ever met, and a downright cool guy) would organise a little show for who ever was in there for drinks. At one point there was a 4 piece saxophone band….thing. It was marevllous. There were also fashion shows, dancing, billiards, and more! Not to mention that bar tenders there were wonderful.
Fantastic, relaxing holiday. Would definitely recommend this hotel.
Hotel Melia Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Janet >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t go to any shows or participate in any animation as we were there to relax and enjoy the quiet. We did go on the speedboat excursion which takes you to a lagoon for snorkelling. It was worth the $45 US/person. It takes a half day. We were picked up at noon and dropped off just after 4:00 p.m.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
It was cloudy the following day and we had quite the downpour around 5:00 p.m. After that, it was nothing but sunshine for the remainder of the week. The beach is beautiful and the only other resort on it is the Sol next door. We walked through it and it looked like it could use a coat of fresh paint as well. We did not rise very early to play the towel game, but there never was an issue with getting chairs. Plenty of chairs and shade on the beach and the pool area. I don’t think the resort was at full capacity. There are attendants on the beach who clean off your lounger which is a very nice touch. We spent time at both the pool and the beach. One of the best views of the resort is when you’re in the pool just floating around. The grounds are superb! The gardeners do a wonderful job with the upkeep. That’s the upside of staying in an older resort.
Other Comments
The resort is adults-only and we were very grateful for this, especially after all the loud whining on the plane trip down. Why don’t they have a kids’ section on the plane? I would say the clientele at the resort was about 75% English, 15% South American and 5% Canadian and the average age was over 50.

We came back 45 minutes earlier the following Friday evening and the flight. All in all, I would recommend the Melia Cayo Coco in a heartbeat and look forward to going back.

Restaurants and Bars
We ate at all three à-la-cart restaurants. The best ones were the Italian and the Lagoon. The steakhouse left a lot to be desired. The buffet was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The snack bar had pizzas, burgers, etc. and were open 24 hours a day. The beach restaurant was open for lunch and had great bbq chicken, calamari, etc. It becomes the steakhouse at night. The staff at all of the restaurants were excellent, warm and friendly. There are 4 bars on site. The lobby bar and snackbar, which are open 24 hours, the beach restaurant/steakhouse which is open from lunch to about 5:00 p.m., and the sports bar which is open from late afternoon to midnight. There was no beach bar, but we did see a clearing where there used to be and apparently they will be rebuilding it soon. Again, the staff at all bars was incredible.

As far as food and drinks are concerned, we have no complaints as there is always something available at any time of the day or night. I can’t fathom how much complaining goes on on these reviews. As far as I’m concerned, these people should stay home.

Rooms
We dropped off our bags, turned on the a/c and went to the lobby bar. The first impression of the room was that it was very, very clean with no musty smell, however, it could use a fresh coat of paint as can most of the resort, but this is very minor. Other than that, the fridge was well stocked, the lights, a/c and safe all worked. The lobby was virtually empty and we got some drinks and were welcomed by the bar staff. Our a/c died on day 4 and we reported it to the front desk that evening. He immediately sent someone up to check it. We went back to see him after dinner and he told us there was nothing he could do for the a/c that night. However, he gave us a key to a vacant room and the a/c worked just fine. We requested he move us there for the rest of our stay and all our stuff was moved the next morning. Yay! Quite the efficient staff! An all around well-run hotel.
Your Arrival
We travelled with another couple and flew Air Transat out of Montreal on April 16 and our flight was one hour late leaving. Typical for Air Transat. We hadn’t flown with them in quite some time and couldn’t believe how much advertising goes on during the flight. They must have interrupted the movie at least 1/2 dozen times to sell drinks, blankets at a $7 cost (they claim selling blankets is better for the environment-I call it another money-grab) duty-free, duty-free and duty-free. Enough with the duty-free! We arrived in Cuba around 9:30 p.m. and customs and luggage was quick. We arrived at the hotel around 10:00 and only six of us got off the bus so check-in was quick. We immediately noticed how quiet and laid back the atmosphere in the lobby bar was. A porter showed up and piled us and our luggage in a golf cart and drove us to our rooms.
Iberostar Laguna Azul – Fantastic Resort, Great Setup, Good Food! Wonderful Vacation!
Hotel Iberostar Laguna Azul
User Rating:  
Line >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We stayed at this beautiful resort April 20 to April 27th. It was a great vacation. The weather was excellent, we gained weight so that answers your question about the food, we are so tanned that our friends don’t recongnize us and we are struggling to get back on track here in Canada, it’s going way too fast for us!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn’t do much for activities. We did go in town at the market of course. They have so much to offer and so cheap. Please, never try to bargain with the price they offer you, it’s cheap enough already as it is. You’ll feel bad if you do so please don’t. We also went for our pizza fix at Pizza Nova at the Plaza Americas(little mall). except that, well we rested, slept on the beach, walked the beautiful beaches of Varadero, made new friends, hate great food and drank beer all week.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The big activity pool was very busy and loud but if your in to that you will have fun. We spent most of our time at the beach and the quiet pool behind our building. Not enough shade at the quiet pool if you need it. we were up early to reserve shade but they don’t have enough of it around the pools. At the beach they have plenty of shade so no worries for the beach. We did find that the beach has changed quit a bit. Lots of broken shells, sea weeds etc and it’s not getting cleaned often. The Laguna Azul does have plenty of space in from of the palapas so you don’t have everyone walking close to your chair but other resort were terrible for that. They were almost sitting in the water under their palapas, not good. The grounds are still very young so trees and flowers are very small but it will get there eventually.
Other Comments
This resort is wonderful. We are returning guest of Iberostar and we are very happy with this chain of hotels. The price will certainly go up because it is a real fine 5 star resort and will only get better. We had great weather and our vacation was perfect. We left all of our leftover stuff to a girl that worked the lobby cleaning and scubbing ashtrays every night. She was about 5 months pregnant and worked every night we were there. She was just so happy with our little things we take for granted. We tipped all week cause the service was very good and it was laways appreciated but certainly not requested by them in any way. We saw approx 10 weddings on the resort and they were all a bit different from each other but still all very beautiful. Until next year! Adios!
Restaurants and Bars
We tried 3 a la carte. gourment(del chef), Japonese, and the Romantico. They were all very very good. The beef tenderloin was amazing. No complaints on the food. The buffet had lots of choices and the service was excellent. I didn’t really like the drinks too much. I noticed that they make many in advance and they were warm. I would always have to send the waitress back for a glass of ice cause the drink was warm. Warm pina colada’s, not very good your your belly so be very careful. After I noticed the making of drinks in advance I stopped drinking them and by belly ache went away. I wasn’t drinking too many of them but still got discomfort. The pool bar had slush machines so that was cold and refreshing but the lobby bar was a busy spot and I guess they tried to go fast on the drinks. We couldn’t believe how fast the got our drink but came to find out that they were done in advance. Beer was safe and we had plenty. The ice cream shop was a real bonus also, yummy!
Rooms
Our room wasn’t ready when we got to the resort. We arrived around 11:00am so I wasn’t surprised. It did take them way too long to give us our room, the service at the front desk was good and I know they tried their best for us but it was a busy day in the lobby. Once we did get our room we were very satisfied with it. King size bed, clean enough for our taste I guess, not perfect but it was decent. We had emailed the resort with a few choices of buildings and floors and we got what we had requested. I had said in my email that they were only preferences and not to stress it too much but they gave us what we had requested and we were very happy. Building 18, top floor facing the pool but I need to say that all the locations are good. This resort is so well set up it’s crazy. It’s a big enough resort but you feel right at home because the way the plan of the builgings was designed, loved it. They stocked the bar everyday. It was suppose to be every second day but we always tip well and leave a little note for more Cristal beer and we always got 2 or 3 everyday anyway for when the bars aren’t open yet around 9:00 🙂
Your Arrival
We flew Air Transat Club Class and it was a wonderful experience. The service you get is just amazing really. We weren’t use to that kind of service on our flights, always flew economic rates. Hum, I really enjoyed it. We took it at the airport, last minute because they had seats available and were trying to sell them so we got sucked in but we really enjoyed the experience. We were early arriving in Varadero and things all went very smooth.
Photos: http://www.tripadvisory/brisasdelcaribe.com
WoW, This was our first time in Cuba and I would go back in a FLASH to this resort !
Hotel Cubanacan Brisas del Caribe
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Julie >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2010 | Wedding | With Spouse/Partner
Hola, Cuba Friends, My first time in Cuba was in April 2006 we got married and it was just amazing, I gave it a 5*****, the food 3***, the Beach 5***** rooms 4**** ( smell a little like mold ) Peaple 5*****.
We went back in April 2007 for our 1 year Anniversary and I still gave it a 5*****, the bad reviews they are wrong. You need to think that Cuba is a 3rd world country. We are thinking about going back to Oasas Del Carib in April 2010.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Awsome
Beach/Pools/Grounds
I give it a 5*****
Restaurants and Bars
Good, we went to 3 a la cart
Great first trip
Hotel Cubanacan Brisas del Caribe
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mike >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We loved the people, the sunshine, and the beautiful white beach. Only had a few windy and cloudy days. The food was ok considering.

great price for what we got and will be going again more than likely to the same hotel.

Wonderful Resort
Hotel Paradisus Río de Oro
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Patricia >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
We were a family party of three generations ( 78, 52, 18) that travelled to this resort in November 2009 for 1 week. We all loved it. The flights were good – we flew on Sunwing in their Elite Plus section – we thought it was worth the extra money to have the extra legroom seats prebooked both directions, as well as the seperate check-in. We waited in a line of about 8 people instead of the line with about 150 people. We could also board early if we liked.
Sunwing gives you a glass of champagne and a snack soon after take off, then free headsets, choice of hot meal and free wine with the meal. Our flights were on time. Overall a good experience.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Pool- large, clean. Has a swim-up bar. You can see the ocean from the pool. Lots of lounges. People get up early to save the best spots. Beach was nice, but very rough wtaer when we were there. There was a hurricane that was at the far west end of Cuba and Mexico while we were there. We got torrential rain one day, and the ocean was rough the whole week, so we were not in it very much. Grounds are well looked after. Nice plantings.

Nice bonsaii around the Asian restaurant.

Other Comments
Staff in the resort were very good. Professional, eager to please, welcoming, friendly. They always had a smile and a "Hola" for you.

Over all we had a great holiday and would reccommend it to anyone. As a matter of fact I am returning there in less than 2 weeks, this time with my husband and another couple.

Restaurants and Bars
Food was amazing! The main buffet has endless choices, beautifully presented. We ate every breakfast here, some lunchs and a few dinners. Staff was attentive, professional,friendly, welcoming, eager to please. If you couldn’t find many things to your liking at this buffet, there is something wrong with you!!! The a la cartes were all good. (least favourite was the Cuban, but still fine) The service was always good. They try very hard to make your meal pleasant. The restaurant by the beach had wonderful food at lunch – fabulous seafood. The pool area restaurant was great as well. Casual. Bars- good.
Rooms
Large, very clean and comfortable. A little bit dated decor-wise, but still nice. On 2 levels. Bathroom and bedroom on upper level, then 3 stairs down to sitting area. Sink area seperate from tub area. In area with tub/shower is toilet and bidet. Great water pressure in shower. Always lots of hot water. Lots of towels. Nice soap, shower gel, shampoo etc. Air conditioning was adequate. Room was fresh smelling, not damp or musty, (2nd floor room), kept spotless by maid. Mini bar always replenished.
Your Arrival
You are greeted at the resort with a glass of sparkling wine and a cool towel. They have you sit in the lobby, and come to you to check in. Wasn’t the fastest check in I have had, but definitely not the worst. We were driven to our room by a bellboy in a golf cart and he carried our bags up to the room. The room keys didn’t work so he took them back to the front desk to re-program them, and returned with-in a few minutes.

We changed, then went to buffet for late dinner.

A Blooming Paradise
Hotel Sirenis Playa Turquesa (formerly Occidental Grand Playa Turquesa)
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Valleyguy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
We returned from our 10th trip to Cuba on March 10, this time staying at the Sirenis Playa Turquesa. This was our 8th resort. It is a very visually appealing resort.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
I cannot comment on daytime activities as we seldom take advantage, however, as our room was by the pool, I can report that the late afternoon activities seemed well attended, loud, and of an adult nature. The nightly entertainment was as good as or better than many Cuban resorts with only one audience participation night, and one night was the water ballet. As we have been to Cuba and the Holguin area several times we only took one tour, Inside Cuba. It was well worth the 49 CUC (?) each and included a train ride, a tour of a cigar factory, lunch, tour of Holguin and free time in the city centre. We had taken a similar tour before but it was made more interesting as there was a Book Festival in the main square.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach had lots of shade, which is important to us; however, we did not stay there very long most afternoons as the wind was quite chilly. It is a relatively short beach with exposed, dead coral at each end. You can explore beyond the ends of the sand but you need something on your feet. The pools are one of the more aesthetic features of the resort. They cascade down the slope, going from the shadeless adult pool, down to a family pool, down to another pool with access to the swim-up bar, and ending at the shallow family pool were all the pool activities take place. Except for the adult pool, all the pools have shade cover on both sides of the pools; however, it was quickly snapped up by the unattended towels!! The one slightly annoying feature of the upper pools was that the music from the activity pool was piped up to them making for a distraction for those trying to read or sun-snooze. In addition, each pool is linked by blossom covered arches which disguise the number of stairs on both sides of the pools. The Turquesa grounds are very lush and to my wife’s great pleasure the bougainvillea and other plants were in full bloom and cover a good portion of the resort. We found the layout good and logical. The roads/paths within and around the resort are wide and make for a good evening walk. Fortunately our room was very central, so I may have had a different opinion if we had been on one of the ends. However, I don’t feel that there was more than a 10 minute walk to most areas of the grounds. There are also the usual facilities: a store which I thought had a limited variety, until I got to the airport; a Cadeca (money exchange), the exchange was 85.6 CUC = $100 Cdn (in early March, 2010) and has good hours so no great line-ups; and an internet area.
Other Comments
We enjoyed the resort but I have to admit it wasn’t my favourite, although I cannot be specific as to why, it is just a personal think. My wife liked it more than I did. As I said it is very visually pleasing with a large plaza off the lobby. This was the first resort that we had been to that actually catered to larger groups. All of the eating areas, i.e. buffet, ala cartes, snack bars, and bars, had large tables capable of seating 8 or 9 people with out having to pull tables together. I did not see any, but I got the impression that the suites were good for families and larger groups. In addition, there were 2 weddings in the week we were there. As well, the Turquesa had one of the largest Kid’s Club area I have seem at any resort, complete with shallow pool and cute kid sized sun loungers. The resort staff were very friendly, helpful, and quite efficient by Cuban standards. I had read several reviews that talked about being ignored by wait staff or not being served at bars without tipping but I never found this on any occasion. My biggest complaint (and this has happened at other resorts) was the lack of live musicians (as opposed to dead musicians!). There was a trio each night for a short time in the buffet, but not at the ala cartes, and there was either a pianist, singer, or saxophonist at the lobby bar for a short time early evenings. However, to be fair at least the canned music they played at other times was Cuban (one resort we stayed at a few years ago played "Hotel California" 24/7). Overall, you will enjoy the Playa Turquesa.
Restaurants and Bars
A very nice lobby bar with early evening entertainment. The buffet was good with a good choice of fruits, salads, carver items, casserole dishes, cooking stations, and above Cuban average desserts. The 4 ala cartes (Cuban, Mediterranean, Grill, and Italian) we ate at were good; in fact, I think the food at the resort was some of the best we have had in Cuba. My main observation with the ala cartes was that although the service was okay, they did not seem as "special" as in other resorts; or that is to say that in many Cuban resorts the staff seem to attempt to make the dining experience more special than the buffet, even if they often fall short. The Italian was the best, although they have not completed the decorating. With Air Transat we were allowed 5 ala cartes, but we did not go to the Oriental ala carte due to the poor reviews and we are not that into Chinese food, if it had been Japanese we would have tried to go twice! However, we heard several favourable comments about the Oriental. We had several lunches at the Beach snack bar, where the table service pizzas were the best we have had in Cuba. Through Air Transat we were offered the Beach snack bar for a continental breakfast, we only went twice as the selection was limited, however, there was no waiting for my omelette. We did not try the 24 hour snack bar for food. The 3 bars we frequented most were quite good: Lobby, 24 hour, and Beach snack bar. They have 2 of the best bartenders I have encountered, 1 at the lobby bar and the other at the beach snack bar, they make the best Pina Coladas, my new favourite the Mulata and the guy at the Beach snack bar makes the best Mojitos going. The bar on the beach was limited and made the Pina Coladas with slush. I only used the swim-up bar a couple of times as the water was quite cool, but it had one of the most entertaining bartenders I have ever seen, and was featured on stage one night, think Tom Cruise in "Cocktail", only for real!!
Rooms
Perhaps because we were first to check-in or maybe it was advance email (?), we got a room directly by the pool, which was a perfect location. I had emailed and asked for an upper floor room, however, our first floor room turned out to be good. The room was very typical to most of the Cuban resorts we have stayed in. An entry hallway with large closet (containing safe and iron & board), large bedroom with patio doors onto good sized balcony. Although almost of the buildings are only 2 stories, the ground floor is off the ground so the balcony does not step out onto the ground, thus avoiding low level insects or other creatures. The bed was typical, hard with thin long pillows. We had a daybed/cot in our room (useful for piling junk on) and an armchair, with another desk chair at the dressing table, TV and bar fridge, which was stocked each day. The only 110/120 volt outlet is in the hair dryer in the bathroom (usually meant for razors). The bathroom we had was in 3 sections, the main room had the sink and vanity, a separate toilet and a separate shower (no bath). It was adequate as bathrooms go. Overall the room was quite functional.
Your Arrival
We flew with Air Transat out of Halifax. Arrived at 10:00 and breezed through the airport, to the bus, to the resort. We were almost the first off the bus, (without any pushing or shoving, I hasten to add!) I got the luggage while my wife went to the check-in. It was so fast and orderly that the only slow down was them waiting for me to get there and be banded (1st note: only Air Transat guests get banded, like true snowbirds!), I had to stop for my welcome cocktail! A bellhop took us to our room on a golf cart and we were in our room by 11:30, THE FASTEST check-in we have ever experienced!!
Friendly fun group at Caracol
Hotel Club Amigo Caracol
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kate >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
My girlfriend and I just came back from the Caracol in Santa Lucia. We found the hotel rooms clean. The staff very friendly. The service to be great. The meals were a little lacking. Not much to chose from. But other than that everything went just excellent. They have an excellent massage person there! The beach is nice. There is security so no need to feel afraid. You are not bothered on the beach by beggars or persons trying to sell too many trinkets. There are no time share pitches. So overall… I’d say Cuba is WAY more fun than Mexico!

