Well, we have just returned from 2 wonderful weeks at Melia Cayo Coco. Here is the review of our holiday, I hope it doesn’t get too long.
Flight: We flew out of Manchester UK with Thomas Cook Airlines. We had paid extra for the Premier Class seats (always worth it). The flight was good, excellent service from the crew, good meals and a reasonable choice of films to watch. We enjoyed Champagne about 6 hours into the flight to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We arrived safely at Jardines Del Rey at approx 4.30pm local time. Collected our baggage without any problems, changed our money at the exchange booth in the baggage collection hall and got straight onto the air conditioned coach.
On the coach we were given a slip to fill in to speed up check in at the hotel, along with our welcome letter etc. We made the short journey to the hotel – only about 10 mins away.
On arrival at the hotel we were greeted by the dancers and a glass of champagne, along with a cool flannel to freshen up. Check in was painless and prompt. The reception area is lovely and very well kept. Our first impression of the hotel was very good.
We were lucky enough to get a free upgrade to a Lagoon Room, we were in room 3311 which is a ground floor room. The room was extremely clean and spacious with all the facilities you could need. CD player, minibar, TV, Iron & Board, Umbrella, Cosmetic pack, Safe, coffee maker etc. It was a lovely quiet room with a large balcony with table, chairs and sunloungers. We saw some beautiful sunrises from our room and we were popular with the fish in the lagoon as we could feed them from our balcony. Our lovely maid Dayami did a great job of making up the room, and we always had swans, flowers etc.. She even wrote a Happy Birthday message for my husband, as she had seen all his birthday cards in the room. The resort appears to be quite large, but from our room it was only a 2 minute walk to anywhere on the complex. We were thrilled with the location of our room.
This is were we spent most of our time… The beach is quite narrow, but beautifully clean. The staff are out there every morning collecting any seaweed etc.. and they get the sunloungers out for you and clean them up. There are plenty of palapas, and we never had a problem finding shade. The sea was gorgeous… crystal clear in the first week and it was so warm it was like getting into a bath. There are lots of fish to see just 1metre from the shore, and they often ate bananas straight from our hand. There is a beach bar and a diving centre with watersports equipment all included of course. There are showers located on the edge of the beach for cleaning off sand etc. There was a nice breeze at the beach which was definitely needed as the temp in the first week was 35 degrees. The gardeners would bring coconuts down to the beach and serve them with a bit of rum (of course), they didn’t expect a tip for this but we did always give them a couple of pesos.
Pool: About 3 weeks before travelling to cuba we received a letter stating that the pool would be closed for the first 3 days of our holiday. We were initially quite disappointed about this, but decided that we would still have the gorgeous beach. However, on the night of our arrival we were thrilled to see that the work was complete and the pool was already being refilled. So it did not affect us at all. We spent most morning on the beach, and afternoons by the pool. The pool is very clean, and the surrounding areas are constantly being tidied up. It isn’t a very deep pool, so swimming and diving isn’t really possible. This didn’t bother us as we only casually drift around to cool down, whilst sipping a cocktail.
There are plenty of sunbeds, but only a few areas of shade by the pool. There was absolutely no sunbed reserving going on, so finding a bed at any time of day was not a problem. This may be because the hotel was only about ½ full, but it was nice to not have to rush around to get a bed. Some days one of the staff would come round and hand out cool flannels, ice-cream or champagne. Which we thought was a lovely touch.
Food: There were 3 restaurants open during our stay. The Buffet, The Italian, and The International overlooking the lagoon. We ate at all of them and can honestly say we always had great food. There was lots to choose from and the staff in the restaurants are very efficient. In the main buffet restaurant located next to the lobby, you could choose from prepared dishes, or pasta & meats/fish cooked to your liking in front of you. We never had a bad meal at this hotel. The Italian was also good, particularly the Tomato Soup… delicious. The pizzas and pasta dishes were also very good. We only ate in the International once, but again we could not fault the food or service we received. There is also a snack bar located next to the pool, which serves sandwiches, pizza, fries etc. I think this is open 24 hours, but we only used it late afternoon for a snack. There is also a beach grill, located just off the beach. We thoroughly enjoyed having our lunch here every day. You could choose from chicken, fish, pork, burgers, squid, tuna or just a salad. They were cooked fresh and brought to you by the chef. The waiters were excellent and there is a group of musicians who walk around and play/sing songs to everybody.
So all-in-all we thought the food was excellent, and always had plenty to choose from. I can’t believe anyone could find fault with it. Ok, so you probably won’t find a fillet steak like at home…. But you won’t find better fish dishes anywhere!
We had exceptional service at all the bars at the Hotel. But we spent a lot of time in the billiard bar. Hello to Orlando, the best cocktail maker. Lots of drinks to choose from. The wine was nice, as was the champagne, and Orlando made us different cocktails all the time. He is a lovely man, so pleasant and really takes pride in his job. There were some international brands included, but you had to pay extra for the likes of Jack Daniels etc.
