Our first time vacation to the Caribbean. In fact, our first "beach" vacation together. Over 40, with no kids, we chose a resort that catered to an older crowd or maybe more appropriately, NOT a party crowd. For the most part, Sandal’s met all our expectations.
Cuba in general & safety::
Even easier than travelling to the US (both of us have travelled extensively for work). Never felt harassed at the airport with bags and our transportation was immediately identifiable (thanks Marcello), both coming & going. Although we didn’t leave the resort, many fellow travellers took the bus into Veradero; feeling nothing but safe and happy.
Large, spacious, and well laid out. Yaima, our maid, was friendly and grateful for the gifts and CUCs we left her every day. Huge bed and bathroom! We were in the 900 block, with a south-facing balcony that was a pleasure to sunbathe on, during the one really windy/cool day we had. We were totally sheltered so the wind never bothered us. I’m sure the moat-thing that winds itself around the complex would look nice with running water in it. After the amazing thundershower one night, it filled up a bit and the guys were out screening up the bugs and tossing powder on the water. Wonder if they know that all they have to do is keep the water moving to avoid the mosquito problems. Which were not bad, BTW. The sand fleas, however… more of a problem. There was also that stench others have mentioned – it was strong at times.
We had heard not to expect much in the way of flavour and that eating off the resort was a way to find some. We were happy with the selection and variety of foods at the buffet and weren’t into adventuring during this trip. The Grill was the only a la carte we tried. It was so good that we booked last minute for another night (thanks Karenia). We made friends with Andres and Yenny and Osvany, (the egg guy), was always a pleasure every morning. The only complaint about the food is the vegetables. Just not done well. Salad is almost non-existant but everything else was plentiful. Service was always fantastic (wine refill, clean-up, coffee, etc.). The only other challenge was FINDING anything to eat between 3:30 – 7:30. There were supposed to be snack options but, we never found them. Once we understood the buffet’s schedule, all was well.
Amazing! Never encountered the "towel wars". Maybe because they stacked the loungers every night and they maintained the ones around the pool just as well. No towels were left out and the guy was out on the beach earlier than you are, ready to take down two loungers wherever you want them. There were two rows of large palapas at the back of the beach so, plenty of shade for everyone who wanted it. There were always some loungers stacked at the back so no lack of space or chairs. Water was gorgeous! Warm and clean. Not much to see for snorkeling but there were other options for that kind of thing. Some days the bar staff would come get your drink order right on the beach (JP and Karenia were awesome!). We enjoyed the quiet aspect of the beach (as opposed to say a March-break, young party crowd) maybe since we were all mostly couples.
Sorry we never stayed up late enough to catch any of it. The main shows didn’t start before 10:00PM (10:30PM Caribbean time 🙂 and we were already in our rooms by then. The lounge performers were all entertaining while enjoying an evening drink. Even some of the guest were entertaining 🙂
Other Comments:: We tipped liberally and gave away everything we could but, next time we’ll be bringing more specific items. Most said when prompted, that things for their kids (shoes, socks, clothes) and OTC meds like Tylenol, polysporin, Advil, cortizone, bandaids, etc. were most welcomed. Feminine products are well received as are pantyhose, hair accessories, deodorants, and shampoos & soaps. If you can bring bicycle tires, you’re their hero. Rubber is hard for them to get there and most get around by bike. No tires, no bike, no transportation. It costs many a 6 month’s to a year’s salary to afford them, if they can get them.
We’ll be going back to Cuba for sure. To the same resort? Undecided at this time.