Playa Esmeralda, Carretera Guardalavaca, Holguin
The elegant and luxurious Paradisus Río de Oro All Inclusive Resort is located right alongside Playa Esmeralda beach, in the privileged and exotic natural setting of Natural Park of Bahía Naranjo, 5 km from Guardalavaca in the province of Holguin in the north-east of Cuba. Paradisus Río de Oro is an adult only (18 and over) resort. Among its large array of water sports you’ll find scuba diving, which is included in price.
For adults only (guests aged 18 and over)
Share your experiences with others. Don't forget to send your review to Debbie by using an easy form.
"Run Down - Run Away"
Michael on Feb 22, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
580 people found this review helpful
First room we were given smelled so bad that even though we were exhausted a the 1am arrival time we asked for another room. It too smelled of mould but not quite so bad. Heard similar complaints from other guests over the course of the week. Bathroom fixture were coming away from the wall in the shower - floor drain was gunked up with grease or something. Sidewalks are cracked and present tripping hazard in some cases. Air conditioners clicked away like a drummer the entire time. Wait staff ignored us while flying to the assistance of someone with tips for them. Management was unresponsive to our concerns. This facility was said to be a 5 star but I have seen better 2 star hotels/motels here in Canada. This was fourth trip to Cuba. First time at this resort. Other trip were good - Sandals (2) Santa Clara (1). Go anywhere but here folks. Unless you got lots of tip money you will be disappointed.
"I don't think it was worth the money we paid"
Cindy from St.John's, Newfoundland on May 1, 2009 >
Visited on: May, 2009
302 people found this review helpful
Arrival: May 16 - May 23
We arrived at night and got a cab to the resort. We had to do this because we booked the hotel separately from the hotel. It took 1 hr and 15 Min's to arrive there and when we did, the tour bus pulled up behind us!! Not hard to tell our driver took the long way!!! We had a very quick check-in and was drove to our room.
Very out dated in my opinion. Lot's of room and patio was big. We had privacy, which is what I wanted, so that was nice. Hot water all the time and A/C was excellent. Maids did a great job. No complaints.
Restaurants and Bars:
The Food Was EXCELLENT!!! We were very nervous about the food because we have heard so many bad reviews about Cuba Food.....but we were AMAZED!! It was VERY GOOD! Every restaurant..Every Buffet.....Can't Rave More About The Food!!
What Beach????? It was FULL of Rocks!!! There was not one area where you could walk into the water with-out hurting your feet!! We were very upset, as this is Where we spend most of our time!! The smell was Brutal too!! It Was Bad...Sewer is what it smelled like and next to the beach and beach hut there was a Brown Pond that was created from the hurricane last year.....By mid week, that pond went into the ocean and beach and they had to close it for a few days!! It was gross!! Very disappointing!! Not once did I put my feet in the ocean as usually you can never get me out of it! I was very sad over this..I felt a big part of my vacation was ruined.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
They had pool Aerobics for 30-40 Min's and played the same song over and over on repeat!! other than that..that was it for the pool...which we didn't mind, but no music was every played...it was very quiet everyday! That was all we saw. Cleaning the pool was done with a Net and that was to get the crabs out of the pool...YUP Crabs!! By the last day of our vacation, the sun finally came out and it was 30 degrees....you should of seen the ring of scum around the pool!! Holy Moly!! never saw anything like it at a resort before!! Also the pool water was slimy to the touch and were guessing because they hardly had any chlorine in the pool. We met 4 couples while there and 2 of the couples have been there 10 times or more!! YES That many times!!! They said this would be there last trip there as the resort has changed!! Everyone had something to say about the condition of the pool and it's dirt ring and slimy water.
It rained for 5 days straight!! This was our Honeymoon and my new Husbands 40th Birthday while there.....we were told by the resort in emails that we would have an upgrade and a special evening with a private dinner for Todd's b-day and that they would plan it with flowers and everything....we got Nothing! The average age was 55+ which is no big deal to us, but for a Honeymoon resort, which is what we were told it was...I don't think it was worth the money we paid. We had it planned to go to the Palladium in the Mayan Riveria and due to the swine flu, this was the only resort that we could get for our flights with Air Canada. It would of been our second time there....it was the exact amount for both resorts and the Palladium blows this resort away!! We will never go back to this resort. just for the simple fact that the money we paid can get us another 5* resort in Punta Cana or the Mayan Riveria, which is what we love anyway!
"But no, it wasn't perfect"
Stevenbev from Ontario on Jun 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jun, 2009
307 people found this review helpful
Arrival: June 9th - June 16th:
Once again we booked our trip with Sunwing vacations and were not disappointed, professional, courteous service, smooth flight and on time, honestly we do feel Sunwing does offer the best charter service from Canada and will continue to use them for our charter vacation needs. For our flight to Holguin, we choose the Elite Plus upgrade ($40), this afforded us the extra luggage allowance needed (30kg), as well as priority check in at Pearson International and the Extra leg room seats (35" pitch). If you chose to book the Elite Plus, I do not recommend booking row two (2). Although you do receive the extra legroom without having to deal with the person in front of you slamming into your space, the actual seat width is narrower as the table trays are stored in the armrests, rendering them stationary, I have to admit, this was fairly uncomfortable.
