Playa Pesquero Resort Reviews page 2 – Holguin – Cuba Hotels – Debbie's Caribbean Travel & Resort Reviews

Playa Pesquero Resort – Holguin Pat and Irene

November 2005

After visiting this particular resort, I am compelled to add my two cents worth regarding Playa Pesquero.

We were a party of 8 (which included my wife, my 8 year old, 4 year old, my parents and my wife’s parents) and let me just say that this resort does offer something for everyone! The kid’s club was thoroughly enjoyed by my children and was very interactive. I think the easiest way to describe our experience is to break it down into categories as do most people when they do a review.

The Good
The Playa Pesquero (PP) is truly a magnificent resort and very accomodating. From the moment you check in you know you have chosen the right hotel. Check in was fast and very friendly and there were golf carts ready to bring you to your room. The rooms were very adequate and had everything you could possibly need away from home. All of the buffets had a huge choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No one could ever go hungry at this resort. Also, it wasn’t just quantity, but quality as well. The food was well prepared and the hot food was hot!

The beach was absolutely spectacular here, and the welcome bonus was that there was plenty of shade under the numerous trees that lined the beach which was really enjoyed by the elders in my party, and came in handy for the kids when the sun really started to cook.

The ala cartes were all good, but the romantico and the seafood in particular were fantastic. The lobster tail dinners at both restaurants were a favourite for our group. For anyone visiting PP, do not miss the opportunity to have a fine meal at the romantico while listening to live piano playing. The piano player was fantastic and really created a wonderful dining atmosphere.

Again I will just reiterate what has already been said a million times about the pool at PP. It is huge and beautiful!! It truly is one of the nicest pools I have ever seen at a carribean resort.

The Not So Good
There is really only one thing I would work on at the PP. They need to get horns on those golf carts. If you are travelling with small children you definitely have to keep your eyes open for these carts as they tend to sneak up on you without warning. While they are a must for a resort of this size, they have to learn how to slow down!!

Now The Really Good
This was my second visit to Cuba, and this trip once again reminded me why it is we returned to Cuba. The people of Cuba are truly some of the most unselfish, friendly and genuine people you will ever meet. Whether it was a person at the front desk, the chambermaid, or the bartender,they all gave hellos and smiles. We met so many wonderful staff members that by the end of our stay they were almost like family. We had friends of ours visit the PP one week before we did, and they had told us about the wonderful people at PP, and boy were they bang on!!

In conclusion, we are already planning our next visit to PP because this truly is a special place. I would highly recommend this resort to anyone anytime without reservation!!

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Playa Pesquero Resort – Holguin Jerry & Marilyn ~ Canada

November 2005

We are a family of 4 (children ages 10 and 13). We stayed at the Playa Pesquero from November 13th to 20th, 2005 and really enjoyed our vacation. Our trip was booked through Sunquest and our direct, early morning flight from Toronto was with Skyservice. Check-in at the airport was smooth and efficient. Before we knew it was time to board for our sardine style cramped flight to Holguin. The flight was good, the box style breakfast adequate, and the flight attendants were pleasant. My opinion – These flights are extremely cramped. I would never dream of reclining my seat and infringing on the already extremely small area of personal space the tourist behind me has. However, many fellow travelers feel this is there right and do so. Our children usually pass the time on flights, by doing their homework, playing hangman, or drawing on the “barf” bags. Lowering the tray to do these activities is nearly impossible when the person in front was reclined. That being said, when the young lady in front of us got up to use restroom, the seat magically fixed itself into an upright position. On her return, after many tries, the reclining button seemed to be broken. Note to fellow travelers: A firmly placed knee in the back of the seat in front of you, will ensure your comfort through your journey. Back to the review.

We had no problems with customs in Holguin. My daughter and I went together through customs, and my husband and son also went together. The officials were friendly and courteous. While my husband and children waited for the luggage, I stood in line at the bank. With my dollar store calculator in hand, I calculated the exchange and was given the correct amount in CUC’s. The teller simply handed me my “wad” of cash (didn’t count it back like banks do here in Canada). Be sure to count it yourself before you sign your receipt and leave the window. A note about luggage – be sure to lock your checked bags. I was shocked when I noticed that EVERY outside zipper compartment, on all four pieces of our luggage had been opened, and left opened. Luckily all of our belongings were locked safely inside. This also happened on our return flight. Our Sunquest representative was easy to find, we were loaded into a comfortable air-conditioned bus, and were on our way. The bus ride from the airport to the hotel took about one hour. The scenery was beautiful, and many of the sites along the way very interesting.

Check-in at the Playa Pesquero was very efficient. We waited perhaps 5 minutes for our turn, while sipping a delicious welcome cocktail, and marveling at the beauty of the lobby. We were assigned room 3501 (a ground level room). It was not the pool view 2nd story room I had requested, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized we had been upgraded to a Superior room. A golf cart took us, and our luggage to our room and we were soon settled in. We had four beds in the room, two queen size beds for mom and dad (pushed together), a single bed for our 13 year old, and a cot for our 10 year old. The room was well equipped and clean but it did have a musty odor. I brought my own pillows from home, and a week later they still smell faintly of our Cuba room. Beware of the extra blankets in your closet. Ours smelled so bad (reminded me of a dirty wet dog), and I was thankful we did not need to use them. I would recommend a 2nd story room as we had many little insect guests visit us during our stay. As for our maid, to be blunt, I think she was a “ditz”. First of all, the sheets on one of the beds were stained. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that others are sleeping on them before me, but to see the evidence of that is gross. Another day, after changing the bed linens, she put a single size pillowcase on a double size pillow and left the other half of the pillow bare. Ewwww! The one occasion we used the do not disturb sign, she knocked and entered anyway. If your bottom is used to being pampered by Charmin or another brand of soft toilet paper, you will definitely find hotel TP rough. If you can spare the room in your suitcase, I would advise to bring your own.

A wise thing to do once you are settled would be to call for, or flag down a golf cart and ask the driver for a quick tour of the resort. This at least will give you an idea of the many places where you can grab a bite to eat, the bars, or give you an idea of where you can find the a la carte restaurants that are located in a far corner or the resort.

The beach is absolutely beautiful. The ocean water clear and warm. The beach center is well equipped with a variety of things to do. Unfortunately high winds red-flagged the beach and prevented us from enjoying water sports for the first few days. We did manage to do some snorkeling, and enjoyed long walks on the beach later in the week.

The pool at the Playa Pesquero is probably the largest and most beautiful any of us have ever seen. As at most resorts in Cuba, many guests “saved” there lounge chairs by placing towels or personal items on them. At full hotel capacity I imagine there would be a shortage of chairs. We always managed to find chairs, but sometimes had to “hunt” them down. As mentioned, in a previous review there was an abundance of topless sunbathers. Having been to Cuba before, this was not a big deal to our children, but that is not to say my son didn’t look…and often! The only thing that bothered me was the one woman who waded through the pool, planted herself at the bar, and enjoyed several drinks – with no top on!

The selection of drinks was good and plentiful. However, some of my favorites were not always available (Hemmingways and Mojitos). We were lucky enough to find the one bartender who could make a Mojito. He worked at the bar next to the Grill Restaurant by the pool, and had actually brought fresh mint from his garden at home. This bar is only open a few hours every afternoon, so pay him a visit if you are looking for Mojito.

The food was very good. The buffet was large and one the best I have seen in terms of quality and selection of food. We really enjoyed the restaurants on the boulevard. The kids enjoyed the pizza and burgers, and we enjoyed the chicken. The snacks at the beer garden are awesome. I had heard great things about Cuba night on the Boulevard (Tuesdays). I was really looking forward to his meal, but unfortunately poor weather forced them to cancel it. We booked three al a carte restaurants choosing the Seafood, the Gondola and the Romantico. Our favorite was the Seafood. The lobster we ordered was huge and tasty, and our 6:30 p.m. reservation allowed us to watch a beautiful sunset. Our next favorite was the Romantico. The food was okay, the atmosphere was lovely, and the air-conditioning was a welcome relief after sweating through every other meal the entire week. Our least favorite was the Gondola. In fact we ended up leaving here before dessert as the service was slow, the mosquitoes were ruthless and an assortment of other bugs (especially moths), were in attack mode. Do not order the chicken from this restaurant – yuck!

We attended several shows. Compared to other places we have stayed, the evening entertainment was lacking. Several of the shows were good, the costumes are lovely and wow those people can sure dance. The children loved the Shrek show and thought it was the best one. I had a little chuckle over the Rock show, there was just something humorous about being in Cuba, listening to Spanish singers singing old rock n roll (in English), and looking like the guys from “Queen”.

The staff here is friendly and pleasant. Due to the size of the PP, you don’t get as many opportunities to get to know the staff as you would at other resorts. All the staff work long hours and still manage, after the end of a 12+-hour day to smile. In particular we liked Inelvis from the buffet, Jose Alex from the Trattoria (he looks like the guy from Everybody Loves Raymond), and the ladies in the kids club are fantastic people (in particular Diana, Yanet and Rena). I think the best jobs here (for tips), to name a few, are the maids, the golf cart drivers and the bartenders. Please do not forget those who may be less noticeable. We gave away many pairs of gardening gloves to gardeners who labored daily in the heat, with bare hands and ancient tools. We also became acquainted with the guards who patrolled the hotel boundary behind our room. These men walk back and forth along the fence line for twelve hours every day, day and night. We discreetly shared the beer and pop from our fridge, and a nightly ritual was to bring back an extra hamburger from our jaunts for bedtime snacks. You honestly could not find someone more appreciative of this little gesture of kindness. As a side note, the staff at the Playa Pesquero have there own “special” buffet, which I understand is typical Cuban food (rice and beans), and as many staff reported, was very unappetizing.

We went to the market in Guardlavarca, and choose to hire a taxi ($10 CUC’s each way), instead of taking the “train”. This turned out to be a wise decision, as we heard later the train broke down several times. Taking a taxi allows you to stay as long as you wish, is much more comfortable then the train, and we had no problem finding one for our return. We loved this market and brought home some lovely things. Remember that most of the vendors here will barter and/or trade. Our best finds here were some unique hand crafted jewelry, a beautiful wooden sunflower and a really unique leather humidor box.

We also did a horse and buggy tour organized through the Kids Club. For twenty dollars, (plus tips), our entire family took a horse and buggy tour to the town of Mellia, and we visited a typical Cuban Farm. Mellia is a pleasant little community built to house the hotel workers. Compared to other homes we saw, we thought it was definitely a favorable place to live. I was surprised to learn they only get water two days a week. How these workers manage to have spotless uniforms and always be fresh and clean is a wonder to me. The farmhouse we visited was very interesting. You could tell these were very proud people. Not a speck of dirt would be found in this women’s house! It was actually very nice on the inside. The gentleman had handcrafted all the furniture, they had a television (which I learned gets 4 stations), and the lady of the house had sewn all the draperies, bedspreads etc. After a tour of the house we were treated outside to a visit with the farm animals, followed by our host and hostess serving us a selection of fresh fruit. A very nice trip! On the way back to the hotel, our driver was kind enough to stop whenever we asked. We visited with several families, asked permission to take pictures, and left gifts with them and their children. Everyone was very friendly and most appreciative.

A persistent eye infection necessitated a visit to the hotel doctor. The office is located just inside the gymnasium. The standard consultation fee is $25.00 CUC’s plus the cost of any medications he prescribes. A little tid bit of information that might interest some readers is that I noticed Viagra for sale in the pharmacy.

My husband and children did use the gymnasium on several occasions. It is not air conditioned, but has a good selection of equipment. I figured I had enough exercise that would last for weeks just walking around the resort, so took advantage of that time to relax in one of the hot tubs. To find this hidden gem, you need to turn left when you walk in the gymnasium doors. The artwork alone is worth a visit. One day my daughter and I were enjoying the tubs when a couple came and became quite passionate (I’m convinced she had strategically positioned herself to enjoy one of those powerful jets). We left them to there fun, but I was annoyed at some people’s lack of respect for others.

Calls home are quite expensive at $2.50 CUC per minute. Note that your phone calls will be rounded up to the nearest minute, so if you talk for 2 minutes and 2 seconds, you will be charged for three minutes. For some reason the calls were cheaper if you went to the front desk and had the operator place the call for you. You will be directed to phone in a quiet corner near the computer room. The phone line reception was not great. Be prepared to talk loud and quick!

This trip we had our share of experiences with drunk tourons. If you intend to get so drunk you won’t remember your room number, do yourself and other guests a favor by writing it on your hand. Our first night we were exhausted after being awake almost a full 24 hours. Around 4 a.m. that morning we had a young lady knocking on the door calling let me in! My husband told her to get lost as she was at the wrong room. She then fell against the door, probably waking the rest of the people in our building. Another night there was a man banging on the door of a room above us. He told us his key wouldn’t work and that his wife was inside. This persistent banging went on for at least a half hour, and there was no telling him he was at the wrong room. Finally we called security, as did the couple in the room beside us, and he was whisked away to his room.

