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“LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT! :)” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria

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Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria
Ranked #3 of 14 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Joanna2310
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT! :)”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 March 2012

My boyfriend and I, as well as another couple stayed at this hotel March 17-24. When I read some of the reviews before we left I got alittle nervous but reminded myself that we paid under 1000 and realistically you pay for what you get. But after a couple of days, the four of us wondered if we were even at the same resort as the bad reviews! Here we go...

Room: We booked the Exclusive club room with Air Transat...not worth the money. Basically you're paying extra for a bottle of alcohol. The rooms were very nice and had plenty of room. Yes 50% of the white towels had what looked like rust stains. Apparently the towels are not washed on the hotel grounds but shipped somewhere. No they don't look the greatest but they were definitely clean. If they really bother you, you can ask the maid when you see her to switch them, she had no problem doing this. The beds were firm, but not horrible. This is coming from someone who sleeps on an ultra plush pillowtop mattress. I didn't have a problem sleeping.

Resort: absolutely beautiful! the grounds for the most part are filled with beautiful flowers and plants. The only area that was lacking a bit of vegetation was near the newest buildings they just opened recently. There are numerous gardeners working hard all day in the sun making this property beautiful. This isn't Costa Rica..You're not in a rainforest so don't expect it!
The pools are awesome and located all over the resort. Workers would walk around and clean them. Never a lack of loungers.

Beach: the beaches are quite narrow in the morning but by midday they were significantly larger. No problem getting a lounger, at least 2 workers constantly grabbing chairs, setting them up and brushing the sand off for you. Water was super clean and warm. Took a couple walks down the beach toward Melia Las dunas. The sand gets much coarser the further you walk way from the resort beach.

Food: I am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised with the food. Knowing how much we paid I figured I wouldn't be eating much. I'm a picky eater so I can't say that every item at the buffet was to die for but I can honestly say that at every meal I found something I absolutely loved. Made to order eggs, pancakes, waffles, smoothies, meat, seafood, pasta, and dessert. How people can honestly say they didn't like ANYTHING is beyond me. Its actually ridiculous! The four of us spent the entire week bringing up quotes from ridiculous reviews and wondering who these people were. Oh and the line-ups...these apparent long line ups? The longest I waited in any of those stations was 10min. The 24hr snack bar will cook you up pizza, fries, eggs or a sandwich at anytime of the day or night. Can't say I received that when I stayed at the Riu Palace in Cancun. The only place i'd have to say I didn't really enjoy was the beach buffet. Food was pretty cold. Apparently they have a menu you can order from but we didn't know this unfortunately.

Employees: I found the staff at this resort were very good. Everyone was friendly and tried to make your stay a good one. Special mention goes to Pascual at the lobby bar and Abel at one of the quiet pools. Mareyi, a manager, was absolutely amazing. She knew it was our anniversary and made our vacation as special as possible for us with many little surprises left in our room. The animation team was pretty good. Michael was amazing, usually at the beach during the day. Lots of dancing lessons and games. The only thing I wished was that they advertise nightly entertainment off the resort like i've seen at other resorts.

Excursions:We did only one excursion, the catamaran dolphin trip. Costs 99 pesos per person. Bus picked you up at 10am. The dolphinarium was the first stop, a 5min bus drive. Went in the water with the dolphins. They did tricks and you got kisses from them and rubbed their bellies. No dolphin swimming here like Varadero. Photographer takes a photo, costs 10 pesos. You then eat a lobster or chicken lunch which was really good. Then there is a sea lion show. At approx 1pm the catamaran picks you up from the dolphinarium. First stop is snorkelling near a reef for approx 45min. After, it makes a stop at a beach where you can walk out approx half a km out and the water is ankle deep. That was really nice. Then you head back to a marina and are back to the resort around 530pm. We weren't on the catamaran as much as I expected but the trip was well worth 99 pesos.

We went to the Village "Estrella". Some souvenirs to buy, food and drinks. There was a spa and bank. Make sure you bring ID if you need to exchange money. There was also a disco and a bowling alley which were fun. Not very busy though. Make sure when you hop on the bus you make sure it is heading towards the Barcelo resort, if its going the other direction you will be on it for a very long time. Bus costs 1 peso per person. If you take a cab its the same cost so we took a taxi for the most part.

Would I stay at this resort again..ABSOLUTELY! Had an amazing time and couldn't have asked for more. We wanted to extend our trip an extra 3 days but couldn't because of work. Looking to come back maybe in the fall.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me :)

Room Tip: I stayed in building 3, seemed to be the furthest building from the beach. I would recommend buildin...
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  • Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Joanna2310
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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  • Rooms
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    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Halifax, Canada
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 March 2012

My husband and i stayed at this resort from March 17-24th and let me tell you it was amazing!! I can't believe people would give it such a bad review. The service was outstanding, they never stopped. I would agree that the few working in the snack bar are a tad unfriendly but other than that they still serve you-just a little slower.
We booked with Hola Sun and the only issue we had was flight delays...we joked that we were on Cuba time. It wasn't delayed much an hour there and an hour back. Flight was good with Cubana, thought it was neat that they serve Cuba food on the flight and served Cuba rum/beer...at Cuba prices might I add which I was very impressed with ($2 beer and $3 pop hahaha) Hotel Check in was quick. We stayed in Building 3. All the buildings are in a close walk to everything so it doesn't matter where you stay. Unless you are looking for an ocean view room. This resort is laid out perfect. I don't spend much time in the rooms but mine was clean, fresh and just as it shows in the pictures. The pools were clean, lots of beach chairs/loungers. The beach was great, staff is ready to carry a beach chair down for you and brush the sand off. I was shocked, I've never had staff do this for me at a resort. Two thumbs up on that!! Some seaweed on the beach but hardly any in the water, no jelly fish, it was crystal clear. The restaurants are great. I don't know why people are complaining about cold food?? Everything was yummy, hot and they had an excellent selection. We ate at the Creole Restaurant and the Italian. I loved the Creole, the Italian was o.k, didn't love it but didn't hate it either. The Snack bar has amazing pizzas, fries and burgers. One thing I was impressed with is the drinks, I have been to a few other resorts over Cuba and they always mix them so strong that I have a hard time drinking. I like to drink and not taste it so much. I asked for coconut rum in my drinks and they were PERFECT!! There is no disco on this resort-you have to bus it to the Market. We didn't go, just decided to hangout in the lobby and have drinks instead. I'm sure it would have been fun if you were going down with a group of people. We did use the buses and taxis quite a bit. To go to the Market was $2 so not bad at all. We also went to the Dolphinarium and it was $5 to get there and $3 each to get in, if you want to interact with the dolphins it's more (not sure how much) It's important to go before noon so you can interact with the dolphins or at least watch other people do it. At 12:30 there is a Sea Lion show that you can watch too. It's only once a day as far as I know. The internet is $6/30 mins and it is very very slow. Took about 20 mins to update a facebook stat. I don't spend much time on the internet anyways so I didn't care so much but just though I'd mention for those that plan on going on to chat with family members. Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have!!
TIPS:
-Bring a pillow if you have neck trouble (they are hard) I didn't mind them but hubby did.
-Bring your own face cloth/shower puff (no face clothes provided)
-Get up early if you want a sun shade there are some but they go early.
-Try a Pina Coloda with Coconut Rum (YUMMY)
-Take presents that are unisex (you might get a chamber boy!!)
-Take a peek in the gift shop (cheap rum)
-Take snacks from home if you like to snack when you drink (I bought a sm.can of pringles in the gift shop for $4 ouch!!)
-Smile and have fun :)

Room Tip: Building 3 is right in front of a quiet pool, with a bar at the other end :)
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  • Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Alleycatz12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Arnprior, Ontario, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 March 2012

I went to Gaviota March 14-21/12 with my youngest son 14 and my friend and her daughter age 13. We all had a great time and I can see this hotel only improving. They have hired a new chef but he is going through red tape with paper work. There were also interested buyers checking out the hotel from Europe. If this happens this resort could in fact be the best on the island. I will admit the food was just O.K. but always found something to eat. Breakfast at the snack bar with Lattes..and the Asian were my favorite places to eat. My room in block 2 was clean and perfect location. Lots of pools to pick from with beautiful lounge chairs. Kids loved the slushy drinks and ice cream. There is nothing wrong with this resort.... They are working on it. Everyone tries hard to please. The beach is beautiful and loads of new of chairs stacked up if the beach is busy.
I was impressed as I drank pink champagne all week and when sitting around the pool a server would take our order. This happens at high end hotels people!! So, this little 4 star is trying to serve and impress. I didn't go on vacation to gain weight but the pasta was really yummy with garlic and basil and your choice of toppings to saute with the sauces. Don't be afraid to try this hotel. I have been to the best of the best and I still had a great time!
Shelley Potter/Owner Carlson Wagonlit Travel Arnprior Ont.

Room Tip: I think that AIr Transat Holidays have a great block of rooms.
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  • Stayed March 2012, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Shelley T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Edmundston, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 March 2012

We have been to Cuba 3 times and this is the first time that I had a marvellous trip, people are friendly you ask they gave you what you want, if you stay in building 15 or 7 your right in the middle of the resort --- snack bar open 24 hrs with music all day--- if you want to relax stay in another building the food was good for us don't forget to give pesos for tip and they will reconize you and your gonna get an excellent service even at the beach.For us there is no negative to say about that hotel. If I would return yes anytime.

