We booked this resort back in October when Air Canada Vacations didn’t have a rating, description or Star rating. Sounded like a Barcelo we had checked out before and the price was good so we checked it out and booked for 2 weeks 13-27 March.
Our flight from Fredericton to Montreal was good. A small Jazz turboprop plane. We checked our luggage, 100 pounds each was allowed, through to Cayo Largo and stayed in the security section once in Montreal. A short wait and then a full AirBus to Cuba. Traveling the night before Daylight Savings we arrived just after dusk.
Your Arrival: It’s a small airport so a little jammed when a couple of hundred people are there. Aduna and security were quick and nurses were on hand to check for ill passengers. A few mosquitoes but not bad. A very quick bus ride to the resort.
Check in was a little slow but as others have remarked, go and get a drink and have a look around while others stand in line. The luggage is secure and attended and is delivered quickly.
Rooms: We booked a bungalow room, typical Cuban decor, super clean and quite large. We were oceanside and the views were terrific. Corner decks having a 270 degree view is nicer than other resorts. All 2nd floor oceanfront bungalows had some ocean view.
The room had a small fridge, a good TV with 4 or so English stations including CTV from Alberta. A nice desk, king size bed and a couple of nice rocking chairs as well as deck furniture. A large dressing area, safe that opened with our room card, lots of closet and drawer/trunk space and a big bathroom with plenty of hot water at any hour of the day. Central air was quiet and not on all the time.
Restaurants and Bars: The buffet is enclosed and air conditioned; capable of seating 300 guests it’s a huge room that has the food areas at one end and 3 room divisions for seating. Double cotton tablecloths, heavy cutlery and good china and glassware plus super service. Breakfast omelette stations and smoothie bar. Plenty of choices and the best grapefruit ever. Dinner had carving stations, flambe desert bar lots of variety and themed nights where the staff dressed in special outfits and hats. As mentioned by all, the service was top notch. There aren’t a lot of resources on Cayo largo but the staff do their best to make everything special. The Ranchon restaurant sits at the top of the main beach,seats about 100, has blinds for wind screens and offers great service. By day it’s the beach restaurant and at night it is an a la carte. The Opalino restaurant seat about 200, is open air and has a late breakfast at 10:30, then a BBQ lunch from noon to 3:30 or so. At night it is an a la carte and has very good service. Rafael is a great waiter. Bars at the Ranchon and Opalino have a good selection and the usual frozen mixes. The Opalino had the very best frozen lemonade. The 24 hr bar, Daiquairi, had the best coffee and espresso and the best frozen Pina Coladas; lots of drink choices and Cristal on tap and by the can. Alexis, Boris, Roberto and the gang are pro’s in every way. Start your day with a double espresso and finish your evenings at the "Show", all served from this bar. The other bar is a small beachside hut to the left of the main beach. Right at the end of the boardwalk starting between bldgs 28 and 29. This is where the lifeguards hang out and Maceau runs it with a big smile and a song. Basic Bucanaro and fruit punches here so bring your Bubba.
There’s also a special hut that’s used for repeat visitor a la cartes and special occasions. We were treated to a lovely romantic meal to celebrate our anniversary, complete with a floral arrangement and candles, our own waiter and visits by Eddour and Livan from management. Did we feel special? Sure did!
Beach/Pools/Grounds: What can we say about Cayo Largo beaches? Just believe the hype about white powdery sand spits that go on for miles and miles; it’s all true. So is the fact that some of the beaches can disappear overnight, then reappear 2 days later. We had great weather but the main beach had been eroded the week before so we picked a cloudy day and visited the "Big" beaches Sirena and Paraiso. Wow! But the hotel beach was back in a day or two and went in and out for two weeks. Playa Blanca had the better hotel beach and those "backup" beaches are gorgeous. The almost 6′ deep upper pool was nice and you could get a palapa all day there or at the crescent, 4′, lower pool. Plenty of chairs, no wars. Both are seawater pools and very clean. Lots of activities all day but the loud speakers aren’t cranked too high. Grounds are mature with beautiful plantings and the most amazing "Shaving Brush Tree". All are patrolled by birds, cats and the odd iguana including a big guy who lives under bldg 28 and likes boiled eggs. There’s a medical/gym/hairdresser building, tennis courts, B-Ball hoops and an archery range too. Walkways are even and mostly safe except some smooth tiles. Like all over the south, they are slippery when wet .. especially when wearing those cheap sneakers with hard plastic soles.
While we were there the waterfalls and the fountains were restored and are beautiful. Gardeners constantly worked their plots and handed fresh cut blooms to morning walkers.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We had planned to go to Havana for a couple of days but the weather was so nice we didn’t. Took a tour of the village by Rosie and a fellow animation team member, saw the Turtle Hatchery and wandered around the Marina and shops. Did a private trip a few days later and had a whole 24 passenger bus and Carlos to ourselves for 10CUC; stopped and took photos for other resorts and checked out the lobbies. Took the Choo choo train twice to the big beaches and had a blast. The ride is pretty rough but if you imagine an amusement ride through all the other resorts that take 30 minutes and is free, what the heck.
There are small 4WD jeeps for rent, scooters and plenty of taxis and mini vans. Everything is so close, the taxis are only 2-3CUC’s/person.
Other Comments: Sirena beach is huge and there are lots of palapas and chairs. Bar service is a wandering waiter who will bring the best pina coladas on earth for 3CUC. Paraiso is my favorite of the two because it isn’t as commercial and the beach-combing is better. The resort Tienda has plenty of choices, rum, cigars and cold cans of beer and pop for excursions. The airport stores have about the same inventory but the hotel prices were better. As said before, the staff is fantastic and the management work very hard at making this place shine. Besides the website that the staff manage http://www.playablanca.cu they also run a Facebook page and do their best to answer questions quickly. I could go on for ever .. oops maybe I did. We booked a 3.5* and got much more than we paid for.
We’ll be back.