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Reviewed April 3, 2018 via mobile

we had a great time at the golden tulip- until my daughter got sick. I think it's important to mention that they do not have a doctor or clinic at this resort. definitely something that every family friendly resort should offer. when my daughter fell ill, my only options were to travel by taxi to a clinic off the resort or wait until we got home. we waited. that ruined our last 3 days of vacation. it's a cute resort, very well kept grounds with amazing pools. the beach is awesome. the buffet food was terrible, the flow in the buffet was non existent (rude people, not the fault of the resort). I will definitely return without my children, but never again with them, unless they bring a doctor there.

Stayed: March 2018, travelled with family
Thank eamd1987
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nabil2016, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Golden Tulip Aguas Claras, responded to this reviewResponded April 5, 2018


Dear eamd1987
Thank you very much for your review of our hotel, we really appreciate every point you mentioned in your opinion. Its positive and negative feedback will help us to improve our weaknesses and to increase the quality of our services. We feel appreciated for your opinion, be for sure that every word of the customer is very important to us. You are the reason for our work, your satisfaction is our goal and your desire to visit us once more our greatest achievement.

Thank you very much for choosing us.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 2, 2018

I traveled in a group of four to the Golden Tulip from March 17-24th. This is my second trip to Cuba but my first time to Cayo Santa Maria. The resort is very well priced in comparison to how much we paid for a similar resort in Varadero. It is a quiet resort so if you are looking for a party, I suggest going elsewhere. Here are some of the highlights:

Beach – The beach is very long and picturesque. The white sand stretches out very far into the ocean and was very safe for swimming, even for small children. Most of the days that we were there the water was calm but on windy days it can be quite wavy. We could have gone in for a swim on the windy days but didn’t want to try to stand in the crashing waves even though there were other people swimming. There are plenty of loungers available but the palapas were scarce. The employees were hard a work building more but it is a slow process. We were getting up at 5:45am to get a spot in the shade. When you walk down in the early morning there is always an employee there to help you put out a lounger. We always gave him a small tip for his service. There are some fish to see if you bring your snorkel. We even had a ray swim by us! There is an opportunity for snorkeling further down but it was too wavy the days that we went to try. The sand is made up primarily of crushed seashells so the sand is grainy and filled with shells. You do not need shoes to walk on the beach bu take your time so that you don't step on a shell the wrong way! There are two beach bars close by for drinks. I recommend bringing a travel mug to save yourself a lot of trips!

Room – We stayed in a garden view junior suite in Building 11. Our view of the ocean was minimal and the view from the patio looked out into overgrown trees and shrubs but we didn’t mind because we don’t spend any time on the patio. The room was comfortable and very clean. Our maid was excellent. She left towel art and we had clean towels each day. The mini fridge was restocked daily and if we needed more bottled water the gentleman who restocked the fridge was very accommodating. This building was quite loud as it is right next to the theater. We always went to the show so it didn’t bother us. There is Wi-Fi in this building which worked most of the time except it was hard to get connected at peak times.

Food – The buffet had many choices and we were very satisfied with what was offered. The food was always hot and fresh. The food was not our typical diet but if you go with an open mind, you won’t be disappointed! There was an omelet, pancake and doughnut making station for breakfast and meat and pasta stations for dinner. There needs to be more people at the food stations to reduce the amount of time that one has to wait in line. The lines at the stations were long at times but well worth the wait. The desserts were delicious! We tried the Cuban and International à la cartes but we preferred the buffet. I wish that the buffet was open later in the morning for breakfast so we could have slept in later. The hut on the right hand side of the beach makes pizza starting at 1 pm and they are delicious!

Entertainment – We really enjoyed the theater shows! The costumes were great and the dancers were very talented. We took the time to go down to the La Estrella market and bought a few paintings and trinkets. We took a taxi for 2 CUC per person and it was well worth it rather than waiting for the bus. We also did the Jeep tour which I would highly recommend.

Grounds – The grounds were very well kept and there were many flowery shrubs that were great for picture taking. There were some semi-feral cats and kittens around and a few geckos but not much for wildlife. Everything was within a short walking distance and it couldn’t take more than 10 minutes at a leisurely pace to get from one end of the resort to the other.

