Both the children and my husband and I had a wonderful, relaxing if slightly boozy (not the kids) holiday. The red and white wine is very drinkable. The children made some very nice friends and seemed to have lots of fun without needing the animation team too much who, incidentally, seemed very good. Well, the kids knew all the dances and we got lumbered buying THE CD of the tacky songs. For the money we paid which worked out around £700 each it was real value for money. We went with a company called Future Travel/Instant Holidays. We would recommend this hotel to someone wanting a value break with lovely weather, courteous staff and adequate food and drink.
We had one room with two double beds which we specifically asked for as we did not want the children in a separate room, although they were 12 and 10 years old. The room was absolutely fine, spotlessly clean if a little tired. Our maid, Somalia, was an absolute gem. The room was a tip as it was quite crowded with the four of us however, our maid tidied everything up every single day. Was Heaven. The towels were changed daily and we were given a bottle of water each day. I’d read a review that said if you wanted to be away from all the night time action go to the higher numbered blocks, we were in block 10, first floor. Perfect. There’s sod all in the mini bar, so don’t get your hopes up!!! There’s a TV with BBC World on it!!
We visited the International, Cuban, Seafood and Italian a la cartes. They were okay but we had read that you don’t go to Cuba for the food so that was fine. I don’t think you can beat London for international food. It was however nice to be waited on and the service, with plenty of wine top ups was fantastic. The Cuban restaurant was very intimate (especially as we palmed the kids off elsewhere – the Buffet restaurant). The Buffet restaurant was good with plenty of choice even if it was a bit repetitive but again the staff are wonderful. I’d suggest sitting over to the far left corner of the restaurant for all meals, the waitresses there were excellent and it’s a bit quieter, you don’t have everyone marching past you. You can have freshly cooked fish (the Tilapia is superb) and meat (steak a bit tough, Pork and Chicken breast fine) each evening as well as what’s already on the hotplates. There’s also a couple of chefs doing pasta and Chinese style noodles/stirfry which was nice. The chips are a bit cold but unless you’re into MacDonald style chips, you probably won’t bother with ‘em, we didn’t, just the 12 year old!!! The soup’s good and of course there are plenty of cakes, and cakes and cakes for pudding, which seemed to all be different colour sponge but were sweet!! It seemed very clean there and we had not complaints. Would say it was your average 3 / 4 star buffet. A bit noisy and busy but so what!!
Bars: Lobby Bar was very nice although the service was a bit slow. Try catching a waiter once you’ve found yourself a table. Tip a pesos each time (60p) and they catch on very quick and you don’t have to move ya toosh all night! They have live music there from about 7pm ish, a band or that, which was very good. The entertainment was then moved down to the Theatre or Stage, whatever they called it, below the Lobby Bar. It was like a kids thing at 8.30pm then changed to an adults show 9.30 til 10.30pm. It gets very packed so get there early. We personally didn’t bother, the bar was too cosy and we then went for a dinner around 8pm. The kids went to the shows and enjoyed them. However, on a Mon, Wed and Fri there’s a chap who sings in the 24hr bar, thinks he’s Tom Jones. Ha ha. Superb. There were a gang of French Canadian women who became his “groupies”. He’d sing directly at them, you know, “I looooe you ….”. Very amusing and a fantastic voice. Did Frank, Barry White, the lot. After a gallon of Pina Colada (best from 24 hr bar, Eduardo) and Tequila Sunrise, we ended up dancing the night away!! Only had the cheek to go onto the disco a few times too even though we’re 40 odd!
There’s a bar between the Italian and Chinese a la cartes, which is very nice but small. The ambience is good, quiet and the cocktails are the best.