As for cigars, the best place to purchase these is at the duty free shop at the airport. There are vendors in the gate area, and their prices are good, but you need to make sure you find the real duty free cigar store. It is located behind the bar on the first level.

We enjoyed our trip to the Playa Pesquero. Would we return, the answer is probably not. It is a beautiful resort, but is far too big for our liking. After a long day in the sun and a little rum, the walk to our room felt like a marathon. Every outing we took, if just to the pool or beach required a certain amount of planning. To forget something meant the long walk back retrieve it. Smaller resorts we have stayed at are so much more convenient for grabbing a quick snack or drink. They also afford you the opportunity to get to know more of the staff and guests.

In summary you will have a great time if you visit the Playa Pesquero. I would definitely recommend it, as long as the size of the resort and long walks aren’t an

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Playa Pesquero Resort – Holguin John ~ Canada

November 2005

I booked a week with my wife at Playa Pesquero through Wholesaletravel.com for the week beginning 12th Nov, 05 at Cn$697 each + taxes.

Main thoughts on my break!

Nice pool with good sun loungers. The water was cold to get in, but nice once in.

Pleasant beach that is wide, but shallow. I would have loved to have gone snorkeling and spent more time there, but couldn’t cope with being eaten alive by the flies etc. My wife had 12 bites on one foot after about an hour! They start quickly as small red dots, but develop over a few days into very itchy sores. So, use a very powerful repellant if you go.

We had no great expectations for the food, but were able to find plenty to eat in the buffet restaurant. We were less impressed by the a la carte restaurants. By mid week most people we talked with were complaining of severe stomachaches, and the trots. My wife is very careful what she eats, but succumbed first. I am less careful and usually get away with it, but not this time. We had medication with us so we treated ourselves and took it as part of the risk of going abroad. We still have problems the day after getting home, so may well be visiting our own doctors!

Service was mostly good. Cheerful waiters, good service at bars etc. Our only problems came when our door lock failed; which it did twice. On both occasions the batteries failed, other holiday makers experienced the same problem. My real issue is that rather than fixing the problem reception expected the customer to walk to and from one place or another, wait in the heat etc etc. So if you have a lock issue expect to be mucked about.

Holguin Airport, was slow and very hot!

I thought the Playa Pesquero was quite pleasant, and may consider going again if the price is low enough. I would not pay anything like full price for it.

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Playa Pesquero Resort – Holguin Stevenbev (and Clan)

November 2005

Playa Pesquero, Holguin, Cuba October 21st to November 06th 2005 Signature Vacations

Airtransat/Skyservice

About us: We are a professional couple in our mid 30’s with two children ages 13 and 8 yrs old! Our previous travel experience includes multiple trips to the UK. Europe, many visits to the USA (mostly work related) and a yearly “Caribbean relaxation” trip to an “AI” resort. Some of the more recent “All Inclusive” resorts we have been to over the years are the: Iberostar in Cozumel, Spanish Bay Reef in Grand Cayman, Sandals Dunn River in Jamaica, Paradisus Rio de Oro in Cuba, FDR Pebbles in Jamaica, and now added to our list is the Playa Pesquero in Cuba. We have stayed in accommodations rated from a 2* through to a 5* resort. When choosing our vacations, we typically try to decide on “exactly “ the type of vacation we are hoping to achieve and then go from there. On this particular vacation we were looking for a resort that was extensively geared towards family and kids, we were quite specific in wanting to ensure our vacation destination was to be a favourable location to base an “educational experience” for the children. Most unusual for us this trip, we really DID care which Island we were visiting. We tossed around Costa Rica and or Panama for its Science and Ecological opportunities, however ultimately Cuba stood out as a more “well-rounded” vacation destination offering extensive science based tours/excursions as well as a wide array of “established” tours/excursions involving the history, social science and politics of a vastly different country in which the children have been previously exposed to. Choosing the Island for us was the easy part, deciding on which resort to spend our vacation took a lot more effort then I had previously experienced. We entered the planning phase of this trip already knowing that we were looking for a 4 to a 5* resort. We needed to stay on the “mainland”. Off-site excursions were extremely important to us so we pretty much knew that our resort was going to be in either in the Holguin or Santiago region, as the Canadian tour operators don’t carry Santiago de Cuba in the “off” season and our vacation date was absolutely not flexible, we knew it was going to be Holguin this year… This actually worked out quite well for us in the end, as we were able to combine this family vacation with “other commitments” we have in the area… Ultimately saving us a trip later (although, I can’t seem to convince myself this is a good thing!). Steve and I are actually quite versed with not only the AI resorts in this area of Cuba but with Holguin itself. What most people don’t realize is that Steve and I have stayed in this area of Cuba over 11 times (have yet to make it to Havana or Santiago though). Our accommodations have ranged from stays at both the LTI, (now BLAU Costa Verde) and the Paradisus Rio De Oro to more casual accommodations, staying with friends in Holguin, Santa Lucia and Banes. Knowing we would be spending most days off the resort, we were looking for a resort that had great food, comfortable rooms, quality entertainment, diving and must be suitable for children… We thought we found the resort in the Playa Turquesa, however as our vacation quickly turned to include my “extended” family, Steve and I (with the help of members on this forum) decided the Playa Pesquero would probably be more suited as it was large enough and extensive enough to cover the interests of many diverse personalities… Unfortunately my family could not make the trip and we ended up at the Playa Pesquero on our own.

However we did end up meeting and making so many new friends at the Playa Pesquero that we certainly never felt alone.

Prefix: I always start my reviews with a warning! Reviews are just individual travelers experiences. I think reviews can give you great tips, advice and a general feel for the resort; however, you have to remember that your vacation is going to be what YOU make it! What one family may find exciting and extraordinary, another family may find uninspiring and unpleasant. Planning a family vacation can be a daunting task, especially when you have many personalities to consider. My best advice would be to read as many reviews as possible, take the time to figure out what everybody in your group wants from their vacation, and try to find a resort that best matches their needs. Never discount a resort due to a few bad reviews, and don’t book a resort based on overly exuberant reviews. Stay focused more on “factual”, “middle of the road” reviews as they tend to be the most “honest” and probably the closest to “actual” you will get!

I hope you find this review enjoyable and informative. If by any chance at the end of this review you still have questions regarding the Playa Pesquero, please feel free to contact us at sbbudgell@rogers.com Thank you,

Flight: We booked our vacation with Signature tours this time around and for the most part we were completely satisfied with their service. The weeks we chose to go to Cuba happened to be the “season cutover” for the tour operators, thus we spent our first week in the “off season” and our second during their “high season”… This unusual situation actually turned in our favour. Two months prior to departure we were offered an extra 2 days as Signature was changing flight carriers from Air Transat to Sky Service. Instead of flying Friday to Friday we flew out of Pearson International on Air Transat on Friday October 21st and returned home 16 days later with Skyservice on the Sunday. Both Air Transat and the Skyservice flights went quite smoothly, I will say this, if we could find a Canadian Airline that would combine the seat comfort and pitch from the Air Transat flights with the hospitality and professionalism of the Skyservice crew, we would all be rocking… Air Transat flight had the seating configuration of 3 isle 3 isle 3, however the seating arrangement changed in the back of the plane to a 2 isle 3 isle 2 configuration… We were able to pre-book seats a and b in rows 26 and 27 this gave each of the children a window seat and I will say this flight offered us the most room and comfort we have ever experienced on a “charter flight”. The “in-flight” crew was another story; the staff seemed ornery and bothered by even the simplest of requests. The children were supposed to get a free game set and earphones, the staff brought this around about 20 minutes before the end of the movie (thank goodness the kids had brought their own earphones).

One complementary non-alcohol drink is served prior to the meal service (loose term). Please ensure you get your liquid intake prior to your meal, as no other beverage will be offered either during or after the meal. Those wishing to purchase soft drinks, bottled water or alcohol, were not even offered the chance. The meal service turned out to be a “tin-foil” chicken wrap which neither my daughter nor I could even eat (and I eat just about anything). My husband couldn’t finish my wrap as they were so salty and without being offered anything to drink found himself without the saliva to finish a second wrap.

Another thing I wanted to mention is, Air Transat’s “Air Bus A310-300” has doors, which also open in the back of the plane. When we arrived in Holguin we actually got off the plane and was through customs before the “Club Class” passengers… If given the opportunity I would recommend booking seats in row 26 through 31 (not 32 as they don’t recline). The Skyservice flight was as expected quite cramped, people packed in like sardines in a 3 isle 3 configuration. However we did end wining the “airline lottery”. First off we did not get the “pre-booked” seats that we had paid for, instead we were given seats E and F rows 7 and 8. The children sat together and had a very tiny older women with them (seating was not a factor)… Now Steve and I had to share our row with a rather “portly gentleman” (think Northern Ontario Sumo Wrestler, lumber jacket and all), really, I think this man should have had two seats, however as uncomfortable as I was, I know this poor man was suffering. I am sure the in-flight crew recognised this to, as about 10 minutes prior to take-off one of the attendants came by and offered this gentleman and his wife (who was sitting on the other side of the isle) the emergency seats… The look of relief on this poor man’s face was only matched in by the glee in mine. If I could have jumped up and hugged that attendant I would have! The flight in home turned out to be one of the most comfortable flights I have ever taken with Steve and I sharing 3 seats between us! The “in-flight” crew were simply one of the best teams I have had the enjoyment of flying with, completely friendly, cheerful, helpful and attentive, the meal service on our flight was actually quite good (Spinach lasagne, rice salad, roll, cookies, water), One complementary non-alcohol drink is served prior to the meal service and coffee and tea is served after the meal. Those wishing soft drinks, bottled water or alcohol on board will find these items are subject to charge- between $1.00 to $5.00- depending on your request”. One other note of interest, Skyservice is very strict about the weight of your checked-in luggage. The allowable weight limit is 20 kilo or about 44 pounds per person, which may be spread between two suitcases per person. When two or more people check in together they usually take a combined weight, but they don’t have to. We actually had to pay 30 C.U.C for the “excess” weight penalty on the way home, although I think we may have been victims of the “weigh scale scam”. If I consider how much stuff we brought down to Cuba (including donations for our church) and the souvenirs we actually brought back, I know we should have been under the weight limit…

I should also add that we were about 15 kilos over on the way down, fully expecting and prepared to pay for the additional weight we were carrying, Air Transat actually waved our excess baggage, which we were quite ecstatic about, as, excess weight baggage is penalized at a cost of $7.00CDN or $5.00US per kilo.

With everything taken into consideration, we would not hesitate to use Air Transat or Skyservice again! Yes, both charters have their pros and cons, however I do believe they are listening to the customers, I am really seeing some improvements and for a short flight (3 to 4 hours) I think both charters are quite acceptable. I am just thankful that we have the “charter” option in Canada as it really does help keep the costs of traveling down a bit. Arrival at Frank Pais International Airport in Holguin was right on schedule. The airport is quite small and I was very surprised to see a “Monarch long haul” plane sitting on the runway as we were pulling up. In all of our trips to Cuba, I have yet to see more then one (1) flight at a time in this airport. Expecting huge line-ups through customs and money exchange, I was once again pleasantly surprised to see all booths were open and moving at a quick clip. As mentioned earlier, we were able to “debark” the plane quite quickly and as luck would have it, we were moved over to the last customs booth which opened just as we got into line so we all managed to get through customs quite easily with no real line-ups to report. I also wanted to take the opportunity to mention that the agents we ran into in Cuba were absolutely fantastic, I have read reports about the agents being intimidating or rude… Not in our case! Everybody we spoke with at the airport was courteous, kind and quite helpful. No problems to report at all, actually they were more helpful to us and the kids then our own airport staff back in Toronto… After you pass through customs in Cuba you will have the option of changing over your money at the “Cadeca” counter (bank). As Steve and the kids went on the hunt for our luggage, I stood in line at the bank waiting to exchange some money… Now, I was only the second person in line, so I was not really expecting a long wait… Well, I was re-introduced to “Cuba time” right off the bat… It appears that the bank didn’t actually have any money to exchange, so I did end up standing in line for about 30 minutes (as the second person in line)… I could have waited till we got to the resort as the Playa Pesquero does have a “Cadeca” located on its premises, however I wanted to be able to have a least something for tipping… Note: Travellers please hear this… Don’t tip in foreign currency… Cuba has its own currency for tourists (the Convertible Peso. C.U.C) It is NOT easy for local citizens to exchange foreign bills (and impossible to exchange coins) to C.U.C At the time of this review (November 12th/05), the currency exchange rate was approximately $1.33 CDN for $1 C.U.C. Of course the selling rate is not as favourable so if you are planning on visiting for one week, I would be careful and only exchange small sums of money at a time. You can use Credit Cards, however for most AI vacationers I don’t advise you count on this alone… I have found in my own experience that even when you have a credit card that is acceptable (NOT drawn from an American Bank, such as Citi Bank Master Cards), you still run into the problem with the CC machines “being down”, power failures, and stores not taking any credit cards period… However I have noticed on this trip many more stores in Holguin are now beginning to except credit cards, I would go out on a limb here and say if your staying in Havana or Varadero you may have a better luck. Back to the review…  Once the bank teller actually received some “convertibles” to work with, the line went quite smoothly, I was able to get the currency in the denominations I requested (with the exception of the $1 C.U.C, we wanted the “notes“ however only coins were available). In total I would guess we spent about an hour at the Holguin airport .

