Iberostar Ensenachos Reviews – Cuba Hotels – Iberostar Ensenachos

Hola all! We visited for 2 weeks, stayed in the Spa Suites “adult” section, got back Feb 11. This was our 4th trip to this resort after a 2 year hiatus. First 3 trips were before the changeover to Iberostar. Rather than a straightforward review I thought it would be interesting to compare the resort when it was Occidental with the current Iberostar version. Here goes.

SERVICE: Seems to be a serious effort to boost service. Iberostar "service cops" as I came to call them, sporting the Iberostar gold-colored sport coats and 2-way radios, were in full view during our stay, especially in the Buffet and even conducting walkabouts throughout the resort. They busied themselves with everything from seating/greeting/chatting-up/glad-handing the guests, monitoring the restaurant staff, bus boy duties, and keeping a close eye on quality control (I watched one of them go to every vacant table in the Buffet, flipping up every coffee mug on each table so he could look inside each one to ensure it was clean). One big difference with service now…..no concierge at each bungalow anymore. Any issues guests have, or to book your a-la-cartes, you now deal with the Public Relations office or the Reception folks. But generally, more and better service throughout the resort now, including at the restaurants, bars, beaches and pools. Great job.

Room Number:
25

Room Block:
25

Arrival: Now a family resort, previously an adults-only resort – the biggest and most noticeable change of all and a major let-down for hard-core ‘adults-only’ fans. I would venture to guess they will not return. Major changes to the Park Suites “family” section reflect this change, now offering more kid friendly play facilities and services. The wrist bands are a new ‘feature’ too (yuch!).

Rooms:
With Iberostar, no longer any robes, slippers, or rum to greet you in the Spa Suites section rooms. (However when they found out this was our 4th visit a bottle of French champaign magically appeared in our mini-bar room fridge one day while we were down at the beach). Nice touch. No longer any outlet for your electric shaver in the washroom; the outlet has been taken over/replaced by a hair dryer. The facial tissue holder in the washroom emptied during our first week and was never refilled. This is not a complaint, just a comparison with Occidental’s tissue holder during our 3 previous visits. It somehow managed to stay full back then.

Restaurants and Bars: Maybe a little more selection in the Buffet. The PIZZA station in the Buffet is new and enjoyed by many. Pleasantly surprised to see smoothies offered during our 1st few days but then they disappeared (darn). Really missed Occidental’s fresh squeezed orange juice; the stuff we had this time came from a liquid dispenser, not a juicer. The real stuff might be back in late Spring or early Summer when the oranges are harvested? Disappointed at no longer being able to get cappuccinos in the Buffet, you now have to get this fan-favourite and much talked-about delicacy at the lobby bar (oh well…..sigh).

The Japanese restaurant (Azia) was closed for renovations. The Spa Suites pool-side snack bar becomes an a-la-carte at dinner time and the name changes to ‘Steakhouse’. The Park Suites pool-side snack bar becomes an a-la-carte at dinner time also and the name changes to the ‘International’. The seafood restaurant, once called La Punta del Pirata, is now called the Mediterranean. The Villas restaurant, once called the Royal Club Gourmet, is now called the El Colonial. They’ve added an open-air buffet-style lunch time restaurant at Playa Megano. A similar restaurant near Ensenachos beach was almost ready to open near the Villas. The change to ‘family’ status obviously changes the dynamics/atmosphere/nuance in the restaurants. But let’s not go there.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: Both beaches are amazing but Megano has always been and always will be my forever #1, hands-down, over the top, favourite beach of all time, anywhere…..period. I could write chapters about these beaches (especially my beloved Megano) but that would cause me to stray from the intended purpose of this narrative, which is to compare the beaches under Occidental with the beaches under Iberostar. Oh my, where to begin? OK, the long wooden walkway from the front of the main building to Megano beach has been rebuilt. That’s a good thing. Both beaches now have children, strollers, carriages, and loud music playing and more garbage strewn about. On Playa Megano, half the palapas are missing (damn hurricane Sandy!) But we’re still wondering why none of these palapas were replaced during our whole 2 weeks there? While we were there if you didn’t get your towel down to Playa Megano by 6:00 in the morning, forget about securing that most savoured and coveted prize on the whole darn beach – the palapa located furthest from the above-mentioned #*@^ loudspeakers!! Grrrrr. Anyway, besides the kids, extra garbage and loud music, beach entertainment recruiters (as mentioned above under “ENTERTAINMENT”) go around trying to get you to do stuff, the west end of Megano beach is narrower and covered with sharp tiny sea shells that threaten to cut your feet (Sandy again?), and food is no longer served right to your palapa. (Boy, were we ever spoiled by Occidental!!)

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
A little more live music in the main lobby at night now. The piano, once located in the main lobby, can now be enjoyed in the lobby bar. Sometimes live music will be found in the new beach-side open air restaurants at lunch time, a nice touch. Unless it’s beach night, large spectacular music and dance entertainment still takes place in the Auditorium each night. Very talented and hard-working group. And of course now there’s the beach entertainment crew who try various things to keep you from getting bored, including cranking up the ol’ loud speakers. (Somebody pull the plug please!)

Other Comments: Seems to be a serious effort to boost service. Iberostar "service cops" as I came to call them, sporting the Iberostar gold-colored sport coats and 2-way radios, were in full view during our stay, especially in the Buffet and even conducting walkabouts throughout the resort. They busied themselves with everything from seating/greeting/chatting-up/glad-handing the guests, monitoring the restaurant staff, bus boy duties, and keeping a close eye on quality control (I watched one of them go to every vacant table in the Buffet, flipping up every coffee mug on each table so he could look inside each one to ensure it was clean). One big difference with service now…..no concierge at each bungalow anymore. Any issues guests have, or to book your a-la-cartes, you now deal with the Public Relations office or the Reception folks. But generally, more and better service throughout the resort now, including at the restaurants, bars, beaches and pools. Great job.

To summarize, at least according to our 2 weeks of observations, you now have a resort trying harder to make more money (i.e., opening up to the ‘family’ market), trying to run a tighter ship, trying to keep a tight rein on costs (perks for return guests have been cut back), and trying to enhance service. Guests with young children are the big winners here; the losers are those folks who used to look forward to their annual pilgrimage to this once pristine, quiet, peaceful, romantic, and special place. Where can they go now to find a value-priced adults-only resort island location with 2 long spectacular postcard-like, picture-perfect beaches and no competing resorts? Heck, I’ll bet they won’t even find a resort that matches this description with even just ONE such beach. Major loss, mega-HUGE disappointment…..I wish them all the luck in the world. Hasta luego.

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