Sol Cayo Guillermo was where we had a wonderful relaxing week between October 19-26 2010, it was our first visit to this hotel. This is a very nicely laid out 3-3 1/2 star hotel, all low rise 1 and 2 story buildings. The gardens are beautiful and we enjoyed every single day our many walks through the property. We had a very nice, basically furnished, room number 518, it was I believe refurbished, we had more than satisfactory housekeeping service all week. We dined only at the buffet and were quite happy with the food. The food was typical 3-3 1/2 star basic Cuban hotel food that was nicely prepared and nicely presented. We enjoyed the drinks at both bars on the property (one beach bar and one much larger and better stocked bar near the lobby). The staff at this hotel are tops, especially the buffet dining room staff. The bar staff were wonderful as well and went out of their way to make sure that we were quite happy with their service and their drinks. Like always there was a few minor bumps in the road, nothing that we couldnt overlook and continue to enjoy this lovely property. It has a good beach and beach area and a very nice swimming pool. We took full advantage of all of the perks the property had to offer. We would certainly go back to this hotel, even considering it was shoulder season, it was absolutely top value for the money that we paid for our vacation. Mosquito spray with DEET is a must when you vacation in the Cayo Coco-Cayo Guillermo area, after all, it is mostly wetlands. We were very lucky as we only got bitten on a couple of occasions, others had quite a few bites. The bites mostly happened at dusk and dawn. You should have no problem if you come prepared with your DEET-based lotion or spray, or really whatever works for you. They did fog the perimeter of the property for mosquitoes both morning and evening. We are not really sure how effective that is. Below, a more detailed version of the property might be of interest to some.
Arrival and Check-In: We flew Sunwing Airlines, leaving Toronto on time and arriving in Cayo Coco in three hours and 15 minutes, going through customs and immigration was quick and easy, we were on our way by bus to Sol Cayo Guillermo within the hour. We dropped off passengers at two other hotel stops before reaching our hotel, there were four of us for SCG. We were checked in quickly, we did however have to wait for our room as it was before 12 noon. We didn’t have to wait long as within half an hour of checking in, we were comfortably ensconced in our room.
Rooms: Our Room:. Although we did not pay for oceanfront, we nevertheless had no obstruction between us and the beach. Room number 518 was quite large enough for us. It was a bright sunny spacious room and looked like it had been refurbished in the not too distant past. The room was on the ground floor,it had sliding doors with reasonably good locks that worked well,these doors led to a very nice patio which was furnished with two chairs, the patio overlooked well groomed gardens and there was a good view of the ocean which was only 100 m away. The room was simply furnished with two three-quarter beds, two night tables, a large cabinet with a built-in chest of drawers on one side, a built-in fridge on the other side, a TV set on top. The TV had very good reception and there was a good assortment of channels. The electric current in the room was all 220 V, the plug receptacles were three prong North American style. The room also had a good-sized closet with a built-in safe, the safe was opened with your room key. The closet had lots of hangers available, housed a small chest of drawers, iron and ironing board, blankets etc.. The bathroom had a nice size shower stall, marble vanity with sink, toilet, bidet, hairdryer, 220 V plugs. There was good water pressure the whole week, lots of hot water, plenty of towels, soap, shampoo. Very good housekeeping all through the week as well. No real problems of any kind there.
