Cayo Ensenachos, Caibarien, Villa Clara, Cuba
Posted by: rocky on Aug 4, 2014
see all reviews
Iberostar Ensenachos offers a choice of accommodation under a Deluxe All-Inclusive plan, featuring the highest standard of quality and personalized service also offers 506 comfortable rooms distributed in 3 areas:
Family Area, with 270 rooms, including 5 disabled rooms
Villas area, with 46 superior rooms only for adults over 14 years
SPA area with 190 rooms , only for adults over 18 years
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"Before booking this Resort, I suggest you read my review."
Posted by: Elaine
on Feb 6, 2012 >
5 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2012 | Leisure | Family and Kids
366 people found this review helpful
We were at Iberostar Ensenachos for 2 weeks from January 22nd, 2012. I will give you the good points, and then the bad.
GOOD: The people are amazing, the facilities, rooms, pool areas, lounges are all beautiful and immaculate. If you like the beach, though, it was too far away so you had to take a golf cart ride to it. They did have a bathroom and bar at one end of the beach but if you wanted food, back to the resort with a golf cart. We also found the water too calm and way too shallow. Great for kids and non-swimmers so we stayed at the pool and were more than satisfied with that.
BAD: The food was TERRIBLE. At the buffet, they served the same food every day both for lunch and dinner. The food was usually overcooked, and everything was cold. Breakfasts too were not very appetizing. The bacon was usually almost raw and no variety whatsoever. We were not impressed with the A la carte restaurants either. We also did not appreciate all the smoking (both cigarettes and cigars) in the lounge area where people sit after dinner.
We will not be returning and suggest you give it a pass too.
"Best Resort - Worst Spanish Red Wine!"
Frank on Aug 7, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
409 people found this review helpful
It was our fourth trip to this great resort, with our friends, Best Staff and we fully appreciate the troubles the Cuban Government is experiencing, however, Iberostar was just beginning to manage this resort with some new changes: Children any age, and CHEAP Spanish red wine!No problem with the Children! Love Them! But the horrible Spanish wine - forget it! We later took a trip on ALLURE OF THE SEAS, the largest cruise ship in the world, and at least one could buy a "wine package". Why not at this Iberostar? We would pay to buy Chilean wine, red and white!Would like to be contacted on this issue, otherwise we will unforunately travel somewhere firstname.lastname@example.org
"Try Somewhere Else - But Great Beach"
steve on Apr 5, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Mar, 2010 | Leisure | Family and Kids
263 people found this review helpful
This was our last stop on our family tour of Cuba. We drove with a Cuban guide in a minibus for over a week from Havana to the Bay of Pigs, through Cienfuegos, to Trinidad, up through Santa Clara and to the Hotel. Our daughters and their friends wanted to end their vacation on a beautiful Caribbean beach and we had heard that Ensenachos was it.
- The beach was outstanding. There are actually two beaches: Megano (next to the Hidaway and Spa) and Ensenachos (next to the suites.) Both are beautiful but Ensenachos is less crowded and if possible even prettier.
- While I understand it's a no kids under 14 resort, its more like a no one under 50 resort. Our girls were fine with this as they just wanted to hang on the beach but we saw a few 20-30-year olds looking a bit lost.
- Some of the shows were good. (The brass band and singers.) Some were worse than bad.
- 80% of guests are Canadian on packaged tours. We love Canadians but their expectations of what a 5 star hotel should be is a bit humorous ("hey it's warm, has a beach.") Most of them fly into Santa Clara get bussed to the hotel then flown out. That's their "I've been to Cuba" experience. The problem is that their tolerance for a mediocre experience will mean the Spanish owner of this resort has no incentive to fix the problems.
- Don't look to closely at your sheets, towels or bathrobes. It's not clear the laundry uses soap.
- The food is at best abysmal - in all the restaurants. Having spent the week traveling across Cuba we realized it was as bad as everywhere else - or if possible worse. It makes you realize how bad the local populace has it if this is as good as they can do at a hard currency resort.
- The staff feels like they are just going through the motions. Its probably because it's really hard to fire a Cuban employee and there is zero service culture for commerce in the country. Don't expect too much from anyone.
