OUR FLIGHT: We booked our holiday with Hola Sun holidays and the flight was with Cubana Airlines out of YYZ to CYO, the flight which was on time was 3 hour 15 minutes long . There was lots of leg room on the A320 aircraft, this roominess, made for a very comfortable flight. They served the usual airline snack food of ham and cheese on a bagel, packaged desert, coffee, they even threw in a complimentary Bucanero beer.
On arriving in Cayo Largo we were quickly deplaned and made our way through customs rather quickly as well. Although the hotel is just 10 minutes away, we were kept waiting on the bus for 50 minutes. We still can’t figure out why. That aside, as we sit on the bus waiting, we are now in holiday mode and are ready for a very cold Cristal or an equally cold Mojito even though, every, and I mean every single Cuban at the airport, is wearing, their hooded winter coat, their winter boots, their winter gloves, and of course, their blue surgical masks. For them I guess 15°C is a bone chiller. They all looked so traumatized by the cold snap. We would have offered them all hot chocolates spiked with rum if we could have.
Your Arrival: There wasn’t too many guests for the Sol Pelicano, maybe 20 people or less. As repeat guests we were looking for a separate check-in but that didn’t happen on this occasion. Too bad. I guess they’ve abandoned that idea. That said however, we were one of the first in line at the reception and we had our keys to the room (in the area that we had wanted) and we had our bracelets, all I might add in short order. Check-in was quick and easy for everyone. With our keys in hand, we made a quick dash to our room, and with our luggage arriving within 10 minutes, we were, in short order, on our way to the lobby bar for that first Mojito. I have to admit though that the weather was cold enough that I kept on wearing my jeans and a longsleeved sweater. That was the first time that has ever happened in Cayo Largo. I am usually peeling off the layers of clothes by the time I hit the hotel lobby.
The staff at the lobby bar looked beyond traumatized. They were wearing the same kind of winter clothing as I had been wearing hours before in Toronto. If there was any silver lining to this cold snap, it would be that there was was no mosquitoes anywhere in sight. The mosquitoes had gone to ground, hopefully for the rest of the week. After a couple or so Mojito’s, the temperature seemed a lot better,we were now ready for a good night’s sleep. We did need our blankets the first night though. Another first. Brrr!!
Rooms: Our room was more than spacious enough for us. It was simply furnished with two three-quarter beds, two night tables, a television (about 10 viewable stations), fridge, chest of drawers, writing table, blanket box. The closet was quite big enough for any of our needs, there was ample space in the closet for clothing for two people. The closet also housed the safety deposit box (opened with your room key) .The electrical current in our room was both 220 V and 110 V. The bathroom had a nice shower stall, toilet, bidet, marble vanity with sink, hairdryer, 110 V plug. The bathroom facilities more than met our needs. We had no problem with hot water all week. Lots of towels, lots of shampoo and soap. Excellent housekeeping all week long.
A very nice feature of our room was a really nice pair of French doors that opened on to an equally nice tiled balcony. The balcony was facing west, and in the afternoon that warm Caribbean sun shone into our room. The balcony was a front-row seat to the main walkway to the beach, it also was a great place in the late afternoon to sun oneself, whilst at the same time enjoying a refreshing cold one. It was peaceful sitting there on the balcony watching the world go by.
