“Great Resort. Great Price.”
Overall 4 + star : This resort is a nice, relaxing holiday with decent food, an amazing beach, warm ocean water for swimming and water sports, lots of pools and lovely grounds. This is not a party resort, no disco or dancing at night, which was perfect for us. We enjoyed drinks in the sun on the beach during the day, relaxing at the pools, evening dinners and then cocktails and great coffees in the lobby bar. We travelled with Air Canada Vacations and travelled Dec 23-30 2012. We were pleasantly surprised for the cost of this trip.
Top 5 of this resort :
1) BEACH! Great sand, warm water, postcard perfect
2) Price point : excellent
3) Lobby Bar - clean, airy, great drinks and coffee. Beer Garden. Ice Cream Bar.
4) Resort layout and grounds. Lots of pools, variety, clean, neat and tidy
5) Rooms - a different layout!
5 + ) Well trained staff. Friendly and willing to help.
Recommendations : Increased waiter service, larger plastic cups at bar, a bit more signage / maps around resort, block numbers or sign on the outside of buildings
Here are the details for those of you who like them ! :)
AIRPORT / BUS :
You will arrive at a small airport in Santa Clara. There is a small beer cart waiting outside for $2 a beer and beers available on the bus ride. Our bus had a bathroom, but it was icky. The bus ride is about 1 hour and 45 minutes. You do travel through small towns and across a 45 km causeway. Our driver gave tips about the towns we passed through.
Check in was smooth and quick, but with an almost 2 hour transit perhaps we could do this on the bus ? We were greeted with friendly staff, a welcome drink and a grand lobby. We were then whisked away on a golf cart to our room.
We were in block 6, 2nd floor, ocean view which was recommended on this site. It was quiet , we had a great view, but I would say building 7 was the best choice as it was closest to the beach, main pool, snack bar, etc. Our room was clean and felt spacious. The room lay out made it unique, with a desk / bed combo in the center of the room. Lots of mirrors, closet and drawer space, a safe, iron, umbrella, coffee maker, mini fridge, 2 beach towels and lots of bath enmities. ( we had a shaving kit, shower cap, lotions, shampoo, bath gel). We also received a phone call asking about our room, noted a minor issue with our sliding door, and it was fixed within the hour. We were also impressed with the daily towel art, friendly staff. We had a king sized bed, and a soaker tub.
Note : We just had photo copied black and white papers which took away from the 4-5 star feel of the resort. And there was not a map, list of restaurant times nor a “do not disturb” sign for the door.
One of the nicest layouts we have seen in our travels. 4 large pools, and smaller pools scattered throughout. You were within a 5 minute walk to everywhere and the décor and plants were beautiful. Some areas were still growing ( the grounds are only 1 year old and the recent hurricane) but very nice. The pool cabanas with white flowing drapes, style of pool chairs and use of wood structures made it seem high end. Gardeners and staff very friendly. We gave a few tips and they were shocked and appreciative.
Note : I would recommend another path to the beach from building 6 side. Once you figured out the “short cuts” it was not too bad.
We are not pool people. BUT there were many options including 2 quite pools, an activity pool with swim up bar and very nice lounge chairs, cabanas with white flowly drapes, shade and sun options. The water in December was a little chilly, but on hot days the pools were packed. There was sometimes waiter service for drinks, but you were never more than a 1 minute walk away from a bar.
Yes the beach is 2 tiers, but AMAZING. One of the nicer beaches we’ve been to with nice shallow warm water, easily walk able and nice white sand . We had red flag and green flags days, BUT We were in the water every day, and I am NOT a water person but could not resist the turquoise water. Also LOTS of chairs and multiple staff to move them for you. There were shaded areas on the top level. None on the bottom level as the tide comes in at night. 1 bar on the beach and no waiter service. On our last day it was very calm and we placed our chairs in the water. Heaven!
I did get a few bug bites, but nothing afterbite could not fix!
Lobby bar had the best drinks by far served in real glasses and also a variety of coffee drinks with surprisingly good espresso and coffee. The beer garden was great with a variety of bottled and canned beers. It varied with what you could remove. The snack bar offered 24 hour service of food and drinks and located in the center of the resort. All restaurants offered decent house wines including the buffet. There is 1 bar on the beach and not waiter service. Even so, the bar was never crazy busy . The bar tenders would let us borrow a tray to bring a large round to the beach for our group.
Note : The plastic cups for drinks are VERY small. We had a lot of laughs with folks around the resort about drink “shots” due to the small size of cups. If you have room bring a travel mug. You will use it !
The food was ok, and we could always find something to eat. We didn’t choose an all inclusive vacation in Cuba for a gourmet food experience. The buffet was great with indoor and outdoor options for seating, table linens, wine service. A La Carte reservations were easy to make. The 24 hour snack bar was a great option. There is not room service.
Breakfast: , my favorite meal, you could get made to order eggs, omelets, waffles, crepes and pancakes. There was also a smoothie / fresh fruit bar. The fresh fruit was not as diverse as I was expecting, and may have been the time of year. After breakfast we would go to the lobby bar for great coffee, cappuccino, lattes.
Lunch: The restaurant on the beach was open for lunch with a menu and small buffet. The Panini grill was also open from 10-5 and one of our favorite spots to eat. You could also eat from the menu at the 24 hour snack bar.
Dinner: The buffet was decent with most of the food prepared in front of you, rather than sitting there. There were grab and go options for a faster dining experience. Each night they has grilled meat stations one for seafood, one for chicken, pork, beef; a make your own pizza station and a made to order pasta station. There was also a crepe, grilled banana station for dessert. The a la cartes were fine for a change of scenery, but service could be a bit slow. We heard mixed reviews on them all from other guests, it all depends on your personal tastes. Expect good seafood, and iffy beef. The chefs did take the time on presentation . Some a le cartes offered a wine list to purchase from.
MARKETS : Worth a trip on the bus $1 . I liked the Estrella Market better as it was larger. Food and drinks seemed pricy. Cigars and booze a bit chepaer than resort and airport. A good thing to do on a cloudy day. We took a 1957 Chev Taxi home for $3 which was one of the highlights of our trip.
I would request rooms from blocks in this order : 7, 15, 6 with top floors.
If you are pool people...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC