logo Old Reviews - Cubanacan Gran Club Santa Lucia
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Audrey 
Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
December 2008
Rooms:
Standard rooms are very clean and bright. Jr. Suites more preferable since they have more room but also are very clean and bright.

Restaurants and Bars:
The buffet restaurant is very big to handle all tourists and food is very good. Has pizzeria that is good and an ala carte restaurant that is exceptional.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Beach is white coral sand and is swept everyday to remove leaves that wash up from the ocean. The beach is quite calm due to the reef that is located 1/4 mile off shore. I am told this is the second longest reef in the world. Pool is very clean and quite large.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
At the resort you can arrange many tours including a trip to Camaguey, the alligator tour, a trip to an unspoiled beach, Bonita Beach or a catamaran trip to the coral reef.

Other Comments:
This is an agricultural area so not much to do off the resort in the town of Santa Lucia. This is a very relaxing resort and I would recommend it to anyone who wants beach, sun, relaxation and a friendly atmosphere.
securicle.tech@sympatico.ca
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Angelo 

July 2008
My family of 4 (with two kids 6 and 3) and another family of four (similar aged children) visited Gran Club Santa Lucia in Camaguey in Mid-July. I've been to many resorts in and out of Cuba ranging from 3 to 5 stars. We had chosen this resort based on price and the reviews from this site. Everyone in my party and others on the resort shared the same opinions on this resort.

Travel to resort - Sunwing - Great flight and impressed with Sunwing. The ride to the resort was another thing. The resort is 90 minutes away from the airport, and if you have young children or have motion sickness, then getting to the resort will be brutal. This fact alone may be a reason to avoid this resort.

Resort and Grounds - The resort looks old and unkept. There are a few ponds around that have a few flamingos walking around in dirty water. The rest are ponds or rivers that are empty and give the resort an abandoned look. The resort has a few peacocks which is nice and about a thousand cats which is not so nice. I don't mind cats, but seeing them all over the place just seemed unhygenic. The pool is nice. It has a kids area and an adult pool with a pool bar. The pool serves it's function. The resort is located near the beach, so location is a plus.

Beach - I was quite disappointed with the beach. Perhaps it was the time of the year, but the water had a lot of seaweed. Now this is fine if you don't have young children and can swim pass it, but if you do have young children, then they're basically swimming in seaweed.

Security - Major problem. We had travelled to the neighbour Brisas because the beach looked better, however, we were constantly hounded by the locals. I felt like an injured animal with vultures surrounding me. Our beach wasn't as bad, but we still we're approached at least a half dozen times a day. The security on the beach turns a blind eye. On the resort, security is even worse. Every single Canadian family, including ourselves, had something stolen at the resort. My son's shoes were stolen from our balcony and other things went missing from other peoples balconys as well. Things were also stolen at the pool. The resort needs to really address this problem.

Food and Drink - I was disappointed with the food as I read the other reviews and thought that the food would be good. Although I heard from others at the Brisas that our food was much better than theirs, I thought it was average at best. Lunch seemed to be the best meal at the buffet with a good variety. The dinner was very boring, as was breakfast. We went to the Italian pizzeria as we heard it was the best of the alacartes and it was not good at all. Being Italian, I'm quite knowledgeable about Pizza and this was not good. The restaurant itself is quite gross as well as cats are running around and jumping on tables. We didn't visit the Cuban or Seafood. Drinks we're plentiful and I really enjoyed the cappucinnos and espresso's at the pool bar.

As a note, my entire family at one time or another had stomach problems during our stay. We all have different theories as to whether it was the food or drink that caused it. I believe it was the drinks.

Animation and Staff- This is where the resort shines. The animation staff is incredible. They are all very talented and very enthusiastic. They work extremely hard to make your stay enjoyable. Adonis (head of Kids Club) was amazing and took care of our kids really well with a couple of the other ladies. We even got baby sitting for two nights. We had a staff member name Yanexi who charged us $3 pesos an hour! She was amazing and we felt very secure with her. The shows were all fun and entertaining and the daytime activities we're good as well. Maids did their job well and other staff members, when available, did their best.

Rooms- We had a junior suite and weren't too happy with the room as we were expecting some separation of rooms. They moved us to another room and although it wasn't the type of room that we wanted (our friends were in a huge family suite) it was was much better located than the first and served it's purpose. Beds are brutal (too soft) and my wife and I felt more comfortable in the pull out couch and cot. We let the kids sleep in the beds as they don't notice the difference. The beds, sheets, and pillow were definetely not what we're used to.

Overall our holiday was enjoyable because we had great company, met some really nice people, and our kids were happy and we made the best of it, however, I would definitely not return.

Pros:
-Amazing Animation Staff
-Weather was hot and consistent
-Pool was nice and clean
-Kids club and baby sitting.
-Price

Cons
-Major issues with theft
-Food was average.
-Condition and cleanlineness (cats) of the resort
-Excess amounts of Seaweed and garbage in the water at the beach
-Travel to the resort is too long
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Kim 
Kitchener, Ontario
May 2008
Arrival and Flight
The flight was great. Great checking in. Always knew where we had to be. The Sunwing crew were great. The flight landed on time and there were no problems going through customs. The Sunwing rep greeted us and put us on the proper bus to head to the resort. Once at the resort, we were in our room within 15 minutes of getting off the bus. I felt bad for our bell boy because our room key didn't work and he had to go back to the lobby 3 times to get it fixed. But he was great! We arrived late in the evening, but they kept the buffet restaurant open for us to eat.

Rooms
We had a standard room. It had 2 double beds that we pushed together to sleep in. It was just fine for what we needed. It was also quite far from the lobby, pool, restaurant and beach, but that was fine. It forced us to do alot of walking, and we paid minimal to go on this vacation. The resort wasn't full to capacity, so we didn't have neighbours on either side of us. There was a disco across the street, but with the air conditioner running, we weren't bothered by the faint music we could hear.

Restaurants
The buffet restaurant was actually quite good. Each meal there was alot of variety to eat. Lots of fresh fruit, fresh juice. We ate the salad and drank the water without any problems at all. The waiting staff were very friendly and accommodating.

Bars
Wonderful swim up bar in the main pool. Make sure to find the bar in the lobby. I didn't until the 2nd last day. That is where you can get your crushed ice drinks. They sure do not skimp on the rum in the drinks...be careful.. but oh so good!!

Beach and Pools
The beach was HOT!! The sand was white. Lots of fish if you enjoy snorkeling. The pool was like a bathtub. The first couple days the pool was a bit green, but they drained and cleaned it and from there all was good.

Grounds
The gardens are stunning. Lots of beautiful flowers and plants. The gardeners were always working to keep everything neat. Some guests can be pigs though. How hard it is to take your cup and throw it in the garbage pail. I saw a few different people just chuck their cups or straws into the flower beds. How rude.

Activities and Entertainment
I can't say enough about the entertainment staff. Make sure you get involved with the activities and the dancing. They were fabulous. Made us feel like we were the most important people on the resort. Many thanks to all you guys and gals that taught us to dance and involved us in games. You made our week as wonderful as it was.

Tours
We did deep sea fishing. What fun. My husband caught a huge dorada (dolphin fish) that was over 5.5ft long. Husband got his scuba diving certificate and did 4 dives while we were there. He said there were no words to describe his experience of scuba diving on the coral reef.

Departure and Check Out
Check out was fine. We were out of our room by 1:30 and the bus didn't pick us up till 4:30. We left our bags with everyone else's and it was all safe. There was a bit of a scramble when the bus came, people getting hot and frustrated because they wanted to be first on the bus. Take your time. The plane isn't going to leave without you. Going through customs at the airport was efficient and easy as well.

Conclusion
We are going back. Can't wait to get back there. I already miss the staff. The weather was amazing. Hot hot hot.... Some of the best memories I'll ever have. I prefer a smaller resort like Gran Club. Means less people. We were there the first week of May so it wasn't full to capacity and there was alot of room on the beach and the pool. It was a great vacation.
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Viorel 

December 2007
Basically I am a difficult guy that does not get very easy satisfied. Here at Gran Club resort I had nothing bad to say and more than that I had one of the best weeks from my life. I was wondering why other guys came for the 10th or 13th time in the same place on this resort!?

People from the staff are always friendly trying to help you out to make your vacation nice and easier. So I can say 99.9% of them they need all my and my family thanks for everything.

I would like to take an opportunity to address all my best wishes for few of the staff that we were having a chance to meet in our vacation.

