Grounds: The general upkeep of Memories Flamenco in Cayo Coco is not good. Many ornamental trees are dead or dying. The beach volleyball net is tied to a couple of small trees and droops a foot or two. It is unusable for off-the-net shots. The pool volleyball net is also an eyesore. The lawns are burnt from lack of water and the landscape has large holes and humps throughout the resort, consequently it is mowed with whipper snippers.
Their pool table was missing a pool ball and the cues had no cue tips. Building 4 needs an exterior paint job.
Arrival: Memories Flamenco Resort, Cayo Coco, Cuba Review March 5-19, 2015 Arrival at the hotel was excellent. Our suitcases were delivered to our room while we checked in. Orientation: On our first morning we attended the hotel orientation. Mr. Murphy is knowledgeable but speaks double speed with an accent so we understood almost nothing. It’s a pity, because this information is critical to begin enjoying your week.
You are well advised to learn at least a dozen common Spanish words because the Memories Flamenco staff understand very little English. Ola, …
Rooms: Room Facilities: An excellent Combination Lock Safe is provided in the room for your valuables Coffee Maker & Sometimes coffee in room Beer in fridge sometimes (catch them if you can) Bottled Drinking water in room sometimes (Catch them if you can) Passing Security Guards often talked all through the night keeping us awake. These rooms have poor acoustic design and sound echoes in the hallways for 2 seconds with a clap of the hands. Cuban maids can be heard throughout the day chattering constantly from the other end of these concrete residential buildings. We opted for no air conditioning with the patio door open instead, but this didn’t work the last couple of days because of the poorly fitting, difficult to move screen door. There were quarter inch gaps from poor door design. The mosquitoes were hungry. The small room fridge was so noisy that we put it out on the balcony for our entire visit. It sounded like a vacuum cleaner switching off and on every 5 minutes so you couldn’t hear the TV. The TV programming was above my low expectations. There were several English speaking channels and we sometimes got Canadian news and weather. We had nearly a meter of snow at home in the two weeks we were in Cuba. Did I mention the weather was perfect in Cuba 🙂 Our balcony view (Building 5) was of bushes and trees with a sliver of Atlantic Ocean at the horizon. Still beautiful when you can walk inside and out without sensing a temperature change. Good beach views are limited in Cayo Coco since the entire island was developed in the last 15 years, after Cuban beachfront environmental laws prohibit removing the beach trees so the shoreline will remain intact. There are 10 residential buildings, each with 21 rooms per level, or 63 rooms per building. Building 1 sits the highest above sea level and therefore has the best beach view on the ocean side. The resort-side view is also better because of this height advantage but these rooms are near the theater that will produce great noise till late at night. The buildings decrease in height above sea level gradually from building 1 to building 5 and the remaining 5 buildings are located inland. From Building 5 it is a half kilometer walk gradually uphill to the main lobby and cafeteria but it was a pleasant walk except for reasons mentioned later. Buildings 1-4 are more central, have a better view of the ocean or pools and the ocean side would also be quiet. The bathroom shower was warm at best (Building 5)if you picked the right time of day. The sink facet barely trickled water at busy times. There was a hair blower (it worked on max only) by the sink and it had a power converter for a 110 Volt razor or cell phone charger. You will need a 220V to 110 Volt power converter for curling irons, etc. Our room had an iron and ironing board (220V).
Restaurants and Bars: Food: The Snack Bar is your around the clock place to eat if you miss other venues. I ordered a Club Sandwich and got 2 slices of fat on a burger bun. The Snack Bar is home to dozens of birds that fly onto the tables before and after people eat, gathering up leftovers. They perch on the large light fixture suspended over top of the self-serve food table and these birds don’t wear diapers. We went there twice and never went back which meant we were hungry several times but waited for the cafeteria food. The cafeteria food is fair. Best to make a pre-check of each item with a small sample and go back for what is cooked properly that meal. The beef and pork are often severely overcooked, tough and dry. Try the fish and shellfish at your own risk. We live on fish at home but not in Cuba. Sometimes the fruit was good but they seem to pick their fruit before it ripens? The pineapple was always tough, tastless and completely inedible. The breakfast omelets are made while you wait and are worth waiting for (Ringo makes a good omelette. Get your drinks quickly because the glasses do run out. We each lost 6 pounds on our 2 week trip and we are small people. The acoustics are also poor in the cafeteria. Humming motors, people talking and live entertainment at supper add up to a rumbling environment. Sit on the sides for less noise. There are 4 A La Carte restaurants. Be sure to book them all. Their food is excellent. You will need to get to the booking desk early (the one that says "Diamond Club Only" but ignore that misnomer). Three of these excellent restaurants are connected to the cafeteria. The fourth is connected to the Snack Bar. This one has no sign so it took us 2 days to find it. We were booked to the A La Carte by the Snack Bar for 6 PM but they didn’t open till the line-up was long at nearly 6:30 PM. The next day we were 15 minutes late (as per Murphy’s apparent joke at orientation about relaxed Cuban time) and we were almost refused service. Be on time to those A La Carte’s by the Cafeteria. Bar Service: Very poor. After 2 pina colada’s with no alcohol, I asked for more alcohol. The bartender sprinkled a tablespoon on the top of the drink and pushed it my way. The 4th time I asked to have an ounce of rum in the glass before adding the mix. He poured half a glass of rum and added (now warm) pina colada mix. Every bartender has his own rules for mixing drinks. If you find a good one, hang onto him. Cerveza was our only recourse.