Now then, the Animation team. FABULOUS! We had such fun with them all, they are so talented and are great fun. We enjoyed the Archery, Volleyball, Dancing Lessons etc. The shows performed by the dancers were really good, they are the best dancers I’ve seen anywhere. They put so much time and effort into the performances. We had a great evening at the beach party, where they tried to teach my husband & I to dance, bless them they have so much patience, we’ve both got two left feet. But we had a great night, joining in the games. This team are a credit to the Hotel, and we came away feeling like had made friends for life with many of them. They came see to see us off when it was time to go home, and they genuinely wanted us to come back again. Thanks guys!
General stuff: Mozzies were about during our stay, the Hotel did fumigate the grounds morning and night but it was necessary to wear repellent. I suffered a few bites in the first couple of days, but after ditching my perfume for Deet – I didn’t suffer much after that. The Thomas Cook rep Maria was lovely, we didn’t really need her at all during our stay but if we had she was always close at hand. We feel that the best part of the holiday and the success of this hotel, is the staff. Everybody, and I mean everybody are so lovely and helpful. Always got a Happy smile, and nothing is too much trouble. The management are always wandering around the hotel, speaking to guests and generally mucking in. You can tell that this hotel is very well managed. The waiters are quick to clear tables and top up your drink, the gardeners are lovely and will make hats and birds for you. They keep the Gardens spotless and never stop working to keep the hotel so beautiful. The Reception staff are pleasant and helpful… I could go on and on… They are all absolute stars, every single one of them!
Would we return to this hotel…. Absolutely! It’s probably going to be a few years away though, because we need to make massive improvements to the house now. But I would recommend it to anyone!
Excursions: Speedboats –Via Thomas Cook Fabulous trip, only half a day. Situated just at the edge of Guillermo, we boarded the boats and went for a leisurely ride through the mangroves and then onto the location of the snorkelling. Here we saw many species of tropical fish, and spent about ½ hour feeding them. Then on the way back we let the boys drive, and thing got a little more speedy. Great Fun and good value for money. Just don’t drink too much the night before!!! Pilar Beach – (On our own) We caught the local bus to Cayo Guillermo (5 pesos each return) and spent the morning at Melia Cayo Guillermo. We also popped up the beach to look at the Sol and then went back to MCG to have lunch in the beach grill. We had a lovely meal overlooking the beach. We then went back to reception and asked for a taxi to Pilar Beach (again 5 pesos each return). The driver took us the 10 minute ride to Pilar Beach and agreed a time to collect us. We walked over the sand dunes and through the little bar onto the breathtaking beach. WOW, what a gorgeous place this is. We went 100yards to the right and the beach was deserted apart from us. It was so idyllic, we spent a couple of hours on the beach and swimming in the crystal clear sea. The beach is true powder white sand, just like a picture postcard, unspoilt perfection. We had a drink in the bar before returning to meet the taxi who was already waiting for us 5 mins early. So we then just spent ½ hour in the pool at MCG until the last bus arrived to take us back to Cayo Coco. It was a perfect day for very little cost. The Catamaran trip goes to Pilar Beach, but costs 89 pesos, and since my husband gets seasick doing it this way was ideal for us. Dolphin Deluxe – We were picked up at 7.40am by great air conditioned coach. We travelled across the Causeway to Moron/Ciego De Avila where we stopped for breakfast (included). Then we travelled across country to Sancti Spiritus (hope that is spelt right) where we got 15 mins to have a look around the town and see the Colonial Buildings in the square, and have a quick look on the market. Then we went onto Trinidad, where we stopped to look at a local pottery then onto a restaurant for lunch (included). After this we travelled about 1 hour to Cienfuego where we went for a sail around the bay before going to the Hotel for the night. The Hotel is a 3 star, not the luxury of the Melia but clean and comfortable for one night. The next day we were up for 7am to have breakfast and get to the Dolphinarium which is literally next door. Swimming with the Dolphins was an amazing experience that we will never forget. It made the long journey worthwhile. They are such gentle, intelligent creatures that clearly love the attention. We have some excellent pictures of us with the Dolphins, and they also did a show with 2 of them aswell as two sealions. It was very entertaining and we had a great time. After a short return to the Hotel for lunch and shower, we were back on the coach to visit the Ernesto Che Guevara memorial and Musuem in Santa Clara. This was very interesting, and our guide taught us an awful lot about the history of cuba, the revolution, and the way of life for cubans living on the main island. We got back to the hotel at about 7pm, it was a long two days but well worth it.
More excursions: Train Excursion – This is organised by the animation team at the hotel. It is 10 pesos each and the train takes you to the Wild Boar Caves, which is also a nightclub one night a week. Then we went to see the sand dunes over looking the “Forbidden Beach”, then we walked across the bay of “Flamenco Beach” to the bar at the other side. Here we had a drink and a sandwich (included) and the animation team sang us songs. Unfortunately by the time we got to the bar there was a big Storm so we didn’t get chance to spend time on the beach. We then got back on the train and back to the hotel for lunchtime. It is a nice little trip to spend half a day seeing the immediate surroundings of Cayo Coco.
Sunset – well this isn’t so much an excursion than a stroll down the beach, but each weds we went down to the rock to the left of the Sol Cayo Coco with a couple of the animation team. They took a couple of bottles of champagne which we drank whilst we watched the sunset. Very romantic, and costs absolutely nothing!