They are Mrs. Mirta - Sunwing representative a kind lady that for sure you will meet with her on your first day, and after. She will tell you everything about the resort, possibilities and entertainment that you will leave there. Mrs. Yurina Otero, Public Relation Representative. For her I have all my deep respects for what she did for us, basically she put the cherry on the chocolate cake to say it strait. So I take a chance to address to her from me and my family thanks again, love and joy for her and her family.

Trips and excursions.
If you wish to have nice times, you can choose to go in one or more of their trips and excursions that the resort provides to us. They are not expensive, talking in our money. I took 2 of them for my family based on the curiosity and things that the trip offers. So we took first Flamingo Tour (water trip). We had a beautiful day, getting in that best mood grace to our trip adventurer and guide Mr. Yennys Arias Trollenque.

He will take a chance to teach you dancing lessons on the board of his ship. You will have chance to dive and see lots of variety of fishes, anchors and canon from old sunken ships. You will see flamingo birds and not at the last dolphins. You will take a quiet and good lunch on one of the 3 island with a weird shape of whale (father whale). Everything was beautiful.

The second trip was nice too (in land trip), we visited a violin and guitar factory and a crocodile farm. There you can see those “lovely” animals from 2 to 70 years old.

We did some picture touching them, of coarse when they were rope folded.

Food
The variety of food can satisfy any kind of diet in the world; the diversity of food is so bib that any one that goes there can have the food that they enjoy the most. Good quality, great food sorting and arrangement and not at the end very, very tasty. You will like it, I am sure of that. Maricella it was our lovely waitress, you will not miss her for sure. She was serving us very good and promptly. My little one loves her so much; even now she is still talking about her.

Beach and water
Nice too, all you have to do is to turn around you body after the sun. Just take enough sun screens lotions! I did not so I burn my freaking nose on its tip. But is still ok, I will look for the Christmas Season like Rudolf the deer. I just need Santa now.

Entertainment and shows
There is a nice crew of dancers and actors that will make every single day and evening of your vacation marvellous. Just to say few names such as Jesus, Michael, Alex, Toto, Ficus Picus, Lollito, and the list can continue. They are the crew of dancers/actors that makes you feel the Cuban rhythm in your blood.
I am really sorry that I forgot all the girls’ names excepting one, and this is just because I played soccer and went to discothèque with he guys not with the ladies. So the only ladies name I know very well is Diurka Padron Talon (Dolly) and is just because a dance with her a lot. You will definitely see every day and night, with her you have to book your night at the lobster and Cuban restaurant.
During the day they organise a big variety of activities and games. Just to say that my 5years 10 months little girl won the contest of golf playing against mature people. It was pure luck that she did what she did, but she did it. I was happy for her being so happy at that time.

Rooms
The room I had it was very clean and enormous. Actually I can not name it room; it was more likely a one bedroom apartment, located right on the beach so you can see the ocean. I get out in the morning few times seeing the sunshine when arise on the sky. Its nice, no words to compare!

Bars
Anything you want to drink is there; they serve you right in time. But one thing, do not drink too much. I had an opportunity to see a Quebec guy felt somewhere out of resort on the floor, that drunk he was. Actually you do not want to imagine how we find him, in what position!? SO AGAIN watch out how much you drink!

Music
The music hat you here there is gorgeous, they have a good taste for the music, too. It looks like all the Cuba people are singers, dancers or actors in the resort. Buy the way I am writing this few tough on the music rhythm that 5 lovely young ladies were singing to us. I bought a CD from hem.

Overall
Everything was nice and OK all the way, staff, restaurants, activities, pools, beach, water, music, food, room, entertainment, everything, everything was enjoyable to the maximum level! If you would like to ask me, if I want to go again there in Cuba, just figure out the answer!? What do you think????
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Irene 

September 2007
My husband and I were a little weary of going to the Gran Club Santa Lucia because of all the reviews but for the price you can't beat it! If I had to pay top dollar for the trip and don't think I would have been so happy. The rooms did have ants but I brought bug spray from home and sprayed the doors and patio area. Then we didn't have any problems for the rest of the trip. It also helps to have a balcony room so you aren't right on the floor. We did have problems with our room and the air conditioner on the first night. We spoke to the sunwing representative "Mirtha" (very nice lady) and she was able to help us out and ended up getting us our own room at the front of the beach. It was great. We did pay for a junior suite room in Canada when booking and it was definitely the smart thing to do. We met several people that didn't and were not happy with their rooms because they were a bit out of the way and near the disco that is located on the next resort which is very loud. They had to pay $20 pesos each per night to upgrade to a jr. suite.

The food was great, you have to remember that you are in Cuba and not to expect the best of the best. For breakfast we had omelet's and bacon and ham. For lunch there was a grill on the beach that you could get hamburgers, hotdogs and fries or you could go to the buffet. For dinner there was the two a la carte restaurants to choose from or the buffet. The restaurants had great food but are not really restaurants. You are eating outside under huts so it is warm and if the mosquitoes are out it is annoying. The buffet also had good food and was air conditioned. Some of the food was repetitious but you have to expect that at an all inclusive place. Yes, there is cats around everywhere and they are rather bothersome begging for food around you. We just stomped the floor and shoed them away. The problem is that other people do feed them and that is why they hang around.

The scenery cannot be beat at this hotel, the gardens are beautiful and so is the wildlife.

Camaguey Santa Lucia is a secluded area so there isn't much to do but we managed to still find things. We went horseback riding on the beach. This was done by speaking to a local and asking if there was any horses to rent. They called someone up they knew and planned our trip for the next day. It only cost $10.00 pesos each for an hour. We also went on a deep sea fishing tour booked through sunwing. This trip was a neat experience as we had never done this before. It was suppose to be 4 hours but we were out there all day. It took a while for us to catch some fish but we finally did. We caught 5 barracuda fish and then they brought us to an area that we could go swimming and snorkeling. We thought is was a good trip however there was another couple with us that had done it before in Veradero and thought this trip to be a little disappointing. This trip was $50 pesos for the fishing or $20 for a spectator.

The drinks were not watered down but unfortunately you could not get any icy/slushie drinks until 5pm at the lobby bar. All the other bars do not have blenders. They would still make you a pina coloda but it didn't taste the same. The lobby bar was open from 5pm to 11pm every night and Ricardo the bartender would make amazing drinks like iced cappuccino, pina coloda and daiquiris. Tip him good he is worth it!

While we were there we did here a lot of stories about people not being happy with their rooms and thefts that occurred on the beach and in the rooms. We did not encounter any of these problems. Our maid was very nice but we always locked up our personal things and kept the key on us. I also always checked that the patio door was locked because I have heard of stories in all countries about maids leaving the patio door unlocked by accident after cleaning the balcony and that is how a thief can get in.

All in all we enjoyed our stay there for the price that we paid. You have to go to Cuba expecting that you are not going to get the best of the best and you will be fine. They cannot always have a menu on the bar or in the restaurants because one week they may have a product and the next week they may not.

Don't worry about what the weather network says for rain. Before we went on our trip and while we were there it showed thunderstorms everyday. Yes it did rain but it was usually through the night or early morning. Two times it rained during the day for an hour but cleared up immediately after. The only problem is when it did rain the mosquitoes came out hunting. Bring lots of bug spray "deep woods off skintastic".

Just an FYI we paid $540.00 including taxes each on sell off vacations with sunwing for the junior suite all inclusive.
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Ronaldo brasil futball 

September 2007
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Definitely 4+ Star with Service and Entertainment crew make it 5 plus stars

Visited this resort in Aug 2nd 2007 family of 4 (2 kids under 9)

Flight Toronto-camaguey -3 .5 hrs with sunwing
sunwing have the best planes and the meals were delicious

Customs
customs they take their sweet time but always smiling without hassles

money exchange

exchange your money after the customs on the left hand side--recommended

The Resort
gran club Santa lucia has mainly 2 sections of accommodation
1) VIP Standard room--ok ok rooms ..good for budgetary individuals..at night you may hear Disco music outside the resort
2) Junior Suites --more like a VIP suites 2 rooms in one-situated near all the attractions and centrally located between the beach and the pools

Food
1) regular buffet Restaurant -is great you will get different kinds of food for anyone's appetite
recommend you to bring sauces like herbs and garlic, Louisiana Sauce or Tabasco
2) alacarte Seafood restaurant is ok ok located on the beach
3) Pizzeria -was excellent pizza and Shrimps Delicious but small and at night its an open concept so mosquito bites
4) Cuban restaurant --was ok ok
5) 24 cappuccino coffee
6) swim up Bar that closes at 11pm for all your drinks and there is a bar near the reception

Entertainment:
all the staff at the bar the buffet the maids the cleaners etc the entertainment staff are really great and will make your day enjoyable

activities
beach are is beach volleyball, Hammocks connected to palm trees snorkeling swimming and other activities activities in the swimming area include dominos, cards, kids games, adult games, darts, ping pong, Salsa dancing Spanish lessons, aerobics dancing, water polo, and fun activities for both kids and adults

early evening is kids soccer football bring indoor soccer shoes
late evening is soccer for adults you will play with the staff and maybe 2-3 Cubans locals

once a week after 11pm in the flood lights are soccer tournament with cheerleader girls
once a week is volley ball tournament


Resort and rooms
rooms are nice air conditioned the resort is well kept, 3 flamingos a peacock and some cats palm trees and free coconut juice in the coconut

for my story please pass my kind regards to Edmundo, all the waiters in the buffet area , all staff in the Bar, yurina, victor etc daniel, ismale, chupa chupa, raul, carmalates, jose, etc

tell them Ronaldo Brazil-Football say hi and Thank you for taking care of myself and my family

this is a 4 star resort but the staff , managers, and animation team make it 5 plus star YOU will be dancing from arrival to leaving all week guaranteed!!!