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Safety: Walking on the walkways to move from place to place was very dangerous here. The service people were constantly zipping by with silent electric vehicles on a walkway that is just a foot or two wider than their vehicles. When one of these electric Honda-Civic-sized vehicles speeds by you unannounced from behind at 15 KMPH it leaves a very unsafe feeling. I spoke to two of the hotel managers about this and many of the vehicles slowed down, but not all. We walked next door to the Pestana Resort and further over to the Jardines Del Rey Resort and walking on their walkways was wonderful. All their service staff stopped and alerted you that they were going to pass, before proceeding. Beside Building 5 there is a large gazebo that is hazardous to be around. The boards are rotten and large broken holes are surrounded with rusty protruding nails. There were hundreds of young children that would be at risk if attempting to play on this decayed structure. I suggested to SunWing staff that this should be immediately barricaded and torn down very soon. Several of the wooden walkway boards going down to the beach were also rotten and the rail was quite loose. Part of it is now barricaded and bypassed near the beach. Most of the walkway lights were either broken off completely and missing with wires sticking out of the foundation or the lights were just not working. It was very dark at night walking between Buildings 6-10.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Weather: Perfect with no rain. Every day was 87 F (30 C) with a nice breeze. Cuban weather is absolutely perfect in mid-March. It can be cool in February and too hot starting late April. Our last 2 days saw mosquitoes coming out in the evening. This resort is surrounded by swamp so April is likely a great time for mosquito eating birds when the rainy season starts. Beach: The beach in front of the resort has sand next to the trees/bushes but all along the beach there is sharp outcropping coral as you go out into the water for a few dozen feet before sand reappears (like most resorts in Cayo Coco). However, going down to the beach and walking to the left (northwest) about half a KM is very rewarding. Here at low tide, just around the cove point, is the most perfect beach we’ve ever seen. Fifteen acres of pure white fine coral-based sand that you can walk on to your hearts content. We spent hours walking this beach and there’s another 15 acres of knee-deep-in-water area to be explored. The white fish birds and the pelican type birds are courteous to people as the birds soar and dive to capture numerous small fish from minnow size up to 7 inches. They add another great dimension to the most beautiful beach in the world. And though we never saw it advertised, there are 7 beautiful catamaran sailboats and several kayaks and paddle boats that are included in your all inclusive package in the Memories Flamenco and the Pestana Resort next door. They are located between the two resorts in a beach enclosure. Here is a great opportunity to sail with or without an instructor with perfect daily breezes on the warm south Atlantic. Money Exchange: Some people bought Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC’s) at the airport for a better rate before coming to the hotel. We had no time as our arrival was near midnight and all was a rush. We were charged 40% on CAD and 20% on USD at the Memories Flamenco bank. Strange because the CUC value is locked to the value of the USD. But you are on the island of Cayo Coco. In Veradero several years earlier we got par exchange for USD because independent exchange facilities were near the town of Veradero. This shouldn’t be a major factor unless you wish to spend CUC for excursions. We took the 5 CUC per person (7 CAD) bus ride to the island market. This market is much like a small garage sale but does allow you to see several gateway entrances to other hotels on the island.
Other Comments: Excursions: There are several excursions available from the Memories Flamenco (around 75 CUC) but we didn’t partake because of their unreasonable exchange rate. Examples- ~Jeep Safari ride into the Florencia Mountains where you can go on a horseback ride or tour a cigar factory. ~Take a trip into Moron, the nearest town and shop. ~Take a large catamaran cruise with open bar and interact with dolphins ~Go fishing ~There were also free scuba diving courses offered at the hotel and then if you were successful at this, you could go on a coral reef excursion. One of the best excursions in Cayo Coco is not advertised. If you can get 10 people or so together you can rent a minibus and go into the town of Moron (30 Minutes away). Your driver becomes your personal group guide for the day and he will go where you like. This mini-bus will cost about $160 CUC and you will have to buy food while gone. I saw a tourist driven minibike when at the market but there were no rentals near the Memories Flamenco. The maps of Cayo Coco are very vague so it would be difficult to navigate their wandering roads and Moron is likely close to an hour away via bike. Veradero is much better suited to this type of excursion. Years ago we traveled the entire Veradero peninsula in one day, stopping at several resorts. Then we took a quick trip into the near town of Veradero. Summary: I played smart phone Sudoku for entertainment. Their night theater entertainment is good but often too loud. Take some books or games to enjoy your leisure time. Internet service is available but only in a 20 foot circle in the main lobby via wifi. They will neglect to tell you that your 4.5 CUC one hour wifi service does not disconnect when you shut down your phone wifi. You need to manually disconnect your wifi account to halt their wifi one hour timer. I’ve heard other hotels in Cayo (pronounced Ki-oh) Coco have very slow internet service. The speed is good here if you stay in the circle. I met a tourist who purchased her internet data card in Canada before leaving. She had great internet service through this data plan and it would be much cheaper if you plan on keeping touch with home a great deal. Disregard any review that rates this resort at Star 4 or 5 (Totally Ridiculous). There is good and bad at this resort. We had a good time and it was difficult to come home even after 2 weeks. Have a good trip south.