We had a mid morning arrival and when we got outside we were handed envelopes with our wrist bands and room keys, before we got on the bus to go to the resort…a very easy check in! There is a money exchange booth in the airport on the right hand side near the exit doors. You can also buy beer and pop outside…near where the buses park. The ride to the resort is long…at least an hour and a half, but the scenery is interesting. You can see the mountains from the airport and the resort is behind the mountains (and you go the long way around them)
We booked the V.I.P. Cabanas (Marea del Portillo resort) We asked for the two top rooms closest to the main hotel..and thats what we got. The rooms were much nicer than I expected. Oceanfront, balcony, two comfortable double beds and very clean other than a stain on one of the chairs. The only problem we had with our rooms was no hot water (but we didn’t even bother to tell them) and my daughter had a noisy airconditioner in her room, which they tried to fix. All in all we were quite pleased with our rooms. We didn’t hear anyone complain about any of the rooms at the Marea resort.
Restaurants and Bars:
The restuarant was okay. You can sit inside or outside. Go early as they run out of certain things. There wasn’t a lot of variety and it was very repetative…but it was healthy and you won’t starve. They usually have a variety of fruit, a few salads, rice, rice with beans, and more rice!! Pork, chicken and fish. Fresh bread, buns and butter and cake and baked custard for dessert.(You can also go to the restuarant at the Farallon resort). There is only one bar at the Marea resort…its right next to the pool. Service was fine…cups are small but they have a variety of drinks. You can also go to the bars at the Farallon section which is around a kilometer or less away. You can walk the beach to it or take the golf cart shuttle. You are allowed to use the services of both resorts. ***This was the only resort that I have been to where the staff really didn’t bother you or hint for tips!!
The pool was nice and had a deep end. The grounds were kept up and had lots of different flowers, plants, trees and bushes. The beach in front of Marea is huge and very long..kind of a brownish tan colored sand. The ocean was fun to swim in..but not clear. If you walk down the beach to the left it starts to get pebbly/rocky. You can find Cuban families down there if you like to bring gifts for them. The fishing village is down that way, but we never went that far.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We did almost every tour. The sunset cruise (booze cruise) was a lot of fun and it was a great way to meet a lot of people who were staying at the resort. The party in the village in Pilon was okay…but not for everyone. Very hard to find a bathroom..there was one in a restaurant but we heard it was pretty bad. I heard most people just find a dark corner and go..lol.. We got tired of it after a while and wandered to the church and watched the service from outside..they were singing and dancing. We really enjoyed that even though we are not "church type people". They all came over to us and welcomed us when the service was over. The jeep tour was fun…and the roads were really rough and terrible!! But it was great swimming in the waterfall. Great scenery also. Lunch is included..but we missed ours as the farmer didn’t think we would come as it stormed the night before.(The tour rep gave us a partial refund because of that) The tour to the city of Manzanillo and Bayamo was very, very long. Bayamo is a nice city and lunch was very good. Your first stop in Bayamo is at the Sierra Maestra Hotel…bathroom stop…yay!! Then you go for a horse and buggy ride around part of the city. It is a full day…and it seemed like most of it was spent on the bus, but you see lots of Cuban towns, villages and scenery. You can ask the tour guide to have the bus pull over and cut you some sugar can to chew on..Also..if you have to go to the bathroom…they will pull over…men go out to the front of the bus and ladies go behind the bus. Cayo Blance island was great and so was the food. White sand and clear water. Just keep your eye out for jellyfish. Bring some cortisone cream just in case you get a sting. They also have a couple of kayaks there that you can use. You can go on the boat..about a kilometer off shore to snorkle at Cayo Blanco. There is also another waterfall..sometimes the waterfall is dry but the pool is great to swim in.. it’s near the resort..about a 25 minute walk down dirt roads, past farm houses. You can find a Cuban to guide you there if you walk down the beach to the left. You can also rent a guide and a horse at the resort and ride there.
If you go wandering a little ways in front of the resort you can usually find you a Cuban that will show you their house, farm animals, etc. etc. We really enjoyed that…just give them a few pesos or gifts…it means a lot to them.
You may read about older Canadian men going to the resort to hook up with young Cuban women. We didn’t have a problem with this. The "couple" we met were very nice, polite and a lot of fun. We loved this area of Cuba as it seems like the "real" Cuba …compared to Varadero or Cayo Coco. We wanted an adventure and thats what we got. Don’t just stick around the resort…get out and explore!!! We thought we might get a little bored at this resort…but we were busy and on the go every single day and really enjoyed ourselves!!! (us..56 year old mother and 29 year old daughter)