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)
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"Definitely showing her age. It is still good value however"
Anne from Saint John on Mar 1, 2009 >
Visited on: Mar, 2009
171 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.
"The food at this place is freaking amazing"
Mike from Guelph on Jan 1, 2009 >
Visited on: Jan, 2009
137 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
137 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.
Hannah on Oct 13, 2005 >
1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Visited on: Oct, 2005
1643 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