If you do decide to travel to Cuba. Do the people of Cuba a favor and bring along extra old clothes that are in good shape that you may have outgrown or decided to discard. Take along a whole spare suitcase full if you can. They especially would love used shoes, baby clothes, shampoos, lotions, medicines like tylenol or advil, makeup, essentially anything you are willing to bring is fair game for a well appreciated tip.

Can see why people return.
Hotel Breezes Jibacoa
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Nova Scotia >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Shows We thought they were quite entertaining, some really funny nights. Enjoyed the magician. The dancers looked quite young and I thought the clothes they wore sometimes were a bit risque for such young girls. I think that thinking comes from having young daughters myself. Shows were very well attended, an indication of the entertainment value, I think. Tours Take the free hike up the hill and farm tour, it’s a nice walk and very interesting with a few chuckles thrown in. We took the Havana Tour including the rum museum and cigar factory. Enjoyed the cigar factory tour but really, we should have saved a few bucks and taken a private cab tour. It would have been less rushed. In any event, Havana is a must when you are that close. Robberies There was only one robbery at the resort while we were there… that we knew of. A couple had their room entered while they were sleeping and had some stuff stolen. Hard to believe… until you see how the second floor sliding doors do not lock. From what we heard, staff handled the situation very professionally as did the police.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Grounds This is where this resort really shines. Immaculate, well groomed and simply beautiful. Nothing too far apart, easy walking. Beach Yep, snorkeling is good. Beach is a little rocky for waders and swimmers though. Two red flag days out of eight due to man-o-wars. Lots of shade if you need it, long stretch of beach to walk. There are some beggers around but they are not aggressive. Pool Good size, refreshingly cool but shallow. I don’t get it, an adult only resort with a shallow pool. It’s a 24 hour pool and I am guessing it uses a saltwater chlorine generator system. No awful chlorine smell, no burning eyes. There are two types of tile around the pool, the darker tile is very slippery when wet, or when your feet are wet. Shade can be tough to secure on red flag days. There are 2 hot tubs in the vicinity that folks seemed to like.
Other Comments
Other tips -We found the prices for things you might need were cheaper at the shop near the CVJ. -Locate the Italian restaurant well before your reservation, it’s sort of hidden behind the buffet and above the Cuban restaurant. -Take an insulated travel mug!! -Wouldn’t hurt to take a can of bugspray, the little no-seeums pack a mean bite for some people. Spray it around the door and behind the curtains. -Staff appreciated tips, but really didn’t seem to demand them. -There’s a good resort map near the lobby desk, find your room before heading out with your luggage. We saw some folks wandering aimlessly dragging bags. -If you have a late departure, you have to turn your towel in. You can make a deposit of $15cuc to keep it until 5pm. -There is a hospitality room provided for you to clean up for a late flight, they use a 20 minute per person guideline for it’s use. A queue seems to form around 5pm for its use and grows quickly. -Try on all clothing before you buy it, it seems sized very small… or I gained a lot of weight while there. -Don’t let the atmosphere at the resort lull you into a false sense of security, remain as vigilant in protecting yourself and your belongings as anywhere else you may go. Overall I can see while so many people return to this place. Once you figure out a few little things, you can get into a routine of pure comfort, relaxation, good eating and as much fun as you care to have, all in a beautiful setting. I would return.

Questions? tomaz61@yahoo.ca

Restaurants and Bars
Bars Favorite is definately the beach bar, All workers here are fantastic. Least favorite was the pool bar where a couple of the guys working there during the day needed a swift kick in the butt for complacency, so sorry to inconvenience them. Lobby bar could get slow with lineups, but thems the breaks. Piano bar was a nice atmosphere… sans piano player most times. All bars had most popular drinks and seemed well stocked. Disco was, well, what you made it. We had a few laughs there. Restaurants Buffet was ok, as most reviews state the food is often on the cool side. I didn’t eat as much as I usually do. Omelets, pastas and desserts were nice. Lobster night was suprisingly good. It’s tough to get a glass of water at the buffet, seems they don’t stock it at the server’s stations. I’d say maybe half of the time I asked for water, I didn’t get it. No problem getting wine, juice or coffee though. Italian ala carte was the best of the two, the steak was done very nicely. The Cuban ala carte, well, not bad but not great. I had the chicken dish which was a bit bland. The beach restaurant was great for snacks. We all liked the burgers, chicken and fries they served there.
Rooms
Rooms We had an ocean view room on the ground floor. Problems here with locking patio and balcony doors. Bottom floor rooms had flimsy pins that were used to secure the sliding doors, second floor rooms were somewhat less secure. Rooms had all the expected amenities, plus a voltage converter which seemed to need an adapter of some sort. I think that’s what it was, I didn’t need it. Lots of hot water and good pressure. Soap, shampoo and conditioner is provided. We arrived to two twin beds, followed the next day by a 3rd twin bed… why? I dunno. Asked to have it removed, it was still there when we left. Want the towels changed, place them in the tub, want the sheets changed, place a provided card on the bed. Beds were firm but I like them that way, pillows were fine. Mini fridge with 2 small bottles of water provided and you have to refill them at a bar. I preferred to fill mine at the beach bar where you can fill them yourself. No clock provided, but there is a cd player. Small ants crawling around which is typical of a ground floor room, also no-seeums that seemed to hover down low and around behind the curtains. I think they left the confines of the curtains at night to attack my wife as she slept, fortunately I was not to their liking. Spoke to other guests who experienced similar bites. Mistook them for bedbugs, which is a common mistake I think.
Your Arrival
Getting there. Sunwing – slight delays on both ends, otherwise not a bad trip, food was typical airline fare. Beer at the airport was selling for a whopping $4 cuc each. Bus ride from Airport about an hour long and included a stop at a Pina Colada stand along the way, a nice treat. Check in Arrived around noon, not surprisingly rooms not ready until 2:30 (there is a 3 pm check in), left luggage in lobby, headed to beach. Front desk staff were outstanding in comparison to other resorts I have been to. Friendly and helpful. Pick up your towel cards, safe lock and key, make your 2 ala carte reservations and grab your room keys. There is thankfully no wrist bracelet in use at this resort.
Allegro Varadero: Don’t Listen To The Bad Reviews, Food Is Very Good!
Hotel Occidental Allegro Varadero (Formerly Playa Varadero 1920)
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Jeffrey >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This was our 6th trip to Cuba since our first in 2005 to Tryp Cayo Coco, we’ve traveled to Cayo Coco twice, Cayo Guillermo once, Manzanillo de Cuba once, Varadero once and to the D.R. once, but prefer Cuba and it’s people. So now back to Varadero, to the Allegro. This resort has gone through many managment hands in the last 5 or 6 years and recently has changed to the Occidental Allegro in the last 6 months and there seems to be a genuiene effort to make things better and to spruce up this huge resort to bring it up to the 4 star status it deserves.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities seemed light on the first few days with only Aqua Aerobics and dancing being offered the first half of the week. The last two days seen way more going on from orginised water polo to mini putt. They need to work on having the animation crew more involved with the guests and doing more around this huge resort, I never saw the archery being offered once while we were there, and they have a nice range. We finally, after many years of trying to get on the catamaran tour, got our catamaran excursion. We have tryed previously over the years only to be cancelled by the weather at leat 4 times. We enjoyed this trip, on the cat, and got to visit the dolphins in the huge concrete enclosure out in the ocean, way better for the dolphins then the set up in town. It is made so water flows through and even fish mingle with the dolphins and it’s huge so they have louds of room. Then off to Cayo Blanco for a lobster lounch and some beach time, The lobster was OK, being from Nova Scotia we are slightly pickier about our seafood. We would have rathered plain lobster grilled with some garlic, but this was a large tail in a tomato based sauce, good but not great. Then we sailed back to port, with lost of singing and dancing by all. The bar was open from start to finish, and the drinks were good. We set into town twice during the week and wandered around and checked out the many open air markets. We took the double decker bus both times as it was most economical with $5 all day, hop on hop off. We didn’t get to Jesone park, or try any restaraunts, so no reviews of this trip. We did Jesone park two years ago and recomend anyone looking for a quite walk or a really good pina coloda to wander through there. The nightly shows were very well done, although we were surprised that there was only 1 audience partispation show in the 7 shows we saw, not that this is a bad thing, but it makes for some good laughs. The dancers were first rate and they even had many different singers who were quite good.

All in all worth staying up for.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is secluded from the rest of Varaderos beach by a large coral outcroup on each end. The sand is a bit darker than the average white beach, and had a good mix of shells and coral, but overal is a very nice beach, lots of loungers and a good number of umbrellas, thay have staff who will drag you a lounger to where ever you want it and whipe it clean for you, tip this guy a pesso or two as he’s out in the sun all day and trying his best. There are three pools, one main pool just off the side of the main building, nothing special a very larg squarish pool, but nice and clean with lots of loungers around. They had a guy who would drag an extra one out of storage if you needed it and offered cushions for the lounger if you wanted them, like the beach guy show him your gratitiude for his hard work in the sun. The cayo largo and the cayo coco section each have thier own smaller pools, visually nicer than the main pool and each with a cold jacuzzi off to the side and their own bar.

This resort is huge if you get to walk the whole thing you will see this for sure. Gardeners are everywhere keeping it clean and attending to the grounds and greenery. All the trees and plants are marked with a small sign saying the speciaes, we found this a nice touch. They have a long system of fish ponds linked up in fron tof the main building with a version of coy in them, most are orange in color and some are quite big, maybe 12 inches or so. There is also a white heron type bird who has taken up residence and if your patient youl see him dive in for his own version of a cuban buffet.

Other Comments
The Allegro Varadero is a huge resort with equally huge potential. They have a good management team who seem to be around day and night to be making sure the progress of stepping back up to the 4 star level is happening. At the moment this resort is a strong 3.5 star. With many little issues holding it back from being a 4 or more star. For a resort that saw life first start back in 1977 it’s in amazing shape, but give it a year or two if the shine and glitz factor are important to you.
Restaurants and Bars
Allego Varadero has 1 buffet, and 3 a la cartes, International, Steak House, and Italian. There is also 3 snack bars that are open from 12-6 everyday, one between the main building and the Cayo Largo section, one at the Cayo Largo Pool and one at the Cayo Coco section, at their pool. There is 6 bars, La Habana beside the main pool (which I never seen closed, the others hard varying hours), the Cohiba Bar, which house a baby grand piano being played every night, and was huge with little pocket rooms and comfy couches and chairs, get there early in the evening to get a seat, and the fancy drinks, like irish coffee and other special drinks and 15 year Havana club is available for extra $$. Cayo Coco, and Cayo Largo Pools each have a swim up bar, there is a beach bar and one at the snack bar between the Cayo Largo and the main building. All seemed to serve different drinks and those that were the same were made different, so find which one you like and keep going back. The snack bar had slushy drinks but closed ar 6 so get your bubba Keg filled early and get it in your fridge if you want an evening cool drink. We sampled all A la carts and found all to be very good and nothing like the buffet food. The buffet was a surprise as past reviews on another site were quite hard on the buffet. Knowing Cuba and their struggle sometimes to get variety we didn’t expect a lot, but were surprised to get a lot. For lunch and supper there is a pasta station where you can get premade or have them fry up a dish for you, then a large aray of premade dishes, of rice potato and other meat and fish. then a carving station, we saw beef, lamb, meat loaf, chicken and turkey over our stay, then there was the grill section, usually 3-4 different choices, of either beef, pork, chicken or fish, and hotdogs and burgers at lunch as well. Not sure what other people eat at home, but to me that’s a good variaty. Breakfast was your normal fare of two egg staions making basic eggs or omlets, as well as premade eggs and other dishes, bacon, sauge seemed available everyday. With your normal toast, cereal, yogurt, and lots of fresh fruit. No worries about the food here, they even had a special area for the kids, with burgers, fries and chicken nuggets.
Rooms
We arrived at room 6314 and found a very nice an spacious third floor room, not dericly on the ocean but with an ocean view. It was clean and came with a king sized bed so all was good. The room was fitted with an ironing board and iron, a small mini fridge with a large bottle of water, a coffee maker, a safe and the usual things found in a cuban resort room. Although there was no dresser to store your cloths, we have gotten used to this being hit and miss in Cuba. We found the room quite warm and stufy on our arrival and the bellboy turned the A/C on and it blew air so we though give it a few minutes and it will cool down. We dropped our bags and went exploring this huge resort, (they say it’s 2 kms in size, not sure if that’s 2 square kms or two kms long, but it’s huge!) We returned to a warm and stuffy room, and dropped down to the desk to see if someone could have a look, they said they would send someone up, it was almost 4 and nowing Cuba I didn’t expect to see anyone til morning. We went through the night with the patio door open and found this ok, but couldn’t do this during the day as your patio is easily accessable from the main stairs or another room. We checked again with the desk and they said they would send someone, but it seemed like they knew nothing of our previous concern. Day tow is almost over and no A/C, now I’m getting a little miffed, we meet the tech this time and he says the third floor has no A/C, there is only 4 rooms on the third floor, but all are occupied, and patio doors are open on all. We go back down to the desk, a long walk, and ask for a new room, they say they will send a tech, we say there have been techs and it’s the whole floor. We want a new room. they insist on sending a tech as they have no free rooms. We head off frustrated but it’s not gonna ruin my vacation that’s for sure. In the moring we call the desk after figuring out the crazy way to reach them on the resort phone. They said no problem they have a new room for us, great! The bellboy reachs our room and we load up and head down closer to the pool at the Cayo Largo section, back up to the third floor and wow a realy nice room and right on the ocean. We step in and bam, no air, he turns the switch and nothing, no way, we walk past the bathroom and I look in to see the ceiling on the floor. ARRGGHHH! The Bellboy calls the desk and they say all they have is a room in the main building with an ocen view, at this point I’d taken a view of the street.

So off we go on the golf cart again and up to the 4th floor and walk in to toom 4318, slightly smaller, with no ironing board or iron, but that’s OK, the A/C works! All is good and although we would have rathered be in the Cayo Largo Section, we are fine with this as we didn’t book the Cayo Largo section and had just lucked out on that.

Your Arrival
Having only flown Sunwing once before (Montreal to Manzanillo de Cuba) I was looking forward to a good flight with lots of room, West Jet our favorite airline with Sunwing a close second. Well not sure if Atlantic Canada gets older planes or my memory is getting bad but this plane was anything but comfortable. Seemed to be an older plane, there was ashtrays built into the armrests, so that may be a sign. Flight was the roughest I’ve ever encountered, the seat belt light was on for 4 hours of a 4 1/2 hour flight, but that’s life eh? Check in went smoothly and we had a room immediatley, although I believe others had to wait an hour or two as our arrival time was before the stipulated check out time of noon.

The bellboy grabbed our bags and wisked us off on the golf kart to the Cayo Largo section of the resort, although far from the main area of the resort this was definatley an upgrade to the main building.

Heaven  1 contribution(s) DENMARK
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family
I Love it!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Good
Arrival
Very good
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Very good
Other Comments
A very nice place!
Restaurants and Bars
Good
Rooms
Good
Great Time – Will go back
Hotel Be Live Brisas Santa Lucia
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Lucy >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
My husband and I traveled to this resort during March Break 2010. We had a great time. The only problem we had was during check in. There has to be more than 2 people to check in 3 bus loads of guests at 11:30 in the evening. I had requested a head of time a room on the second floor facing the ocean. I contacted the hotel via e-mail. We were given exactly what I asked for (and will request the same room again). The hotel is very clean. All the staff work very hard and it shows. The entertainment staff are a great group of people who do their best to make your stay a happy one both during the day and in the evening. Every day we had good experiances at the buffet. The wait staff got to know us quickly and when they saw us coming in, they knew were we liked to sit and would have our coffee and juice ready for us. Please remember that these people work very hard and just as in Canada, a nice tip will make the differance. It was mine and my husband’s birthdays while we were there and our regular breakfast and lunch wait staff baked us a cake as a surprise. Our chambermaid Aldemira was great always a happy face and kind words. The front desk staff as well (they made my calls home stress free). The pool and beach at the hotel are terrific. The coffee bar is great and they make a cold coffee that will put Tim Horton’s to shame(I found out about this coffee late into our trip – the husband kept bringing the hot coffee) If you get a chance get out and see the little town it will open your eyes. Ask for Enrique the coachman to show you the sites. He is a very nice and informative man. He took us to Coco Beach and we had a lobster lunch that we will never forget (our lobsters could have fed a village in Africa). If you can, bring school supplies for the little school in the village they appreciate the gifts. We met one of the teachers again very nice lady, she made us feel at home. While at the hotel we walked along the beach and yes we met with many locals and yes they did ask for things but we always felt safe. Each hotel has security staff and they are always around. All in all we had a great time. The smoking was an issue on the resort but that is not the hotel’s fault that is other guests who only think of themselves and not the people around them. You would think that Canadians who don’t smoke in puplic places in Canada would think the same way outside of Canada.

We will go back again.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
very limited on and off the resort.
Arrival
took to long 3 bus loads and two check in people. One bus was just teenagers and no management to control them. It was not a pretty site, it did get ugly for a bit.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful, very clean.
Restaurants and Bars
Good food and good coffee.
Rooms
Our room was great. Very clean and ocen view could not have asked for more.
Wonderful vaction,with great people at Brisas Guardalava
Hotel Brisas Guardalavaca
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Betty from Winnipeg >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
This was to be our 5th time here at Brisas Guardalavaca We were booked in Sept this trip because it was for one month. As most canadians know most of the west had to travel via Toronto. We are from Winnipeg.Most charters only hold so many seats for 3 and 4 week travels.Also Westjet was the only carrier to Holguin Cuba.