We had no problems finding our “Signature rep” and quickly loaded on to a very, very comfortable air-conditioned bus. Steve was able to purchase 2 Cristal beers and 2 waters for 5 C.U.C. in the parking lot of the airport. We thoroughly enjoyed those beers as we settled in for our 1-hour journey to our hotel. Resort check-in and first impressions:

First impression of the Playa Pesquero was absolutely breathtaking. Expansive Foyers filled with wicker couches and chaise lounges, cocktail and glass topped lounge tables, stunning flower arrangements surrounding the several “man made, iridescent ponds” which housed a most eclectic congregation of domestic, freshwater fish.
Each pond also housed stunning “water features” or Neapolitan era styled statue. From the moment we stepped off our bus, the professionalism of the staff shone through and almost instantaneously Steve and I knew we made a great choice In the Playa Pesquero…

The “check-in” process was smooth and painless. There was five (5) efficient staff members at the reception counter to check in and process 9 people, thus resulting in the fastest check-in that I have ever had the privilege to be part of. Even though we were a small group, a wonderful barman did come by with “rum punch” (sans alcohol for the children) and cool wet towels for those of us checking is. Total check-in time took no longer then 15 minutes! To our disappointment we were required to wear those dreaded plastic ID bracelets, nothing worse then being “banded” like a “Canadian Goose” on vacation… Nothing says “tourist” like those lovely plastic wrist huggers. Steve and I were given “pink” bracelets while the children had white (to prevent accidental alcohol service), Steve did begin to panic part way through the vacation when the colour started to fade from our “wristlets”. I guess he was afraid that he wouldn’t be served either LOL, Although the paperwork had been completed our room was still not quite ready (we arrived at the resort at approximately 3:30 pm), quite apologetic the check-on staff called over the “lobby security” to take our access baggage and asked us to have another drink in the bar, promising that our room would be ready within the next half hour… So with our room assignment, basic resort information, room key in hand ” we “saddled” over to lobby bar for another drink (or two) as we watched all the other members of our travel group get whisked to their rooms… Just before the kids began to get too ancy, one of the “check-in” staff, came by to tell us our room was finally complete… Our suitcases were quickly loaded onto a white “extended golf cart and within moments we were too were finally whisked away to our room. I had contacted the resort prior to our vacation and did request a specific room, not really expecting to get it of course… At the very least, I had asked for a second story, corner room facing the pool if possible…. To my great delight, we were fortunate enough to receive the very specific room that I had requested. I was so excited to receive the room we had requested our initial delay was quickly forgotten.

To this very moment, I don’t think the resort could have been a better location for a room then our building # 17 room 1712.

Now, as I had mentioned, the location was absolutely perfect for my family in every aspect, however the room was not without faults. My first impression of the room was not very favourable, actually I would say, besides our room at The LTI (now the Blau Costa Verde) this was the “roughest” room/suit that we had ever stayed in. With that being said, please let me explain that the room was not in need of any repair, just that it looked as though any repairs that had occurred in this room were done “haphazardly” and without care… Small holes in the walls, putty marks, chipping and pealed paint, minor mold and even workmen instructions scribble on the hairdryer wall. Nothing horrible or worth complaining about, just something that seemed rather off-putting at first… I would also like to mention the horrendous stench of old tobacco, which permeated the room. Really this smell was quite repulsive. We had been assured that this room was a “non-smoking” room… I guess somebody forgot to mention that to the previous guests. Although to be fair, the “ash tray” in the room does send a “mix message”.

I am now of the opinion that there is “no such thing” as a non smoking room in Cuba. To be honest the stench was so bad Steve and I did consider giving up our wonderfully located room for another room with a more tolerable smell, however, after a few days and with the air conditioner going 24hrs straight, the smell did seem to subside. I am sure the smell subsiding also had something to do with our maid Iraida, who was absolutely brilliant in every way, extremely meticulous in her work.

She may not have been the quickest maid we have had (sometimes it would be 3:00pm and the room still had yet to be cleaned) however what she lacked in speed she gained in care. We had made little gift packets for her before we left home and would leave her one of these packets everyday on my pillow with a $5 C.U.C note.
In return she would leave us lovely “thank you” letters wishing us a wonderful day and amazing little towel designs in our room… She would even incorporate the kids glasses, books, hats, whatever she could find around the room, it almost became a “special event” everyday to hurry in and see what “towel design” Iraida and left behind.

The design of the room was quite functional and basic; I would estimate the room was approximately 375 to 400 sq ft. in size. As you step into a fairly spacious front entrance, you will have the rather large (fully equipped) bathroom on either side of the main foyer, which includes a bidet and very large bathtub. Warning, please be careful in the shower … If you are the second person having a shower and the bathmat is down, you will risk slipping and seriously injuring yourself, the bathmat once wet, becomes a serious heath hazard (I have the bruises to prove it), I would just not bother using the bathmat period as it makes the tub even MORE slippery. The other side of the foyer will house a very large closet which included many shelves and drawers with ample “hanging” space for even this family of four and even extra blankets. The closet also houses the iron, ironing board, umbrella and of course the digital safe… We love digital safes as not only do you not have to worry about lugging around a key, only you set and know the “safes” code. Much safer (pardon the pun), and harder to break into! I should also mention the safe is included in the cost of your AI package; you DON’T have to pay anything extra for its use. The room was actually decorated in quite drab colours mostly in pale blues, yellows. I did enjoy the “artwork” behind the children’s beds. However as I had mentioned earlier, the “putty marks”, chipped paint and stained “throw pillows” really take away from the intrinsic beauty of the room. As there were four of us sharing the one room, it was set up slightly different then the “standard “.

In the case of bedding, we had two “queen size” beds pushed together to make one very large “king size” bed for Steve and I, having such a large bed was nice, however having to rearrange the bedding every night and risk slipping between the two beds did get a bit tiring after 16 days. In order to accommodate the two children, we had to sacrifice our “living quarters”… Where the chairs and couch is normally located in a “standard room”, the maid had two (2) single beds moved in, one for each of the kids (separated by a “night stand”). The chairs were moved across the room, one on either side of the wall unit which houses the television (24 stations, including the Playa Pesquero information station, Cartoon station and Disney station), mini-fridge and CD player, all in good repair.

The kids assured us the beds were quite comfortable, and as the beds were raised quite high off the ground, we were able to store all four suitcases under the beds giving us more floor space. I should also warn people the beds are firm. Now, as Steve and I sleep on an “ultra firm” bed at home, the beds at the Playa Pesquero were quite comfortable, however I can see some people used to a more “flexible bed” may have a bit of an issue. I also wanted to add, the mini-bar is filled daily with 2 pop (Tukula), 2 beer (yucky Danish beer, that Steve gave to our gardener every day) and one 1.5 LT bottle of water. As we were located on the second floor we had a lovely “walk-out” balcony, with an absolutely marvellous view of the pool and swim-up bar (This is also where the main action from the Animation takes place). I would love going back to my room in the late afternoon to get away from the crowds and just sit and relax in one of the two wicker chairs on my balcony. A perfect location to spy on Steve and the kids in the pool. I would also sit and watch all the late afternoon antics by the animation staff… It was also a nice place first thing in the morning, before the kids began to stir. I could sit outside with my coffee and watch as the people started coming out to save their chairs, once the pool chairs started to look pretty full, I would get Steve to go down to the pool in order to save our chairs for the day… No, I don’t condone “chair saving”, however if you don’t snag one early enough in the morning then you’re just out of luck… If you can’t beat ‘em, Join’ em I guess.

The Resort: Playa Pesquero
Inaugurated on January 21, 2003 by Cuban president Fidel Castro, Playa Pesquero Hotel has come to be the largest hotel of the country and its additional facilities are devoted to satisfy the most demanding tastes. This pride of Cuban tourism was constructed in 24 months. It has been listed as and operates as a five-star “All Inclusive” resort. The Playa Pesquero consists of 944 rooms; all located in comfortable and separated bungalows, and are spread out amongst an area of 29.4 hectares. A rather outstanding fact was that the resort engineers/contractors were under pressure to ensure their design and construction was to include the total protection of the areas unique environment as well as the flora and fauna. Barely 30 days after it’s opening, this colossus resort had already surpassed the figure of a thousand guests every 24 hours. The successful takeoff was the result of countless efforts, going from the architectonic conception to the excellent attention and training of the personnel offering their services in all areas of the hotel. This monumental resort caters to families, large groups, honeymooners, in fact Playa Pesquero boasts such a vast array of activities and entertainment they are sure to capture the heart of just about any type of traveler.

The resort was designed using a rather unique railroad theme, fundamentally represented by a well-preserved ancient locomotive placed in front of the main entrance. The design was thought to honour the history of Cuba being the fourth country in the world and the first one in Latin America to implement the use of this means of transportation. It is at the same time a legend that has become a sort of a leitmotif, being in all areas of the hotel providing it with another touch of distinction.

The rail theme weaves its way throughout the entire design, even the resorts roads are paved as if they were railroad tracks. The housing blocks were created, and named to represent either one of the two most colourful and charismatic cities in Cuba’s southeast side Holguin and Santiago de Cuba. These two “ replicated cities” have been separated by Cuba’s largest pool and the “Fisherman’s Path”, aptly named the “Boulevard Gibara”. The mammoth sized pool was uniquely designed to replicate the “Bahia de Naranjo”. Incorporating its natural design, this freeform pool is also home to approximately six (6) mini islands, which are inhabited by some of Cuba’s smallest reptiles (geckos, lizard). The pool is also quite “family friendly” as just like the real Bahia de Naranjo, it too has multiple depths c/w column dividers separating the “deeper sections” with the shallow areas of the pool. The pool itself has also been divided in two sections (The entertainment and swim-up section or the quiet family section)… This gives the guests the option to choose between the quiet restful day at the pool or maybe something a little more active and social.

Both sides are serviced by an excellent beverage system. The active side houses the “swim-up pool bar” and is the hub of socialization. You can certainly find somebody to chat the afternoon away with, be served your choice of beverage and with a smile to boot. On the “quiet” family side of the pool, you will find one of the most delightful barman you will ever have the privilege of meeting, setting up a mobile bar for those would prefer to “stay close” to their beloved serenity and do not want to make the trek to the more “boisterous” side of the pool. The two sides of the freeform pool are separated by a bridge which leads down the “Fisherman’s Path” or more commonly know as the Boulevard Gibara.

This boulevard was designed to showcase many of the local artisans, craftsman and wood carvers in the greater Holguin community, also affording the resort guests an area to browse through one of the three tourist shops for any “sundries”, liquor or other souvenirs you may want to bring home… A reasonably priced Photoshop has also been added for your convenience. Those of you who find your in need of a little nourishment at 2:00am or looking for that quick snack anytime of the day, you will most likely find yourself prosing one of the few “snack centres”/restaurants also located on the boulevard.

Arguably the most talked about Beer Garden in Cuba is the last stop on the boulevard. The “Beer Garden has played host to many late afternoon revellers, coming together to discuss their days adventures over a nice cold brew. Mayabe, Cristal, Buccaneero, whats you libation? The beer garden also conjures up some of the best “Cuban tapas” this traveller has had the enjoyment of trying…Bacon wrapped shrimp, breaded chicken bites, spring rolls, octopus salad and many other delightful treats… A word of warning to the hungry traveler. Don’t make the mistake I did and try to visit the beer garden for a meal. This little gem is truly enjoyed best on a full stomach. A great establishment for a cold beer and tapas. Not to be mistaken as an eatery, unless you have an appetite of a “lizard “ that it. A few other eateries in the area worth mention would be the “Cuban Club”, and the Trattoria. During the day our children fondly called the “Cuban Club” the “Chicken, Chicken, Chicken”. This small restaurant once again located on the boulevard, becomes the “quintessential” vegetation restaurant in the evening, however, during the day, guest can saddle themselves up to a table with the option of having chicken served three ways (Roasted, Fried or Julianne style)… This restaurant quickly became my daughter’s favourite haunt for lunch. Each chicken platter does come with a choice of French Fries or seasonal salad. I was surprised if not delighted to hear from my children the main reason they chose this restaurant over others was the food was simple and fresh.

