This was my third trip to Cuba, having stayed in Cayo Coco and Varadero previously. I have also stayed at resorts in Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St Lucia and the Cayman Islands.
We booked through Signature Vacations – they made a last minute change to our original flight that was supposed to be direct to Santa Clara from Ottawa. Signature did make things right very quickly, and changed our flight, at no charge, to direct from Montreal.
Your Arrival: DEPARTURE FLIGHT Anyone who has travelled out of Montreal Airport will surely know how busy that airport can be. You must get to the airport at least three hours prior to your flight. I would actually recommend four to avoid some of the lines. We flew Air Transat – they had three flights leaving for the Caribbean the morning we left. If the option is available, spend the $80 to upgrade to first class. Well worth the money, as there is no wait for check-in, your bags get priority; there is a separate line for security, first on and off the plane, and more spacious seats and better meals. Air Transat crew were great. Not complaints about the flights. ARRIVAL – SANTA CLARA AIRPORT We went through the Cuban customs and security check quickly, grabbed our bags (which were the first off the plane due to the upgrade to first class) and we were greeted by a Signature Vacations rep who told which bus to board. We were then greeted at the bus and given our welcome package which included our hotel passport (room number and map), some other papers and our room key cards. I must admit, this is the most brilliant thing ever! As soon as you arrive at the hotel, you can proceed directly to your room – no long dysfunctional line-up for check-in. Our bags had arrived before we made it to our rooms. TRANSIT – AIRPORT TO RESORT – 90 MINUTES Very comfortable ride in an air-conditioned bus. The 90 minutes passed very quickly. ARRIVAL – MELIA LAS DUNAS We were greeted by the entertainment team and given a cocktail right off the bus. Since we had received our welcome package before boarding the bus, we were able to immediately proceed to our rooms.
Rooms: ROOM I would say that the room is your average Caribbean resort room. Nothing spectacular, but adequate enough for the week. Room was clean, plenty of hot water. We did have to ask for a change of towels. There is a small fridge in the room, where staff replenishes bottled water, canned pop, and beer daily. The maid cleaned daily, however she did not go over and above as we have seen in other resorts (Cuba, Dominican, and Jamaica).
Restaurants and Bars: BUFFET Most people who visit Cuba know that you don’t go to Cuba for the food. The Buffet had some decent stuff, and some less than decent stuff. We did not starve however. If you can get your hands on the little sugar doughnuts at the breakfast buffet, they are fantastic! LOBBY BAR We found ourselves relaxing at the lobby bar most evenings after dinner. Drinks were good, and the waitresses worked very hard. RESTAURANTS Beer Garden – we had lunch there one day, food was ok, and hamburgers were a little undercooked for our taste. Pool Snack Bars – flatbread pizzas were great. Ice Cream Bar – as stated in other reviews, the ice cream is really good. À LA CARTE RESTAURANTS Romantico – Was very good. I had the beef and others had the chicken. No complaints. Service was extraordinary – international wines were available for a modest additional cost (i.e. Australian Shiraz for $9 CUC). Pizzeria – The calzones were amazing! Service was great.
Italian – Italian was ok. We felt that there was a rush to get us out.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: POOLS Were much too cold. BEACH
Cuba beach – no need to say anymore.
Other Comments: DEPARTURE Departure was fairly painless. 90-minute bus ride back to the airport. We purchased the VIP package from our rep at the hotel and enjoyed it thoroughly. It costs $20 CUC per person but gave you a special check-in, special waiting room with couches and full all-inclusive bar and restaurant and first on the plane. This was a great option as it made the wait go by very fast. Highly recommended. Once again, we also upgraded to first class for $80 Cdn. If you choose this option at the airport, be sure to have Canadian cash – they do not take credit or CUC. NEGATIVES 1 – For us, the resort was too large (950 rooms, potentially up to 2500 people on the resort at any one time). We are used to smaller resorts where there is more focus on customer service. While we felt that the resort was too large for our liking, it is very spread out and does not necessarily feel as large as it actually is. Prepare yourself for lots of walking however. 2 – I hate to say this, but many of the Quebeckers at this resort made Americans look good! They were loud, obnoxious, rude to both the staff and other patrons, did not respect others that are also on holidays nor did they have respect for the children that may be around (i.e. women taking off their tops at the family pool, swearing, lewd behaviour and smoking around the kids). 3 – While they tell you that the water (tap, ice, drinks) has been filtered – which I do not doubt one bit, the water is transported by truck to the resorts. I suspect that somewhere during the transport process, it becomes contaminated. As such, every one of us got the tropical trots on more than one occasion. I did also see quite a few people taking Imodium near the end of the week. Having been to Cuba twice before, I never encountered this problem. OVERALL
This resort is more like a 4-star, even by Cuba standards. If you don’t mind large resorts, this is a pretty good bang for the buck. This is just not the resort for me.