Restaurants and Bars: Food:. All week, for our main meals, we dined at the buffet only. We were quite happy with the food, it was typical 3-3 1/2 star basic Cuban hotel food, it was nicely prepared and nicely presented. For breakfast you could have eggs any style, they had bacon every day at this station also. There were several hot tables containing scrambled eggs, potatoes, pancakes, beans etc..There were cold meats, cheeses, lots of good bread, toaster to make your own toast , yogurts and milkshakes, fresh fruit, cereals etc. etc., a good breakfast assortment we would say. Lunch was quite good. They had quite a few choices of fish, chicken, pork, some cooked to order or already prepared, different stewed meats were available at the hot tables as well. There was a good variety of breads, salads, pasta cooked to order, lots of desert cakes, four varieties of ice cream. Dinner was a mirror image of lunch with the added, chef carved, lamb, turkey, beef. White or red wine with dinner or lunch. The table wait service was first class at the buffet, hats off to the maître d’ who ran the place. Since dressing up for dinner is not what we wanted, we didn’t use either the Don Guillermo or the Italian à la carte. From all accounts the Don Guillermo à la carte was excellent and maybe when we go back we will give it a try. The Ranchon by the beach served just pizza for lunch, it was open from about 12:30 p.m. until 3 p.m..This same Ranchon, by night, served as the Italian à la carte restaurant. Nearby to that, by the beach bar, they served barbecued hamburgers and hotdogs at around noon time until mid afternoon. We used both facilities and were quite satisfied with the food served. Bars: On our week, during the daytime, there were only two working bars . We enjoyed the drinks at both bars on the property (one beach bar and one much larger and better stocked bar near the lobby). Bar Tocororo which is adjacent to the lobby, is the main bar, here they have a fairly good variety of drinks, a nice selection of rum, beer of course, the mandatory Mojitos, and a selection of hand mixed cocktails which you can ask for by name, if they have the ingredients they will make it for you, very good coffee also available 24/7. An extremely obliging staff at this bar. Adjacent to the main bar they served a variety of toasted sandwiches, sandwich hours on our week were from about 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.. El Cubanito, the beach bar, had a much simpler menu of rum, beer, mojitos etc.. This bar was a nice quiet place to sit and enjoy the refreshing sea breezes combined with a lovely view of the beautifully multicolored ocean. El Cubanito bar hours were from about 10 a.m. until late in the evening, we just used this bar in the middle of the day.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach: In front of SCG the beach is quite lovely even if a little narrow at high tide. The ocean is a beautiful color and is shallow and warm, a great beach if you have young children. There is ample lounges and shade on the beach for a lot of people. We had no problem at any time getting a lounge and shade, of course SCG was maybe between 50 and 60% occupancy, this beach may be a little more crowded in high season. The beach is groomed daily using a mechanical beach cleaner pulled by a tractor. The seaweed does build up on windy days, a little more in some spots than others but didn’t bother us in any way. We loved walking the area beaches both mornings and afternoons. There are a couple of what I would say were "virgin beaches" 2 or 3 km west of SCG. There is a well-defined path that can be easily negotiated to these beaches, it’s an easy walk. These beaches are somewhat littered with flotsam and jetsam, nonetheless, the beaches are very interesting to walk and you are usually the only one on the beach. The pool is very nice indeed and is cleaned early mornings on a daily basis. The water was warm and we very much enjoyed our daily swim. We experienced no shortage of lounges although there were people who saved lounges. Although we didn’t take advantage of it, there was a drink service for people in the pool area. Everybody kept this chap pretty busy. He was kept working hard every day.
The grounds are so very beautiful, we loved just walking around and looking at all the tropicals. The gardeners kept the whole property in very good shape. Our housekeeper, on a daily basis, picked us a nice bouquet of those tropicals for our room. Wonderful.
Small Annoyances: After having a wonderful five days of quaffing down, at high noon, or sometimes a tad before, LOL, two prechilled glasses brimming with, deliciously cold Cristal beer, on our sixth day, we were crushed with a cruel disappointment. On approaching the main bar we asked for our usual two prechilled glasses of ice cold beer, only to be told, "no dice my friends". We were not too subtly informed that "they will not be serving any drinks, anymore, at the main bar, in glass, before 7 p.m.". The reason given was that "we might take it to the pool area and break the glass into the pool and the pool guy would get upset". I assured them I wouldn’t do that, I was prepared to post a bond to have that cold Cristal in prechilled glasses "no dice they said". I found that a rather odd rule as I would believe that there are more glasses broken in the pool after 7 p.m. than before, I may be wrong. From now on we were informed, you just could only have those 4 ounce disposable plastic glasses (the ones that now litter all of the Cayo Guillermo wetlands). These we were told were orders from no other than the manager himself. This unfolding confrontation at the bar, reminded me of the situation on Seinfeld with George and the soup guy. Of course, dissappointed and despairing at the thought of missing our prechilled glass of cold Cristal, my mind went into overdrive and right away I thought of a solution and went back to my room and got two prechilled glasses from our fridge, the day and our holiday was now saved when the bartender relented and filled our glasses, it was a close call, but to the victor goes the spoils, I have to say the beer was the best I ever tasted. A note to the manager. For us, this was just a very nice simple daily, no cost to you, ritual that we enjoyed. With rules like that, you are just cheapening your bar service and Sol brand reputation, we are not all louts who throw glass in the pool. We hope when we return next year we can as usual, spoil ourselves a little We will let you know when we are coming so please have the porch light on and those prechilled Cervesa glasses tucked away in the cooler.
Things We Really Enjoyed.:
We enjoyed our room, our patio, walking through the gardens, walking the beach and small trails, laying on the beach watching the colorful kites, the friendliness and dedication of all of the wonderful staff, the whole layout of the low rise hotel buildings, the pool barbecue, six days of glass and class service at the bar. Yes I guess, we enjoyed everything, even High Noon confrontations at the bar LOL. We will be back.