I will say the choices and quality of the meals we had at the Playa Pesquero (not including the A la Carte’s), far surpass other Caribbean destinations we have been to. However, after 16 days we all found ourselves craving our choices for fresh vegetables. You can only have shredded pumpkin and cabbage salad so many times before you really begin to miss the choices available to you at home! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the final boulevard restaurant “the Trattoria”. A Cuban version of a quaint Sicilian eatery, the only thing missing is the robust grandmother singing from the kitchen. The atmosphere was perfect, although, this family of four had mixed reviews on both the service and food at this particular eating establishment.

The Trattoria is now the 24hr snack restaurant… The menu is varied with plenty of pasta and pizza selections, they also had a few salads and other goodies, however the main focus of this restaurant was the Pizza’s and Pasta… If I had to choose one place on the entire resort that I was determined to avoid by the end of my trip it was the Trattoria. In my opinion the food was fine, certainly not “over the top” however certainly edible. I was so looking forward to the Playa Pesquero pizza (cheese, onion, bacon and shrimp) however in reality, the pizza was probably the worst pizza I have ever had. Ironically the BEST Pizza I have had in my lifetime was also in Cuba. Now I can say with full certainty, the best and the worst pizza this girl has tried in her lifetime, were both located in Cuba. The pizza crust in my opinion tasted quite simalar to the ” McCain’s” frozen pizza’s you can buy here in Canada, I am sure they used canned tomato soup as pizza sauce, the shrimp was of the tiny “salad variety” and the “piece de resistance” the bacon, was the fattiest, undercooked piece of bacon I have ever seen. Really there was no flavour in their pizza’s what so ever. I was “gutted! Steve and Natasha faired much better with the “Margarita” pizza (Just cheese and sauce) and Erich was quite content with his calamari and salad… Now the service… Steve and I had an on-going joke, “the wait staff at this restaurant must have either been on probation or have had some form of discipline action taken against them”. Really, we met so many wonderful staff members at the Playa Pesquero; as far as we were concerned the staff were definitely one shining lights and true strengths of this resort… The vast majority of employees were so very hard working and professional, neither Steve nor I, could possibly name one member of the Playa Pesquero staff that we felt not up to standard… Well, that goes for everywhere at the Playa Pesquero “EXCEPT” at the Trattoria! Nobody smiled; even the smallest requests seem to be a huge effort for the staff here… We actually walked out of the restaurant during one meal, after waiting for about 20 minutes for a glass of water. We tried to get the waitresses attention, however she was too busy arguing with her co-workers over lord knows what! Over the course of the 16 days we managed to have 3.5 meals at the Trattoria and eventually had to give up. After trying several dishes and putting up with some pretty surly staff, I decided it just wasn’t worth the aggravation… Theirs or mine! Now with all those shops, restaurants, bar, what could possibly be missing? Well, an Ice cream shop of course! Really there is not much that can be said about this little “god send” that has not already been mentioned in previous reviews… Every afternoon (and I do mean every afternoon), the “Stevenbev” clan would trek down to the Ice Cream shop to get our daily intake of creamy, homemade ice cream (at least it tasted homemade)… Mango, Papaya, Guava, Chocolate, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Almond and other flavours available daily. Served in your choice of either a cup or cone (in this heat I STRONGLY recommend the cone). You also had a choice of multiple sauces and even sprinkles for toppings! Once you reach the end of the boulevard, you will be well on your way to your final concrete path, heading towards the colossal beach and the vibrant, shimmering, beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

Resort Offerings:
Food and Drink
-Unlimited beverages and meals in the international buffet restaurant (Latino Buffet), two “grill” restaurants, (Yareyal by the pool) and (Ranchon Playa on the beach). Five à la cartes (Romantico, Asian, La Gondola, Seafood and Vegetarian), also included is the “Trattoria” (24hr Pizza and Pasta restaurant), the beer garden, ice cream parlour, lobby bar, aqua bar, beach bar and karaoke bar.

For a little activity Sauna, gym, hammocks, and parasols by the pool and at the beach, towel service*, tennis, table tennis, squash, billiards, windsurfing, sailing, beach volleyball, kayaks, snorkelling, and bicycles and Pool games, dance classes, four (4) heated indoor whirlpools, one (1) cool outdoor whirlpool. Various offers of social clubs and activities: sport and youth clubs, mini club, baby club, and social activities’ club offering dancing, cooking, and Cuban cocktail courses. The night shows comprise of live music and professional shows in the animation theatre. Daily scheduled animation programs, which include ecological excursions or visits to other places at the call of the visitor.

For an additional cost, the resort offers select “motorized” water activities, moped rentals, babysitting, laundry, hairdressing and massage services. *Please note, there is a $15 C.U.C charge for any misplaced or lost towel upon departure. When you arrive, you are given a voucher for one towel per person. You will need to hand this voucher to the “pool person” in order to receive your first towel. From this moment forward you are free to exchange your towel as many times necessary at either the pool or beach towel hut. When you are ready to depart the resort, please bring all your towels back to the hut and receive your return voucher. You will need to present this “return voucher” to the check-in/out staff upon departure. Failure to do this, will lead you to pay the $15 C.U.C for every towel missing.

Personal Resort Highlights, This resort has so much to offer that I could go on for pages describing every last nuance and flavor. Instead, I thought I would try and focus in on the “highlights” (and lowlights) of our time at the Playa Pesquero and of our vacation.

When embarking on this family trip, everybody had their own objectives based on what they wanted to achieve while away. As my family is getting older, and our children have developed unique interests of their own, we really wanted to find a resort which could not only “fulfill” their expectations but maybe assist in developing new interests, stretching their imagination, rediscover old interests, however most importantly learn something about the land and the people of Cuba…

In our family, a vacation is a lot more a sunbed and a good book… ALL and all I am happy to report this trip was successful! Everybody had a great time both on and off the resort, we achieved our objectives and I can finally say that I have been to the largest resort in Cuba…

Resort days:
Our resort days always began with a “wake-up” call for 6:00 am, we brought our travel clock, however misplaced it until the last few days. Steve would start the coffee; thankfully we had coffee, creamer and sugar supplied daily in the room. The kid’s and I would stay sleeping as Steve trekked down to the beach for some exercising and meditation. Steve really enjoyed this “down” time, apparently as did the Cubans working on the beach. The first morning Steve was caught meditating by the beach workers, who by the way thought Steve had developed a “stroke”, 2 workers actually approached Steve, asked if he was alright or needed assistance. A little surprised although pleased they were concerned, Steve began to explain the meditation process, and why he was doing it on the beach. The Cubans found this whole business of sitting and breathing quite comical. After a lengthy discussion and a few demonstrations. Steve actually ended up having a meditation class on the beach every day… Some of the beach workers and other guests joined in… For that matter, animation staff members and one of the masseuses (Emerson I think his name was) even began coming to the classes. Some of the guest were quite upset we were leaving, not because of our charming personalities but because they loved the class… Emerson told Steve that he would try and get something going for future guests (Thanks Angel)… So much for downtime! Steve would swing by the lobby bar on his way back, picking up a couple of OJ’s for the kids and by 9:00 am each morning our day had begun… Breakfast was either at the “Latino” buffet or if we were in the mood for a light breakfast we would have pastries and coffee in the lobby… Normally we are very light breakfast eaters, however, this buffet was so vast, and with so many little treats we just couldn’t seem to resist it. To be honest, the breakfast buffet at the Playa Pesquero was certainly the largest buffet I have seen (except my trip to Las Vegas, which doesn’t count).

Everything you could possibly imagine and then some… The highlight for this family had to be the “made to order” omelettes. Another very, very unhealthy treat that I absolutely fell in love with was “deep fried” bread soaked in honey! Plenty of cheeses, cold cuts, pastries, fruit, yoghurts, cereals, bacon, sausages, eggs in multiple forms, French toast, pancakes, churros, some weird vegetable selections (green beans, broccoli), home fries or some form of potato and of course a couple of fry stations… I really do have a personal grievance against people who use these fry stations… ESPECIALLY when the buffet is PACKED with so many wonderful choices… I really wish people would just think about how horribly disgusting and hot it was for those chefs. I would see people lining up to have their eggs and bacon fried just right, while the sweat poured off the chef’s face onto the griddle… I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to say something, however Steve, the ever present pacifist wouldn’t let me… The real bitter laugh was… These same people would sit in the lobby bar in the evening, drunk as skunks and in hushed tones discuss how poorly the Cuban resort workers were being treated by management and how dreadfully horrible the “real Cuba” was… Seconds later, the same people would complain they had to wait 10 minutes or more for a drink at the bar or that they were disappointed with food at the buffet because it wasn’t hot enough, cold enough, spicy enough for them!

Sorry I digressed, this is NOT a specific problem with the Playa Pesquero but instead an unrealistic tourist problem… I have seen this happen in other Caribbean resorts we have been to, however it was most prevalent at the Playa Pesquero… A man that I have met recently and have come to admire and respect immensely (Mr. Dubois) once told Steve and I, the people who behave in this way, and complain in this matter, are people who have no better back in their real lives (I apologise if it lost something in the translation), however after the very, very poor behaviour I saw from “SOME” guests on this trip, I truly have to believe Mr, Dubois is probably correct! Okay breakfast and my rant are done… After breakfast Steve would either head over to the dive centre or we would plan on doing something together as a family…

I wanted to touch on the diving a bit… The “Dive centre” was not located on the Playa Pesquero resort site; instead it was located at the far end of the beach just past the Blau Costa Verde.

Straight up facts:

The dive centre services people from the Playa Turquesa, Playa Pesquero, Playa Costa Verde and Blau Costa Verde… They offer three (3) scheduled dives a day, 9:30 (deep dive), 11:00 (shallow dive), 2:30 (Newbie Dive)… Steve purchased a dive package, which included 5 dives and all equipment for $130 C.U.C. You could arrange single dives however they worked out more expensive at around $40 C.U.C per dive! Okay Steve’s honest impressions (I am paraphrasing here), Steve found the dive sites to be in excellent and more importantly, healthy condition. Copious amounts of aquatic life to be found, although, he has yet to spot the “great barracuda”. Plenty of wall dives and coral banks and if Steve could say nothing else nice about the “dive masters”, he wanted to be sure that I mentioned the Dive Masters really DO care about the sites and do there best to ensure people respect this environment. As for the dive masters themselves… Well, to be honest Steve was not overly impressed… Felt they lacked the professionalism and quite frankly found their attitude to be too lacsidaysical. The dive masters showed little or no interest in your qualifications and in Steve’s opinion, thought they were allowing people with little or no qualifications go too deep… Steve also mentioned they had allowed to many divers down at once and their was no way the dive master could keep track of everybody, Some of the tourists were being quite obnoxious as well (bringing banana’s on the dive, after the dive master told them it was strictly prohibited). Steve suggests people bring their own snorkel and masks, fins are on a first come first serve basis, but you don’t need to worry about bringing a wet suit as they do provide them at the centre for no extra costs. One last thing… Some of the BCD’s are in ill repair and need replacing!

Back to the review!

Now, whether or not Steve had a planned morning dive, if we were staying on the resort for the day, the kids and I would spend our mornings on the beach. Not once did we have an issue finding “lounge chairs” on the beach and each time we went, we could get our spot under a huge mangled sea-grape tree. Just counting the lizards who made their homes in the tree kept the kids busy for hours… I should mention here, nobody our family particularly likes beaches, and I certainly could not consider myself a “beach connoisseur” however, we found the beach functional, quite large (It would take Steve 30 minutes to walk to the dive centre) and clean. The sand was deep with an “off white” colour and although there was some areas on the beach or in the ocean close to shore, which contained rocks, seaweed and/or coral, nobody felt a need to wear “water socks”. Our favourite location was to the right of the beach “water-sports” area… Our room building (17) was located on a direct path to the ocean and our chosen location on the beach (quite handy on those REALLY hot days). The only thing that I found a bit of a pain in the backside was the distance from our spot to the washrooms and beach bar… This is where our insulated “Tim Horton” mugs came in handy…

I had read somewhere that the Playa Pesquero had “beach service”, well, if this service was available, I didn’t have the opportunity to utilize it… Thankfully our mugs really worked amazingly, so we only need to go to the bar once and be set for the morning. I really did feel for those people who made the effort to drag their butts the possible 20 minutes to the bar, to only receive their beverage in a little 6 oz plastic cup… By the time they worked their way back to their seats it would be time to turn around and do it all over again… As for the “beach centre” The kids and I did take out the peddle boats (free of charge), Steve took the kids out on a catamaran ride (free, however a tip to the driver was appreciated), Steve also found himself “water-skiing” one morning (10 c.u.c) and as a family we took out the “water banana” (20 C.U.C total). One final note on the beach… Playa Pesquero is a public beach and you will see local Cubans enjoying the sand and sea, a few things we did notice, Not once did I see any Cubans harassing or bothering tourists, they do come to the ocean however I noticed they don’t sit in the chairs. For the most part I thought they seemed rather “off-Standish” and chose to keep to themselves.