Restaurants and Bars:
The bad news is that the food was horrific. The only consolation is that in traveling around Cuba we realize it is not much worse than anywhere else in the country.
The beaches were outstanding. There are actually two: Megano (next to the Hidaway and Spa) and Ensenachos (next to the suites.) Both are beautiful but Ensenachos is less crowded and if possible even prettier.
Only problem is that on Megano the umbrellas are packed cheek to jowl. On Ensenachos they are clustered together near the Spa end.
"Beautiful Beach But Very Disappointing Food"
Cynthia on May 8, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
372 people found this review helpful
We stayed at this resort on our fourth trip to Cuba and were very disappointed with a lot of aspects. (We travel every March to somewhere in the Caribbean and always pick 5*.) The beach was wonderful and clean, service excellent, but there were problems with the food. While one never goes to Cuba for the cuisine, there is usually something decent for someone who is allergic to seafood and fish. This wasn't the case here. I ate something "disagreeable" that has lasted a few weeks, which usually isn't the case in Cuba.
We arrived on-time via Air Canada (excellent flights) on March 28th and were whisked through so quickly it was unbelievable. Our luggage was waiting for us on the other side of immigration. The airport was super-efficient and clean when we left Cuba also. It's a long (90 minutes) but pleasant drive from the airport and our guide was extremely chatty and informative. Check-in at the resort was very quick as they merely handed out envelopes and directed people to their buildings. At our building, our concierge, Osmami, greeted us and gave us all the information for dining, the beaches, entertainment, and everything. He was wonderful! Such a gentleman and so very very helpful. I cannot say enough about him.
Our room was a disappointment after reading all the previous reviews. Our easy chairs and chaise-lounge were stained and dirty and the floor wasn't very clean. We were also missing the luggage rack.It was the smallest room in the resort which was frustrating since we booked in September and people who had booked two weeks prior to the trip got suites. I guess they start from the bottom up.
The bathroom was very nice marble and there was always tons of hot water. There were lots of white fluffy towels too - something that's always appreciated and not often, even in Canada, provided.
Restaurants and Bars:
The main buffet was the biggest disappointment. As I've said before, you don't go for haute cuisine but you do expect the chicken or pork to be okay but they weren't. Instead - tough and leathery. While they had a salad bar, there weren't any salad dressings - something that could be easily made with oil, vinegar, garlic and a few other spices. The breakfast buffet was good -anything you wanted - but dinners were disappointing. The pasta bar had a line-up that was 30 minutes long one night. Also, some of the table linens could have been refreshed more often. The specialty restaurants were, thankfully, better. We ate at the Cuban, the Italian and the Steak and they were all pretty good. The service everywhere was usually excellent. The guys at the beach grill worked hard but the burgers were horrid - not their fault - just awful gristly beef. The pizzas featured pickles. Enough said?
But the service was extremely good everywhere and, while they appreciated tips and items unavailable in Cuba, they didn't begrudge serving you even if you were empty-handed. (We like to show our appreciation at the end of the week.)
The beach was beautiful, like so many Cuban beaches. We never made it to the second one but that's because we were too busy on the main one. It's a nice walk to the end, you can walk out to the sandbar when the water is low, snorkel around the sunken boat and snorkelling from the beach was a lot of fun. (Bring your own mask and snorkel but don't bother with the fins as they will only be a nuisance.) I saw starfish, crabs, shrimp and tons of fish - from 1" to 2'. Great, free entertainment.
BUT PEOPLE DRIVE ME CRAZY - I saw at least two people carrying starfish out of the water and that means they killed them. They suffocate out of the ocean so PLEASE LEAVE THE STARFISH IN THE WATER!!!!! It's also illegal to bring them back to Canada.
The other neat thing at the beach was that you could feed the fish some bread or banana while standing waist-deep. Hundreds of hungry fish come up to you and you can spend a lot of time just watching them.
There were lots of palapas and beds on the beach but people still claimed them early in the morning. I found this area of the beach to be quite congested.
The guys sailing the catamarans were terrific and they had a great time trying to scare me by tacking hard and getting us wet. Great for a laugh and nice to go out on a short trip to the island.