Arrival at the Holguin airport was somewhat disconcerting, greeted by fully masked and gloved security/custom agents, heightened Swine Flu security protocol was in place and appreciated, however, you would honestly think they were protecting themselves against the Ebola virus.. I have to admit this was the easiest and fastest time we have ever had through customs in Holguin, no questions what so ever, it felt as though they wanted us out of the airport as fast as possible. As this was already a late night flight I was more then happy to grab my luggage and hop onto the bus as soon as possible. Honestly, it took us exactly 1hr and 37 minutes from the time we landed in Holguin to arrival at the PRDO, an all time record in my books. Arrival the PRDO was just as smooth.
As we arrived at the PRDO just after 10:00 pm and only had a small group of four (4) couples and a mother and daughter team arriving at this resort with us no big fanfare for our arrival. As soon as we jumped off the bus and ensured we had our luggage, the front desk staff greeted us immediately and asked us to have a seat in the lobby while they provided us with cool towels and champagne. The front desk staff took our paperwork and passports for check-in and came back within 10 minutes our room keys and welcome information in hand.
As repeaters, we were also presented with a lovely welcome back letter from management and roses, which reminded us why we love this resort so much. It's the little details that sets this place apart from other resorts we have been to, and why we keep coming back.
Total check-in time took no longer then 15 relaxing minutes, and we were quite happy to see that we were once again given our regular room, 3418. In my opinion this room is in the best location for us, although, I have to admit, each time we go the room seems to fall deeper and deeper into disrepair. As reported the accommodations at the PRDO are in dire need of updating, although clean, we found the ripped curtains, uncomfortable bed, missing/broken bathroom tiles and caulking patchwork to be a little disappointing. This did not effect our vacation in the slightest however, not really acceptable for a 5* resort, even in Cuba.
One slight difference, improvement?
Our now clear view of the pool from our balcony. Thanks to Hurricane Ike and the clearing out of vegetation at this resort, we now have a view of the pool, in the past the foliage was so deep/dense around this block of rooms that we had no view what so ever. As for the Hurricane Damage around the rest of the resort? Well, I have to say if you have never been to this resort, you probably wouldn't even notice, however, we were personally shocked at the difference, and not necessarily in a bad way. The gardeners have worked so incredibly hard to clean up the mess Ike left behind, and in our opinion many garden areas have actually been improved. We have always personally found the area between the Cliffside path and Superior Junior suites to be very dark and dank, however, now, these suites do have a clear view of the ocean, maybe still too dark for my liking but certainly cleared out quite a bit.
We also found the vegetation around the pool and main path to be seriously thinned out, maybe removing some of the privacy these rooms had in the past, but the gardens that have been replanted or revived after Ike, are more manicured, clean and attractive. The other area I noticed an improvement was the beach. Previous visits I noticed much of the vegetation encroaching the beach area, however, I do believe Hurricane Ike took care of this, as the beach does appear much deeper
Restaurants and Bars::
Umm, I will try and keep this section directly to the point. The Buffet (La Ceiba). This open-air buffet offered a large assortment of both North American and European cuisine. Along with the usual hotplate choices you will find cold cuts, cheeses, salads (sans lettuce), fruits, cereals, yogurts a variety of breads, they also had a fry station which will take care of eggs, bacon and sausages in the morning, and a variety of meat selection (beef, chicken, shrimp, fish, pork) for lunch and dinner. You can also choose to have your omelets and pressed sandwiches made for you in the morning, or fresh homemade pasta for the lunch or dinner. I should also mention they do have a person who will make the famous Cuban banana crapes, which is still my favorite dessert in Cuba.
A la Cartes (in order of preference)
El Patio: International Cuisine
The El Patio is still most definitely our favorite restaurant at the PRDO. Romantic and intimate, this restaurant offers a complete menu of international dishes, including Lobster and steak, a great wine selection and amazing service. Actually I believe next time we visit the PRDO we will try and ditch the other A la Cartes and try to at least book the El Patio twice.
Mediterraneo: Mediterranean Cuisine
The menu at the Mediterraneo was almost identical to that of the El Patio, however, we really didn't enjoy the atmosphere as much. Again the wine selection and service was wonderful, the meal enjoyable however fell a little flat in terms of atmosphere.
A truly enjoyable evening as we were lucky to have great table mates from England and Scotland, however, the meal itself was far from authentic, the assistant waiter was not on top of service and the chef himself did not put on a very good show. This would have been our third time at this particular A la carte and to be honest, we have never really enjoyed this restaurant (and we love Teppanyaki ), a great way to make new friends, but I think in the future we will try and stick to restaurants that are more indigenous to this region.
El Bohao: Cuban
Due to the Repeaters dinner changing from Wednesday evening to Monday we once again missed out on our reservation for the El Bohio. The restaurant is open-air, and Cuban themed, people seemed to either love or hate it, I can't leave an opinion other the to say the trio of guitarist who played at this restaurant were amazing (we could hear them from the buffet). I believe for our next visit we will substitute the Japanese for the Cuban.
