Recent posts by Hollydog | Debbie's Caribbean Resort Reviews Forums

Some of what you may want to avoid depends when you go – you may have to play towel wars at the peak of the high season. Same with line-ups, etc. And I don’t think it matters how much money you have paid or how many stars the resort has. My all-time favourite in Cuba is a basic 3-star. But we have done the high end. Let me put it this way – it is a really nice treat to upgrade and go all in every now and then. But I think you still have to travel with reasonable expectations. Just because you pay mega-bucks, does not mean that you will not face some things that could annoy you.

But I still think sometimes its worth the extra just to see how the other half live. (I generally do it in the really low season so that I don’t pay much – there’s also nothing nicer than a half-full 5-star resort – you get truly pampered then – and there are no line-ups.)

Can anyone say common sense?I agree with eeeeefarm – as a solo traveller, I often end up walking around at night. And I have never encountered any problems. However, I also don’t set myself up for any – no "harmless" flirting, no flaunting of jewels (I’d have to buy some first), and no drunk/rowdy/stupid behaviour that would get anyone thinking I’d make a good mark. If I’m going out for the night (off resort), I do tend to tell someone where I’m going and when I expect to be back.
I took some spanish-language "soap opera gossip" magazines last year for a friend who was in the hospital awaiting the birth of her first child. They were a HUGE hit with her and all the other ladies!Another topic that is really popular is horoscope magazines.

Poor you, Steffiej – not sure how you’ll cope with all that luxury! You might not want to get off the plane when you get there.

There is also some chatter about this on the Marea del Portillo Facebook page. (Remember – always take the "I heard from a friend of a friend of a friend who was talking to his neighbour" rumours with the usual open mind.)
Moving at Cuban speed is the key – I now have a complete understanding of why it is that Cubans "stroll slowly" everywhere. My amiga’s son explained it to me – he rides his bike 15km each say to school every day. If he rides his bike fast , then his school uniform gets all sweaty and smelly and he has to wear them all day – so if he slows down, his shirt stays nice longer. The same is true for the ladies who always seem to be "strolling slowly". And here we just thought they didn’t care how long it took to get somewhere!

Last summer I learned to "stroll slowly". After a day or two it became a habit!

We will be leaving August 21 for our fourth Caribbean (3 to Cuba) summer trip. Definitely Stinkin’ Hot! But we love the fact that the hotels are virtually empty. Our favorite, Marea del Portillo, is really different in the summer than it is in January. It is really a neat experience to see both aspects. We also enjoy spending time with Cubans enjoying their summer holidays along side us!

The previous posters are also correct – can’t go to Toronto for a weekend for what we can go to Cuba for in August.

Update – Sunwing has decided to offer Marea through the summer (Tuesday departures from the Centre of the Universe). Rooms at Punta Piedra and the superior rooms at the Farallon section are closed – just the main (older) hotel will be open.

At this point, they are not going to be open this summer.
First flights from Toronto or Montreal are scheduled to resume November 1, 2012.
I can only speak about the Marea del Portillo. They allow billing to your room. In fact, the process for paying for a massage is that you sign a bill after the massage and she sends it to the front desk. It is then entered into the system. I used to pay each time (you have to take the receipt to the front desk, wait while they enter it and then pay), but it is just easier to do at the end of the trip. You can also make phone calls from your room. (Although I often go to the front to make them in order to avoid any confusion and then I can find out the cost right away.)I would recommend asking at the beginning of your stay if you don’t know what the practices are at your hotel. This information is often included as part of the welcome briefing.I usually settle up my account the evening before 9to avoid the check out day rush).

I generally remove as much packaging as possible – it all adds to the weight of my suitcase!

SOME hotels will cash travellers cheques, but be aware that they will charge a percentage fee to do so. Since you really don’t need a lot at an AI in Cuba, follow what the advice of the other posters who recommend cash. I take about $300 for 2 weeks, and I use a RBC Visa Card to pay for any hotel-related expenses (usually massages that I bill to my room) and tours.