The pools were lovely with lots of wonderful palm trees providing shade and great service. The grounds are well kept and the bougainvillia are lovely.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We didn't take any of the day trips as we were just there to relax. While you can find a lot to do, there isn't a program director coming around to get you "up and at 'em". I think many people appreciate the quietness of this resort and that's why they return so often.
This is not a great place for teens as they were few and far between. However, they can make their own fun if they talk to the guys at the sports desk.
The spa was lovely and I had a great massage. The guys at the tennis courts were fun and love to talk sports, especially baseball.
Our concierge, Osmani, was wonderful. He booked our dinner reservations, took very good care of us and ensured that when our toilet broke, someone was there in 5 minutes to fix it. Reception had ignored my 2 previous requests for help and it was frustrating because, let's face it, we all need a functioning loo! He also looked after a few other little problems for us and we appreciated it.
Because of the room we had and some of the disappointing food, we won't return to this area of Cuba. This was rated a 5* for Cuba and taking into account everything, we think the 5* in Varadero were better. I'll miss the beach, the palm trees and Osmani however.
"Déception pour un 5 étolies..."
Daniel Dancause on Apr 29, 2008 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2008
234 people found this review helpful
Bonjour, D'un retour d'une semaine ( 19 au 26 avril 2008) nous avons été très décu de la qualité du service, de la servitude du personnel et de la qualité de la nourriture et ce même si nous savions que Cuba n'sst pas le Mexique. La plage toutefois était parfaite sauf pour le service sur la plage ( délai, nourriture froide, breuvage chaud etc). Désolé mais pour un 5 étoiles ce n'est pas acceptable. Nous avions hâte de terminer nos vacances et nous n'étions pas seul dans cet esprit...
"Laidback, Lowkey and Luxurious Solitude"
Posted by: Gardengal
on Jul 18, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jul, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
460 people found this review helpful
We just experienced our first ever July/August Caribbean vacation with our third visit to the Royal Hideaway. Since our Canadian summer was basically a washout this year, we counted ourselves very fortunate to have decided to travel at this time this year. We found there to be a number of variances between a winter getaway and being in the tropics in the middle of summer.
Booking last minute, the price at the end of July was quite reasonable, perhaps even better than what it would cost to travel to a northern Ontario resort for a week with meals included. The only concern in booking last minute was the timing in booking while there would still be availability of spaces in the airplane. What happened for us, was that AirTransat ended up combining two separate flights to fill one plane (using CanJet) for economical reasons. Instead of the anticipated early Sunday morning flight, we were bumped to a later afternoon flight, arriving at the resort some time between 11pm-12am. This worked out fine for us (no worries)... especially in light of the fact that with this schedule we had a very restful last full day in Cuba and our arrival time back in TO was 2am on the Civic Holiday Monday, so we could sleep in that day and not have to worry about getting back to work until the Tuesday.
What we noticed immediately, upon arrival, was the very welcome, yet extreme "heat & humidity"! It is so much more intense than we ever expected but was so wonderful, we loved it, even though my hair ended up looking like Monica's from the Friend's episode in Barbados!
We arrived with a whole bus of RHE guests and the lineup was long, right out the Reception Area door, into the Lobby. It went quite quickly, and was nice not having to be "rounded up" into a conference room this time to endure a welcome speech, dresscode explanations & staff introductions. Fortunately, being one of the last ones off the bus and in line worked out quite nicely, as the bartenders from the Lobby Bar came around a number of times with cool towels & chilled champagne, serving us first with each round. Very refreshingly welcome in the tropical evening heat. Another fortunate event was, when we were finished checking in, we were given a ride along with our luggage to our room... this is the first time (in three) that this has occurred. Management must be reading (and heeding) reviews and guest comment cards! Five star service -> Terrific! Once in our room, there was a welcome platter of fruit, sandwiches, the minibar well stocked, plus there was a bottle of rum on the table with some ice & glasses! Ahhh, it was heaven to pour a drink and sit out on our balcony, soaking up the balmy heat and listening for the sounds of the surf over the mangrove.
As Royal Hideaway alumni, we contacted the resort prior to leaving and the room we were given was exactly what we requested. We had an upper corner suite in building 42 , I think! When you're on the boardwalk to go to Playa Megano it's on your left. We apparently had oceanview, but the foliage of the huge Oleanders were blocking the view...lol... c'est la vie! I believe there were only two bungalows open in the Hideaway section, 41 & 42 on the boardwalk and nearest to the Hideaway pool, due to the 30% occupancy.