Thanks

Ronaldo brasil futball

if you need any clarifications or and help or advise email me
amyn_walji@hotmail.com I will email back to your Questions regards happy vacation and Enjoy Tipping is not necessary they are always humble..please do not give tips in loonies or loonies, tip them with clothes, shampoo, soap, Colgate and Cuban pesos
Gran Club Santa Lucia
 

August 2007
35 year old woman with a moderate budget, traveling for leisure

Room: I was travelling with my husband, but I spent a lot of time by myself, because my husband was swiming and he has high blood pressure and did not always come to dinner or to disco, and drank very limited. We got a standard room. We did not know in advance the location of the room. This is a well kept secret, you only know when there. Travel companies do not disclose in any way details about the room, so once you are there, you take it or you pay more for another room. Tourists are dissapointed, but few of them complain. We, tourists should complain together.

The room was on the other side of the road, very far from the beach, and it looked like a converted cell in a jail, tiny, no balcony, only shower, hair drier no functioning.

Disco: my husband does not dance, does not like disco, after he swims several hours he just wants to sleep, but I do not swim and I do need exercises. In 2 weeks No member of animation team even danced with me, not even a dance! although it is part of their job. When they were there they were to amuse themselves, dancing among themselves, or to arange low business.

When I asked the DJ a certain type of music (cuban one) he started touching my body. The music was extremelly loud, damaging our ears.

DJ was absent sometimes.

Beach: full of herbs priching your feet rocks, algae, no enough palapas. Only big palapas to accomodate 8-10 noisy people. Numerous cubanos came to disturb us ofering different businesses: sell objects, sell lobsters, braids, etc etc We could not go into the water or to the bar, as we were afrid that the towels may dissapear, or other belongings. Nothing happened, but we were under constant stress.

Animation team choose tourists with whom they wanted to dance. I did not dance at all; preferential ostentative care to some tourists, while neglecting others. Some openly invited women for sex right in front of my eyes.

A la cart restaurant kept secret. The man in charge with reservations was sitting all the time, and when I asked him about reservations, he addressed a woman beside me and started making sexual jokes and open invitation for sex.

My husband is on diet and did not always had diner. While I was eating by myself, my plate was seldom taken after I finished, and sometimes I was never asked, or after half an hour if I want anything to drink. The waiter was busy chasig woman tourists, and he just simply asked one sitting at a table next to mine to meet with him!! I was feeling like a pig, while the other woman felt like a woman. It is ot the fact itself that should not be permitted o resourse, not soope anyway, but the idea was extremely humiliating anmd disgusting for me, as I heard the sort conversation. The superisor was there of course.

A tourist woman was very offended as a waiter told her he has a banana and if she like to eat bananas. She was very upset and angry, and ashamed to complain. I wonder how many more frustrated woman who were offensed and do not come forward to complain!?
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Larry and Kathy 

April 2007
We traveled to Gran Club Santa Lucia in April, 2007 with our three daughters ages 11 to 13. We had a great time at this resort and I would recommend it to anyone as it is a great vacation spot for the money. We have been to resorts in Varadero, Santa Maria and Cayo Coco in previous years and the Gran Club Santa Lucia rates right up there with resorts which sport higher ratings.

Food-
Food was really good. Buffet had a great selection for breakfasts, lunches and suppers and the pickiest eater can always find something they like. The Cuban a la carte was good (we went twice). There is a lobster a la carte restaurant on the beach which is actually perched on pilings out in the ocean. It is glassed in with plexi-glass to break the wind and is quite a spot to sit and eat a lobster dinner..... ocean under your feet basically, you can look out on the ocean while sipping a glass of wine.... (very nice.) And the lobster dinner was great! It included wine (of course) a seafood salad as a starter which was really good, then a pasta dish with shrimp etc. and "then" the grilled lobster. Dessert was ice cream. We also tried the pizzeria a la carte but we weren't as impressed with it as much as the lobster and Cuban a la cartes. The pizza was OK but you could get the same stuff at the buffet. It was just a bunch of tables with resin patio chairs in a covered area. We expected it to be a bit more since it was touted as an a la carte but it was just OK. There is an international a la carte as well but we never made it to that one so I can't comment. There is also a beach bar which doubles as a grill from 11:00 to 5:00 pm. They serve grilled burgers, fries and hotdogs and they were really good too.

Beach-
Beach was very nice and you could always find chairs to sit on. Sand was clean and white and the beach is wide compared to the Brisas resort and Club Amigo next door. Snorkeling out around the lobster restaurant was great with lots of small fish to see. It had been very windy just prior to us arriving so there was some seaweed which had blown up along the beach for the first few days. The grounds crews had it cleaned up after a couple of days.

Rooms-
Since we were traveling with our 3 daughters we had requested rooms which were side by side. We followed the request up with an e-mail two weeks prior to leaving and immediately received a response that they were aware of the request and were doing everything possible. That request was honored and we had two rooms (junior suites) in the 300 block of buildings. These were nice rooms located basically between the pool and the beach. Rooms were clean and spacious with some English TV channels as well. They had a large balcony with a couple chairs. I would not recommend the plain rooms, they are located further away from everything and I heard they were quite small. We had a late flight and all we had to do to extend our check out was pay 5 convertible pesos per hour of extension. No hassles at all. The maid we had kept the rooms clean and neat and we made sure we left her some goodies every morning.

Pool-
The pool was not huge but it was nice. Lots of chairs available and the staff at the pool bar kept everyone's thirst in check. (Make sure to bring an insulated mug with you to keep your drinks cold). We threw our towels down on the same group of 5 chairs every day we were there and sometimes we weren't "up and about" until 9:30 in the morning. We never had our towels or chairs taken. One piece of advice for you.... in the evenings when you sit at the tables by the pool bar, you have to have a little spray of bug dope on. Reason for that is just beside the pool bar tables is a man made pond which winds along the sidewalk and it is home to a bunch of ducks and flamingos. The water is kind of free standing, hence, a bug generator. The bugs were not noticeable when the breeze was blowing but when if it was calm, the odd one would make an appearance. There were lots of activities around the pool area with ping pong tables, dance lessons and Spanish lessons keeping people occupied.

General Comments-
A very nice resort overall. It is an older resort (but not run down older) and it was interesting to talk to other visitors. Many of them had been to the resort before.... some as often as 9 or 10 times. Lots of Canadians frequent this resort and it was very suitable for a family oriented vacation. So if you are looking for a resort with a wild and booming night life, look elsewhere. Not that there were not those who stayed out "late" when we were there, they just did so respectful of others at the resort (which was nice). The airport at Camaguay is fairly new (by appearance) and getting through customs on the way in and way out was smooth. The bus ride to the resort from the airport takes and hour and twenty minutes so be aware of that fact. The grounds of the resort are very lush and mature and things were nicely maintained. Resort residents include a variety of ducks, 3 flamingos, a bunch of cats ranging from adult to kittens, three peacocks (three sometimes noisy peacocks), small lizards you see running here and there, and one large iguana type lizard that had to be 3 ½ feet long from nose to tail. This big lizard would let you get up close to take a picture before hissing at you to stay clear!

All in all, we had a great time, the kids were kept amused with the beach, the pool and the activities and we felt like they were always safe, even if they were walking on the grounds without us. The staff was super friendly and always very helpful and willing to go out of their way to serve you. We would go back in a second.
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Robert 

August 2006
We (2 adults and 13 year old daughter) spent two weeks at Gran Club Santa Lucia, returning on 3 August. The tour operator was Hola Sun (the representative was available and helpful) and the flight by a Cubana Airbus A320 (tons of leg room compared to Air Transat, Skyservice et al), The only problem flying Cubana is that the flights originate in Cuba; go to Canada then return to Cuba with the “new” tourists. With travel times between airport and hotel, this means you lose a full day of your holiday – not a problem for two weeks, more so for a one week trip. We have been to Cuba many times, many areas, but this was the first to Santa Lucia. This area (during our stay) is even much more quiet than Holguin/Guardalavaca. However, the one constant in Cuba is that nothing is constant: everything is always in flux and what is true one week may not be the next (including things mentioned in this review). Sometimes you love it; sometimes you have to suck it up but it is usually interesting.

We were very surprised at Camaguay Airport to discover that of the two full busloads going to Santa Lucia, we were the only three going to Club Santa Lucia Everyone else went to Las Brisas – didn’t they read any reviews? (The other two resorts,Mayabo and Caricol, are used in the Summer for “national tourism” only). There were very few people at the hotel the first two days: a few Italian, Dutch, German and Quebec tourists and us. The hotel could not have been more than twenty percent occupied. Two days later, things got considerably more lively when a group of about one hundred “national tourists” arrived for a weeks stay. (Incidentally, these people are given free holidays as a reward for good work, good Communist Party support, etc. – something they would never be able to afford for themselves and their families.) Contrary to many free junkets enjoyed by North Americans (loud, drunk, louder, drunker), the Cuban guests added to the holiday spirit and kept the resort alive. Another big surprise is that this hotel has a fantastic deal for teens up to the age of fifteen –we paid only $700 Canadian for the daughter- and there were virtually no children/teens there the first week and only a few the second week.

Resort – Grounds were very nice, well kept, clean, lots of trees and flowers

Rooms - We stayed in a junior suite (312) – close to the pool, bar, beach, store and the pizzeria. You can hear the music at night on the balcony but not in the room. The room is divided in two by a wall which gives privacy between the main sleeping area and the sitting area where the extra bed folds out.. We had a king size bed, decent TV, good air conditioning, fridge and huge balcony There is not nearly enough closet/drawer space, so it is a question of living out of a suitcase . We did see room 233 which was also large but did not have the separation and had a much smaller bathroom. The standard rooms are close to the road and a fair distance from everything and you have to walk through the lobby to get to the pool, beach, etc..

Beach – There is seaweed at the edge of the shore and usually about two feet into the water – no big deal. The sand is not super fine and has tiny, smooth pieces of coral in it – this means that it does not blow around nearly as much in the constant breezes but is still soft enough. There is lots of shade from the trees. We did not have great snorkeling. We were not bothered at all by beach hustlers. The beach at Brisas was ten times more busy and half the size.

Pool – not crowded; very clean; adequate size for this resort, separate section for kids, swim-up bar. Like everywhere, the organized pool games take over at certain times; then it is time to hit the beach.

Restaurants – Bad news: only the buffet and Cuban a la carte were open the whole two weeks. Good news: the buffet food was good. There was a pasta bar, a grill and always a good selection of meats and fish, great vegetables, salads, breads and pizza. In fact, we did not bother with the a la carte restaurant. It is not five star in selection but certainly plentiful and good. The beach bar (open from 10:00 am to 5:00pm (not 24 hours as previously reviewed) served ok snacks and salads. The pool bar did not serve snacks (as previously reviewed) and was open for drinks 24 hours (not as previously reviewed) until the last day when it magically closed at midnight and a coffee bar sprung up on the pool deck! The service in all places was good.

Misc: our daughter enjoyed the shows – we did not go. The hotel store opened and closed when the staff felt like it. Next door is a “Commercial Centre” (stores) that also has flexible hours but most days, I was the only customer there. We took the one hour train ride through the village (one peso for some, two pesos for others) – worth doing to see what is “in town”..

Overall – Hard to beat the value for money at this place! As an indication of how much we enjoyed Club Santa Lucia, this was one of the few Cuban holidays we have had where the time passed too quickly. The management was efficient (actually enforced the rules for the good of all), certainly on a par with Sol Melia management and far superior to any Cuban team we have encountered elsewhere. We visited Las Brisas a few times to have a look: previously mentioned small, crowded beach; restaurant busy and food quality (by word of mouth) not great; pool was filthy (could hardly see the bottom); many rooms far from facilities; grounds ok. Santa Lucia is a bit of a “back water” destination – not suitable for all and perfect for others. It is Cuba: the stores never had plastic bags, ran out of certain items regularly, etc. .but the people are warm and friendly. The previous review on Debbies Carib page is a fair assessment of what we encountered, though some of the details and opinions are different. The reviews of the Brisas on Tripadvisor (same period as us Jul 20 to Aug 3) speak for themselves.

Please check the pictures at http://community.webshots.com/user/civic2004
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Jill - 30 years old  
Montreal, Canada
July 2006
Spent one week at Gran Club Santa Lucia in Santa Lucia, Cuba with husband and in-laws (who have been there twice before) and had a nice time. This resort is listed as a 3 1/2 star, but I think it should be higher. During our stay other vacationers actually had Hola Sun/Caribe Sol switch them to our resort from the Brisas next door which is a 4 star and there were people from the other two resorts paying to eat at our restaurant. Most Cubans were also on vacation when we were there though so even our resort was working on minimal staff, which could account for problems at the other hotels.

Tour Operator was Caribe Sol/Hola Sun - Airline was Cubana - Had a very bumpy ride on the way there and back, a couple of people in our party who rarely get motion sickness felt unwell. Once we arrived we hardly saw our representative at all, he wasn't at the resort when he said he would be and we couldn't book any excurions with him. My in-laws had previously booked trips to this resort through Go Travel Direct (and flew with Zoom Airlines) and preferred Go Travel's service. Go Travel will be resuming service to Santa Lucia in November.

Resort - Site was clean and well maintained for the most part.

Room - All stayed in 200 blocks near beach, this is the best location by far. Room was clean, insect-free, had no problems with air conditioning. There were some issues with water being cut off due to external problems, but that only lasted for a few hours a day for a couple of days. Television had three english channels (TBS Atlanta and HBO). The air-conditioning works by inserting your key-card into a panel on the wall, but you can use any card you have of a similar size and leave it in while you're out of your room (otherwise the room takes quite a while to cool down). The housekeeping staff did a good job every day.

Beach - Beautiful, soft sand for the most part but the closer you get to the water the harsher the sand due to bits of coral from the reef being washed up on shore, lots of shade to be found, lots of algae growing in the water but with the algae come a lot of fish so you can go snorkelling on the site. We brought a disposable underwater camera with us and got some great pics.

Pool - Was pretty small compared to most other resorts. Has no shade and the water was about the same temperature as tea so we didn't go in often. There are also pool games organized by the staff and the pool wasn't really big enough for people to lounge around in while water polo was going on.

The hot tub - Do not go in the hot tub! I don't really think I need to say that though because I don't think anyone in their right mind would go in it. The water is about the colour of Oscar the Grouch and the area isn't maintained at all, it's far away from the pool and beach on the other side of the resort.

Restaurants - Buffet had a wide variety of foods, I mostly ate pasta which was always excellent and my husband ate at the grill a lot and nobody in our family had any complaints. They have ice cream every few days for dessert (supper only) which was very good. The only problem with the restaurant is that it was too hot, there was no air conditioning and they wouldn't open the windows. Had to eat as fast as possible and get out of there. We ate supper at the Cuban a-la-carte restaurant one night and the food there was also very good, and the restaurant itself is quite open so there was a breeze coming through. The Beach restaurant had fruit and some vegetables, french fries, hamburgers and hot dogs which were all good (and well cooked).
There is a bar and seafood restaurant on a Quay over the water, but it isn't included in the all-inclusive package and costs 25 Cuban Convertible Pesos per person. The restaurant staff were all very pleasant and friendly and we were served quickly. There is usually a pizza stand and coffee bar in operation also, but these were both closed while we were there.

Entertainment - The animation staff were excellent, very hard working but not annoying or pestering people, and many spoke english and french. The nightly shows were entertaining but are probably better under normal circumstances with a full staff. The band (Latina Cache) was excellent as were the dancers.