Beach and Pools: The beach was beautiful. There is seaweed and although you do see Manuel, or Miguel or whatever their names are with “rake in hand”, they don’t seem to clear it away. However, it wasn’t a problem at all and there was hardly ANY seaweed in the sea!!!! We tended to lay at the quieter end of the beach which is located to the right of the quiet pool. BUT DON’T FORGET, you must get your towels on your sunbeds, either around the pool or on the beach by 8.15am each day, or forget it!!!! We didn’t use the larger pool, (which needs re-tiling quite desperately) which we aptly named the Chav Pool but the kids loved it and raved over the swim up bar/restaurant although they said they were regularly ignored in favour of the Canadians (mainly youngsters who booze for ……. Canada). It was a bit too noisy for us and I wanted to go topless, making the beach the only viable option for a 40 something whose boobs have seen better days!!! The quiet pool is very nice (if the brash load Canadians (English speaking) aren’t there or their noisy counterparts (French) kids. It’s nice for an afternoon swim if not too busy. There’s also a small hut thingy which is a bar, open from around 11am til 5pm and you can nip off the beach to get drinks there to take back with you.
When we were there it was a little windy so not many of the water based activities took place although the children used the pedaloes and kayaks and had lots of fun. You don’t have to go out far to see the most beautiful fish, just nick a banana at the breakfast buffet and break into the sea, the fish swarm around you. Apparently due to the windy weather there was also very little sea fishing and a few of the men were disappointed about that.
Grounds: We found the grounds to be very nice and well kept. The apartment blocks were a little tired, really could do with a good lick of paint and the rooms upgrading. I personally would rate it a European 3 star but as we paid under £3,000 for four, it was a bargain!!! The gardeners are lovely chaps who make the most amazing things out of leaves, insects, hats (I think you give them 5 pesos) etc. You can also have a coconut off the tree (if they offer, give them 2 pesos and they chop top off ) which contains milk, add some ice and rum, a long straw then lay on your front, hang head over sunbed and slurp all afternoon, book in hand!!!
We didn’t see one creepy crawly at all although the kids said they removed a cockroach from our room (fibbers I reckon). However, do make sure you wear plenty of mossie guard containing 50% deet, a little expensive but well worth it. Superdrug was the best. We also took the plug in things which we think helped.
Tours: Did the Aquavida Spa which was £30 for the afternoon. Was ok for the money, treatments so so, nothing like a Spa here but very cheap. We got a facial, mud wrap and short foot massage. However, the barman made the most fantastic MOJITO’S so we supped 4 each of them and were like a pair of lushes being bundled into the mini bus back to the hotel!!!! Did the trip to Moron, worth the money but standing up all day was hard work, we couldn’t wait to get back horizontal, drink and books in hand!!! Did the overnight to Havana which again was hard work but a must, well worth it, even if a little whistle stop.
Both trips had very informative and entertaining guides if a bit repetitive about how poor the Cuban people are!!!
Things to Take: We took the usual toothpaste (Tesco’s 45p), Bic razors, pens and pencils, which I’d read the Cuban people are grateful for. I also brought socks and pants for different ages groups (again Tesco) and gave them to a variety of staff, but especially the maid who was a Godsend in getting anything of a personal nature you needed. Don’t forget to take absolutely everything a woman needs, there’s sod all there to buy although I saw HUGE Tena’s!!!!! Bring your own!! Take upset tummy stuff as well as tons of headache pills and again for ladies, anything you MAY need. You’ll end up having to pay £15 to see the nurse when you know all you need is Canestan but SHE HAS TO GIVE YOU A PRESCRIPTION. There is a pharmacy located a 4 pesos (rtn 8 pesos, he waits for you) cab ride away next to the Aquavida Spa where you can get whatever you want WITHOUT the nurse, so pass this info on.
Take plenty of sun creams, high numbers too. We usually start on 8 then work our way down to 2. Oh no, we were on 25, 15, then 8, then 6, then 1 DAY ONLY on 2!!!! Very strong sun, everyone was burnt and flaky (except us, as we met them like this and they kindly warned us!!!).
Conclusion: Both the children and my husband and I had a wonderful, relaxing if slightly boozy (not the kids) holiday. The red and white wine is very drinkable. The children made some very nice friends and seemed to have lots of fun without needing the animation team too much who, incidentally, seemed very good. Well, the kids knew all the dances and we got lumbered buying THE CD of the tacky songs. For the money we paid which worked out around £700 each it was real value for money. We went with a company called Future Travel/Instant Holidays. We would recommend this hotel to someone wanting a value break with lovely weather, courteous staff and adequate food and drink.
Oh, and if your kid likes football, take your own, they’re into baseball!!!!!