Restaurants and Bars:
Due to the extreme low occupancy the Hideaway pool lunch restaurant and the a la carte Grill restaurant (Spa pool) weren't open. As well, the Royal suites were closed, therefore the Royal Suites restaurant wasn't available for repeat guests. The Seafood restaurant (by Playa Ensenachos) was also closed, but was temporarily installed & available in the "overflow" area of the Buffet using the outdoor "grand staircase" (above the Asian restaurant) entrance. No real ambiance here and the service was languorous, as the AC had a hard time keeping up with the heat of the setting sun beating down on the huge windows facing west, even with the draperies drawn. The Italian remains our absolute favourite in regards to ambiance, service and food. We learned our lesson in regards to the Asian and asked for an individual table this time. They have two teppanyaki tables operating but only one teppanyaki chef on duty (during low season)... one table of eight enjoyed cocktails and appetizers while waiting for some time before their dinnershow could begin. The chef had real personality and was quite entertaining, as we were seated nearby enough to appreciate his excellent performance skills. This created a nice atmosphere for us, and the service was impeccable! As a side note: it was here that we used the $50 each bonus coupons to buy a bottle of Spanish wine for $75 from the wine list... an $18 value here in Canada... which we did enjoy, but the Chilean housewines are quite decent as well!
Honourable mention goes to the Beach snackbar trainee attendant who was left all alone at times, serving and preparing various items for any number of guests at the same time, with amazing grace under pressure. Kudos to the rookie. Talk about baptism by fire!
In summary, for breakfast we had the Buffet & Room Service available (24hrs), for lunch we had the Spa pool restaurant, the Buffet and the Beach snackbar and for dinners we either had just the Buffet available (two nights) and the other nights a choice of two a la cartes (Asian, Italian or Seafood). Plenty of choices, actually considering the resort was so empty. The only problem we had through the week, was one time (out of 4), our Room Service lunch order never made it to our room. Even after a few phone calls, including Reception, it was a no-show. That night, a returning staff member (who'd been off for a month) informed us that the afternoon had been, shall we say, "not a good day in the kitchen". Apparently there had been a "changing of the guards" (new chef?), some personnel switches and new positions created, including one for himself. He cheerily mentioned that it was to the benefit of RHE to encourage the staff to be more competent & for the resort to run more efficiently. Other than that one "blip", our dining experiences were quite satisfactory. No problems... Es Cuba!
Pools & Ocean
The ocean felt like it was 90°-95° F as well as the pools. Most mornings we spent on Playa Ensenachos for an hour or two enjoying absolute & complete solitude. Although we weren't always alone ->We had a special welcome a few mornings, by the resident barracudas who would float a few metres from us in the shallow warm water, and then swim off. They were at least a metre in length, and really were a shock to see the first time they greeted us (who needs jolt of coffee to wake up?) The other creatures that were noticed included the resident Iguana at the Hideaway Pool, a Cuban Black-hawk, flamingos, red land crabs, sand crabs, hermit crabs & lizards, hummingbirds, a couple of jellyfish, sea urchins, a number of starfish, needle fish and so many schools of colourful fish that swam around us we didn't even end up using our snorkle gear. Although some new friends we met on the trip said there was an octopus and other more interesting sea-life near the coral between the two beaches of RHE. The Villa section was closed, so there were no facilities open nor were there any loungers at either end of Ensenachos at this time of year. We were glad we brought our own beach towels (we always do) which we kept clean by using them on top of the resort towels. We just made sure to keep the dirty towels away from our bed & clothing in case of sand fleas or noseums. When we had enough of the beach, we would head back to the resort for a great walk along Playa Ensenachos and then enjoyed the Hideaway Pool and the Pool Bar attendants for an hour or so to ourselves, too! It was heaven on earth for us! We felt as though we were on our own private island retreat.