La Laguna: Pool Restaurant and the Santa Maria : Beach Restaurant
Both the pool and beach restaurants were open for lunch and provided a nice sit down menu, both had similar offerings available, hamburgers, hotdogs, salads, sandwiches, french fries, the pool restaurant also served an amazing four (4) cheese pizza, which we enjoyed just about every day. The Beach restaurant stopped serving lunch by 3:00 pm, while the Pool restaurant closed at 4:00 pm. 24 hour room service is available and I believe the menu is identical to the Pool menu. Just a brief mention of the Repeaters dinners.
What a spectacular evening, I mean really, probably the highlight of our trip. This was a sunset dinner which took place on the bottom tier of the beach restaurant, you are greeted with champagne, shown to a table which overlooks the beautiful Playa Esmeralda, a set four (4) course menu (which changed the week we were there), is presented by your own personal wait person and your choice of red or white wine is served . A serenade of music by both the trio of guitarists from the Cuban restaurant and by Osario via the sound system brought to the beach, helped to add an additional element of romance. A lovely, lovely evening had by all!
Three main bars at this resort, the lobby, the swim-up in the pool and beach bar, to be honest this was one of our biggest disappointments. June is the beginning of the slow season, and many of the more senior staff were on holidays, plus June, is also the month where they bring in and start training the new staff. Although everybody tried hard, I can tell you, unless you were ordering wine, beer, lime slush with rum or a call drink, you were really not guaranteed to receive the drink you thought you were ordering. We are not big drinkers but I can honestly tell you, we never did have true success ordering anything other then wine or beer.. Inconsistent at best and downright awful at its worst(chocolate martini with olives anybody?). However, the resort did have enough mint for mojitos all week, even if the club soda was always flat and the mint leaves dirty.
Well, if I were to be honest, and could choose one word to describe the entertainment, I would say it was dire. Now, not all of the entertainment was bad, actually most of the pre-show acts were phenomenal. We were treated to a glorious tenor opera singer from Holguin one night who was amazing, a stellar saxophonist, pianist, singers. All stellar performers and for the most part somewhat wasted on the resort crowd.
However, the PRDO dancers were awful, and I do mean awful. I have never seen a group of more uncoordinated entertainers in my life, honestly. We sat through five (5) shows hoping they would get better only be sadly mistaken, as the week progressed the shows became worse and worse. Badly choreographed dancing coupled with un-timed lip-synching was the best the PRDO had to offer for their nightly performance. I actually began to feel badly for these entertainers as I don't believe they ever had an audience more the 30 guests the whole week.After the evening show we would return to the room, the Fun Pub is no longer. Yes, there is a piano bar of sorts however, each time we visited, no music or bar was in operation, just an air-conditioned room. So, by 11:00 pm we were back in our rooms left to make up our own fun, however, without, the kids this was not to hard to do
The PRDO is set amongst the most spectacular natural beauty I have seen in the Islands. As mentioned earlier, quite a bit of the vegetation has changed, still very tropical if not quite as lush, the gardeners here work so very hard and it shows. The Pool area is quite large for such a small resort, plenty of loungers although, still a little shy in the shade area.
As the resort was not at capacity, we rarely had a problem finding a chair with shade; however, the actual sun beds were saved before the birds woke up, as we now had a view of the pool, we could see people getting up and reserving the prime locations very, very early in the morning. We don't play these types of games, but yes, it is quite something to see adults saving sun-beds by laying down towels first thing in the morning and then spending most of their day at the beach. Very selfish behavior by the guests, which is a very difficult situation to control for the resort.
What can I say about this beach? Playa Esmeralda is a phenomenal beach, small yes (you can walk the entire length in 20 minutes), but quite deep, white and soft. The PRDO section of the beach is quite rocky, and probably not a clean as it could be, but the snorkeling here is phenomenal. I am glad to see very little damage to the reef had occurred from Hurricane Ike, and I would hazard to say, the aquatic life not only survived but also has actually thrived since our last visit. If you are looking for the quintessential Caribbean beach experience, I would suggest you walk towards the Sol Luna Mares section of the beach, here you will find the soft deep white sand with a smooth entry, much more typical of the Caribbean beach dream..
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel::
Okay this is the second area that fell flat for us. I rewrote this section a couple of times, as I am not quite sure how to put this. Bluntly? The animation staff/program sucked Is that a bit harsh? Let me try to quantify. Past visits the animation staff were visible, activities were scheduled, advertised and promoted throughout the day, at the very least you could go to the club house and clearly read the daily schedule of activities and feel free to speak to an animation member who could advise you or provide information on any of the activities/tours offered. In the past the animation staff would try and get to know all the guest, even if just a friendly hola in passing, asking how your day or trip has been going and seriously at least pretend to be interested.
