19 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
this was our 1st long haul flight, 9+ h...
" this was our 1st long haul flight, 9+ hours to cuba, 1hour on the coach to the hotel was good the guide was very informative telling us about the country etc. when we got to the hotel we were delighted, it was beautiful.. the staff were very friendly and couldnt do enough for you whatever you wanted they got or tried to get... the weather was absolutely fabulous apart from 1 day when it rained for most of the day but we still found things to do... the beach was lovely, beautiful clear blue sea,soft white sand....the pools at the hotel were outstanding, cleaned every night...the food was great there was something for everyone..the cakes were lovely(hense the 5lbs weight gain)...there was a well equipped gym and spa...(serenity massage is a must)...the maid we had for the 2wks cleaned our room every day and left us various animals and flowers made out of our towels...the pool bar waiter who resembled a young elvis was very good he remembered what everyone drank everytime... the waiters and waitresses in the restuarants were lovely.. we were spoiled for 2 whole weeks and didnt want to come home .... we will definately go to cuba again......MELIA CAYO SANTA MARIA...."
- Travel date: Tue 9th of September 2008
As soon as I stepped off the bus at this...
"As soon as I stepped off the bus at this hotel the flies were everywhere. We were given a room away from all the facilities and our view was another balcony. We were told there was no other room available despite the fact the hotel was half empty. On our first night we were awoken by a rat running around the room. After a stand off in reception and threatening to call our rep at 2am, we were eventually moved to a room with a pool view. We later discovered these rooms are usually kept for the Canadians as they are bigger tippers. Despite this initial problem we never experienced any more problems with our room and the cleaners are very good.
The food is poor. It was never hot enough. The rep claimed this was intentional due to the fact we were in such a warm climate. There are flies all over it and the chefs use the same tongs to lift cooked meat from the grill and raw meat from the fridge. The quality of the meat in the buffet restaurant is terrible. However the meat in the a la carte, which you are allowed to eat in once a week, is much better. Leftovers from dinner are put back out for breakfast. I was ill three times and my partner twice. The staff were all friendly enough, although we were tipping. People who were not were left thirsty at meal times.
Thomas Cook grades this hotel as 4 star plus. It definitely isn't. If the food was good and the flies kept under control then it could be. However the standards are just too poor. The entertainment is also poor. It is dancing everynight. We were so disappointed with this hotel, especially after a 10 hour flight from the UK. The staff do try but Thomas Cook are cheating their customers with the current rating. I would advise people to avoid this place!"
- Travel date: Sat 6th of September 2008
We have just returned from the Melia Cay...
"We have just returned from the Melia Cayo Santa Maria and what a fantastic time we had!!! If its a relaxing, stress free holiday you are after then this is definetly the place to go!
From the second we got onto the bus at the airport everything was taken care of. We were given our room keys and information on the bus so we didn't have to wait around checking in. on arrival at the hotel we were greeted with dancing and singing and a cocktail as well which was a nice touch, especially after the 10 hour flight and 1 and half hour journey to the resort.
The pool and beach are both fantastic. I'm not much of a beach fan but this definately changed my mind with the white sand and clear blue sea.
The food was great. There is no way you could go hungry!!! Breakfast was especially good with the made to order pancakes and omlettes. The a la carte restaurants were also good and made a nice change to the buffet on some evenings.
Rooms were clean and quite large. No bug problems either which was a massive bonus. Had a couple of small spiders and thats it. We were quite worried about the mosquitoes before we went but didn't have 1 bite between us while we were there.
The organised trips are also good. You really need to go on a trip to Havana to see the 'real' cuba but if you only do 1 trip make sure it is to swim with the dolphins. Worth every penny!!!
The staff in the resort are fantastic. Very nice,polite and helpful, nothing is too much trouble. From the bar and restaurant staff right through to the gardeners and cleaners.
All together a great holiday"
- Travel date: Sun 1st of June 2008
It was amazing! The beach was one of the...
"It was amazing! The beach was one of the best beaches I have seen. The sand in the sea was so soft! I tanned without burning (albeit I did make sure I put loads of factor 30, so I would not look like a lobster!) The food and the drinks were great. The waiters and waitresses were brilliant. The cleaners were great too.
We tried to leave tips and clothes. Cuba has a problem with getting clothes. So donations will always be welcome, especially for children.
Food was brilliant, actually too much and too good, to stop yourself from over eating!
I have come back with different views of Cuba.
The best bit - there were no Americans (yet). Once they see the Jewel of the Caribbean, they will come on mass.
No wonder the US offered the Spanish loads of money for the island and no wonder Spain refused to sell it!
We are going back!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Travel date: Thu 1st of May 2008
Wow, what an amazing place. The beach, t...
"Wow, what an amazing place. The beach, the pools, the restaurants are amazing. The staff are very friendly and go out of their way to make sure your holiday is perfect. I loved it so much Iâm returning again in April 08.
The resort itself is very relaxing, although there are plenty of activities going on during the day if youâre feeling energetic. But if youâre anything like me and had too many cocktails the night before, lying by the poolside is just what you need with all your food and drinks brought to you.
I would recommend doing the trips they provide e.g. the dolphins, trip to Havava, jet skiing and many more â theyâre brilliant! You have to pay for these but theyâre not expensive. A place well worth seeing.
- Travel date: Sun 13th of January 2008
This is a lovely hotel with well looked...
"This is a lovely hotel with well looked after gardens, the rooms are clean, big beds, TV, fridge, hairdryer, balcony the bedrooms cleaned daily by wonderful maids.
The buffet restaurant has plenty to offer with pancakes omelettes pasta meat cooked to order. There are 4 specialist restaurants to book the Italian was our favourite. All the bars had great staff with international drinks the air con in the piano bar was well appreciated.
The pool was clean no problems getting a lounger and plenty of things going on all day. The beach is the best Iâve ever seen white sand and blue blue sea, the coral reef is great for spotting fish. This hotel has great staff from reception to gardeners.
I would recommend this hotel to anyone."
- Travel date: Mon 17th of December 2007
This resort is great if you just want to...
"This resort is great if you just want to relax. There are no shops or restaurants outside of the hotel and the nearest town is about an hour away. The beach is stunning with warm clear blue seas!
The hotel is clean and very well kept and the staff are all charming. You do not have to tip the staff to get good service, as they all want to make sure you are enjoying yourself. The range of food is great with the main buffet restaurant offering everything you could want plus a fresh cooked pasta bar, separate Italian, Cuban and the beach restaurant.
The pools were clean and had plenty of sunbeds so no need to get up early!
The rooms are vary spacious, air conditioned, ceiling fan, and free safety deposit box, and were cleaned every day with fresh towels.
After reading previous reviews regarding insects we had nothing in our room for the 2 weeks we were there and we were on the ground floor, so didnât find this a problem. Mosquitoes are a pain to some people, but just be prepared - take a plug in for the room and all the usual sprays etc before you leave the UK.
Although it was the rainy season when we travelled, do not let this put you off, as it was sunny and hot all day and rained at night (still warm at night and the hotel provided a golf umbrella in each room)
This resort/hotel offers such great value for money we will go back again!"
- Travel date: Fri 9th of November 2007
I have just returned from Cayo Santa Mar...
"I have just returned from Cayo Santa Maria and I had an amazing time.
The accommodation, food and beach was amazing. Unfortunately a lot of Brits like to complain when they are there, over things like there being a lot of mosquitoes.
However this did not stop me from having a fantastic time.
It is just a shame that the holiday had to come to an end."
- Travel date: Mon 14th of May 2007
After you have eventually got through Sa...
"After you have eventually got through Santa Clara airport, which makes Goa airport look like a breeze, you get on a bus for about 2 hours and at the end of a man made causeway, about 20 miles long, you get to this hotel.
From the bus the hotel looks fine but when you step off, even with the recommended insect repellent on, the attacks begin! These mosquitoes are not like any I have seen anywhere else in the world and I have been all over Caribbean, Far East and India.
After you have made a dash to your room, which is not easy as the signposting in this hotel is shocking, you think you'll get relief but then find all sorts of creatures have already moved in although some are already dead in the cobwebs around the room. Try putting the air conditioning on and you might as well just open the mini bar door as its just about as effective. The bed has a mosquito net over it which is required but its torn and yellow stained and when I pulled the top cover off both beds there were blood stains on the sheets - presumably previous victims blood! The bathroom is ok.
The main restaurant is enclosed and there are staff positioned at the doors to make sure they don't get left open for too long! The food is of poor quality - chewy beef, stringy chicken and tough fish. The breakfast was average but did include such things as brussel sprouts and pickled onions which had also been out at dinner the previous night. Beer and wine were good.
The hotel description says "lush vegetation" - that's a mangrove swamp at the rear of the hotel! And "abundant fauna" - that must be the insect variety.
I cannot write any more about this hotel as I escaped next morning and went to Varadero. "
- Travel date: Thu 22nd of June 2006
A great place for R & R
"We have just returned from one week March 5-12.Having read the previous reviews prior to departure we were nervous about the choice that we made. We are 3 ladies (ages 39-50), and can only say that we are glad that we went with an open mind. The resort is new, but it is obvious that the management is taking into consideration, recommendations of the guest. There are pads on the wooden chairs near the pool area now. There were no lineups for the buffet or bars..and the resort was near capacity. There was not a problem with beach or pool chairs..although new arrivals were told that if you reserved a chair with a towel and the chair was vacant for 20 minutes it would be removed. The resort received hundereds of new towels when we were there, so no problems also received new chairs. The food was good..no lineups for pasta or omelette station as they have added an additional station. The staff are amazing and very efficient and friendly.The bar service was great..especially the lobby bar..nice frosted beer glasses and did not have time to finish one when another would be waiting for you. The walk from beach to beach bar was not as bad as previously stated in the past reviews..The only negative comment would be poor lighting at night along pathways and air conditioning in room was not great.Overall, Yes I would definitely return and very soon."
- Travel date: Sun 14th of March 2004
Enjoyed our stay at Melia Cayo Santa Maria
"March 5 - 12, 2004 Happy to report that we thoroughly enjoyed this Melia resort. We would return. Language was not a problem for us. My husband and I did read reviews but decided to go with an open mind, and I'm glad we did. Mind you, we couldn't help paying attention to some areas mentioned. AIRPORT: Small, but security personnel kept everyone moving as quickly as possible; luggage was already off-loaded and arranged easily for pickup; Melia staff waiting to check us off their list and to present resort package which I wish other resorts would do, rather than at reservation check-in desk. A hotel staff member (English very good) filled us in as to the contents of the package, and then asked us to put on the resort blue wrist bands. Police escort through the towns of Carajuani, Remedios and Caibarien (you would appreciate this if you happen to rent a jeep and have to deal with slow traffic, i.e. horse drawn "taxis", bikes, etc.. Must admit the drive across the causeway is long (48 km) but the greeting at the end was very good. We did not have a problem with the map provided to assist with finding our room. We were asked whether we would like a porter to deliver our luggage or carry them ourselves - we opted to have them delivered into our room. LOBBY: We would not say this was small. The Reception desk takes up one wall; there is a 400 year old tree (we were told) in the middle surrounded by 4 groups each of 2 comfortable chairs, 1 couch with coffee table; a pathway, then another 3 groups against a wall.
Painting and some finishing touches are still going on in the lobby and lobby bar. ROOM: Clean, spacious, nicely decorated. Small foyer leading into sitting/bedroom. Day bed/couch, chair and coffee table. King sized bed with mosquito net if needed. Photo in the Sunquest brochure is accurate. Sliding door and screen door out to balcony. Bathroom area with the usual amenities, i.e. closet, drawers, inroom safe, large mirror with washbasin, counter; separate room with shower/tub, toilet and bidet. Room was cleaned to our satisfaction. Towels, glasses, water, beer, pop in fridge every day if and when needed. RESTAURANTS: BUFFET: Service for us was very good. However, after a day or so, we stayed at the same station whenever Henry was there. He was friendly, courteous, willing to help and no language barrier here either. Our table always had a "reserved" sign. Have to admit that some foods were very good, not always hot though; others we could have done without.
The only specialty restaurant we can speak for was THE MED - Ambience, service and food excellent. We tip as we would here at home, if service is good. CREOLE - we must have hit this one on a bad night. Definitely not impressed - best course was the ice cream and of course the wine.