I would recommend this resort to anyone travelling to this area. There are a few improvements that could be made here and there, but overall it is good value for the price.
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Karin & Robbie 
Canada
April 2006
My husband and I spent our honeymoon and first trip to the Caribbean at the Gran Club Santa Lucia in Santa Lucia, Cuba. First of, let me say, this was more than we could possibly imagine! We had an amazing week and would go back in a heartbeat if we didn’t want to see other places.

We went through Go Travel Direct out of Halifax. They are really great and very organized. We flew into Camaguey. Customs was great and quick. A Go Travel rep was there to show us to the bus. Go Travel was very efficient! There was an info session the next morning where you will get all of the information you need about the resort.

The weather was great, we had about three days that were rainy in the morning and evening but we always had sun during the day. We also experience a couple of wicked thunderstorms at night, which is great!

What to bring – travel mugs – the cups they give you are very small. Bring your travel mugs to cut down on your trips to the bar. Facecloths – we stayed in a Junior Suite and they did not have facecloths, so bring some. Sunscreen – you will not believe the amount of sunscreen you go through in the Caribbean, so make sure you bring more than enough. We almost ran out. Aloe Vera or after sun lotion – you will probably need it. Most people were burnt at some time during their stay. Hair dryer or flat iron – I am one of those people who straightens my hair every day. The hair dryer in our room was not nearly powerful enough. I forgot my flat iron at home so I ended up improvising on my hair all week, but I got over it fairly quickly. Medicine – I suffer from heartburn and believe me, all that alcohol did not help! If you are prone to having acid reflux or heartburn, make sure you bring enough tums, or whatever you use. I didn’t have enough and had to cut back on the alcoholic drinks quite a bit.

Food – awesome! There is nothing wrong with the food other than a few personal preferences: they only have white bread; if you love your salad, bring your own dressing, they mostly have oil and vinegar; Omelets in the morning – this was the highlight of every day! They are awesome! They have fresh pressed orange juice in the morning but if you don’t go early, you will end up standing in line for a while. I never tried the cereal but they have it. Coffee – not so great at the buffet, but awesome at the Coffee Bar. There are four restaurants on the resort, three of which are included, the pier is not. We only ate at the Pizzeria, which was fantastic and the Cuban restaurant, La Guayabero, great as well. You will have to make reservations in the morning between 8:30 and 9:00 for the restaurants.

Drinks – very good. Of course, they make most of their drinks with Rum. I never drink Rum, but let me tell you, I got over that very quickly! I recommend the Santa Lucia, Screwdriver (Vodka) and Sex on the Beach. They make awesome drinks at the Pool Bar. The Beach Bar is a different story.... They only have half of the selection and we all felt the staff there was not as friendly as in the main part of the resort.

Beach – great. The sand is not the most soft I have seen, which is due to the Coral Reef, the second largest in the world. There are always enough loungers and we always managed to get a hut. They have snorkelling gear you can sign out for an hour, paddle boats and sail boats. They also have guides for 5 pesos which will take you out to the Reef with the sail boat. The water was great.

Pool – I read a lot of reviews saying that the water was cold. Not when we were there! It was just like bathwater. The pool is a good size and has a swim-up bar with bar stools. Most people went to the beach in the morning and to the pool after lunch. So if you got there late, it was hard to find a lounger.

Staff – Most of the staff were great. As already mentioned, the beach bar/grill staff were a little less friendly than the rest. Not sure why. Our maid, Edenia, was very nice and left us a towel creation every day. They clean everything!!!

Animation Team – wow! These kids are unbelievable! They go and go all day and are very good at involving people in their activities. They are also very good to the kids. The animation team definitely made the week! There is a show every night at 9pm and all kinds of activities during the day both at the beach and at the pool.

Rooms – we stayed in a Junior suite, close to the beach, pool and main area. It was great. However, if you go to bed early, you will hear the show at night. The standard rooms are on the other side of the lobby and you can’t hear anything there. I saw one of the standard rooms and they are a good size.

Souvenirs – there is one gift shop at the resort and a small artisans walk by the pool. There was not really a lot of selection and we ended up buying things just because we wanted to bring home something. You cannot bargain with the people who sell this stuff, because they all work for the government and if they sell you something for less than what it is priced, they will have to pay the difference out of their pocket. But the prices are good. We walked around to the other three resorts along the same road and found some other gift shops there. There are no people selling stuff on the beach.

The only things I could possibly say anything negative about was the Beach Bar/Grill, supposed to be a 24-hour snack bar. They had Hamburgers and “hot Dogs”, fries and fruit. It was not great and if you wanted to eat between meals, this was the only place. So don’t miss your meals, or will end up grabbing something at the Grill. The other thing is the beach. Due to the Coral Reef, the water is only about chest-deep and you can’t really swim all that great. There are no real waves at the beach, again, because of the Reef.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone! And, trust me, you will be singing “follow me, follow me, Club Santa Lucia...” for weeks!
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Lori 
Ottawa, Ontario
March 2006
This was my first stay in the village of Santa Lucia (Camaguay) and definitely won't be the last!!!!! I have previously been to Varadero and Havana and definitely prefer the Gran Club Santa Lucia to any resort I've stayed at in Cuba!

Check In:
Travelled with GoTravel Direct and Zoom airlines....definitely not the best travel agency and airline but made do.

Check in was completed on the bus to the resort (a 1.5 hour drive from the airport in Camaguay to the resort in Santa Lucia) as well as the handing out of the all-inclusive bracelets. Very efficient.

The Resort:
The resort is wonderfully laid out with beautiful and well-kept landscaping, flamingo pond and peacocks roaming throughout the property. There are 225 rooms, both standard and suites. There is one buffet, three a la cartes (The Pizzeria, the Cuban, and the Seafood) as well as a Seafood restaurant at the end of the gorgeous pier that is not all-inclusive. There is a 24 hour coffee bar (cappucinos are to die for) that also serves sandwiches in the wee hours; a swim up bar and pool bar that stays open until midnight; a beach bar that closes around 7:00 and a disco that is open until 2:00 am.

Rooms:
Stayed in the standard room, not very large but definitely serves it purpose. After all you're only in there to sleep and change. Very clean, no bugs. There is the standard north american plug in the bathroom as well as the european variety (woohoo). Remember to keep a card in the air conditioner slot as it controls the air.....a health card or any plastic card will do the trick!

Restaurants:
Food was awesome. Better than any resort I've stayed at in Cuba. The buffet has a grill with different items every day; a pasta station with excellent dishes; the regular buffet portion with something for everyone; a sundae bar, a dessert table, a salad bar; and last but definitely not least the bread station (please do not pass up the Cuban bread.....it is the best I have ever tasted). The cuban a la carte was also exceptional! The Animacion:
Last but by all means not least, the Animacion Staff! They are definitely what made my trip the best ever! They became friends rather than staff. They work tirelessly at making your stay memorable. They have activities all day (beach activities from 9-12am; and activities by the pool area from 1-6pm). Their nightly shows begin at 9:00pm with the Kids Club Show (bye bye Mickey Mouse!) and is adorable. Following that, there is a live band that plays while the Animacion dances with guests. Then the Animacion Show starts at 10:00, a different show every night; Mr. Santa Lucia; a jeopardy type audience participation show; skits, wonderfully choreographed dance routines; and last but not least the Talent Show (oh lord heavens....but you will not regret it if you join...makes for a wonderful end to the trip!) Apparently, during the week of February 13-17, there is a Santa Lucia Carnivale........in speaking with the head Animacion (Edmundo), there is a competition among all the resorts in Santa Lucia, with competitions for best Animacion Staff, best dancers, best shows, best restaurant, best food, best drinks etc (all in all 7 categories).......Gran Club Santa Lucia came first in every category. That pretty much says it all!!!!!!!

Edmundo, Tico, Onel, Damian, Alex, Felix, Jesus, JC, Chino, Yarita, Julie, Chupa, Dago, and anyone I may have missed, you gave me memories that will last a lifetime and without a doubt it was the best trip ever! See you all at Christmas!

Any questions, I'd be happy to answer! Lori.Wicks@ottawa.ca
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Connie and Harold 
Ontario Canada
January 2006
My Husband and I just arrived home from our 3rd holiday in Cuba. We travelled with a party of 16 people. 8 teenagers 12 - 17 yrs.- and 8 adults. We were there from Jan. 3 til the 10th. The weather was really good for the most part. A cloudy and cool day while we were there. The day we left it rained most of that day. A nice day to leave!

