Gaviota Playa Coco – Caya Coco – Cuba Hotels Page 2 – Debbie's Caribbean Travel & Resort Reviews

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Gaviota Playa Coco – Cayo Coco  ~  Reviews Posted – 15
Gaviota Playa Coco Rick and Carol ~ Waterloo, Ont.

March 2005

Like many others, we had some concerns after reading the early reviews, however, given the fact we were going to a world much different than ours, we looked at it as a new adventure. Also we had been to Cuba before (Varadero), so knew more or less, what to expect.

Flight in/flight out no big deal. Minor line ups but to be expected. Don’t by into the VIP initiative "pushed" at the resort by the Air Canada rep. For 20 pesos apiece, you still had to wait in line like everyone else. The only thing it provided was free drinks and a great grilled ham sandwich. Not bad – but not worth, in essence, $40.00 US a couple.

Beach – excellent. Get there early to get the best spots. Take beach towels from home. If you lose the resort provided towels, it will cost you 20 pesos (ouch!).

Pools – all of them cold. That in turn made the "pool bar" totally useless. Too bad, as it could have been a focal point at the resort if the main pool had been warmed up. Something the owner(s) should look into. The "quiet" or smaller pool was a nice relaxing area. Hardly anyone there – and there was a bar there also!

Bars – all good. The lobby bar was the busiest and the waiting the longest. You’ve already read about the tipping, but if you want to wait them out, go for it. I usually tipped when it was deserved and not before. Let your conscience be your guide, however. We usually stayed at the smaller bar near the stage area which provided fries, burgers, hotdogs and chicken. The bartenders really entertained you!!

Food – in comparison to Varadero – excellent. Tuesday is Cubana night and there are "tons" of Lobster at your disposal. Go nuts! The specialty a la carte restaurants are also good. Japanese is the best, followed by the Italian and finally the Seafood restaurant located on the beach.

Staff – for the most part they were good. Knowledge of English was limited to most, so if you had/have any complaints, there did not appear to be anyone listening or knew what to do about your problem. Good luck.

Rooms – no complaints, however take face cloths and a simple spoon to stir your coffee in the morning if you plan to use the coffee maker available to you. Room coffee was good by the way.

Overall, this is probably closer to a 3 star rather than a 4 star. But you make of your vacation what you want out of it. I’m fairly easy to please: give me a room with a bed, a nice beach to lie on (dodging harpoons..), free drinks and food – and I’ll follow you anywhere. There were a number of tours available and they all looked good. My wife and I went on the "deep sea" cruise with 2 other couples and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. 35 pesos for 4-5 hours – you can’t beat it. The resort is basically a Canadian one with a few "Brits" and other Europeans thrown it. Extremely easy to meet people and make friends. Yes there were bugs, but I think this is a seasonal thing.

The resort is young and therefore has some growing pains to deal with as you probably read in previous reviews. All in all, if you’re not fussy, you’ll enjoy yourself here. Have a great time.

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Gaviota Playa Coco Teresa & Marty ~ Welland ON

March 2005

This was my third visit to Cuba. I have visited Holguin, Varadero, Havana and now Cayo Coco. I would definitely say that this is the nicest beach in Cuba that I have visited so far. Overall this trip was a very special one for my fiancé and I, and I will try to offer some useful tips for future travelers.

Flight/Check In
The flight, customs and check-in were relatively painless. Everything was on time and we were in our room within 15 minutes of check-in. The welcoming cocktail was a nice added gesture.

Rooms
We stayed in building #9, which by far is the best location situated directly on the beach. We had an ocean-view room which was a nice surprise considering we were told upon booking that there weren’t any available. I did send an e-mail with my request and was lucky enough to get this room. It was large, bright and clean. The maid service was excellent. In the evening prior to dinner, the hot water and pressure was a little to be desired. We were able to watch the sunset in the evening from our balcony…….absolutely beautiful.

Pools/Jacuzzi
They do have two nice pools here. The larger one is a little noisy, as this is where all the activities are but the smaller(children’s) pool was a nice place to have a quite nap and relax. Always plenty of chairs to go around for everyone. The Jacuzzi was somewhat of a disappointment since once of them was located by the pool had usually had small children swimming in it and the other one was a hit and miss as to whether there was water in it. Both were cold water, so not so relaxing.

Beach
I absolutely loved this beach. The first few days we walked to the left of the hotel and thought the beach was nice, somewhat rocky but fun to wade in at low tide. The last few days of our vacation we walked to the right of the hotel and found this part of the beach to be absolutely beautiful. At low tide you can walk for miles of white sand and crystal blue water. We found sand dollars, star fish and several large conch shells which made the excursions very interesting.

Entertainment
They definitely try very hard to please, but I feel that this hotel has some growing to do in this area. The Mr. Playa Coco evening was very entertaining but the other evenings we ended up leaving the show do to lack of enjoyment. The daily entertainment was okay but not as interactive as I have seen from other resorts.

Restaurants
No body returns to Cuba for the food, well at least not me!! But anyways, I really did not have any complaints. The buffet does get tiring after eating at it 24/7 but so does cooking at home for yourself. Try something new, you are in a different country. We did enjoy the a’la carte restaurants, especially the Italian and the Japanese. Definitely worth going to, only hassle was the line to make reservations.

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs
I actually laughed when I read the previous reviews regarding bugs. I was reluctant to choose this hotel because of all the negative reviews regarding bugs and thought maybe it was a seasonal thing as well. BUT, I definitely got bitten by bugs. Nothing that I could see but lots of bug bites mostly on my legs and arms. Yes they were very painful and yes I did use DEET. Nothing seemed to worked, although my fiancé never got one bug bite???? Not so sure why I was the victim, but I did see others with bug bites as well.

Tipping
This is probably one of the things I dislike about Cuba the most. I prefer to go on a vacation and enjoy and not have to worry about having money on me all the time. I would rather tip those at the end of my vacation that helped to make it an enjoyable one. A dollar goes along way here, but not just this resort, in Cuba altogether. The service is still the same regardless, although sometimes a little faster when they knew you would leave them some money. Some Cubans outright asked for money and others just stood there waiting for you to give and expecting it. I did bring along gifts for the maids like toiletries, candy, toothbrushes, hair accessories, etc. A simple trip to the dollar store before leaving can help out allot.

Cocktails/Bars
Cocktails were plentiful with all brands of alcohol available. Bring along a thermal cup to lessen the amount of times that you have to travel back and forth to the bar, as the small plastic ones do not seem to last very long. Coffee was definitely another area of opportunity in my opinion. I brought my own from home and the coffee supplied in the room was good as well(use your thermal cup and take along to breakfast). Somewhat of a challenge in the evening to get a drink at the piano bar, but worth the wait since they really seemed to know how to make a good cocktail. More bar areas should be open in the evening to avoid the cluttering and crowding of the piano bar at night.

Internet
Yes there is a service. My advice, if you don’t need to get in touch with home, don’t waste your time with the internet service. It was very slow if it worked at all. Most times there were lines to use the 3 computers that were there and usually only one worked at a time. Use your time to enjoy your vacation and don’t worry about what is happening at home!!!

Overall
Overall, because this was a special vacation for my fiancé and I there really wasn’t anything that could have ruined it. We did enjoy our time relaxing as this is what we expected from our vacation. If you are looking for alot of excitement and great entertainment this hotel is pretty low key and you may be disappointed. We got exactly as we expected and in some areas were pleasantly surprised. This hotel is still growing, but it clean and overall most staff were friendly and appreciative of the visitors. I read alot of reviews prior to choosing this hotel and go on vacation with an open mind.

I will respond to questions regarding this hotel/vacation. Brwnys@hotmail.com

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Gaviota Playa Coco J&S ~ Whitby, Canada

March 2005

We read quite a number of negative reviews of this resort after we had booked and so we went with some trepidation, however our fears were totally unfounded, we had a wonderful time.

The resort is only a 20 minute bus ride from the airport and the check in process was very efficient. We were in our room in building #5 within 15 minutes of arrival. Due to the timing of our flight we did not arrive at the hotel until 9:15 pm but were still able to get a meal as the buffet restaurant stays open until 10 pm and there is another small bar where you can always get chicken, fries etc.

Our room was very spacious with a sitting area and extremely clean. The bathroom was large,bright, very clean and equipped with a hair dryer. Our room had a beautiful view over the ocean and we often spent time sitting on our balcony reading and just admiring the view. There was plenty of hanging space and drawer space for clothes.

The resort is a nice size and nothing is too far to walk. We appreciated that there were two pools. The main pool is the centre of most of the activities and there was often loud music playing but there were plenty of places to get away from that if it is not your thing. The other pool is quiet and more secluded. The water was a bit cool in the pools but once you were in it was fine.

I enjoyed a full hour massage for 25 pesos. Well worth the money.

The food was very good indeed. Better than some five star resorts we have been to in Cuba. The buffet was excellent with lots of variety and one night they had mounds of lobster. We enjoyed all three specialty restaurants. The Japanese restaurant was wonderful and we had a great chef who made the evening fun. The Italian restaurant had a lovely atmosphere and the food was very good. The Seafood restaurant was also very good although being right at the beach it can be a bit cool if there is breeze. Some people complained that the portions at the seafood restaurant were small but we found them just right (try the lobster soup, it is wonderful!)

The staff were very helpful and friendly and could not do enough to please. As always there were a few guests who were rude to the staff or had over indulged in the rum but the staff were unfailingly gracious despite some people’s bad manners and unrealistic demands.

The resort is new and the landscaping will fill in over the next year or two. They have been suffering a drought and personally I would rather have water for my shower at the end of the day (which there always was) rather than a few more flowers.

The beach was lovely especially when the tide was out. You can walk for miles in either direction on the beach or out on the sand bars. In one direction it is quite rocky and it was fun exploring the rock pools, collecting shells and watching the seabirds. There is a lagoon at one edge of the hotel and I watched pelicans, flamingos and various other wading birds one morning.

We had no problems at all with bugs. Not one bite during the entire week. The weather was beautiful, sometimes there was a nice breeze. One morning the heavens opened and the rain came down in torrents (NOW I know why they provide an umbrella in the room) but it was over quickly and by afternoon the sun was shining again.

We had a great holiday and I would recommend this resort. We will definitely go back.