Shuttle - The shuttle from the airport had a guide that gave you some history and pointed out some of the landmarks on the way to and from the hotel which was nice. Yes, it is about 1.5 hours from the airport to the hotel but we enjoyed seeing the scenery and the towns as we drove through. The seats were comfortable and you could buy beer on the bus, two for $5 CDN!

Service – The service at the resort was excellent. We often sat in the same section at the buffet because the servers get to know you and we really enjoyed chatting with them. There were times during the peak times that we had trouble finding a clean table to eat but the servers were doing their best to keep up with the rush. Please make sure to leave a small tip of 1-2 CUC as the employees make a very small wage and really appreciate the tip. The service at the bars and lounge area was also excellent and we always had full drinks. The Wi-Fi is 1 CUC per hour and isn’t the best but you can get connected enough to check your emails and stuff. Don’t expect great service at peak times. We had trouble getting towels the first and second day because there was a problem with the washing service. It wasn’t until the third day that we received our beach towels but we just used the towels in the room until we got them which was fine. The towel hut was open the res of the days. Don’t turn in your towels until you know you can get a fresh one of you may be left without one! Check-in and check-out was a breeze and the staff spoke very good English at the front desk if you had any questions.

Pools – Although we are more beach people and didn’t go in the pools at all, they seemed very nice. They looked very clean and well maintained. The main pool overlooked the ocean and had lots of loungers. The kids pool seemed very quiet and relaxing.

Airport – The security is VERY slow upon arrival. Expect to wait in lines for up to 1.5 hours from the time you get off the plane to the time you get past security and out to the bus. It was the same in Varadero so we knew what to expect. It was much faster getting through on the way home. You can exchange your money at the airport for CUC. There is a fast food restaurant there when you are leaving. You can buy cigars and rum but there is not as much selection as there is at the hotel. The cigars at the airport are not kept in a humidor so if you are looking for the best quality, buy at the hotel.

We had a wonderful time at the resort and we would definitely return! Thank you for the wonderful service!

  • Stayed: March 2018, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
5  Thank ponyrider13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nabil2016, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Golden Tulip Aguas Claras, responded to this reviewResponded April 4, 2018

Dear ponyrider13
Many thanks for your comments of our Resort, We really appreciate the time that you have dedicated to write some words about our installation. We continuously strive to meet our client's expectations and our main goal is your satisfaction; therefore, your opinion is very important and really significant for us. You can rest assured that your remarks will be taken into consideration and we will do our best to improve in the points by you indicated.
I would like you to know that in Cayo Santa María, our guests are the most important aspect, the pivot point of our activity and towards whom we address our constant efforts, aiming at providing our guests a fully enjoyable stay.
Thanks a lot.
We are going to send your greetings to the employees that you mentioned.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 2, 2018 via mobile

I always make note that you have to have reasonable expectations when traveling to Cuba and if you understand the situation of the country then you should have a great time.We stayed here the week after March break for 6 days on a sunwing package. Fourth time to Cuba first time in Santa Maria. it was a last minute decision and I did minimal research but this resort came up in the top of my searches and at a decent price with at least 4.5stars.

FOOD- My families main complaint is always food as my children are not adventurous eaters, my husband will eat any kind of meat and I always manage to find something to get by. We ate as well as we did in Dominican last year which was suprising however everyone says they trade the 1.5hr bus ride from the airport for better food and I would agree that for some reason the food is better than varadero, keeping in mind you don't go to Cuba for food you go for the people and beaches. They had donuts, omelets, "Cuban fruit loops", fruit, toast with jam,PB, honey, meats, yogurt etc. It's mainly imported from Spain and it tastes different but it was fine and a lot of selection. If you went at the end of breakfast time was there less choice yes but I don't think thats unique to Cuba. We only found out on the last day that we were always entering through the side door not the main doors and that there was a whole other side of the restaurant with more seating and food choices. We ate lunch mainly at the beach buffet which had a lot of choices, bbq hot dogs, hamburgers(sometimes), chicken, pork etc. Salads, pasta, French fries 3/4 of the time, rice, soup, and most notably the desserts were much better especially the brownies. The snack bar which was open 24hrs was menu service which had only some items, kids had a delicious chicken sandwich on first day which we could never find again, pizza only 2 days and a buffet lunch on the other days during lunch time. At all the buffets they were quick to replace empty food and didn't really have any issues. French fries at the snack bar always which made kids happy, but prefer the consistency of beach buffet. The food was repetitive with some variations but I don't know what people expect here. They have an elaborate drink menu for adults and kids which was nice as in past I have never had one in Cuba, as always cappuccinos always delicious. We did not take advantage of a la carte but you are guaranteed 2 of the 3 and they always seemed open and lines weren't that long.