Steve and I approached a Cuban family to come join us and I got the distinct impression they were shocked. They did seem a little nervous and kept looking at the security guards (who by the way did not seem to mind), at no point did they ask us to get them anything to drink or eat, however our kids did end up bringing 6 cups of Ice Cream down to the beach for the family, and they all seemed to really appreciate the thought… We had a lovely day with that Cuban family and we were even invited to join them at their home the following night for supper. We did not accept the offer as it was towards the end of our vacation and had other plans for the evening, however we appreciated the thought… We really enjoyed our time with this very lovely, highly educated, warm family; in fact I would go, as far to say, it was one of our vacation highlights. Sharing a beach with the local population in Cuba is a great opportunity to meet and share some time with a very, very warm people… If you go on the weekend you should have no problem finding somebody to chat with… We also left most of our water toys with a few Cuban children we had met on the beach (to the parents actually, we NEVER give gifts to children directly). Usually a morning on the beach is more then enough sand time for this family, so, after our morning “ocean adventures” we would either head up to one of the boulevard restaurants for lunch (descriptions above), or the pool buffet. (Grill Yareyal).

I just realized something, 16 days at the Playa Pesquero and not once did we have lunch or snack at the “beach restaurant” (Ranchon Playa), so I guess I can’t leave a review… Guess we will have to try it next time!

Okay as I have already given my opinions of the boulevard restaurants, I will give a brief mention of the pool buffet… Once again Steve and I found we enjoyed the buffet over the “A la Carte” options, which is NOT in keeping with our regular dining enjoyment. I actually can’t remember the last time we ate a buffet meal here in Canada… To be honest, I normally find buffets quite repulsive! The buffet at the Grill Yareyal offered a more basic selection of items in comparison the main buffet, however we found that we enjoyed a lighter selection anyway.
Some of the items they offered: Soup, bread (love Cuban bread), cheeses, sliced cold cuts, pickles, salads, French fries, at least one other potatoe variation sometimes two, grilled shrimp, calamari, grilled chicken legs, pork chops, “ham”-burgers, hotdogs, a “stew” of some sort, different pastas and of course the favourite of many, the “make to order pasta” station. Personally I feel having a “make to order pasta station” almost as repugnant as the “fry-stations”. Again, you could easily help yourself to already cooked pasta and add what ever extra ingredients you desire, but to each their own… For the record, my children did use the pasta station on occasion; Steve and I visited the crêpe station… Looking back I wished I hadn’t, however that’s something to think about for our next trip! There was a delightful array of cakes, cookies and pies, as well as an Ice-cream freezer. You can also get those crêpe and bananas (not made to order) for desert. Here too the staff members are totally amazing, this was probably the only restaurant where we could sit in the same section everyday and be guaranteed the same waitress… By the end of our stay, our waitress would have our table ready and as soon as she saw us enter the restaurant, have our water, white wine and “orange fanta’s” sitting at our table waiting for us… Absolutely amazing! Three (3) out of four (4) members of this family thought the Pool buffet was your best choice for lunch! The afternoons were set -aside for free time…

As soon as lunch was over, I would take Natasha to the kids club. We were lucky that Natasha instantly made friends with a couple of lovely girls from England, whom she became almost inseparable with by the end of our vacation… Actually Tasha’s, friends left 2 days before us, she was so forlorn that I don’t believe she enjoyed her final days at all. As I had mentioned, Tasha would spend her afternoons at the kids club and absolutely loved it. Yanet, (the child coordinator) really did keep these kids busy all day. The centre was actually open from 9:30 am to 12:00 and then open again from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Another important thing to note, most evenings the children re-group in the lobby at 7:00 pm where either Yanet or Diana (the baby coordinator) would meet the children and take them to dinner. After dinner the group heads back to the lobby to pick-up any late arrivals and make their way to the disco until 9:00pm. If given the choice Tasha would have chosen to have dinner with the other kids every single night, we did however have to play the “bad parents’ and have her at least join us for the A la Cartes (with the exception of the vegetarian and Asian which we knew she wouldn’t enjoy anyway). The very special nights, which I encourage all parents to allow their children to attend is on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Tuesdays is actually a pretty special day throughout the entire resort as it’s “Cuban day”. Tuesday evening the resort puts on a “street festival”. They set up tables in the boulevard and put on an authentic “Cuban Buffet “ (roasted pig and all). Yanet will take the children to the event and the children have a special section in the Trattoria set-aside for them (front row seats). After the buffet is complete, they have the band come out and play while “dancers” get people moving and swinging to the seductive Cuban rhythms… Thursdays, the Children are taken to the “Cuban Club” (vegetarian restaurant) for dinner… A special “child friendly”” menu replaces the normal vegetarian options and the resort arranges a magician to come in from Holguin to entertain the kids. Every second Thursday the children get dressed up and become part of the show (Shrek night), seeing all the children on stage was pretty awesome. A few of the actities offered for the children in the mini club are: Rock Painting, Volleyball, Dancing, Crafts., Pool games, Garden games, Mini Olympics, Shell collecting and Football. The kids club also has “mini excursions” around the resort and beach. Another great mini-club “family excursion” is offered three (3) mornings a week, and that’s a trip to the town of “Melilla” in a horse and buggy. This trip takes you and your family to a farmhouse as well as give you the chance to see a little of the “real Cuba”. Melilla is the town where quite a lot of the resort workers live. If your planning on bringing school supplies and do not fancy going to far into the Countryside on your own, this would be a great opportunity to “drop-off” your supplies. Note: You will not be able to go into the school or take pictures of the children. Your horse and buggy driver will stop in front of the school and your coordinator (either Yanet or Diana) will take your supplies into the Director for you while you wait. The government had to step in and stop allowing tourists to drop by the schools as the tourists were becoming quite disruptive to the classroom (not intentionally, I am sure) Diana told us many, many Cuban parents were complaining, they were tired of the children being treated as a circus sideshow. So now, tourists are no longer allowed on school property. If you think about it, would you want a busload of tourists stopping at your child’s school, disrupting the classroom and snapping pictures? The cost for the excursion to the town of Melilla was $20 C.U.C for a family of four. (This is for your horse and buggy driver; you should also factor in a tip for the farmer and his wife and the driver) I think that covers Natasha’s afternoons. Erich chose to spend his afternoons lying in one of the hammocks reading, At the beginning of the day Erich would swing over to the Teen activity centre to see what was on the agenda for the day, If interested in a particular event he would make the effort to join, however for the most part Erich preferred to “lay-low” and do his own thing… Some of the activities for the youth included, Volleyball (Pool, Beach), tennis, horseback riding, “ping-pong tournament”, “crazy games”, Playa Pesquero Olympics, Spanish lessons, dance classes, archery, darts, shooting and basketball. For the most part on resort days Steve and I also chose to keep a low profile, making the “rowdy” side of the pool our “home base”. With the current state of affairs in the “sunbed” war, I can tell you, if you don’t save your sunbeds in the morning you will NOT be able to get one until very late in the afternoon.

During our stay, the resort removed all of the hard plastic white sunbeds from around the pool and replaced them with a stretch vinyl type bed. This came as a delightful surprise, however they did not get enough of these beds. Now the resort is suffering from a real “sunbed” shortage!

We did have the opportunity to enjoy a couple of massages while we were away… Two (2) massages took place in the “pool cabanas” and we each had one (1) in the heath centre. I can’t speak highly enough of these masseuses, I would certainly suggest leaving some money aside in your budget and book at least one massage… You won’t regret it! The Heath Centre also housed the gym, four (4) warm water (Jacuzzis), sauna, the physician and pharmacy. Both Steve and I had the opportunity to enjoy the “warm water Jacuzzi’s and sauna, however I tried to avoid the gym as much as possible… It is a vacation after all! In the afternoon the “swim-up” pool bar became the “hub” of activity. People would gather around the bar, to discuss the day’s events. The bar also had a “dry-side” for those who preferred to stay out of the pool. Plenty of pool games and activities were also going on all day by the pool. I never actually participated in any of these activities, as I preferred to just “chill” in the later afternoon, however if interested, the animation staff could keep you busy all day long. One thing I really liked at the Playa Pesquero as opposed to the PRDO, was the ambiance around the pool… You could feel the excitement, energy and liveliness… Great music, great activities, lots of companionship and camaraderie.

Steve felt that the PRDO pool area was more like a funeral home then a resort pool (at least when we were there). I remember getting excited one afternoon at the PRDO because the bartenders finally played a CD at the pool, it was classical music, however, at least it was still music! Anyway, The family would all come together once again around 5:00pm and would all have a late afternoon “dip” in the pool. On one occasion (on a non resort day) the family decided to head to the lobby for “afternoon tea” (which I believe began at 4:00pm), I think a “British person” could give a fairer judgement on the “tea service” at the PP, however the kids and I were disappointed. The resort staff had set up a table in the lobby with tea packets, cookies, biscuits and other “nibbles”, I am not sure what I was expecting, however this was not it (Buffet style tea?). Anyway we only did this the one afternoon, for the rest of our days we choose to end it in the pool. By 5:30 pm – 6:00 pm, we would head back to our room in order to get ready for dinner.

Most evenings we would head to the lobby prior to dinner. This served 2 purposes, one, to “drop off“ Natasha with the kids club for her “dinner date”, the other to enjoy a nice cool beverage (pre dinner cocktail) in the most spectacular of settings. Each evening from about 6:30 to 9:00 pm, the lobby would open up and become “the” place to gather and socialize with your fellow guests. Adding to the wonderful ambiance of warm lighting and cool moves from the bartenders had to be three (3) of the best pianist I have ever heard “down south”. Much to my surprise, on two separate occasions, the retired pianist that Steve and I still talk about from the Paradisus De Oro, also played. As much as we enjoy the “pre dinner” cocktail hour, we really were not afforded the luxury of enjoying this magnificent piece of paradise for long. We still had our 13yr old son that needed to be fed, considering we are usually finished dinner by 7:00 pm back home, not even starting dinner until 7:30 seemed to be a feat even Erich balked at! So, as a promise to our son, we only ever managed to consume one (1) “pre dinner” cocktail each evening. C’est la vie! Now to our evening dining reviews, To be honest this was the part of my review that I was least looking forward to writing… Everybody comes back from the Playa Pesquero with such mixed reviews of the restaurants and everybody wants to give their best advice as to which Al la Carte was best and which was the one you should consider skipping! To be honest each member of my family had a different idea as to which was the “best” a la carte, that I really don’t feel comfortable sharing my opinion of them. I will say this, Steve and I visited each of the “a la Carte’s” at least once. As the resort was not very busy, the “reservation hostess” offered us as many “a la Carte” reservations as we wanted. In total, we booked twelve (12) “a la Carte” restaurants over a 16-day period, including 2 reservations for the Romantico (The Playa Pesquero flagship restaurant). After trying all of the a la cartes and the buffet during our first eight days, Steve and I decided to cancel the rest of our “a la carte” reservations for the second week (with the exception of our son’s birthday). The evening buffet at Latinos was truly awesome! I can’t believe people could walk away from this buffet with the nerve to complain (yes, their was complainers)! The options were unlimited and for a country like Cuba whose resources are scares, it boggles my mind the options that the resort can put forth. Again I need to question the “logic” some of these guests use to validate their complaints. Try paying the same money for a vacation of this calibre on any other Island in the Caribbean and see what you get! The dinner buffet did make small changes each evening, however, here is a sample of what you can expect: Soup, bread, cheese, cold cuts, salads, salad fixings (including lettuce), smoked salmon, herring, breaded fish, grilled shrimps (cold shrimp as well), eggplant, brussel sprouts, green beans, broccoli, 3 variations out of the following potatoes (scalloped, roast, baked, “boiled with salt beef”, potatoe cakes and French fries), two items each night at the carving station (one of either, beef, pork, turkey) and usually a fish, (salmon or snapper), at least two stews (Beef and Pork), Turkey legs, Rabbit, breaded chicken, breaded cheese, Paella (and usually two other rice dishes), “Pasta Station”, Fry Station, “Stir Fry Station, ready cooked pasta (usually at least three (3) variations of pasta), meatballs and the best, and I do mean best Filet Mignon that I have ever tried “down south” (The bacon was not cooked to my liking however that did not take away from the tenderness and taste of that lovely piece of meat). There were many, many more items, I just cant remember them all, and the menu did “shake up” a bit, so you won’t get all of the items every night, however not once did any member of my family come away from the buffet disappointed. I will also mention the delectable desert table, which truly was to die for. Showcasing plates and plates of cakes, cookies, pies and other scrumptious sweets. I also noticed ice cream and as with the lunch buffet, they had the most amazing crêpes and bananas (already made or you can have them flambéed). Besides the buffet we also had the opportunity to visit all five (5) of the “A la Cartes”, I will list them in order of MY preference (as I mentioned earlier each member of my family had their own favourites).

