My package was a Cubana flight actually operated by a Canadian carrier, Flare Airlines. At the Santa Clara airport I was met by a helpful and attentive tour rep named Midiala. As numbers didn’t warrant a bus, we traveled in a van-taxi to Cienfuegos, where check-in at Hotel Jagua was a breeze. I arrived very late at night. I didn’t mind hauling my own luggage, but at that hour there didn’t seem to be an alternative if anyone did mind.
Rooms: I was quite happy with my hotel accommodations. The room’s size, cleanliness, stylish modern-retro decor,the pool-side ambiance & unusually interesting lobby art were all positives at this hotel. The fact that my balcony door couldn’t be locked disturbed me a bit, although four stories up I was not at risk unless someone in another room was inclined to do some dangerous climbing. I heard (unconfirmed/second-hand) that another guest got a room change because her main door couldn’t be fully secured & she was not satisfied with the suggestion that hallway security cameras should be enough to put her at ease.
My room was cleaned sufficiently each morning. I am grateful that an item I thought I had lost downtown had actually dropped in the public hall outside my room door, was found & promptly returned by a cleaner without any inquiry on my part.
Restaurants and Bars:
My tour package was not AI, but did include the buffet breakfast. While the food in the breakfast buffet was pleasant (I loved the made-to-order omelets), staff seemed to avoid eye contact with anyone standing around looking confused/inclined to ask a question, and (except for the omelet chef) I never received any greeting or smile in the breakfast room. One day, when few guests were present, glasses and coffee cups disappeared from the juice & coffee stations 15 minutes before the breakfast closed. When finally one of the unoccupied staff standing nearby was acknowledged this, a glass was provided but I had to again separately request a cup in order to have coffee. Although the buffet was advertised until 10am, the door was closed much sooner, after that staff seemed more interested in each other than in guests. I did not eat other meals here so can’t comment on dinner. Last year I enjoyed excellent service during one light lunch at the outdoor bar-restaurant. My impression of the breakfast crew is that moral is lacking.
My favorite aspect of Hotel Jagua was the spectacular view every night from my 4th floor balcony: moonlit ripples on the bay, graceful palms circling the pool, the glow of the city skyline. The long dock & pleasant waterfront seating were great for relaxing, making the absence of a beach no concern to me.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
There were many European guests, and tour bus groups. A wide selection of excursions is offered.
CAUTION: Safe drinking water is NOT assured in this hotel without extra payment. For me, this significantly down-grades the credibility of this hotel as a high-status facility. Guests are ‘on-their-own’ in recognizing whether they face a health risk, and if they do, the hotel forces them to pay top dollar to avoid it. No bottled water is available in rooms, in from a filter machine. There is no message to visitors to indicate that water from the taps is either filtered for their safety, or might be a health concern. Knowing that in Cienfuegos local citizens boil tap water before drinking, I specifically asked hotel staff about it’s water (including a long-time member of the restaurant staff), and appreciated their honesty. When I asked for filtered or bottled water in the restaurant at breakfast, and again at the reception desk, I was directed to go to the bar. A SMALL bottle of water there cost $1.50. Filtered water was not available to me from either the bar or the restaurant. Canadians take free clean water for granted, which is a mistake in some places, but Cuban AI resorts who target this audience typically anticipate this need. An inexperienced traveler, one who expects hotel management to provide health information & solutions, or a guest unwilling to bear hidden costs for water, may want to stay away from the hotel.