Was very happy with the service I might add. Great luggage allowance.1 hundred pounds each plus 2 carry ons each at 10kg.Had it packed to the max

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Always something to do/ The animation team really try to get you involved with volleyball, dancing games in the games room. They have archery with pelet gun ,Bachi ball and more.
The evening entertainment good. Modeling show my favorite :)Aquadic show, Christopher Columbus show Really funny 🙂 and more.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Love the beach. Just pristine. My hubby loves to snorkel and has gone fishing way out front of resort and caught alot of fish on occasion.
Pool at hotel is more lively as they have a grill bar there. Great pizzas and hotdogs and the like.Villa is nice for small kids. Little bar close by.
Other Comments
We rented a car for 5 days and toured around. Town of Banes to see friends. Holguin to visit and stay with friends. Seaside town called Gibara. 2 hours from Guardalavaca. Really nice drive. Stopped at a home that served lobster there.Couldn;t have had a grander day. Stopped and played ball with some kids that were playing.My friend and I gave away alot of shoes and clothes on this journey.Fantastic My husband and I wish to go back and do it all over again Get out and meet Cuba Bettyboop
Restaurants and Bars
Two buffets to eat at. You can have your choice in the morning for fresh made eggs however you like them.Lots of fruits and veggies and more. There are 2 alacarts Italian in the hotel and Seafood down by the villas.Have yourself a drink at the cappachino bar next to Italian before dinner . Nice place for a coffee afterwards. Great service.Seafood, they sometimes have the servers entertaining you with sing or guitar. Very good.
You can also get breakfast served to you at 1o till ii.30 at the seafood if you miss buffet which closes at 10.
Your Arrival
On time and good ckeck in.We stayed in the villas as much more room and in most places quite.Our room building 6000 you walk right out to thebeach. Awsome
coffee maker and small fridge with water everyday. Maid service has always been good.
Would go back tomorrow….
Hotel Iberostar Laguna Azul
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Sara >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2010 | Leisure | With friend
This was my first trip to Cuba. Actually my first trip out of North America. It was so amazing! All the people there were super nice and would go out of your way to help you. I will never forget all the star friends I made. I still email them.

If I had the opportunity, I would be back in a second.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There is a nightly show. I believe 5 nights of the wk it is by the resort workers, with the other 2 nights the resort brings other people in. There was a magic show, Chicago tribute, Phantom of the Opera to name a few. They are worth going to!

There is bingo a few times a day. I won a 26er my first night there. It set the mood for the trip. It was amazing from then on.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
I like a warm pool, so I didn’t go in the pools that often, just to cool off.
It was a gorgeous resort with pools everywhere.
Other Comments
Be prepared to be touchy-feely! I was taken back by the amount of kissing on the cheeks by people there. I backed away the first day, but after that I would know what to expect. Just be warned. Lele made fun of me each time he saw me. He would pretend to back away from me whenever he saw me. It was funny.
Restaurants and Bars
We went to the disco every night. So much fun!
The cigar bar had the best drinks out of any bar. About halfway through the trip the bartenders knew what drinks we wanted as soon as they saw us. That made us feel great.
Rooms
Our room had two beds, a couch and lounge chair, desk and chair, TV stand with a mini fridge below. I like a hard bed, so these beds were perfect for me. Some people complained about the beds, but my friend and I didn’t have any problems sleeping.

Our blow dryer was tempermental, but it worked when we needed it.

Your Arrival
We left Toronto at 7am. We arrived at the resort shortly before 12. Check in is at 4pm. We were told this after asking when our room would be ready. We just put our luggage in a seperate room and went to the pool and got a drink. That was the worst part about arriving.
Wedding in Paradise
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
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Marie >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
They have lots to do. We went to swim with dolphins witch was GREAT!!! Once in a life time opportunaty. Loved every second of it. The people there are so nice, my husband and his friend went on moped ride witch they sa was amazing to discover the land on they’re own.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
the Pool area is great very cleen. The beach had lots of shells on the side so it was kind of hard to walk but in all it was great. watch out for those see cucumbers ( thats what we called them ) don’t excacly know what they are but they are nasty and they were everywhere.
Other Comments
The Wedding was beyond beautiful. Everything was great. Barbara did an amazing job with everything. the weather was perfect. they go beyond themselve to make your day the most beautiful day of your life and in deed it was.
Restaurants and Bars
I really like the buffet, no complaints there, no one was sick. I didn’t find they had a lot of choices but everthing was good. They had a big variaty of breads witch was nice. The snack bar was a big hit with my husband and kids. They loved the hotdogs and hamburger. I also tried the Club and it was great.
Rooms
They are very cleen and very cozy. Some people say the beds are a little hard, well i slept better then i did at home. 🙂
Your Arrival
We arrived on Monday night at around 11 at night they kept the buffet open till we got there witch was really nice of them, everybody was hungry. They made us feel right at home and even thoght we were a group of 42 + it didn’t take that long to check in.
4th time around!…
Hotel Tryp Cayo Coco
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Marilou >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family
Great, Great, Great, For the 4th Christmas week in a row. Had a great time as always-this year we tried horseback riding & glass-bottom boat (OMG-loved it!), and of course-went to the Spa Acuavida (don’t forget to bring cash to tip/pay for your drinks/cappuccino at the bar!) Highly recommend the massage and the jet pools-especially the hot salt water pool inside-divine. The Tryp was lovely and we were treated like queens-restaurants were great – our favorite is the Chinese-or the BBQ-although that one’s a bit of a hit or miss based on which cook is there that night. The Italian -the only time we went was very frustrating for the kids especially-very nouvelle cuisine(not sure if they’ve changed their menu since?..) but when you have ravenous teenagers who’ve been playing in the sand all day..tiny cold vegetables and consomme is not the way to go. Yes some waiters are old and weathered and rude (mostly at the Beach Grill and Pizza place)..but we now know who they are and avoid sitting in their area altogether-so its all good!Everyone else is delightful. We don’t really care so much about the smell in the room..it is what it is. We are rarely in the room-other than to sleep so don’t care…and the maids are so thorough and lovely-can’t complain! (a maid for a week to clean up after your teenagers?! Are you kidding me?!! H-e-a-v-a-n) For those who complain about the food quality, getting sick (tourista?)…are usually the ones drinking like fishes, lugging barrel-size cups for MORE beer, or going for 5th at the buffet…so yes-one could see how that might happen. One of the gardeners we found quite pushy with his palm wares/sculpture things..so unless you said no right away-he would keep a lookout for you every day and chase you down to try and sell you more stuff! It got annoying-we would change our route just to try and avoid him. We met a lovely gentleman on this visit, who has been going back for many, many years, knows the staff very well and he told us many of the staff will try and sell you their sob stories-which he says 90% will be lies..so its taking everything they say with a grain of salt-which is hard, knowing in what conditions they live in-but many times it will be a scam. Funnily enough-he noted that the queens of the resorts are the maids-who walk out EVERY night with large laundry bags stuffed with all the stuff guests left for them on their pillows-including cash! Although we still bring a few Christmas treats..chocolates, candy canes,etc..I just tip now.

That’s it-going back in 2010-by request of the kids no less-who have made this their home away from home!

Our son was married on the beach
Hotel Sandals Royal Hicacos
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Robert from New Brunswick >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Nov, 2009
Arrival: nov 1st-8th 2009 A group of ten went to Sandals for a weddding. Flew from Moncton via Toronto with West Jet..there first ever flight to Varadero..great price and flight. We were met at airport and taken to resort with no stops..changed some money at airport and bought some beer for everyone. At the resort met with champagne and taken to our rooms with no plastic bracelets!

Rooms:

As mentioned by previous reviewers rooms on two levels small fridge,hairdryer,converter, some english TV and daily water replenish, beach towels in room. Very clean and comfortable

Restaurants and Bars:

My wife and I only went to the buffet..others in our group went to the a la cartes..nothing special. Food in the buffet was ample..always great soup and lots of choice. The lobby bar was terrific..fantastic service and quality drinks..a great meeting place. The beach bar was well used by our group and featured service right at out beach chairs. The Piano bar was a favorite of mine as the piano playing was really good.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

The beach was the main attraction and did not disapoint. Plenty of loungers and good walking in either direction. The grounds were quite nice and the resort was spread out..so lots of walking involved. Never went to the pools but they appeared to be clean..pool swim up bar was always busy!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:

The only day it rained we went into Varadero on the double decker bus. Had been there before so we knew what we wanted to see..several markets mainly.

Other Comments:

We have been to Cuba numerous times..Varadero 3 times We have stayed at the Solomar and the Barlevento. We would rate the food better at the solomar. and the barlevento as being better located but we must give the Sandals high marks for having the best staff probably overall a 4 star resort. In addition we found the quality of the drinks at Sandals to be the best we have seen in over 20 visits to the caribbean. And yes the wedding went off without a hitch..our son was married on the beach and the small reception was held in a gazebo near the lobby bar complete with a great 3 piece Cuban band. We highly recommend this resort!

beautiful, comfortable & great food
Hotel Breezes Jibacoa
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Joanne >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Oct, 2009 | Leisure | With Group
We went to this resort last Oct for the first time and we loved it so much we are heading back there this coming Oct. 7 of us went last time and we have 16 already for this year. Trip to Havana was a bit depressing, you will be approached by many begging for money and clothes, we did visit their market of about 50 stalls selling about 5 stalls worth of different things, to be honest the prices at the hotel store were cheaper or the same and they had a nice variety to choose from. There are a ton of old cars to see in Havana. We tried an authentic cuban meal, although realizing that they were proud of their best food offering, we would not wish to repeat that experience. Many buildings with ornate balustrade. Some buildings have had scaffolding on them for so many years they are now grown over with vegetation making the scaffolding part of the building.

Food at the hotel was wonderful especially lobster night on Wed nights.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There is a dedicated group running the social program and we opted to play some games but could have been busy with many activities but opted not to. We did the day trip to havana on our own with a taxi booked through the front desk. The guided bus tour might be better. We heard the rented mopeds are fun and the guide rides along with you.

We also heard that there is a jeap tour and that you ride through a river, have lunch out, ride in a boat and reurn in a bus. Sounds good we will check this out.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was lovely to walk on, you may see the odd crab poking up or skittering along and you may even see a washed up blue jelly fish DO NOT TOUCH A JELLY FISH, lots of shad at the beach with man made umbrellas and natural trees. Snorkelling equipment at end of beach to borrow, in great condition. Pool is huge and water is quite cool but easy to get used to. We enjoyed a couple of impromptu volleyball games that were non competitive and I don’t think even had rules. Two smallish hot tubs that fit 4 comfortably, 8 if you’re all friends. Lots of shade by the pool with covered cabanas. No floaties there for the pool but many people brought their own. We grabbed a table and chair set from the courtyard area and put it under the cabana with the loungers. The loungers are not the most comfortable and I think dollar store floats would fix that. the grounds are well cared for, a few stray cats and dogs running around. Staff is friendly and accomodating. Many beautiful flowers and coloured folliage.
checked for Dialysis
A family member wanted to come with us this year but when we tried to get info re dialysis in Havana and we could not get any, we tried many sources for several months.
Other Comments
The massage hut on the beach is awesome. $35 for an hour.
Restaurants and Bars
The main restaurant is where we went for all breakfast and some dinners. Chairs are so so for comfort. Food is different than Canada and the salad bar is more of a been and veggie stand, they do not have lettuce or salad dressing. Home made soups were great. Most nights were a themed menue, we loved the lobster on Wed night, and the filet mignon from the Italian restaurant. Did not really care for the cuban restaurant other than my friend liked her shrimp cup & the wine. We ate lunch everyday at the beach restaurant and I ate their spicy chicken leg and fries almost every day. Ummm. Piano bar is upstairs from main lobby and although nice atmosphere there is no piano player for the huge piano. All the bars were accomodating to try to make any drink you wanted. Liquor is very strong. Nice slush drinks at every bar. My friend recommends the spanish coffee, even for breakfast.
Rooms
We stayed in a gardenview room, no different that a pool view room other than we looked slightly away from the pool. We noticed previous advice on trip advisor to book a 2nd story room as there are less critters. Upon our arrival we had a cookarocha in our bathroom which we killed and never saw another one all week, our friends also had one in their livingroom and after disposing of it they never saw another one all week. Their boys had a room of their own and they never saw one all week. I did take a can of insect repellant which I never needed because their were no mosquitos so I sprayed inside the dressers, closet, under the bed and around the patio door. There are no screens on the patio door which is how I think the bugs must have gotten in. we had a couple of big beautiful palm trees out side our balconies which provided bird song and shade to us.
Your Arrival
fast & furious, have your passport #, flight name & number ready, upon receiving your welcome packet, book your restaurants right then.

We travelled at night last time but you wait all day to leave at both ends, this year we will travel in the morning.

Awesome !!!
Hotel NH Krystal Laguna Villas & Resort
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Gordon >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Sep, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
For a third world country we were very impressed , Hotel was clean , the food was good ( not as much choice as some other all inclusive hotels , but very good )the staff were friendly and polite .
Other Comments
people need to give this place a break , it is good value for money
Mexican wedding flipped to Cuba due to the swine flu 10days before the big day!!!
Hotel Iberostar Playa Alameda
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Debbie & Scott >  1 contribution(s) Canada
May, 2009 | Leisure | With Group
We had originally booked our wedding for May 15th in the Mayan Riviera. 10 days before we were booked to leave with our group of 27 the swine flu hit. This changed everything, we were unable to go to Mexico due to flight cancellations so it was a mad scramble to make our wedding work out. Our travel agent at Marlin Travel was amazing. she managed to get us all booked in Cuba within 2 days no problem. We contacted the wedding coordinator in Cuba and managed to throw together a last minute wedding. I will admit i was heartbroken, i had been planning our wedding for over a year and it went down the tubes overnight. Our big day in Cuba wasn’t what i originally planned but it was beyond my dreams and i wouldn’t change it for the world. I think it was so wonderful because we were literally flying by the seat of our pants with zero plans and that may be why it turned out so wonderfully. We had Imilze (not sure of the spelling) she was the wedding coordinator. Her english is very rough but we managed with much gesturing and photos i brought with me to make our wedding vision come to life. All the staff went out of their way to accomodate us including a wedding rehearsal night at the outdoor Cuban BBQ buffet. they set a huge table up for us and let us in first. the music was wonderful, the food at the BBQ fantastic. Another thing to think about was our cost savings, we saved about $5000 going to Cuba. a big savings in the end so just a thought if you keep it simple. The beach was gorgeous so saving money and getting married on a gorgeous beach is a double bonus!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
because we were such big group we booked a sail boat to Cayo Blanco just for our group. it was amazing!! the snorkeling wasn’t fantastic but the boat ride and the island were remarkable and i highly suggest doing this activity. it was made even better because it was just family and friends. My husband i also went swimming with the Dolphins. I do suggest this if you can get past the murky water! it’s a little scary but once you are in the water you are in another world and it blew me away. the Dolphins were so friendly it was worth it. We also danced at the Cuban buffet, the band was great! so fun and full of life and people in our party who you wouldn’t think would get up and dance did! it brought tears to my eyes. We also had a great live band for our wedding day. We loved him but be forewarned that he likes to make up words to the songs. Lets put it this way, he played "sexbomb" as our first dance on the beach! Not quite what we requested but it brought out a lot of laughs and funny memories. they also played at our reception.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach staff were awesome! We got to know the lifeguards, bar tenders and the beach chair guy. They were so friendly and helpful and really helped make our trip as great as it was. They truly go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable and happy. we had one incident where i had saved some chairs very early in the morning on the beach and came back later to find someone had taken them. The gentlemen who helps you with your chairs remembered my spot and managed to get us back where we belonged. We tipped quite often which goes a long way especially in this case
Restaurants and Bars
The food was good. it was exactly what we expected. There were definite favorites amongst our group. We are not the fussy type and we realize that they do not have access to what we have at home. we felt that was kind of the point of a vacation! we didn’t make our reservations early enough to get into all the a la carte restaurants so we were happy to say bye to the buffet when we left.
Rooms
The rooms were nice. Not top notch but comfy. some rooms did smell a bit musty but it’s Cuba…the air is moist. They are similar to any other vacation spot in a hot country. They were well kept with good housekeeping but not 5 star.
Your Arrival
Easy. We arrived at the airport and we were wisked away by a Signature bus to our resort directly. No stopping at other hotels it was great! The hotel was well organized and used golf carts to transport us with our luggage to our areas of the resort. My husband i got a beautiful room with an ocean view but unfortunately we had to move as the air conditioning wasn’t working and it was too warm to bear.
Catarmaran tour to Beach Blanco – loads of fun!
Hotel Sandals Royal Hicacos
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April from Spruce Grove, Alberta >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
Arrival: April 13 – April 27 Arival was good. Airport was a little intimidating – noticed a fair bit of military & police presence. My husband and I went for a cigarette before collecting our luggage, and were not allowed back into the airport. Thank goodness my best friend and brother-in-law, did not follow us out, so they collected our luggage (phew!). Note – you can smoke in the airport. We took a Sandals van to the resort. Concierge greeted us, took us to their room, gave us champagne, cold wet towels, a bag of aftersun, lotion, and shampoo, and explained the resort to us. We were a little concerned about the heat and humidity, but we were used to it by the next morning.

Rooms:

Our room was very comfortable, clean, and spacious. Our main maid, turndown maid, and beverage stocker were all excellent. May I suggest bringing 2 or more bars of your own soap (somedays we would shower 3 times/day), the water is hard and the soap provided will not lather. Bring facecloths too! We found that the maids and fridge stocker were very appreciative of tips – small gifts and pesos. By the 2nd week, we always had a bottle of Chardonnay and at least 8 beer in our fridge, every day. May I suggest kids toys as gifts for the maids. We went to a mall, and discovered that toys are super expensive. (a $15 CAD toy costs about 95 CUC – about $110 CAD).

