We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
Nearby Hotels
Reviews (26)
Filter reviews
26 results
Traveller rating
14
8
1
2
1
Traveller type
Time of year
LanguageAll languages
14
8
1
2
1
See what travellers are saying:
Filter
Updating list...
1 - 6 of 26 reviews
Reviewed August 31, 2008

Having originally booked a completely different Cuban Holiday in January only to have it cancelled due to Cubana Airlines Flight changes, we were looking for an alternative and stumbled across The Travel Collection Natural Cuba holiday. It was with a bit of trepidation that we finally booked as I am normally the kind of traveller who would put stars and standard of facilities at the top of the list. However, from the moment we arrived we both fell in love with the place. Sure, the rooms are dark, there is a need for refurbishment, the air con while very effective sounds like a sick tractor thus making it practically useless if you want a nights sleep, but what it lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for in charm and the location is just stunning.
We were lucky in that we didnt experience any water or electricity shortages during our stay and while there was plenty of wildlife to be seen thankfully none of the little critters made it in to the room, probably because windows and door were kept closed at all times! Our room was one of the rooms that Castro's party stayed in during his visit in the 70's which made it a bit interesting. Iry our chambermaid looked after us really well, keeping the place clean and leaving towel art on the bed each day along with a personal note - something you wouldn't get in some top class establishments!
Food was good, really 3 squares a day and no snacking, not the most scintillating of food it has to be said in terms of variety, rice and beans and salad with each evening meal, but the meat/fish was different each day and enough of it. Breakfast was the highlight of the day, fresh fruit, fresh juice (Watermelon to die for!) and eggs (however way you wanted them) ham, cheese, tomato, and fresh baked bread often still warm from the oven delicious!
In a country that has food rationing I thought the chefs did really well with what they had to work with.
Our guide for the week was Eduardo, who normally doesn't do El Yarey, he was called in off holidays with his family to look after us when Dennis the regular guide was unavailable due to his father being ill. What a little star he was. He showed us all there was to be seen, we met his wife and lovely son Eddie, he took us to a carnival in Bayamo and arranged a balcony in one of the locals houses for us to sit and watch the parade (felt like dignitaries). When heavy rain called a temporary halt to proceeding we had our picnic dinner served up in the guys dining room, he also provided a big salad, beers and Daquiris. After the parade we went to a local Cuban nightclub "Beatles Club" - complete with statues of the Fab Four outside and 60's murals on the walls inside. Here we were treated to a live band and watched locals doing the Salsa (boy can Cuban men dance!) , after this we were on our way back to the coach and we spotted another band playing on the back of a trailer, so of course we had to stop and Salsa with the locals for a while! Eduardo had us sample some of the local home brew beer (sold from the back of a lorry and put into any available container) and some of the local street food, had the cuban equivalent of pork scratchings - interesting!!! The ever patient driver William got us back to the hotel well after 3am.

Entertainment was laid on for 2 of the nights in the form of a local band - brushed up on my Cha Cha skills that I leaned as a nine year old! The only drawback was that the bar closed very early 10pm, but there was no problem in stockpiling drinks if you wanted to stay chatting after this, anyway with planned tours for the next day often an early start, it was all you could do to stay awake beyond midnight! By the way Michael the barman makes a mean Mojito.

The pool area was lovely, with a swim up bar. Plenty of sun loungers and hammocks, but then again there was only four of us and the occasional Cuban day visitor.

There is absolutely nothing around the area of the hotel, so make sure you bring all you need with you in terms of batteries and toiletries, these can be hard to track down anyway, even in the bigger towns. Laundry will be done for you by Chicha, a lovely lady living in the grounds of the hotel, she is a personal friend of Castro and will happily show you photos of her with the man himself when he visited El Yarey in the 70's. We met her entire family while collecting our washing, from her son down to her youngest baby grandaughter. She doesn't have a fixed charge for laundry but obviously any donation would go a long way.
Another thing you will find is people asking for soap or "crema" which I presume is moisturiser when you go outside, it didnt occur to us to bring extra items with us, but if you have room in your suitcase, do bring some. Its not really high pressure hassle from people in the streets and often if you say you have'nt got anything they are quite happy with that and will chat to yuo anyway.
On the last night a special effort is made with dinner and I have to say it was magic! The staff will all gather in the pool bar waiting for your tip, which is a bit cringeworthy but they are really grateful for what they get and frankly they do deserve anything you give them.

We really had a wonderful time and the El Yarey experience was really special. My advice is if you are humming and hawing about booking don't , just go and you will have a holiday memory that will live in your heart forever, what the hotel lacks in sophistication it more than makes up for in its location, the wildlife, the peace the tranquility the pampering by the staff and the people you will meet along the way. Wish I was there now.....