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Gaviota Playa Coco Karen, Terry, Justin and Cory from Ontario

March 2005

Just wanted to say we have just returned home from a fantastic week at Playa Caya Coco Cuba. The resort is new, so lush palm trees were not to be seen, however, the resort itself lent for endless activities. A must is to go snorkeling. Spectacular. We met wonderful people, hi to Courtney and her family and Ema and hers. We took our two boys 20 and 18 and all of us had a super time. Weather was great. The beach was amazing, not much to walk along, but you can walk for miles in it. The water was not deep. White beautiful sand. The piano bar was a hit every night, and the drinks were great. We attended the show every night and most nights were enjoyable. But most of all, we had a great family vacation. As the gentleman said sitting beside me in the plane, right after the pilot announced it is snowing in Toronto and -5, " I guess we should be lucky, as at least we got away from it all for a week" How true. Thanks to Rodolfo and Tania for making our trip such a memorable one. And to all the people who smiled and said hello with each passing.

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Gaviota Playa Coco Cliff, Zackary and Rosemary ~ Scarborough

March 2005

Just got back last night – sorry for the delayed review.

My wife, son and I travel the Caribbean quite often as she was born and raised there; so we have a different viewpoint than most.

Is this a new property? – yes Should you expect everything to be perfect? – no

Did we enjoy ourselves? – yes

Is this a 4 star plus? – no

I have read every review on this property since it opened – all on Debbie’s and at least twice as many on 2 other sites – recurring theme was "bugs". Never saw a mosquito, never felt any small unseen bites during the night in bed or otherwise. We took some natural bug killer with us and ridded ourselves of an ant colony outside of our room. We took the prescribed 50% + deet repellent (never used it). We hung a Vapona strip in our room and never saw a flying insect all week long. My opinion – weather related in those bad reviews or room related to the guy who had bed bugs.

My comments – worst mattresses and pillows of any resort that I have stayed at anywhere in the islands. Food – about average (but not 4 star plus) Staff – trying really hard and will eventually be one of the better staff – although the quality of the training staff is an issue. Animacion staff – totally dedicated to the nightly show – practice, practice; therefore very few staff left that actually work directly with the guests. My viewpoint – the resort was full and I did not see a lot of guest participation in anything so the shortage of staff was not even noticed.

Games room – staff was great, the best. Restaurant staff was attentive – however again not 4 star plus.

My only real beefs with this resort are:

The beach – needs to be properly groomed to a depth of 6" at least and maintained nightly. It also needs to be lit.
The pools – being lit at night would have been nice.
The rooms, the buildings, the lobby, the architecture – definitely 3 star or 3 star plus which is why this resort may never become a 4 star. There is no pizzaz. There is nothing to set it apart from anywhere else – nothing unique or even apparently different. A 3 star room is a 3 star room, is a 3 star room.

There is a development going in next door which may be an extension or a new property. It has the best part of the beach in front of it. I hope that it is an extension where they can apply some lessons learned.

Final say – underfunded property that opened prematurely to help defray the set up costs. This property will not improve trying to get by on operating revenue.

If you are going, drop me a line at cliff.layne@rogers.com and I will respond

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Gaviota Playa Coco Julie & Steve ~ Wales UK

March 2005

When we arrived at this hotel I was please that checkin went so smoothly and the staff took our cases to our room in no time, we were allocated room 6312 overlooking the quiet pool. The room was very nice with a large comfortable bed – recent reviews stated that the beds are not comfortable well I can assure you that they are! The bathroom had plenty of hot water at all times with a powerful shower. The maids kept the room very clean and were only too happy to replace any items that had been used (showergel coffee etc).

The food in the buffet is quite good omelet chef, grill chef as previoulsy stated in other reviews, especially good on lobster night with a pig roast (Tuesdays – don’t miss this, very yummy!!). The Japanese is an experience not to be missed and if you like chinese style food it will suit you. The Italian was good as was the Beachbar at night. There was one waiter at the main buffet who was very funny, always doing tricks with glasses and cups & saucers pretending that they are falling. All the staff in each restaurant were helpful.

The bar staff at the Piano bar are excellent say hello to Idalberto and Reidal who are great.

As in previous reviews, yes the pools are cold but quite refreshing as the weather is hot. The bars at each pool are good.

The beach is just superb , just in front of the beachbar is a section of rock that attracts many fish – I suggest you snorkel there your self with a bread roll and a banana to feed the fish who will eat from your hand. The water there is waist high and even if you don’t snorkel you can still enjoy the experience of feeding the fish. Some seen were called needlefish, with a long needlelike thing coming from their chin, sometimes the fish would just jump out of the water and you knew that a small barracuda was around. I dont think they harm humans though.

Take a walk to either the right or left of the beach and you will have a beach all to yourselves with gently undulating white sandbars every now and again – just idyllic.

All in all I would recommend this hotel to those who want pure relaxation and retreat and there is no comercialism at all.

We also travelled by the local tour bus to the other hotels around (5 pesos each all day ticket), the other hotels ‘look’ nicer as their ground have matured, but Playa Coco is just superb.

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Gaviota Playa Coco B, N and E ~ Nova Scotia, Canada

March 2005

Where to begin – we went to this resort to help celebrate a couple of birthdays and were a bit concerned about some of the negative reviews we had read but glad to report we don’t know what all the negative reviews were all about. We certainly had no complaints at all.

Here’s our story…

No problems with airport or security.

Although the resort is new and trees/flowers are not yet matured – this will come in time. It was still a very clean and neat resort. Everything is pretty close to the main lobby. Not far to go to the beach and although the actual main part of the beach is small you just have to take a walk up the beach to appreciate the true beauty of it (especially at low tide).

We (three) had absolutely no problems with the food at any of the a la cartes or the buffet. You would be hard pressed to not find something you liked. Our favourite was the Japanese. It was an experience in itself. Second was the Italian but that was because my friends told them it was my b’day and they brought out a cake with a candle on it and made the day a little extra special. For those of you that were there and are reading this – I hope you enjoyed your piece of cake (I tried sharing with the whole restaurant – if I missed you, my apologies).

We met some great people from the resort and made some new friends from some of the guests.

We had no problems with our room. We were in building # 5 and it was on the beach. We left our door open at night and listened to the water from the ocean which was very relaxing. We were impressed with the size of the bathroom and never had a problem with water pressure or hot water. Everything worked great.

The bars
The Piano Bar – was by far the most happening spot and the bartenders were very accommodating. They made some very interesting drinks. All we had to say was surprise me and something new was made. They had someone playing the piano at night and it was very good.

The Beach bar during the day – again they were very good. They had a buffet lunch during the day with a barbecue on the side. We ate here a few times and it was great and the drinks weren’t bad either.

Guadamara (spelling) we renamed it the Chicken Bar – you could get Fried chicken, fries, ham and cheese sandwich, hot-dogs late at night after spending time at the Piano bar and sometimes it was needed.

We went on one excursion – Half Moon Island – It was my first time snorkeling and it was awesome. We arrived at Pilar beach (it you want sand like powder this is the beach to try) and took a Catamaran to Half Moon Island – You had lunch which was very good and then went snorkeling to see tropical fish, reefs and a sunken ship and then caught the catamaran back to pilar beach to spend time at this wonderful beach. It was a day trip and was worth the money as long as you have good weather and we did.

I could write and write about this resort but ask me the one important question "Would we recommend this resort?" MOST DEFINITELY! Enjoy your holiday.

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Gaviota Playa Coco Lois & Gord ~ Canada

February 2005

We stayed at this resort for 2 weeks, 15 to 29 January 2005. This resort has a lot of pluses even though the lack of flowers and vegetation was initially a disappointment. They were busy planting palm trees, etc. the second week of our stay. They do need "filler" flowers like impatients.

We had a large, clean room pleasantly furnished with a beautiful ocean view, a good bathroom, hairdryer, clothesline,etc. Bring a few clothespins. We had unlimited hot water for showers even when taking them during "prime" time during late afternoon when most people were back from the beach.

The beach is narrow (with good sand) and could be maintained better, but the water was warm enough and it was fun to walk in the direction of the point when the tide was out. It was windy while we were there, especially the first week. A windbreak at the small pool would have been appreciated.

The staff were friendly and tried hard to please.

The food in the buffet was very good and the service was great even though the place was extremely busy at times. Only minor problem was that the food could have been hotter.

Super service in the three a la carte restaurants with good food, especially in the Italian and Sea Food restaurants. Dairame in the tour area of the lobby speaks good English and was very helpful in assisting us booking tours. Since we were a group of five, we opted to take a taxi to Moron and later to Trinidad instead of going on the bus with forty other people. Dairame arranged this for us, and we had a knowledgeable guide,Joel, who made the trips interesting and who speaks very good English. Aidel, the driver, was experienced and competent. We knew we were in good hands.

We had a good holiday and it was great to be away from Ottawa during two weeks of especially bitter cold weather!

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Gaviota Playa Coco Deepdiver

February 2005

THE RESORT
The evening flight from Toronto to Cuba, Customs, and Immigration were all-seamless with no problems. Check-in was quite fast and we were in our room about 10 minutes after arrival.

The first thing that stuck me upon entering the Reception area was the high level of “noise” from the lobby bar. The bar is in a corner of the lobby and is basically surrounded by three walls. That fact along with a very high ceiling does not make for a very acoustically acceptable layout. Take the poor acoustic set up along with perhaps a few drinkers that may have imbibed in the giggle juice just a touch over normal and one ends up almost shouting to be heard, even sitting at one of the small tables. I should emphasize that this “noise” is normally only prevalent when the bar is “full”.

There is full Internet service albeit slow but at least one can email. The rate is 5.00 CVP for an hour or 3.00CVP for 30 minutes. Lots of “ pop-ups”.

The game room is well set up but unfortunately “guests” have abused the pool tables and equipment so much that the tables are stained from spilled drinks, the cues have no tips, there is no “chalk” and there are tears in the felt table tops. We all know the poor appearance of the tables is not the resort staffs fault but rather abuse by guests……so sad to see.

The resort is very new, about a year old so the item that catches your eye is the fact that there is very little mature greenery around the resort. During our stay we did see many gardeners planting more shrubs, and more 15-foot palm trees. I would think that, if the greenery were properly maintained the resort would be very picturesque in about 3-5 years. There are three a-la-carte restaurants and in our 14 days there we visited each one twice. Suffice to say one of the two visits at each restaurant was better than the other visit. I can only assume it depends who is doing the cooking and who is serving. One day the same restaurant will be just excellent and the next visit the food is cold and the service is poor…..go figure. The Japanese restaurant was the most fun, especially if you had a great Cuban chef posing as a Japanese chef…it was great fun with full table participation….but here again the next time we went we had a rather dull individual doing the cooking……you win some, lose some.

