Arrival: May 2 to 9 The flight from Halifax on Air Canada was much better than we expected. Lots of leg room and the entertainment system was great. Watched two movies we hadn’t seen yet, so the flight went quickly both ways. The flight attendants were always smiling and kept everyone happy. The man in back of me was very nervous about flying. The attendant chatted with him to settle his nerves and assure him that turbulence was quite normal:) We were early leaving Halifax. The Halifax airport was in a bit of a mess because the passengers for three or four flights were all trying to check in at the same time. The Air Canada employee helping people with the computerized check-in was excellent. We had to pay for food and snacks on the flights, but if you charge it on your charge card, you get 10% off and prices were reasonable. Pop, juice, water, etc. was free, so if you don’t want to pay, bring a snack with you. Cayo Coco airport is great. Modern and air conditioned. Smaller than Varadero, so a lot quicker to get through, get your luggage and get on the bus to your hotel.
Our room was great. On the third (top) floor so didn’t hear any noise from above. Lots of hot water and good water pressure. Room cleaned every day and fridge replenished every second day. We had to use our room towels for a couple of days as the truck that delivers the clean laundry broke down. Even though the towels were missing when the maids made up the rooms, they left replacements so we always had clean towels.
Restaurants and Bars:
We ate at the Cuban and Mexican a la cartes, but didn’t bother with the Italian. The buffets were good and you don’t have to dress up. My husband wore nice shorts with clean T-shirts and his sneakers. I wore dresses a few nights, but at the end went with nice dress shorts and Ts and sandelas. Honestly, after we had been on the beach all day, it was all we could do to get showered and dressed to go and get a bite to eat. Also, you can get burgers and hot dogs at the pool bar every afternoon around 4:00. They are really big so if you have one of those, you probably won’t even want supper.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Lovely beach with lots of palapas and coconut palms. The water is quite shallow, but warm and enough to bob around in. The water was quite calm every day. We managed to get the same palapa everyday with out leaving our towels out. There seemed to be palapas available at all times, but the ones nearest the beach bar were the first to go. Yes, there is saving going on, but really isn’t necessary. There is a man down on the beach in the morning to help you get your chairs set up. At 12:00 noon the gardeners will come to you to offer coconut meat to eat or coconut water to drink. They don’t make you pay, but it is polite to give them a peso. We gave them t-shirts and workgloves and something for their wives. They are very appreciative of anything, really. If you get the gardeneres a drink from the bar,, kind of hide it from the guys in dress pants and sunglasses. You’ll know who I mean when you see them.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Every afternoon at 4:30, we played bingo a the pool bar. Their bingo cards go up to 90 and the callers call the numbers in Spanish, English, French and German. It was lots of fun. Two afternoons following bingo, they had fashion shows. The clothes were designed by Cubans. The clothes were amazing and the models, both men and women, were gorgeous.
Again, the airport in Cayo Coco is so much better than Varadero. It is smaller but they don’t get as many flights as Varadero, so a lot less people and quicker getting through. Once you get past check-point charlie, there is a bar, a place to get snacks, meals, etc. duty free (Cuban rum for 7.00 CUC/750 ml bottle for example) , National brand liquor, ciggies/cigars candy, Cuban honey – really cheap, and souvenirs. There was no one handing out toilet paper at the washroom and there was toilet paper in every stall. Felt foolish when I got home and found the roll I took from the hotel in case there was none at the airport:). There was also a band playing at the airport while we were waiting for our flight. Our flight left early and had a nice smooth flight home. I had read a review on a different website that said the women are in desparate need of bras. To buy a bra in Cuba might cost more than half of their monthly salary and that is only if there are any available to be purchased. The American trade imbargo is still in place, so it is extremely hard for the people to get goods even if they have the cash. I had brought some bras reduced at Wal-mart (white and beige) as well as some Fruit of the Loom undies. The ladies were very happy with them. Also, I tried to give some of them to the girls who are doing the menial jobs, like sweeping. The room maids get lots of "gifts" and money from the guests, but the people who have little contact with the guests, get nothing. Share the wealth. I also had picked up some nice dresses at Value Village. Wore them one night and gave them to the girls. That way you can be sure your luggage is not going to be overweight when you come home. My husband donated quite a few T-shirts he had "grown out of" to the gardeners and the Hobie cat guy. They were very pleased. Also, black dress shoes or sandals for the waiters and waitresses. Nice to have some good shoes when you are on your feet all morning, noon and night.
Would we go back to this resort? Yes, for sure. The people are really friendly and most speak an amazing amount of English. I felt ignorant and embarrassed with my piddly amount of Spanish. So, I am taking Spanish lessons in hopes that when I return, I might be able to have a little conversation in Spanish with the people who work so hard to make our vacations wonderful.