This is a review from people who actually used to love to go to Cuba. We spent 10 vacations in Cuba all of them in different resorts (3 to 5 stars). As you would expect, some were better than others, but we have never been as disappointed as we were this year or we wouldn’t have gone back. Sol Cayo Coco did it for us. We’ll never go back to Cuba.
Sol Cayo Coco is a 2* hotel in my book and here is why:
Arrival: Reception desk: once we got there, we were given some forms to fill in first, then we were assigned rooms. The reception staff was ok most of the time with one exception: when we asked about the transportation options available to go to Playa Pilar we were told that the only way to get there is taking a cab. We found out later from other guests that there is a bus that for 5 CUC offers a round trip of the whole island.
Changing money: there is an office where you can change money. Everything about this office is a mistery. The exchange rate or hours of operation are never posted. They give you as many CUC as they feel like it. If you ask for a receipt, you are going to be told that you cannot get one because the printer is broken.
Rooms: clean but outdated. The equipment is very old and defective; the fridge was broken and the TV showed images only in green. Although, there are about 24 channels, only 3 or 4 are English channels anymore.
Restaurants and Bars: Food: terrible. Again, we have been to Cuba 10 times before so we didn’t have any unrealistic expectations. One member of our group was sick with diarrhoea and fever for 4 days, a thing that have never happened before. There is a first time for everything, I guess 🙂 Breakfast: was ok. Although boiled potatoes and french fries are offered daily there, you can find something else to eat like eggs or pancakes. Lunch: is the worst meal of the day. The choices are limited and the food doesn’t have any taste. Dinner: is a little better than lunch. Again, no taste whatsoever but a few more choices. Salad bar choices: boiled eggs (the leftovers from breakfast) cabbage cold boiled pasta green (unripe) tomatoes green pepper cold out of a can peas cold out of a can green beans cold boiled potatoes cold boiled white beans cold boiled white rice Warm dishes: warm boiled potatoes warm out of a can peas warm out of a can green beans warm boiled white beans boiled pumpkin white boiled rice black boiled rice white boiled rice with egg pasta Service: there are a few people that work really hard and really deserve their tips. There are others that will totally ignore you unless you tip. Same thing happens at bars. Bars and drinks: Besides the tipping problem, there are not a lot of drinks available. Only cuban rum and cuban vodka, cuban Cola, Fanta or Sprite. No Martini, Baileys, any type of whisky etc. The juices available (only orange and pineapple) are made out of powder. Only at breakfast real orange juice is offered. Also, the barmen fill up the glasses with ice to the top so the juice or drink will pour after is in small quantity. If you ask for “no ice” they are very unhappy and sometimes pretend to not hear you. The beach bar: opens at around 11 a.m and closes somewhere between 3:30 and 4 p.m. after they give out all the drinks they have to locals, family and friends of the resort’s staff. Also food from the resort is given out using the same route. I have seen people from the beach leaving with garbage bags with full bottles of drinks and jugs of beer from this bar.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Beach: the resort uses 2 beaches. Both are PUBLIC beaches. Cubans are allowed to use both of them, the beach chairs, the pedal boats and kayaks. There were days when there were hundreds of local people on the beach (specially on Saturdays and Sundays). The nautical centre with pedal boats, hobby cats and kayaks is shared between Sol and the neighbouring resort Melia. Every day, the staff takes out only 2 pedal boats which are usually used by locals, 3 – 4 kayaks, and 2 hobby cats which are usually used by the staff to make under the table money by offering to take tourists for deep see fishing. There is no shade on the beach before noon. There are only a few palapas and the seats under them go for high prices. Also, there are not enough beach chairs on the beach. Some of them are also broken. Pool: nice. There is a small pool for kids also. Again, there is very little shade around the pools.
Gardens: nice but not great. Someone mentioned in a previous review that the gardeners “are providing tourists with coconut drinks and hats”. Please allow me to rephrase that: the gardeners are selling hats for 5 CUC and coconuts with rum and orange juice from the bar(for which we already paid) for 2-3 CUC. Also, for a price, the gardeners as well as the life guards, will reserve beach and pool chairs in the few shaded spots for tourists willing to pay for this luxury.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Day entertainment: happens only around the pool. On the beach nothing happens. They don’t even play music. If you are lucky and ask a lot of questions, you might get to play some beach volleyball. Night entertainment: there is a mini disco starting at 9 p.m every night for kids. They seem to have a lot of fun. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. During a 2 week stay we got to see 4 or 5 real shows that were decent. The rest of the shows are made with guests (e.g.; dance competition, pool party, beach party) Out of resort trips: those offered by the tour operators are ridiculously expensive but you can get a tour of the island in 2 other ways. One, is by using the bus (a double deck) who takes you all the way to Playa Pilar (about 40 Km away from the resort) and on its way there stops at every resort on the island to pick up people. It costs 5CUC for a day (unlimited stops). You can get off and on as many times as you want. At the end of the trip with the bus, the ticket lady will take away your tickets (on which the date is never written) so she can sell them again next week and pocket the money ( look at the serial numbers on the tickets and you will understand better).
The second way, is by using a train that offers a 3 hour tour of the island for 12 CUC/adult and 8 CUC/child. The trains leave at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Other Comments: Management: First of all, this resort is managed by a Cuban company or it is going through a transition stage in order to pass the management to the cuban company Gran Caribe. Although they are still allowed to use the name Sol for reasons I do not understand, they proudly posted a sign that says in Spanish something along this lines : “ This hotel is a part of the Gran Caribe hotel group” The present manager, apparently from Spain, doesn’t care about what is going on in the resort right under his nose. He is going to leave in October anyway. Guests: we went to this resort under the impression that it is a family resort. However, there were quite a few guests allowed to tan on the beach or around the pool half naked (topless). I do not believe that guests exposing their breasts should be allowed in a family resort. The neighbouring resort, Melia, is an adult only resort exactly for this reason. I hope that my review will help some people decide easily if they want to go to this resort. I wrote here everything I would have liked to read before I decided to buy tickets for our vacation. I wish you all a great vacation anywhere you decide to go!