Old Reviews – Villa Cayo Saetia

April 2006

Photos

Overview
A 42 sq km nature reserve/resort located 120 kms southeast of Holguin between the Bahia de Nipe & the Atlantic Ocean. Expect a 2 – 3 hr drive from Holguin or Guadalavaca. The closet town is Mayari. The resort consists of 12 cabins in 4 levels – small rooms 35 CUC , standard 45 CUC, superior cabins 60 CUC & 1 suite cabin 80 CUC.

The peninsula is very dry with mixed open plains & forest. We only had 5 minutes of rain one evening during our 4 night stay.

The cabins & main building are all found in an enclosure an 8 kms drive from the main drawbridge that is the only access to the peninsula. The fenced enclosure keeps the wildlife away from the cabins, although the ostriches wander in on occasion & curly-tailed lizards abound & a family of 3 igaunas reside near the main building. Two large parrots + a baby fly in & out at will.

The beach is a 6 km drive from the main resort.

They have a small gift shop in the main building.

Accommodations
We stayed in Cabin # 12 – a superior – that stood alone near the fence. It is a cedar & pine 3 room cabin with a double bedded room, a bathroom with tub & shower, & a main room with a dining table, kitchen area with sink & hotplate & small fridge. A pullout couch & smaller couch for sitting. are also in the main room. A porch with 2 rocking chairs faces the Bahia Cristo in the distance. Satellite TV & phones in every room & laundry service is available.

The are a couple of other cabins & then some rooms that are in a couple of rows. These are the cheapest. The single suite is raised on posts & offers the best view.

This is classed as a 4 star resort & deserves it.

Restaurants
The main restaurant serves breakfast & dinner. The beach restaurant serves lunch. A meal plan is available & necessary since the closest town is 20 – 30 kms away. Breakfast is served ala carte with egg dishes, toast, juices, coffee etc. Dinner is a nightly choice of meat dishes – beef, pork, chicken, fish & antelope stew. All somewhat plain but good with very large portions. French fries, rice, bread & a fruit & vegetable plate accompany dinner. Wine is available for 10.50 CUC.

The beach restaurant serves a buffet with a good selection – breads, rice, various meats & meat stews.

Liquor is extra & inexpensive.

Beach
The beach is stunning white fine sand & well kept. It is 6 kms from the main camp. Various pocket beaches allow for privacy. Tour groups arrive by boat & helicopter & often share lunch with guests. They tend to take over the beach area when they arrive & it is a relief with they disappear around 3 PM. Bar service is available from around 9 AM until around 3 PM.

Activities
Jeep safaris area available at 9 CUC per person. The day tours go midday, but the guide gave us a private tour at 5 PM when more animals are active as the heat of the day subsides. Various species of deer, antelope, water buffalo, zebras, ostriches, parrots & a resident camel can be seen. The crocodiles are gone but they warn you that 2 escaped & might live somewhere. Guest are forbidden to drive or walk unguided in the reserve except on the road to the beach. We inadvertently drifted off this route on our first drive to the beach & got our jeep temporary stuck when I looked back at a monster iguana & ran off the road. 4WD saved us. Other wildlife which we saw near the enclosure include the jutia (hutia) – a large Cuban rodent & horses & cattle are always wandering around.

Boat & horseback tours are also available & scuba excursions to the Atlantic reef on the north shore can be arranged from what we saw.

The Negatives
You must have a car. You have to helicopter, drive or boat to get here & the beach is a 6 km drive from the cabins. The roads are very rough gravel, so a Jeep would be a wise rental. There is no pool. There is no entertainment & many of the usual resort activities are absent. The nearest town is a 45 minute drive over poor roads & gasoline can be an adventure to buy. The station in Mayari was out of gas & we had to drive to Levisa to get some with the aid of a hitchhiker for location.

The Positives
With only 12 cabins, you leave the crowds behind except for the tours that arrive at the beach from Guadalavaca on some days & the people that arrive have a somewhat ignorant we-own-it attitude. Not pretty but they do go away.

If you want isolation & a quiet holiday, Cayo Saetia might be a good choice. The staff was excellent. They live onsite on a 3 day rotating schedule. Other tourists seemed to be exclusively from Europe – Germany, France & Spain were represented during our stay. Highly recommended.

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