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

Just a note that some of the Club Amigo (perhaps all hotels in Cuba, but I’m not positive) hotels have changed their e-mail addresses – they have replaced the "co" with "tur" – example the ending is now instead of

So for the Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, the contact address I have is now [email protected]


Last year at the Manzanillo airport they started restricting you from taking money (CUC) out – they installed a money exchange booth in the departures area and made everyone go there.The Sunwing rep was warning people during her briefing and it was posted on her bulletin board taht if you had any CUC, they could (and would) confiscate it and you wouldn’t get anything in exchange.Those of us who like to keep a little for the next trip have started to "hide" a little in our suitcase or in a sock. LOL.The rationale for the new ban was twofold – a possible move to one currency and also there have been a lot of incidences of people making counterfeit bills and coming back to Cuba with them in order to flood the market (blame the CIA for that one, I’m sure).

Apparently you can keep coins. Its the bills that are the issue (see my CIA comment above), so for those who still want a couple of pesos to tip the luggage folks on the return trip, you will be fine. Personally, I stopped keeping too much because I don’t want to arrive one trip to find out that my CUCs are worthless.

I have already taken advantage of Sunwing’s Price Drop Guarantee this year. It was really easy – I just watched the price and one day it was $250. less than what I had paid. I filled out an on-line form and about 3 weeks later, a cheque for $250 arrived in the mail! Imagine my surprise as I RAN to the bank to cash it before they changed their minds!

Yes, I had to watch the price, but it was SO worth it. (I’d check every Tuesday, as that seems to be the day that they tend to change things up.)

When we took bikes in January we ended up with lots of extra parts, (from somebody Else’s bike), from the Santiago airport staff. It is a good idea to bag all small parts and secure it to the frame so they don’t fall out.
We use a couple of zip-lock bags and stuff the one with the "small bits" into the bottom of the seat. The other one, we tuck tape around the frame. Don’t forget to include a small wrench to tighten things up and a tire pump (we have a really small 6-inch one that we take back and forth with us). Put these in a zip-lock, too.We also use tuck tape to secure the box. There are a couple of advantages to using tuck tape -1 – tuck tape is almost impossible to undo, so there is less chance of the box coming undone or things getting lost2 – the red tape makes the box easy to pick out at the airport
I book my summer vacation last minute – watching for the "ideal week and price", but since my winter vacation is more a "must have", I tend to book it as soon as possible. As far as price goes, I like to get a decent price, but basically will pay what I have to for January (and offset it with fantastic last second savings in the summer. I live about four hours from Toronto, so it makes sense to use it as a departure city, but I can sympathize with those of you in other parts of the country. To travel to TO costs sometimes costs more than the trip to Cuba for a week!
Doing nothing for the entire time is my definition of "being busy" in Cuba!

OK, so I spend the vast majority of time with my nose shoved into the e-reader, but also like to go for walks on the beach and visit my local Cuban friends and family.

Contact information for the Club Amigo Marea del Portillo (and Farallon del Caribe). This was current as of a couple of months ago.

Public Relations – Alianis Alvarez Naranjo – [email protected]

Sunwing rep – Elena deMoya – [email protected]

Thanks, Hollydog: main contact list updated as per this information.

Oh, all right….seeing as you asked really nicely – let me tell you about Tequila Tuesdays…….A group of friends would always buy two bottles of tequila at the Duty Free in Toronto (one for each Tuesday) and then on Tuesday they would give the bottle to the bartender who would "pour" for the day!My friends (sorry, I’m the designated ‘walker’ – don’t drink) proceed to get slowly buzzed throughout the day. No one gets rowdy drunk, but things can deteriorate into "silly" by late afternoon. One particular Tuesday stands out from the others – A not-so-young couple decided to make use of a chaise lounge near our group (8 of us) on the beach late one Tuesday afternoon (around 4). They were totally absorbed in each other, and only made use of one chaise lounge. We were all sitting in a row facing in their direction (had been before they arrived). As their "activities" proceeded to get very hmmm….shall we say….cozy…one of the guys started a running commentary, sort of like a voice-over. Well, everyone had been drinking and had few inhibitions, so after a while everyone was making up even racier commentary! It got pretty crazy, and would have all been rather embarassing except for one thing – the couple on the chaise were so absorbed in each other, we don’t think they ever noticed we were there! This went on for a good half hour or more before they finally got up, still absorbed in each other, and "got a room"! Tequila Tuesdays have never been the same since!
Some really wet white stuff around us yesterday. (Given the editors request that we manage the foul language, I will refrain from using the s&*w word on this site)
I’d go back to my first "love" – Puerto Vallarta Mexico. But unfortunately my partner refuses to go anywhere near Mexico "sigh".

