I read many, many posts before I chose to go to Melia Las Dunas. And after being there I have only one thing to say about my experience . . . Dream. It was so perfect that it was like a dream. People, I suggest that you go there with an open heart and mind. There is no perfect place in this world. If I had to complain about anything on my trip, and I’m being honest, it was that I didn’t do enough (activities, sight-seeing). But this particular vacation was to just simply relax with little movement. Lol!
Arrival: Once we arrived at the airport, we converted our money into CUC’s. It was easy to locate our bus. From airport to getting on the bus was very well organized. Once on the bus, we received our envelope which contained our bracelets, room number and key cards and information about the resort and cocktail info for the second night. The ride to the resort was informative. Our “tour guide” informed us of the history of the towns we went through, culture, way of life, etc. The 90 minute ride did not seem long at all. The bus stopped on the causeway at one point and backed up so that we could watch 2 dolphins swim close to the shoreline. Our arrival at the resort was spectacular for me. The place is grand and beautiful! There were glasses of rum punch waiting for us, music and people dancing. Our luggage was unloaded and delivered to our rooms. We walked to our rooms and arrived 2 minutes before our luggage. Note that you can convert additional money at the lobby. Note: in the envelope there is a little pamphlet. It contains the map of the resort, your room number, arrival and departure date. Do not lose it. I stress again . . . do not lose it. You will need it to get a blue pool towel. And you will need it again when you return it or to change it at the end of the day. Next time I’d bring a zip-lock bag for the pamphlet to keep it dry, etc.
Cool and clean. We turned our air conditioner off during the day to conserve energy. It was always turned back on for us near the end of the day. Don’t be surprized if you find a gecko in your room. They are harmless and you really don’t want to freak out about having one in your room, because the spray that they use in the room to chase it away (if you request it), will chase you away. Again, they are harmless. Welcome them. Some people in other blogs have complained that the rooms smell musty. Understand that it’s very humid in Cuba. It’s so humid that it took 2.5 days to dry 2 articles of clothing that I hand washed. I was very pleased with our rooms. They would also come by every day in the late afternoon or just before 5pm and restock your fridge with pop, water, wine, rum, etc.
Restaurants and Bars: I don’t care what anybody says about the food, I loved it! Enough to have gained 10 pounds! I made a point to try anything and everything new. Some people stuck to the same foods that they would normally eat back home. I only had difficulties with the Sea Food A La Cart and the Steak House. I was expecting what we normally eat back home. The lobster served is similar to scampi. Everything my husband ordered, he loved! The steak house was not to my liking as their beef just simply tastes different than ours. However, on that note, there was beef cooked different ways at the buffets that I simply couldn’t get enough of! Buffets were plentiful. We found that if we went later, the lines were shorter. If you want something cooked fresh in front of you, then you’ll have to wait for it. For example the pasta bar, fresh cooked chicken of fish, etc. Families with young children and teens usually arrived first, understandably. There were two buffet restaurants. One had dim lighting and natural air while the other was more family oriented, air conditioned, large area with a greater variety of food. I personally loved the food there but sat and dined on the other side with the natural air. Breakfast was a favourite in our group of 4. Homemade waffles and omelettes and smoothies. Again, if you want the fresh made you will have to wait. Towards the end of the trip, our friend tried daily to perfect a napkin rose that the “waffle lady” made. She loved his attempts every morning. She even took him aside when the breakfast rush slowed and showed him how to make one step-by-step. We ate lunch daily at the little restaurant by our pool called the “Guarani.” They have excellent Calzones and poutine if you need a taste of home. Their pizza is cheesier than any I’ve have ever order back home. Look for our favourite waitress “Ingrid”. Beautiful young lady. I preferred the Cuban sandwich whenever I was hungry enough to eat. Breakfast usually tied me over until supper. The beach had a sandwich bar that served Cuban sandwiches which were awesome! Get them early before they run out of buns and you have to have them on bread. The 24 hour bar and snack shop “Manacas” is another good place to eat. Be sure to order a Blue-Lagoon drink. Awesome!