We flew out of Montreal and the flight and meal were good. We flew into Cameuguay and went through customs quite quickly. We travelled 1 hr. 40 min. to the resort. in an air conditioned bus. The pre check in on the bus was great! We were met by the animation team at reception with a cool rum punch.

The rooms were spacious and clean. The air condition worked great and the maid we never ever saw! But, the rooms ! were always clean and neat. We left little thank you gifts on the bed and they were gone each day.

The drinks were plentiful and our whole travelling party did enjoy! I had to let the bartenders know that "little" rum really meant "Little" Ha Ha

The beach was amazing. I am saying this because 2 years ago We went to Brisas next door and I must say that alot of work has gone into the resorts in the last couple of years. It looks like they have reclaimed the beach. Lots of lounge chairs and the animation team kept everyone busy if they wanted to be.

This is advertised as a 3 1/2 star resort and I much prefer it to Brisas next door. I feel qualified in saying this as I did vacation at both resorts. The a la carte restaurants were difficult to get into. However the buffet restaurant was wonderful. The food was great and clearly labelled. If I had one complaint it would be that the workers don't clean off the tables fast enough to accomodate the guests and that they don't come around often enough with soft drinks, wine and water.

We did have an individual in our party celebrate a birthday while in Cuba and a couple of the vendors gave free trinkets and we were able to get a cake and singers in the cuban restaurant. With little effort.

We did do the lobster dinner off the resort. After doing a similar tour two years ago I will say that I much preferred it two years ago. I did miss the horse drawn carraige ride.

If you are planning to travel to Cuba DO NOT tale any american money. Exchange your Canadian money there. the rate is steep $ 1.31 per peso. if you use travellers cheques there is an additional surcharge of 3.5%.

The hot tub was one thing we did not enjoy as it was green by evening. It was cleaned each morning and the smell of chlorine was strong. However with so many individuals using tanning lotions and what not. I kept the kids away as there seemed to be alot of "making out " in the hot tub. Condoms were found on the ground. They did get cleaned up quickly however that was not something I wanted to laze around in !!!!!

THe kids went horse back riding., out on the banana boat, snorkelling , vollelyball, pool, ping pong and darts. Fun was had by all.

The talent show was fun. The biggest complaing/concern I had was the amount of frech speaking people on the resort. Not that they were a problem Until the night of the talent show. I did lodge a complaint at the front desk. There was one particular individual who must have been a professional stand on comedian from Montreala "Francois". He did take advantage of this and spent a fair amount of time talking down to English Candians. He did tell the English Canadians to laugh when the French did that way we wouldn't look stupid.
Nerve. He also got back up on stage at the end of the talent show to do another little skit, and continued on his little speel of putting down English Canaidans. l am not speaking for myself but many of the english canadians were insulted by this.

All in all a great trip. We would definately go back.
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Wendy 

May 2005
We stayed at the Gran Club Santa Lucia from April 15-22, 2005. We are two mothers & daughters who traveled with eight other friends ranging in age from 17-55. This was our second trip to Cuba but our daughters first Caribbean adventure.

We flew with Go Travel Direct leaving Halifax at 8:30am aboard Excel Airways. Everything went very smooth from booking online to our safe landing back home a week later. Excellent service from the flight crew. Wouldn't hesitate a moment to book again through Go Travel Direct.

Upon arriving at Camagüey Airport, customs/immigration was a breeze and no problems at the currency exchange. Money can also be exchanged at the resort. Go Travel Representatives were waiting to let us know what bus to get on. Modern, comfortable buses were waiting to take us the 90 minute drive to our resort. Our representatives Kate and Brianne had a welcome meeting that day & were available throughout the week if needed. We were given our keys on the bus so we were able to go directly to our rooms.

The Resort was very clean and well laid out with all facilities centering around the pool area & a 2 minute walk to the beach. There were always lots of loungers available and towel exchange. We took water shoes but didn't find them necessary. There was a bit of sea grass but the tractor made several trips daily keeping the beach clean. Some people found the sand fleas bothersome. The grounds were well kept, beautiful flower shrubs & palm trees everywhere. Lots of humming birds & beautiful flamingos. Peacocks were roaming everywhere, calling "Neeeil, Neeeil".

We stayed in Junior Suites in the 300 block, which included a sitting area with seperate sleeping area and a full length balcony on the top floor. The bathroom had a large tiled shower, a big closet with hangers and a safe.

The weather was beautiful all week with temperatures ranging from 86-90º. There was always a nice breeze blowing & usually a rain shower during the night. One evening we had the most awesome thunderstorm. This was the only evening that it cooled off enough that a sweater was needed.

There were lots of choices in food. You could always find something you liked to eat; even the fussiest eaters. The Beach Snack Bar was open daily & served hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries & cheese balls along with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

For breakfast at the buffet there was cereal, bacon, eggs, spicy ground beef, fries, many varieties of bread including biscuits & sweet rolls, cheeses, cold meat, fresh canned fruit. Omelets were made especially for you. The jams/jellies were delicious. Freshly squeezed orange juice every morning.

At lunch & dinner there were vegetables, salads, soups, pizza, pork, chicken, beef and different varieties of fish, potatoes, rice and made to order pasta. There were many pretty desserts but most tasted the same. The ice cream was the best, tried all the flavors.

We also ate at the Cuban Restaurant and the Pizzeria that were included but you must get up early to make reservations. There is also a pier seafood restaurant that is not included, but did hear it was excellent.

Some of us really enjoyed the delicious cappuccino and espresso at the coffee bar.

We were very fortunate to be able to go to a nearby Cuban home where we were served BBQ chicken or lobster, your choice. It was a wonderful experience.

Various day trips were available including catamaran, snorkling, iguana island, flamingos and Camagüey city tour. Someone from our group participated in each. All were enjoyable & worth the money.

We also took a buggy ride to Playa Coco Beach with Alberto and Ramone. This was a great afternoon on a very beautiful beach.

The staff were incredible, always greeting us a with a smile/wink. The service was excellent. From our maid Romelia, the gardeners (especially Yoél who was waiting to give one of us a fresh flower each morning), the bartenders José, Rey and Alexsia could all whip up a nice daiquiri in the blender & José made the best "Sex in the Pool" drinks. We will never forget Armondo the lifeguard, always there keeping a watchful eye on us.

The animation team was totally amazing. They were so full of energy but always had time to talk or have a picture taken. Their day started early in the morning and guaranteed there wasn't a dull moment the remainder of the day. They were a terrific team and there to entertain all ages.
Damián, Chino, Tiko, O'Neil, Chocolaté, BomBon, Bertha, Arsenio & all the others, thanks for the great week!

We did find the reception staff were very efficient but seemed a bit unfriendly. It was really confusing because while talking to you they also talked to other staff in Spanish at the same time. We weren't really sure if what we asked for would be done. But always was.

Tipping is not necessary but all the small gifts that we gave were greatly appreciated. Small items that we take for granted every day are luxuries to them. It was so nice to see the animation team wear their Canada bandanas, which we gave to them, proudly each day.

Our week was all we hoped for & more. It was a beautiful resort, friendly people & lots of fun times with new friendships that were made.

We came home with many wonderful memories of Gran Club Santa Lucia. We have already started saving and dreaming about our next visit.

If it hadn't been for Go Travel Direct and their great deals we would never have found the place that we call paradise "Gran Club Santa Lucia"!
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Tracy & Chris 
Quebec, Canada
April 2005
My husband and I spent our honeymoon at Gran Club Santa Lucia the week of January 15th to the 22nd.

Absolutely loved it!!! This was our first trip to Cuba and we were a little nervous about staying in a 3.5 star hotel but were very pleasantly surprised. Most definitely not your average 3.5 star hotel. After visiting other 3 & 4 star hotels in the area, we felt we had the best deal.

The Flight: I can not say enough about Go Travel and Zoom Airlines. Value, comfort and friendly service. Hassle free flight - direct, which is always a pleasure. We were greeted on arrival by the wonderful Go Travel representatives. Kate, our Go Travel rep was a true pleasure to deal with, always a friendly smile and close by to help out with any little detail.

The Resort: Beautiful! A little piece of paradise. Beautifully colored flowers all around, towering palms, humming birds, flamingos and the ever friendly peacocks.

The Room: We stayed in a suite close to the beach. Nicely decorated room with king size bed and separate sitting area with couch, chairs, mini-fridge & TV. The bathroom is a good size with a tiled shower. The great thing about the suites is the private balcony, great for quite evenings. The room was immaculately kept, and always a lovely new towel design could be found once the maid had passed. Thanks Maria, for all your help.

The Pool: Looks lovely, but we're beach people so we never tried the pool. It is kept very clean but I hear that it was a little chilly. Guess you can always warm up with a couple of drinks at the pool bar.

The Beach: Warm, soft sand & aqua blue waters, what more could you ask for? Plenty of loungers and a great coral reef. Ahhh...I'm still dreaming of snorkeling.

The Food: This was by far my biggest worry when traveling to Cuba for the first time. We were pleasantly surprised. Great pasta bar, fresh veggies and always a few selections of meat on the grill. Beef, pork, chicken, etc. The desserts were plenty and delicious as well. Colas (not the usual name brands, no Coke or Pepsi), beer, wine to drink. The servers are terrific. Our waitress, Yamilla was a joy to be around.

We didn't try the pizzeria, El Coral, but heard it was wonderful and the Cuban restaurant, Restaurant Guayabero was fine but we rather enjoyed the atmosphere at the buffet, La Cascina.

The Drinks: Plenty of rum. No slushy drinks but if you take the time to get to know the bar people they will go out of their way to create all kinds of interesting drinks for you.

Entertainment: WONDERFUL! These guys/girls have so much energy, it's amazing! There truly is something for everyone. The activities during the day are fun-filled, the evening shows are great and if you love to dance the entertainment staff will definitely pull you up on the dance floor at the La Jugla Excursions: We went on the city excursion to Camaguay and enjoyed the day but will try something less busy next visit. Things to remember: Tipping is not obligatory but always very much appreciated. Don't forget to bring travel mugs (insulated), the glasses are very small. Honestly other than that, we didn't feel anything was lacking at Gran Club. Other reviews may list a number of things to bring; I guess it just depends on the person. All in all, WE LOVE YOU GRAN CLUB SANTA LUCIA! Can't wait to see you again next year! Already got our vacation piggy bank in the works. We'll be back with friends in tow. See you soon!
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Julie 
Ottawa
March 2005
A friend and I visited the Gran Club Santa Lucia from March 17th to march 24th, 2005. The weather was beautiful the whole time we were there and the heat would have been insane if it hadn't been for the wind. Yes, it is very windy there, but it is warm and quite frankly you come to appreciate it in the middle of the day. There was only one night where it was cool enough to warrant a sweater.

The flight: Flew with Zoom airlines via Go Travel Direct. The flight was good, but being a circle flight (with a stop in Varadero to let people off and pick others up), we found it a bit long. Still, breezed through immigration and was met by the highly efficient Go travel Rep.

The Room: We had the standard room, and yes, they are very basic. No alarm clock, no coffee machine, one small pillow each, plain decor. But it was clean and the maids did an excellent job keeping it that way. Our one complaint was that the air conditioning wasn't working properly. We took out complaint to the front desk twice and though someone came by both times, the air was never very cool. Most nights we slept with the window open because the air outside was cooler.

The Beach: The beach was gorgeous. Yes, there is a lot of sea grass there, but it's not slimy and there's a tractor that runs up and down the beach in the mornings to clear away what's washed in over night. Lots of loungers and shade available. There is a bathroom by the snack bar, but it's tucked around the side of the building. Animation activities take place on the beach in the mornings. You can walk for ages in either direction. Snack bar on the beach has burgers and fries as well as little sandwiches and some fruit. We generally didn't eat there though.

The Pool: The water was 27-28 degrees celsius and very refreshing when it was very hot. Swim up bar, activities in the afternoon,"sweet hour" in the late afternoon, salsa lessons, and not overrun with small children. The loungers all have comfortable cushions too and you can find the handicraft souvenirs here too. Ping pong, pool table... you get the idea.

The Food: There's nothing fancy about the food. But there's also nothing wrong with any of it. In fact, the pasta there (Italian chef) is some of the best I've ever had. Lots of meat to choose from - beef, pork, chicken, veal, sausages, fish, shrimp, squid. Always lots of rice or potatoes and cooked vegetables (spinach, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant, peppers). Small salad bar. Ice cream at dinner. Fruit (the pineapple is amazing). The bread was a little odd. A little dry for our tastes, but if you dig you'll find a loaf of softer stuff. The desserts were actually rather disappointing, but that wasn't a bad thing as it kept me away from the stuff. Had fruit and ice cream instead. Breakfast got old pretty quickly though - eggs, bacon, hot dogs, ground beef, french fries, toast, sugary cereals and pastries. I'm not a huge egg eater so I had to get a little creative. The yogurt is very good, but much thinner than we're used to.

A-la-carte Dinning: We didn't try the Alphonsino on the pier as it cost extra. If you're with Go travel you can go to the pizzeria as well as the cuban restaurant as many times as you'd like for no extra charge. We liked the pizzeria so much we went back for our last night there.

The Drinks: Most of the mixed drinks are made with white rum. They have quite the selection. Beer on tap. Red and white wines available at the restaurants and the buffet. The coffee bar near the pool was a god-send. Tea, coffee, espresso, cappuccino... and it was always open. I became addicted to cuban coffee.

Excursions: As they`re all controlled by the government, there's no shopping around for the best deal when it comes to getting out. We went on the 69$ Catamaran tour which included open bar, two snorkeling sessions, a couple of hours on Playa bonita and an amazing seafood lunch. Two words of caution though, if you're prone to motion sickness you might want to re-thinking being on a boat all day. Also, Playa Bonita is very beautiful, but there'S a lot of garbage that washes on shore and along with that is tar. I had tar all over the bottom of my feet from walking up and down the beach. Fortunately rubbing a little sunscreen on it helped to wash it off (the oil in the sunscreen works as a remover). We also did the day trip to Camaguey for 45$. This was definitely money well spent. Our guide was wonderful, we visited a cigar and a rum factory, a local market, the old city centre, a church, got to do some shopping (but shopping in Cuba is limited at best), a great lunch and an open air concert.

Nightly entertainment: We saw three of the shows when we were there and they were all good. Lots of music, skits, dancing, acrobatics etc. The Animation staff are amazing. I don'T know where they find the energy.

The disco: If you're with Go Travel you get in for free. Otherwise cover is 5$ and it's open bar. The animation staff (who work all day) turn up for dancing and they make sure people get out on the floor. The music was a good mix of cuban stuff as well as popular dance tunes from home.

A word on shopping: Your best bet for souvenirs is what the vendors bring to the resorts, if you'Re looking for stuff other than rum, coffee and cigars. There wasn't a lot in terms of t-shirts or hats. Lots of island jewelry, but nothing really fancy. If you buy art (as in a painting that is 30cmX30cm or a sculpture taller than 30Cm) make sure you get an export paper from the vendor otherwise the cubans won't let you take it out of the country.

The crowd: My friend and I are both 26. We found the crowd tended to be 40s and older, though there were some younger people from the University set. Lots of people from Quebec, some from Ontario, quite a few Italians and Germans as well. Not a lot of children. They tended to be at the Brisas next door.

In a nutshell then, the Gran Club is a great place if you're looking to relax and soak up the sun. I won't go back to Santa Lucia only because I want to see other parts of the island, not because I was dissatisfied with the services or the resort itself. Don't be put off by the ***1/2 rating. According to a long term resident of the resort, that's only because the standard rooms are a bit of a walk (like 5 minutes) from the beach. We did walk over and look at the Brisas and thought we had the better deal. As for Cuba in general, it's a fantastic place and I can't wait to return next year. The beaches alone, compared to what I've seen in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, are worth a visit and you won't find a more friendly people.
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Johane 
Canada
March 2005
Windy, Windy....is the first word that comes to my mind. We arrived on February 18 and left on the 24. The weather 28-31 each day. GEORGOUS. But it's very windy. That's good if you want to have a great tan because you won't feel the sun heat. The water (I didn't swim: too much algues). I preferred other Cuba beaches (Varadero, Holguin). The sand...I have seen nicer in Varadero and Holguin.

The standard room #1105 was very standard...I could hardly wash myself in the small shower. I brought Citronelle with me and used it because few ants were running on the bathroom floor. As for the pillows, they are very tiny (I asked for 2 mores). We tried to have a suite in the 200 but they refused and said that the hotel was fully booked.

The meals was great though (Italian Chef). Always pasta, pizza, fish, etc.

We took the Catamaran Tour which is memorable (great day). We snorkled, ate huge Langouste at the Playa Bonita (which is 100 times more beautiful than the Santa Lucia Beach) and laid down on the beach for few hours. This tour worth the 69 $.

