We got home from a two-week stay at the Tryp Cayo Coco on February 13. We traveled with Sunwing and were not only on time but also early both ways. The breakfast going down was good. The meal coming back was excellent. We got to YYZ a full 45 minutes early on our return and then waited an hour and ten minutes for our luggage. (Not sure if that was Sunwing’s fault).
We arrived at Jardines Del Ray airport in Cayo Coco at about 10 AM on January 29 and found we were the only aircraft there. Customs was fast. The money exchange booth has been moved from the arrival side to the existing one on the departure side (right opposite). This could be a bit of a hassle if there were people both arriving and departing and it really doesn’t make much sense, since there is another change booth in the departure lounge.
We were at the Tryp by 11 am and our room was not ready. This was our third visit to the Tryp and we had requested a room by email. It took over three hours to get the room and it was not what we had wanted. They thought they were doing us a favour by giving us both an ocean view and a pool view room (#533). It was a very nice room but neither of us liked the constant noise from the Animacion team all afternoon and night (showing our age?). We requested a room change and were moved on our third day to room 1061. This overlooks the small pool area and is very quiet with a breathtaking view of the ocean. We were quite satisfied with it. The room was a bit musty when we got in but after the AC was on for about 1/2 hour, it was just fine.
The large pool has been re-tiled and it was very nice, complete with markings for the volleyball court. Tradesmen were also working on a tree sculpture just below the lobby bar area, near the entrance to the disco. We were quite impressed watching their daily progress (especially the two men who were laying the mosaic tiles). It will be quite attractive when completed. The vendors who used to sell their wares outside the main buffet have been moved adjacent to the tennis courts. A new room was completed for the Internet while we were there. It is located in the old Guest Services office and houses 6 stations with new computers. The download speed however, has not improved.
RESTAURANTS: We feel the buffet has gone downhill. We found it very good on our first visit and still acceptable last year. This year however was *hit & miss*. We ate breakfast there every day and lunch on a couple of occasions. We had the Superior VIP package so we only ate three evening meals there and the rest at a la cartes. I usually had an omelet for breakfast, which was usually good. Waiting for it became a pain however. On at least three occasions, one of the cooks was not there so there was only one long line. On one morning I had to wait close to 5 minutes for them to bring out plates and this was after asking about 4 different people. Along the rest of the buffet, trays were not being replenished and there seemed to be always a wait. The same fare seemed to be offered at the grills at both noon and evening. The pasta bar was very good but the lineup was usually a 15-minute wait. We had vouchers for a la cartes for the remainder of the week. We chose not to go to the Cuban a la carte, since we had been there 2 times previously and were not overly impressed. The menu had not changed. La Barcaza, the seafood restaurant, no longer served lobster and the meal we had was not that great. The International still serves lobster and shrimp for an additional price if you do not have the VIP package. The lobster was so small that I certainly would not recommend paying for it.
They also prepared it differently, with no melted butter dip. The Chinese restaurant was okay but don’t expect Mandarin or Cantonese…. It is a Cuban version. The Italian and the Bar B Que remained our favourites.
The bartenders at La Picua are becoming a bit better with their antics. The new thing this year is flipping the ice cubes into the air and catching it with their tongs or catching it behind their back, into the glass. A pair of them were pitching them back and forth the full length of the bar catching them with the tongs-all quite entertaining. They seem to have changed the venue of some of the early evening entertainment to the lobby bar area and there were far fewer chairs/tables available than there was last year. I was happy to find out this year, that the tips the bartenders received in the main lobby bar, were shared with everyone -including the dishwashers etc. Although I’m not a fan of the Mojito, it is still the Cuban National Drink and still not possible to get at the Tryp-unless you go to the small bar at the Chinese/Italian restaurants, on a day when Eduardo has brought in his own mint. If there is a drink you cannot find, try Eduardo. He is quite proud of his well-stocked bar. It certainly makes no sense that the hotel does not grow their own mint and other herbs. The Brisas Del Caribe in Varadero has lovely gardens and fresh-everything.
GROUNDS & BEACHES:
The grounds were well maintained with many new Coconut Palms planted but I can’t say as much for the beach. If the beach staff would spend more time filling their garbage bags with trash, rather than carrying them around, while they are saving chairs for people, everybody would be better off. The beach is quite littered with seaweed as well as other trash. On our stay there in 2005, we took frequent early walks on the beach and crews were out raking up the seaweed/trash. We enjoyed tipping these workers, who seldom saw tips.
We spent most of our days at the beach but on the odd day we wandered up to the pool, I never saw any water polo or volleyball games, which seemed to go on before. We chose to go the first 2 weeks in February this year, rather than the 2nd 2 weeks in January as we did previously and this may well have been due to a different demographic. On the other hand, there were some volleyball and soccer games to watch on the beach. (Which is the certainly the extent of my participation)
We only went on one tour this year, which was our third time on the speedboat/snorkeling adventure. This is an excellent tour and lots of fun for all ages but it must be done at low tide for the snorkeling adventure, due to the heavy current at high tide. We bring our own snorkeling gear and find that the fish activity in front of La Picua at the Tryp is also very good (the fish love bananas). Snorkeling equipment can also be obtained from the dive shop.
CONCLUSIONS: Which brings me to my final rant. I am really sick and tired of ignorant people saving the lounge chairs as if they pay more for them than I do and therefore have more of a right to them. Those who save their own chairs are merely rude people and I have no compunction about removing a towel and using the lounge. There is however only one party that is responsible for this and that is the management and they do nothing. There is no doubt there are enough chairs to go around, if folks did not hoard them. Management would only have to start removing towels themselves and it would clean up the problem quickly. The beach staff is also very guilty of saving them for people. On one day, there were 3 of the nicer loungers stacked, with a pair of sandals on them. I removed the sandals and began dragging two of the chairs down the beach, when one of the staff came screaming at me that I couldn’t do that. I asked him if he owned them and if he had a problem, to take it up with guest services. He harassed and threatened me all the way down the beach. I later reported this incident but nothing was obviously done about it. Thereafter, I privately and affectionately referred to the beach staff as the *beach mafia*. This was our third stay at the Tryp paying extra for the VIP room and I am beginning to question its value. There were originally two a la cartes offering shrimp and lobster at no cost and now only one (and it was not worth the value). We had coffeemakers in our room with real coffee, which we really enjoyed in the morning before going to breakfast. Now they only have instant *wannabe* coffee (arghhh). There were several other minor things but they all added up to a feeling that they were trying to pinch pennies by providing less and poorer service. In the course of our stay, we did talk to several other people who had indicated that they were a bit leery about going to the Tryp (after making reservations and then reading reviews) but couldn’t’ really understand the complaints (no shade???) I also read several negative reviews that were totally unverifiable by me. In three trips (6 weeks in total) and daily walks on the beach, I have seen no jellyfish but that is not to say they aren’t there. If they are, they are also in other Cuban waters. As far as the numerous complaints about musty rooms-of course it is musty, in a high humidity environment, the ac lowers it. That is what air conditioners do. While there are certainly improvements that can be made at the Tryp, it in no way will influence our decision to return. They have a friendly, helpful guest services; beautiful grounds; a large choice of a la carte restaurants and one of the nicest beaches you will find. It is also very children-friendly. One of the improvements could definitely be a Canadian TV channel. I found news available in Chinese, Italian, Spanish, English (American & British) but no English nor French Canadian. As a postscript, rum is finally available in 1.1l bottles in the departure area of the airport. Despite what the Sunwing rep may tell you on the bus, it is cheaper to buy it in the duty-free area.
I would be happy to reply/comment to anyone by PM to mr or on Debbie’s Cuba list.