ROOM- we were in building 19 3rd floor and we paid for gardenview but got a room with garden, pool, ocean view, we had three beds for the four of us, bathroom was nice, great water pressure, flat screen TV, with several English channels, lots of space, great mini fridge where the same friendly staff came each evening asking what we would like in our fridge. You could brush your teeth with the water, lots of storage.
BEACH/POOL/ENTERTAINMENT- beaches gorgeous, working to rebuild shade canopies but we make one out of extra chairs, lots of space, bar waiter on beach, water sports available and great snorkeling in some parts. 2 pools one with kids pools with water features and the second main pool had 3 levels shallow areas nice for kids with swim up bar for us, great lounge chairs with canopies we usually only see in vip areas. Towels always available and u can trade as often as you like. The animation team had scheduled events but not all day long, not aggressively grabbing you out of your lawn chair and no blasting music all day long was very peaceful and opposite of every other Cuba experience. We played tennis and borrowed raquets which you get for the whole day and find in the gym. Should note that there were a lot of families especially those with young children and babies, other families without but this was a very tame group of resort guests, not at all a party resort. They had mini disco for kids, shows in evening (dance,magic etc), only saw a couple which were decent but I have seen better. Nice lobby bar area. Wifi in lobby, buy a card from the office $1/1hr my husband had to check workemails and it took a long time to load the weeks worth of them but the next day no problem so it is unreliable as they said. Bank at resort similar usd exchange rate.
Misc. This island hosts 16 resorts, doctor office and 3 markets, water sports dock that's it, nobody lives here. It's a distance to do tours but they offered a
handful. You can take the bus to markets for $2 cuc each way or a cab for about $5 cuc (ask the driver when u get in) we did not make it off resort but
people spoke about the pizza shop and bowling alley which is a nice break from beaches. On our last day we got to pay $10/hr to keep our room later since our bus pick up was 5:30pm and they don't offer unless u ask and only if someone isn't waiting for your room. They let you keep your towels and offer a shower room. The airport is small and offers limited food choices I recommend bringing some snacks from home if u have late flight as we did with resort pick up at 5:30 for flight at 10:30pm and purchase a wifi card at resort you can use in airport as I don't know if u
can purchase them at airport. Great family resort experience!

Stayed: March 2018, travelled with family
5  Thank L C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nabil2016, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Golden Tulip Aguas Claras, responded to this reviewResponded April 3, 2018

Dear L C
We truly appreciate your comments about our Resort. We feel really thankful for the time that you have dedicated to write some words about our installation. Every detail that you mentioned in your opinion is a guide for our improvements. The comments of our clients are the pivot to toward our quality of service, thanks of your opinion we can solve our troubles and failures and we can increase our stronger points.We need more opinions like you have done; your words will be a guide for us, to improve our standards and our quality of services. We appreciate all the suggestions you wrote in your comments, we are going to take all the necessary measures to avoid the recurrence of these points you mentioned. Even your points of views will serve as a guide to other customers during their visit to our Resort, helping them to find some services.

Many thanks for your time and your opinion and hoping to see you again.