The food in the main dining area , buffet, was great. The pastry/dessert chef should be complimented. The best array of desserts I have ever encountered. The main buffet had just about everything one could wish for an on some nights there was fresh sliced hip of beef, cooked lobster tails, roast suckling pig and fresh caught fish. There should be no complaints from anyone with regard to the food.

Other has mentioned the rooms and all I can say is that they are well appointed and even though we never used the CD player I would suppose some people really liked it. In my opinion the touch pad wall safe, the bar fridge and a full bottle of water everyday were the highlights of the room. The only complaint I would have is that there seemed to be times when there was a shortage of bath towels for each room.

The resort is classed as a 4 star plus and I would agree that the “plus” is only there because there are times when premium alcohol is available. Again I would say the resort rates a 4 star plus once the greenery is matured…it will be extremely well appointed in a few years and if you can get past that fact you will find the resort certainly more than adequate for your stay.

Bugs—bugs—bugs—- There are no mosquitoes at the resort, at least we saw nary a one BUT…….there are what we call “NoSeeUms” and man, can they bite. These little rascals are mostly prevalent at dusk and dawn and especially lethal if there is no wind. The problem with these insects is that are very hard to see and make no noise when flying about. I would guess they are the size of the head of a very small pin…personally I think they are just a set of flying teeth. You know when you have been bitten as there is just the faintest feeling of a tiny pin prick but an hour later you have an itch that will drive you crazy and a welt the size of a bee sting. Now I must point out that the reaction to these insects vary with people. I think fair skinned people suffer the most. What to do ????? Spray…spray… We used DEEP WOODS OFF and made sure our legs and arms were done and plastered some on our necks as well. No matter what you use, ensure it has at least a 23% rating of DEET and make sure you DO NOT spray it on your watch crystal or anything else plastic /synthetic. It eats those materials. Even if there is a breeze, put some on if you are out of the wind at a pool. Put it on at the beach as well.

We found the staff to very friendly and helpful at all times.

DIVING
Our primary reason for going to any resort is to dive and in this case we were not disappointed. The weather in Cuba during January-February is winter in Cuba, as well as Canada, so be prepared for a few rough days on the sea as the winds can be pretty brisk from the N, NE and NW. Where to dive???? The two companies we knew of were BLUE DIVING and COCO DIVING. A friend of ours arrived at Cayo Coco a few days ahead of us and set up our diving with COCO DIVE who operates out of the TRYP resort. This necessitated a drive from our resort to the TRYP and a return drive back to our resort. It was not a problem for us and the folks at COCO DIVE picked us up each day and took us back when diving was completed. We had nothing to do with BLUE DIVE but did see their little pick-up vehicle at our resort a couple of days. I believe BLUE DIVE is the company that ACVacations use if you book dives through ACVacations.

The rates at both clubs are the same but I’m not sure how flexible BLUE DIVE is with regard to “negotiating” a package of dives. We found the folks at COCO DIVE to be most accommodating in every respect. We have all our own gear so renting was not required but we did note that their rental gear was in excellent shape. Dive packages can be paid for using Credit Cards as long as they are not drawn on an American bank.

Their boat is about a 24-26 foot open boat with twin 70hp Yamahas, which would hold no more than 8 divers. The boat arrives in front of the shop each morning and divers wade out to the boat and put their gear and body in the boat, there is no dock. They did have a portable boarding ladder for us old folks and it was not in very good shape but was certainly better than attempting to throw a leg over the gunwale and slip into the boat. The boat came back to the beach area after every dive, as the dive sites were not more than 10 minutes away. The first dive was normally 30 meters and the second dive would be 13-15 meters. There was an afternoon dive but we normally just did two tanks each day and were finished by 1:00pm each day. Back at the hotel by 2:00pm and had 45 minutes left to get lunch.

The dive sites were very interesting, some better than others, and there is no point in wasting space here elaborating on any of the sites. A word of caution…as I mentioned it can get pretty rough with a North wind so be prepared for a rough ride out if it is windy and you plan to dive. We had waves coming over the bow on numerous occasions and wore our masks to stop the water from stinging ones eyes. Considering the wind I feel that, as a couple of old folks, we did pretty well.

Dive Masters of note were PABLO, HECTOR, and RAMON. We did one session with RAMON and he said he wanted to dive with us so except for one day we did all our dives with him. A most excellent individual who went out of his way to ensure we had a good time. It should be also noted that the boat Captain was a very helpful individual who also gave 100 % on each trip. It was most gratifying to work with these types of folks. Rather than bore non-divers it would suffice to say that I managed to get some excellent pictures of sea life and there were a couple of interesting underwater meetings.

For our return flight to Canada we were seated beside a young man that had been at the El Senator for the 14 days while we were all in Cayo Coco. It was interesting to note that he went to the BLUE DIVE shop on 8 separate days to go diving and all diving was cancelled so of the 8 days he had set aside for diving he did not accomplish one dive, he says, due to the fact that BLUE DIVE would not go out in the wind. I cannot verify this statement but if it is true then I guess we did well getting 25 dives in during our 14-day stay. Should you have any questions about our experience, please feel free to email… kidi@sympatico.ca

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December 2004

I have just returned from spending two weeks at this resort (December 5th – December 19th) and I, like others before me, was very concerned about the many negative postings on this web site. Whilst I would agree that the 4 star plus rating flatters, I have to say that I really enjoyed my stay and found it really good value for money. The hotel is in a remote spot with nothing at all within walking distance. That suited me but I can appreciate it would not be everyone’s choice.