Seafood Beach Restaurant: The seafood restaurant was easily my favourite a la carte. I thoroughly enjoyed the seafood selection and the casual atmosphere. It is true the only “air-conditioned” restaurant is the Romantico however, with the seafood restaurant being located on the beach we found the breeze coming from the ocean did help to offset the rather uncomfortable heat… We did end up at the Seafood restaurant 3 times and each time I ordered the lobster tails (without the sauce), The lobsters were cooked perfectly and although they are “rock lobster” and nowhere near as good as we can get here at home, I still found them delicious. I should also note for people who are not seafood lovers, the selection is pretty pathetic. In our family of four, two of our members do not like seafood, so they were relegated to the “chicken”, which by all accounts not very good. I also wanted to mention that this was the restaurant where we had our son’s 13-birthday party… We had mentioned this to the reservations clerk and sure enough after our meal when it was time for desert the waiters and waitress did come our and sing “happy birthday and left Erich a wonderful (pink?) birthday cake.

Erich is also quite pleased to report that he had received his first (second, third and fourth kiss) from a Cuban woman! As we were leaving the restaurant all the waitresses came by to give Erich a kiss… The look on Erich’s face alone was worth the cost of this trip!

Family rating: 2 members rate as #1

2 members rate as #4

La Gondola: Much has been said about this restaurant so I shall keep it rather short. The Gondola and the Romantico are situated side by side in a rather isolated location in this resort. With us being located in building 17 it was quite the walk, especially when your wearing heals and walking through a deluge of rain. We thought about hailing a golf buggy, however we didn’t pass one on our way to the restaurant. We did notice the golf buggies seem to “show up” as people were getting ready to leave the restaurants. They must know the reservation schedule. The restaurant had a lovely Venetian theme with wooden bridges and exquisite ponds surrounding the exterior. We also noticed a rather large gondola at the front of the restaurant by the entrance; I was almost expecting a lovely Cuban musician to be floating by our table serenading us while we ate… Maybe I will make the suggestion LOL! I really enjoyed our meal, especially the salmon taggliatllie starter. I did unfortunately find in this restaurant, I could notice the lack of spice! The meal was presented quite nicely, however I really felt the food was missing the “kick” that should be in Italian cuisine. In my opinion the choices were much better at the Gondola then any of the other a la Cartes. Now, if only they could add a bit more spice to their dishes (maybe a few more pasta seafood items), this resort could surpass the seafood restaurant.

Family Rating:

3 members rate as #2

1 member rate as #5

Romantico: Okay, I know people are not going to agree with this assessment, even in my own family our opinions were all over the map. As for ambiance, the restaurant was “heads” over the others, the warm lighting, relaxing music (coming from the CD player not the pianist), the attention to detail, wonderful Parisian designs and of course the air conditioning was second to none. I was disappointed we did not have a live pianist playing, however the piano was still there holding a very beautiful bouquet of flowers! Important as ambiance is for a good restaurant, other qualities are equally if not more important in making the restaurant a true 5*, such as service, quality, options, presentation and most importantly taste. Now, according to the countless reviews I had read, the Romantico was SUPPOSED to be the BEST a la carte at this resort… I am not sure if people were blinded by the ambiance or if that “air conditioning” did a number on their taste buds, however I was truly, truly disappointed with my meal… It wasn’t the worst meal I had at the Playa Pesquero, however I believe people have hyped this restaurant so much that their was no way the Romantico could live up to its expectations. The main entrée I ordered at the Romantico was the lobster.,, Ewwehhh, lobster covered in canned tomato soup with frozen vegetables and the “piece de resistance” “powdered potatoes”. Don’t try and tell me that was a 5* meal, and don’t give me the bit about not having the proper resources or access to proper ingredients… The buffet managed to have fresh vegetables (including multiple versions of real potatoes) and who decided “Campbell’s tomato soup” would make a great lobster sauce? This is the second time I had a lobster fiasco in Cuba… The one and only time I was able to even get lobster at the PRDO, was at the “El Patio”… The lobster at the PRDO was also covered in what I believe to be tomato soup…YUCK! Maybe if I had chosen something different the review may have been different, however as it stands there is NO WAY the Romantico is a five * Cuban restaurant! Now, the service was quite slow, and to be honest Steve and I like to linger over a meal and have time between courses, I don’t like to feel rushed in the slightest… However the Romantico has taken this concept to a whole new level… It took us 3 hours to complete our meal and with two children this really was not acceptable. It may not have bothered us if the children were not with us, however our kids were so very board. I wanted to take this chance to explain something about a la carte restraunts down south. I hear this complaint over and over again, and unfortunately had to witness a very ignorant tourist behave quite badly at the Romantico when he couldn’t understand this concept When booking your “a la carte” reservations, the reservation clerk is looking at how many tables the restraunt holds, for instance if the Romantico has 50 tables, that will be the number of reservations the clerk will give out for the ENTIRE evening. They never set a table twice! This allows people to sit and linger all night long if they choose. Once you get your reservation the table is yours for the entire evening. So, when people go into the restaurant and see empty tables, they are most likely going to have somebody sitting at them at one point or another over the course of the evening. No table should see two different sitting in one evening! While we were at the Romantico a rather “tipsy” man and his wife showed up at the Romantico and asked to be seated. When it became apparent he did not have a reservation the “hostess” had to decline his entrance. The rather boorish wife then quite loudly told her husband to “pony up a tip, that’ll get you what you want with these Cuban’s”, I was shocked, however quite delighted to see even with the “bribe”, the answer was still no! The man had become decidedly angry as he looked around the restaurant and saw many empty tables… He proceeded to yell at the hostess about how it was not acceptable; he felt that as he paid for this trip he should be entitled to eat wherever and whenever he wanted to (obviously not a well traveled person)… What really made him angry was the many empty tables, and he made sure EVERYBODY in the restaurant know it! The hostess began to explain the policy, however, the “tipsy man and his wife” did not want to hear her reasoning. They finally left the restaurant in quite the “huff” muttering something stupid about Communists under his breath. I was quite impressed on how the hostess handled the situation, as I probably would have ”beat” the guy to the floor, and with the state he was in, it probably would not have been too hard. I guess there is a reason I don’t work in customer service!

Family Rating:

1 member rate as #1 1 member rate as #2 1 member rate as #3

1 member rate as #4

Asiatic (Chinese) : Now, though this meal was not he best meal I had, at least I can’t say I was disappointed, as I pretty much knew what to expect. Think about it, Chinese food in Cuba? Having Asian roots, I can assure you this restaurant was a poor mis-match of anything my ancient ancestors would have consumed. Really, I spotted Japanese, Cantonese, Thai and Indian dishes on the menu (I guess they took the word Asiatic too literally). I actually tried the “Cantonese Chow mien”, and really found no resemblance to the Cantonese chow mien I make at home. More like “angle hair” pasta with pieces of beef, onion and mushrooms tossed in with a bit of soy sauce for colour! A note of warning: I do suffer severely from MSG sensitivities… Let me assure you, they DO use MSG at this restaurant. Within 2 hours of my meal at the Asiatic and for several days afterwards, I suffered terribly from major digestion difficulties (I will save you details). I had asked at the reservation office if they used MSG in ANY of their restaurants and was assured they didn’t, however to be sure I was going to ask again at the restaurant. As it turned out we had company for dinner this evening and the MSG thought completely left my mind! Trust me, I paid for it later. Surprising enough this restaurant did receive one (1) #2 rating from our family (our daughter missed this restaurant as she was with her kids group). My son absolutely loved the Asian restaurant had had tried to convince us to go back… What did he have you ask? “Squid in its ink”… Erich thought it was the best thing he ate on the whole entire trip… What is wrong with that kid lol?

Family Rating:

1 member rate as #2 1 member rate as #4

1 member rate as #5

Vegetarian Club Cubano: Okay, I really have no idea what possessed me to book this restaurant; again maybe it had something to do with all the positive reviews it received, but man was this meal horrible! I actually loved the restaurant itself, again, as with the Romantico, I kind of fell in love with its ambiance. However I should have stuck to CC for lunches only (This was the chicken, chicken, chicken restaurant coined by a friend I had met) To be fair I am not a vegetarian, although we LOVE our vegetables (fresh not frozen). I figured with all the food we had been eating, it would be good to have at least one meatless, light meal… Well, when your wrong your wrong. The only person who enjoyed the meal was my (almost vegetarian son), who not only polished his meal off, he also assisted his father by polishing off Steve’s plate as well. I had started my meal off with the “Pumpkin soup” I had heard so much about…. Yuck (don’t believe everything you read in a review)! The soup was literally heated up (by microwave) pumpkin puree… For my main course I tried the ”puff pastry” that was supposed to be stuffed with vegetables, Okay, somebody needs to explain to the chefs at this resort what the meaning of “Puff” is. What I received was a flat piece of pasty with broccoli and mushrooms spooned over top in some thick sauce, accompanied by more of those lovely powdered potatoes… It was after this meal, Steve and I decided to cancel the rest of our a la cartes and stick purely to the buffet!

Family Rating (Tasha escaped this meal as well):

1 member rate as #3 1 member rate as #4 1 member rate as #5

I am going to take this space to recommend a meal to you that doesn’t really fit into the “a la carte” section or buffet. One of the best, if not the best meal we had in Cuba was on “Carnival night” (This happens every Tuesday night in good weather). This event is not well advertised, as they don’t have the tables or space to have everybody join.

On Tuesday evenings around 6:30, they set up tables in the boulevard and serve an "authentic" Cuban buffet (okay as authentic as it gets)… After dinner they have musicians playing Cuban rhythms while the dancers demonstrated Cuban dances and got people up and dancing in the boulevard…

Anyway, the food was fantastic. Try and get down there by 7:00 pm in order to get a table. Another thing to note, once the food is done, it’s done!

Menu: Roast pig (I actually took a lot of pictures of this guy) Platano Maduro (Sweet Plantain) Cassava Fries Empanda (I think they were filled with beans, really doughy) Crispy Plaintain Moros y Christanos (rice) Paella (Rice with seafood) Cuban sandwiches (pork of course) Papa Rellenas (Stuffed potato balls, Steve loved these things) Lettuce, onion and tomatoes

Salad fixings and a few other things I can’t remember… And the best BBQ’s shrimp I have ever tasted!

We all had a great meal and amazing evening. I seriously recommend you make the effort to try and catch this meal and show! Most evening after dinner I would head over to the Internet “café” to catch up on emails, work issues and of course the odd post on Debbie’s. The communications area consisted of 3 working terminals and an operator; there was also nice lounge (waiting area) you could sit and rest while you waited for a free terminal. As I knew I had to stay in touch with work while away (part of the deal for taking so much time off), I budgeted about 3 hours per day worth of internet time and actually only used about 2 hrs worth (the difference went to towards the bags of Cubita coffee I brought home with me). Now, a lot of people complained about the speed, however, I really didn’t have any problems. With that being said, I was not “surfing” the net. I knew exactly which sites I wanted/needed to visit, I did my business and then left. The only time I had trouble, was when I tried to find out the weather forecast.

For the life of me, I could not get the “weather network” page to load properly, for that matter I couldn’t get any weather pages to load… I think it was a conspiracy lol! The cost of the Internet was $ 8 C.U.C per hour, which I found completely reasonable, especially when you consider how much it would cost if you tried to call home! Yikes, I would choose the “slow” Internet any day over the $6 C.U.C per minute deal to call home!