Restaurants and Bars: We made good use of all of these facilities all week long. For our meals, with lunches being exception, we chose the buffet. We had lunch every day at the Ranchon by the beach. We usually had a midafternoon snack at the pizza bar. We did have french fries on a couple of occasions at the Zun Zun poolbar-snackbar. ENTRÉ MÁRES BUFFET. It had a good variety of food for breakfast, a limited selection of items for lunch, dinner was excellent with (in our opinion) a very good selection of food items and dessert items. RANCHON LUNCH:. We love being there at the Ranchon looking out over that shimmering turquoise sea fringed with a pristine white sand beach. Every day we had a front seat to this beautiful panoramic view of the beach and ocean. Lunch there was quite a simple fixed menu meal with a choice of fish, chicken, pork, burger, all served with french fries and usually garnished with a cabbage salad. There was also a central table set up with a simple variety of cold salad items (tomatoes, lettuce, peas, beans, beets etc.). Lots of nice bread and rolls. There was a nice selection of desserts as well. Excellent service at this Ranchon. PIZZA BAR:. Our midafternoon snack here. We enjoyed the pizza here. You can order beer or wine or even a simple cocktail to accompany your pizza. Excellent fast friendly service here. ZUN ZUN:. You could have burgers and fries, pork on a bun, chicken on a bun, french fries, etc., these from a set menu. This was also the pool bar. We found it hard to get anybody’s attention if you were sitting and waiting for lunch. Of course you could go and order your own lunch if you wanted. The Zun Zun was though, a nice place to have a cold one and maybe a burger, and then to sit and watch the afternoon entertainment at the pool.
LOBBY BAR:. If we wanted to have a quiet drink during the day this is where we went. During the day, service was excellent here. Immediately before and after dinner, this bar got quite busy and it was difficult for the staff to keep up. It’s a very small lobby bar. However, we always managed to get our after dinner drinks in a timely manner. For us this bar, when the music started at about 8:30 p.m. got a bit too loud.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: THE BEACH this year, in front of the hotel, was nice and wide and in excellent shape, as well there seemed to be lots of new palapas for shade and lots of lounges too. Of course all of the rest of the hotel beaches on Cayo Largo were in excellent shape also. Playa Sirena and Playa Paraiso, as usual, were quite beautiful and in great shape. There was three train trips to Playa Sirena every morning from the hotel lobby. You could walk to Playa Sirena if you wanted. However it does take about two hours to do that. We do it quite often and it’s not as taxing as it would seem. Of course the weather, although sunny, was cooler this week, that made it easy going for us. THE POOL at the hotel is a saltwater pool. There is a fair amount of shade around the pool and the Zun Zun pool bar is close by if you are in need of some refreshments. Very nice place to spend the afternoon if it’s too windy on the beach..
THE GROUNDS are well-kept and there is a nice amount of vegetation and flowers in the hotel gardens. Because this is really a desert island it is not as lush as hotel properties on mainland Cuba.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The animation team at this hotel try their best to keep you active with pool activities, beach activities etc.. We don’t really take part too much in the activities, we usually do our own thing. As this is a very small island there is not a lot to do outside of the hotels other than walking the beach, visiting the other hotels etc.. We do quite a lot of walking to the different beaches and hotels. Really this is strictly a place for rest and relaxation and enjoying the beautiful beaches. There are some catamaran trips available etc.. There is also a free shuttle to the village about three times a week where you are accompanied by one of the animation staff from the hotel. You can visit the small museum, the Marina, the sea turtle farm. There is a 1 CUC admission fee to the museum and the turtle farm.
Other Comments: WHAT SHOULD IMPROVE:.They need a bigger lobby bar for the evening crowd, or better still, a nice bar somewhere in the front lobby area. Definitely they need need a better system at the Zun Zun for serving the tables, maybe putting a couple more waiters on those tables would help.
WHAT WE LIKED. Apart from the couple of comments above, we thought the Sol Pelicano was great. We certainly loved walking the wonderful beaches, having a simple but tasty lunch at the Ranchon, our room, the attentive and always genuinely friendly smiling staff. The great service at the buffet and at the Ranchon. We have in the past few years always found this hotel to be a very comfortable and relaxing place for a vacation, this year was no exception. The hotel is an excellent three-star plus property. We had a very good time despite having a fairly cool week. Actually for us the cooler 22°C daytime temperatures were really great. It was quite sunny all week. We would certainly come back here again at the same time next year, especially for the price we paid for our week’s vacation this year. For us though, one week is enough as there is a limited amount of things to do outside of the hotels. Anyway, we do like to break up our winter with holidays to several different locations within Cuba. Below are some links to photos and videos of Sol Pelicano and Cayo Largo Cuba.