Playa Esmeralda, Carretera Guardalavaca, Holguin
"Thank you again for another great vacation ~ Dec 2014"
Posted by: Canuks on Jan 10, 2015
see all reviews
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.
Hannah on Oct 13, 2005 >
1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Visited on: Oct, 2005
1617 people found this review helpful
Paradisus Río de Oro is one of the best cuban hotels i have EVER stayed in. the food is fonderful, the cuban people are extremely nice, the hotel entertainment is beyond all expectations, the pools, beaches are fab!!!! we are going to book again for next year
"The food at this place is freaking amazing"
Mike from Guelph on Jan 1, 2009 >
Visited on: Jan, 2009
113 people found this review helpful
We were a couple, ages 32/25, part of a wedding group totalling 17 or so. Our trip to Paradisus Rio de Oro was fantastic. Dec 14-21 2008. We were on Sunwing and it was just fine. The transfers were smooth and they took us to our resort before taking others to the Luna Mares resort. When we got to the resort our friends were waiting for us with drinks and huge smiles. There was champagne available to pour yourself right beside the lobby.
The staff at this place is what really sets it apart from lesser resorts. They care, remember your name, smile, talk to you, and look after you. The only exception is the odd server in the buffet. We were forgotten a couple of times. Maybe it's because we didn't tip every day at the buffet, but we didn't feel that we really had to, either. The catamaran was awesome - we were flying, it felt like, but I kept getting sea water in my eyes and as a result, I couldn't see much. I took my sunglasses off because I thought they were going to get washed off my face. Another time, I would wear a swimming goggle on the ride. I might look like a dork but it would be a more enjoyable ride.
The weather was on and off, with about 70 % sun and the rest cloud or rain. Two days were almost cloudy all day. The day of our friend's wedding was gorgeous though. The temperature was always nice except for when it rained and was windy during the day. Then it felt a bit chilly.
The beach is a bit small for a 5 star resort and it's not sandy as you go out into the water, but coral-y and rocky. If you walk over to the luna mares side, the beach is much nicer, larger, and the sand is softer.
Speaking of that "other" resort, we had access to it, but they didn't have access to our resort. We didn't have to wear wrist bands, but they did. We didn't really check out that resort too much because we had the best food, service, drinks etc. If they had a disco, I don't know about it, but that would have drawn me over to that resort. See next point.
There is no disco at the Paradisus ! It would have been nice to have somewhere to go and dance and listen to music. I was surprised that they were missing that. Also, there are at least two hot-tub areas in the grounds, which is a very nice touch. One of them had champagne and glasses available. BUT - the one tub was not heated at all, and the other must've been under repair because there was no water in it at all.
There were no bugs; I didn't even see one fly. I hope the geckos have enough to eat. I saw a few geckos and a larger lizard, but that was about it. A few interesting birds.
We went snorkelling on one of the "calmer" days (which was still a bit rough) and we couldn't see much coral or fish because the water was turbid with lots of sand in it. On a perfectly calm day, this might have been more enjoyable.
The grounds certainly show signs of hurricane damage as the trees look windblown and what would have been gardens are more or less patches of dirt/ground with not much growing, although the gardeners are working very hard to bring these back to life.
There is a fitness center and spa on site. I didn't use the spa, but I had a great workout in the fitness center. The attendant meets you right away with a towel and explains that he's a personal trainer, and is willing to work out right along with you, give you pointers, etc. Nice touch.
The food at this place is freaking amazing - not just for Cuba, but against our standards here too. The buffet had a great selection of food. There was a pasta station, and my favourite was the grilling station where on each side of the grill there were line-ups of meats of your choice: various cuts of steaks, chicken, pork, etc. on one side and on the other side all seafood : tilapia, mahi-mahi, squid, swordfish, shrimp - you name it. It was awesome. We ate at a couple of the a-la-carte restaurants as well. The Mediterranean one didn't feel all that Med but more "Cuban", but it was well done and we had a 6 course meal there. The international restaurant was just that, you could order anything you wanted, and the service was great. The highlight was the Japanese restaurant which was absolutely 10/10 for food, service, everything. We actually missed our reservation for this, because the agent who booked our reservations told us the wrong time. He indicated the right time on our tickets, but we didn't look at those - just went by memory which was obviously dumb. Anyway, after some salesmanship on the lady running the Japanese restaurant, she managed to shoe-horn our group in for a meal at 9:pm. We didn't get a chef cooking at our table like the big tables of 8-10 did, but I didn't care at that point - I just wanted in the place. The drinks at all the bars were awesome. Some of the bartenders would make special pina coladas and mojitos - not just a mix from a slushy machine, but made from fresh ingredients: milk, fresh mint, whatever. Manuel really took care of us at the main lobby bar. Jorge was great down at the beach bar. He'd bring drinks right to you on your lounge chair.