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Reviewed April 1, 2018

This was our first visit to Cuba, so I can only compare to DR and Mexico. The facility is large, and given the amount of people, fairly clean...though, running out of toilet paper and paper towels at the common washrooms happens regularly.. There was no real structural damage left unrepaired relating to earlier hurricanes, but the losses to the landscaping must have been pretty significant, and they were continually working on new plantings and improving the grounds. There were two pool areas - kids/family, which looked lovely but we didn't explore, and the 'adult' pools, which still had loads of kids there, and were beautiful and large. We prefer shade during the day, and had no problem securing seats in a shaded area (they have canopies around the pool, as well as open areas). There was no scramble in the morning to find good spots - you know, where people mark with towels at 4 in the morning...far more civilized than we have seen elsewhere! This may be because they do have a lot of seats, and because at the beach itself, they have tons of seats and were building more shade canopies every day. There was a steady breeze every day, and that was cooling, I liked it, though I think the locals found it cool. We had in our 9 days only one day that had a bit of rain in the morning and a bit the same night, otherwise the weather was nice, sunny and cloudy, with the breeze. BRING BUG REPELLANT - although they regularly fumigate (frankly in a very stinky and highly inefficient manner), if you lose the breeze, or are out in the early morning and in the evening, you will get bug bites (you don't see 'em, but the welts are big and itchy) The food at the a-la-carte restaurants was for the most part delicious, and for the most part an excellent temperature - the only thing we found was that it was impossible to get beef that wasn't tough, and they did run out of things that were supposed to be on the menu. The pizza huts at the two sides of the resort - delish! - really, I wasn't expecting the pizza to be so good, but the line-ups got long in the sun. At least once a week, close to the beach, they did a massive bbq with rice and black beans - really delicious. They also had fresh coconuts at the beach entrance that were super tasty, and had a sugar-cane crusher set up, which was neat to watch! The buffets...well...there was a lot of food, without actually being a lot of selection, and while I am not a fussy eater, I was rather disappointed that food on the steam tables was never hot. ever. The cold portions (salads, cheeses, fruits, cold meats) were cold, but the 'supposedly' hot dishes were tepid. They ran out of things...tonic water, french fries...a bit frustrating but hardly disasterous. Staff were in general, nice, some were sweet indeed...like Luisa (waitress), Carlos (lobby bar), and the young bartender, who's name I have sadly forgotten, at the pool bar at the adult pools. The grounds keepers were all really friendly, but their English was about as limited as my Spanish. They played music from about 10am on at the pool, which was great for the most part, some cuban music, nice background music, but in the later afternoons it got much louder...which tended to drive us away from the pool. They periodically had a cuban band set up at the lobby, an early evening piano bar in the lobby, a couple that played guitar and sang (they were really very good)...but the lobby area was also usually very loud, and smoky, which aren't things I could handle for long. We were in building 2...great distance from noise of pool, but not too far for walking anywhere (well, I like walking), but they also have little electric vans everywhere and they will drive you places. There are a number of feral kitties at the resort, I expect to keep the rodent population down...being a big softy I did smuggle treats for some of the friendlier ones to help augment their diet, and lots of people did...if I come again I will bring proper kitty treats :-) A few shops on site, but there is a market not far away (same cost to take the shuttle bus or get a cab, but the cabs are much more timely), and the prices for things at the market were very very low, and about half the price of the on site shops - not much shade there though, pack a hat. We didn't eat at any of the restaurants at the market, but they have them. Long bus ride to get to and from the airport, but pretty, and the guides are informative and friendly (Orlando, the guide on the bus trip back, was a riot!). The airport at Santa Clara is NOT comfortable I have to say, but there is a VIP lounge that I think is worth the investment to have greater (and cleaner) comfort while awaiting your flight), and a faster processing time to check bags and go through security. Overall...much better experience than the DR...but nowhere near the quality of the food in Mexico.

Stayed: March 2018
5  Thank MELINDA V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nabil2016, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Golden Tulip Aguas Claras, responded to this reviewResponded April 2, 2018

Dear MELINDA V

Many thanks for your comments of our Resort, We really appreciate the time that you have dedicated to write some words about our installation. We continuously strive to meet our client's expectations and our main goal is your satisfaction; therefore, your opinion is very important and really significant for us. You can rest assured that your remarks will be taken into consideration and we will do our best to improve in the points by you indicated.We are going to send your greetings to the employees that you mentioned.We appreciate all the suggestions you wrote in your comments, we are going to take all the necessary measures to avoid the recurrence of these points you mentioned. Even your points of views will serve as a guide to other customers during their visit to our Resort, helping them to find some services.
I would like you to know that in Cayo Santa María, our guests are the most important aspect, the pivot point of our activity and towards whom we address our constant efforts, aiming at providing our guests a fully enjoyable stay.
Thanks a lot.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed March 30, 2018

We just returned from a weeks visit. March 21 to 28 2018.