If I could afford it – St. John in the USVI, or Tortola.

Licensed glider pilotParticipate in dog agility with my 2-year old "All Canadian" dog (brittney spaniel/beagle mix) – Dog agility is a sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course (think of SuperDogs, only we’re not that good)Speak four languages – English, French, Spanish, GermanPink Floyd "The Wall"Meat Loaf "Bat out of Hell"

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, totally worn out and screaming "WOOOOHOOOO, what a ride"!

Sunwing is ruthless about carry-ons! At least they are in Toronto – they weigh everything and will nail you for even half a kg over. I have one of those Heys luggage scales, which is extremely accurate. It was well worth the money and since getting it I have not been dinged for any overweight. Since it weighs to the 10th, I can have a 4.9kg carry-on.

As an aside, I ran into a ‘problem’ one year when they tried telling me that my "purse", which is styled like a really small back pack was not a purse! Hell, it is half the size of many of those so-called purses that people carry. So now I use my beach bag as my "purse"; the funny part is that is is bigger than the bag I originally used. But, I guess it all depends on one’s description/perception of what is a "purse". (PS – I don’t own a "real purse")

This year I registered with Sunwing’s Price Drop Guarantee. The price of my January vacation dropped by $220. I filed the claim and within a week (yes, really, ONE WEEK!) the cheque for the difference was in my pocket!
Just got back from Marea del Portillo last night. We got a lot of rain and it was very windy for a day and a half. With the exception of a lot of seaweed and high tides on the beach, it was a "non-event". Since the night before they had us all set to be evacuated to Bayamo, it really was a bit of a let down. The storm took a more northern track than originally thought and so we were spared the worst.Images from the Cuban news on television were of lots of water and rain. No reported deaths or injuries.

The locals were thrilled and thanking God for the rain – it has been a very dry summer and they really wanted some rain.

Rice pudding, bread, cheese, yogurt! One of the best meals I have ever had was at a CUP restaurant in the middle of a park in Bayamo (wish I could remember its name). It cost us less than $15 Canadian for a full meal with dessert – there were 7 of us! The waitress and all the kitchen staff got a great tip that day!

And there is nothing more refeshing than stopping at one of the "Sugar Cane Drink" carts for a cool one in the middle of the afternoon! Just remember to return the glass!

I live in Northern Ontario. In January, anything with warm sun passes the first test. But, since this is a survey, I go with price (like eeeeefarm, the single supplement is always a consideration) and beach as the two most important things. I like to be able to walk along the beach in the morning (it so beats climbing over snowbanks to get to work) and enjoy the sunrise.Next, I don’t want a ton of activities that I’m not going to participate in and so long as the food is edible, I will not starve.During the day, I prefer the beach to the pool mostly because the pool area is often less private and noisier. At home I am a bit of a hermit. I don’t change a lot on vacation. I prefer small but big enough to spread out. I also want somewhere where I can get out and visit people. One of the reasons I don’t go to the DR too much is the "compound-like" atmosphere of their resorts.

Food is not that important – I have yet to be hungry on a Cuban vacation! But I do tend to avoid rice, beans and chicken for about a week after I return home.