Restaurants and Bars:

We liked the service – alot! The food was good, considering that this is Cuba. So much selection, but after 2 weeks, I just really wanted to come home and BBQ a steak! I actually lost 5 lbs. on this vacation because I was forced to eat fairly healthy – lots of veggies and white fish! I loved how after the 3rd day, every staff member that had served us, totally remembered us! I found the service the best at the Italian restaurant, the beach bar, and at the buffet. We hung out alot at the lobby bar, it’s so central, and a good place to kill time while waiting for a reservation. Loved the beach bar, the bartenders will always remember your drink order, and will sometimes start prepping it as soon as you walk in. Tip these people, they need it, and the service gets a little more outstanding.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:

Loved all of the above. Apparantly, it was Cuba’s dry season, but there were so many beautiful and interesting trees, vines, flowers, etc. Lots of geckos, salamanders, and birds. The pools were very clean and a good temperature. The pool bar was a lot of fun (lookout – hot sun + many drinks = interesting times). My husband won a drinking contest at 10:30 in the morning at the pool bar – hilarious day. The beach was outrageously awesome. Every single day, when we walked the boardwalk to the beach, I was amazed at how blue & beautiful the ocean was. The beach is sooooo relaxing!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We went to Varadero a couple of times, to the many markets, the convention center (mall), and to a few local restaurants. We took taxis each time. We took the Catarmaran tour to Beach Blanco – loads of fun! Highly recommend it. We took a private tour to Havana. We booked this through concierge at the hotel. I highy, highly recommend this way to travel to Havana. It was 240 CUC, for the 4 of us. Our guide (and driver), Misael, spoke very good english. He took us to the gov’t buildings, the cemetary (breathtaking, no I’m not morbid – it’s fascinating), then to his friend’s house for lunch ( a house on the ocean – their kitchen is a family run restaurant – it was the best meal I think that I have ever had). Then Misael took us to Old Havana. He explained so much of the history to us. Then we walked into the "real" old Havana – the places where tourist do not dare venture on their own – what an experience!!!! Loved it, a bit saddening to see the poverty, but loved to see the culture. Warning we went to the parliament building and were completely bombarded by beggars. Also, prepare to pay for toilet paper in Havana. On the way back, Misael, drove us through the countryside. It was very cool to see this portion of Cuba. The ranches, the vegetable and fruit farms, the small farming communities, the rum factory, the many Canadian factories and processing plants, it was awesome.

Other Comments:

My best friend and brother-in-law got married at Sandals – it was perfect. Also I celebrated my 30th b-day and the staff were so gracious. It’s only been 2 weeks since we left, but I am already itchin to book my next trip. I miss it so much, it was one of the best times I have ever had.

This resort is absolutely fantastic.
Hotel Sandals Royal Hicacos
User Rating:  
Johanne & Paul from Oshawa, Ontario >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Apr, 2009
We stayed at Sandals Royal Hicacos from April 16th to April 23nd, 2009. We did our Renewal of Vows there, which is just like a wedding, and it will be covered in the review. Our review is broken into sections, so you can pick what you want to read. The sections are as follows: -Executive Summary -Travel Agent (Canadian residents) -Skyparx -Sunwing -Sandals Royal Hicacos Review (includes restaurants, pools, and more) -Wedding/Renewal of Vows -Personal Notes

Executive Summary

In short, this is a fantastic resort. This was our first trip to Varadero. It didn’t disappoint us at all. To get a drink at any bar was only a matter of a minute, or two. The food at the restaurants was great, and we never had a problem with getting our choice of seating time. The service was white glove, and if you wanted your food spicy, all you had to do was ask. The beach is fantastic, and you can walk out about 60 meters from shore. The road from the airport to the hotel has no potholes at all, just a pleasant trip.

Travel Agent (Canadian residents)

Our hats are off to Penny at Breakaway Travel, on Taunton Road, in Oshawa. It was our first venture to Cuba, after being at many other resorts in the Caribbean. Penny knew how to pick the perfect resort for us. Penny also told us that the amount shown online (for all Canadian travel websites) must comply with all other websites. Therefore, if you book online the price is the same, no matter where you go. However, if you phone, you will get a cheaper price. This is great news for all travelers. Tickets have changed, and now it’s a piece of paper, and not the old traditional tickets we are used to.

Skyparx

For parking at Toronto Airport, it’s Skyparx for us. Skyparx has the cheaper price for valet parking for 1 week, but it’s a couple of extra minutes away from the airport. The total cost for the week was under $80 CDN for the valet service. All you have to do, when you return, is call them and they pick you up. It was nice, since the car was right there for us. Skyparx is also changing it’s name to theparkingspot

Sunwing

We have traveled on Air Transat, Air Canada, and Skyservice before. This was our first vacation and travel with Sunwing. We had prebooked our seats, so we were in row 5 near the front of the plane. The food was better than most of the food we have had on other flights. It’s also nice to get a small glass of champagne, and wine with dinner (for free). We did find the seats a bit cramped for us. Paul is over six feet tall and at 220 pounds was squished. Jo is 5 feet 9 inches and only 125 pounds and found no leg room. The seats are great for those of you who are about 5 feet 5 inches and a maximum weight of 150 pounds.

Sandals Royal Hicacos Review Because there is so much to tell about this resort, it is also broken down into sections for ease of use. Just pick the title of what you want to read and enjoy!

* Reception (check-in)

The bus only had fourteen of us going from the airport to the hotel (40 minute drive). We thought we would have a long wait to check-in, but you don’t worry about your luggage at all, since it’s marked with your room number at the airport. It was only a matter of minutes to check-in. You get your room number, keycard, and map of the resort. They give you a green plastic bag with your bathroom amenities with your safe key in there as well. Don’t lose the safe key, as it is expensive to replace. Your luggage will be taken to your room for you.

* Rooms

We were in room 1113. This meant Building 11. It was on the third floor, facing west for great sunsets. Our room had a king-sized bed, a 6 drawer dresser, television, cabinet with fridge that included soft drinks and water. There was also a sofa and coffee table. We had a clock/radio beside the bed. There is a large closet that contains many hangers, the ironing board and iron, an umbrella, and the safe. The bathroom has a sink and a huge double bathtub. The water pressure was great and there was plenty of hot water too. The balcony had a view of the reception, lobby bar and ocean (you just had to turn your head to the right for the ocean view). The balcony had two chairs and a table, where we sat at night with our cigars, champagne, and cognac. The room itself is about the size of a one bedroom apartment, in Toronto.

* Grounds

The grounds are beautifully well kept. People are working on them constantly. There are fountains everywhere, as well as “canals” winding their way around the premises.

* Pools

There are two major pools at Sandals Royal Hicacos. It appears as one pool, but they are walled off under some of the bridges. There is a swim up bar, which is filled with Canadians, as they seem to be about 90% of the guests at the resort. Some women do go topless at the pools, as well as the beach. There are other pools for the upgrade and hot tubs for your use too.

* Beach

The beach is very wide (from the hotel to the ocean itself). In fact, there are plenty of lounge chairs (yellow). We never had a problem getting a chair at the beach any time of the day. There was always a person at the beach that was ready to get you a lounge chair for you.

* Ocean

We can’t say enough about the ocean. The colour of it is perfect. The ocean is great. You can walk out at least 60 metres from shore, and not go over your head. The paddle boats were great, and the hobie cats were available. We found if you tipped an extra 5 CUC you could get a longer ride on the hobie cats. You will also see pelicans flying from time to time. They will amaze you at night with their fishing episodes.

* Beach Vendors

They are on the beach at various location from day to day. Jo purchased a shell ring for 3 CUC and Paul purchased a cigar box for 15 CUC.

* Mini Market (on-site)

You can find everything in here that you want – T-shirts, postcards, souvenirs, dresses, bathing suits, etc.

* Cigar Shop (on-site)

We did purchase cigars. Paul had a field day in here. He ended up with 3 boxes of cigars by the end, and smoked most of one box during our week stay.

En somme, nous avons fait un beau voyage
Hotel Barceló Marina Palace
User Rating:  
Sophie >  4 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2009
ok
We had the best vacation ever
Hotel Melia Cayo Coco
User Rating:  
Natalie from Cambridge, Ontario Canada >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Jan, 2006 | Leisure | With Group
We had the most positive experience at this resort that definately needs to be talked about. We were a little concerned with some of the latest reviews we have read but kept an open mind and had a fabulous time. My fiance and I went to the resort on Jan 15 and got married at the resort on Jan 18. It was a fairytale wedding and an amazing experience for all of our 35 guests. Here goes the Resort review :
Activities
Lets just say we were never bored! We always were doing something, if we weren’t lounging by the pool (which was great with no screaming kids around) we were having shooting contests or Canadian VS. Cuban ballhockey games or horse back riding or snorkeling or taking dance lessons and of course Drinking or Eating. Whether you wanted to do nothing or everything the resort was alway accomidating.
Best Excursion
This wasn’t actually an excursion with the Resort but we did rent scooters and they tell you that it is dangerour but I have to tell you their were 13 of us and if was a blast. It wasn’t dangerous, we went out on our own and found caves an abandon part of the ocean with an amazing view and a bar in the middle of no where. Do it, it was exillerating and beautiful driving beside the ocean with an increadible view.
Entertainment
Every night their was a show put on by the activities team. The dancers and singers were fabulous and entertaining every night, we didn’t miss a show. The great thing is that during the day you get to know the activities team and then at night you feel connected to them in the show because they almost become your friends.
Food
The buffet was lovely with a fantastic pasta bar, a grill, and a person making salads to your liking. Their are three other restaurants on the Resort, the Cuban Restaurant which we didn’t eat at except for lunch one day which was great (plus, my reception was there but we had a special menu). The International Restaurant which in my opinion was beautiful right on the Lagoon and I think they had the best food. Then their was the Italian Restaurant which I didn’t really care for, if I had to say one negitive thing it would be that passing on the Italian Restaurant wouldn’t be a complete loss.
Rooms
We stayed in a Suite on the Lagoon which we were a little nervous about after reading the review of the smell, but I have to tell you their was no odour and the view and peacefulness of being a little bit isolated in the resort was great. The room was clean, always something special designed by the wonderful maids who you could tell just went that extra mile to go make you feel special. We had robes, a hairdryer, fridge (fully stocked when requested with pop and beer), kitchen table and sink, extra king size bed and a beautiful set up of furniture. The water was always extra hot in our room and I know out of all of our guests only one had cold water in the shower. Not to worry they are redoing all of the plumbing so sometimes this might happen.
Summary
We had the best vacation ever not because we got married that week but because we were treated by the staff like we were special. From the time we were greeted off the plane with champagne and piano playing in the Lobby to the time when we had to leave and were exchanging emails with all the staff we knew we would be back. Hopefully next year for our first anniversary. To see pictures, go to: www.kodakgallery.com login: eric.huer@rogers.com password: cuba2006
Tipping
You didn’t ever feel like you had to tip however you almost couldn’t help it because the staff was so accomidating and super nice everywhere. For example the gardner made lots of animals and character just from palm tree leaves every morning for some of my friends. We also stupidly tried to relive our adolesence and played a drinking game, well the bartender was bringing the beers over by the dozens and didn’t care that it was 2:00am. Little things like that you want to tip for. Anything you ask the staff they will do with a smile on their face and a hand shake or hug to seal the deal.
The best trip I’ve ever had!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hotel Blau Costa Verde
User Rating:  
Laura >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Feb, 2002 | Leisure | With friend
I just returned from the best resort Blau Costa Verde. Flew Air Transat. Arrived April 28/10 and left at midnight on May 5/10. Flew first class definitely worth the extra 55.00. I am 24 years old and traveled with my mother this year. We had an amazing time. The hotel is beautiful with lots to do for any ages. The food was amazing. Some of it even tasted like home. They don’t have ketchup very often so I would suggest bringing your own. The staff was so helpful and very friendly. Some things that they really need are sunscreen, deodorant, soap, shampoo and conditioner. The things we take for granted. So if you can take some of these essentials to give to the staff. Trust me they really appreciate it. The beach is awesome but make sure you take your water shoes because there is some corral. You can feed the fish right out of your hand. Barbara does hair and nails. She is awesome so make sure to book an appointment with her. And if you do go by the fitness center please tell Barbara, Deni and the nurse Joa that Laura from Nova Scotia sends big hugs and lots of love. I had a blast with them. I wish they had of played more Cuban music at the restaurants but that is my only complaint. The Cuban restaurant was my absolute favorite. The Italian was amazing too. If you go to the Cuban restaurant get a banana split for dessert. I swear it was better than dairy queen. We stayed in room 3307 had an amazing view of the mountains and water. Maid was great. Hot water everyday. Needless to say I hope to be returning to this resort very soon. I would recommend it to anyone. Please remember to keep an open mind when traveling anywhere in Cuba they do not have the same things that we have. They are the sweetest people. And please remember to tip. They depend so much on this. If anyone is traveling to this resort and you live in or around Halifax if you could contact me at lauraj212010@hotmail.com if you would be willing to take a letter down for me that would be so appreciated. If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me by email.
Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful. Well kept at all times.
Other Comments
Worth every penny to go this beautiful resort. Hope to be going back next month for my birthday!!!!
Restaurants and Bars
Food was very good at this resort. Cuban restaurant was the best.
Rooms
Great for the amount of time you spend in them. The beds are a little bit in the hard side but take the cushion art off the wall and use that. Always clean. Great shower. No complaints at all.
Your Arrival
Excellent very fast service

Old Reviews – Getting married in the Caribbean

Blau Costa Verde Beach Resort
Linda Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada
December 2007
We picked the Blau for our daughter’s wedding because we had been there twice before and didn’t want any surprises. We were not disappointed. There were 31 in our party and all were very impressed. Any minor complaints with the rooms were dealt with in a very timely manner such as A/C or fridges not working. I won’t go into the particulars of the hotel since many have covered them before. The beach remains wonderful, staff friendly and the food very good. The mattresses remain hard but didn’t ruin anyones vacation. I will try and give as many wedding details as possible because we would have liked to read a review with wedding details before we left. The wedding itself was stress free and handled very professionally. Barbara from the hotel who made all the arrangements is just the best. She has such a warm smile and personality and nothing was too much for her to do. She also made some great suggestions when we weren’t sure what to do. On our first day we met with her and made plans for anything above the basic wedding package. We got pictures, a DVD, carriage ride to the beach, bouquet, 2 tier cake and dinner for all after the ceremony. All the extras are very reasonable in price. All this took about 30 minutes and the planning was done. All we had to do now was enjoy our vacation. The couple must be in Cuba for 3 days before the ceremony can take place. We arrived Friday and they were married on Tuesday. They do not perform ceremonies on the weekend. I also don’t think they count the weekend days as part of the 3 days. We also had trouble finding exactly what documents are needed for a wedding in Cuba as some of the websites are a little confusing and the Cuban consulate is a little slow in answering emails. Barbara at the resort again was wonderful in getting us the information. If both the bride and groom are single it is very simple. One month before the wedding fax or scan and email copies of their birth certificate and passport. If you are using your own witnesses you will need their passport number. The resort sends you an email document to fill out. It is very easy. I am unsure about divorced people and what is needed. Sorry. Remember the witnesses cannot be family members. The weather the day of the wedding was perfect and we were lucky. It poured rain the next day….all day but we did have a plan B in case of rain. The girls in the wedding party had their hair done at the resort hairdressers and she did a very good job. She can do just about anything. You may want to take her some extra hair pins, spray or any other hair products as her supply is a little limited. Someone had told us this so we were prepared. The ceremony was held on the beach at 3 PM with a decorated arch, chairs set up with an aisle and a great Cuban band playing. My daughter, my husband and her attendants arrived by horse and carriage and the ceremony started. The bride and groom stood in a heart made of flowers in the sand and Barbara translated the magistrates words. It was all very romantic. We toasted the bride and groom with sparkling wine for all after the ceremony and there was canapes available for all. Nothing was rushed and there was plenty of time for pictures. The bride and groom went back to the resort by horse and carriage and the rest of us walked back to the resort. We were then given the piano/lobby bar for a private cocktail hour (or two) . The piano player was there but they allowed my husband to play instead. For anyone who has been at the Blau before Andre is not playing the piano at present. He has had a heart attack and no one seems to know when he will be back. There are 2 younger girls taking his place for now. During the cocktail hour there was plenty of time for picture taking with the bride and groom around the resort. We had the reception dinner in the Italian a la carte which we chose because we felt it is a bit more romantic than the Cuban restaurant. We had a wonderful 7 course meal that we got to choose from a menu with a very large variety of items. There was plenty of red and white wine to go around. We had appetizers, pasta, soup, cheese platter and steak and all very tasty. We had the beautiful wedding cake with ice cream for dessert that was also very good. After dinner, the bride and her attendants changed clothes and we attended the evening show. Then we all went down to the disco to party. We had recorded some of our own music (MP3 format) and th DJ did a great job. A great time was had by all. The morning after the wedding the bridal couple had breakfast in bed and then the whole group went into Guardalavaca to the market to do a little shopping. We weren’t sure what exactly to expect for the wedding but it couldn’t have been better. I would highly recommend this to anyone. There were only a few in our party who had been to Cuba before and the rest now love Cuba too and I am sure they will return. The DVD is pretty good although if you get one I would suggest you tell the DVD guy to leave the Cuban music and not dub over with his "romantic" music. When you get married in the Caribbean I would have liked to hear that music and not the theme from the Godfather. The photographers pictures were alright but actually my son’s pictures were better. We kind of had to tell him what we wanted. You know the typical wedding shots….bridal couple with parents of the bride then bridal couple with parents of the groom etc. He was content just to take pictures of the couple alone. For sure have the photographer take a picture of your whole group standing in the surf. It really made for a great picture. I am going to have a copy made for our whole group. Also ask for a copy of the pictures on CD so you can make copies at home.

The Blau does a great job of a wedding so if you are trying to make a decision I would recommend the Blau to you. If anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to answer any questions.

