For over 15 years friends have been telling me how good the Sol Rio de Luna y Mares is. I finally went for the first time and I can honestly see why this resort is a favourite of many of my friends and the many Europeans and Canadians I met at the resort. I am well-travelled in Cuba and my opinions are based on my other stays at 4 star Cuban rated resorts. I think the SRLM is a solid 4 star resort but I will give my overall experience a 5 star rating. The price point was usually my main reason for not choosing this resort in the past but I truly understand that you usually get what you paid for. We actually got this resort cheaper than the former RPT . I was a repeat guest at the former Riu Playa Turquesa (Memories Holguin now) and really enjoyed it there but I was not overly impressed with a recent stay at Memories Varadero and found the RPT on our last visit just prior to the hand over was constantly running out of food very early in the dinner and lunch sittings and many items were not replenished.
Hotel check in went very smooth and efficiently. Many guests were upset that the hotel could not accommodate their special room requests. ( I sent an email in advance and got a nice reply but was not given any guarantees either. They said they would try their best. ). The hotel was at full capacity and the front desk assured people that they would move them to another room the next day if they desired. I normally don’t like ground floor rooms but after seeing that we had both a slight ocean view and a nice garden/pool view with a fully enclosed patio/balcony on the Mares side, we decided to keep it after all. The Luna side is a little more modern and quieter but we actually didn’t mind a little activity close by. Our room was handy to the lobby bar and buffet. We went back to customer service the next day to tell them that we were keeping our room because they had already arranged for us to see another room. Yunier the customer service manager and his assistant Virgen Maria were very professional and sincere in ensuring us that we would have a great stay and were happy that we liked our room after all. Knowing that we had chosen the Sol Rio over our repeat guest status at both the Blau Coste Verde and RPT we were afforded many of the repeat guest perks at the SRLM. I can’t thank both of them enough for their very kind gesture towards us, it was definitely more than we expected !
Restaurants and Bars: I thought the food in the main buffet was very good. Fresh meats , fish and pasta was cooked to your preference at separate stations. The beach grill by the Luna had a great a la carte lunch menu. The 24 hour snack bar made amazing pizzas , calamari and chicken cordon bleu to mention a few. I only tried the Mexican a la carte and I really enjoyed it. It was a hit or miss for some of the other guests I spoke to. I enjoyed the food at the main buffet so much that I didn’t bother booking any other a la carte restaurants. I hate being on a rigid schedule when I am on vacation. The nice thing about the resort is that you could always go to the snack bar for a missed meal. We arrived for check in at the resort after lunch service and had a great meal at the snack bar. The bar service throughout the resort was very good to excellent. The staff IMHO is what makes this resort stand out from many of the others that I have visited. Even though the resort was at full capacity there were rarely any line ups for food or drink and the waits were very short when there was. We were always served very courteously. Tipping isn’t mandatory but is well appreciated and does not go unnoticed. I will not get into a debate as to how much to tip or when to but I generally tip here and there throughout the day after a few drinks are ordered or if I am served in the restaurants/buffet and if someone goes above and beyond I don’t hesitate to add a few extra pesos. Yes the resort is a little tired in some areas but the rooms, lobby pool areas and the grounds and beach at the resort were very clean and everything functioned very well. If a light went out or something broke down it was immediately fixed. Most of the guests we spoke to felt the same way we did about the resort and were really enjoying their vacations. We met many repeat guests. It was nice not to be on a vacation where all you heard was bitching and complaining. There is always room for improvement and management is well aware of this and are always finding ways to make things better. They certainly know how to run the resort at full capacity!!!
The beach IMHO is the best in the Holquin region. Nice sand, plenty of palms and palapas, clean and no grass close to shore. There are some rocky entry points more so over by the Rio de Oro but they are clearly visible from shore. The snorkelling was excellent near the wedding gazebo at the Rio de Oro and there were plenty of fish and small coral structures and grass about 70 meters out directly in front of the Luna side of the resort. We enjoyed the beach so much that we didn’t even step into either of the pools once.
Flight : Air Transat . The online check-in did not work and I was advised to keep trying when I called customer service twice. This was a little disappointing but we did however luck out on getting emergency row extra leg room seats on the way down. Oh well. We had standard seats on the way back and the seats had OK leg room. Our flight was on a Canjet plane. No free meals and headsets are $8 but I knew that before I booked. I think I will give Sunwing the edge as far as in flight service goes.
My hat goes off to all the staff and management for making this one of the best vacations I have had to date in Cuba. (Having absolutely gorgeous weather didn’t hurt either). I hope to return for another visit later this year around November or December. Cheers George W.
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