Date of stay: July 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
5  Thank sukiWaterford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 9, 2008

As with virtually all visitors, we went as part of Kuoni's 'Travel Collection' Natural Cuba tour. This is a 14 room hotel so max. 28 guests, but there were just 6 booked for our stay (& we were told 4 the next week & 2 the week after), so if small groups are not your bag you may wish to check with the tour operator how many are going.

Pretty much all of the comments on Trip Advisor about this hotel, good and bad, are true. This hotel is all about attitude of mind & realistic expectations. If you want to go somewhere which reflects the real Cuba, where you can meet real Cubans, get great service, & relax miles from anywhere then this is for you. If you want 5 star food & facilities & expect every last little luxury & whinge if you don't get it then stay away.

We were upgraded to one of the bungalow rooms (where Castro stayed in the 1970s) due to the low numbers; room was vast & bed equally so. Yes it's dark & dated, & the hot water was a bit erratic, but it was kept very clean, & who spends their holiday in their room anyway?

The pool was lovely - stacks of loungers, & hammocks in the shade. Swim up pool bar, & contrary to the advice Kuoni provides they are happy to servce spirits & cocktails whenever you like, not just beer & juice before 6. That said, the bar was only open until 10 most nights so this is not the place to come for late nights & dancing etc., but if you'd read the description of the hotel on Kuoni's site you'd know that anyway - remember, realistic expectations!

Food was pretty plain & bland, but so is all Cuban food. There was plenty of it & they were happy to provide alternatives if you didn't like something (guide told us early in the day what dinner would be so they had time to prepare an alternative).

There is no shop so take whatever you need with you - you won't be able to get anything there. There is a currency exchange.

One word of warning - there is no mains water - it is all delivered by tanker, & the system doesn't always work. Apparently the week before our arrival the pool had been ankle deep because the trucks hadn't arrived to refill it - this would have been a serious downer had it happened to us. While we were there water to the bathrooms ran out, but thankfully only for an hour or two before the relief tanker arrived.

The Natural Cuba trip includes visits to Jiguani, Bayamo, & Santiago de Cuba, plus a couple of additional optional (payable) trips. Taking these in order:

Jiguani - includes a visit to a local cultural centre to see a concert by the children. Good fun but goes on a bit - expect to be brought on stage to dance...

Bayamo - Lovely town, big wide avenues & shady squares. Lunch included.

Santiago - includes a visit to El Cobre church, a botanical garden, & the town fort (CUC4 entry). Lunch included. Botanical gardens not the most exciting, great views from the fort (but watch out for unofficial guides trying to get money off you). Town itself is frankly a bit of a dump; second biggest in Cuba but there isn't much to see other than Revolution Square. Good rooftop bar in a hotel near the cathedral though.

We went on the optional trip to the Sierra Maestre mountains which is a must do - amazing scenery & a 3 kilometre (each way) hike to Castro's secret mountain hideout from where he conducted the guerilla war against Batista. Walk is fairly challenging but perfectly doable for this fat mid-40s man. Good guide & lots of wildlife spotting.

Wherever you go, you'll find the Cuban cliches of music & old American cars are absolutely true - you can't escape either, & will probably end up bringing 3 or 4 CDs of local bands back with you.

Main guide at El Yarey was Dennis, a lovely man who really wanted you to understand exactly what life in Cuba was like & encouraged you to interact with the locals. Unfortunately in the middle of the week his father was taken seriously ill & he had to leave, & was replaced by the coach driver, William. William's English was not quite as good as Dennis', but he rose to the challenge superbly & took us on an impromtu trip on the Friday to a local farm & to the bus station in Jiguani just for a few beers & a dance with the locals, not to mention taking me on a late night emergency dash to the local clinic when an allergic reaction threatened to turn serious.

Overall, Cuba is only worth visiting if you're going to see more than an AI beach resort. The place is stuffed with history & you really need to travel around a bit to get a proper perspective on the place. As such, we thoroughly recommend the Natural Cuba tour which gives you the East of the island, Havana & the beach. Just remember to take your chilled out head with you & don't get stressed when small things go wrong.

Date of stay: July 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
1  Thank MrWu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed March 6, 2008

We've just come back from the 'Natural Cuba' tour organised by Travel Collection, the first part of which took us to El Yarey, followed by the Sevilla in Havana and Breezes Jibocoa. Without doubt, the highlight of the holiday was the week at El Yarey.