Due to only a few buildings in the each of the Hideaway & Spa sections being open, our concierge at first, told us he couldn't get us our room for late checkout. Apparently there were quite a number of new arrivals for the first week of August. But he did do his magic, and we ended up being able to keep our room for $40 until 6pm. Not sure how he did this, as we had talked to the front Reception Desk right after breakfast and had been told it wasn' possible. Not a problem, just thought we'd try. Then, by the time we walked back to our bungalow, our concierge met us in the atrium, and told us that if went back to the Reception Desk, we could pay the $40 and book the late checkout! Which we happily did!
Low Season Summary
Thank Goodness for Air Conditioning! We have always enjoyed and looked forward to dining al fresco with all of our trips to the tropics, however, it was with welcome gratitude that everything (except the Spa Pool restaurant) was indoors with AC here during a Cuban summer! Upon our first winter trip to RHE we had been disappointed regarding this feature, but now we know why it is such a necessity! No real complaints about the food here, it was mainly good,and knowing that it is sometimes a "hit or miss" (only one or two misses) made our expectations more realistic.
In summary, we had the most amazing time. Third times a charm, as they say, isn't it? The service was better, the food was good, the drinks were delicious, and the weather was fabulous... considering the forecast for our week! Accuweather had called for rain everyday, and we ended up with an hour of rain one morning (7:30-8:30am) That day, we were just ready to leave for breakfast, so instead, ordered coffee con leche (for 4->to get a carafe) and continental breakfast for two. It was delivered within 25 minutes (the poor delivery guys were soaked!) and we were ready to head to the beach by the time the sun was out again! One other day there was a "sun shower" that felt like the mist of the Niagara. All in all, we would definitely consider returning in summer, just to experience the laidback, lowkey & luxurious solitude of the Royal Hideaway Ensenachos once again!
"Top Notch - With A Couple Of Minor Drawbacks"
Posted by: Jamie
on Apr 1, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
496 people found this review helpful
Flew Cubana out of Halifax. Left on schedule and arrived in Santa Clara a little early. Immigration was quick and organized. HolaSun rep met us outside the airport and told us the bus number we were to take. Trip to RHE took 90 minutes, and most was in the dark so we didn't "visually experience" the causeway. Upon arrival at the resort, we were directed to the reception area where the clerk asked for our vouchers, and presented us with an envelope containing keys, resort map and some documents to be filled in and returned the next day. We were then directed to the buffet (was closing in ~ 1 hour) and asked to return to get our luggage and be transported to our rooms with luggage by bell boys in golf carts. All in all, very professional.
Rooms were amazing; extremely clean and roomy, 2 beds (didn't get the king size) that were very reasonably comfortable with large thick pillows, and a spare pillow and 2 duvets on the shelf in the walk-in closet. Bathroom was large as well with a big walk-in shower and a separate tub. We were on the ground floor and the patio had a view of a wall of trees / bushes that blocked view of the walkway. Some may find this a nuisance, but we enjoyed the privacy and the natural habitat for numerous birds.
Our Concierge was Miriella (SIC??) who was wonderful and took care of any of her duties or requests we passed on promptly, and met us each day with a smile and kind words.
Restaurants and Bars:
We ate at the Italian and Seafood A La Cartes, and one evening at the "grill" at the Hideaway pool. Food at all 3 was better than anything we've ever experienced in Cuba for any of our 6 previous trips. Service at the 2 A la Cartes was near perfect and comparable to any high end north American restaurant I've ever visited. Service at the grill wasn't quite as good, but still more than acceptable.
The buffet food was of relatively high quality (very subjective I know), but unfortunately, quantity of prepared hot food was somewhat lacking, and layout was a little unorganized. To get to the trays of hot food, one has to reach in through the lines of people lined up (normally 3 lines) for fresh grilled food. Cold foods were plentiful, well organized and of high quality.
Mornings I was always at the lobby bar (24 hours) for coffee, which was reasonable.
Most of our days was spent at the Spa section pool so we frequented that bar the majority of the time; with nothing less than extraordinary service from Dayker (pronounced Die-kr) and Sonja. Margaritas, Pina Coladas and Mojitos were among the best I've ever tasted.
Night time bars were somewhat of a disappointment. We didn't go to the jazz bar at all, and only saw it open once, but weren't needing loud music. Lobby bar was crowded every night, maybe 3 deep at the bar waiting for service and all tables taken, with waiter service somewhat slow. Cigar lounge was always packed after dinner, with unfortunately, most of them non-smokers or at least not smoking cigars.