The rooms were large, we had a junior suite, but the bathroom was out dated, the faucet felt like it was going to fall off, and the towels weren't all that nice. The had robes in the room but they were not large enough for me without giving the neighbours a peep show. It was like wearing a t-shirt with a belt.
One morning I saw something crawling in the toilet. It looked like the size of a crab or a bat. I didn't have my glasses on so I couldn't see the details of this thing, and I sure as hell wasn't going to bend down lower to look at it, so I flushed it down, at least I think it went down, and that was the only time we saw that in our 7 days.
We didn't do any of the extra trips offered because we had plenty to do at the resort and our group was 15 people so there was always some action happening. On the last day we rode bicycles into Guardalavaca, a small village about 5 km away. There is a small vendor section and some hotels. It was nice to get off the resort and see how the locals live. Actually, you feel a bit guilty staying at this 5 star resort getting pampered while some of the locals are living in small huts or apartment buildings straight out of a 1960's Ukraine setting. We had some locals wave and smile at us, and others looked at us with a bit of disdain. The bikes by the way are not like your TREK mountain bike you may have at home - they are single speed, with the seat too low, the tires are soft, and the brakes are not meant to stop you very quickly. It made the hills a bit tough for some of us. We could have rented power scooters for about $25 for a day or part day.
We were sad to leave, and will be happy to go back some time.
"We had an absurdly lovely time"
MVL on Jan 1, 2009 >
Visited on: Jan, 2009
114 people found this review helpful
We just came back from 2 weeks here and were very pleased with the spacious layout of the resort, well-equipped and large rooms, above-average buffet and superior dessert selection, attentive service on resort or beach, and most of all, warm and friendliness from all the staff. They certainly made one feel at home quickly and were genuinely interested in our comfort. Additionally, the people we met vacationing here from other countries as well as our our were as friendly and warm as could be.
OK - the weather was on-and-off sun/light rain, but the ambiance and general atmosphere of the hotel more than made up for the climate - which was still fabulous since there was a really bad cold spell at home in Toronto. We believe that this is a great vacation offering considering its availability from Toronto on a regular charter/all-inclusive package, sometimes even discounted prices.
As in any place at home or abroad, there are always things that can be improved and constructive comments were welcomed and in some cases immediately acted upon by their Customer Service and Management representatives on-site. From answered emails in the planning stages right through to check out goodbye, we had an absurdly lovely time.
Nothing serious detracted from an otherwise relaxing and superior vacation experience and we gladly recommend the hotel and intend to return ourselves.
"Definitely showing her age. It is still good value however"
Anne from Saint John on Mar 1, 2009 >
Visited on: Mar, 2009
144 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.
"A la carte restaurants were absolutly the best"
Perry from Halifax on Mar 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2009
179 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.
"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
235 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
238 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!
"one of our best holidays"
Jane Easter on Jul 23, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Visited on: Jul, 2009
1184 people found this review helpful
I have to say that this is one of the best holidays our family have had. I am only sad that since our visit the age range is for over 18's only as my youngest son is only 15 and was really upset that we couldn't return the year after. I am afraid we didn't see "Cuba" as we just stayed at the hotel as it had everything we needed, great food, great staff, wonderfull surroundings and the blue sea can anot be beaten anywhere. I have stayed in some wonderful 5 star hotels in different parts of the world and would say that this is more a 4 star but still fabulous.....roll on 2012 when my son is 18....
"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
423 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.
"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
433 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!