I did end up missing quite a few shows as I was usually working; however Steve sat through most of them… The shows work on a two week rotation schedule so even if your there for 2 weeks you should not have to subject yourselves to each show more then once! Our family recommendations would be the “Rock Show” and the Shrek (fairy tale show)… One huge complaint from all members of this clan is, NO MORE FASHION SHOWS! My god, maybe it’s not so bad when your only visiting for a week, however it seemed every second day there was a fashion show going on… The models were at the resort so much that they even knew my children’s name! Steve’s honest opinion… Compared to the other resorts we have been to, the evening entertainment was not bad and on par with the PRDO… Better then most, still not our cup of tea! Keep in mind, when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and looking for something to do or somewhere to go, the evening show was not bad. The show starts at 9:30 and ends at 10:30 (I think). After the show people like us (with kids) tend to head home, I did notice quite a few people spending time hanging out and socializing in the lobby. We did manage to get out and “party” one (1) evening, as we hired a sitter for a couple of hours (This cost us $ 5 C.U.C per hour + tip and is to be arranged through the kids club coordinators), we also arranged for a taxi driver to take our sitter home, ($10 C.U.C). The night we had to ourselves, Steve and I decided to head to the disco. We really had a great time.! Started out playing pool (there is a couple of tables in the lobby, one (1) in the sports centre and then one (1) in the disco). We managed to get two (2) games in before the karaoke started (10:00PM), we are not really karaoke fans however the night we attended the bar did manage to draw a few pretty good singers in! Around 11:00 the disco really gets hoping, some of the animation staff join in and the do get the people up and moving…there really was a wide range of music, everything from the Beatles to Bon Jovi; however, the best music was the Cuban dance music… Everything from Buena Fe to Orishas! Finally our evening “top-off”! At the end of the day, after the children were “tucked in” for the night, Steve would head off to the “lobby bar” and get two (2) glasses of Santiago de Cuba (neat) to go. He would come back and we would sit outside our balcony, enjoying this “nectar of the gods” with an exquisite, aromatic cigar, spending the last few hours of each day together! As this is a review of the Playa Pesquero and not of Cuba I have decided to limit my review as such. I have already managed to accumulate 23 pages of descriptive detail and I figure that I have already lost most of my readers… I will say this, our trip to Cuba this year was not really intended to be a “relaxation” vacation. Steve and I actually had personal “off resort” commitments to attend to this time around. Due to these personal commitments, we did mange to log quite a few hours off the resort… To be honest, I think we spent more time “off” the resort then on. We did take three (3) “Signature approved” excursions.

In list of preference:

Roca Azul Ecological Bio-park…
Highly recommended for families that are looking for an educational, fun, environmental type excursion… Not a trip for everybody, however this was our families favourite excursion… Three hour guided horseback riding trip through an eco-reserve park, with a visit to an ostrich sanctuary, finished with a stop to a replica of a "typical" Cuban County house, and a great restaurant, in a lush rainforest setting (Bring the strongest bug spray you got for this trip)

Dolphin Swim
This was a great trip as well, unfortunately it was raining quite hard this day, so maybe not as enjoyable had we ended up with glorious sunshine… I won’t go into much detail as many before me already have… Just a note, the new aquarium is operational… We did the swim, bought the video and stayed for the show, the dolphins are well looked after and not confined as they are in other aquariums… They have 11 dolphins including a new baby, although pinned up for shows and training the dolphins are let out into the ocean in the evening… I believe the tour was $100 CUC per adult and $60 C.U.C per child… Will check into that…

Holgiun City tour (with trip to sugar mill) This is our 3rd time taking this tour, (each time with different people), however each time the trip gets better and better… The highlight of the trip for Steve was the visit to the Cigar factory… Even the kids were amazed with the care that is put into making each cigar… In a world of mass production, it was a real eye-opener for the kids to see a manual factory… Steve also bought quite a few of his cigars here and assured me the prices were cheaper then the resort… If anybody is interested I do still have a list of excursions c/w costs from Signature Vacations. I would also like to take the chance to HIGHLY recommend Signature Vacations for Canadians. I truly found both Signature reps to be honest, helpful and quite knowledgeable, not only about the resort but of Cuba and especially the Holguin area. Both reps were on site every day from 9:30 am till noon and then back again from 2:00 until 4:30pm. Chris the (Signature Vacations Canada/First Choice UK) rep, actually lives at the PP for a six- month term and spends the following six months as the First Choice rep at a ski resort in St.Moritz, France/Switzerland (I believe). As I mentioned before, we were vacationing during the season “change over”, Chris actually left the Friday before our Sunday departure, heading back to the UK for a few weeks holiday before “jetting off” to his winter haunt in France (must be a hard life! Man I need a career change)! Unfortunately, we never did have a chance to meet the winter season (Signature/First Choice rep), however I am sure they would be just as delightful! Something odd that I had noticed was, many of the “European” travel companies seemed to have “like persons” representing their company. Such as First Choice (UK) having a British representative for their clients. The Canadian equivalent (Signature) had a local Cuban as its representative! Anyway, if at any time I needed help from arranging excursions to just asking for general information and or assistance, they were there for us. I rather enjoyed having somebody on site 24 hours as they were also allowed to socialize with us in the evening, which I found rather refreshing. Whether it was Chris or the local Signature rep, they never once let us down, and I would not hesitate in travelling with Signature vacations again! In Summary: As there have been countless reviews based on “facts” about the Playa Pesquero, I tried to write a review, which, not only encompasses the “facts” of the resort, but also tried to infuse the review with my own personal thoughts and biases. I did this consciously in order to give the review a more personal touch.

I started the review stating, “A review should only be used as a guideline ”. What is acceptable or even enjoyable for one may be completely repulsive to others. We all set our own personal goals and objectives when embarking on a vacation and despite what you may read or hear from others, each vacation experience is unique to that particular individual. In the end, all you can do is plan your vacation to the best of your ability, go with an open mind, use common sense and open yourself up to the adventure. When you come back from your vacation ask yourself, “Did you have a good time”? “Did your vacation meet your expectations”? “Would you do it again”? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you could probably say your vacation was a success! Was our vacation a success? Keeping in mind the “value per dollar” scale when assessing a resort or vacation. I would say the Playa Pesquero far exceeded our expectations! As far as cost goes, we spent less on this trip then we have ever spent on a vacation (keeping in mind we were traveling as a family of four) and yet I would probably place the Playa Pesquero as our second favourite vacation resort that we have been to anywhere! Steve and I were both amazed at the opportunities offered to us. The beautiful surroundings, lovely people (on and off the resort), the safety, the accessibility and freedom off the resort, the warmth of the people of Cuba. We enjoyed the resort to its fullest, swam in the expansive pool, frolicked in the crystal clear ocean, enjoyed excellent cuisine (maybe not European 5*, however certainly Cuban 5*). We enjoyed the refreshing cool imaginative alcohol beverages, which may not have contained all “top end” alcohol, however quite tasty never the less. Enjoyed Spanish lessons, dance lessons, “resort escorted eco walks”, bicycling, horse and buggy rides and of course the amazing trips we took to the local towns and villages. I would also have to say that we did have the pleasure to meet and mingle with some of the finest staff any resort could hope to employ. To be honest, I feel as though we were “stealing” as our trip was really worth far more then I paid. This is also the first time I have said that about a resort either! Overall I would give my vacation experience a 5 star while I would give the resort itself a 4.5 star! Could the Playa Pesquero ever reach a 5* rating? As wonderful as this resort is, there was still a few things in my opinion keeping it from obtaining the elusive 5* rating. After having lengthy discussions about this topic with Steve and family. This is what we feel could possibly boost the 4.5* to a 5* resort.

1) THE FOOD
Okay, to be honest, the Playa Pesquero had the best food that we have ever had in Cuba, actually with the exception of the “a la carte” option; I would say the resort had the best food that we have ever had “down south. With that being said, the “a la Cartes” all fell short of anything higher then a 4* rating. We thought the service was EXCELLENT in ALL of the “a la carte” restaurants, yes, even the service at the Romantico was excellent albeit a little slow. We may have enjoyed the 3-hour meal if not with our children, however families with children should be able to request a shorter wait period between courses. The problem with the food falls squarely on the “quality” and “options” available at the “A la Cartes”… Come on, I mean powdered potatoes and frozen vegetables? If this was the only option available then fine, however the “buffet” had all sorts of “fresh vegetables and potatoes”. In my world, the A la Cartes should showcase the resorts finest offerings, however this was NOT the case at the Playa Pesquero, for the first time in my life I actually preferred the buffets

2) The Landscaping
Okay this was a “hot “ topic in our home; Steve was thougouly disappointed with some of the landscaping and resort care that had taken place while we were there… I really did not see a problem! To be fair, I think Steve’s biggest problem, is that he was comparing the landscaping at the Playa Pesquero to the PRDO, a more mature, lush resort, the Grand Playa Turquesa which was built in the middle of a Cuban rainforest or even the FDR Pebbles in Jamaica, that didn’t really have a lot going for it, but it certainly had spectacular gardens and beautiful foliage. The resort gardeners did work tirelessly and under such oppressive heat. We actually had one of the “garden sheds” located beside our building, every morning, as we would pass by, they always stopped, smiled and wished us a great day. I think however, the gardeners were fighting a losing battle. The resort was too large for the amount of landscaping staff they had available. The resort was quite sparse compared to just about every other resort in the area, long grass everywhere. To give you an example, and yes, I do have a picture of this, the grass was long in front of the “Ocean view” buildings, that one day as we are walking the path back to our building, we noticed a “stray” (as in I couldn’t find the owner anywhere) horse grazing in the grass in front of building # 10… The security guard who mans the post here had “radioed” somebody to come remove the horse, however this should give you some sort of idea of what we are talking about. Holes, dug along the “ditch” in front of our building on our first day of arrival, however nothing was planted in those holes by the time we left. The buildings on the very far side of the resort (rooms in the high 30’s and 40’s) were empty when we arrived, it’s a good thing to as the “weeds” and “overgrowth” had reached so high, only the top of the building was visible (that’s an exaggeration, however you can get the jest of what I am saying)! Finally Steve and I both felt their should have been more walking paths. In our section, you could see “man-made” walking paths trampling over flowers, new trees, grass and other new foliage, in order to “cut-corners” and get somewhere quicker. The worst area was from our “main road” across the gardens to the pool… So many people would cut-across the garden that it now looks as though your supposed to walk through! The one area where we had absolutely no complaints was the lobby. The Playa Pesquero has an absolute breath-taking lobby, full of water features, wooden bridges, ponds, and comfortable seating areas, amazing bar service… My god, somebody even comes along and creates little “sand fishes” in the ashtrays… Amazing! This was the kind of attention to detail we were looking for throughout the resort. Unfortunately the lobby was the only area where we think they “hit it on the mark”! I wouldn’t normally complain about something so trivial and actually this is not a complaint. I can assure you the landscaping certainly did not take away from my experience. It is just another one of those things preventing the resort from obtaining a 5* status.

3. The Ambience
Okay, working simultaneously with the landscaping would be the ambience. That close personal connection you make with not only the “staff” but other guests as well. As the resort is so large I think it’s hard to foster that feeling of family or receive the personal service Steve and I have had at other resorts. The small things such as, remembering your name, remembering your favourite drinks (although we did meet few staff members that “fit the bill”), remembering you don’t like onions on your pizza, stopping and asking how your day is going and truly seem concerned if things are not alright. “Beach” drink service, when you leave your shirt behind at the pool, having somebody pick it up and bring it back to your room for you. In actuality I didn’t expect to find that type of “personal service” , however its that type of service or atmosphere that makes the difference between a 4.5 and 5* resort. I am not so sure how attainable this will ever be for the Playa Pesquero, its shear size prevents the staff from really getting to know its clients, and in almost all cases, we see the staff trying, however I think this will be a big “hurdle” to overcome it they want the 5* standing.

4. The Organization,
Okay this is Cuba and Cuba is famous world over for its lack of organization or its “make do” attitude! “There is always tomorrow”, “don’t worry”, “and don’t rush”! For some people this attitude works, however for people like me, that needs everything to be scheduled and solidified in stone the “no worry its Cuba time” thing, really doesn’t cut-it! I tried to get into the swing of things, however, when scheduled activities don’t happen and nobody comes by to explain, the scheduled train/truck to Guardalavaca that was supposed to show up at 9:30 am everyday doesn’t show up at 9:30 am but instead shows up whenever it wants to. When the kids club coordinator just doesn’t show up for dinner (Not Yanet), and leaves eight (8) kids standing around waiting. When the “ communications operator” chooses to stand beside you chatting while your internet time is ticking away or when you try and book your time on the “Hobbie Cat” and the watersports guy tells you “no problem” come back tomorrow at 2:30 pm… You arrive, he is not there and the “other guy” has no clue what your talking about and finally when you think your going on a bicycle tour to only find out that is was cancelled and has now become a walking tour. You really, really start to get annoyed! At least I do! This happened at the PRDO as well, however not quite to this extent. I guess it was even worse in Jamaica. At least in Cuba they try and apologise and help you find an alternative solution. In Jamaica you were really just out of luck! I really think it may be more of a culture thing that a resort specific issue, however it was something that drove me crazy enough to have it affect my overall rating.