Flight and arrival:
I flew Thomas Cook Airlines from Manchester on an Airbus 330. The outbound direct flight to Jardines del Rey airport in Cayo Coco lasts the full 10 hours, however the return journey, due to the favourable wind direction, lasts only 8 hours. Headsets are charged at £2.75; to avoid this charge take your own. One small bottle of water is also provided free of charge. On arrival at Cayo Coco I would suggest once you have cleared customs and immigration you go to the departures hall and change your currency into convertible pesos there. The rate is the same as at a bank and there is no commission charge whatsoever. As the airport only deals with a few flights per day it is unlikely that you will ever encounter a queue to change your money. The coach trip to the hotel took 20 minutes and check in went quite smoothly. I had previously emailed the hotel requesting a top (3rd) floor room and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had been allocated one.

Room:
Could not fault it at all. As soon as I walked in I noticed to my relief there was no damp or musty smell whatsoever. The room was very bright and cheerful and there was more than adequate lighting both in the main room and the bathroom. All rooms are equipped with coffee maker, iron and ironing board, cd player, hair dryer, small fridge/mini bar, remote control TV plus in room safe with digital touch button lock. The air conditioning was quiet and very efficient. The minbar is only stocked with one can of cola and one apple juice on arrival. As I never opened them I’ve no idea whether or not they are replenished daily. You also receive one large bottle of water every day. My bed was king size and quite comfortable, not hard as I had read in some previous reports. Three pillows were on the bed with an extra two in the wardrobe plus a blanket, which I found it necessary to use as I felt a little cold at times during the night, even with the air conditioning off. The room was well furnished with a large wardrobe with adequate hanging space, a dressing table with ten drawers, a large desk, a coffee table, two wicker chairs and a wicker two seater settee, with four scatter cushions. The patio door leading to the balcony also had a sliding mesh door you could pull across to keep out the bugs. On arrival I was somewhat disappointed to find that I had only been provided with one bar of soap in the bathroom. I had expected a 4 star plus hotel to provide me with shower and bath gel. Apparently some rooms had these and others did not, but after a couple of days when none appeared I mentioned it to customer services and the next day I had three bottles of each. The power supply at this hotel is 220 volts which is great for UK guests as all our appliances will work provided you have an adapter. Both the euro rounded two or three pronged and the American two pronged flat pin adapter will fit into the sockets. However I would imagine Canadian guests may need some form of voltage converter to reduce the current down from 220v to 110v to prevent damaging their appliances.

Pools:
There are two pools, both with pool side bars. The larger, main pool is where the daytime activities take place and the smaller pool (where I sat) is less busy and much quieter – despite having a children’s section. There is a small heated jacuzzi at this pool, but it was only working for the first few days of my visit. There is a larger jacuzzi at the main pool, but this is not heated. There is another small jacuzzi by the fitness centre, but this also was not working whilst I was there either. What the problem was with the jacuzzis I’ve no idea, but it appeared to me no effort was being made to repair them. There was also a lack of rubbish bins around the pool area . I’m not sure about the main pool area, but around the ‘quiet’ pool the only bin was beside the bar. Furthermore there were no ash trays or any means of disposing of cigarette butts other than stubbing them out on the floor. Also, as most other people have commented, the plastic ‘glasses’ used at the bars were far too small, holding around half the capacity you find elsewhere.

Beach:
I was personally rather disappointed with the beach here, but was told it was far better at the Hotel Zone where all the other hotels are located. It is quite narrow compared to most of the resorts I have visited previously. There are a quite a lot of small rocks at the water’s edge in front of the seafood restaurant but they only extend into the sea for a few yards. At this point the beach is at its widest. Further along to the right where the water sports are located there are no rocks. The water is clear and very shallow (albeit quite cold) and you can walk along the beach for miles without seeing anyone or anything. Water sports consist of Hobie cats, pedaloes and kayaks. I believe you have to be accompanied by a member of staff when taking out a Hobie cat.

Entertainment:
They have a large outdoor amphitheatre where the nightly show takes place at around 9.30pm. I only watched two of the shows and they were not my scene at all. Truth to tell I’m not into this type of entertainment at all (audience participation and animation staff miming and dancing to records) and I never bother with them anywhere.

Restaurants:
There are three specialised restaurants and one buffet restaurant. In the daytime lunch can also be taken in the seafood restaurant which is close to the beach and there is another small bar that serves fries, burgers and chicken that is open from 3pm until 7am in the morning. The main buffet restaurant ‘Trinidad’ is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The three specialised restaurants are the Seafood ‘Jucaro’, the Italian ‘Venecia’ and the Japanese ‘Tokio’. You are allowed one visit to each of the specialised restaurants for each week of your stay. The Japanese restaurant is really excellent and the chef prepares your main course on the grill at your table where you are seated with a maximum of eight people per table. I only visited the Italian once and found it quite satisfactory, though the portions were somewhat on the small side. As I’m not a fan of seafood, I did not visit this restaurant, but other people I met who had dined there said it was OK. I found the buffet restaurant more than adequate. Breakfast was the standard fare though I would have preferred better coffee and a proper toaster (instead of a sandwich maker). Lunch and dinner were very good and the food was usually hot. I think it fair to say that the food here was generally better than most of the all inclusive resort I have visited previously.