Superclubs Breezes Varadero
Our Wedding day was amazing. The wedding was set for 4:00pm. There are several beautiful places to choose from to have the ceremony. We choose outside the piano bar, where is it very ‘Greek’ looking. There are stone walls with an archway and vines hanging down. It was also a good place for a back-up plan, just incase it rained we could easily move the ceremony into the piano bar. We had 32 people including us for the wedding. The package includes one bottle of champaine and one set of flowers. They gave us the extra flowers and a box of champaine to accomodate for the group at no extra charge. There is also a flower archway that they put up, behind where the ceremony takes place. The flowers that I choose were Red Roses, and for my Maid of Honour, Red Roses and Lillies mixed. They were beautiful. Lizbeth sent me to a hairdresser that they normally send the ladies to, at Melia Varadero (there is no hairdresser at Breezes). My hair turned out better than I could have ever asked for. I was so happy with it. I brought in a couple pictures that I found on the internet, and we went with what the hairdresser thought was the best. I definatley suggest having some pictures with you, because my maid of honour was not happy with her hair and we ended up fussing with it a lot before the ceremony. I brought in a few items of my own to make the wedding special for us, such as a Sand Ceremony. The staff were accomodating to make sure we got what we needed to make it happen. A small note for any bride who does the sand ceremony–make sure that afterwards you have the vase filled, capped and in a safe place. Ours was just sitting our on a desk in our room, two days after the ceremony I returned to our room to see the sand shaken up. I think maybe the maid picked it up to look at and then dropped it or something. I was pretty upset about it, as I was planning on putting it in a special place at home. When walking down the isle the trio played "Here comes the Bride", which I wasn’t expecting, but liked very much. The ceremony itself is very legal sounding, that is why we added the sand ceremony. Once the ceremony is over the Trio sticks around to play some music while you open the champaigne and cut the cake. They will also play a song for your first dance if you like. We then started to do the formal pictures. The photographer is great. The only thing is to look out for shadows. We have a few pics that would be much better if we were out of the shaddows. Dinner for all 32 people was at 7:00pm in the Italian restaurant. It is very romantic in there. And again the food and service was fantastic. We had the restaurant to ourselves until 7:30, then other guests from the resort were also there. I didn’t mind this, I just felt sorry for them having to deal with our roudy group. At 8:30ish we headed back to the piano bar for toasts. I also brought a few CD’s with music for a reception. It was a very intimate place for our First Dance and the Father & Daughter dance. We stayed there until after 10:30 and then proceeded to the disco to continue the party. We also opted for a Wedding Video. I believe the cost was $200CUC. We did not discuss one thing with the videographer, and I wish I did. He added songs that I really dislike and think are cheesy. When the video comes to our first kiss, he put it into slow motion and then added the cheesy music. There is a really nice video clip that he put together as well. Again it was music that I would have never chosen. It actually made me laugh the first time I watched it. If you have ever watched a Wedding on Days of Our Lives and the montages that they do…it’s exactly like that. :o) For what can often be a stressful day, I have to say that the staff did not allow me to stress. They made me feel confident that everything was well taken care of, and it was. I was able to enjoy the day to the fullest, because of the fabulous job that they did.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to send me a personal message in the Forums section of Debbies Reviews. My username is jennb.

Melia Cayo Guillermo
Nick & Nicola Ontario
June 2006
Wonderful wedding May 25th, 2006 We just got back from a wonderful wedding in Melia Cayo Guillermo in Cuba. We had started planning our wedding with itravel2000 about 1 ½ prior to our departure, and the wedding ended up being all we dreamed. The rep at itravel (kay) was amazing, and she dealt with all the needs of our party. We were 58 strong, 16 from England, 42 from Canada. For those who are control freaks, I will admit….this may not be your best wedding choice, as much of it is left up in the air until very close to the actual wedding date. Prior to arriving in Cuba, Brenda from Sol Melia and Mary from the resort, answered all my various questions, and advised us how we would proceed once we arrived in Cuba. Our flight out with Sky service was great, and it was early there and back. Once we endured the dodgy bus ride to Cayo Guillermo, we arrived to be greeted by Yaliedy who was the sweetest wedding planner we had ever met. She gave us private check in, and took us to a beautiful suite, with a Jacuzzi and everything. The suite was awesome, however we noticed right away it was very damp, and also not air conditioned. We spent the next day trying to figure out the issue, and then the entire resort’s air conditioning went out. We asked to be moved to another room, but they did not have another suite. They moved us into a normal room, but it was less damp than the original room because it was on the 3rd floor. It was however, very very humid & hot. The wedding planning started out first day, where we picked out flowers, our cake, hired a band for the day, picked our menu (we had three choices), hired a videographer..and all extras we required. We also picked our site (we also had three choices) and picked our dinner location. The language barrier wasn’t really an issue, although get used to everything taking a long time as they really don’t like to rush. Yaleidy was so sweet, and kind, and kissed and hugged us every time she saw us. We were busy the first couple of days, and needed to meet with the band, and the restaurant manager. I also recommend you take a copy of all the documents for legalization of the marriage, as they asked us for a copy when we arrived. We had taken little personal gifts so everyone knew where to sit, and they accommodated us at the restaurant no problem. The day of the wedding was beautiful, and everything went perfectly. We had taken our own hairdresser and photographer, but the on site hairdresser was great. They did all of my families hair and a trial for only $30 pesos, which is really cheap. They looked great. The photographer is a must though, because the quality of Cuban photos is not great. The gazebo was decorated beautifully, and other than a short delay waiting for the notary, everything went off without a hitch just after 3:30 as planned. The ceremony was in Spanish, translated into English by the wedding planner. We have champagne and fruit in the gazebo, and danced to the band, and had a great time. We then went off to have our pictures done, and met everyone at 6:30 for dinner. They allowed us to have the whole restaurant to ourselves for the night. The dinner was great, and they supplied the 3 tier cake, all the wine, the dinner, and even set up a microphone & table for the speeches. Once the dinner was done, we went to the disco were the DJ agreed to play our wedding songs, and we danced the night away. The air conditioning was broke in the hall, and it was a tad unbearable, but we danced anyway J The next morning, they served us breakfast in our room and had a great time. To be honest, I will be writing a complaint about the air conditioning, as Cuba in May/June really isn’t fun when there is no where to cool down. But we did have a great time, and they relocated us to Melia Cayo Coco for the last 4 days to cool down and enjoy our holiday properly. We got our preliminary wedding certificate while we were there, and we met up with the videographer for our wedding video. It was really cheesy, but really cute.

All in all, it was a great day. Exactly how I pictured it.

Sol Elite Palmeras
Heather and Jason Orangeville, ON Canada
February 2006
A great place to get married and to bring a group! We got married on Feb 15th, and everything was taken care of! We had over 25 people with us which rewarded us with a free wedding! We communicated with the wedding Coordinator at the resort via email (Valentine) for approx 2 months prior to arrival. We let her know what we wanted, and everything was taken care of for us, as well as our group! We were married at 3:00pm in the gazebo by the pool. The resort made this spot very special. There were Roses leading down the isle, and the gazebo was dressed up with flowers, and everything in white to make it special. The ceremony was approx 30 mins long. It was in both in Spanish and English. If you’re planning on doing this, you can prepare your own vows as there is the opportunity to share them. Other than that, you will exchange rings, and say "I Do". We then walked around the resort for fabulous pictures. Anywhere from the beach, to the Pool area, to the gardens around the Bungalows. We have some fabulous pictures, as we found some very nice spots around the resort. After the ceremony, we had the Italian restaurant booked for the reception at 7:00pm. They gave our group ½ of the restaurant on the upper level to keep it intimate. We were also provided with a CD player to play our own music. We had dinner, a few dances, and speeches at the reception dinner. From dinner, we headed to the private Disco for the remainder of the reception from 9:00 – 11:00pm that night. The Disco was closed off during this time for our group! They provided bartenders, as well as a DJ. We brought CD’s of music we wanted to be played for our 1st dance, etc….and the DJ and bar staff totally took care of us! This was a wonderful, stress free and beautiful way to share our commitment to each other. Absolutely everything went smoothly, and we wouldn’t have done it any other way! All of the staff at the resort treated us like the two most important guests at the resort that week! We had free rounds of golf for the group, room upgrades, dinner reservations when requested, Champaign in the room, turn down service every night, and an unforgettable week of fun and relaxation! I would definitely recommend this resort if you’re planning on being married in Beautiful Cuba! Take a look at the wedding packages posted on the resort website, as we’ve only shared a few in this review. Here is a link to see some our photos from the wedding. www.spaces.msn.com/baileypictures/
Brisas Trinidad del Mar
Penny & Reg Pembroke, Ontario
January 2006
I have written a separate review of the trip in general and the hotel facilities. This review will focus on the specifics of our experience of getting married at this resort. We were tired from the long journey and therefore decided not to track down Enis Donis wedding coordinator/public relations personnel right away. The next morning we bumped into him and sat down to discuss the time and place of the ceremony. They were completely open to holding the ceremony anywhere we wanted and also very flexible on the day and time. He kept saying "it’s your wedding, you decide". He asked for the paperwork which we had done months prior through the Cuban consulate. As we were both divorced before, the paperwork had to be certified, translated and then the translated copies recertified…bottom line $732.00 CAD in papers. We had researched all of our options in Cuba and elsewhere and decided on Brisas del mar because of its size, proximity to Trinidad and the low low cost (paperwork aside) of the actual ceremony…advertised in the Signature website (Dec, 2005) as $100.00CUC for the notary costs. The exact add is right now on their site and reads as follows

"Wedding!

Nov 01, 2005 – Oct 31, 2006 FREE Wedding package includes: upgrade to an Seaview Room (if available at check-in), bride’s boutique, groom’s boutonniere, mini-reception, wedding cake, sparkling wine, dinner in à la carte restaurant, translator and witnesses (if required), choice of decorated ceremony area, live music, 12 photographs (5×7), wedding certificate, Continental breakfast in room morning after ceremony, turn down service, Honeymoon Package inclusions. Notarised services CUC$100. Inclusions subject to change. Arrangements to be made directly with hotel. More services available for additional charge." We chose the "birdcage" area for the ceremony. It is, in essence, a representation of Trinidad’s plaza mayor. It is surrounded with beautiful flowers and white fences and in the centre is this gazebo-like structure which in fact houses paraqueets and the like. So Enis told us that the flowers were not included in the price but not to worry that they aren’t expensive like they are in Canada. So the bouquet was $15.00CUC, I gave him $20 and asked for an extra one for my hair. When it arrived, well, it was OK. My friend and I rearranged it a tad and made due. They said that because of hurricane Denis (summer 2005) that flowers were sparse. No boutonniere. We did receive an ocean view room on check in and were upgraded to a suite the day of the wedding which was absolutely gorgeous. No breakfast the morning after ever showed up. We paid the photographer $50.00CUC for 30 some 5 X 7 pictures and 2 8X10s. The poses were OK but the quality of the developing was a little off. I made sure that I received the negatives and we have since reprinted some of them and the color is way better on the reprints. We had family members take shots as well and we ended up with a great selection between all of them. No turndown service. The quartet that played for us was awesome and I dare say MADE the mini-reception. They were really good. The cake and champagne were fabulous and the accessories (champagne glasses, cake tray, etc) were beautiful. The "mini-reception" was held at the a la carte restaurant right after the ceremony. They had a mini-buffet with cold meats, bread, olives, cheeses, etc…I hadn’t expected that and it was great. There was also a bar. We paid the quartet extra to come up and keep playing rather than listening to a cd. In case you are thinking that a marriage ceremony in Cuba is a tear-jerking romantic sermon, be warned (and I had been) that the notary (lawyer) "performs" the ceremony by reading sections of a legal document. We thought it was funny and now when we have a tiff I’ll yell out "DOESN’T SUBSECTION 3 PARAGRAPH 4 MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU???" You really have to just go with the flow getting married here…I was not disappointed, but I didn’t expect much either. We were focused on each other and had agreed to refuse to get caught up in trivial details that would only stress us out. That said… If there was any nasty part it was this: 18 hours before the wedding was to take place (and on our Signature Tours Representative’s day off) Enis approached us with the final details and in passing mentioned that we should now pay the $400.00CUC for the cost of the ceremony!!! To this day I’m not sure if it was a shakedown or an honest mistake but we wouldn’t fold and told him that if that was the case then we would be forced to postpone the ceremony until we had more time to call home, the Signature rep, our travel agency, the manager, and if need be the ministry of tourism to investigate why the price had QUADRUPLED in one month’s time. A little more than an hour later we were told that we, in fact, were right and it was indeed $100CUC. He apologized several times and we smiled and said mistakes happen but no explanation of where the $400 figure came from was ever offered.

That said, the ceremony was quick (just as we had requested), the people were great (minus that episode) and we were made feel really special on that day. I lost count of how many gardeners approached us over the next few days (they had been watching the ceremony) and offered my husband a firm handshake and me a bouquet of hand-picked flowers and many years of joy and happiness.

Sol Club Cayo Largo
Happily Married Tamara and Mark 
January 2006
My MOH stayed with me in our room, we went for breakfast around 8:30am and then left b/c we knew the guys were coming for 9am. We went back to her room to grab what she needed, dress and makeup and stuff and the other 2 girls grabbed their stuff and came back to my room as well. I had a shower and then I headed to the salon for my appt at 11am. Wasn’t sure how long it would take, considering we’re in Cuba after all, to do my hair so I wasn’t taking any chances. I brought a picture album with me of how I wanted my hair done and he did a good job, considering it was a lot looser than I originally had it in the pics but that was how I really wanted it. He didn’t even use a curling iron either, although being under the dryer for a half hour was brutal thank god the place was air conditioned. Every so often someone would come to visit me with drinks or food. I think I was finally out of there around 1pm. By that time it was hot and humid. It was forecast to rain that day so of course I was paranoid. It sprinkled a bit but that was about it. Hung out in the room till it was time to leave. My MOH’s sister came with the flowers, we had picked pink lillies for them to put in their hair but it came as a few buds on one big stem that they ended up holding them. And if you decide to get flowers for the guys make sure you have pins, all they have are safety pins, which really didn’t work too well. We also had to get the guys roses cut b/c they came with a full stem as well. The bus was leaving at 2:30pm for everyone else to go to the ceremony our time to start was 3pm, it was 20mins away, on the virgin beaches. Since there was only room for 3 people, my father and my MOH came with me afterwards in the jeep. They came and picked us up at my room at 2:40pm in a golf cart to bring us to the lobby where the jeep was to take us over. I was fine until I got there and saw the whole set up and my husband standing there waiting for me, it looked incredible, and so I lost it and started to cry. When we got there though, the girls started to walk down the aisle and here I am being handed a drink and someone trying to get my shoes from me, lol. My Mom later told me how she agonized over what shoes to wear with her dress for the wedding, only to find out that they took them away from her and everyone was barefoot. The ceremony was short and sweet, listening to one version in Spanish and then in English. We had decided to do this ceremony at that beach b/c we didn’t really want alot of onlookers that tend to lurk at the hotels so it was quite amusing when the train shuttles that are used to trek the hotel guests from the hotels to those virgin beaches goes by as we’re right in the middle of our ceremony, totally ironic!! Of course it stops and if you’ve seen the pics, all you can see is everyone taking pictures, they were also all yelling and hollering. Ah well. After the ceremony we did tons of pics and had a dance with the band, it was very nice and very romantic. They even had a table set up as well so people could grab some water and refresh themselves. We then travelled back to the hotel and got in this decorated golf cart with a sign Just Married on the back and a bunch of cans. So they proceeded to take us around the resort blowing a whistle and honking the horn letting everyone know we just got married, it was funny and embarrassing at the same time. Lizbet told us before we left the beach that they were taking us back to the resort and were going to plant our own palm tree! We had no idea, what a nice surprise! So after our golf cart jaunt we ended up at the place where they do this for all the couples who get married there, we had a little post as well with our initials on it which was beside our tree. My husband filled in the sand around the tree and I poured the water, it was very touching and can’t wait to visit it once again. We were transported once again via golf cart to the pool restaurant where we relaxed and hung out. The bartender, Michel, who we got friendly with at the swim-up bar had put aside 3 bottles of champagne for us to celebrate with before dinner. Took some more pics around the resort and then we headed back to our room to grab a couple things before heading to the beach restaurant for dinner. When we got there it was entirely decorated. Ribbons everywhere, towel art, petals in the sink and tub, a fruit basket…etc. It was beautiful. After taking some pics, lol, we headed to dinner. They had separated us from the rest of the restaurant so it was like we had our own private room. And again the table looked amazing, wonderfully decorated and we were all around one big table. The food was delicious everyone kept commenting on the meat, sooo good. Had some speeches, we really didn’t have an agenda and just left the floor open to anyone who wanted to talk. Had some kisses, then came the cake, again beautifully decorated with pink roses and petals, not sure what kind of cake it was but it was good. Went to the disco afterwards for some dancing and relaxing from a tough day, lol. Gave the DJ our CD with our song and then the rest were just dance songs. My Mom came up and asked me to ask my Dad to dance, he was tired and wanted to have the father daughter dance so he could go to bed. Thing was we didn’t put anymore slow songs on the CD b/c we weren’t going to do all the dances just our first one and that’s it. So my Dad and I ended up boogying to Hung Up by Madonna, it was humourous. Danced all night, we left not too long after that, it had been a long emotional day and we wanted some time alone. We found out the next day too that the DJ never came back so the bartender kept replaying our CD, people got a little tired of hearing the same songs, ha ha.

Photos

Sol Club Cayo Largo
14 of us visited this resort from Jan 7 to 14. for a wedding. It was our daughters wedding and I must say that all of our expectations were met and well exceeded. When I contacted the wedding personal "Tania" she assured me that everything would be taken care of. And that it was. They did and amazing job and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful time. Without going into great detail every little thing was taken care of. Our daughter and her new husband said that their wedding couldn’t have been any better. A tree planted on their behalf was a very nice touch, something they can see on one of their anniversarys when they return. Or we will let them know how it is doing because we will definatley be going back. The only downfall was the mosquitoes. They appeared around 7:30am and again at 7:30pm. The only thing that seem to keep them at bay was OFF deep woods with deet. Please dont hold this against the Cuban’s because they are very confused also as to why they are here now. The only thing we can think of is the hurricanes. This has never been a problem in January.

The beach, even though it was smaller than it was a year ago was still very amazing and very relaxing. If you a planning a wedding in the Carribean, please give this place a thought, I promise you won’t be dissapointed.

Gaviota Playa Costa Verde
We got married at this resort on February 24th of 2005 and it was perfect!!!!!

History

This was our second time to playa coste verde we chose this resort for our wedding because of the kind staff who specialize in weddings, the snorkeling which is to die for and the food is some of the best in Cuba.

Reasons I loved my Cuban Wedding

-The staff took care of everything -Flowers were really beautiful -My hair was as good as the picture I had from my in style wedding magazine -One of the gardeners decorated the beach area for the wedding and it was so thoughtful and beautiful -The restaurant was wonderful, the light shone through the arched windows while champagne was served and the string quartet played (Italian restaurant) -The Cuban trio on the beach were so talented and really set the mood for the wedding -The golf cart ride around the resort was loads of fun -My friends and family all had a great vacation -The staff were the best people in the world and made us feel really special, they were genuinely kind and thoughtful. -The wedding planners are the best around as they have one to six weddings a week, they definitely have a flare and know what they are doing.

