Flight: Our flight was from Toronto, Canada to Cayo Coco, Cuba. Unfortunately, we were unaware that this resort is a 3 hour drive from Cayo Coco. Not sure why we did not fly into the airport in Santa Maria, a 90 minute drive to the resort. Needless to say, after the mandatory 3-hr wait prior to departure, a 1-hour delay due to the weather, the 3-hour flight down, the last thing you would want is a 3-hr drive to the resort at 11:30 PM.
Check-in: Handled quickly and we were each given a packed meal of a sandwich, canned drink & a cookie. We were in our room within 10 minutes of arrival.
Rooms: Large, bright and very comfortable. The resort was built in 2001 so it is beginning to show its age. We were in building #28, ground floor. Previous trip reports mentioned that bugs sometimes made their way into the ground floor rooms. Traveled with a can of Raid which we sprayed the entire parameter of the room on the 1st day and did not see a single bug for the week. A no-charge electronic safe was provided – beats carrying around a key which may get lost. Beds are a bit on the firm side (which we liked). Small 19” television with a fair share of English channels including CNN, TNT, etc.
Bathroom: This needs special mention. The bathtub area has a tub-to-ceiling glass wall that looks out to the garden area. This faced out to a heavily shrubbed area which made for a very unique shower experience. Other rooms were fairly open which required a pull down shade to be used for privacy. This did not prevent some more “adventurous” guests, with a more uninhibited attitude, to shower with the shades up. Made for an interesting (or voyeuristic) evening walk to the lobby for dinner.
Restaurants: There are 3 restaurants, 1 grill and a pizzeria.
Los Taguascos – buffet restaurants for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Los Cocos – Cuban, was closed when we were there due to renovations. La Fontanella – the Italian restaurant. Reservations are required and is available only for dinner. La Picua is a beach grill/bar that is open at 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Los Flamencos is the pizzeria. Well worth the wait for a pizza lunch.
Bars/Cafes: There is piano bar – El Manglar, a lobby bar – Santa Maria and a disco bar – Salsa Café. The lobby bar – Santa Maria, is open 24 hrs and has the best coffee around and you can get excellent 7 yr old Havana Club rum. However; buy a bottle of Coke from the resort store as the mixer, the local cola is awful.
Food quality: Edible and would not get you sick. We are picky eaters so it will be unfair for us to rate the food in the various restaurants but would compare it to a Boston Pizza. However, the pizza was quite good in the Los Flamencos Pizzeria.
Staff/Service: We found the staff to be very friendly and courteous. Our a/c broke and it was fixed within the hour it was reported. Our shower had low pressure and the toilet did not flush, these were quickly attended to. The main lobby staff was prompt and accommodating. We frequently saw cleaning staff about well into the night keeping things tidy and clean.
Beach: This is the reason the resort exists! The beach is spectacular and the water was perfect. If you think the beaches of Punta Cana and Varadero are great, be prepared to have them reneged to 2nd best! There is good snorkeling off the beach – walk about 10 minutes on the left side of the beach. There is an ‘unofficial’ clothing-optional section of the beach on the left side of the beach. If you are thinking you would be spending more time on this section of the beach, try to have your room in buildings 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28 or 29. Rooms closer to the lobby and the buffet restaurant would be in buildings: 36, 37, 38, 39, 10, 11, 12 & 14. Otherwise, be prepared to walk allot as it is a large resort.
Pools: There is a large free-form pool available. However; as the beach is so gorgeous, there were very few people in or around the pool
Guests: Primarily Quebecers (French Canadians). The resort was about 60% filled when we were there and the vast majority was Quebecers.
Tours/Activities: There are various tours available, e.g. jungle jeep, Havana, Colonial Trinidad, Santa Maria city, etc. We did not partake in any of the tours as this was not our 1st visit to Cuba. There is an activities station where you pick-up beach towels, tennis rackets, ping-pong paddles, etc. There is a ping-pong table and 2 pool tables available with charges. Close to the La Fontanella Italian restaurant are the tennis courts (2) and an archery area.
Resort Store: You can pick things up that you may have forgotten to pack, i.e. toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo, sunscreen, etc. The prices were surprising very reasonable. You have more selection of coffee brands than the airport and only about a dollar more.
Pharmacy: There is an on-site pharmacy with a pharmacist. The pharmacist will “diagnose” a condition and sell the medication.
Mosquitoes: There were a few but easily kept away by a generous spraying of Deet repellant.
Airport: There were a few stores to pick up rum, cigars, etc. Prices were reasonable. There is a VIP waiting area for $20.00 per person. Did not see the value of spending the extra money.
Conclusion: We would certainly return to this resort via the airport at Santa Maria, not via Cayo Coco.