The Marea del Portillo does a "Repeaters Dinner" each week. They have a special meal and while somewhat "lame", is very popular with many. While I’m sure some of us would like alternatives, to me it is the "thought that counts". This particular resort doesn’t have a lot to offer, but they go out of their way to make the repeaters feel very welcome throughout their stay.

Ouch! It’s too bad that Cuba (like many other countries) is losing the ‘charm’ of the small little hotels in the hunt for the almighty tourist pesos! My first stay in Cuba was at the Don Lino and if it had not closed down for a few years, I’m not sure I wouldn’t still be going back year after year. Of course, it was due to its closure that I was able to discover the Marea del Portillo, where I am now family.
I have travelled solo at Christmas. Yes, we pay the single supplement, but I have often run into other singles who just want to get away from it all!In fact, i would say a fair number of solo folks travel at Christmas because they don’t want to just "sit around".

Safe, treated water in every part of the world contains bugs that local people’s bodies are used to. When you travel to a new area, there MAY be things in the water that will not affect locals or seasoned travelers or most adults. Their stomach is used to it. So true – I live in Northern Ontario and when I travel to Toronto I switch to bottled water because the "city water" upsets my stomach (but Cuban water does not). It really is about what your stomach gets used to. If in doubt, stick to the bottled stuff.Just remember – too much fresh fruit (including juices), sun, alcohol, salt water (kids tend not to spit all of it out) and excitement can lead to felling a little "iffy" after day 3. Don’t rush to "blame" any one thing.

Enjoy your trip – you will have a blast!

Cuban Spanish, Canadian French and Maritime-ish are tough on translator software.

and in many cases we are assuming that the Cuban writing the letter has perfect spelling.

The only place where I have had serious food concerns – Brisas SL! And I will eat just about anything.

My partner still refers to this as "that pasta joint" because all she ever found to eat at lunch/dinner was pasta. I think it was the Ox Tails that put her off the first night, and it got no better.

I did the same thing a while back with a bottle of Remy Martin XO. Finished it off one evening with a neighbor, along with a nice Cohiba and then aged a bottle of the cheapest gut rot brandy I could find into the XO bottle. A few months back after a meeting at our home I offered everyone a drink. One of our "know it alls" spied the XO in my liquor cabinet and requested a shot of that. I played it up big time by going and getting him a proper crystal glass. Well, he sniffed it, he rolled it around in the glass, being the connoisseur that he is, raved about how smooth it was. A few of us in the room knew the real story. It was hard keeping a straight face.

Love it! I thought I was the only one who did this sort of thing!

Beach: Melia Santa Maria (I’m not sure what it is now); Cayo Largo’s beaches are a close secondRoom: Melia Santa MariaScenery: Marea del Portillo – the mountain backdrop can’t be beatPeople: Hands down my favorite, which is why I keep going back – Marea del PortilloFood: Barcelo Cayo Largo (it has changed names, too), although I have never "suffered" anwhere.Pool: Melia Santa MariaLayout: Marea del Portillo. This is a small resort, but what I like is that everything is close and you’re never too far from anywhere.Tour: Marea del Portillo Jeep Safari
we just about fainted when we discovered there is pool drink service. Me likey! Oh yeah! Pool drink service is very dangerous – in a good way, of course. ;D We had beach drink service one year in Puerto Vallarta as well.We were there one July just after it opened and loved it. The isolation is an attraction – and the beach, well, say no more –

Glad you enjoyed it

I have never seen an avocado in January, but when we were there in August, avocados were everywhere! And served with everything! It clearly depends on the season.
If you go with an open mind, a willingness to try something "different" and reasonable expectations, you should be fine.Most buffets do not add "zing", salt, spice, etc. because if they did, the other 10% who want bland would complain. Keep in mind that when trying to feed +/-500 fussy people, a country under an embargo does really well!I take pringles for the evening munchies as well. I never eat chips in Canada, but those tubes are so easy to pack!
This past February, we had the pleasure of visiting the office, in Havana, (out towards Miramar) and meeting most of the employees (no, they aren’t working out of The Netherlands). I don’t think those who have considered booking with them need have any concerns. In other words, steffie knows ‘where they live"!!!

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