Things I would recommend to a bride having her wedding at this resort -Don’t stress your on vacation

-If you have something specific in mind for flowers or hair bring pictures they’ll do their best to accommodate you and I’m sure if it’s not exact it will be better -Book you hair appointment for yourself and bridesmaids early -Get the largest photo package as it is well worth it -The Italian restaurant is the best for a romantic setting especially if your in a large group (we had 37) -Dance every night -Go to the beach at night, especially on your wedding night -Cohibas are great for bachelor and bachelorette parties -Sing, dance, smile and take the time to let your senses enjoy everything on your wedding day, the feeling of the Cuban breeze the aroma in the restaurant, enjoy it all!!! -Stay for two weeks you’ll need to so you can relax -Go on the Holguin tour it’s the best for your money, you’ll love it! -Be sure to get the Cuban trio to play, it’s well worth it their excellent -Be sure to say thank you to everyone who made your day wedding planners, gardeners, entertainment staff, servers, drivers, the florist, cooks etc….

The Most Important thing

Don’t forget it’s an island wedding so have fun don’t stress and enjoy! The staff are the best ever and they will take care of you.

Sol Cayo Guillermo
We booked our wedding at the SCG through Thomas Cook. We expected a stress free wedding and will state now that we did not get this. Booked over 14mths in advance and the only request we had was for a King Size bed. On checking in (no special priviledges for wedding parties here)we were last in queue and found that we were allocated a room with twin beds. They offered us an alternative which smelled of sewerage. Finally after 2 hours and a few tears of frustration, we were given an upstairs room with the paid for sea views but with twins on the promise that we would have a king size delivered the next day. We eventually got the King size bed 10 days after arrival and 6 days after our wedding after numerous broken promises. Part of the wedding package was a room upgrade(if available) this never materialised. Why were we upset? Some of the other people who checked in at the same time as us who had not requested King size beds or paid for sea views were allocated them and yet we who had requested one for obvious reasons(and paid over £569 for the wedding package on top of the holiday price)had to fight to get one! Thomas Cook rep was no use at all in attaining this request. We were asked to move rooms 2 hours before wedding and when we went to inspect it,the room was already occupied! Wine & fruit welcome basket delivered 2 days late. Breakfast in bed on day after wedding delivered to wrong room! Friends presents delivered to wrong room! We Chose Cuba as in brochure it said "Only 1 wedding per day" there were 2 on our wedding day! Previous wedding guests & glasses etc still in gazebo when the groom and party arrived at the allocated time! Wedding co-ordinator forgot to tell us to take our passports to the ceremony so this involved a mad dash in full regalia of 15mins back to room in temperature of over 85 degrees! Notary was 30 mins late! When we finally got the offical photo (1 day before our departure) it was not posed, out of focus and over exposed! Names on wedding certificate were spelt wrongly even though we had corrected them on arrival! Thomas Cook rep was no where to be seen! Apart from all this the actual ceremony was wonderful but certainly not the "Stress Free" wedding we had been dreaming of.

The resort it self was wonderful and the beach was fantastic…..don’t expect to get a sunbed and shade unless you are prepared to get up extreemly early and put your towels out! Not supposed to be done but it seems as if everyone else does it and the staff do not discourage this practice. Service in the main bar was very slow unless you were young, pretty and female or flashed a tip! Food was good and enough variety to see our party for 2 weeks….best tip the bananas cooked fresh every night were fantastic as was the young lady who cooked them.. Staff were generally very friendly through out our stay. Would return to this resort but only for a holiday and would not 100% recommend the wedding package through Thomas Cook. Any questions please contact us. email: fiona7355@yahoo.com

Iberostar Varadero
Jason and Brianne Toronto, ON
July 2008
Married on May 21 2008 We choose the Iberostar Varadero after travelling to Varadero for a holiday and falling in love with Varadero Beach. It is really a beautiful area. Our group of 25 people arrived on Sunday at approximately noon. Not all rooms were ready so we changed into our swimsuits and started our holiday. Our group was scattered throughout buildings #12, 13 and 14. We all quickly noted who was in which rooms and would call between rooms to find out what was going with everyone. The resort is truly gorgeous. All rooms are large, clean and fresh. Each room has the same bathroom and it is phenomenal. The bathrooms are all marble, with a large soaker tub and a glass stand up shower. The buffet is very nice and has a good selection of food. One night they had a gourmet cheese selection, another night was seafood night. We had dinner at two out of the three a la cartes, the Japanese restaurant and the Mediterranean. The Japanese restaurant was good for a show as they cook the food in front of you. The pool and ocean was great. Tons of lounge chairs and umbrellas for shade. We were supposed to meet with Belkis at 9:30 am the Monday morning which was the same time as the excursion meeting. I talked to Belkis and she agreed to do our meeting right then. I can not believe how simple it was to plan. You pick your location, you pick your flowers, the colour of the decorations at your location. You also can let her know if you want to use the resort’s photographer and videographer. I had actually found a photographer through a friend, who is not the resort’s photographer and I was allowed to use him. His work is amazing and after seeing some other pictures from the resort photographer, I am so glad we used him. The photographs are 3 CUC each, we ended up buying 145 of our pictures and so we spent 435 CUC on photos. The video is 200 CUC and worth every peso. We also choose to rent a "classic" car which cost 60 CUC for one hour. We used it for photos and went for a little drive in it. My guests loved it, they even had the driver pop the hood so they could check out the motor! Belkis asks what you want for music and tells you to go to the spa to confirm your hair appointment and your free massages. We then went down to the beach gazebo and did a quick walk through of what would happen. Very simple, groom and wedding party and guests meet at the beach at 3:45 pm. Bride and Father and Maid of Honour wait at room for Belkis to come and pick them up with decorated golf cart. They arrive at beach, do walk down the aisle, Father shakes hand with groom. Then on to the gazebo platform for ceremony. My wedding day was very relaxed. Sat by the pool until about 11 am, then went and had a bath in the huge tub and then off to get my hair done. The hair dressers do an amazing job to put it mildly. My maid of honour has really long hair and choose what looked like a simple style, a side pony tail with some curl. The hair dresser washed her hair and blow dried it, then pinned her hair in the side pony tail, then curled all if with a curling iron! To top it off, it cost only 25 CUC! My hair was a simple updo and it cost 30 CUC. By the time we got out of the salon, it was about 2:45 pm, so we rushed to the buffet for a quick bite to eat and then rushed to the room to do hair and make up. Belkis brought our bouquets and then it was time to wait for her to come back to get us. My fiance’s father had passed away about 8 weeks before the wedding so we wanted to do something to honour him. We bought a cylinder vase and had it engraved with his father’s name and Jason and his mother lit the candle before I arrived for the ceremony. The Cuban ceremony is very simple and would take only about 10 minutes They read the Cuban Family Act and you both say I do. At that point you are married but they wait until after you say your vows ( if you choose to say your own) and exchange your rings. Then you get to kiss!! and are married. We did our first dance on the gazebo and instead of individual parent dances, Jason danced with his mom while I danced with my dad. Then our group did the cha-cha and a congo line on the beach and then the pictures start. We did some group shots on the beach, then did some bride-groom shots on the beach and in the wooded area. Our guests went to the lobby bar and admired the classic car while we took pictures with it. We then went for a drive in the car and did more pictures. By the time we came back, it was time to go for dinner. We had dinner at the Mediterranean and said speeches while we had the restaurant to ourselves. The meal was great and the wedding cake was delicious. After dinner, we did change out of our wedding gear, except I wore my veil and my husband wore his shirt and tie to the disco where we partied with everyone until the early hours. It was an amazing day. The only thing I would change about my wedding is how much I stressed about it because there was really no need. The day was perfect, even when my maid of honour almost passed out while getting our hair done because she hadn’t eaten. The funniest thing I remember about that day was the hair dresser continued to curl my friend’s hair while the doctor took her blood pressure.

On another note, the wedding package is supposed to cost 700 CUC. The exchange rate is $120.00 canadian for 100 CUC. So if you were to exchange all your cash to pay for this it would cost about $1140.00. We decided to save our cash for excursions and charged the wedding on my visa. It ended up costing us $804.44, which was originally 716 CUC ( we had asked for an extra bouquet which was 10CUC and 2 extra boutonnieres which were 3 CUC each). I paid for my maid of honour’s hair and mine, which was 55 CUC and we charged that to my visa and it cost $61.94.

Iberostar Varadero
The wedding was great if you like something quick and simple. I was smoking a cigar and in my swim trunks sunbathing 45 minutes before my wedding! The resort takes care of everything. We met once with the wedding co-coordinator who asked what color of flowers etc. We did use the photographer service and were really pleased with the beautiful photos. We paid 210 CUC for 36 5”x 7” photos and the negatives. My wife had her hair done for 25 CUC + 5 CUC tip. We were married on the beach and the vows were translated from Spanish to English by the wedding co-coordinator. The whole thing was done in 10 minutes and we toasted champagne and had our first dance there in front of the ocean. We then went off to take photos around the resort while the rest of our group went back to finish off the champagne! We were told we would receive all the paper work from the Government in about 3-4 weeks upon our return to Canada.
Iberostar Varadero
Melissa & Scott  Nova Scotia, Canada
March 2006
Well ladies, my "dream wedding" has come and gone and it was beyond my wildest expectations. February 16th was the best day of my life and the memories of this day I will cherish a life time. 23 of us arrived at 2am so check in was a complete breeze. When Hubby and I got to the front desk we were being checked in and low and behold we were in building 17, which is the junior suites building. I was thrilled about this. It was all decorated with balloons and 5 baskets of flowers and champagne on ice, very nice touch on the part of our travel agent. Most of our guests were in building 15 which was really close, no doing on my part, resort had it planned out this way. Belkis had a note left for me with a time to meet her the following morning which pleased me off course. So, at 10 the next morning off to meet Belkis. She is a sweetheart and very easy to work with. She had a sheet of questions to ask me and she said once those were out of the way I could ask her things I wanted to know. She showed me some pics of flowers and cakes to chose from and once this was done she took us down to see the location of the wedding. Explained to us how things would work and that was that. Done.

Wedding Day:

I was swimming in the ocean until 11:50. Ran back to our room and had a shower and then off to the hair salon for my appointment. I was ten minutes late but considering we were on Cuba time, I was probaly on time! LOL. I brought a picture of the hair style I wanted and some pins to put in my hair but the lady had all the pins there but used mine anyhow. The hairstlist was the best ever. She put the picture I brought to shame. It was windy on our wedding day and not one hair on my head moved. I was two and a half hours getting my hair done and then ran back to the room and got there at 2:40, wedding was at 3 but I was calm and got dressed and my MOH managed to get my nails on and we had some wine that was delivered and still waited for golf cart that was about 10 mins late. The cart arrived and took us to the beach and once we were there the band (sax and piano) started playing immediately. The ceramony was short and sweet which is exactly what we wanted. We said our own vows and exchanged our rings and this made our wedding very special to us. We then had our first dance which was I swear the longest song in history but good for pics. Then everyone came to hug and congradulate us and we were done. Drank some more champagne and then the pictures begun. The resort photographer was amazing and I would recommend him to anyone. He was the absolute best as was the Videotographer. So glad we did both. After pics were done we headed to the pool bar for some drinks. Then off to the Cuban restaurant for dinner. Dinner was good. We had everyone chose their own meal as this was the best choice for our group. Everyone seemed pleased with their meals. We didn’t want any speeches so Scott thanked everyone for coming and that was about it. Then came time for us to cut the cake. The cake turned out to be such a surprise……..best cake I ever ate. Every single person had seconds it was so good. After dinner we went to the night show and around 11 we headed back to our room and some of our guests headed to the disco. Our wedding day was magical and I wouldn’t change one thing about it. If anything, I would relive it over a thousand times if I could. I have watched the video quite often since returning home and I am so glad we purchased the dvd. For those brides getting married at the IV, if I could give you one word of advice, book the resort photographer and videotographer, it will be the best money you ever spent. The photograpger is Ebrium and the videotographer is Angelo. The resort has more then one of each so ask for them by name.

Our guests are all ready asking us where we are going for our one year anniversary…………..

Iberostar Varadero
Steve and Brooke AB, Canada
December 2005
We had a group of 30 for our wedding, a few which were a surprise. We did not do any planning from Edmonton, Canada. The only exception was our travel agent liasoned with hotel wedding coordinator months before our departure to book the wedding day and time. We had the option to have a catholic priest or justice of the peace marry us. We choose the JP. Please remember you must be in Cuba for a minimum of 72 hours before you can be married. Keep that in mind when booking your wedding day. We booked it the third day in country so ourselves and guests could relax for the rest of the trip.

We arrived late Monday November 14, 2005 and the following morning we met with the wedding coordinator to choose flowers, menu for reception, location for our ceremony, type of cake and some colours for decorations. This was very easy and took about 30 minutes! The wedding package (through the hotel) which includes legal fees, JP, flowers, reception, etc, costs 700 CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso). We hired a photographer and videographer for our wedding day. The photographer charges per picture and they cost 3 CUC per 5×7 or 10 CUC per 8×10, but we purchased 40 or so 5×7’s plus all of the negatives to take home and blow up pics as needed. The videographer costs 150 CUC for 2 professionally done DVD’s on the NTSC format so people from Europe remember that it will not work in your home country who use the PAL system for electronics. We highly recommend both as both the photos and video turned out absolutely beautiful! Very professionally done!! The wedding package is paid when you check and is added to any other expenses you charge to the hotel. The video and photos are through the individuals and you can only pay with CUC (cash). PLEASE PLEASE if you are going to use your non-american credit card the government slaps a 11.5% surcharge on every purchase. We did not know this as this is new as of April, 2005. We planned on using credit card for everything as a safeguard and brought minimum cash. We probably paid 400-500 USD extra just in surcharges!!!!!!!! If you can get your hands on CUC before entering Cuba please do, becuase there is no ATM’s and the Cuban banks/hotels give a rather poor exchange rate. The CUC is pegged at the USD.

The only somewhat disappointing aspect of the wedding was that our wedding coordinator/translator had a very thick accent which made communication as times difficult and translation of our nuptials very difficult to understand. Furthermore, our guests could not follow the ceremony for this reason. But again a very minor detail and we figure it was all part of the experience. If you expect to go to a foreign country who’s first language is not English and not have some minor glitches, DO NOT GO.

At the end of the day, the hotel and the staff were spot on and made our special day very near perfect! Our guests could not stop complimenting us on how great the wedding and hotel turned out to be. CHEERS to Iberostar Varadero and all the staff!!!!!

Melia Varadero
We got married at Melia Varadero, Varadero, Cuba Nov 26/04. Mariela was our wedding Coordinator. The year of prep and paper work was well worth it. There was a total of 30 of us that went down for our wedding. Mariela was a big help before and during the wedding. She answered all the questions we had about the needed documents, banks, ATM and everything else before we even got there, that 30 people could worry or wonder about. We did not know what to expect at all and even as the wedding unfolded we were not sure what to expect. It went just like clock work, from the walk down the path of petals of flowers till the end of the reception. From there the younger ones carried on in the kareoke Bar. The wedding was in the Gazebo and we were scheduled to have the reception out side but the wind picked up. The reception was held inside at the art gallery. I would recommend that anyway as we had all the seating we needed , head table etc and lots of room to dance and a PA system. for music and the MC. Bring your own CD’s.

I wish I could remember all the names of the staff but They ran a 1st class act for our wedding. The supper was excellent. and Fransico and the other waiters treated us like Royalty. Near the end some of the girls were trying to teach them some of our dancing as well. Everyone had a blast. As part of our package (free over 17 quests) we got upgraded to a suite which was as far as I could tell the best in the place. Top floor. We also had the option of a group dinner one other nite so some quests only stayed one week. We opted for the last nite before they left to have that one. Once again it was 1st class service. It was B B Q Sea food dinner. We had the small photo package as there was probably 15 cameras there, but we did hire the video people and the DVD they made was worth every penny. It will be with us forever. There was no scrimping at all for the whole wedding package, and I could not thank everyone there enough for showing us a good time. If you are thinking of a wedding in Cuba this was a great place.

Melia Cayo Coco
We just returned from 2 weeks (November 12-26/04) at the Melia Cayo Coco and loved it! We had our wedding there the first week and it was amazing. I choose this resort for my wedding because of what I had read on this site and because they offered a free wedding it you bring 17 people. We had 17 people and it was a great time. The resort in my opinion is an excellent choice for a wedding, better than any other of the resorts on Cayo Coco because it is a really quiet resort and not a party place at all. The fact that it was adult only was nice too, my guests especially the ones that left kids at home loved the idea of 18plus. We choose to have our wedding in gazebos which are in a beautiful garden area that is perched up on a hill that overlooks the pool, the grounds and there is an ocean view. It was beautiful, this was a perfect spot as it was so private and allowed all of our guests to stand in the gazebo and hear the ceremony. It also allowed everyone to be out of the sun for a little while, it was a hot day. The wedding planner Niruka was incredible, she was in constant communication with me via e-mail in the weeks prior to our arrival answering all the questions that I continually thought of. Once there we had about a half hour meeting with her to arrange the wedding day and what we would like done. It was very easy and she looked after everything. On the wedding day she stayed with us the whole time as to help assist the photograher who didn’t speak english set up all the shots I wanted taken. We took pictures all over the resort and on the beach and they turned out really nice, she did a good job and was very patient as I wanted alot of photos. We also opted to have the videographer at and added cost and was so glad we did. He did an excellent job, it turned out great, we loved it. He also took pictures and put them on a CD rom that we can send to people. A cuban band was another service we added on and was a nice touch as they played after the ceremony while we were toasting and cutting the cake and then played while we did our first dance and then allowed us to play a song with them, it was well worth the money spent. We arranged for a horse drawn carriage to pick us up after the pictures and for $10 he took us on a half hour ride, it was so romantic and gave us a little time alone, we loved it! The dinner afterwards was in the international restaurtant and it was set up beautifully!! We had the restaurant for about an hour and a half before other people were allowed in which was great. The restaurant is on stilts in the lagoon and we felt it was so perfect for this occassion. There were musicians there as well that played on and off throughout the night. I would highly recommend this resort for a wedding, my friend got married at a Super Club 3 years ago and it didn’t compare to the Melia at all. I was a little worried as to the quality of pictures and video because hers were terrible but we lucked out and were so pleased with everything. They went above and beyond and made us feel like we were in a fairytale.
Tryp Peninsula
Renaye & Darren  Nfld
April 2005
The wedding was beautiful, when we got there someone was waiting for us to check us into the rooms early. I met with the wedding cordinator the next day to choose the flowers and the cake for the ceremony, and where on the resort we wanted to get married. Everything was beautiful, the flowers were white roses, the cake was a 3 tirer wedding cake with yellow roses on it, very pretty. The cost of the wedding itself was 350$us, but you pay with convertible pesos, which is equal to the us dollar, i also booked the photographer down there which costed 186.00, the pics were beautiful, he did a great job, the package was 30 5×7, 2 8×10 and anything over that you pay 3$ each. All your wedding papers gets done down there and they will send them to you in about 2months after you get married.The only thing was a little troublesome was that if either person was married before you have to get your divorce papers translated into spanish before you go , you have to send them to cuban consulate in toronto and its takes at least 3 months to get them back, and the costs to get this done is 608$can. Overall the wedding went very well , it was beautiful and i would reccommend that getting married down south is the way to go.
Tryp Peninsula
Claudia and Mark Canada
October 2004
The Wedding Having booked tickets for ourselves and our guests, we contacted the Sol Melia wedding representative in Toronto and arranged for the a la carte wedding package. The cost of a the package was 350 USD and we were informed the inclusions were fairly basic, with flowers and cake available at extra cost. As requested, we sent copies of our birth certificates and passports to the Sol Melia office in Toronto to be sent off to the resort in Varadero. Upon arrival at the resort we discovered some discrepancies between what we had been told by the Sol Melia wedding rep in Toronto and what we actually encountered while at the resort. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that our package turned out to include a lot more than we were told it would. Here is what you need to know about getting married at the Tryp Peninsula: The cost of the a la carte wedding package is 350 USD and is divided as follows: 150 USD cash only for government fees payable to the notary during initial visit (see below) and 100 USD cash or credit card payable to the resort day after ceremony. The package includes the following: · All legal fees. · Notary who performs the ceremony. · Services of a translator. Ceremony is in Spanish and the vows are taken from the Cuban Family law code. The vows are meaningful and modern. Once the wedding certificate is signed you will exchange rings and be pronounced husband and wife. The ceremony is about 15 minutes. · Witnesses if necessary. Note that family members cannot serve as witnesses. · Area for ceremony with very basic decorations. We choose to have our ceremony in the cobbled courtyard by the lagoon in a small gazebo. · Bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere. · Room upgrade and bottle of cava and flowers in room upon arrival. (We e-mailed Angelo a list of our guests’ names prior to our arrival and our guests also received a room upgrade and a bottle of rum.) · Wedding cake. · Wedding reception in a la carte restaurant. · Romantic dinner for two in a la carte restaurant. · Breakfast in bed morning after wedding ceremony. · Two bottles of cava for toast after wedding ceremony. (Wanting something a little bit better, we brought two bottles of Veuve Clicquot from Toronto and had no problem having them chilled and served.) · Private greeting and check-in upon arrival.