First off let me say we had a good time at this resort, mostly due to the staff and the beach. However, we did have a few problems that were resolved after a bit of discussion.

On arrival we were put in room 210 of bungalow 2. This was a ground floor room even though we had asked for a higher floor. The first thing I noticed on check-in was that the patio door was extremely hard to open or close. That is, it took a lot of force to move the door on it's tracks. So much force that the door handle was bending and I was afraid it would break off. Also the door would not lock. I decided to call reception to advise them but the phone didn't work. Off we went to the front desk which was a bit of a walk. At the front desk we were advised that the hotel was full and they couldn't move us but they would send a technician to fix the door. Phones were handled by another company, so they would not be able to do anything about it. Good enough, so we decided to sit in the lobby bar and have a few drinks. An hour or two later we were told the door was fixed....Great I thought. Back at the room we found the door locked but again it was almost impossible to open it or close it..

The next morning I got up and decided to take a shower. Unfortunately the shower didn't work. The divert-er valve was seized. Maybe a coffee would be a good idea. Nope, the coffee maker light came on but it did not brew. I opened the fridge for some cold water and found it was hot. It was on, but not cooling!! I sat and wrote a letter to the hotel Manager pointing out the problems we were having.

Back to the front desk, I gave the clerk my letter. I was informed they would take care of the problems but we would have to come back later. Later when I went back I was told there was nothing they could do and that I should see the Air Canada Vacations Rep. The clerk was good enough to take me to him. His initial reaction was that there was not much that he could do. He seemed to think that because we paid a lower amount for our package that we had to expect less. At that point I told him that even if we paid a lower amount EVERYTHING should still work in the room, and if he was not willing to do anything for us I would go to another hotel and deal with this issue later. He then said he would do his best and talk to the Manager.

After a short discussion we were moved to Bungalow 15 Room 1523. Let me just say that everything in the new room worked! (except for the phones) We were happy. Thank yo all involved and especially Yousef who moved us!

Bungalow 15 is close to the beach, the family pool. and beach towel hut.

Food was usually quite good, but a lot of times it was cool or cold. The other issue was that the tables, especially in the buffet are usually full of dirty dishes. That is, they don't clear them very quickly. So you go into the buffet or one of the snack bars and there is nowhere to sit. This seemed to be the norm until our last few days, then things got markedly better. I'm not sure if they got more staff or changed procedures, but things did improve a lot. Even the food was warmer or hot!! Cutlery was another struggle sometimes, especially small spoons could be hard to find

Pools are nice but getting a chair was not always easy. Lots of chairs on the beach though, and the beach is really beautiful!!! It was rough most days but we did have a few calm days as well.

The pool bar was great!! Ray, Julio, and the other bar tenders (I'm sorry I should have written down the names) were truly great!!

Coffees were great in the Lobby, and even though we didn't go to any of the shows they sounded great and just sticking my head in the theater they looked well done!! The Lobby Bar could be quite busy as it is quite small for the size of the hotel. Hard to find table sometimes..

All in all we had a good week at the Golden Tulip. The staff are truly amazing and the beach is really beautiful!

Room Tip: Buildings 14 and 15 are close to the beach.
  • Stayed: March 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank NelsonMX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nabil2016, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Golden Tulip Aguas Claras, responded to this reviewResponded April 1, 2018

Dear NelsonMX
Many thanks for your comments of our Resort, We really appreciate the time that you have dedicated to write some words about our installation. We continuously strive to meet our client's expectations and our main goal is your satisfaction; therefore, your opinion is very important and really significant for us. You can rest assured that your remarks will be taken into consideration and we will do our best to improve in the points by you indicated. Its positive and negative feedback will help us to improve our weaknesses and to increase the quality of our services. Concerning the maintenance troubles as the patio door or the shower we always send a technician to repair all the failures as soon as possible, we are really regreted that some of your problems couldn´t fixed, and you lost many hours until you was changed to another building. We are going to send your congratulations to eveery employ you have mentioned. We always claim the best courtesy for the customers, you always deserve the best service and a sincere smile.

Thank you very much for choosing us and hoping to see you again.

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