Staff:
Excellent – the waitresses in the buffet restaurant were so polite and always had a smile on their face and the bar staff in the lobby bar worked very hard and the service was always good. If you chose to sit down in the lobby area at night the drink waiters were always on hand to fetch your drinks. Maid service was excellent, my room was always serviced before lunch every day, the only issue being the lack of shampoos mentioned earlier. I thought the service was superb to all guests, whether they tipped or not – I can honestly say that everyone was treated equally and fairly and no favours were shown to the people who were tipping.

Mosquitoes:
They are a big problem at this resort for many people. Do not stay out after dusk without repellent and use one that is deet based, preferably containing 50% deet as this will give you longer protection. Use a plug in repellent in your room and spray the bed before retiring at night (just to be on the safe side!). I only suffered nine bites in two weeks, my lowest EVER score and these happened around eight hours after applying the repellent when its effectiveness was wearing off. Some other people were bitten in excess of 200 times, mainly because, in my opinion, they were outside after dark without repellent. If you are travelling from the UK I would suggest you buy Boots Repel Plus – containing 50% deet – it worked well for me. Ignore this advice at your peril!!!! Suggest you also pack some antihistamine cream or tablets and calamine lotion.

Weather:
Apart from a two minute shower it only rained once during the whole two weeks and fortunately that was in the evening and it resulted in the evening entertainment being moved indoors to the Disco. There were two days with very little sun, but otherwise the weather was very good with four exceptionally hot days that were completely wind free. However it can be very windy here.

Other facilities:
There are four tennis courts, plus a multi sports court (football, basketball, etc). Bikes are available free of charge and you can also rent a scooter or a car In rooms leading off the lobby area there is the Disco (open 10pm – 4am), an internet room, a shop and a sports hall with table tennis and pool. There is also a gym which appeared to me to be quite well equipped. The baby and mini club were also very well equipped but during the time of my visit were not much in demand. Outside the mini club there is also a small children’s play area, an equally small crazy golf course and a giant outdoor chessboard. There is a Massage parlour and a further table tennis table close to the ‘quiet pool’.

Overall impressions:
Having read all the reviews on this hotel before leaving, I have to admit that I was somewhat concerned by many of the negative comments this hotel has received, but speaking personally I found it to be quite satisfactory overall. However the resort is let down badly by the landscaping, which I have to say is very poor. I know it has only been open for ten months, but it is very barren. They are constantly planting new shrubs and plants, but they look half dead when they are planted. The quality of the grass is also very poor, they have underground water pipes, but do not seem to have sprinklers and what little watering is done is carried out by hose pipes that are attached to each apartment block. To be fair there were many people complaining about various aspects of the hotel and I can understand why. Bottom line the hotel is not a 4 star plus hotel (but how many other hotels are worthy of their ratings), but I believe you have to look at what you have paid for your holiday. When I booked it was the cheapest hotel on offer in the Cayos and it was fantastic value for money. I would go again if the price was right, but I rather fear that this hotel will have very few repeat guests at the moment.

Photos can be viewed at:
www.photobucket.com/albums/v317/bellagio1/

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Gaviota Playa Coco Lisa & Stephen — Cambridgeshire

December 2004

My husband & I have just returned from a wonderful 2 weeks at Playa Cayo Coco.There is really only 1 bad thing to say about it and that was the "bugs". We were told when we were there that we wasn’t being bitten by "mossie’s" but by sand flies and that any of the repellent that we used wouldn’t work, luckly we didn’t get bitten to bad but friends we made after just 1 night he had over 80 bites on his legs. The hotel was spraying every day and if you wanted your room sprayed you just asked your maid, so the staff were trying to help.

The good things well: * Hotel staff couldn’t be more friendly. * Rooms were big & comfortable. * Food good in buffet & japanese (italian not really italian!!). * Beach fantastic and you can walk for miles and not see a soul just white sand and azure sea. * Piano bar great to relax in evening but comy sofa’s would have been even better. * Jungle Tour – brilliant excursion. * Catarmaran – great day & snorkling fantastic, Pilar Beach – out of this world.

All in all great hols would say hotel not really 4star+ but 3star, we will be going back to Cuba in a couple of years but we want to go to the next island along ( Cayo Guillermo).

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Gaviota Playa Coco Mel, Ruth & Alex — Canada

November 2004

Contrary to “some” of the negative postings on Playa Coco Resort, we had a wonderful time during the week of October 17 to 24. I was a bit worried prior to departure but I went there with the understanding that Cuba is not a G-7 country. I went with my wife and my 3-year old boy and despite the absence of a “Baby Club”, our son had a wonderful time and he made friends with both the tourists and the resort workers.

Almost all the workers in the resort are nice, friendly and willing to help anyway they can. From the ground workers who gave us fresh coconuts and straw hats to the reception staff who gave us a nice beachfront room when I requested for it, the $10.00 more or less in tips everyday was well worth it. There may be 1 or 2 bartenders who were not quite enthusiastic in serving us on few occasions, I guess they always expect something everytime we order drinks.

From this writer’s perspective, here is my detail observation.

On the negative side; 1. Mosquitoes – they are really deadly, my son had about 4 bites on the face and 2 on his back. He only stayed at the kids pool until 5:30 PM one day. They sprayed around the seafood restaurant while we were dining and this was not quite acceptable to some guests. 2. The “Baby Club” is non-existent, be prepared to take your kids with you all the time (which was not a problem with us). 3. Our rooms were not ready when we arrived at the resort (approximately 11:00 AM) so we were all dysfunctional at the lobby area until around 1:00 PM. 4. Equipment maintenance is not their priority. The Jacuzzis at the Kids Pool and at the Fitness Centre are not working. Some of the pool table cues have no tip on them and they could not provide chalks for the cues.