Others we spoke with had a better experience. The LOBSTER DINNER which was discontinued because of the wind, has been restarted. Definitely try for early reservation for this one. Comments reserved. LOBBY BAR: Place to go before dinner and meet new friends. Gustavio and Livan our friends. I left my running shoes in this bar one night and didn't have much hope in finding them again. Early the next morning, I checked with the day staff but they couldn't find any lost items. Reported this to Alfredo, the Sunquest Rep and the hunt was on. However, it was Gustavio who found the running shoes in a special area for lost items when he came on duty that afternoon. TOWELS: Absolutely no problems with towels at any time. There were always freshly wrapped ones available. It would appear that complaints are taken seriously and corrected. At orientation, we were advised that management would be keeping tighter control on people leaving towels on chairs while they went off to who knows where, and there would be a fee of US$20.00 if towels were confiscated. That put a scare in lots of people. BEACH & ENTERTAINMEN: Beautiful, but windy for this time of the year which is coming to the end of winter in Cuba, the water was cold. The sun was HOT which was perfect. We walked or got driven over to Sol beach, for a drink, the entertainment especially in the Piano bar, or just for a different scene. Dancers and a pork Bar-B-Q around the Melia pool was good. This will be something new. Went for bike rides on the road and through Sol and Melia (not in the lobby of course) just to get familiar with some areas. Good exercise, and stop now and then at one of the bars to keep your strength up. Agree that the walk to the beach, snack/bar, washrooms at both Sol and Melia is long, especially at noon and later when the sun is at it's hottest. In comparision, the walk to the beach at El Senador and Breezes Jibacoa is also far depending on where your room is located, however the beach bars, washrooms are much closer.
Most resorts advertise "on the beach" but don't really say how far "on the beach" really is! We counted 68 palapas on the Melia side of the beach with at least 4 new Grosflex chaises under each; the wooden chaises around the pool have mattresses, but it would appear that these are being supplemented by the new Grosflex. OVERALL: Jose and Alfredo, the Sunquest Reps were helpful. We saw improvement every day to the grounds. New pathways leading from the paved ones, are accessable allowing for shorter distances to walk. The new pathways consist of small white stones; other improvements are new soil around garden beds, dead grass is raked and sprinklers are going. Very long process because it's so dry. Rain would actually be a good thing just to get shrubbery, etc. growing. The gardeners are constantly working. Every complaint/report to Public Relations is documented, and improved or corrected. It is obvious that management is trying to live up to the 5* rating - they're not there yet, but maybe in a few months hopefully.
Another SolClub is under construction on Cayo Santa Maria, and possibly competition will be rampant.
Mike & Jean from Scarborough, ON"
- Travel date: Sat 13th of March 2004
BAD and some good
"My wife and I stayed at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria from February 20 - March 5 2004.TRANSPORTATION: Skyservice Airlines. Food: I suggest that you bring your own food and drink. The cold cardboard boxed meal is tiny and poor. All non-alcoholic beverages, including water, are $1.00, and all alcoholic beverages are $5.00. Tap water is free. The southbound aircraft (Airbus 320) seats were too crammed and did not recline. The northbound aircraft (Airbus 320) was better.BEACH: Beach is beautiful but always windy. Most of the time too windy to stay at the beach.ACCOMMODATION: The rooms are very nice and spacious and kept relatively clean, although once during our two week stay the room was not made up, and we did not received any bottled water. After complaining several times, the room was made up at 10:00 pm but no bottled water. (Housekeeping is in charge of the bottled water and once they are gone you're SOL).The bathroom smelled with sewer gas. We complained the second day we were there. We complained again a couple of days later. They sent an air-conditioning maintenance man who sprayed some deodorizing scent and told us to get a plumber. The plumber could not fix it. A week after we arrived we insisted on moving to a different room. In this room the toilet did not flush properly. After I had instructed the plumber to exchange toilet-tank parts between our abandoned room and the new room it flushed OK. This room was much better, although the last day of our stay we detected sewer gas in this room as well. Other guests at the hotel told us they had the same problem but they had not complained about it. This is a general design/construction problem.The bathroom fan, which is always on and cannot be turned off, is very noisy. It is there to compensate for the sealed bathroom window and to remove the sewer gasses.The hot water is not hot, it is lukewarm and there isn't enough pressure to take a proper shower.SERVICES: We did not get clean towels in the room every day. Beach towels were not always available. Apparently, the laundry facility is in Cienfuegos, 3 to 4 hours away from the hotel.FOOD: At the main dining room some of the dishes were OK, but most of the food was tasteless and poor quality.Fruit selection was always the same poor quality and consisted of the following: Unripe and sour watermelon, sour pineapple, overripe bananas, tasteless green cantaloupe, hit and miss papaya, guava (we did not try), and canned fruits.There were long waits at the grill and pasta bar, even though the hotel was not at full capacity.We did not try the 'specialty' restaurants, but most people we talked to did not like the food there and came to the dining room following their 'specialty' meal.Some people got sick from the food, including my wife who vomited three times (on three different days) during our stay.ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES: Very amateurish. The entertainment at the Sol next door was better.This is not a 5 star hotel by ANY standard.BOTTOM LINE: Would we return to this resort? NO."
- Travel date: Wed 10th of March 2004