We knew what to expect thanks to everyone's reviews on TripAdvisor. A 2-star hotel with an older clientele and basic conditions. But it far exceeded our expectations. We'd upgraded to the bungalow as we thought it would be quieter. It was and we got the only double bed in the resort. But the priceless extra was the unique bit of history that comes with the bungalow. Fidel Castro used to stay here on his holidays.

The recent reviews reflect our experience. Our guide was Denis who was an absolute gem. He taught us stacks about the native birds and plants. But most of all, he taught us stacks about Cuban history and the way Cubans live today.

We had a unique opportunity to get close up with so many locals and when we couldn't communicate in words, we communicated in song and dance. Or dominoes. We've never danced so much in years. It was fabulous. Music everywhere.

We were the youngest in our group (with ages ranging from 42-74) but age made no difference and everyone got on like a house on fire. In fact, some of the retirees had more energy than us for dancing and hiking!

We all started off with a common interest in the flora and fanua and over the course of the holiday, found we had so much more in common. Including a deeply felt appreciation for the magic of El Yarey and the real Cuba we experienced on our trips.

We were the only pescatarians (veg & fish but non-meat eaters) in our group. We were expecting to find it very difficult, but the resort, and other restaurants we visited, went out of their way to accommodate our needs. (Unlike Cubana airlines. Tip: take some snacks on board with you). We're used to snacking and wished we'd taken some glucose sweets with us as some days there were long gaps between meals and lots of activity.

Mark picked up a bug (we reckon by eating the skin of unwashed guava fruit on a hike) and needed medical attention. In retrospect we're glad it happened here as Denis and the staff really rallied around and gave him exceptional attention. THANK YOU!

Our stay at El Yarey was the perfect introduction to Cuba. We got to experience the Cuba very few tourists see. And we met some amazingly funny, interesting, intelligent, caring, thoughtful and talented people - Cuban and English, of all ages. It exceeded all expectations. And we absolutely LOVED it!

1  Thank Inspiration1285
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 29, 2008

We got exactly what we expected from reading reviews and the description from our travel company. Agreed, it was basic and we could have done with some furniture in our room, but it was clean and comfortable. The food was good, not always on time, but you have to accommodate to "Cuban time". The area was lovely countryside and we felt safe walking outside. The staff were very friendly and helpful. Our guide for the week was Dennis, a very intelligent and educated man who tried hard to show us Cuba as he saw it. We were entranced by it all. However, don't travel by Cubana airlines if at all possible.

Date of stay: February 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank morganson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 24, 2008

Joan and H Smith - if anyone from our party reads this please contact me, i lost email addresses.

Booked with travel collection and arrived end of January. Beautiful spot away from it all. Rooms were very dark & need renovating but comfy beds and hot water (and we had one of the better ones) but this was more than compensated for by the super staff and especially the great group of people we travelled with. By the end of the holiday i felt as though we were all a family that had known each other for ever, but if you don't like to mix too much ( and i'm normally a bit of a loner) you can always find space outside of the group

The food was basic but good, slightly lacking in vegetables but always fresh and tasty. Breakfast is fresh fruit and orange juice and then choice of breakfast freshly cooked for you so no congealed fried eggs! Choice of omelettes, fried, poached, boiled or scramled eggs with cheese, bacon or fresh tomato. The bread is freshly baked and addictive. No cereals, but i guess you could take your own

Nelson the guide was brilliant and he and everyone else their went out of their way to make this a good experience. When Nelson's whole body shook with laughter (which was frequent) you couldn't help but laugh along with him. The pool bar staff looked after us well in the evenings - especially 'whisky' whose true name we couldn't pronounce, he made us some super cocktails and most of us had fun working our way through the whole menu.

The pool is great - better than it looks on website and they were construcitng a new pool bar whilst we were there.

Birdwatch walk took us to a beautiful lake just a short walk away - even if you don't go for the birds walk down here it's lovely.

We went out on trips to the nearby villages. Jiguini was a good example of a smalltown in Cuba and it brings home to you what a hard life these people have. No walking into big supermarkets with the multitude of choice here. They still have rationing

We travelled into the Sierra maestra mountains to visit the hideaway of Castro. Quite a tough walk, short but steep and a bit awkward, take plenty of water, wear decent shoes and if you have a walking stick it does come in handy. Beautiful and well worth doing

Optional evening trip to Bayamo was great. Typical cuban evening out - street party with music, dancing and pig roasting in the streets. A great experience.

I was worried about mosquitos as i am hypersensitive to bites but i used repellant every night and was fine.

A wondeful experience but you do have to be prepared to put up with the few blips that might occur.

Date of stay: February 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank allnamesunderthesun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
View more reviews