The resort is right on the ocean in a very scenic location centered between Varadero and Havana. The drive from the airport at Varadero to Jibacoa is about one hour. As usual visiting CVJ was a wonderful experience and absolutely great value for the price we paid. The staff are the best we have seen in our many many visits to Cuba. It is a small resort of about 110 rooms, the rooms are all one story villa style. We found the rooms to be very clean and quite comfortable with lots of space for the two of us. Great housekeeping all week, the food was adequate for us, the bar service unbelievably good, very nice pool, lovely beach, great snorkeling. Being at CVJ is like being at the cottage (except you don’t have to do the dishes or prepare the meals) and as we are not high maintenance guests, we are always more than happy with any and all of the facilities at CVJ. It is a very good three-star hotel.
We had booked our vacation to CVJ through Nolitours in October 2009 for April 1, 2010, but with the demise of Skyservice (our carrier) the day before our departure, we weren’t sure that we would get to have our fourth visit in the last four years to CVJ. We needn’t have worried, the travel industry came through in flying colors and all within hours of the Skyservice demise. Our new carrier was Sunwing, the same time slot for our flights to and from Varadero, a very pleasant surprise. Wow, what great service from Nolitours and Bel-Air travel and of course Sunwing Airlines. Would you believe it, we had our new electronic tickets by 8 p.m. on March 31, only hours after the Skyservice demise announcement. Hats off to the travel industry, a job well done, much better than the way we were handled when we were caught in the Canada 3000 debacle. That certainly was a fiasco!. I guess the travel industry learned a great lesson there and applied it to this situation.
We had a very smooth flight with Sunwing Airlines out of Toronto. Because of the situation with the other airline going out of business, Sunwing pulled out all the stops to make sure that every passenger was comfortable and well looked after. They outdid themselves in customer service and I am sure they will get many new customers for their efforts. The cabin crew were marvelous. This was our third Sunwing flight this winter and we have nothing but kudos for this organization. The actual flight time to Varadero was very short and before you knew it we had our luggage and were on our way by bus to Jibacoa. There was 12 of us on the bus so check in at the hotel was swift. Before we knew it we were having our first cervesa at the lobby bar. Although we had requested from Nolitours through special requests and with our travel agent through a special requests form on their website any one of a dozen rooms, we didn’t get any one of those. Usually if you want to change your room, the front desk staff at this hotel, will, stonewall you and put you off on a daily basis. We were then quite surprised the next morning when upon talking to the head housekeeper we were able to change rooms that afternoon to one of those dozen of our choice. We were now very happy campers.
We found the rooms to be very clean and quite comfortable with lots of space for the two of us. Great housekeeping all week, the housekeeper did lovely small bouquets of flowers, towel art etc.. The room was furnished with one chest of drawers which was in the closet, two bedside tables with a drawer, two three-quarter beds, a writing table with television on top, fridge underneath. We really enjoyed having the fridge in the room as we could keep the drinking water cold, and more importantly, hold a few ice cold cervesas to quench our thirst while sunning ourselves on our patio every afternoon. We loved our patio which faced south toward the hills, the patio had a wonderful view and was quite private. We also liked having a safety deposit box which was housed in the closet (14 CUC per week). You had to order and pay for the safety deposit box at the front desk, the safe was opened with your room key. Our bathroom was excellent, it had a good-sized vanity with sink, toilet, shower stall only, lots of hot water all week. Lots of towels also. We were very happy with the room.
Restaurants and Bars: There is one buffet restaurant and one à la carte restaurant. You are allowed one à la carte reservation per week. We have done the à la carte in the past but we didn’t bother this time and ate at the buffet restaurant and enjoyed the food there. The food at the buffet was typical three-star Cuban buffet food. For breakfast there was usually eggs any style, pancakes, waffles, toast, cold cuts of ham, cheese, sausages some mornings, bacon every morning on our week, freshly squeezed orange juice (amazingly good). For us it was a good breakfast. Lunch and dinner were mirror images of one another. They usually served fish, chicken, pork, sometimes turkey leg, burgers on a couple of occasions, french fries sometimes, boiled potatoes, mixed vegetable, stew. They always had two good soups to choose from. There was some pasta dishes. Lasagna on one occasion. For salads they usually had shredded cabbage, cucumber, tomato, shredded lettuce, beets etc.. For dessert there was ice cream (at lunchtime only), cakes and some fresh fruit. The cakes ran out quickly. We found that they didn’t replenish the dessert table at dinner as quickly as they should have. All in all though we were happy with the food.
As far as the bars are concerned, there are two bars, one lobby bar and one pool bar. We certainly enjoyed all of our drinks at this hotel. The bar service was amazing. A great array of cocktails at the lobby bar, professionally done, cheerfully served. Customer service at the lobby bar at any time of day, is just amazing. The lobby bar is open from 7 a.m.-7:30 a.m. to around 10:30 p.m.. The pool bar is open around 10 a.m. and stays open until the disco closes around 1 a.m. or later. In the a la carte restuarant by the pool bar from around midday until about 4 or 5 p.m. they do serve toasted cheese sandwiches as snacks. These are the only snacks available on the premises. We would certainly like to see a better snack menu than that. Maybe they could add some hotdogs or burgers and fries. That would be nice.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach at Cameleon Jibacoa is about 500 m long and 50 m wide. The length of the combined beaches of Jibacoa including both hotels and the campismo next door is about 1.5 – 2.0 km long. There is lots of shade trees at the Cameleon Villas beach. You can pretty well snorkel right off the beach as well. There are two freshwater pools side by side at CVJ. Normally, one pool is used for water sport activity and the other pool just for swimming and cooling of. The pool was never too busy while we were there. The pool bar was never really that busy either.
For the size of the hotel the grounds are quite spacious. They are very well landscaped with lots of flowering shrubs and flowering trees (in April). The hotel is set between a beautiful beach and ocean to the north and heavily forested hills to the south. We would say it is quite a beautiful property.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
It is delightful in the early mornings walking through the countryside around CVJ. It is a landscape of hills and valleys with small farm holdings dotted with small banana and sugarcane plots and other small plots with vegetables and other fruits. For us all this scenery is extraordinary. There’s lots of cattle roaming the countryside and now and then a cowboy gallops by on a horse herding some cattle or on some other local mission. We love watching the people work the fields with their oxen, while pigs, roosters, and other farm animals just wander the countryside. There is also some great bird watching in the hills on the road past the Breezes Resort. We love this kind of idyllic rural setting. It’s why we like coming to CVJ. Also on the other side of the coin if you want to take in the sights and sounds of Havana it is about a one hour taxi ride to the west of CVJ. Varadero is about one hour to the east if you want to take in the sights there too. In other years we have visited Havana and have gone as far afield as Pinar del Rio, this we have done by taxi from our base at CVJ. It’s a very central jumping off point for lots of different tours of the general area. There are many tours available from the tour desk in the lobby. Car rentals are also available from this location. We definitely though wouldn’t recommend this resort as a "place to party", it is really more of a place for rest and relaxation, doing a bit of snorkeling, doing a bit of walking etc..
They have an area close by the pool with maybe 20 picnic tables and a couple of charcoal barbecues. On Thursdays this year they had a barbecue lunch that was served from 1 p.m. until around 2:30 p.m.. They had live music and Cuban dancers. They served drinks of your choice which they brought from the pool bar. We really enjoyed this barbecue lunch. They served barbecued fish, roast pork loins, hotdogs. The fish and hotdogs were cooked over charcoal, delicious!!. We had had this barbecue in 2007 but we must have missed it or it was discontinued in 2008-9 and now revived in 2010. Wonderful. We certainly enjoyed ourselves as did everybody else. We hope they keep this up.
Or check out went quite smooth and we certainly enjoyed the scenery on our daylight bus ride to Varadero Airport at 5:30 p.m.. We had no problem checking in for our Sunwing flight and we actually got window seats. The flight was a little late leaving Varadero but we made up the time going back to Toronto. As it was on our flight down, Sunwing, went out of their way to make sure we were all comfortable. We had the shortest flight time that we have experienced coming from Cuba, two hours and 53 minutes from takeoff to landing. Smooth sailing through Pearson and we were home in great time. A wonderful holiday. Looking forward to next year already.