Not this trip::
First of all, it has been a couple of years since we have been back to the PRDO and only recognized two (2) of the previous animation members, so for us, the animation staff are new, keep in mind, our room was directly across from the clubhouse and we did spend the majority of our time around the pool, no excursions this trip. The only regularly scheduled activities were volleyball, water aerobics and yoga. As it was low season one member of the animation staff told me they did not schedule activities, not unless a group of people were interested, hard to get a group of people interested in something when none of the members actually advertised what activities were on offer. Funny the clubhouse had a sign, which advertised all sorts of activities, however, try finding out when and where the program was to take place, even offered pottery and candle making, when asked, the animation staff laughed at me. No pottery class, this is Cuba. When asked why the board advertised the activity if not available the staff, shrugged and replied Es Cuba.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all about it.
Anyway, throughout my stay, I would pass by animation members, who didn't even look up, never mind ask how things were going, when trying to get information about programs; I would get a blank stare and be invited to volleyball. I found the members to be very unfriendly, and extremely unprofessional. One time I tried to return beach towels only to be told to wait outside as a few Canadian girls pushed by with about a dozen beers in hand to give to the staffers. I couldn't tell you how many times I saw guests coming into the clubhouse with beers for the staff. I swear in one hour alone I saw this one group of Brits, supply at least four beers each to the 3 staff members at the clubhouse. In turn, whenever the animation staffs were around, you can believe they gravitated to the few groups of people who plied them with booze.
Instead of mingling with all the guests, the animation staff had a few favorites and spent their time socializing with their select few. I could go on and on, but lets leave it as we were NOT impressed and actually after being to 14 different resorts, I would say this is the most unprofessional animation staff we ever encountered.
Now on the other end of the scale, my husband and I booked three spa treatments. Wow, what an amazing place ! Words can't even begin to describe the peace and beauty of this spa, if going to the PRDO, please do yourself a favor and book at least one (1) treatment. The therapists alone are equal to if not better trained then any massage therapist I have visited here at home. Honestly, if anybody would like further information please feel free to contact me. I will say the staff here are exceptional, professionally trained, knowledgeable and over the top when it comes to ensuring your enjoyment. I miss them all already.
We had a great time at our favorite resort, but no, it wasn't perfect, and to be honest, not at the same caliber as previous visits. I still believe the PRDO offers a great product and wonderful service for the money and we will be back again someday (if only to visit the spa again). However, what was once our little special place, seems to have lost some of its shine for us. The unprofessional animation staff, poor bar drinks, horrible evening shows and condition of the accommodations have dropped the star rating for us, where we once would have considered this a 5* plus resort in Cuba, I would probably only consider it a weak 4.5* resort. In summary, although the PRDO may still be the best AI resort you can find in Cuba, I do believe for the same money spent, you will find better quality resorts in both Mexico and the DR, biggest problem for us is that those resorts are in Mexico and the DR. Cuba still has our hearts and we will be back!
"Definitely showing her age. It is still good value however"
Anne from Saint John on Mar 1, 2009 >
Visited on: Mar, 2009
210 people found this review helpful
Our arrival was fast and efficient. Cool cloth and champagne were presented while our room information was obtained.
We were shown to a ground floor, center room which smelled musty. We requested a different room on the second floor and were accommodated immediately. King size bed requested were actually two double beds put together. Must have been difficult for maid to change. Bar fridge stocked daily with pop, water and local beer. Towels changed daily. Our last two days at the resort, the maid came much later in the day to clean our room. We tipped the maid 2 Pesos every day, and left candy. The room was very clean as well as the balcony. You must leave a card in the room (in a slot) to permit air-conditioning and lights all day. The last two days there were several brown outs that turned off air conditioning. Other than that, the rooms are showing their age. I would have liked to see it at about 3-5 years old.
Restaurants and Bars
We arranged for a-la-cartes, but decided we did not want to be time-constrained so we cancelled. The buffet was reasonably good for Cuba. Probably better than other resorts we've stayed at in Cuba. My husband stuck to omelets in the morning and pastas...while I was a bit more adventurous. My breakfasts consisted of breads (a good variety available), sliced ham, smoked salmon, vegetables, cheeses, olives and fruit. Lovely little bites full of flavor. There were a limited amount of birds in the buffet area the entire week we were there. There was a falconer with a tethered falcon at the corner of the buffet area to keep birds away. It seemed to work, since there were none of the blackbirds that I've seen at other resorts in this one. All meals boasted champagne as well as a reasonable red wine. Cerveza was available on request. We tipped the waiters and waitresses in the buffet, but it did not seem to make service any better. We just felt better about tipping as these people work very hard. The flambed bananas and crepes are absolutely wonderful, however bananas were not available every night.
The beach restaurant was very good. While not A&W Burgers the burgers are not too bad (they didn't reach the quality of Noel's at Superclub breezes in Varadero).
The beach bartender was a very friendly man...his sidekick worked the beach very hard with pre-prepared drinks which he walked up and down the beach. When we tipped, he tried to assure us that our vacation was all inclusive. We brought along insulated mugs, which he did not hesitate to fill.
A pig was spit and roasted near the beach bar on one day. It looked good, but we did not partake.
The lobby bar was the only one open in the evenings, and therefore was very busy. It was very difficult to get service even while tipping. One couple we observed were very upset about the service. I noted the next evening a gentlemen (who I thought was the manager) closely observing the service, and the service definitely improved. This manager was very visible every day showing up at the buffet and throughout the resort.