Grounds in general (including beaches and pools) are in a word - remarkable. Both beaches are wonderful and very clean (to start the day, unfortunately, guests make sure they don't look that way at the end of the day). The flowers, trees and shrubs are meticulously maintained daily.
Layout is beautiful, and cut into natural vegetation, which makes it look bigger than it actually is.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We didn't take part in any activities on the resort, nor did we look for any.
Only time we left the resort was to visit the Pueblo. I would only recommend this if you want a better selection of cigars than at the RHE shop or if you're looking for some crafts at the booths there. Otherwise, it's a "tourist trap" in my opinion.
Make no mistake about it, this is one ginormous resort. We didn't see half of it and while everything is well marked, anyone "directionally challenged" should familiarize themselves with the map.
The age limits at this resort is refreshing, but rumours at the resort are this restriction may soon be lifted.
The Cadeca at this resort should be approached with patience. Service is extremely slow, but very honest. No issues with exchange rates and all money was counted several times, and a receipt promptly supplied without being requested.
I've read several reviews where writers have pointed out "attitudes" of various staff, including and predominately reception staff. We saw none of this, but did see a few occasions where the way they were treated by guests could cause such "attitude". I'm not saying it would be justified, I'm just pointing out my experience proves "you shall reap what you sow".
"RHE vs. IE"
Joseph on Mar 3, 2013 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2013 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
247 people found this review helpful
We visited for 2 weeks, stayed in the Spa Suites “adult” section, got back Feb 11. This was our 4th trip to this resort after a 2 year hiatus. First 3 trips were before the changeover to Iberostar. Rather than a straightforward review I thought it would be interesting to compare the resort when it was Occidental with the current Iberostar version. Here goes.
SERVICE: Seems to be a serious effort to boost service. Iberostar "service cops" as I came to call them, sporting the Iberostar gold-colored sport coats and 2-way radios, were in full view during our stay, especially in the Buffet and even conducting walkabouts throughout the resort. They busied themselves with everything from seating/greeting/chatting-up/glad-handing the guests, monitoring the restaurant staff, bus boy duties, and keeping a close eye on quality control (I watched one of them go to every vacant table in the Buffet, flipping up every coffee mug on each table so he could look inside each one to ensure it was clean). One big difference with service now…..no concierge at each bungalow anymore. Any issues guests have, or to book your a-la-cartes, you now deal with the Public Relations office or the Reception folks. But generally, more and better service throughout the resort now, including at the restaurants, bars, beaches and pools. Great job.
Now a family resort, previously an adults-only resort - the biggest and most noticeable change of all and a major let-down for hard-core 'adults-only' fans. I would venture to guess they will not return. Major changes to the Park Suites “family” section reflect this change, now offering more kid friendly play facilities and services. The wrist bands are a new ‘feature’ too (yuch!).
With Iberostar, no longer any robes, slippers, or rum to greet you in the Spa Suites section rooms. (However when they found out this was our 4th visit a bottle of French champaign magically appeared in our mini-bar room fridge one day while we were down at the beach). Nice touch. No longer any outlet for your electric shaver in the washroom; the outlet has been taken over/replaced by a hair dryer. The facial tissue holder in the washroom emptied during our first week and was never refilled. This is not a complaint, just a comparison with Occidental’s tissue holder during our 3 previous visits. It somehow managed to stay full back then.
Restaurants and Bars:
Maybe a little more selection in the Buffet. The PIZZA station in the Buffet is new and enjoyed by many. Pleasantly surprised to see smoothies offered during our 1st few days but then they disappeared (darn). Really missed Occidental’s fresh squeezed orange juice; the stuff we had this time came from a liquid dispenser, not a juicer. The real stuff might be back in late Spring or early Summer when the oranges are harvested? Disappointed at no longer being able to get cappuccinos in the Buffet, you now have to get this fan-favourite and much talked-about delicacy at the lobby bar (oh well.....sigh).