5. The rocks by the beach area are nuisance but approximately 150 to 200 feet east of the main beach, the beach area is so nice and clear of rocks.

On the positive side; 1. The grounds are green, trees and plantings start to spruce up the resort. 2. The staff are really wonderful, friendly and cheerful – to us, that is half of the good times at this resort. 3. Food selection is good especially if you are a seafood lover. I personally feasted on lobster meat with a dollar tip to the person at the grill on seafood night at the buffet. 4. The rooms are spacious and clean, a personal in-room safe is nice. Our beachfront room was a little musty when we checked-in but after requesting the staff to change all the sheets, etc. and spray the room, the room was better, great with the view. Our first room was also nice, backing onto the kid’s pool with partial oceanview. 5. Drink selection is really good. Although they do not serve cocktails with your meals at the especialty restaurant, staff was willing to make you a cocktail of your choice prior to the meal being served. This shows you how staff could be accommodating. 6. There are no peddlers in the resort nor the beach area, compared to the ‘time share’ peddlers in the Dominican Republic.

7. There is nightly entertainment throughout the week which I personally rate as so-so, but this may improve over time.

Overall, my impression of this resort is pretty good and I will not have a second thought going back. This is value for your money.

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November 2004

We have just returned from Playa Coco after a 15 night stay Oct 19-Nov-3rd. In general we had a wonderful time, this is a chill out zone-forget the entertainment it is really bad, there is no theme-story or set change in the dance shows-and the disco is pretty horrendous, however, the vibe of the hotel is excellent, the staff are wonderful they cannot do enough for you.

If you are looking forward to downing tropical cocktails take a cocktail book with you, as they do not provide a cocktail menu, and us brits only seem to know about Pina Coladas! Do try the banana mama its great.

The food is great-The major downside is the cleaning of the rooms, they simply change the towels, make a swan on you bed (be careful they managed to break a pretty expensive pair of sunglasses by dressing the swan)! The rooms need a good clean,ie hot water and bleach on the floor, a change of sheets would be nice, and the sofas need a clean as they do smell, the rooms are rather damp, the cd player in our room didn’t take uk cds and we couldn’t get any cups for the coffee machine. Be aware of the cows and bulls, yes really that congregate outside of block 3 every night, its dark and can be a bit scary…, they soom move if you make a noise at them.

The beach is gorgouse, you can walk for miles and the sea is pefefect.

The mosquitos are a huge proplem ,We covered ourself in jungle formula , but it did’nt really help, as in the second week they stopped spraying deet, if this happens kick up hell with your tour rep , they soon start spraying again, take calamine lotion and antihistimines , unless you want to shell out 30 us dollars !

In whole this hotel is arounf a 3* or 4* , it will be great in 2 years if they sort out the above . Our Rep from thomas cook Felix is great and will make sure all goes well for you.

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Gaviota Playa Coco Dennis & Christine — Yorkshire, England

October 2004

We returned from the Gaviota Playa Coco Hotel Cayo Coco on Thursday 21st October, 2004. The airport trip took about 20 minutes which is excellent.

Booking in to the Hotel was dealt with efficiently with a minimum of hold-up.

The Hotel itself is fairly isolated but trips (which we have done before) are available. To date it is not up to 4 star rating, however the rooms, ground facilities, gym,pools etc are good.The lawns and flower beds will develop with time

The staff are very friendly and will accede to any requests made, albeit, it may be a bit slow but you get there.

The food was very good and caters for everyone’s taste. The speciality Restaurants were reasonable and made a good change. (Italian,Japanese Fish)

General ground cleanliness leaves something to be desired. Plastic cups and general debris in the grounds were not cleared as quickly as it should have been. Waste disposal facilities, I.e. bins etc. were not readily available in the grounds. The beach and sea were excellent. Refuse bins were supplied here

The house-keeping left something to be desired toilet rolls, water etc which should have been left in the room every-day did not happen and we had to contact Reception for the items to be delivered. Rooms were not always cleaned thoroughly. I think this is because of lack of general supervision.

Mosquitoes and other ‘baddies’ were a problem. The hotel tried to cater for this with regular spraying. Take plenty of insect repellent with you.

General. The power supply is 220 volts and yes there is CD player facilities in the room.

A good holiday which we enjoyed.

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Gaviota Playa Coco Gerry — Canada

October 2004

We have just returned from Playa Coco on Cayo Coco on the 17th of October. We had a great time. The food was superb both in the buffet and in the restaurants. The beach spectacular. The people wonderful. The resort itself is a little lacking in ambiance as stated by previous posts. It will need a few years to grow into a lush retreat. The only negative point I would like to make is the mosquitoes. If you go please take along plenty of "OFF", Benedryl and "After bite".

We did two trips. One to Media Luna Island via Pilar Beach. This was great fun. The lunch delicious and the snorkeling wonderful. Worth every penny. The other trip was an adventure driving our own speed boat through the mangroves and this also included snorkeling. Both trips were very enjoyable and reasonably priced and we recommend them.

As always we look forward to returning to Cuba again.

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