The dry martini's at this resort are very good. The local drinks are as well (Havana Special, Mohito's)
Pools appeared lovely. Difficult to get chairs however. We spent our entire time at the beach...though we had to go out very early to get seating. The grounds are lovely even though they showed signs of Hurricane Ike...the gardeners worked very hard.
Weather was good for all but one day, which was much cooler, cloudy and windy. It did not, however keep us from the beach.
The water for the most part was clear, and we managed to bob around and swim a great deal. You had to be careful where you entered because of the rock near the edge of the beach.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We did not leave the resort, choosing a relaxing vacation.
The resort overall, while providing us with a wonderful, relaxing vacation is definitely showing her age. It is still good value however.
"Great first time visit to the Paradisus Rio de Oro"
Posted by: Art
on Oct 28, 2015 >
7 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Oct, 2015 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
134 people found this review helpful
This was our first but not our last visit to the Paradisus de Oro in Holguin. We heard a lot about this adults only resort and wanted to give it a try. The weather was great and the resort itself is well laid out with lots of areas for group or private settings. For context we are retired empty nesters in our early 60’s and have enjoyed many trips to Cuba, all at various AI’s. This trip was from Oct 13th to Oct 20th, 2015.
Our check in was a bit slower than expected but when we did make it to the counter you didn’t feel rushed through the process. Just a note if you check in late, there is no snack bar open however room service is available. I can’t comment on it though as we didn’t use it.
We stayed in the regular section and were very happy with our upper corner room. It was comfortable with quiet air conditioning, hot water and decent water pressure for showers. The maid did a good job keeping it clean. The room was centrally located and convenient to either the main lobby where the restaurants and most facilities are located or to the pool and beach area.
Restaurants and Bars:
I understand the resort was only 50% booked so it was never crowded and the service tended to be pretty good throughout the resort with the only exception being the lobby bar. The bar itself was very busy at times but if you went to the bar you didn’t wait that long for your order to be taken. However if you sat in the areas around the bar expecting service, (and there was wait staff) that would be hit or miss. And in our case, usually miss. On one occasion when we just came from dinner we curious to see how long it would take to get served and were ignored for 40 minutes. We did end up getting our drink but that was because I went to the bar myself and was served instantly. Not exactly what I would have expected at a 5 star resort.
The food was great. I found the buffet to be above average with excellent variety and impossible to sample it all. The a la carts were excellent with nice decor and great food. The only place we didn’t visit was the Japanese, but when asked people said it was great too. For us lunch was always at the Ranchon as we usually stay near the beach. Again good food with local entertainment and if you like roast pig, Fridays are Cuban day and for lunch that’s what we had. It was very tasty. On our last day we were at the pool restaurant and found it equally as good.
The beach is where we spent most of our time. I understand that normally the Paradisus end of the beach is usually rocky so water shoes are recommended but we were lucky. A recent storm put sand over what used to be coral going into the water. We are big into snorkelling and this resort did not disappoint. If you swim towards the wedding gazebo then out a little bit there were lots of coral outcroppings to see a good variety of fish. We usually snorkel first thing in the morning as we noticed (as with many places we go) the water tends to get a bit rougher as the day wears on.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
In the evening there was entertainment in the main lobby which is not far from the show stage however because we tend to be up early we didn’t see many of the shows as we usually crashed by then. One feature we noted was the proximity of the stage to the lobby bar and sitting areas. Meaning if you wanted to catch some of the show but didn’t really want to leave where you relaxing or chatting, you didn’t have to.
The resort did spray every evening for mosquitoes but they were still around so I would recommend keeping your mosquitoes spray on hand. Also paid wifi is available in the lobby and close to the bars at the pool and beach and seemed to work well for us.
Would we go back? Definitely! It was certainly one of the nicest resort we’ve been to and our first 5 star but maybe to get the full 5 star effect we would have needed to use the Royal and Spa services, which we did not. What we did get though was exactly the vacation we needed at this time, and there’s not much more you can ask for.
Lastly, if you look up my channel on YouTube (MrJarArt) I’ll be posting a few videos of this resort soon and add to my collection of other Cuban resorts we’ve been to.
"4* for regular, but Royal Service is 5*"
barbara on Jun 2, 2012 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2012 | Leisure | With friend
486 people found this review helpful
Flew Air Canada and arrived at Frank Pais airport - pesos from the previous trip came in handy for the all-important Cristal beer for the bus ride. They were repairing a road in Holguin which necessitated a detour. AC on the bus was great, but a shame to arrive in the dark when the countryside is so beautiful. Arrival at hotel was quick and painless and bellboy carried our bags upstairs after taking us in a golfcart.
Room was fine - the beds are too hard if you are used to a pillow-top mattress, and we needed the extra pillows from the closet. AC was okay, but not "meat locker" cold, the way we like it. Fridge filled daily with pop, beer, water. Maid did a fantastic job of cleaning our rooms daily, and room service was very quick. Shower was fine, toilets flushed, and eventually we figured out which light switches turned out which light! Flat screen TV and to our surprise, they get Global Toronto so I could still watch The Young and the Restless! You are given purple bath towels on the bathroom shelf, which you can take to the beach and then exchange daily.