Available at extra cost:

· Photographer. (My brother who dabbles in photography did our pictures so we did not purchase a photo package and do not know the cost.) · Cuban band for ceremony and toast for a total of 1 to 1.5 hours at a cost of 100 USD cash. This was so worth it and made the ceremony extra special. An absolute must! If you have never been married before all you need is your Canadian passport and a tourist card, which is provided by your travel agent. A birth certificate is not required. You must have the originals and a couple of days before the wedding ceremony you will be required to go to a notary in Varadero to apply for a marriage license. The resort event coordinator, Angelo, accompanied us and acted as translator. The notary fee was 150 USD plus 2 USD for a stamp (cash only). We made a quick stop at a flower shop and selected the flowers for the ceremony. The cost of the taxi was 40 USD cash. You must be in Cuba for three business days before you can get married. We arrived on Saturday early afternoon and were married on Wednesday at 4 pm. The marriage certificate is sent off to the Canadian Embassy in Havana to be certified and will be sent to your home address 8-12 weeks.

Our wedding reception was held in El Tocororo (the fancy restaurant) and it was spectacular. The food was excellent and the service was impeccable. We tend to be a bit snobby when it comes to food and wine and trust us the food was very good. I had duck breast for my main course and it was properly prepared (rare) and my husband had a yummy seafood skewer for an appetizer and the presentation was very impressive! We have travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean (usually twice a year) to destinations such as Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica, DR, and the Bahamas, staying at 3 to 5 star resorts and we must say that the food at El Tocororo was tops! Wine (this is Cuba after all) was not that great, but we brought some special bottles from home and had no problem having them served with the meal.

Playa Pesquero
I honestly couldn’t have imagined a more perfect wedding, it was so amazing! Yaly, the wedding coordinator will bend over backwayrds to satisfy everyone as best she can, she is an incredibly hard worker and always seems to be there. We had the ceremony on the beach on Tuesday January 9th at 4pm. The hairdresser came to my room at 1:30 and did my harid and nails and then did my sister’s and mom’s hair. The only complaint there is that we were rushed for my mom’s hair, if you have more than just you getting your hair done I would advise asking for her to come a bit earlier. Also, be sure to bring bobby pins, they don’t have a lot in Cuba (I left my three packagfes with her). Her curling iron quit also, so I would advise bringing one. luckily I had one, I was going to leave it with her, but it is butane and I figured she wouldn’t be able to get refills for it. The carriage picked us up after four and brought us to the beach where there was a beautiful aisle and seats laid out. There was a cuban band playing (we bought their cd for ten pesos) and a table with cake and hors d’eouvres and rose petals on the aisle. Definitely get the dvd, for 30 pesos it’s so worth it, make sure you bring the money to the ceremony though, because they will ask for it afterwards. We danced on the beach as the sun set and then the train came along, took us to the lobby bar for champagne (lobby is wonderful, especially with the piano player) then we took the train to the Gondola restaurant where we had a fabulous, huge, meal. The violin player was a nice touch, we even had a dance to the violin. Be prepared for the meal to last a long time, we were there form 6:30 to 10pm, it was nice though.
Playa Pesquero
Lovely, had a great day! I was so stressed out about the weather so Yaly the wedding coordinator very kindly changed the day from the first week to the second week which was a good move because the weather was perfect on the wedding day. The flowers were a bit late but very beautiful. A horse and cart took me to wedding gazebo by the beach, where a Cuban band played the wedding march. After the ceremony the band played (they were brilliant, we bought their CD) and we danced and had sparkling wine and canopies. We then were taken to beach for photos, then the lobby for more photos and sparkling wine. We all had our meal at the Italian restaurant on a long, nicely decorated table and we were serenaded by a violinist. We cut the cake after the meal which tasted great but very sweet. We ended the evening at the disco where we had our first dance. It was a great day, nice and relaxed, just as I imagined, loved every minute of it! The photos were ok but a little dark and disorganised and the DVD wasn’t bad either for 30 peso!
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Kristen & Don 
January 2007
Well where do I begin…..My fiancé and I decided to get married somewhere south as it seemed to fit our personalities (laid back and relaxed) We choose Las Brisas Guardalavaca Holguin, Cuba. We both agreed on this resort as there were approximately 63 guests joining us for a week of fun in the sun!! This resort stuck out for us as it was affordable (1149.05 txs in) for a week pp. It seemed to cater to all age groups, and I have heard a lot of great things about Cuba but have never been. I had my travel agent confirm with the resort prior to arriving that there was no construction that it had been all completed……Upon arriving to the resort (after over an hour of dealing with the baggage people at the airport as I the Bride lost her luggage!!!!!) I am presently in a dispute with Air Transat right now and I am hoping they do the right thing) Anyways….

THE RESORT:

It didn’t look to bad. I found the rooms to be clean. My "bridal" suite did not have hot water or pressure for that matter, but I looked at where I was and why I was there and decided great pressure wasn’t that important to me( I had other issue on my mind remember NO suitcase) The view from our room was amazing!!!. A lot of our guests moved/changed rooms as they were not happy with the hotel rooms so they moved to the Haciendas side and the resort did take care of them and did their best to make them happy!. There was still construction going on. The main grill/bar outside of the hotel was not open so you heard drilling all day and had to use the washroom in side the hotel which was an incontinence. The pool was nice and the pool bar was a lot of fun!!!! Jose is an awesome bartender who I will never forget!!!!!!! (he made us jell-o shooters daily so take that jell-o and cups everyone at the bar has a blast! The food was better then I anticipated!! I always found something to eat. The Italian a la carte was amazing that is where I had my wedding dinner. The staff did an amazing job feeding 63+ people we were all very happy with that!

THE BEACH:

The beach was ok and I found there to be a lot of weeds in the water. There was beautiful coral not to far out that you could snorkel to and see the different fish (remember to take a hard boiled egg with you)

THE WEDDING:

This day was awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!! I made appointments with the hair dresser to get our hair done. For 3 of us it cost $60.00 CUC and the hair dresser did an awesome job. The wedding was at 3pm and the wedding coordinator was truly AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!! Lubia went above and beyond!! I choose red roses which were beautiful, I did pay $150.00 for the photographer which was well worth it (make sure you know what type of pictures you want as the photographer does not position you so be creative and have fun with it!) I also hired a horse and buggy for $10.00 which was also a nice touch and great in the pic’s. Lubia came to my room about 2:30 to give me my flowers and I went to the lobby for 3pm to be picked up by the buggy (there was my 2 brides maids, my mom, dad and the ring barer). The buggy took us the wedding site on the beach of course Lubia referred to the site as the coconuts it was awesome!!!!!!!!! the arch way was decorated with flowers there were 30 seats on either side of the aisle and at the end of the aisle there was a table and on the ground 2 hearts made of flower petals entwined which is where we stood!! The notary and Lubia were there and to the side was a table with staff ready to hand out sparkling wine to all the guests for the toast. We also brought jell-o and had the staff make jell-o shooters for this occasion which was fun and the staff loved them.!!!! After the wedding my husband and I took a buggy ride and then met up with our group in the piano bar for some drinks. Dinner was at 6pm ands then we had the disco privately from 9 to 11. We took our wedding song which they gladly played! All in all it was truly amazing!!! You have to relax when doing something like this and roll with the punches… we took 63 + people with us which made our trip that much more amazing and that much more of a party!! .I did get my luggage but not until 3 days later which is why it is VERY important to carry your dress on board!

I would go back to this resort as the staff are amazing and now that all the renovations are completed it is a great spot! Remember that when you go south to get married that the bride and groom take 2 weeks as the first week for some reason goes by way to quickly and you need the second week to relax after everything is done!!!!

Las Brisas Guardalavaca
My fiance and I had planned on a normal everyday wedding, I had everything planned and paid for, when he decides to tell me he would love to go away and get married on a beach. So that is exactly what we did. We packed up our family and 2 of our friends (16 people total) and we wen’t to Brisas Guardalavaca in Cuba. I talked to Yoania the wedding coordinator well in advance. She answered any of my thousands of wacky questions. The have salt and pepper and ketchup. We found out what day we were getting married through email. You can get married Monday-Friday – Anytime between 10 am – 4pm. We didn’t want to be hot, so we got married April 26th 2006 at 4pm. We arrived in Cuba after midnight and made our way to the hotel, it was gorgeous. I suggest putting you bags in your room and go sit on the beach, the waves are amazing.The next day book your specialty restaurants for the week – If you don’t you may not get to eat there. When you get married down there you get a villa room as a wedding/honeymoon upgrade. We met Yoania on Monday and decided if we brought our own music or wanted the trio. We had both I walked down to my own music, and had the trio for after. We chose the flowers and if we needed witnesses (please note: Witnesses cannot be family). We relaxed for the next few days. The day of our wedding we got our hair done. It was 10 convertible peso’s each. (Very cheap) Beautiful job. She is quick in there but book ahead of time – There is only one hair dresser and people love getting their hair braided. We ate lunch and wen’t back to our room to get ready. We waited in our room and I could see my fiance just barely through the trees (he couldn’t see me). At 4pm on the dot another wedding coorinator came and got us from my room. We walked towards the beach…… they had a beautiful aisle made of flowers, my music, my man and the waves rolling again’st the shore. I couldn’t have asked for more. We had sparkling wine on the beach but chose to eat our cake at the reception – We chose the Pasta restaurant – You have your choice of specialty restaurants – Seafood and Pasta. LOVED IT!!! When you return to your room at night – You will be in for a surprise, a wonderful one but that is all I am going to say. 🙂 If you want to ask me questions or see pictures email me.

Jackie iam_2sxy4u@hotmail.com

Have a great time – people are great, food is great, the experience PRICELESS!

Las Brisas Guardalavaca
My husband and I have just returned from 2 weeks at Las Brisas and we had a fantastic time.We actually got married there,and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful wedding.If anyone is thinking about doing the same then i certainly recomend it.We met with a wedding planner on our second day and went through what would happen on the day.She goes through everything from flowers to location,and once she has all the information you just sit back and enjoy your holiday while she gets everything sorted out.I had a horse and carriage take me to the gazebo that we had chosen as the location,you get a cuban musical trio,a 2 tier wedding cake,sparkling wine,beautiful flowers surrounding you aswell as a lovely bouquet and matching buttonhole.You also have the option of having 2 cuban bridesmaids,which I chose,and they were lovely girls.They came to my room a little before the wedding and helped me to relax and made sure all was ok.The hotel staff really make you feel special and you get little "extras" throughout your stay.
NH Krystal Resort and Villas – Cayo Coco
We traveled to Cayo Coco, Cuba from April 8th to April 15th, 2006. We flew with Sunwing airlines out of Toronto. We had no problems on departure or return. We were actually home 15 minutes early! We stayed at the beautiful resort of NH Krystal Resort & Villas (formerly El Senador). I would highly recommend this resort to anyone. The reason for our travels was to get married. We got married on April 12th and everything was absolutely perfect!! We traveled as a group of 13 adults and 2 children. Not one of us had any complaints about the whole trip. Not enough can be said about Yosvany (Falcon) the wedding coordinator. He is the most amazing person. He will accommodate your every need. The flower arrangements were beautiful. They decorated the wedding site with flowers and balloons…very nice. We got the photo package along with the videographer. I was totally amazed at how well the photos and video turned out. You don’t really know what to expect, especially in a different country, but they were done very professionally. I would definitely recommend getting this package; it is well worth the money. We had the reception dinner at the Cuban restaurant, which was also decorated really nice. They took the floral arrangements from the wedding site and had them in front of the tables. The food and service we received was excellent. There are plenty of places to eat at this resort. They have Cuban, Italian, Seafood, Steakhouse and V.I.P. restaurants (V.I.P. costs $25CUC/person unless you are staying in a villa). And they also have two buffets, one on the Laguna side and one on the Emperador side. I would recommend eating at the one on the Emperador side; they just seemed to have a better selection and more seating. We ate at the Cuban, Seafood and V.I.P. restaurants and both buffets. The food at all of them was good and the service is even better. The Cuban people are so nice. They also have many different excursions to go on and scooters you can rent. We went on the Jeep excursion and I would do it again in a heart beat. You HAVE to go on this excursion. It is an all day thing and they take you everywhere. You get to drive across the causeway onto the main land and they take you to a horse ranch and a crocodile farm. You get lunch and snacks along the way. You get to drive into the town of Moron and stop at a little shop. It is all very interesting and a must see. Just make sure you pack the sunscreen and passports!!

Pointers:

-bring lots of sunscreen -bring a travel mug to fill up with your favourite drink (there cups are small) -the Cubans love to receive baseball caps as tips (especially in they have a Canadian flag) -the Cuban dollar is 11% more than American money (American rate + 11%) -if you have small children, bring a stroller (the resort is huge!)   Overall, this was an awesome vacation. I would highly recommend visiting this beautiful resort. If you have any questions, or would like to see pictures, please e-mail me at

rahel_rutherford@yahoo.ca

Paradisus Rio De Oro – Holguin
Michelle & Anthony 
August 2005
Well what can I say every girl wants to feel like a princess on her wedding day and I was treated like royalty, Oldays the wedding co coordinator took care of everything for us we had a brief meeting with her on arrival to discuss the flowers etc and she came up trumps with everything. I would recommend that you pay a visit to the masseur before the ceremony as it was fantastic, also the hairdresser is wonderful she done all our bridal parties hair including mine which took her 1 hour and manicures for the two mums, my bridesmaid, my auntie and myself. What can I say she is a talented women she done the lot by herself and no one was disappointed. Should you go and see her though I would say that if you have any nail varnish that you don’t really use give it to her as she will always find a use for it.

Now moving onto the ceremony its self it is very short and takes about 10 mins from start to finish the notaire will speak in Spanish and you have a translator there as well they are lovely and put you at ease in fact all you have to say is I DO! After the ceremony we took the horse and cart around the resort then had some photos taken by their photographer who I would recommend he is very good at this job and we had the photos back with in two days.

Paradisus Rio De Oro – Holguin
Penny & Janne UK
April 2005
Penny & Janne (British & Finnish – currently both living in the UK), ages 33 and 29 We stayed at the Paradisus Rio de Oro from 2-23 March 2005 and had the most wonderful wedding with 3 weeks in paradise. I would thoroughly recommend getting married abroad to anyone and definitely getting married here as you could not wish for anything more than all you have when you are married at the Paradisus! For those getting married at the Paradisus, you will meet with the wedding co-ordinator (Odalys) the day after you arrive to go over the order of the day and any extras that you might want for your wedding. Extras include flowers for bridesmaids @ 12CUC each (£6.38), photo options, including 10 free photos plus extra ones at 2CUC each (£1.06) and a video of the ceremony at 100CUC (£53.17). We had all three of these options and all were great! Please be specific if you want certain flowers and it always helps if you could provide Odalys with a picture of a certain flower type or colour. I chose pink roses and was delighted as that’s exactly what I received. We weren’t sure what to expect with how the video would turn out when we watched it back home, but it is so fantastic that I have watched it everyday since I got back (and cried!), much to my husband’s amusement! I also brought from the UK some pink tea lights, wedding favour bags (with a mini love-hearts tube, fortune cookie and mints inside each) and pink & silver table confetti to decorate the table and also a cake topper for the wedding cake. I gave these to Public Relations the day before and they were only too happy to accommodate our request. On the wedding day our guests came to our hotel from the Sol Rio de Luna y Mares via horse & cart and we had paid for their day passes which cost 80CUC (£42.54) if they wanted to arrive after 11am (to enjoy the hotel’s facilities), or 45CUC (£23.92) if they wanted to arrive after 3pm. We had these passes charged to the room and then settled up at the end of our stay. We were married on March 8th at 4pm and the day was wonderfully warm with clear skies and a gentle breeze. The ceremony, which is excerpts from the Cuban Code of Family Law, lasts 20 or so minutes and is conducted in Spanish with an English translation. After the ceremony had finished and we were married, we were congratulated by snorkelers in the sea clapping for us just below the wedding gazebo, which I thought was lovely! We then had a champagne toast after the ceremony and then Janne & I were whisked away in the horse & cart with the photographer to have photos taken in the grounds and then our guests were taken back by golf buggies to the Lobby Bar. After the photos were taken, we all relaxed together with drinks in the lovely Lobby area until 7pm when we were booked into El Patio for our wedding meal. As there were so many of us, they had screened half of the restaurant off and gave us one long table and a top table. We were able to have our speeches in there too, which was great! After the wedding meal and as it was around 10:30pm, we headed into the Congo Fun Pub which is open until 2am. We gave the DJ a CD to play our first dance which he was more than happy to play. Some of the music in there can be a bit cheesy (cheesy is great sometimes you know!) but if he has something you’d like to hear, you can request it and he’ll put it on for you straight away. To sum up, everything about the wedding was so perfect, the staff there made us feel so very special. I just wish we could do the whole day again as it went so fast! There were 6 weddings which took place that week but Odalys always gives 100% attention to each wedding she co-ordinates so your day is absolutely ‘perfect’ regardless.  