The Japanese restaurant (Azia) was closed for renovations. The Spa Suites pool-side snack bar becomes an a-la-carte at dinner time and the name changes to 'Steakhouse'. The Park Suites pool-side snack bar becomes an a-la-carte at dinner time also and the name changes to the 'International'. The seafood restaurant, once called La Punta del Pirata, is now called the Mediterranean. The Villas restaurant, once called the Royal Club Gourmet, is now called the El Colonial. They've added an open-air buffet-style lunch time restaurant at Playa Megano. A similar restaurant near Ensenachos beach was almost ready to open near the Villas. The change to 'family' status obviously changes the dynamics/atmosphere/nuance in the restaurants. But let’s not go there.
Both beaches are amazing but Megano has always been and always will be my forever #1, hands-down, over the top, favourite beach of all time, anywhere…..period. I could write chapters about these beaches (especially my beloved Megano) but that would cause me to stray from the intended purpose of this narrative, which is to compare the beaches under Occidental with the beaches under Iberostar.
Oh my, where to begin? OK, the long wooden walkway from the front of the main building to Megano beach has been rebuilt. That’s a good thing. Both beaches now have children, strollers, carriages, and loud music playing and more garbage strewn about. On Playa Megano, half the palapas are missing (damn hurricane Sandy!) But we’re still wondering why none of these palapas were replaced during our whole 2 weeks there? While we were there if you didn’t get your towel down to Playa Megano by 6:00 in the morning, forget about securing that most savoured and coveted prize on the whole darn beach – the palapa located furthest from the above-mentioned #*@^ loudspeakers!! Grrrrr. Anyway, besides the kids, extra garbage and loud music, beach entertainment recruiters (as mentioned above under “ENTERTAINMENT”) go around trying to get you to do stuff, the west end of Megano beach is narrower and covered with sharp tiny sea shells that threaten to cut your feet (Sandy again?), and food is no longer served right to your palapa. (Boy, were we ever spoiled by Occidental!!)
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
A little more live music in the main lobby at night now. The piano, once located in the main lobby, can now be enjoyed in the lobby bar. Sometimes live music will be found in the new beach-side open air restaurants at lunch time, a nice touch. Unless it’s beach night, large spectacular music and dance entertainment still takes place in the Auditorium each night. Very talented and hard-working group. And of course now there’s the beach entertainment crew who try various things to keep you from getting bored, including cranking up the ol’ loud speakers. (Somebody pull the plug please!)
Seems to be a serious effort to boost service. Iberostar "service cops" as I came to call them, sporting the Iberostar gold-colored sport coats and 2-way radios, were in full view during our stay, especially in the Buffet and even conducting walkabouts throughout the resort. They busied themselves with everything from seating/greeting/chatting-up/glad-handing the guests, monitoring the restaurant staff, bus boy duties, and keeping a close eye on quality control (I watched one of them go to every vacant table in the Buffet, flipping up every coffee mug on each table so he could look inside each one to ensure it was clean). One big difference with service now…..no concierge at each bungalow anymore. Any issues guests have, or to book your a-la-cartes, you now deal with the Public Relations office or the Reception folks. But generally, more and better service throughout the resort now, including at the restaurants, bars, beaches and pools. Great job.
To summarize, at least according to our 2 weeks of observations, you now have a resort trying harder to make more money (i.e., opening up to the ‘family’ market), trying to run a tighter ship, trying to keep a tight rein on costs (perks for return guests have been cut back), and trying to enhance service. Guests with young children are the big winners here; the losers are those folks who used to look forward to their annual pilgrimage to this once pristine, quiet, peaceful, romantic, and special place. Where can they go now to find a value-priced adults-only resort island location with 2 long spectacular postcard-like, picture-perfect beaches and no competing resorts? Heck, I’ll bet they won’t even find a resort that matches this description with even just ONE such beach. Major loss, mega-HUGE disappointment…..I wish them all the luck in the world. Hasta luego.
