I was at the MCG for a week, arriving on November 16, 2014. My previous visit there was in June 2002. This time, I was with my 9-year old son. It was my 25th trip to Cuba.
Building 1, 3rd Floor
Check-in was quick, but that was because we had taken a cab from the airport (30 CUC). Maikel the bellhop showed us to our room. Before my trip, I had sent an email requesting a 3rd floor room in a quiet area, near the kids club if possible. The wonderful Marily told me they’d accommodate my request, and that’s exactly what happened. Coincidentally, I was assigned the same room as 12 years ago (#1306). When we entered, there was a puddle of water on the floor in front of the door and the sink, likely because of the air conditioner that had been fixed. Maikel made a phone call to ask for maid service, and two camareras arrived within 2 minutes. We went to grab a dessert at the buffet before it closed and when we got back, the mess had been cleaned up.
The room is spacious and was kept very clean by the wonderful Tamara. The room faced an inner courtyard near the kids club and dive center. A very quiet area, we slept like logs all week. The AC was very effective. Lots of storage throughout the room.
Restaurants and Bars: FOOD & DRINKS: The food was plentiful and of a great variety. Honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can complain about the food there. There were only 200 clients when during our stay, because half the resort was closed due to the fact that the air conditioning was broken in the right wing. Each meal, the buffet was set out as if the resort was full. Dinner included pasta made to order and two grill stations. The lobby bar is open 24-hours (drinks and coffee), as is the pool restaurant (drinks and snacks, no coffee). For lunch, you have four options: the buffet, the pool restaurant, the Ranchon and the beach grill. I only went to the Italian à la carte and I was disappointed with the pasta arrabiata, but my son loved his cheese pizza! The ambiance there was nice, but the service wasn’t the most attentive, and we opted to go to the buffet for dessert. To my son’s delight, ice cream was always available at the buffet and also at the pool restaurant (until 5:00 p.m.). A beer garden is being built near the beach bar.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: POOL The pool isn’t very big, but one area is fairly deep (1m40, in front of the pool bar). The liner bunches up in places, but the pool is clean. The place is pretty packed as of mid-afternoon. It must be difficult to find a lounger there during high season. It’s a lovely area, there is a great atmosphere, and I love the fact that you can see the ocean from the pool area! BEACH Lots and lots of seaweed, likely because of high winds during the week. During our stay, the seaweed was not raked every day: no clean up on Friday and Saturday, then the noisy and smelly tractor set to work at mid-day on Sunday. I would expect better maintenance from a Melia. At low tide, beautiful sandbars form, and people take their loungers there. Unfortunately, most clients are not responsible or considerate enough to put the loungers back on the beach when they are done, resulting in loungers floating in the water and covered with seaweed when the tide rises again. On Saturday night, we counted 22 loungers left in the water – and that’s just what we could see from the pier! On Sunday morning, other guests were pulling the chairs out of the water and clearing them of seaweed. Also, many guests leave their plastic cups on the beach even though there are lots of garbage bins all along the beach. Perhaps this doesn’t happen all the time, but if it’s a regular occurrence, the Melia should assign a beach attendant to make up for the inconsiderate behaviour of guests. The beach area is lovely, but it must get very crowded when the resort is full. There was also lots of grass in the water, and unfortunately, there was garbage too – I’ve never seen so many plastic bags and plastic debris on any other beach in Cuba… You can’t fault the resort for that though. KITE SURFERS Lots of them, mostly near the Cojimar resort. Almost all stayed away from the beach in front of the Melia. They are told they cannot come inside the area delimited by the length of the pier, but one of them did, he came very close to the beach and he was actually laughing as he swerved at the last minute to avoid swimmers and the pier…! He did this several times. The regular lifeguard (the excellent Sammy) was at lunch and the second lifeguard was chatting away with the guys at the catamaran hut, it took him a while to react. Only one other came close a couple of days later, he was closer to the Sol CG. Several kite surfers arrived at the MCG on Friday night and as they were setting up their equipment on the beach on Saturday, the security guard came out and clearly explained to them that they couldn’t surf near the beach.
Apparently, kite surfers are told they will have to pay a fine if they hit a swimmer, but that’s no consolation to anyone who gets hit by that board!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: WI-FI: Available in the lobby at the cost of 4.50 CUC per hour. It was a bit tricky to log on the first time (one of the reception employees assisted me), but after that, it was very easy. Make sure to sign out of the session, there are instructions on how to do this taped to the reception desk. Loading and ready email was very quick (I use Gmail), as was Facebook. I tried Facetime, the connection was just too slow. KIDS CLUB: Conveniently located near the beach. The attendant, Noelkis, is just awesome and she speaks English well. She was there as of 10:30 a.m., an activity was organized between 11:00 and 12:30, she was back at the kids club from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., then there was a final activity (game) at the pool at 4:00 p.m. There is no play structure outside the kids club, I believe the resort is in the process of replacing it. ANIMATION:
There was animation at the beach and around the pool in the morning. Nothing intrusive. I never went to a show at night, so I can’t comment on that.
Resort employees: EMPLOYEES The resort’s staff was truly great – and you can imagine my surprise when two of them remembered me from 12 years ago! In fact, I found the staff to be one of the resort’s best assets. I couldn’t possibly name everyone, but among the standouts were Barbara and her colleagues at the pool restaurant – they were just awesome! But honestly, all the employees were great. Only one employee solicited me to sell me jewellery as I was heading to my room one time. I didn’t appreciate being hassled, but I chose not to report him, as he wasn’t impolite, just a bit persistent. I’m glad it only happened once though! The reception staff is probably the best I’ve seen in all my trips. Each and every one of them was courteous and professional. Kudos to the entire team. It was very easy to change money whenever I wanted, there was always change, and it was very easy to arrange for late check-out. I paid to keep our room until 5:00 p.m., as we were scheduled to leave for the airport just after 6:00 p.m. We took a cab again. If you want to do that too, it is highly recommended to reserve a cab ahead of time. I arranged this with the customer service department. Shout out to Sammy the lifeguard, he speaks excellent English and he is the most professional lifeguard I have met in Cuba. I also had the pleasure of meeting Carmen Yamely who manages the hotel’s Facebook page, she was very friendly.
CONS: CONS: The room I had definitely needs to be renovated, it was not worthy of a Melia. Our room was kept very clean by our wonderful camarera, but the mattresses were very soft; the blankets I found in the closet gave me the impression they hadn’t been washed in a while; the fridge was dirty and dented on the outside and one of the racks was broken inside; the bathroom was in sorry shape (stained and chipped tub, rods falling off the towel rack, very poor shower head, fan on its last legs, very low pressure and no hot water in the sink, toilet needed to be flushed for a long time to be totally emptied…). Small irritants if you are prepared for them, but if I had paid top dollar for the trip (as many people do in high season), I would have been upset. The garden ponds are beautiful, but they are a prime spot for mosquitoes and jejenes (“no see-ums”). I haven’t been this bitten in years, and I saw many people with lots of mosquito bites during the week. It’s worse near the lobby at daybreak and at dusk (including the lobby bar’s outdoors sitting area), but I got bitten at the pool at midday as well.
The washrooms in the lobby were clean, but the toilets often didn’t work well (leaking, clogged).
Would I return again? Maybe, it would depend on the price. I’m not sure I would go in high season though, as space is limited at the beach and the pool, and some areas would probably feel a bit crowded for my taste. If I were to return though, one of the top reasons would be the employees – I enjoy receiving good service during my vacation, and the MCG certainly delivers in that regard.