44 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog

Hi, I've just come back from the NH Krys...

Reviewed Sun 17th of August 2008

"Hi, I've just come back from the NH Krystal reosrt in Cuba. We had an absolute awful time and would NOT recomend it to anyone. When we arrived at the hotel we were informed it was low session in Cuba and over half the resort was closed, even though we had paid high session prices back home in England! So everything that was advertised to us in the broucher we did not have, only one of the pools was open, we had 4 restaurants in 2 dinning halls, no entertainment what so ever, they keep running out of the basic drinks (wine, hot water? etc) Our room was discusting, there was a huge tide mark around 5 inches off the ground that ran all the way around the room, it stunk, the wood was rotting, the toilet, fridge and the air con didn't work properly. The taps were mouldy. The problems we had were endless. The main disappointment was the food it was AWFUL. The management in the hotel were no help at all they just kept brushing our complaints off! The rep was fantastic and tried his very best for us. There has been a huge complaint put in to Thomas Cook, not just by us, but everyone who was in the hotel at the same time as us. Unfortunately Thomas Cook have not even graced us with a responce yet after been home 6 weeks!!!!! We were all poorly in Cuba due to the food and nobody dare eat from the restaurants or the buffet. Hope this put anyone off who is thinking of going as i would not even send my worse enemy there!

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  • Travel date: Sun 17th of August 2008

i have returned from holiday here with m...

Reviewed Sun 13th of July 2008

"i have returned from holiday here with my partner in the last few days it's a large resort in a beautiful area of Cuba which from i gather has recently changed ownership and not for the better. The food here is awful whilst we where on holiday the vast majority of people complained and many of the english guests were struck down with bad stomachs i.e. diarrhoea, stomach cramps and vomiting. half the resort is currently closed at this time of writing so do not expect to be able to use the spar or adults only pool. in general the area that is open looks like it is in need of refurbishment with many guests complaining of scruffy poorly decorated mouldy rooms with a bad musky smell about them. also the hotel runs out of basic supplies like ice, mint for the national cocktail, moijito and do not expect any better in the a'lacatre restaurants, the food is simply smaller portions of what is available in the main canteen style restaurant. it is a beautiful place on a fabulous beach if you dont mind starving for the time in which you are visiting and you are not to bothered about the rooms and there rather poor conditions."

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  • Travel date: Sun 13th of July 2008

This is an ENGLISH review . Not at all b...

Reviewed Sun 23rd of March 2008

"This is an ENGLISH review . Not at all bad for the price - not quite a 4 star and accommodation was great for us but not so good for others so lots of variety of experiences on this on site . We had nice big room with patio doors - great for late night swimming. Kept clean and well stocked with water by maid - but others on other side of resort did not have such nice rooms so it does vary. The lagoon is clean- fish dont live in dirty water-but it can smell a bit - we went fishing lots there- and also off the rocks-
best to hire private charter and bung them a couple to get really good fishing otherwise its all trawling..... local guy fishes from rocks every night so if you have some line to share with him etc he will help you out and advise you.
Entertainments- well the shows were from family stuff to great dancing to cheesy stuff- but to cater for a variety of people. We met mainly Canadians and be careful March is the kids holidays and if you choose the wrong hotel it will be full of 17 yr old kids puking and misbehaving- we were lucky a few high spirited ones here but mainly older couples and families.
We had a nice time socially and enjoyed the bars but the drink was not the same strenght as at home but it was no problem. We love to dance but the very generous disco was great for 13 yr olds but we felt tthe music was very very out of date so please take them some CD's- but we made it fun anyway by joining in! take some faithless or something !
The food did annoy my partner who choose to go to the a la cartes very night- it can be done! and would avoid the buffet. I did not mind the buffet but he found it a bit too much like school dinners and the noise etc . I enjoyed it and felt there was a great variety of food but not always what i wanted to eat ! I did get 2/3 days tummy ache - but so did every one- it was not a big problem.
enjoyed the beach - nudist end is to the left of the hotel.
gets busy on calm days ..best time to go is 3-4 when folks are coming back..enjoyed adult pool and did not get to emporador pool at all.
Trips can also be variable but we enjoyed speed boats and catamaran trip both highly recommended and for us great ! we also heard great stuff about Havana trip but were too relaxed to get up early and go and running short of cash.
We did tip but not all the time and only when warranted- and were generous on last day. We greatly enjoyed this holiday - great value for money when we add up what we just spent on shopping this weekend and lovely sun- not like canaries- lovely locals - just relax and dont expect 4 star and you will like it.
ITs not fantasitc but we have run small shops between us and this is a bit site to run and keep going so we can appreciate that they do a good job with not many staff. The flight was not good going home so best take sleepign pill- and would not really recommend flying with Thomas Cook again- all review on this are to be taken seriously- small plane lots of cheesed off people going back to cold uk does not a nice flight make!!!! take it as it is and enjoy - you might not think it was that good until you go to leave and think actually I really did not want to go and want to be back there now!"

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  • Travel date: Sun 23rd of March 2008

Myself and a few relatives and friends h...

Reviewed Wed 19th of March 2008

"Myself and a few relatives and friends have visited NH Krystal about five times, we really enjoy ourselves their. The staff are so helpful and very friendly that is what makes our stay so much fun. We usually eat in the buffet area for breakfast and I always enjoy my breakfast as well as all the other meals we eat at the Hotel. The evening entertainment is always enjoyable and I especially like it when Luis is in the show. We are intending on going making another trip back in September 2008 and I just can't wait to see all the friends we made their. The beach is out of this world I haven't seen one as nice. Say hello to Luis & Raul for us. Janet & Gary, ALanna & Sheldon"

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  • Travel date: Wed 19th of March 2008

The NH Krystal, used to be known as the...

Reviewed Fri 22nd of February 2008

"The NH Krystal, used to be known as the El Senador. It used to be owned by Canadians but is now owned by a Spanish company, and things have apparently changed for the worse since the transition over the past year….I would say everything in the big picture was fine, but the food was such a huge disappointment, I can’t recommend this place…and we won’t be back.

We just spent a week at the resort, which is beautiful, but quite large. I use a wheelchair and the resort was totally accessible, which was shocking, but very nice surprise. I had an accessible room with a wheel-in shower, which was great. We had a nice time of our own making…the beach is great and the smaller of the 2 large pools is the best. … it was relaxing in the sun and sand, as it was snowing at home and -20.

The staff can be very helpful, but some are indifferent….tipping is expected for just about everything.

Reception staff are not interested in helping anyone, they speak very little or no English and do not understand or seem to not understand. Our safe didn’t work when we got there and after complaining a few times a day to the front desk, and after them telling us it was the first time they had heard our complaint. we finally and went and had a word with head management….there were apparently no “AA” batteries left in our area of Cuba…and 4 are needed to run the safe….(so take some…it might be the best and cheapest investment you ever made…)

At the restaurants you can book, the quality of food is quite poor, but in most cases the service staff did their best. At the buffet restaurants the food was terrible and you have to choose carefully what you are eating, a couple times we didn’t think the chicken was chicken. There were no fresh vegetables, and hardly any fresh fruit. The fish was always blah, and it would have been nice if they had at least taken the heads off the shrimp and divined them. My husband and are both excellent cooks, but even with reduced expectations, the food was terrible.

The room was large and clean and the maids did a good job, especially in the beginning, but we made the mistake of giving her too much in the beginning, and by the end she expected it so when we missed a day, she stopped cleaning our room for the last two days.

The bank ran out of money twice while we were there, so make sure you change your money early in your stay, including the $25 pp you need to leave (make sure you put it away and don’t spend it.) Its all-inclusive but you need to tip if you want any service. The bartenders expect it for every drink and get cranky if you don’t, the gardeners appreciate the tips the most, even the smallest amount.


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  • Travel date: Fri 22nd of February 2008

The reps are all informative and helpful...

Reviewed Fri 26th of October 2007

"The reps are all informative and helpful there is a sense of teamwork about them, they have a office on site and will all help you regardless of tour company, Frank the Airtours rep is on 24 hours call out and you will be given his mobile number.

I had a very good holiday and the Hotel service and standards were excellent. The only thing that let the Krystal down was the buffet style of catering. Anything cooked on the griddle was excellent, the fish and seafood was good. The bread was all freshly baked and was excellent. All soups were good. But the veg was always lukewarm and the combinations on offer were weird. The deserts were unappealing, fortunately the ice cream was good. I got the overall impression locally produce was excellent e.g. (fish, bread, meat etc), imported produce mediocre e.g. (carrots, cauliflower, runner beans etc).

The speciality restaurants are all good and no complaints, the best being the fish restaurant on the Lagoon. We were allowed 8 evening bookings over our 14 day stay and had a choice of Italian, Fish, and Steak and Cuban bookings in any combination. To book there is a small desk by the reception which opens at 9:00 am every morning, bookings are made there. Best to book the first morning after your arrival to get the times that suit you. Remember to take the later evening bookings if you plan to go on excursions.

The beach is a short walk, the beach is narrow but runs for miles in either direction, there is a drinks bar on the beach. There are sun loungers everywhere for sunbathing and shelters to avoid the sun.

Beach towels are provided in a hut by the main swimming pool area, they will ask you your room number the first time and when you leave they give you a slip to hand in when you check out. Bit like everywhere else.

Towels and toiletries are provided in all rooms. Rooms are provided with bottled water and there is a fridge in the rooms. All rooms have air conditioning which cuts out when the window is opened. There are no keys; you have a programmed access card. All rooms have a safe deposit box which is digital. It will be open on arrival. To change the number keep the door open select four numbers and press star key. Close the door and press the four numbers again and that will lock. The same four numbers will then open and close the deposit box. Rooms are very spacious with 2 double beds. There is a TV in each room we got CNN and BBC and English speaking films.

The rooms in the blocks have no balconies, which does make washing clothes and drying a bit difficult. But we improvised with a small washing and got by. Our toilet stopped flushing we reported it and within the hour it was repaired. You will get telephone calls asking if you are pleased with the room from reception.

Tipping, it is a tipping culture so be prepared. Once you have changed your money over go to reception and change a note for coins. It is useful to keep a small amount of coins in your pocket at all times. They are all happy with a one peso tip (buffet, bar staff, singers) but in the speciality restaurants I left 3 peso. But tipping it is a personal choice. Remember one thing, all tips are pooled and shared by the staff.

We took gifts because of the American embargo on the Cuban economy has made things we take for granted hard to come by especially sun tan lotion. They really appreciate anything; we took pens for children and little things we get in one pound shops as gifts. We left all the toiletries for the chambermaid and she was over the moon. Infact I told her in advance that we would leave them for her. I also gave her a 10 peso tip at the end. I ended up giving t-shirts to gardeners and clothing to other staff. They appreciate anything received as gifts but do not expect it. Remember to give them a note that it is a gift as security leaving the complex is iron tight for them and security may think they could have taken it.

Mosquitoes, remember to taken insect bite stuff and repellent. Bit like the UK some people attract bites others don't.

There is a medical centre on site with a doctor and pharmacy. I got the trots because I decided to drink the sea water when snorkelling. I paid about 8 pounds for 12 Imodium tablets and a sachet of dioralite. Money well spent.

Excursions, the most value for money trip is colourful Cuba. You get a meal, ride through the sugar cane fields in an old steam train, visit an old sugar factory, visit a crocodile farm, and tour the mangroves in a boat for a wild life tour. Tour a bit of the countryside. Then visit a town called Moron and tour the town in a horse drawn buggy in a group, then a bit of shopping and then home in time for a speciality restaurant. The visit is perfectly safe a secure and you are well looked after.

The worst trip is the Trinidad trip it takes 3 1/2 hours to get there by coach, a meal, a museum, market stalls, then 3 1/2 hour back home. The Havana overnight trip is brilliant, and but costs about 186 pounds each.

Checking out, you check out at by 12.00pm but if your pick up is 17:00 it could mean a five hour wait. On the day of check out you can at 7:30am ask to extend your checkout time at a cost of 10 peso per hour. Money well spent.

Gifts, the hotel shops are great value, infact most items are priced the same as elsewhere in Cuba, in some cases cheaper. So if you decided to stay on the complex its all there and reasonable. Remember one thing, duty free at cayo coco airport is full of spirits, rum, cigars, and cigarettes all Cuban brands - these can be bought after you have weighed everything in. So it is best to buy spirits at duty free at cayo coco airport to avoid excess baggage.

Best little gift I found was a tin of Cuban coffee at duty free, worked about a pound. Everyone I bought one for thought it was excellent. A nice little touch. Also Peso can be cashed back at the airport.

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 26th of October 2007

Hola , just returned from Cayo Coco...

Reviewed Sat 29th of September 2007

"Hola , just returned from Cayo Coco sept.10 to the 17 , Krystal hotel and had a wonderful time. Have been the 6 times before ( formerly El Senador ) with friends who have been there 8 times.

Weather was great, again. In all the times we have been there , it rained for 1 hour once.

Food was good at all specialty restaurants. The buffet also had a good choice.

We have stayed in all facilities , villas, junior suite and regular rooms and all are very roomy with 2 queen size beds.

Beach is the best anywhere with sand like flour. People are amazing and warm. Mix with them, gets to know them. Cuba is a safe place and even more in cayo coco as no locals live on the island. They travel 1 to 2 hours morning and night by bus to work . Gifts are greatly appreciated. Anything from dollar store stuff , tylanol, band-aids, toothbrush/paste, toys, shampoo, combs, whatever you have they appreciate.

We tip 1 peso and a small gift to the maid every morning . I peso each at restaurants and 1 or 2 pesos to bar waiters . Cubans make about 25 pesos a month. Get to know Luis , Adrian and Danny boy , they are great entertainers.

Tell Luis Sheila & Don said hi. Have a great trip."

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  • Travel date: Sat 29th of September 2007

Myself and my boyfriend where at this ho...

Reviewed Tue 18th of September 2007

"Myself and my boyfriend where at this hotel in May. I couldn’t fault the hotel or the staff at all. The staff are very friendly and go out of their way to make sure that you have an enjoyable stay in Cuba.

One of the bar men was a professional juggler and he entertained all guests on a nightly basis with his famous juggling.

The only thing that I have to warn you about is the mosquitoes as they are vicious make sure you take lots of repellent with you.

The food is lush, we went to the steak house every night, and if you give the staff a really good tip they let you in every night.

Entertainment the same as you get in any all inclusive hotel in the Caribbean."

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  • Travel date: Tue 18th of September 2007

My husband and I visited the NH Krystal...

Reviewed Sun 8th of July 2007

"My husband and I visited the NH Krystal for 2 weeks in January 2007, we have visited Cuba before staying in Varadero, and had a fantastic time so had high hopes for our visit to Cayo Coco, unfortunately we were to be very disappointed.

The Thomas Cook flight was a nightmare, I'm only 5'2" and my legs touched the seat in front so I felt extremely sorry for the guy who I was sitting next to, who was a least 6 foot, also my seat back TV didn't work and when I told the steward he said that basically it was tough luck and so I had an 11 hour flight with no in flight entertainment, the hostesses had really bad attitude, we have travelled with lots of different airlines in the past and I can safely say I will never travel Thomas Cook again.

The actual hotel is fabulous with really nice reception areas, 3 lovely pools, nice bar areas and a great beach, the one huge problem was the food.

When we booked we was told that there was several different speciality restaurants on site and that we would be able to eat in each one of the as least once a week. When we arrived at out welcome meeting we was told by our rep that we could eat in the speciality restaurants 3 times each week as we was there for a fortnight this would mean 6 times and we should book these at least a day in advance.

This turned out to be complete rubbish, the restaurants had to be booked at the Italian restaurant each day between 10-1pm we arrived there at 10am on our 1st day and had to wait 1 hour and 1/2, when it was finally our turn we was told that we were only allowed to visit 4 restaurants for the whole duration of our stay and we couldn't even book the ones we wanted to eat in as they was all booked up.

So after wasting a couple of hours sunbathing time we settled for what was available, this would mean eating in one of the two buffet restaurants for the other 10 nights we didn’t realise what a problem that this would be until our first visit to the buffet, again a massive queue even though there was lots of empty tables, (queuing became something that we got quite used to as you had to queue for pretty much everything, food, drinks, bank, towels etc.)

The food was just terrible nothing was hot, most things were not even cooked, and when they did bring out fresh trays they was just tipped on top of the old stuff.

Neither my husband nor I are fussy eaters but we really did struggle to find things to eat
and after 3 or 4 nights of the same pasta and tomato sauce and lots of bread, things were getting pretty desperate, when we did get to eat in one of the other restaurants the food was really good but both of the buffets was just really bad, so much so that some nights we ended up with a pizza from the grill in our room but with only 2 different toppings this soon got tired, there is nothing in Cayo Coco but other hotels and so you really can only make the best of it.

The food was so bad that my husband lost half a stone whilst we was away, (which did him no harm) but is not what you expect on an all inclusive holiday.

Our room was also pretty awful, it stank of damp with mildew curtains and stinky bed linen, but once again we made the best of it.

I have never written a review on any of these sort of websites and we are not the sort of people to find fault in the most trivial of things but we were so disappointed with our visit to Cayo Coco that I really wanted to let people know what our visit was like as I really don’t want others to feel as disappointed as we did."