"As far as giving any gifts to children, I think this is a bad idea, unless you have the express permission of their parents. How would you feel if some stranger showed up at the school your child attends and began handing out gifts? Creepy, right?"Definitely! That’s why if I go to a school or hospital, I always meet with someone "in charge" and give them my donation. The only time I went directly to a classroom was when I had been invited by the classroom teacher, and I gave her my donation to give to the children later. I’d be creeped out if anyone just walked into a school and started handing out "stuff".And I agree that with many, cash is totally appropriate. Perhaps I was misunderstood a bit – to me, "gifts" are for friends, "donations" are for groups of people, such as a school, "tips" are for services rendered. I do a combination of all of them. I do not take random dollar store items to hand out like Santa. I do drop off a bag of hotel-size soaps and shampoos to the maternity ward in Pilon. Some of the girls there stay for a month or more waiting to give birth and love to have a little "treat". And yes, I give them to the nurse at the desk, who then hands them out to the girls in front of me so I know they were shared and they can all "thank me"!
When you go on vacation in Canada do you take gifts? YES! In some cases, I do! It’s not "vacation travel" as such, but my work colleagues and I occasionally have to travel to remote, Northern Ontario fly-in communities. We do a "NJT-like" thing and pack along a second suitcase full of donations of clothing and personal products (soap, shampoo, etc.) for distribution in the community.It depends on where in the world you are travelling to. A friend recently travelled to Churchill, MB to see the polar bears, and the tour organizer encouraged a "gift" for the needier in the community as a way of showing appreciation. Another friend always takes gifts to the local school in the DR when she travels there. A friend who went to Africa took gifts as it had been suggested by someone – the photos of the excited children at the local school are beautiful! She said that the kids had never had coloured pencils before!It isn’t just Cuba where gift-giving is appreciated – and needed. We call them "gifts", but in most cases they are donations to communities that are needier than the ones we are fortunate enough to live in.

darn! I’m getting a nosebleed. Time to climb down off my soap box. Sorry, folks!

I have been taking shoes for my friend’s 14-year old son since he was 4 years old. When he went from a size 8 to a size 13 shoe in less than two years. I can assure you that she was EXTREMELY grateful for the new shoes I take him every year! I told him that once his feet stop growing, I’ll buy him a name brand pair (eg Nike). In the meantime, I have been getting reasonable quality new shoes every year at Walmart on sale.Last year he outgrew a pair so quickly that I was worried that they barely got broken in – then his Dad came in , proudly wearing them! His younger cousins also show me the "new" shoes they have had handed down over the years.No matter what we may think, our "gifts" are generally appreciated and will make someone very happy.
I think to an extent it also depends where you are mailing the letters to. I stopped mailing letters to my friend in the Marea del Portillo village because she didn’t get any of them – not postcards, single sheet letters, etc. But when I sent a letter to a friend in Pilon, the nearby larger town, it arrived.I now send e-mail through a mutual friend who prints it and delivers it for me and then e-mails a reply within a day or two. Or I telephone, which involves two calls – one the day before to the neighbour with the phone to set up the time. I tell the neighbour what day and time I will call back, and then my friend is ready when I call. In fact, the neighbour will take her phone off the hook about 10 minutes before I am due to call so that no one else can "take my time". So far it has worked fairly well!
Personally I have had more fun at three stars than I ever have at higher starred resorts. Of course, when you don’t pay much you don’t expect a whole lot, but I go for the beach and the ocean; snorkelling, sailing and beach walking are my thing, so as long as I have a reasonable place to sleep and sufficient food to keep me going, it’s all good!
Me too! The first question the lifeguards ask me when I arrive at the Marea del Portillo beach is "how many new books do you have?" I am known for arriving on the beach in the morning, sticking my nose in a book (now an e-reader), coming up for the occasional swim and lunch, repeating in the afternoon.I’m happy with "three hots and a cot"! (That’s 3 meals a day and somewhere to sleep). ;D
Nope – no ginger ale. I agree with Spunky – the Limon is pretty good. (He calls it 7UP; at the Marea del Portillo they call it "Sprite")

I always put my liquids in my checked luggage because I have a connecting flight in Toronto. I just use the dirty laundry and pack the bottle(s) as close to the middle as possible of my bag. Knock wood, I’ve never had a problem. I like to bring back honey – Cuban honey is awesome, but that’s a different post – I always put the honey jar in a ziploc baggie (I never leave home without about 10 of them – going down I use them for the shampoo, sunscreen, other liquids so they don’t accidentally leak on my clothes) and then wrap it in dirty clothes for the return trip.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *