Melia Cayo Santa Maria Reviews

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Melia Cayo Santa Maria  

Cayo Santa María, Caibarién, Villa Clara
(Jardines del Rey)

Posted by: alvin on Apr 9, 2015
see all reviews

Melia Cayo Santa Maria Reviews
Melia Cayo Santa Maria Pictures and Information
Melia Cayo Santa Maria Cayo Santa Maria Cuba

of 11 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria

User rating 3.6

Based on 15 reviews

Melia Cayo Santa Maria Information

Located on an island paradise off Cuba's northern coast, this 5-star All Inclusive hotel, surrounded by beautiful beaches and lush tropical vegetation, is especially designed for the enjoyment of couples and families.

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Melia Cayo Santa Maria Reviews

Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 3.6 of 5 15 reviews
Very good
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Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 1.00 of 5

Posted by:  alvin  on Apr 9, 2015  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2015 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
426 people found this review helpful

I'm 75 years old; and , without a doubt, i's the the worst food I've ever eaten !We were there for 2 weeks, 3 meals per day; and I have nothing positive to to add !!!

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"avoid this resort"

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 2.00 of 5

Posted by:  angela  on Mar 21, 2015  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2015 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
431 people found this review helpful

This (4 1/2 star) resort is vacation hell. No hot water for 7 days. No cold for 2. worst food ever. Broken lights, electrical plugs, lounge chairs etc. Run down. Scam. Will never return.

Room Number:

Room Block:

March 5, 2015.
Processed quickly. 10:00 pm. Broken light on building # sign. No lights on "pathway maps".

Room was supposedly renovated. Broken electrical in bathroom (never repaired) Bedside lamps have no working switches (crawl under bedtable -plug/unplug as needed. Ants everywhere. Old linens, stained bedspread. Pretty room - could be better with maintenance. Forgot to leave room service tip one morning of excursion(6am departure), Came back 10 hours later, the air conditioning was turned to "off" ( it was plus 30 degrees that day).
Tried shower - small trickle of cold water. (bad day)

Restaurants and Bars:
Food was the worst we've ever experienced. Stale bread, inedible beef, fruit if you like guava and over-ripe papaya every day.Pineapple and melon are available, if you're early. Same food every day. If it's leftover from one meal it will be served at the next. Line up for everything. Fish, chicken, pork - all cooked on the same oily grill. Everything tastes kind of "fishy". Drinks are good ( if you tip). Service is slow, even if you tip. 24 hour snack bar tries the hardest - makes ok food, if you're not in a hurry.
Unexpected food bonus - due to the crappy food, I lost a couple of pounds - thanks Melia!

Beautiful beach. No lounge chairs available in the shade, after 9:00 to 10:00am. They are "saved" in early morning until dinner time. Same situation at the pool. 1/3 to 1/2 of the lounge chairs are unoccupied, but reserved. Swim up bar make good (limited variety) drinks. Beautiful pool with the usual entertainment. Someone yelling into a microphone to entice activity participation. 5 % of the people (those participating) enjoy the activity, the other 95% just wants them to hurry up and finish.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Excursions are the only distraction, and quite expensive. Trip to Santa Clara was good. Great lunch. (best we had all week).

Other Comments:
We're just glad it was our third trip to Cuba. If it had been our first, it would have been our last. We know the food is not up to par in Cuba, but we've always found it acceptable, even good on the past 2 visits. This was horrible. Since the weather was great (plus 30 every day) we needed hot water to wash the sunscreen and perspiration. Hate to sound like picky whiners,(because we're not) but this place sucks!

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"Worst Transat vacation holiday ever"

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 1.00 of 5

Posted by:  Steve  on Jul 28, 2013  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jul, 2013 | Business | With Spouse/Partner
589 people found this review helpful

The first thing I want to say is as of Friday July 26th the date of our departure the Cuban ministry of health still did not know why 70% of the people vacationing at this resort who arrived the week before were sick with bad diarrhea and vomiting,some of which were small children. When we complained to our Air Transat holidays vacation rep Juan Carlos he informed me that everyone at the hotel was aware of what was happening and the ministry of health upon their arrival on Wednesday July 24th had made the hotel implement better hygiene practices in the buffet restaurant hence we noticed frost on the counter tops where raw food was being displayed,example cheese,raw fish,cold meats or any dairy. Also they had tested the food and water but wouldn't have the results for several days. From what we witnessed the food handling techniques at this hotel were just a recipe for disaster. Example fish and raw chicken had been left out unrefrigerated for hours, cross contamination by using the same utensils to handle raw chicken then using them to serve raw vegetables. Cheese that was rancid, milk that curdled in your coffee,raw beef and chicken stored together. I could go on and on.
I have never been so sick and for so long in all my life .
I feel that the rating of 4 and a half stars advertised by Air Transat Holiday Vacations and the Melia hotel chain is completely inaccurate. We stayed in room 1021 and from the time of our arrival we realized the hotel had serious issues. We had a late arrival that went smoothly but upon checking into our room we realized it hadn't been cleaned. There were no towels or any of the bottled water that we had been advised only to drink and there were blood stains on our bed sheets. This took over an hour to correct. We awoke the next morning to construction sounds on the building next to ours. They had their equipment and everything scattered everywhere and remained like this all week.
There is no hotel manager at this hotel he is apparently in Spain. There is only one person left in charge and that is the food and beverage manager Fransisco Benito and he has no control over a resort that is very much self run and appears to be a social club for the staff that work there. Even the customer service rep Rolando admitted he rarely left his desk walk to around the resort to survey and look for potential issues and even if he did he would have a difficult job correcting any he found.
No one apologized for the horrible vacation we all had. The Air Transat Holiday Vacation Rep was however sympathetic and did admit it was wrong what happened and we were entitled to a decent vacation which did not happen.
One further note. On the upside I did lose 13 pounds in a week.

Room Number:

Room Block:

July 19 2013

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"Beware Food poisoning and Bad water"

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 1.00 of 5

Posted by:  Meghan  on Jul 28, 2013  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jul, 2013 | Leisure | Solo
592 people found this review helpful

All in all I enjoyed my stay at the Melia...but only because I spent most of my time OFF the resort exploring the island. Please see the rest of my review for details.

Room Block:

The 1.5 hour drive to the resort was great, but check-in itself was terrible. My bus arrived at about 6, or 7 pm and only one person was at the reception counter to check everyone in. So for about an hour everyone had to loiter around in the open-air room being eaten alive my mosquitoes. I was also forced to carry my own bag because they did not have enough bellboys.

Departure was even worse. they insist on you checking out at noon regardless of when your flight is. And if you want to stay in your room longer, you need to pay 7 pesos an hour. My flight was not until 9, and the bus did not leave the resort until 5...none the less, they kicked us all out of our rooms to loiter around doing nothing until the bus came...and the bus was an hour late.

We found out at the airport that there had been NO good reason AT ALL for us to be kicked out of our rooms so early. The next group of tourists did not land until 9 pm.

My room was nice, and large. It had a private balcony that overlooked the forest. It also had hot water. The water pressure however, was terrible. It was so bad that the water from the shower head would just drop straight down to the side of the tub and from there dribble all over the bathroom floor. You would need an extra towel to mop the floor when you were done.

Judging from the water damage on the bottom of the bathroom door, this is not a new problem.

I also noticed my bedsheets were not clean. I found spots of what looked like blood on my sheets.

The maid liked to keep my room ice cold. Every time she would clean the room, she would change the temperature to 16oC. I would turn it off almost immediately...but low and behold, the next time she cleaned my room...16oC.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food is terrible. I saw roaches in the buffet, cooks using the same tongs for both raw meat and for fruit. The same tongs used for seafood vs non-seafood dishes. The local beer did terrible things to your stomach. I saw dishes of food swarming with flies, and birds eating straight from customers plates before said plates were handed to the customers.

As an example of the lovely food they served....a tuna sandwhich. Imagine a bun, dripping with liquid grey paste. THIS is what the Melia thinks a tuna sandwhich is.

I also noticed other reviews on tripadvisor from people who arrived in Cuba the day I left - things only got worse after I left. They were complaining about full blown food poisoning and disgusting bathrooms.

They claimed the water served with dinners and at the bars was safe. It was most certainly NOT fine. I ended up sick with diarrhea, and terrible painful stomach cramps. As did many other visitors.

The beach is beautiful, can't argue that. It was also not crowded, I had no trouble finding a chair.

However I can argue the safety. Every time I was at beach I would sit next to one of the lifeguard chairs. 9 times out of 10, there was nobody in it.

They also used the flag system for swimming safety. Green means safe, white means swim with caution, red means stay out of the water. Every day except one was a white-flag day. The other was a red-flag day. There were people, kids in the water and the lifeguard did nothing to enforce the 'stay out of the water' rule.

The landscaping is also nice. However there are a LOT of cats on the grounds. This makes me suspect they have a rodent problem. The introduction of the cats seems to be somewhat recent too - only the female is socialized and likes people. All the males, and all the kittens are feral. And there is only one litter of kittens and no other adult cats. So I would assume they cats were let loose within a couple months on my review - however old the kittens are.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
This may be due to the fact that I visited the resort during the off season...but there is NOTHING to do. AT ALL.

The entertainment during meals was great – they would have a group of people walking to tables playing songs, and doing requests- and they were good and clearly enjoyed what they were doing. However other than that…?

The evening shows were all directed toward kids. They have a piano bar- but I never ONCE saw the cover come off that piano. They have a building with a wall covered in scheduled activities (archery, salsa, etc) however none of these things actually seemed to happen. I thought I was just missing them, as I DID once see someone wandering around with archery equipment… but after talking to other people at the resort- they confirmed what I had found. There was NOTHING to do.

They do have outings. However the lowest price of which was 70 pesos. It only goes up from there, to over 200. I did not go on any of the outings, as I was on a budget, and was ill too often to want to risk it.

Other Comments:
All in all, don't bother with this resort.

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"More than expected"

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Dalton  on Jan 22, 2013  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2013 | Leisure | Family and Kids
619 people found this review helpful

Airport needs to meet capacity of new travelers.
Bus was great 1.5hr but you get your room key, so on arrival relax and let your vacation begin.
Morning buffet, was great with 3 cooking stations, My only problem was coffee machines in every room...filters no coffee...My suggestion would be to trade all machines in rooms for coffee thermos for your self serve pleasure as well as a juice dispensor ...
lunch at 3 locations all good
Supper buffet I thought was great with steak most nights and lobster tails.
The japanise was the best a la carte...the others were good.The room was roomy but basic.Avoid taking showers at peak times...The 3 pools were very clean and the beach I feel is better than Punta Cana, a little windy being on the Atlantic side.Daytime staff were good,it has to be hard trying to motivate us lazy vacation people.Night time show,was on 4 occasions out of this world,wish they could start a little earlier.Disco a bust,beach party as well... Resort to small on its own to support...

Room Number:

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"Great for the price, beautiful beach"

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Melanie  on Oct 4, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Sep, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
844 people found this review helpful

Arrival was fine, about a 90 minute bus ride from the airport. Check in went smoothly, had to wait just a few minutes in line. I had emailed a request asking for an upper floor room with a king size bed. They granted the request, but the a/c was faulty in the room, so we ended up having to switch. This didn't seem to be a big deal, as the resort was not full. I know a few others made switches also.

The room was fine, no dressers to unpack in, we used the day bed as a depot for our suitcase contents. Nice marble vanity, electronic safe (no extra fee) and a seperate room for toilet and tub. Water pressure was awesome and hot water was never an issue.

Make sure to bring an alarm clock of some sort... we forgot, and the one morning we had to be up for the catamaran excursion, the wakeup call that I had requested the night before never happened. We ended up being awake in time, but it was very lucky, I would have been really mad to have missed it.

Restaurants and Bars:
Food, was ok. Again, i keep thinking our vacation was such a great deal, you get what you pay for. We were at the Iberostar Daiquiri the same time last year, and the food was much better there. We also don't eat fish or seafood, so that limits us to begin with. There was however super delicious rotisserie style chicken, that was better than Swiss Chalet... saw it only twice though.
Some mornings they offered the most amazing fresh mango I've ever had in my life, and other mornings just canned peaches... a bit inconsistent I would say.

Very very nice. Amazing beach, though it was quite windy and rough, the red flag was up all week. Pools were both very nice.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We did the day long catamaran cruise, it was a nice day. Got to see a small interactive dolphin show, and of course open bar and lunch was included. We were very disappointed with the lunch, again the choice is lobster or chicken. It was not good at all, i ended up serving mine to the fishes. We did this exact excursion 2.5 years ago when we stayed at the Royal Hideaway, and the lunch then was a million times better... I guess now the area is more popular, quantity is now more important than quality??

Other Comments:
This was a very relaxing week and we had super hot weather. All in all a great vacation. Would we go back? Probably not... we'd try something different next time.

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"Excelentes vacaciones!!"

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 5.00 of 5

Posted by:  Olga  on Aug 24, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Cuba
Visited on: Aug, 2010 | Leisure | Family and Kids
836 people found this review helpful

Estuve de vacaciones en Cayo Santa Maria, uno de los mejores lugares de Cuba donde se pueda ir para disfrutar de la naturaleza y pasarla muy bien.

Debo agradecer a todo el equipo de animación del Meliá Cayo Santa Maria por ser tan profesionales, divertidos, amistosos,ellos dan lo mejor de si para que los huespedes la pasen super bien y se diviertan de lo lindo, solo espero poder repetir esta experiencia, se las recomiendo a todos.

Ahh, pero les recomiendo que no olviden llevar repelente para los mosquitos, son bastante molestos en las noches.

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"Lived up to all expectations"

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 5.00 of 5

Posted by:  Ken  on May 13, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
847 people found this review helpful

Your Arrival:
Our arrival was actually very pleasant. They were well prepared and we were in our rooms within 1/2 hour of arriving. A complimentary cocktail was waiting for us and our bags were loaded onto golf carts quickly and driven to our room

Very nice. We looked forward to the towel art every day. The best one was an elephant with my wifes hat and sunglasses on it. She appreciated the bathroom facilities. The beds were comfortable and the decor was calming. The mini bar was stocked daily and the staff were eager to please if you needed anything.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food in the buffet restaurant was not bad. You will not go hungry. Our friend fell in love with the fried bananas. Lots of food to choose from some good some not so good but all edible. The pool restaurant has some really good pizza and great hamburgers. The beach restaurant had a great atmosphere and super calamari and very nice wine. The staff at all the restaurants were very pleasant and helpful.

The beach was fantastic. When you step down from the walkway there is someone there to find you a chair wherever you want to be and they will sweep it off for you so you are comfortable. There is also a couple of waiters going up and down the beach getting you drinks which was quite nice. The pools were awesome and the swim-up bar was great. Elvis and his crew were certainly there to please and please they did. The entrance to the pool was a graduated slope so you can walk in at your leisure

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
They have shows every night for everyones taste but i thought the best one was the Thursday night show with Michael Jackson impersonator. He and the whole cast were unbelievable. From Beyonce to Abba they put on a spectacular show.
We did the catamaran trip which is only 10 minutes down the road and it was well worth it. Snorkeling,great food (lobster was more than what we expected)and dolphin show was good. Well worth the 6 hours spent on the water. We stopped on an island to eat and the water was only about 2 feet deep for a long way. It was a great day for sure and I recommend it to anyone.

