Janet at Marlin travel in Montreal (514-305-0851) recommended this place to me and it was a great recommendation. Although the food and drinks were not good, the resort itself was great. I went for a week from Dec 15 to 22 with my 11 yo daughter and 13 yo son and we all loved it. This all inclusive resort is great for families. The 1 and 2 story bungalows are easily accessible and the beautifully landscaped pathways between the bungalows make it a pleasure to walk. The resort is right on the beach. The people are very friendly and there are lots of things to do for the kids. The beach is superb and my daughter collected shells all week.
The exchange on Canadian to Cuban money was a bit steep, but then we did not go to spend money. For 100$ Canadian I got 92$ Cuban pesos. Basically 1$ is 1 pesos.
We were picked up by bus and had a short 20 minute ride to the resort.
Rooms: The rooms are not very luxurious. The resort seems old and the buildings are in reasonable shape. The bathroom is not fancy but reasonable and functional. The rooms are comfortable and are equipped with a TV with quite a few channels (not that you are going to spend your vacation watching TV). A mini bar is filled with free beer, soft drinks and bottled water. It is refilled every day (for free).
The upper rooms have a large balcony with table and chairs. The lower rooms have patios.
Restaurants and Bars: We only ate at the buffet and the snack bar. Hamburgers, hot dogs, Cuban style pizza, ham and cheese sandwiches and fries were the main stay for my kids. As a vegetarian myself it was a bit harder but the buffet had fruits and veggies. The food was not fancy or even very good, just acceptable, but then Cuba is not known for its food.
Beer and water were abundant. Piña coladas and daiquiris are made with powder and syrups, so they aren’t worth drinking. Other hard drinks were better. But for the kids, they had all the soft drinks they wanted. Juice was not good quality and seemed like chemical juice. The only real juice I found was at the buffet fruit table where there is usually a Cuban girl with a small juicer.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach is superb, although not very wide, it is long. And everyone seems to stick together in one spot, so we moved a couple about 100 feet away from everyone and had a large open area to ourselves. You can walk out into the ocean a couple of thousand feet at maximum waist height before it gets deep. The ocean floor is mostly just white sand and the water is so clear you can see everything right out till the deep section. Occasional underwater beds of seaweed are sparse and few rocks or rough parts. Most of the ocean area is soft white sand under your feet. The resort pool is large and has a section for kids and a volley ball net. It also has an in-pool bar. There are ample lawn chairs and two bars to get drinks. There is also a bar on the beach so you can refill quickly. There are also always a few waiters and waitresses who will take your orders and walk them to your towel if you are too lazy to get up and get your own drinks and burgers. They do this for tips.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: There were lots of things to do… snorkeling equipment can be used for free. Paddle boats, kayaks, and windsurfers can be used for free. A 1 hour horse back ride on the beach cost us 10$ (pesos) per person, while a horse drawn carriage ride to an old Cuban village farm cost us 5$ per person. We also went for a day excursion to swim with Dolphins. This cost us 60$ per person which also included 2 drinks and a great seafood lunch at Pilar beach, about 30 minutes from the resort. It was worth the 60$ per person. You can buy photos of your kids swimming with the dolphins for 10$ per photo or for about 30$ they will burn you a DVD with photos and movies since there are 2 photographers taking pictures non stop while you are in a group of about 15 swimming with the dolphins for about 30 minutes. My kids loved it. Then after the dolphins they take you to Pilar beach where there is a simple seafood restaurant and you have a choice of Lobster, Fish, Chicken or Pork served with rice and tomato slices. The Lobster and Fish were so good my son had 2 extra plates at 8$ each. The meal was good.
The people working at the resort are all very friendly. The baggage handlers are a bit pushy cause they want your tip. But for the most part, the staff will serve you with a smile without asking for a tip. We always ate at the same table in the buffet restaurant so that we always had the same people serving us for all meals. I did not tip until the second to last day when I decided it was time to thank them for their continued smiles and friendliness even though I never tipped prior to this. Leaving 1 or 2$ per meal tip is ok, but 5$ is better. Remember it is an all-inclusive resort, you are not required to tip, so when you tip, you are tipping because you appreciate their effort.