We traveled from February 13 to the 27th. The weather was not the best and as we found out in conversation with most of the locals we met, it was unusually cool and rainy for the season. It may have been the effect of El Nino on the Caribbean as most of our friends that traveled the same time to other countries experienced the same. Although this is our first review we are seasoned travelers having been to Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, Trinidad Tobago numerous times and have always enjoyed our travels and experiences. If you are a picky eater or are expecting to eat MacDonald’s or other fast foods, stay home. Most of the reviews we have read always seem to complain about the food, guess what… you are not in Canada anymore. Most of the Caribbean countries have different tasting vegetables, fruits and meat because of the conditions they are grown in. The best part of traveling is experiencing the different cuisines of the world.
So if you want to share our experience read on
Arrival was very smooth with an informative and entertaining 45 minute transfer from the airport with a few stops along they way at other resorts. Check in was quick with the bellman taking our bags up to the room. The hotel does have an earthy odor about it due to the atrium and the hanging vines that go from the top floor to the ground, most city people mistake this for musty moldy smell.
We stayed on the 4th floor 4500 wing and had a northeasterly partial Ocean view. The room as stated in other reviews is not large, but is very nice. The king size bed was as Caribbean usual – 2 twin beds put together. It was quite firm but after a couple of nights we never noticed it. The bathroom was small but laid out nicely with a very deep tub/shower. Lots of hot water all the time! Maid service was excellent with towel art everyday. We made sure to tip her in person and she was always most appreciating of the tip. We were above the Disco but the noise never kept us from falling asleep.
Restaurants and Bars: There were 3 A La Carte restaurants – the Fuerteventura (International), the Las Reses (Steakhouse), The Oshin (Sundays Only)and the Trinidad (Seafood) and the main buffet- Las Habanas. we tried all 3 of the A la Cartes and found the Trinidad and the Fuerteventura to be the best, neither of us cared for the steakhouse. The Oshin, Chinese restaurant was a very pleasant surprise! The Trinidad was also available to dine for Lunch as well as a Paella restaurant that was open during good weather. There is also a snack bar on the beach that serves some basic foods, hamburger, hot dogs chicken. We ate there for most of our lunches when we were on the beach. The Las Habanas buffet was okay. There was always something on the buffet that was good as well as something not so good and as with most of the buffets we have ate at the food tended to be lukewarm. Such is the joy of eating at a buffet in a foreign country. The Guantanamera was the 24 hour snack bar the cappuccinos were a joke, they just used coffee from a 40 cup urn and added hot milk and foam, this was not what we came to expect of the fine Cuban Coffee. The food was typical snack bar fare and quality. The pool bar was always fast with the drinks as was the beach bar, but the highlight of our trip was enjoying drinks before and after dinner at the Las Palmas Piano bar, Orfilio makes the best Mojitos ever.
The shows at the Showbar were first rate excellent real live singers and the dance troupe were better than at the Tropicana in Havana. After the shows the Tennerif bar opened as the Disco and ran till 2:00AM, We went one night and found it catering more towards the European crowd that was there, long lineups for drinks, and mostly European Techno music.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Pools and Grounds were always kept clean by the maintenance staff that were always out very early in the morning. I was amazed at the lack of respect the travelers from other countries had in regards to their garbage, most would leave the plastic cups, empty coconuts and whatever laying under and around their loungers attracting ants and other bugs, then complaining about getting bitten.
The beach was gorgeous, lots of sand to walk out on in the water, very little ocean growth (I wouldn’t call it weeds). As with the other areas on the north coast of Cuba when a cold front comes in so do the Jellyfish, they ranged in size from 2cm to 15 cm with very long stinger strings 0.25m to 2m long. They were a blueish color and were fairly easy to spot on the beach and in the water. We did enjoy a number of mornings on the beach before the heavy clouds moved in.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We took the Taxi to Vardero a couple of times for shopping and site seeing. We also took in the Havana/Tropicana tour, we really enjoyed the tour of Havana but were very disappointed with the Tropicana Show, we had t site at the very back with our backs to the stage with not enough room to move – definitely a waste of our time and money, all the shows at the resort rated much better.
We also did the Catamaran trip. This was also a waste of money, left the dock around 9:30am and cruised out to the Dolphin compound to "swim" with the dolphins. This was a laugh, all you do is put on a life jacket and stand on a platform as a dolphin is floated past you, and pecks you on the check. Then we were off to enjoy snorkeling after a 30 minute trip we stopped and were allowed to snorkel for all of 30 minutes, then we went to have lunch at Cayo Blanco. Lunch was good but after we just stayed there for around 2 hours on their beach, uh… we had one of those at our hotel. The crew was very entertaining, the catamaran was immaculately kept, lots of drinks, they just need to allow more time for snorkeling and cut back on the beach time.
Other Comments: The maintenance guys gather coconuts and work the booth serving them to guests and are deserving of any tips given. We tipped generously (10 to 15 CUC a day) and found the personnel very welcoming of the money and we genuinely received a higher level of service as a result. This amount spread over the buffet servers, the maids, the A La Carte servers, the bartenders. This did not amount to a lot of money at the end of the trip but was an investment to our happiness traveling, think about it… when you go to a bar or out to dinner in Canada do you tip? So why not at an all inclusive resort?
In conclusion we did really enjoy our stay in spite of the disappointing excursions and the cool cloudy weather.