Restaurants and Bars:
Really great food - we enjoyed El Bohio, the Cuban restaurant with shrimp fritters and lobster, great service from Alien and Liudmyla, and a fabulous old-school Cuban trio straight out of Buena Vista Social Club. The Japanese restaurant chef, Roybert, is like a Cuban Guy Fieri, great chef and great personality to match. Sushi, seafood, and lots of champagne - and a great decor. The best restaurant was Los Helechos, the Royal Service restaurant, which is comparable to a very fine restaurant in a major city. Service was high end, the food was exquisite in preparation and flavour, and the staff were lovely. Repeaters dinner at Santa Maria was a special treat, and Roberto is one of the most friendly and devoted waiters I've ever met. We met Eduardo the GM and he has a place of which he can be very proud. The buffet was great for all three meals, and I even tried quail eggs for breakfast one day. Be sure to try the bananas crepes flambeed in rum for dessert. The Ranchon had great grilled fish, crispy thin pizza and the Paradisus salad, with fresh shrimp.
Bar service on the large beach was great, with Jorge (with the gorgeous eyes!) and Danneris (hope that is correct) serving great lemon slushies with Limoncello. Lobby bar could be hit or miss in terms of service but on the other hand, there was always a busy crowd.
Never went into the pool, although it looked fine to me. The grounds are extremely well manicured, and I was fascinated to watch the gardener trim the hedges into geometric perfection with just simple swipes of a machete. They are always painting and tending to the grounds.
The beach: I love this beach. The colour is mesmerizing. There seems to have been some erosion and it is rocky closer to the hotel, but if you walk toward Sol Luna, there is clear water and no rocks. Lots of fish in the water to look at, and the beach is kept very clean. Can't say enough about the beautiful beach.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Our only activities were eating, floating, napping and drinking. We went into Guardalavaca to the Mercado to shop twice, once in a regular cab and once in a sweet '57 Chevrolet.
We did do the Spa, the couples massage which worked out to less than what I'd pay in Canada, and it also included a foot bath and massage by Rolando, as well as guava juice and sandwiches brought to us, both on the private spa beach, and at the saltwater pool. The relaxation massage by Jorge Antonio was amazing - I felt reborn afterward. Spa was very clean and professional, and the huts are airconditioned so you do not get too hot or too cold.
I've been to MX five stars and I could see that the Royal Service area was exactly comparable, but I would say the regular PRDO is more likely a four or four-and-a-half, if you are comparing by international standards. Since I usually go to three stars in Cuba, it is definitely one of the best available, and the fanciest hotel I have been to in Cuba.
I would also like to add that the serving staff were really amazing, they knew our names and preferences and made us feel like we were honoured guests. Mabel at the concierge desk was very helpful with specific requests and she is a treasure.
I went with a girlfriend to have a week of chillaxation, and we got it. This is not a party hotel, it was mostly honeymooners and couples and extended families of wedding guests.
We did the VIP for 25 CUC at the airport, which is a quieter way to wait for your flight. Smoking lounge is directly across from it, if you are a smoker. Amazing ham and cheese panini (they kept makin' 'em and we kept eatin' 'em!) and unlimited drinks.
"Watch for a Sell Off - For the Right Price it's good!"
Posted by: Jacqueline
on Jan 30, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
496 people found this review helpful
Flight via SkyService actually left Pearson early. Appreciated the few little things that Skyservice is doing to stand out - including warm towels to freshen up with,complimentary liquor punch, etc. However there were 2 attendants that definitely carried an attitude and if you dare request anything as simple as a glass of water, you got the tut and rolled eyes! Overall for a charter, service was good.
Arrived at Holguin, customs quick & uneventful and then boarded the tour bus for the hotel. It was an evening flight, so the Cubancan rep simply said a few words and dimmed the lights - a bit disappointing as no Cuban music or anything special to welcome us to Cuba (as I had experienced on previous trips!) Arrived at Hotel and luggage immediately offloaded by Bellmen. Resort staff showed us to lovely arm chairs and gave us a cool cloth. We never got the champagne - but some did, so I guess it depends on who checks you in. Check in extremely fast - we barely had time to sit and were being shown to the tram (golf carts) to deliver us to our room. They brought the luggage in for us and showed us quickly the main features/locations of items in the room.
The room (3514) was very spacious and extremely clean. Lots of hot water - in fact we had to lower the temperature in the shower! Nice vanity area with mirrored doors great for dressing/makeup. Tub is surrounded by an overly high knee wall, so those that are petite will have a little challenge getting in/out (just go slow and don't fall!) Decent closest space for hanging clothes, but limited drawers for t-shirts, etc. Umbrella, spare blankets, iron etc all in closest if needed. Digital safe in closest and you set your own combination. Quite large and could actually store small handbag & decent size camera bag in it. A/C very good - actually cold and had to turn it down. The bed is a BIG problem. Very soft and for the first time ever, I ended up with a sore back. Large sitting area wth chaise lounge, desk etc. Location was close to Club House/Pool so fairly central. Nice ground level patio so we could watch the evening dance lessons at 5pm. Bar was always stocked with the beer & pop we requested. We left a tip each day and always were greeted with towel art upon our return to the room. Room decor shows it's age. It's clean, but it won't wow you.