rocky on Aug 4, 2014 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2014 | Leisure | Solo
108 people found this review helpful
I am proud to say that this is my second time visiting the Iberostar Ensenachos hotel and also my second time in Cuba, I was led to this hotel based on good reviews I found on the internet and I wasn’t disappointed even one bit. Brenda is the best hotel manager I have ever met and for a woman, she is doing a pretty good job and I am not scared to say that when next I am in Cuba, this hotel is my destination and choice. I have been to hotels and have seen the way good managers interact with her guests but for this particular manager, she takes it as a special duty to get to know the guests and make sure that everything you need is provided and on time. Just as caring as the manager was, you can expect that the staff would be the same way; they are the most caring bunch I have ever met in all my travels to all inclusive hotels in the Caribbean. Majority of the food served was good but I had a bad food day and that was it. The foods are descent and the staff at the restaurant was polite. The beach here is beautiful, one of the best and cleanest beach I have been to. Once they know you are a returning guests, you automatically quality for special treatment and so my check in was pushed even faster and I went to my room. Clean rooms and good view, I will be back.
"Great resort, would have loved an extra week"
Posted by: Art
on Jun 28, 2014 >
5 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2014 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
122 people found this review helpful
This was our 1st time at the Iberostar Ensenachos. We especially picked this resort to celebrate my 60th and we weren’t disappointed. The weather was great and resort itself felt very pleasant and welcoming. For context we are retired empty nesters, now in our early 60’s and have enjoyed many trips to Cuba, all at various AI’s. This trip was from April 19th to April 26th, 2014.
Check in was relatively easy and though it was late at night we were able to find our room quite easily without waiting for a bellboy to be available. The buffet was even open for a late snack which was a pleasant surprised. We were in the Spa section (18+) and were very happy with our choice. It was nice to be in the quieter section at times. We discovered that the school break in Quebec is the week after Easter. This meant the resort was fully booked and lots of kids. However considering the number of kids and the associated noise level that goes with them, for the most part they were well behaved and certainly did not take away anything from our holiday. But we were grateful to be in the Spa section. And while the resort was fully booked, most of the time it never felt crowded, even in the lobby. The resort itself is fairly spread out which helped but means you can do a bit of walking. For example, it took us about 15 minutes to walk from our room to the Ensenachos beach so we did try and catch a cart whenever we could.
We requested for a king/ queen bed on an upper level and the room we got was perfect. Nice comfortable room with quiet air conditioning, very hot water and good water pressure for showers. The maid did a good job keeping it clean and the towel art was always a treat to see. The staff throughout the resort are among the best we encountered. All of them made you feel welcome and the service they provided was top notch whether you tipped or not. However we do know tipping was appreciated.
Restaurants and Bars:
The food. I’ve seen many reviews stating you don’t do to Cuba for the food. I think that’s only half true. There are many restaurants off resort that have great food, we’ve been to a couple, but I don’t go to a buffet and expect gourmet food so I don’t expect it to be different at an all-inclusive. What I do expect is relative quality for what I do pay for. Maybe we are not fussy eaters but I found for the most part the food at this resort was above average with excellent variety. It was impossible for me to sample it all. When I’m on vacation I tend to eat what I don’t normally get at home and for me that was the lobster. Four nights of lobster was not a hardship and my only disappointment was no garlic butter.
If you like to snorkel I would recommend starting with the Ensenachos beach in the morning and swim along the shore towards the nautical centre. On a still day, which unfortunately we only had a couple, the snorkeling was great with lots of various fish to see. The beach itself is a nice long white sand beach with very little rock or coral and feels very private. The Megano beach where the restaurant is located is busier, but even then we were still able to find a suitable spot late in the morning or early afternoon. Yes the spot was a little further from the restaurant but they set up a small bar nearby so refreshments were always close at hand. You can snorkel here as well and if you walk out to the sunken barge you’ll see the usual suspects along with many starfish. I would also recommend beach shoes for parts Megano.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Besides snorkeling, music is also very important to us and again we were not disappointed. There was lots of local entertainment in the main lobby, usually 3 different bands at various times in the evening and they were a joy to listen to. Of the evening shows we did get a chance to see we were delighted that it was done to live music. On another note, the resort sprayed for mosquitoes daily so we didn’t seem to have an issue while we were there but I would still recommend bringing your mosquitoes spray as you never know.
One important thing we did learn was the Santa Clara airport is very busy Saturday evenings. OK zoo is more like it so it’s something we’ll keep in mind for the future. Lastly, you can also look up my channel on YouTube (MrJarArt) to see the video of this resort and other Cuban resorts we’ve been to.