We were a couple, ages 32/25, part of a wedding group totalling 17 or so. Our trip to Paradisus Rio de Oro was fantastic. Dec 14-21 2008. We were on Sunwing and it was just fine. The transfers were smooth and they took us to our resort before taking others to the Luna Mares resort. When we got to the resort our friends were waiting for us with drinks and huge smiles. There was champagne available to pour yourself right beside the lobby. The staff at this place is what really sets it apart from lesser resorts. They care, remember your name, smile, talk to you, and look after you. The only exception is the odd server in the buffet. We were forgotten a couple of times. Maybe it’s because we didn’t tip every day at the buffet, but we didn’t feel that we really had to, either. The catamaran was awesome – we were flying, it felt like, but I kept getting sea water in my eyes and as a result, I couldn’t see much. I took my sunglasses off because I thought they were going to get washed off my face. Another time, I would wear a swimming goggle on the ride. I might look like a dork but it would be a more enjoyable ride. The weather was on and off, with about 70 % sun and the rest cloud or rain. Two days were almost cloudy all day. The day of our friend’s wedding was gorgeous though. The temperature was always nice except for when it rained and was windy during the day. Then it felt a bit chilly. The beach is a bit small for a 5 star resort and it’s not sandy as you go out into the water, but coral-y and rocky. If you walk over to the luna mares side, the beach is much nicer, larger, and the sand is softer. Speaking of that "other" resort, we had access to it, but they didn’t have access to our resort. We didn’t have to wear wrist bands, but they did. We didn’t really check out that resort too much because we had the best food, service, drinks etc. If they had a disco, I don’t know about it, but that would have drawn me over to that resort. See next point. There is no disco at the Paradisus ! It would have been nice to have somewhere to go and dance and listen to music. I was surprised that they were missing that. Also, there are at least two hot-tub areas in the grounds, which is a very nice touch. One of them had champagne and glasses available. BUT – the one tub was not heated at all, and the other must’ve been under repair because there was no water in it at all. There were no bugs; I didn’t even see one fly. I hope the geckos have enough to eat. I saw a few geckos and a larger lizard, but that was about it. A few interesting birds.
We went snorkelling on one of the "calmer" days (which was still a bit rough) and we couldn’t see much coral or fish because the water was turbid with lots of sand in it. On a perfectly calm day, this might have been more enjoyable.
The grounds certainly show signs of hurricane damage as the trees look windblown and what would have been gardens are more or less patches of dirt/ground with not much growing, although the gardeners are working very hard to bring these back to life. There is a fitness center and spa on site. I didn’t use the spa, but I had a great workout in the fitness center. The attendant meets you right away with a towel and explains that he’s a personal trainer, and is willing to work out right along with you, give you pointers, etc. Nice touch.
The food at this place is freaking amazing – not just for Cuba, but against our standards here too. The buffet had a great selection of food. There was a pasta station, and my favourite was the grilling station where on each side of the grill there were line-ups of meats of your choice: various cuts of steaks, chicken, pork, etc. on one side and on the other side all seafood : tilapia, mahi-mahi, squid, swordfish, shrimp – you name it. It was awesome. We ate at a couple of the a-la-carte restaurants as well. The Mediterranean one didn’t feel all that Med but more "Cuban", but it was well done and we had a 6 course meal there. The international restaurant was just that, you could order anything you wanted, and the service was great. The highlight was the Japanese restaurant which was absolutely 10/10 for food, service, everything. We actually missed our reservation for this, because the agent who booked our reservations told us the wrong time. He indicated the right time on our tickets, but we didn’t look at those – just went by memory which was obviously dumb. Anyway, after some salesmanship on the lady running the Japanese restaurant, she managed to shoe-horn our group in for a meal at 9:pm. We didn’t get a chef cooking at our table like the big tables of 8-10 did, but I didn’t care at that point – I just wanted in the place. The drinks at all the bars were awesome. Some of the bartenders would make special pina coladas and mojitos – not just a mix from a slushy machine, but made from fresh ingredients: milk, fresh mint, whatever. Manuel really took care of us at the main lobby bar. Jorge was great down at the beach bar. He’d bring drinks right to you on your lounge chair.
The rooms were large, we had a junior suite, but the bathroom was out dated, the faucet felt like it was going to fall off, and the towels weren’t all that nice. The had robes in the room but they were not large enough for me without giving the neighbours a peep show. It was like wearing a t-shirt with a belt. One morning I saw something crawling in the toilet. It looked like the size of a crab or a bat. I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t see the details of this thing, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to bend down lower to look at it, so I flushed it down, at least I think it went down, and that was the only time we saw that in our 7 days. We didn’t do any of the extra trips offered because we had plenty to do at the resort and our group was 15 people so there was always some action happening. On the last day we rode bicycles into Guardalavaca, a small village about 5 km away. There is a small vendor section and some hotels. It was nice to get off the resort and see how the locals live. Actually, you feel a bit guilty staying at this 5 star resort getting pampered while some of the locals are living in small huts or apartment buildings straight out of a 1960’s Ukraine setting. We had some locals wave and smile at us, and others looked at us with a bit of disdain. The bikes by the way are not like your TREK mountain bike you may have at home – they are single speed, with the seat too low, the tires are soft, and the brakes are not meant to stop you very quickly. It made the hills a bit tough for some of us. We could have rented power scooters for about $25 for a day or part day.
We were sad to leave, and will be happy to go back some time.