Restaurants and Bars:
The buffet and the ocean restaurant are great. I'm a fussy eater and had NO PROBLEM finding tasty food each and every meal. People always ask if there was a good variety of foods and here I must smile.Basically you need to create your own variety - as each meal will have several beef, pork, fish and chicken dishes which admittedly don't change much. However, who says you need to eat each thing each meal - honestly I couldn't think of a food that wasn't available! They even have champagne at breakfast! Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and tasty desserts each meal. The biggest disappointment at this resort was the A La Cartes. On the first morning the Seafood was booked for the entire week, so we were only able to get the Cuban, Mediterraean, and Japanese. The worst was the Mediterrean. We ordered veal which was tough and not the least bit tasty. The lights were extremely bright and the a/c seemed to be in overdrive. This compounded with the slap the food down attitude, left us very disappointed and we left before the meal finished and went back to the buffet. The Cuban was fine. Nice music, better atmosphere, and ok food. Nothing spectacular. The Japanese did not have any sushi, no sashimi, etc. Meat dishes were average and the quantity of food presented was too much for even the big eaters in the crowd. If ever we returned to this resort, we'd not bother to book the A La Cartes as truly the selection and quality in the main buffet is very good.
Bars were average. The biggest issue was inconsistent availability of drink ingredients during the week. At times for example, there was no mint for mojitos, no pinepple juice for the tropical drinks, and orange pop hit & miss depending on which bar/restaurant you were in. The beach service was outstanding on one day. For the most part it was NON Existent. Definitely a disappointment for a 5* resort.
Gardens were fine, although a bit surprising to see that 2 entire beds around the pool area were full of dead plants, and were not being replanted during the week we were there. This is about the only critique I could find. Generally the layout is lovely and focuses on incorporating the natural environment with the man made. It was especially nice to see bananas growing outside our patio which were later used in the buffet. In fatc we leanred during our visit that all the bananas served that week were grown on the resort! Admittedly the pool is shallow and cool - but works fine for a quick dip to cool off. The Beach was well maintained. We were confused about other comments about rocks. Admittedly there were a few rocks but very minimal and wonderful visibility so you could see them in the water. Excellent snorkelling on site - and for those that don't like to get close to the fish, walk to the Gazebos on the upper level and look down - yes you'll see the fish! Note there is a mini jacuzzi on the edge of the rock by the first gazebo. We didn't notice it until day 4 - and discovered champagne is always on ice there! The resort did fog for bugs one evening about 5pm, although we never got bit (other resorts apparently reported a problem.) Reception area focuses on a series of ponds, and is a lovely place to enjoy a cool drink on a hot night.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Animation staff very disappointing. Quite a clique group that only bothered with the younger and single crowd. Water arobics and salsa lessons were mainstay activties in evidence. There was a yoga/tai chi spot that seemed popular. Evening entertainment was varied and quite good. Before dinner in the open air lobby there was live music - sometimes a 3 piece, and some nights a pianist. After dinner there was shows on the stage - 12 piece band, vocalist, etc and then at 10pm the Melia dance troupe perfomed. Their shows were varied - ballet, jazz, tribute to Broadway, etc. Not bad at all - and indeed excellent costumes. Don't miss the Aerobatical night - amazing tumbling & formation show. The weaker night was the 70s night - somehow those classic rock songs just don't work with a Spanish accent! Also the Beach party was a disappointment. The DJ kept repeating songs and it was mainly dance club music. This didn't work verly well when the average age was 45+.
We did 2 tours this trip. The "Cuban Life" is excellent and highly recommended. A wonderful opportunity to experience the realities of Cuban life. Included in the tour for $34 CUC was a school, farm, doctor office, local neighbourhood and fishing village visits. Lunch and a souvenir t-shirt is included. Remember to bring "gifts" to give to the people you'll meet in the more remote villages. The "Cuba Inside" was a big DISAPPOINTMENT. It was supposed to be a train ride on a 19th century steam train - which was no longer available. We had to settle for a diesel train - and would not have booked this if we had been told in advance. They also took us to visit a Cigar factory, however photos were prohibited, so it was not too impressive. The Holguin shopping portion was a complete waste of time. Again, lunch & t-shirt was included for $49CUC.
Cuban people can't be matched for their cheerful disposition. They seem to take such pride in everything they do and always greet you with the warmest of smiles. All in all, a good holiday full of 32 degree days, so what's not to enjoy! The big question always looms - would we return? Without much hesitation I would say, Cuba remains an enjoyable destination, however specifically this hotel, I would say, if and only if, there were a sell off would we reconsider it. For the premium you pay, it lacks consistent service and the polish of a 5* resort. Interestingly, we have previously stayed at the Sister Hotel (4* Sol Luna y Mares) and admittedly we were disappointed with the lack of bang for your buck we received at the 5*. If we were rebooking to Holguin, we'd likely return to the Sol Luna and pocket the savings!
