We went with Sunwing Vacations who said it was a "Family Friendly Resort", not so much….. Let me begin by preficing this review by saying that it was not all bad, and that I will also point out some of the good things, but please read further to fully understand the concerns. Let’s see where do I start?? We pre-booked in Oct/09 as a group of 7 travellers, and asked for 3 separate rooms in the same building and we were not accomodated because their "resort was full". This was not the end of the world, but my parents ended up being stuck in a building full of young rowdy teenagers. This was a large spacious resort with beautiful grounds despite all of the messy Canadians who felt obliged to throw their garbage all over instead of using the many recepticles provided!!! After seeing this I found it disappointing to recognize myself as a Canadian for the first time in my life. The shuttle service was slow and at times non-existent, which was not a problem for myself, but my 73 year old mother found it difficult at times. This was especially true at night because the lighting was poor, but I also noted that a bunch of yahoo Canadian kids had ripped out the light posts all over the resort, and the maintenance staff could not keep up with all of the repairs needed. We found out the next day that there is a travel tour company (from Canada) called S-tours that caters to teenager’s looking for a "good time" in Cuba that uses this resort. This was a problem. I am not sure how the resort, Sunwing vacations, or anyone in fact thinks that mixing droves of drunk teenagers and families with young children is appropriate or "family oriented". My kids were treated to watching young scantily clad teenage girls (mostly from Montreal and Toronto) lie themselves on top of the pool bar (this is where the waterslide is by the way) and have the bartender pour shots of liquor into their belly button for young males to drink from. This was Lesson # 1 of the world for my 9 year old son I guess… Then there was the food throwing incident at 5:00 am in a few of the buildings. Apparently teens were ordering 10 burgers at a time and knocking on doors at 5:00 am and throwing them at the room occupants. Nice…. The best one for the week.. no,let me restate this. The most disappointing thing was hearing about the wedding that the teens crashed on the beach. A very nice couple from Nova Scotia were married on the beach, and the reception that followed was crashed by a bunch of yahoo Canadian teens that thought it would be funny to throw chairs and start a fight…. at a wedding. Now there’s a memory that bride will never forget.
I believe that there were some teens sent home early, but the point that I am trying to make is that this by no means is representative of "family friendly" activity, and I do not think that reviews will be any different than the one I am providing until the resort decides
Front desk staff was friendly, but spend too much time talking to each other instead of serving customers promptly. This was not the case for us, but I did watch other guests get very frusrated by this
Rooms: Very large and spacious. Very well decorated and maintained by the housekeeping and maintenance staff. We had a few things that needed to be repaired and they were done within a few hours. Bathrooms are HUGE, but the bathtubs are set too high and require a step stool (provided) to get in. Also the tub design was flawed as water runs out the back of the tile surface onto the floor. We just placed an extra towel at the back of the tub to catch the water. This worked fine, and the maid understood what we were doing with this towel so she left it there. Toilets are eco-friendly (low flow flush style), nice touch. Each room has TV with American and Cuban stations. Also there is a CD player, so bring CD’s as there are no good music stations and poor radio reception. Fridge in room was restocked daily with beer, water, and soft drinks. In-room safe is electronic and is 2 CUC/day = cheap.
Beds are small, but very comfortable, and they give you 4 large body pillows /room. These are very comfortable.
Restaurants and Bars: Al-a-cartes were not very special, but it’s Cuba, so what do you expect. Everyone knows the food is not the reason to go to Cuba for vacation. My family and I did find the food at the buffet more than acceptable, and actually quite tasty for the most part. Bring a small bottle of ketchup and a small jar of peanut butter if these are staples in your household, because their ketchup is not very good and they do not have peanut butter.
There is a snack bar down by the beach which is amazing. They have outside BBQs that they serve the best pork on a bun I have ever had and a decent burger according to my 9 year old son, the burger expert.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Smallish beach front, but well utilized by the patrons and staff. Good activities staff and they also include most of the watersports for free!!! Quiet pool is very nice and for the most part quiet. The Activity Pool, which has the waterslide is fantastic, except that the teens hang out at this pool, so in lies my problems described above.
Groundskeepers are overworked due to the teens ripping apart the shrubs and strewing garbage all over the place, but they usually have things looking very presentable by 10:00 am every day (they start at 7:00 am) for a resort this size.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Lots of day trips available for reasonable prices to go off resort. The Havana day trip was very interesting for the culture and amazing architecture, but was a little too long for my liking. Also a lot of walking, so if you are disabled or a little long in the tooth, I advise you to do something else.
On-site activity workers try very hard to get things going, but if your over forty or under 16 they do not cater to you very much.
Make sure you take travel health insurance. A gent over 60 got clipped by one of the shutle carts and fell and broke his wrist. The resort took him to the hospital, but assumed none of the responsibility of paying for his treatment.