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Loved our pool and the pool bar. Javier, Renee and Dianna are the best! The beach was beautiful to walk along. Tropical fish and trumpet fish like shinny things and were going after my beads on my bathing suit. I could get them to jump out of the water after them. Note: that if you are into snorkelling, they usually have day old bread in a bag on the counter at the beach restaurant where they serve Cuban sandwiches. I see kids using it to feed the fish while they snorkelled. Lots of jelly fish, but they were harmless. We were told that if they were that close to shore that they were dead. Seen only one crab and it was the size of a Canadian Toonie. The grounds were beautiful. The gardens especially. There is a man who looks like he is hiding in the trees and garden near the lobby. Turns out it’s his workshop. There he will make the bouquets and decorations for wedding and table tops. Look close and you might find a blue snake.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: There are a lot of activities for the kids. There is a day care and an activity pool. Near the adult pool on the other side of the resort there is an activity area with bowling, Ping-Pong, archery, etc. There is a disco for teens, etc. We went on the catamaran. That was the highlight of the trip for me. But a few smoking tourists, had no respect for the rules. Please, please, please follow the rules they give you. They do and so should you The crew were very engaging and hard working. Engaged with the dolphins, swam/snorkelled in the coral reef. Next time I’d bring my own snorkel set. They also served appetizers after snorkelling. The island that we explored until lunch was ready was beautiful. You choose your lunch when you book the trip. Chicken or lobster. Lobster tails are what we are used to back home and not the scampi type. We had the chicken – which was roasted and seasoned to perfection. The lobster looked wonderful. Have your video camera ready and point it at the water when they throw the scraps over the side of the boat before you leave. The fish that jump and fight for the scraps are huge! Please bring money to tip the dolphin keepers, and the crew. I wanted to take the crew home! You will too when you see how hard they work! We seen a pod of dolphins and jelly fish of all sizes as we sailed. We attended the nightly shows on the resort at the main theater. A good variety. Entertainment for the kids prior and then the main show. We participated once during the day at the beach, but missed all of the other activities, only because we were sun worshippers. There was what I call a pretend town up from the resort. You can take a cab or the bus from the resort. Note: if you get your pictures taken with the dolphins, you have to go to this “town” to pick them up. We did not know this. We were told to pick them up at the resort. This little “town” has restaurants and little shops. Nightly entertainment and I think a disco. During the day in the center of it there was a little market. This is the only place to buy souvenirs other than the boutique on the resort. What they have is very beautiful, but not a lot of variety. But then we may have arrived too late. Some people think the restaurants here are free. No they are not. Bring your money.
If you need to communicate with people back home, there are phones which are very expensive and computer cards that you can purchase. Please don’t get frustrated with the computers. It’s like dial-up and very, very slow at times. Other times, it was fast. I found that using Facebook was the one sure way of getting in touch with everyone. It was obvious as I looked around the computer room that everyone else felt the same. It was fun to watch a group of teens who became friends at the resort and then add each other on their Facebook’s. We used the computer once per day just before we went to dinner for 10-15 minutes.
Other Comments: I have only 2 complaints. Number 1 complaint was the Tourists! They littered the beach, the walkways on the resort, the lobby. I mean how difficult is it to throw your cup in the garbage. If you are going to hang out at the beach or the pool then why not invest in a Bubba Keg, or another container to keep your beverages in. Save the environment. Cups and straws littered all over no thanks to lazy tourists. So tourist, don’t complain about this please. Clean up after yourself. The staff can only do so much, but we really have to do our part. Especially along the beach! My 2nd complaint was that my holiday was not long enough! I will be going back again, but this time with my children.
Make sure, make sure, make sure you attend the Air Canada briefing! Our representative Roberto was the best! The staff of Melia Las Dunas were the best. There isn’t a single person that I could complain about. From the time I landed to when I left. They were helpful, polite, engaging, understanding, and caring. It was hard to leave, because we developed a friendship with some of the staff.