"We had done the dolphin tour and would highly recommend it"
Lisa from Toronto on Dec 1, 2009 >
2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Dec, 2009
493 people found this review helpful
Arrival: March 14 - 21
We travelled with SunWing for the first time to Cuba. The flight left early (6 AM) which necessitated arriving at the airport to check-in at 3 AM. We had booked super-elite seats for the flight down (an extra $40 dollars each) in order to have more leg room (seats in the emergency exit row). The best part of the super elite, however, was bypassing the Sunwing general check-in line (about 120 people waiting in one long line to check in for flights to Cuba, Mexico and Jamaica) and heading straight to the priority check-in line (2 people in line). I believe this probably saved at least 45 min to an hour of standing and waiting. Instead, I visited Starbucks and sat and sipped a latte in the departure lounge while slowly waking up. The flight was uneventful- champagne (no orange juice mixed in) was served at about 6:30 am- a little too early for me! The emergency seats had plenty of room in front, so it was a pretty comfortable trip.
Our room was in building 24 on the second floor. The balcony faced the ocean. Due to the hurricane visit earlier, the trees that used to be thick (we visited the resort 5 years ago) had now thinned out, allowing a partial ocean view from our room. Compared with 5 years ago, I'd say that the rooms had certainly aged, with no visible updating/upgrading. The room air conditioning and electricity works only with the room key engaged, and from the mustiness of the room, I'd say there hadn't been anyone staying in the room recently. The minifridge was unplugged and not stocked, but was stocked later that day with beer, water and sodas. The rooms could definitely use some improvements - fixing tiles, repairing some items like lamps, etc. - to bring them at least to the state they were 5 years ago. Not being too picky, we were fine though, and very pleased with the location- equidistant to the pool, lobby and beach. The safe worked well. As others have mentioned- there is no alarm clock in the room. Although we were on vacation, we didn't want to miss the early part of the day so I used my blackberry as an alarm clock. There is a CD player in the room. We bought a traditional Cuban CD in the hotel store, and enjoyed some authentic music in the room while relaxing after a day at the beach.
"A la carte restaurants were absolutly the best"
Perry from Halifax on Mar 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2009
248 people found this review helpful
Arrival: March 28 to April 5
Check-in was fast, polite and efficient. Our bags were looked after immediately and we were driven to our room. Everything was explained by the porter. Best service ever in our 7 trips to Cuba.
Our room was large, clean, well equiped with a sitting area, day bed and balcony.
Restaurants and Bars
A la carte restaurants were absolutly the best. 5 star food and service. Buffet was good but pastry chef should be congradulated. Service and food were very good at both the pool and beach restaurants.
Ground were very well kept, gardens professionally maintained. Pool was beautiful and clean. If you want a chair by the pool, get there early. The beach chairs were never a problem.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Evening entertainment was good but a couple of shows fell short of expectations.
This is an excellent resort.
"good food, beautiful surroundings"
Vern on Feb 18, 2014 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2014 | Leisure | Solo
264 people found this review helpful
I spent two weeks there at the beginning of December. The hotel seems relatively new and is good shape. Room was more than adequate with many comforts included. Fridge was filled with 4 soft drinks and 2 beer everyday, flat screen TV. Bathrobes, umbrella, ironing board, coffee maker, beach towels in room, saftey deposit box (included in price, room service if you so wished.
The buffet had such a large choice of things to eat. It was hard to control myself at every meal, because I wanted a bit of everything. The beach grill was a real treat: English style fish and chips, an amazing selection of dishes, with deserts like ice cream, etc. mealtimes ewere a pleasure.
Pool restaurant very good as well.
The beach. I'm not much of a beach person but entry in the water seemed a bit difficult as you had to walk past a bit of a rocky area to get to the sandy part of the water. Snorkelling to the right of the beach near the Royal Service area was very good. Lots of corals formations.
The resort has a small botannical garden and plant nursery near the gym and spa. Its a nice quiet place to sit and read. Keep your eyes open as there was a Cuban Pygmy Owl hanging around the area. I saw him or her several times.
The gym was the best I've seen in any Cuban resort. Two rooms, one for cardio and one for weights and machines. All the equipment looked like new and in great shape. A very good selection of free weights. if you have any questions, there is a trainer on sit who can help you.
The resort is bordered on all sides by the sea and a very large mangrove area. The bridge opver the water between PRDO and Lunas Y Mares is a very good bird watching spot. Go earl;y morming and you will see an incredible array of herons, ducks, coots, egrets, grebes, etc.
All the buildings are spread out and are only two storys high.
There are several different classifications of rooms, I had the Junior Suite, the cheapest. Then there is the Deluxe Junior Suite, Gardenview, etc. There is also the Royal Service section that is located past the spa and gym separate from the rest of the hotel.
The lobby bar is open 24 hrs. They make great cappuchinos. I would go at five in the morning while it was still dark and enjoy a couple, there was always some pastries out at that time.
The area surrounding the hotel is quite green, with fields for grazing animals and forests. A good place for walks and bird watchng.
So over all experience was extremely satisfying. Would like to go back again one day when the budget can afford it.