5. Bar Drinks,
Okay this one is short and straight to the point… There is NO WORLD SHORTAGE OF MINT! I am not sure why, however I could not get a mojito on this resort if I tried… Come on, this is Cuba! It wasn’t only Mojitos, however the Playa Pesquero seemed to have a dislike for all of my favourite libations (okay, mostly “fruit blended” drinks) however I could’nt even get a “Banana Momma’. Now, people complained about not having “top shelf liqueur” (Steve and I didn’t notice a difference by the way). However it was what they mixed the liqueur with that was gross… Sickly sweet, syrupy drinks with rum… The bartenders menu could have 86 different types of drinks on the menu, however they were all pretty much a variation of the one before it! Now, there were certainly a few exceptions. Steve and I both enjoyed the martinis, and the Varadero Sunrise (Steve actually won a free bottle of rum for making the best Varadero Sunrise, during a drink making contest, and no he has not made any since we have been home). Steve and I both enjoyed our Santiago de Cuba rum, and our “spiked coffee”’ was to die for. However I really did miss my “blended fruit drinks” or a refreshing Mojito in the Cuban afternoon. Well we have come to the end of yet another “Stevenbev” adventure, I really hope you enjoyed this review albeit a bit long winded, and I hope I offered you the reader, some insight into our vacation and the Playa Pesquero resort in Cuba! Would I recommend the Playa Pesquero? Heck yes! I would recommend the Playa Pesquero for families, groups, couples looking for a resort with a little more oomph and vivacity and even singles, with so many people around it may be easier for a single person to find a group of people to connect with. Steve and I consider the Playa Pesquero a good solid 4.5* resort, and may find ourselves back their again someday!

Now, for all those with the strength and tenacity to stay with me so long I do have a top 10 list of tips and information for you. 1) Bring an insulated mug, no matter how awkward you feel, it is a necessity for the beach. I had people offer to buy ours from us! 2) Bring bug spray and “afterbite”; the mosquitoes are in full force. The Canadians did not seem as bothered by these pesky critters however the Brits really suffered! 3) Don’t lose your Towel or umbrella. The Towel will cost 15 C.U.C to replace and the umbrella costs 10 C.U.C 4) Late “check out” is available for a cost. 4:00 pm $30 C.U.C, 6:00pm $50 C.U.C and 11:00 pm $70 C.U.C 5) Room service (24hrs) is available from the Trattoria (menu located in your room), as much as you want to order for $5 C.U.C 6) There is a Bank at the resort, located to the left of the lobby heading out. They are open from 7:30am to 11:00 pm daily. They will exchange your currency and offer, “cash advances” from your Credit Card (as long as the card is drawn from a Canadian Bank, Citi Bank is not). 7) Men MUST wear long trousers for dinner at the a la Carte’s (no matter how hot it may be) and no, 3 quarter length trousers will NOT work. 8) Try getting off the resort; Cuba is one of the safest Countries you will ever have the opportunity to visit. If uncomfortable going alone, the tour companies do offer plenty of choices. It really would be a waste if you pass up the opportunity to see some of the “real” Cuba. Although not documented in my review (for privacy reasons), the best times we had on our trip were the times we left the resort and spent time with our friends in Banes. 9) Make sure you don’t miss the Cuban night buffet on the boulevard Tuesday nights, for a chance to sample a bit of real Cuban cuisine. Excellent food and Great entertainment, an event you don’t want to miss. Just make sure you are there by 7:00pm at the latest.

10) Finally, TIPPING is not included in your AI package for this resort… Tipping is not mandatory; you will not see better or increased service if you do tip; however it will be greatly appreciated!

Hotel Playa Pesquero, Rafael Freyre, Holguin Cuba Telephone # (53 24) 30 530 Fax # (53 24 535) Email: jefe.ventas@ppesquero.tur.cu Thank you for this opportunity to share. Many of our vacation photos have been “uploaded” to the following site:

http://community.webshots.com/user/StevenbevPP

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Playa Pesquero Resort – Holguin Kathy & Dana ~ Oshawa, Ontario

November 2005

My husband and I (we are both 32) traveled to Cuba for the first time on Nov. 5th for 1 week at Playa Pesquero. We travelled from Toronto, Ontario with Air Transat club service. This was a belated honeymoon for us so I opted to upgrade to Club class. On arrival at Holguin at approx. 11:00 p.m. we moved quickly through immigration without a problem. We found our rep, bought a couple of beer for the road, and boarded the air conditioned bus for the approx. 45 – 1 hour ride to PP. Upon arrival at the hotel (hint- sit at the front of the bus if you can as you will be first off and therefore checked in faster.) My husband got the luggage while I went to the lobby desk. Check in took less than 15 minutes and then a buggy took us to our room. First impression of staff is that they were very friendly and welcoming.

ACCOMMODATION
I had sent an email request to the resort advising them that we were on our Honeymoon and they paid attention to this note. Upon arrival I received flowers, there was champagne and pastries in our room. Also, our request for a king bed and a room on the 2nd floor was granted. The rooms are quite large and always kept clean by a daily visit from the maid. TV, cd player, mini fridge and coffee maker are all nice touches. We left a tip for the maid at the beginning of our visit and again at the end with little treats left almost daily (school supplies, soaps, make up, perfume, etc).

BEACH
Beautiful beach! White sands and lots of shade to be found. For the first few days we would go to the beach in the morning and spend the afternoon at the swim up bar and we never had a problem finding shade. There are small huts as well as alot of natural shade. You never have to worry about finding a lounger, when the staff see you arrive at the beach they will wait for you to find your spot and bring loungers to you. We brought water shoes but only wore them when snorkelling, there were some crushed shells but nothing even close to posing a problem for walking barefoot…even to the beach. The beach hut to book the sports opens at 8:30 a.m. (or sometime 9!) and if you would like to book something for the day do it early.

SWIMMING POOLS
The pool at PP is a sight to behold…very large and it curves naturally with an island in the middle near the swim up bar. There are areas for everyone, whether you want to relax or be a party of the party. One thing I wish I had been able to find before leaving was a water lounger saw a few people with them and they are great for spending a lazy afternoon floating around. There is also an outdoor whirpool, which was relaxing at the end of the day.

FOOD
Breakfast – the breakfast buffet is very large with many items to choose from, our daily favorite were omelets made fresh to order or eggs any way you wanted them. Large fruit and cheese bar along with many types of breads, yogurts and cereals you really could not go hungry! The Trattoria (pizza restaurant) also served breakfast until 11:30 a.m., we heard it was good but opted for the buffet.

Lunch – so many places to choose from for lunch! In particular we liked the place next to the beer garden (for the life of me I can’t remember the name!)…they served chicken breast tenderloins and fries…yum! You could also get friend chicken, which was good too. The beach restaurant had the best shrimp “shrimps to the iron” is what they were called and also friend cheese and hamburgers …one thing to note is that other than the Trattoria every “hamburger” you order will actual be HAM. They are very good but if you don’t know you will be surprised! The “beef” burgers at Trattoria were very good. I am not a pizza fan but my husband had the pizza a couple of times and liked it. We only ate at the lunch buffet (The Grill) once and it was good (they will make you whatever kind of pasta you like) but once I discovered some of the other places we preferred to eat there.

Snacks – you will see it here over and over again…. The Beer Garden is the place to go for 24-hour snacks. Misty chicken, spring rolls, lobster appetizer and of course the bacon wrapped shrimp were all fantastic. One hint- if you would like more than 2 shrimp just tip the waitress and tell her you would like “mucho shrimp” on one plate…we did this a few times and received at least 12 shrimp at a time. Never a problem to ask for seconds or thirds! yummmm Also, at around 3 every day in the main lobby they have ‘tea time’ with sweets and small sandwiches. Chicken and swiss chess on a croissant was my favorite.

Dinner – We booked our a la cartes early the morning after arrived and had no problem getting the restaurants or times we wanted. I booked our a la cartes for 7 p.m. and if I would do it over again I would book them for 8 as we liked to stay at the pool bar until it closed at 6 and found 7 p.m. dinner a little early. But that is a personal choice.

Dinner buffett …found was good and the staff was excellent but we found it to be VERY hot and stuffy. If you can, sit towards the outside or in one of the little rooms on the water..much cooler there for eating. Huge selection of food and it changed daily.

Romantico : By far my favorite both for atmosphere and food. I have the lobster and pineapple appetizer and the lobster tails for my main course. I grew up on the East Coast so am pretty picky when it comes to Seafood but this was fantastic. I also tried the salmon puff pastries …very good. My husband had the cream soup and he didn’t really like that and he also had the bacon wrapped veal, which was good but overdone. Just a note that if you like it rare you will need to stress it to your waiter. A guy played piano and the lighting was very soft, very much a 5 star service at this restaurant.

Seafood: Both of us had the lobster again and it was delicious. The beach restaurant turns into the seafood at night. It is open air so you should wear bug spray and be aware that the only a la carte which is air conditioned is the Romantico.

Italian: I ordered the salad and chicken, it was ok. Staff work very hard to stay in theme and they always serve with a smile. My husband had the veal here and really liked it.

We did not try the Asian or the Vegetarian so I cannot comment on those.

Overall I rate the choice of food and quality at PP a 5 star…it would be very difficult to go here and not be able to find something you liked. Of course the food is different from home… you aren’t at home! And I can’t forget the Ice cream place which was a daily favorite!! The ice cream sundae at the beach restaurant (served with caramel) is delicious!

DRINKS
The beer is quite good, we are normally Coors Light drinkers but very much liked the Cristal. Another favorite was the Crazy Canadian (best one to make this is Jose at the swim up bar!) and the Slushy lemonade with Rum. You will need to tell them if you do not want alot of rum, otherwise your drink will be VERY strong. If you are a wine drinker my favorite was at the Italian restaurant and it was called “NordEast” …very nice! We tipped the staff and they gave us two bottles to take to the lobby show with us, as they do not have the same wine in the lobby bar.

NIGHTLY ENTERTAINMENT
Overall the nightly entertainment was what you made it; there was alot to and lots of places to hang out. We tended to play pool in the lobby bar after dinner, head to the disco and then to the beer garden for some late night snacks. We always had a good time!

The band that played with many of the shows was very good. We often would play pool in the lobby bar and watch the shows in the background and they were ok. Shrek was cheesy but funny. We didn’t participate in any of them but they looked ok.

Disco – We met alot of people while we were there so we would often meet the disco. The karaoke was entertaining but could be better organized and maybe would have more participants…but also I think this is largely dependant on who is on the resort at any given time. We had some very fun nights at the disco and it was typically open until 2 a.m.

The resort was only about 60% full when we were there and the lobby bar at night was understaffed. The staff tried their best and were very pleasant but service was slow…often there were only 2 of them working a very large bar. We quickly learned to order 2 drinks at a time!

TRIPS
We didn’t book any excursions as we found there was always something to do on the resort. One morning we opted to book a taxi into Holguin (5 pesos return pp), they dropped us off and we arranged a pick up time. We wandered around the open air market a while and then hired a horse and buggy to take us around Holguin. Horse and Buggy was 15 pesos. We visited the school and brought some school supplies. I felt very safe in the city and the only problem we found was being approached to buy cigars. In a span of ½ hour we were approached at least 6 times.

WEATHER
We could not have asked for better weather, sunny and 30 + every day. It rained maybe 4 times and never for more than 15-20 mins and usually in the evening.

BUGS
We did not notice the bugs until we started to see bites on us…you often don’t feel them but you will see them the next day. Bring some deep woods off for the evening and also some after bite. Some tips/ things to note: · Bring a cooler mug, preferably stainless steel…they kept our drinks very cold. We also brought a large thermos to keep water in. · If you like to lounge in the pool bring a water lounger or an air mattress. · When you are ready to check out, call the desk and they will send a buggy for you. · We were told that you can often get the excursions much cheaper through the hotel vs through your rep. We didn’t book any but a number of people told us this. · This is a large resort so be prepared to walk, we were in building 51 and were a 5-7 min walk to the pool. If you do not feel like walking you can call the lobby and they will send a buggy. We enjoyed the exercise!! · If you would like to be closer to the pool ask for bldgs 17 – 19, they are quite close. · Bring cortisone cream in the event you have an allergic reaction or get a heat rash, you can get it from the on site doctor but it is quite expensive. · If you would like snack (chips, chocolate) bring your own! A small can of Pringles was 4 pesos at the store. · Get your towels from the towel hut closest to the pool, your towels need to be returned to the same place you got them at the start of your vacation and the hut by the pool is MUCH closer to the lobby than the one at the beach. · Check your tour binder towards the end of the week, a few people found out the morning they were leaving that their flight time had changed.

· Internet cost 8 pesos for 1 hour and it is very slow, there are 3 computers located by the main lobby desk.

FINALLY ….I would recommend this resort to anyone, we had a perfect vacation in a little piece of paradise. We will look forward to returning there again !!

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