Great place to relax and take in fabulous scenic views. Will definitely return.
Marea del Portillo Cabana section
Arrival: Sunwing is the only company that flies to Manzanillo de Cuba, for this resort. The arrival was in the evening, no delays, and flight is just under 4 hours. Please try to get the elite plus package with Sunwing, as you will get more leg room on the plane, and extra 10kg luggage allowance, which is less stressful, when you are packing. I know, my husband always says, why do you need to pack so much, but I seem to pack everything and anything, and that extra 10kg gives me a backup, in case I ran over the regular baggage allowance, which I think these days is 20 kg. Customs did took a while to go through, but because we were the only passengers being picked up for the resort, we did not worry about losing our bus, etc. After Customs, because we had the elite plus, our luggage was already out waiting for us. Got out of the airport, and we were received by the Sunwing representative, who had our hotel check-in card and room information already for us. I had my husband pick up the hotel information, while I went to the exchange and got some Cuban convertible pesos. The ride to the airport is a bit long–brochure says 1.5 hours, but it is close to 2 hours. Conditions of the road are terrible, hence, the longer ride.
The reception at the hotel greeted us and gave us one key for the room. That did not matter to us, but I believe some quests traveling as friends had issue with that. I am not sure if they managed to get the second key from them or not.
Rooms: We were booked for the Cabana VIP package. Cabanas are in the older section of the resort or what repeaters referred to as down the hill section. This resort consists of two sections–up the hill (Farallon), and down the hill (Marea). Farallon seemed a newer than Marea, but they only have hotel styled rooms and no cabanas. Cabanas rooms are in bungalows, I guess, a bit more spacious than regular rooms. If you do get cabanas, ask for oceanview, as you will see it right off your terrace or balcony window. The location of our room was great, as it was very close to the beach and beach bar, but far enough from the main pool and bar, where night entertainments took place at night. Rooms are quite all and tired looking, but chambermaids did their best to keep them clean. The sheets were clean and towels were clean and plenty. I believe the resort is 30 plus years old, so you need to keep that in mind, that it will not be all modern looking. Washroom was spacious, but only had a shower. We had plenty of hot water, but others in other cabanas complained that they did not have any hot water at all. The water power was not strong, but we were able to take shower every day. If you be-friend the chambermaid, you can ask for extra towels and toilet paper, which in Cuba seems a high priced commodity. But while we were there, although it lacked some luxury, we were happy and comfortable.
Each room has separate air conditioner, and it seems to be in a fine working condition. We never had problems with it, and we stayed cool the entire stay.
Restaurants and Bars: There are four restaurants in the two resorts. One buffet and one a la carte at Marea, and one buffet and one a la carte at Farallon. Each section also had a snack bar, where you can get hot dogs, sandwiches and hamburgers during the late afternoons. This is a three star resort and it is in Cuba, so food, although always prepared well, nothing to write home about. They had varieties, so no one starved. In fact, by the middle of our vacation, my husband, who is a picky eater, did not complain at all and enjoyed what he was offered.
Bars were always plentiful and bartenders always willing to make you anything you asked them to. I even got an idea from a fellow traveler and started to ask them to make a banana smoothie, by setting a side a banana at breakfast or lunch, and they were more than happy to make that for me. Although, if you just want a smoothie without alcohol, let them know. (I made a mistake of not telling them the first time, and although very delicious, I was a bit light headed from the alcohol–but that’s just me).
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Grounds were always kept clean by the staff. Pools were clean as well. The beach was clean, but make sure you take beach shoes with you, as they have gravels and rocks in the water.
Also, if you are booked at Farallon, your beach is not right out by your door. You need to walk down a path downhill, as Farallon is up the hill. So, most guests who wanted the beach, will come down to Marea to enjoy the beach. Walk down is about 10 minutes and I am a slow walker, but they also do have shuttle golf carts during the day. In the evening, you can hire a cab for one Cuban convertible peso to take you up the hill or down the hill.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: If you book for a VIP package, you get certain excursions included with it. We did not regret the purchase of the VIP package. The excursions include: 1. a sunset cruise, which is beautiful, and a must see; 2. two trips to Cayo Blanco for the day. They take you out to a remote island and they cook you BBQ lunch. On one of the trips you will get a voucher for a half a lobster each per person.
3. a picnic hike around the resort. Surprisingly, this was a very informative and a good tour. You get to see how the locals live and farm in that region. Beautiful scenic views. It is about a 2.5 hour tour, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Alex, the tour guide was very nice and very informative.
Other Comments: If you are looking for a luxurious resort with all of its flashy amenities, this is not the place for you. The resort is clean but old and nothing has been modernized. I think it is what you make of your vacation. If you are going to find everything and anything wrong, then you will definitely find that here. But, if you go into this with open mind, and realize this is Cuba, and that you are in a three star resort, you will have fun.
Check out the night entertainments. They were fabulous. We have been to resorts in Dominican Republic, both 4 stars and 4.5 stars, and the entertainment here was MUCH better!!!!