The Caribe section is the newest of the Barcelo complex. The resort is beautiful, tastefully decorated and landscaped and very spacious.
We found the staff to be friendly, willing to serve and happy if you made an effort to be polite, courteous. friendly and flexible. We made a few connections with some really great staff and they made the trip for us. Some of them do have limited English, but are willing to learn, just as we do with our limited Spanish. Most of the guests were French Canadian.
Bungalow 39 – 3rd floor
Arrival: Arrival at airport and transfer went well. There were 3 buses and ours was the first to arrive, before 10:30 p.m. Check in was very efficient. Our envelopes were ready with room keys, bracelets and resort map. All that was required was submitting passport numbers and signatures.
We were told to give our room number to the bell boy who would bring our luggage to our room in 10 to 15 minutes. Long story short, we did not receive our luggage until 12:30 a.m., two hours late. In future, we will elect to take our own bags to our room.
Rooms: Our room was beautiful and spacious. There is A/C as well as a ceiling fan. There is a mini fridge, which is restocked daily with 2 soft drinks, 2 Bucaneros and a large bottle of water. There is an iron, ironing board, large umbrella, large closet, safe. The sink area is outside of the actual bathroom. There is a coffee maker with tea and sugar provided. There is no coffee and also no cups.
The room was cleaned every day and soap and shampoo was replenished upon request. Our room wasn’t done until after 3:00 p.m. most days.
Restaurants and Bars: The buffet has good selection and variety each day. At breakfast, you can help yourself to champagne and OJ. It is not open for lunch. You can get a buffet lunch at the Grill – again, a good selection of hot and cold items and many items can be cooked to order – hot dogs, hamburgers, fish, beef, chicken, shrimp. Dinner at the buffett offers a great selection of meats, fish, vegetables, salads, pasta, fresh fruits and desserts. I don’t really understand how people can complain about the food. Granted, everyone has different expectations of the food based on their own tastes. I have read other reviews that say that the food is "sub-par", "inedible" and "so-so" and the most common, "you don’t go to Cuba for the food". I shake my head and wonder what people are thinking sometimes. There is a different problem though with the dinner buffet. On our first night, we found we had to line up outside of the buffet and people were only allowed in as others were leaving. We had to wait for 20 minutes, then ushered in to a table that would not have been our first choice. Service was spotty. On the other occasions that we ate in the buffet, it was the same. The a la cartes did not appear to be fully booked and were the better place to be. We approached the front desk about this, as we have never experienced this before at a buffet in any resort. We were told that they had to look after many people and seemed surprised that there was a line up. The customer service person told us that "all old people like to eat at the same time" and made it sound as though it was the guests’ problem. Wrong thing to say! Later in the week we did speak to her about this as something that we had not encountered before and that it needed improvement. She seemed receptive to our comments and made notes. It did not improve during our stay, nor did we expect it. Our observations – there is not enough staff and the furniture in the buffet area is much too large. The tables are large, the arm chairs are much too large and do not fit under the tables when pushed in. Add to this, high chairs, strollers, people who don’t push their chairs in when they get up and well, you get the idea. The servers have a harder time getting to the tables to replenish drinks and clean up. The furniture layout is not in straight grids, which would enable guests and servers to get around faster and easier. Interestingly enough, there was no line up to get in for breakfast.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach is fabulous! It is many kilometres long and the beautiful turquoise colour of the water is captivating. At high tide it becomes quite narrow, resulting in high-density sunbathing. There is a bar and washroom available at the beach.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped. As this is a new resort, the landscaping isn’t complete in some areas, but that doesn’t matter. The pools are clean and well-maintained. Cushions are avaialble for the loungers – a nice touch.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: There are shows each night. The Michael Jackson impersonator was outstanding! The Spanish Dance show was terrific as well. We didn’t take part in other activities, but there were dance lessons every day at the pool and beach and water volleyball. You don’t have to book time for the catamaran rides, which is a bonus.
We elected not to take any tours off the resort, preferring to take advantage of the good weather at the resort.
Other Comments: The lobby bar had different musicians performing each evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Chilled champagne was available as well, making it a very enjoyable end to the day. Overall, we had a great week. No matter where you go on vacation, you have to have a positive and flexible attitude and things generally do work out. Every time we return home, we say "what did we learn" and that helps us prepare for the next one. Life is too short to grumble and complain about every little thing that doesn’t go the way you want it to.
Staff and Service : The individual servers and staff are not the issue. Many of them are quite young and still training and learning. There are quite a few that worked previously at the other sections (Beach and Colonial) and their experience shows. There seems to be a lack of good organization and management to ensure a better flow of services, e.g. transferring luggage to rooms promptly, prompt attention to an issue in our room that needed our presence. I understand "Cuban time" and have no problem with it; however, for the important things, they need to pick up the pace. There does not seem to be a management presence around the resort. Perhaps they were disguised as the animacion team. In other resorts we have visited, one gets a sense of management making rounds constantly, keeping staff on their toes, and that was missing here. The staff also do not wear name tags – strange practice, I thought. They do have name tags on the Beach side, however.
Tour Operator Issues: The only other issue I have is not resort related, but with Sunwing, our tour operator. We had the late day departure from Toronto. On our return, we were scheduled to leave the resort at 3:45 p.m. with the flight leaving at 8:45 p.m., getting into Toronto at 12:15 a.m. I can handle that. However, our departure from the resort was delayed to 5:45 p.m.,to arrrive in TO at 2:15 a.m. We left the resort at 6:15 and our flight was further delayed and did not leave until 12:30 a.m., arriving in TO at 3:30 a.m. Apparently Sunwing does this quite frequently. This kind of delay and jerking around certainly does put a damper on a great week.