Photos: http://community.webshots.com/album/308790226Neqmkt

Paradisus Rio De Oro – Holguin
Jeannine Canada
April 2004
Last year from May 3-17, 2003 we vacationed in Cuba at the Paradisus Rio De Oro for the first time. We got engaged there and had such a great experience we decided to go back this year to get married. Nothing has changed, the service, people and food is still superior. Our package was for April 9-16 with our wedding on April 12, 2004 at 4:45 pm. We flew with Skyservice direct from Calgary to Holguin, via Varadero. We stopped in Varadero for about 45 mins to pick up other passengers heading back home and then on our way to Holguin. The flight was about 6 hours total but that didn’t matter once we stepped foot in Holguin. Check in at the hotel for us was swift, instead of lining up at the reception counter they set up a small check in area for all the guests and it seemed a bit chaotic at first because there were so many people everywhere, but wasn’t too bad cause the hotel had allot of people working to take care of everyone. So after you check in and get your room number, you should go and identify your baggage to the porters and have them tag and mark your room numbers on them. We were in our room within 15-20 mins, including the golf cart ride to the room. I don’t know about couples honeymooning at the resort, but for couples getting married there, the wedding co-ordinator Odalys will be there to greet you with a bouquet of roses. Your baggage will come to your room after they get all the guests to their room first. The wedding was truly magical for us and everything we wished for. The staff took such great care of us and we didn’t have to worry about anything. I will try to write everything I can remember but if there are any questions, feel free to email me and ask. Prior to arriving in Cuba, I emailed the wedding coordinator (in Toronto) information about what I want for flowers and my cake. Try to do this 3-4 weeks before leaving. They will try to accommodate you as best they can, but depending on the season, you may not get what you want. Trust me, by that time you won’t even care anymore, you just want to get married. 🙂 I requested orchids for my bouquet, maid of honour’s bouquet, and for the boutonnières and corsages. Because of the season, I didn’t get orchids but got pink daisies instead. They were okay but their floral arrangements aren’t spectacular so don’t expect out of this world arrangements. They will serve their purpose. If there’s a certain look you have to have etc., my suggestion is to bring your own floral tape, wire, and maybe some silk flowers. You should definitely email the hotel first. We weren’t notified about the lack of orchids until we got to the hotel. I didn’t care at that point. Additional bouquets are $15US, boutonnières $1US, and corsages, $3US. I really felt I didn’t get my money’s worth on the flowers but oh well. If you have 17+ people staying at the resort for the wedding, your wedding package is free. There’s a list of what’s included on the Sol Melia website, sorry I don’t have the link handy. We had 20 people so we got the following free of charge: bride’s bouquet, groom’s bout, cake, live band, horse drawn carriage, photographer, wedding ceremony with gazebo decorated. There’s also a list of extra services such as manicure, pedicure, hair and makeup, videographer, and massages as well and the prices vary. Charges will be billed to your room so you can pay upon checkout. The couples massage (1/2 hour each) is $20US compared to the standard $25US per hour, you get a $5 dollar discount. The day after arriving, the couple will meet with the wedding co-ordinator to go over a few details confirming time, location, floral arrangements, delivery of the flowers (when and where), pick up time for groom and bride, dinner, and any extra services you will require. At that point, she will request that you provide her with the names of 2 witnesses, keep in mind they cannot be members of your family. She will have an information sheet for you to ask them to fill out. If you don’t have witnesses, the hotel can provide you with them. She will also request the couple to go over the information about them, confirming the correct spelling of names, birthdates, and address at home. This info is for the marriage certificate so it must be correct. This info should also be faxed to the Sol Melia wedding co-ordinator in Toronto months before arriving in Cuba as well, it’s called the Sol Melia wedding form. It’s also the form where you request your wedding date. The wedding location: Our wedding was held at the beautiful gazebo on the cliff overlooking the ocean. The view and scenery is amazing and not much is needed for decorations. They will decorate the gazebo with these bright pink flowers in bunches. In the gazebo will be a small table used for the ceremony, also where they will have the cake and some champagne. Very, very nice and the bright blue-green water makes a stunning backdrop. A band will be in the courtyard playing music (if applicable) and the wedding co-ordinator along with other members of the hotel will be on hand to assist. Those people go out of their way to make your special day memorable and magical. Our cake was delicious and the best thing I tasted. We all wanted seconds and then some!! Before our ceremony, the horse drawn carriage arrived at my husband’s room to pick him and the best man up. They took them around the resort before dropping them off at the gazebo. The did the same for me, MOH, flower girl, and the ring boy. Maximum number of people on the carriage is 4. April 12 was the nicest day the entire week we were there. Bright, sunny, calm, not too hot, and just a slight, slight, breeze. The sun was still very bright and didn’t set until around 7 so if you’re having a late wedding, it should be okay. Definitely check the sunset times in other months cause from what I recall last year in May, the sun was setting around 6:30. We had dinner at the El Patio restaurant and they served us the best stuff available. We dined on butter oysters, lobster and shrimp cocktail to start, followed by French onion soup, then veal tenderloin. Chocolate mousse was for dessert. Dinner was fantastic and so easy on the palette. If you can’t have veal like my sis, you can request chicken instead when you get there. We were upgraded to the super junior suite. The set up is exactly like the standard junior suite but with an outdoor shower and some extra artwork at the vanity and in the bathroom. What’s also great is there’s only one room beside yours, (two suites side by side) making it more private. Outside of the room is a private patio with a hammock hanging from the trees, very, very nice to relax out there. You also get a side window. We used the outdoor shower the entire week cause it was even warmer than using the indoor one. To be one with nature is really relaxing! Don’t worry, the outdoor shower is walled off so no one can see or climb it. The wedding vows are simple and mostly about equality and sharing responsibilities in the home, they’re from the Cuban family law codes. The ceremony itself took maximum 30 mins so plenty of time afterwards for pictures. The notary will read them in Spanish and a translator will do them in English. The wedding co-ordinator can provide you with copies of both after the big day, just ask. To sum it up, the only thing that didn’t get 5/5 stars in my book were the flowers (3/5 stars) but that didn’t bother me one bit. Everything unfolded so smoothly and went by so fast. It was truly a magical day for a wedding and everyone came together to make it special for us. I love the people in the resort, the service, food, and place itself and have NO PROBLEMS recommending it to people for their vacation or wedding. Everyone in our group loved, loved it and couldn’t believe the quality of service and food. My only regret is that we didn’t stay there for 2 weeks (did that last year) and we may not come back to Cuba or the Paradisus Rio De Oro for a long time cause it’s time for us to move on and see another country. I’m going to miss everyone we made friends with there and hopefully if there’s a great deal, we’ll be back. We’re such creatures of habit.

P.S. The week we were there, there were three weddings, ours on Monday, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. Even though there were many, the quality of service was NEVER affected. The wedding co-ordinator told me the week of April 16-23, they have a wedding everyday.

Brisas Del Caribe – Varadero
Tammy and Conrad 
February 2006
We went to Brisas Del Caribe for the week of Jan. 22-29th 2006 and we got married at the hotel. My husband and both are very very happy with the way our wedding was planned (thank you Romilio!!!) Romilio is the backup wedding organizer until they find someone to replace the lady who was there previously. We arrived on Sunday and were given the upgrade to the Honeymoon Suite in the main building on the fourth floor, overlooking the pool area and looking way off to the ocean beyond. We adored our room, and the maid service was amazing. We got together with Romilio the following day and he went through all the details with us. On our wedding day, he had organized the trip to the hairdresser at a ! few hotels over. I was unhappy with the way my hair turned out and had to get my girlz to do a fix up job. Overall though, it all went so beautifully. The ceremony itself was smooth and we loved the quartet, and the cake, champagne and all that was provided for our wedding ceremony. And the photographer took wonderful pictures! We paid $200 pesos to get all the extra pictures and I feel like it was worth it. The beach pictures were amazing, as were the pictures with the tropical flowers. The hotel was amazing and the people who worked there were all so nice. We felt like it was worth every minute of our time there, and we’d recommend it to anyone who wants to get married that way!

We will be going back there on our 5th year anniversary!

Brisas Del Caribe – Varadero
Sherri and Solon Canada
July 2005
As for the wedding. It was perfect. I cannot say enough about Maida. She made me feel at ease the moment I met her. She had everything under control, I had to do nothing. We married on February 26, 2004 at 2PM and I can assure you that the moment she came to our room to brings us to the gazebo she was in full control. I am truly grateful for everything she did for us. With a group as large as ours it is very difficult to satisfy everyone. Well I can tell you that not one person complained about a single thing. Everyone enjoyed themselves tremendously. The champagne flowed continuously throughout the whole afternoon. Also Maida had arranged for a photographer to take our pictures. I must say that over 50 5X 7 prints that I received I can honestly say that there were almost all perfect. She also gave us 5 large prints that were outstanding. We were completely shocked to see the quality of prints that we received at a cost of only $150.00. The same would cost over $1000.00 home.
SuperClubs Breezes – Jibacoa
We had a meeting with Vivian, our wedding coordinator and witness, a few days after our arrival to discuss the details. We confirmed that we would have the ceremony in the Gazebo, the meal in Martinos and chose the flavour of our cake and chose the flowers. We also let her know at this point that we wanted to book the photographer and video offered in the package (at an extra cost). Vivian explained the timings for arrival etc and how it would work – and that was it, we just had to wait for the big day to arrive. The hotel does also have a hairdresser (who I think also does make up), and from what I have heard he is very good. I am lucky in the fact that my Sister in law is a hairdresser, so she did my hair for me on the day. My flowers were beautiful – the choices I was given were cream coloured roses, or tropical flowers. I opted for tropical flowers in bright colours – we were in Cuba after all!! The ceremony was performed by the notary in Spanish, and translated for us by Vivian, and lasted around 15 minutes. After the vows, we signed the register, then exchanged the rings and had our first dance – we planned ahead to ensure we could have the band Akarey playing at our wedding, and are glad that we did. After that, we had some toasts and then it was time for the photos, we had some taken around the gazebo and then the rest at the beach. Then we all headed back to our room to cool down in the air conditioning, before heading up to Martinos for the meal. We chose to cut the cake after the meal, and have some cake with our coffee. We chose chocolate cake and it was lovely. It was absolutely huge though, and as there were only 8 of us in total, we had a piece each with our coffee and asked German to share the rest of the layer with the other people in the restaurant at the time, and with the staff. We then spent the rest of the evening in the air conditioned comfort of the piano bar. Jibacoa is a beautiful place for a wedding, and the staff really do go that extra mile to make sure everything is perfect for your big day!! Look out for our plaque next to the steps at the bar side of the beach bar – you will easily spot it with the Cuban and Scottish flags on it!! I would definitely recommend both the photograph and video (DVD) packages, both turned out really well. We got 2 copies of the video on DVD, it was edited down and music added and the sound quality is excellent. We received our photographs and DVD’s within a week of the wedding, and the certificate follows via courier (ours came by DHL). The time this takes can vary, but ours arrived in just under 3 months. We have already booked our next trip back to Jibacoa in June 2007 for our first anniversary!!

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at Mand2512@aol.com.

SuperClubs Breezes – Jibacoa
Because we arrived at Jibacoa 3 am we did not meet with our wedding co-coordinator until the following day. Sarah gave us a call at our room and asked us to meet with her in the afternoon. I must say, she is an absolutely wonderful person. We met and discussed the flowers, location, meal, cake etc. Everything went very smooth and was totally stress-free! Although I’ve always dreamed of being married on a beach, we choose the gazebo location for our wedding. We felt that being married in the gazebo would be more personal and intimate. I had my hair and make-up done by one of the staff at the resort. Although the pictures I showed him of up-do’s I loved were nothing like the end result that he provided, I was happy with what he did. It was very appropriate for the warm and windy weather. We were married at 4 pm and I was called by Sarah at that time and told to come to the gazebo. My Mom and I left my room (building 10) and walked to the gazebo. The walk up through the vine covered trellises was beautiful. I wasn’t nervous at all. The ceremony itself took only about 10 minutes. We wrote our own vows – I highly recommend this. It makes the whole ceremony so special, so intimate. We shared our vows with each other for the first time that afternoon – we both cried as did everyone that attended our wedding. The band played a Cuban love song for us as we danced our first dance as husband and wife. I fell in love with the song – Beesame (sp?) is the name of it. We hired a photographer and videographer through the resort. The DVD that we received was beautiful – very professional and worth every penny. The pictures were ok. We did get a few out of about 100 that are very nice. If I had my time back, I would have gone around the resort and choose different locations to have pictures taken and possibly would have had different poses, etc. I found the language barrier a little difficult with the photographer – she didn’t speak English at all.

We had a little time between pictures and dinner so our group went to the pool bar for drinks. By this time, everyone knew us and our group at the resort as ‘the wedding party’. The bartenders at the pool bar played a love song on the sound system and we got on the stage and danced again. It was very nice. Dinner was at 6 at Martino’s. The meal that evening and the service was unbelievable. The piano player insisted on playing a song for us and we danced again. The waiters brought our cake to the table after our meal. It was a 2-tier cake – too much for our group of 14 so we shared the cake with all those dining in the restaurant that night. It was very, very nice and the cake was delicious! Following dinner, we went to the piano bar where the pianist there played for us and our group all sat around the piano and listened while we waited for the nightly entertainment to start. At 9:30 we all went to the stage area where we watched the show, did the sun-dance and again was introduced to everyone. It was all I’ve ever dreamed of and much more.

Paradisus – Varadero
our wedding was a dream we met with laura our coordinater on our first day, and chose location (the beach),flowers, music , meal and she checke our origional documents although the paperwork had already been sent out and prepared it was so easy. the day went perfect the hairdresser is very good here i showed her the pic of how i wanted it and it was done. my flowers we beautiful too. the ceromony was peformed in spanish and translated by laura it is traditional cuba family law after signing the papers we exchanged rings for anyone doing the cuban wedding thing it might be nice if you wanted to prepare a little vow here as nothing formal is said . then we had champagne in beautiful glasses, and cut our cake and it was exactly like we had chosen and then it is cut and served, was a light sponge with lemon filling and white icing that sorta tasted like mirangue mix. then we had our first dance the cuban band they sang for us was excelent and we even had tradition wedding march at the begining. it was all so relaxed. we then enjoyed som drinks and canapees with our guests (our weddings teal had told us it was extra cost to have these so we didnt order them but they were given anyway). then off for the photos it was so hot though i staryed to get sun stroke after an hour and a half. advice take water with you . the photos were lovely tho so it was worth it all. we had our wedding meal in the tury and they had put floweres on the table and the menus were made in to scrols, laura had put out the favours i brough from home also. the orchestra played special music for us there too. it was truly a wonderful day. on return to our room there was a pathway of rose petals to our bed which had been turned down and there were chocs and rosed there alson with satin sheets and just married cuba tshirts and anothr flower arangement on the table. and also rose petals in the bath.

on our last night we returned to our room and there was a cd a good luck letter and a plate of cakes saying byon vaage with heats in red icing. a real =treat.

Brisas Santa Lucia
Kelly Toronto
February 2005
Brisas Santa Lucia pays for the wedding, you only have to pay for the notary and the papers (250US$). So, I really shouldn’t complain that the flowers for the wedding didn’t arrive (I’m not sure they were even ordered), the photographer arrived after the wedding, the videographer didn’t show at all, people who booked only two weeks in advance received a better room than us (we had an unrenovated room without a fridge) and there were no flowers or fruit waiting in our room. We did mention these things to the wedding coordinator and he apologized, I’m sure it wouldn’t happen again. The hotel was very full (mid Jan) and he was very busy with other things and I think we just fell through the cracks. They did decorate the gazebo and the wedding area looked lovely, the cava was delicious, the dinner that night was very nice and special. Here are some tips if you plan on going. 1. If you have any requests, write them down or get Roel to write them down so he will remember. 2. Have them open the disco at 8 for your first dance (if you want one) and bring your own cd. 3. When the photographer shows up, don’t be shy about saying anything – if you see shadows across everyone’s face-ask him if you can find a different spot (all our family shots spotted with shadows) also, he takes about 2 minutes to focus the shot before taking the picture, ask him to tell you when he is taking the shot. There was a lot of blinking and looking in the wrong direction in our shots because we were waiting so long. If you don’t mind the odd thing going wrong (it always does I guess) this is a nice resort. One last tip, don’t go if it is full. That is hard to find out because you have to book a month in advance. We didn’t think mid Jan would be full, but it was, and it was long lineups for everything and they always run out of the good stuff early.

Email me if you have any questions tokelly@rogers.com

Brisas Santa Lucia
Karen and Stéphane Ste-Julie Québec
March 2003
First of all we have to say that the personnel at this hotel is quite professional. From the moment we started to plan our wedding to the time we arrived in Cuba, the hotel staff was already planning our wedding! Everything was perfect! If you are planning a romantic wedding by the beach alone or with you family it’s the place to be. Our intimate ceremony was by the beach our family was present, flowers covered the tables champagne was on ice , live music and the sun was at rendez-vous. We had a very nice day after the ceremony the chef prepared us a sumptuous dinner at our convenience in the piano bar,the live music and service where just perfect everybody greats you with a friendly smile. The honeymoon service is good too, flowers and fresh fruits at your arrival at the hotel and after the wedding, we had the pleasure of receiving a nice gift from the hotel manager and staff the day after our wedding, it was the best vacation we ever had!

Thank you to Andrya and Lizbet for being part of that wonderfull day in our lives!

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