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  • Travel date: Sun 8th of July 2007

This was the first time we had been to t...

Reviewed Wed 18th of April 2007

"This was the first time we had been to the Caribbean and hopefully it won't be the last! We had a fantastic time.

The hotel was excellent, we were put in the villas on stilts in the lagoon and it was like paradise. Very clean and spacious, beautiful views over the lagoon and only a short walk to the fabulous beach, which took our breath away when we first saw it.

The food was plentiful and in the main very good. The Spanish night was the worst so the second week we made sure we'd booked one of the a la carte restaurants, all of which are excellent.

In fact some evenings we went to see if we could get in one of the a la carte ones even though we hadn't booked and sometimes we were successful so it's worth a try.

The transfer from airport to hotel was smooth and speedy as was check-in at the hotel but I think maybe March/April is quieter (?).

Tipping is expected and as they work so hard to make sure your stay is pleasant and the wages are very low I think tipping is compulsory. It only a takes 1 cuc to ensure great service.

We left our maid a few cucs every few days but every day I left her a little present (small bottles of lotion, perfume, pens, just stuff that I'd accumulated and never used).

The only slight disappointment was that the soft drinks were poor. Tasteless or too sweet and flat so the cocktails from the beach bar weren't all that great. The beer was OK though.

We flew to Havana on an organised trip and that was a definite highlight. Although it's very run down the people are very friendly and the architecture is beautiful underneath all the neglect and you can't go to Cuba without doing Havana!

All in all I'm a big fan of Cuba and I hope it doesn't change too much. I would go back."

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  • Travel date: Wed 18th of April 2007

Hi, I am English... I state this because...

Reviewed Sat 10th of February 2007

"Hi, I am English... I state this because we have a different tipping philosophy to Canadians and as such, on this resort, do not get the same service as the Canadians.

There is a big tipping regime here, and when you consider a bottle of Cuban rum costs 4cuc you are expected to tip 1cuc or more every time you eat or drink.

That adds up over the fortnight to a couple of hundred pounds sterling, I know we did it.

Well let’s go to the resort its big, 700 rooms, 2 hotels joined. 2 beach bars 1 with food generally good food and service (tipping encouraged) 2 buffet restaurants, good food, chefs and waiting staff want tips.

6 speciality restaurants (to get good food and drink - tip). Lobby bars were good (helped if you tip) entertainment OK, you must remember you are in Cuba not las Vegas.

The reception was good, lots of people but fast and nothing to much trouble. Oh on the main resort the rooms are in 3 storey blocks with NO balconies, there are buildings, wooden, in blocks of 4 apartments. I think there are 24 apartments in total that have balconies.

The beach is fantastic. Swimming pools big, mosquitoes - I have never been anywhere with so many. Take anything you need with you clothes etc. there are no shops as such in Cuba. Adios amigos."

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  • Travel date: Sat 10th of February 2007

Our hotel was almost perfect, the only t...

Reviewed Tue 23rd of January 2007

"Our hotel was almost perfect, the only thing we had a problem with was the same music was played by the pool area everyday, but there is another quiet pool but it has no bar in it!

Everything else was great, the food was yummy but we met some friends and they weren’t so keen just depends what you like, plenty of meat and seafood!

Our room was cleaned everyday and the hotel was very clean and tidy. Most people are so friendly and it helps to give them 1 peso after eating etc.

The gardeners are friendly and if you ask they will make you a hat out of leaves everybody had one!

The weather was really hot you need a high factor me and my boyfriend burnt really badly and was out of the sun for nearly a week! Sit under these shelters on the beach you still tan but don't burn! The beach is breath taking it was gorgeous like a warm bath!

There is a few trips to do, I recommend the speed boats where you drive them yourself and swimming with dolphins which is a two day trip. The first day is boring you have to stay in disgusting hotel for one night but its worth it, it is 169 peso which is around £110 each.

Also people come up to you and beg for money don't give them it you will never get rid of them! We went on a catamaran which was really good the tropical fish were amazing! take an underwater camara.You can go deep sea fishing which my boyfriend enjoyed.

There is a lot of mosquitoes take a lot of insect repellent and where it day and night. make sure you go to the steak, Cuban and Italian restaurant which you have to book a day in advance.

A holiday to remember!"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Tue 23rd of January 2007

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