Other Comments:
Hats off to Ernesto who kept us completely entertained while on site. Mr. Archery we call him but he also does Tai Chi and several other activities. He is a busy person and we really enjoyed his banter. We will definitely return to this resort again and look forward to seeing margaurita martha again from the lobby bar. The drive from the airport although long, goes by quite fast. The country is clean and the scenery is beautiful. You will not be disappointed in this resort. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute and thank the staff for everything they did

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"Home Away from Home"

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 5.00 of 5

Posted by:  kelsey  on Apr 26, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2010 | Leisure | Family and Kids
890 people found this review helpful

I'm 19 years old and i just returned from the Melia Cayo Santa Maria, in Santa Clara! My family and I went for a week and found it marevllous.
Our flight came in really early in the morning of our second day (i think it was around 3 am?). Air transat was picking up dropped flights from sky service....i hope thats not a normal flight time! Anyways, when we got to the airport in Santa Clara, it was time to go through customs and stuff. I mean it when i say, i would would rather go through the Customs in Cuba than the ones in Canada any day. Though it is a little bit on the slow side (a solid half an hour until we found our baggage) everyone was very pleasant and suprisingly good at communicating with us cranky Canadians.
I dont know where someone was getting 10 km from the airport, cause our bus ride was a solid 9 minutes or so. Shockingly, i can't complain about the bus ride. Im someone that gets car sick often but the ride to the airport was spectacular. You got a deep inside look at the town of Caibairien (sp?) which was a real eye opener into Cuban culture, as well as getting to learn the History of the infamous causeway as you ride on it.

Your Arrival:
When we got to the hotel, we were greeted by VERY pleasant....bellboys i guess you'd call them. Since the flight me and my mother took was later than the one the rest of the family was on, we met them in the front lobby. The "Bellboys" (who i called the multitasking team) loaded our personal luggage onto the little car thing and took it to our room for us so that me and my mother could go have a dinrk with the family in the lobby bar.
The bar is 24 hrs thank god, and is a good center for entertainment. Every night, the activities coordinator (one of the most pleasant people i have ever met, and a downright cool guy) would organise a little show for who ever was in there for drinks. At one point there was a 4 piece saxophone band....thing. It was marevllous. There were also fashion shows, dancing, billiards, and more! Not to mention that bar tenders there were wonderful.

Our room (all rooms, because they all look the same) was absolutely STUNNING. There were three beds: 2 doubles (Which felt more like queens) and a day bed. Luxurous curtains hung from the doorways, and the bathroom was huge. The toilet, badet, and tub were in a separate room off the side of the sink and linnen closet. The safe was digital and we had excellent water pressure.

Restaurants and Bars:
The breakfast buffet was also wonderful, there's a seperate fresh fruit buffet in the middle of the dining room that serves fruit, juice, smoothies and yogurt and stuff, where the buffet that serves the hot food was in the kitchen at the back of the room.

One of the cooks, his name is Daniel, soon became one of my favourite people ever. He was polite, had eloquent enlgish, and made the best french toast i have ever had.

For lunch we generally went to the Pool side restaurant. We could have gone to the buffet again, or the Beach retaurant, but the one on pool side served the BEST chicken sandwiches i have EVER had, along with all the cervexa you could ask for :)

The beach is also marvellous. It's wide, first of all, and DEEP. i had friends stay at the Barcelo and few weeks earlier and they said their beach was HALF as deep as the Melia's was. The Man who worked on the beach....never got his name (we called him Dawn of the Chairs) was extremely friendly. He would offer to find you a Pilapila (cabana) as well as brush the sand off your chairs and lay your twoels out for you. It was unnecessary, but lovely none the less. The water was absolutely stunning as well. Beautiful turquoise and clear as crystal. The waves get pretty rough at night but there will always be a red flag if the staff thinks its unsafe to swim.

The pools are great too. Big enough so that you rarely run into someone, and alot safer than most because there's a ramp into the water instead of stairs, and it gets deeper GRADUALLY. There's also a killer swim up bar:)

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Generally after luncht we'd go and have a little siesta in our room for a couple of hours (the sun wears you out, ye know?). However there were some days when i just wasnt sleepy and would look for things to do instad. I didnt have to look far! I met a guy named Yoelkis, who was basically the resident sports guy! He showed me where the volleyball net was, started a gane of water polo, ping pong tables, archery, beach soccer, tai chi in the mornings, dance lessons , and MORE. Honestly, you are NEVER bored.

But if you are the kind that likes to chill in your room for a couple hours, be not afraid, you do get american/canadian channels. I must have watched ESPN and the Disney Channel every night before bed.

Also, there's buses to and from the market every two hours! Frequent and flexible!

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"Wonderful place except for weather "

Melia Cayo Santa Maria
User Rating:  Melia Cayo Santa Maria Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Carlo  on Feb 21, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
960 people found this review helpful

The story of our week at Melia Cayo Santa Maria was the cold wind and temps (only one day got above 23C) that were present Every Single Day of our stay. The beautiful beach was red-flagged constantly while we were there, so we didn't get into the water at all. Even at the pool, the water was far too cold for anyone to do anything more than a courageous walk through the water ("See me! I'm so tough!"). We played a lot of Scrabble, sitting in the chairs beside the pool covered by our beach towels. Evenings were definitely jacket and long pants times. The staff said that it was the coldest that they'd ever experienced in February. But the resort can't control the weather, soooo ...

Your Arrival:
Check-in was trivial, as we were given everything we needed (including room keys) by the Transat Holidays rep on the bus.

The rooms were very nice and well-equipped. The maids did a good job every day and had a different bit of towel art (including with flowers) every day. We looked forward to coming back to the room and seeing what they had done (the cutest was a little monkey with my wife's spare sunglasses on it). The TV channel listing was incorrect, but it did have CTV (Canadian Olympic coverage), CNN, Cartoon Network, Discovery, and HBO (I only watched English channels). It appeared to have an ABC channel that seemed to be replaced by another channel every once in a while. Considering the cold weather, the presence of a TV was a nice thing. The mini-fridge had a 1.5L bottle of water, two pop cans, and a beer. A peso and some disposable razors doubled that after the second day.

The only major complaint that I had about the resort was that the beds were very hard. By the second night, I was waking repeatedly to roll over. By the second-last night, I must have woken 15 times to roll over. I don't know if this is typical of other resorts (of this price range) or not as this is my first all-inclusive. If I knew that another resort had softer beds, this issue could be a deal-breaker for me if other differences were close.

Restaurants and Bars:
We were very happy with the food. It would have been good if the buffet food was better labelled, as we'd be more likely to experiment if we knew what we were experimenting with. So we went with the old standbys of eggs and french toast in the morning, pasta and hamburgers at lunch (and, yes, the hamburgers are very good in both the buffet and pool restaurant), and fried rice and pasta in the evening. There was enough other food at the buffet that made it so that I was always stuffed at the end of it. Other favourites of mine were prosciutto, paprika salami, and many cheeses and desserts. I would rate the food at the buffet at 4.5 out of 5, with the 5 achievable with more labelling of the mystery foods. The hours were OK (7 to 10, 1 to 3, 7 to 10), although I would have preferred to have lunch start at 12 and supper at 6 as an option.

We had our a la carte at the Mediterranean restaurant. We were looking forward to the filet mignon, having heard so much about it. Unfortunately, that wasn't an option as we ended up with a pork loin. The pork loin was quite good but we were hoping for the other dish. We were given two appetizers (a cold soup and salmon sushi), both of which didn't appeal to my wife. The dessert was good but not memorable. Service was OK but not up the standards of most of the waiters in the buffet restaurant. Since we enjoyed the buffet selection more, we didn't book our second a-la-carte.

As for the other restaurants, we ate twice at the pool restaurant. The first time, we had "pizza", which was very similar to what my kids do with pitas, sauce, and cheese. Not recommended, except when you have no other option. The chicken sandwich and hamburger that we had on the second visit was quite decent. The roving troubadours ("you want Latin or you want romantic?!?!?") were entertaining as well. The waitress had significant problems understanding what "vermouth" or "Cinzano" were, but handled the situation well. We did not eat at the fish restaurant near the beach.

Lots of drinks were readily available and, as long as you didn't actually wait for service on the patio of the lobby bar, service was great. They didn't skimp on the alcohol. I was surprised at how effectively Elvis and the other pool waiter remembered our preferences from day to day.

90% of the staff were very good or exceptional. The best were found at the buffet restaurant: Daniel for French Toast and Hamburgers, Frank for Eggs and Pasta, Yanorkys for Bananas Flambe (with pancakes), and Juan Carlos as a waiter. Elvis (and the other pool waiter) was great at the pool too. The only staff that we had any issues with were at the lobby bar. The waiter would serve you right away when you got there and then ignore you unless you called him over. After a while, we accepted and worked around it at that particular location. All-in-all, I'd say the resort does a very good job with their staff.

The beach was beautiful but useless to us due to the weather. The pools were nice but cold due to the weather. Weather weather weather. Argh!

The grounds were beautiful, clean, and well-maintained.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We could not do any excursions because of an unexpected problem with my wife's knee that would have made a rough boat ride, a long bus trip, or walking far too difficult. The remote location of the resort definitely limited our possibilities.

We went to most but not all of the shows. Shows that had more dancing than singing were best. None were exceptional but the best part of all was the great Michael Jackson impersonator (only about 20 minutes of the show, though). It was annoying not knowing what the show was until they started it, though.

The during-the-day activities were things like Salsa lessons, Spanish lessons, etc. The archery and Tai Chi were often not well attended. Fashion shows and bike acrobatic shows were OK.

Other Comments:
If the weather had co-operated and the beds had been softer, this would have been a perfect vacation. As it was, we still had a good time.

There was no expectation of a tip from anyone. Nonetheless, we did tip a lot and found that larger tips given to those who gave exceptional service or who we saw repeatedly (Daniel and Frank, at the buffet) were very appreciated. We did the usual leaving-of-the-gifts for the maids. One thing that we did differently was that my wife decided to give a nice child's dress (that our daughter had grown out of) to one of the vendors and I thought that the recipient was going to cry!

Other facilities::
I worked out in the exercise room twice. It was busy at 9 a.m. but not busy at all at 3 p.m. It has 4 stationary bikes, 3 treadmills, 2 steppers, and a rowing machine. The instructions at the entrance to the area stated that there was an attendant with towels but I didn't see one at any time (including twice when I dropped by without doing anything). I also tried to check out the exercise room at the Sol (next resort over) which we had access to but it was closed and appeared to have been for quite some time.

Internet access is available on two slow computers with dialup access for 12 pesos per hour. IE 6 was the only browser and the keyboard defaulted to Spanish (cut-and-paste for the @ symbol). Not all websites worked properly (e.g. Facebook). Yahoo Mail worked fine. GMail was OK but not perfect.

Phoning out is expensive. Don't.

I exchanged money at the local Cadeca twice with no problems. The person showed me the calculation and asked me if it was OK before counting out the money in front of me. Lineups were prevalent at about 10 a.m. but OK otherwise.

There is a small hut that contains a vendor daily. The vendor stays for two days and then goes away for two days in a two-vendor rotation. So, if you don't want what both vendors have, you're not going to buy much on this trip. The items were all very low-priced. We got a few masks, a painted dish, a few bracelets, etc.

The store next to the lobby has a good selection of tobacco, alcohol, souvenir musical instruments, and not much else. Want chocolate, pens, or paper? Bring it from home.

We had access to the Sol Cayo Santa Maria (easily accessible from a path between houses 4 and 6) and went a few times but it seemed rather deserted and depressing. As I mentioned, I hoped to use their exercise room but it was shut down.

It is most certainly a resort for older adults (40s to 50s, typically). There were a few young adults (early 20s) in large groups but they didn't really fit in. Of the older adults, though, it would not be unusual for some certain groups of them to be a lot louder than they had to be (as other reviewers have noted).

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