This was our first visit to Cuba, and really our first holiday with just the two of us in a very long time. Before going, we had read a number of reviews of this resort, both negative and positive, so there was some concern before leaving. We thought it didn’t matter since we would be leaving the cold behind and that was a good thing.
Our AirTransat flight left Toronto at 6:30PM, it was a typical charter with over 300 people aboard, so as one would expect, it was cramped. The hot meal was fine. There was some turbulence along the way so the seat belt light kept flashing. We arrived at the airport late at night, so we were quickly told our bus number and boarded. The trip through Cuban customs was prompt and professional with no delay.
Rooms: I would say the room was average. We were at the far end of the resort near the highway. While it meant a long walk to both the main building and beach, it was good exercise. There was two twin beds and a cot when we arrived, not too sure why, but it was fine. Our room was on the ground floor and we had a nice place to sit outside and relax. It was a quiet room, which helped with sleeping. Also the room maid service was good, it was kept clean,which we did appreciate. As well, the swans and other designs of the towels was quite entertaining for us each time we returned.
As I said the room was average, not luxurious but then again, you don’t come to a resort to spend time in a hotel room.
Restaurants and Bars: One comment we heard was the blandness of the food; I know others have complained and we talked to one couple who was at a 4 star resort and they said the food was very bland. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of food available at the buffet. The quantity and quality was good. There was some variety at each meal so there was always something new to add to the plate. While the staples were always present, such as beef, chicken, pork and fish, there was always some different vegetable to be added for the meal. The fresh produce was indeed fresh, and so making a salad was good. As well, the fruit which had its own bar was amazing. Truly a treat to enjoy. Also you were not stuck at just the buffet, there was a pasta bar and an omelet bar which were both good. One of my favourites was the fish, it was simply delicious. Now something needs to be said about the ice cream, it was to die for. They had the stand-byes, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, there was always something extra, such as guyava which was a total treat. The snack bar was a good feature and while we only had a few meals there, it was good to know hot food was available when the main buffet was closed. The bars were plentiful and the staff was friendly. They would make you a non-alcoholic drink if you so desired. As well, the cappuccino was very nice, although I have to say it was better at the bars in the main lobby. Still, sitting outside enjoying Cuban coffee is worth the price especially when one considers how miserable the weather is in Canada.
We managed to go to two of the ala carte restaurants, would have gone to the third but there was timing problems. Since the third was the Italian I doubt we missed anything. The food in both is very good.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: This is why you come to Cuba, to lie on a beach at the end of January enjoying the sun, sand and water. The beach is wide and because it’s a white sand, it never gets hot. There are a number of lounge chairs and you can find a place to relax. The water, because it’s the Atlantic is a bit cool, but then on a hot day, it’s very refreshing.
As pointed out there are two pool areas, one by the main building, the other at the south end. Both are good and while the main one is busier with more things happening, the south end can be a good place just to relax. While the water is cool, its not bad and again, when its a hot day, a good place to quickly dip in and relax. The staff at the pool side bars are always there to help with the drinks, so you can simply relax with a good book and have a nice time.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: There is a lot happening; from shows at night, to programs during the day. You can stay as busy as you want, or simply do as little as you want. The choice is yours. We did take a trip into Varadero, to chech out the flea markets and just to see something of Cuba. The recommendation os the Veradero Beach bus. Let me say something about that; two things you need to remember, it is public transit and it is a bus. By that i mean it can be busy and crowded. One bus went past us in fact as we waited to go into town. Let me suggest that if a taxi or a bus stops and tells you ‘two peso’, get the money out and jump on, the timing of the Bus is well, liek any other form of public transit. On the first morning, you will meet an agent of the company who willl explain things, as well as inform you of the various day trips. We went to Havana which was a bus and walking tour. It was worth the extra money. Havana is a fascinating city, especially the old city. There’s a lot of restoration taking place so you will see buildings in various states of repair or disrepair.
Other Comments: A few things we learned: bring your own face cloths and facial tissues, neither is provided in the hotel. The hotel is 220v so you may want to purchase an adaptor, about $15.00 at Wal-Mart. Beach towels, when you arrive you will be informed there is a $15 CUC charge for towels that will be refunded on your last day, providing of course the towel does not get stolen. This is incentive enough to bring your own, or purchase one in town for 5.50 CUC’s. The bottom line, we would glad return to this resort.