I’m aware that in our soundbite world, short ‘n sweet wins over detail. Honestly though, when I’m exploring a place – I appreciate the detail. So when you say “best resort ever” Please tell us what are you comparing that to. Best food in Cuba? Why? Really liked your room – what room were you in and where on the resort was it anyway? And why you can rate a resort a 5 star when in the same breath you state the bathrooms need updating? My suspicion is that this resort gets continuous support from people THAT GO HERE EVERY YEAR. There should be a TripAdvisor law that prevents the same people from reviewing the same place over and over. We met people who had been here 18 times, and another couple 11 times in the past 6 years. Really? I can see occasionally going back to a place that I liked, but holy cow I hate to break it to you, it’s a big ol’ world out there (and even much more to see in Cuba).
I will compare this resort to two other 5-star Cuban adult-only resorts we’ve been to recently – Melia Buenavista (MB) and Royal Hideaway (RH) (both in Cayo Santa Maria). The main advantage of both of these resorts is that they are newer than the ‘dated’ PRDO (and it’s more than just the bathrooms). That being said, the staff here works hard at repainting and keeping things clean. “Dated” isn’t necessarily bad either, the gardens are well established and well kept. We really appreciated how they have kept (and incorporated) the natural enviroment.
The Beaches. No contest here. The beaches at RH (especially the Enchanados beach) are incredible. The finest white sand that seems to go on forever. I would recommend bringing water shoes for PRDO, it’s rocky and not fun to go in. Even the snorkelling is overrated, saw much more at MB. The Royal Service beach is nicer but know you are not entitled to the umbrellas here (and the drinks are not as good). For those who feel the desire to take their top off (like my wife), the beaches are much smaller here which might explain the fact there is much less nudity at PRDO. Given the average age (and size) of guests at PRDO though, you might be thankful of that. The Ensenachos beach is quite private which makes people comfortable enough to bare all. I understand that Ensenachos is under new management this year and it is now a family resort. A tragedy if true.
The Rooms. We booked a Deluxe Junior Suite on the lagoon side(4931). I have nothing to compare it to but I can say the bathroom was “updated”, it was spacious and clean, the king bed was very comfortable, we made use of the hammock and the outdoor shower is a real treat (MB had these in all their rooms). These rooms are on the lagoon side and the beach side. “Beach side” sounds better, but in fact it’s more treed, and ironically less private, than the lagoon side. The Royal Service area certainly looked swanky, but most of the people who say it’s worth the extra cost, don’t usually say why.
The Food. Though the food at MB and RH was good, PRDO really shines here. The buffet is something you have to endure at most Cuban resorts, here the buffet is as good as the a la carte restauraunts. The pasta station alone was incredible. A special shout-out to Johannes whose service (and smile) was exceptional. The pizza at the poolside bar was also very good. You won’t go hungry at PRDO.
The Service is very similar to MB and RH, sometimes it’s fantastic, other times not so good. We’re in no rush, but when you have to ask for coffee three times and it finally comes cold … Most were attentive and very pleasant though. They turned it up when I fell through the white plastic grating surrounding the pool (at the spa). I needed three stitches and had many scatches on both bruised legs. If they had suggested it was my fault, the whole situation would have been ugly. It could have been written off as just an unfortunate accident, but to their credit, they took responsibility for it immediately. I'll be waiting for an email from Wendy showing me what they have done to warn people to not step directly on the grates. Later, they offered us a free massage, but we had just had them, so they took it off our bill. Spending the day at the Spa is HIGHLY recommended and the massages were excellent. I guess I could have sued them for millions, but the situation was handled well on their part – and the massages were worth a million bucks!
The Weather. So what does the weather have to do with a resort review? More than you might think. Holguin is a beautiful area, but my guess is it gets more clouds and rain than other parts of Cuba. We had friends who were in Havana on exactly the same days and they had NO rain and few clouds. We’d been going to other parts of Cuba for many years (same time of year) and hardly ever saw a cloud. Three days of our vacation were pretty much write-offs. It rained so hard overnight one night, the lagoon washed out the beach (and if you’ve seen the lagoon … you’ll know that’s not a good thing). It’s true, it could have been just bad luck for us (or we were due) but for all those people that don’t think their room is so important, you might think about what you’ll be doing when it’s raining.
The Cigars. Skip this section if cigars are not your thing, but I found it hard to get reliable information on selection and prices. Unlike other areas of Cuba, I found no big difference in prices between the resort, the government store in Guardelavaca and even the duty free at the Holguin airport. The cigars were fresher at the resort than the government store, but the selection was much better at the airport than both the resort and the store.
Other tips and tipping. You get nice new plush beach towels with your room when you arrive in your room, which you can exchange for fresh towels any day. Don’t. The ‘fresh’ towels are older and more like bath mats. Tipping is of course important, but rather than doing the easy thing and throwing pesos to bartenders that pour your cervesa, why not consider the maids sweeping the main lobby? How 'bout the musicians that are playing beautiful music while you'r having lunch or dinner? We normally bring gardening gloves to the gardeners. I brought a baseball glove that I hadn’t used in 10 years. The taxi driver I gave it to (who had two young sons who played ball) reacted like he just won the lottery when I handed it to him. The point is, the gifts – if they are conciously given – mean a lot more to those that don’t have the opportunity to buy the things with the pesos you are giving them.
This resort takes pride in their return guests (and even honour them with a special dinner). The question asked many times was “will you be back?”. Though I wouldn't rule it out, the honest answer is probably not, it’s not how we roll. Next year, a week in Havana.
Feel free to email me directly with questions.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the Bahia de Naranjo Natural Park, in Playa Esmeralda, on the northern coast of Holguin province. Five-Star Ultra All Inclusive Eco-Resort with 354 rooms. Conceived only for adults aged 18 years or more. Maximum comfort and perfection in its private Royal Service area for a fabulous experience in a world apart. Recommended for weddings, honeymoons, incentive trips and wellness/spa. Guest Rooms 354 rooms: 254 Junior Suites, 24 Luxury Junior Suites, 16 Luxury Junior Suites Ocean View, 2 Suites Deluxe, 36 Master Junior Suites Royal Service, 14 Master Junior Suites Ocean View Royal Service, 6 Master Junior Suites Luxury Royal Service, 2 Garden Villas Royal Service. Dining: 8 Restaurants (A la Carte, Buffet), 5 Bars. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Resort And Spa
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Hotel Holguin
- Paradisus Hotel Guardalavaca
- Rio De Oro Paradisus
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Cuba
- Hotel Paradisus Rio De Oro