  • Stayed March 2012, travelled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Beethduke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Burlington, Canada
Level Contributor
29 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 March 2012

Cuba is Cuba - If you want a true 4 or 5 star pay an extra 5-10 thousand and go elsewhere. The people do very well with what they have, which is very little.
It is a beautiful, new resort. The staff is willing to help in any way possible. It is very clean and the rooms are nicely decorated. They could use more staff - many work 12 - 16 hour days! In the Snack Bar - Brady and David were awesome. The food here was also very good (pizza, bacon cheeseburgers, chip fries). The buffet had lines - what buffet doesn't? There was lobster, great pizza made to order as well as pasta made to order - you just had to wait. The worst part were people butting in line!
The panini bar on the beach was also great - Rodney was always cheerful tip or no tip. The buffet on the beach at lunch was great and the waiters on the far side were extremely helpful (sorry I can't remember their names).
We had a great dinner at the Italian a la carte (beef is tough, but pasta was great) and the Mediterranean was good.
The drive from the airport in the morning was lovely and the tour guide was quite informative - we did change our money at the airport, but the hotel received money at various times (sometimes they had money and sometimes they didn't). This wasn't a huge issue for us.
We took the Dophin/Catamaran tour and found it both entertaining and well worth the cost.
Overall, relax people - if you want to have a good time, you will. If you want to find problems, you will.

Room Tip: Oceanview - bungalow 7 or 15 - great! Book when you get there - an extra 20 cuc per night
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  • Stayed March 2012, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Jaw3_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hamilton, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 March 2012

when we booked our holiday this resort was called Serenis. We were told of the name change but it did not mean anything to us, we did not know that it was taken over by the Cuban Goverment. Although it was a new resort, we had too many bad experiences to mention, firstly, the towels (when we got them) were stained, I asked if they were purchased from another hotel? The food was not only bad but almost non-existent, if it was gone it was gone, they did not replenish, not much variety of fruit, no cereal for three days and no bread for three days, when asked the answer was "magnana". We had a flood in the bathroom, I must say it was fixed right away. No lights in the hall for the majority of our two long weeks there.. The room was very nice but the grounds were not very nice yet, in my opion this resort jumped the gun, opened too early, they were not ready for guests, our tour guide advsied that they are trying to get people to work there but have a problem, no one wants to work, he said. The beach/water was beautiful but try going down the stairs, not a level beach, it is a two tier beach not enough shade, and very very long lines at the buffet. the buffet room was not well thought out, all the hot food was along the back in one line. Sorry I cannot say it is one of the resorts that I would every go back to.

  • Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank eniaquaglia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 March 2012

We traveled from March 15-23 and going there with Air Transat was the best . As for all reviews that prepared as for this trip one thing is true: service stuff has no training. So forget about making your own meal if you are not a "tipper".
we had last few days lunch at the restaurant at the beach and the food is much tastier, especially chicken!!!! I can go there again now just for chicken!!!!!
we had two alla card choises of restaurans : Asian( cuban food with soya sous) dont waist your time, we missed lobster night at the buffet because of that...and Med. Grill,which is the one on the beach, go for it...
But we had upgrated our room for no cost to a king size ground floor at bungalow#7, that was really convinient for the stroller and run to the beach to book the sunbeds in the shade. You have to be there before sun rise, or else tip well the guy at the beach and he will make sure you get it whenever you come.
We had a very pleasant maid who had contributed to our great vacation!We asked floors to be moped very well because of our toddler and every day we found it very clean,Thank you !!!
As I mentioned we had a great vacation, because nature made this island so beatifull that all of the above is nothing !!!!! Such clear water and powdery sand , that all we would dream about! But the hotel is very well done !its just too bad that some cuban people that work there have an attitude that freaked me out so many times!they get tip and I felt like there is a competition going on ''who gives more get a better service'' , then they will tell you how many children they have and next think you know they tell you a different story with a picture of kids....so they are pretty much like gipsy, ! We look forward to go back next month!! maybe with our teryaki sous and ketchup, and some maple syrop for breakfast.
We had left our dear daughter at the infantino club and we were very happy that child was ok, in the mean time we had a couples massage, just be aware that the "cuban '' massage is very different from any other we had, I personally felt like screeming to stop it...just be prepared!

Room Tip: Go for bungalow 15 and 20$ per night for ocean veiw
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  • Stayed March 2012, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Giorgio M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria

Property: Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria
Address: Las Dunas 5 | Cayo Santa Maria, 50100, Cuba (Formerly Hotel Gaviota Cayo Santa Maria)
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Villa Clara Province > Cayo Santa Maria
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 14 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria 5*
Number of rooms: 769

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