We also took the Coco Beach Trip which was great because of the people we were with. We took the train from the Gran Club and went on Coco beach. There, we were greated with a drink and artisan were selling things. Then we ate at the Grand Restaurant (Langouste) and it was very good.

Then we came back with the little train, and it's the time I preferred...people on our train were very funny, and we laughed. We were with people staying at the Brisas Hotel and everybody said that the meals was not great. So the next day, they all came at Gran Club for dinner. Unfortunately, I missed them, I got sick (diarrhee/tourista).

Be prepared if you go there.....people at the Buffet Restaurant hardly smile, compare to Holguin. Except for our waitress, who reserved our table at each meal (either by placing banana on the table or on placing her purse on the chair). She was great.

The exchange rate was .77 (100 $ = 77 $ cuban convertible peso). The entertaining Staff was great (smiling and intentionate). The site is very clean. Pink Flamingo, paons, ducks and birds are always on the site (I feed the pink Flamingo each morning).

I had a nice vacation but will not return, and this probably because of the room we had (I am used to better - even if it's standard).

An important thing: it's full of mid-60 Italian people (so beware when they entered the Buffet) they ate like pigs and run for plates as soon as they enter. We met great people...but we are 40 and 45 and most of them were older than us.

I hope my comments will help and I also hope I wrote well....I am French speaking.
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Marc and France 
Ottawa, Canada
February 2005
"Follow me, follow me, Club Santa Lucia". If you've been there before, you'll recognize the lyrics... If you are going there, get used to them now, because you will hear them often once you arrive! My fiancee and I spent the week of Feb. 05 to Feb. 12 at the Gran Club. For the price we paid, we have no real complaints, and like most others who've commented before, were quite satisfied with what we got.

Travelled with GoTravelDirect, which turned out to be a slight misnomer of a tour company name since -- on top of the 1.5 hour delay -- we had to basically "taxi" 25 people to Puerto Plata, DR, before making our way to Cuba. The short end of it is that by the time we got off the ground in Monteal at 11.15 p.m., made our way to the DR, deplaned for 45 minutes or so, got back on, flew into Camaguey, cleared customs, got luggage, boarded bus and arrived at the resort, it was 9 a.m. the next day. Quite a travel day to say the least, but we had plenty of time to catch up on rest by the pool and on the beach. Will be contacting GoTravel to see if might expect any kind of restitution for our troubles.

The resort itself is not quite as pristine as some have made it out to be. The immaculately kept grounds are more along the lines of dry shrubs and burnt grass. Nonetheless, the gardners are always hard at work trying their best to make the place look nice. Give them a dollar every now and then, and you'll see just how appreciative Cubans are when they receive a tip they really aren't expecting.

Here's a breakdown of what we thought of all aspects of the resort:

Room: Stayed in a Junior Suite, not too far from the pool area and buffet. If your intention is to skip the nightly entertainment and go straight to bed, would recommend that you try to get yourself a room as far away from the pool as possible, otherwise you might as well go watch the show since you hear it perfectly from the room anyway. We had a nice living room area with couch, chairs, mini fridge and tv, and separate sleeping area with 2 three-quarter beds. A little tight to sleep together, but it's do-able nonetheless. Bathroom is quite basic, except there's only a shower -- no bath -- and hot water is sporadic so our weekly routine was to get wet, stop the water and soap up, wash off and get out.

Pool: For most of the week the pool was c-c-c-cold. Very few people got in, and even less sat around the pool bar to enjoy their drinks. Nonetheless, it's fairly big, and very clean. With warmer water, I could see the pool bar being the place to be.

Beach: Quite nice. Sand not as 'flour-y' as in Varadero, but still, when the alternative is to be at home shovelling the driveway, it's not difficult to enjoy. Hardly any waves due to the massive coral reef off shore... Still, some decent snorkeling can be done right off the beach, especially around the restaurant that juts out about 100 meters into the ocean. We only really had one perfect beach day while we were there, other days were quite windy, so it got chilly when the clouds hid the sun. Water is a little frigid when you first get in, but after 3 minutes it feels quite warm. A few weeds, but nothing of concern.

Restaurants: The buffet is like most all-inclusive buffets, with your standard cafeteria food. Plenty of variety to mix it up during the week though. At times some of the food had very little taste (bland is the common Cuba refrain), but for the most part, pretty good. Breakfast salvation came about 3 days before we left when we discovered the nutella. Nice touch. Beach grill serves up hot-dogs, hamburgers and fries all afternoon, which fills the spot for lunch if you want to get away from the buffet. Did not go to the Cuban a-la-carte restaurant, so cannot comment. Went to the pizzeria twice, and both times dinner was great. We practically had the whole place to ourselves both times, so it was nice and relaxing to not have to rush through dinner. The seafood restaurant off the beach was delightful (though a little chilly at 7.30 p.m.) They jump into the water and grap your lobster from right under the restaurant then cook it up for you. Served with seafood spaghetti and followed up with a Sundae for dessert. Complimentary wine with dinner too. Beware though, this restaurant is not part of the all-inclusive package. It's an extra $25 per person, but well worth it (especially if the missus is clamouring for a romantic dinner!)

Bars: There are only two -- one at the pool, the other at the beach. Both were quick, although it's not too tough to comply with my requests -- cerveza por favor! Tough to get a smile out of some of the staff, but that's only a minor irritant. There's also a cappuccino bar, which for coffee drinkers is a nice place to stop into after dinner.

Excursions: Our only real, solid complaint, although by the sounds of it we just had bad luck on the day we chose for our catamaran trip. Would suggest that you confirm with the tour operator when they come to pick you up at the hotel that the weather is adequate for snorkelling and a day on the boat. We ended up having to forego the morning snorkelling session because the waves were too big, and instead got dumped on some beach for 5 hours. They call it Playa Bonita, and perhaps it is bonita at some moments, but when we were there, there was nothing bonita about it. Lots of garbage (on the shore and in the water), no toilet seats or doors on the bathroom (not much of a problem for the men, but a little disgusting for the women). Ended up complaining to our GoTravel tour rep. who arranged for us to get reimbursed $69, or the cost for one person. At least they acknowledged their mistake in bringing us out when clearly they shouldn't have. Again though, others who went on other days said it was great, so we may have just been a little bad lucked.

Entertainment: Great. The staff is really into it, and all of them go out of their way to get people involved in the fun. Lots of dancing. Always music playing at the beach and the pool. Plenty of activities and tournaments (darts, archery, volleyball, spanish lessons, dance lessons, water polo, aqua gym, aerobics)... Always something going on. As for the nightly show, we didn't stay too often. Take the time to go down to the stage area at about 9 p.m. though and watch the Cubans do their thing to the live music. They can really move and groove. It's quite impressive, and infectious. Hard not to tap your foot and even jump up and jump in.

Things to remember: Tipping is not an obligation, but it is a nice way to show your appreciation. That being said, we got the distinct impression that the animation staff weren't lacking for anything, especially when we saw some of them with sparkling watches and cell phones. Of course this is not an indictment, but rather a reminder that some of the other staff need the tips more than others. Gardners for one, cooks for another. Fiancee brought down plenty of beauty products for the maid, and I brought a few baseballs which people seemed to appreciate far more than any dollar we could give them. Sometimes there's far more value in giving them something material instead of money. And speaking of money, you'll need to exchange your canadian dollars at the airport or at the hotel once you arrive. There's isn't much difference in the exchange rate. $120 Canadian gave us about $88 convertible pesos (basically the same value as changing Canadian $$$ for american). On the way home, if you need to change your extra pesos, you'll receive american $$ for them... something about trying to get all the greenbacks off the island. Suggest also that you bring the big insulated travel mugs. So much more convenient than the little dinky plastic cups they give you. Also, remember that you'll need to put down a $25 deposit for the room safe as well as $15 per beach towel.

Bottom line is that if you're looking for luxury, you might want to consider some of the more common Cuban destinations. If you want value for money, i.e., you want to travel on the cheap, but still have a good time, then this is definitely a worthwhile area to visit.
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Catherine & Fiona  
Canada
February 2005
I went with my daughter ... our shared goals for this vacation were "drink, book, beach, sun" .. we brought our own books (and left behind the ones we finished along with soap, toothpaste, shampoos, clothing)

Our week was all we hoped for and more .... I had been led to believe that the food might not be wonderful .. a little heavier (oily) and more starchy than my usual fare but I am not into gourmet dining so it was fine .. I am not "into" fish so my protein selections were a bit limited .. there is virtually no beef, the lamb was close to being mutton but the pork and chicken and turkey were all tasty

Our in-room fridge did not work well, the toilet handle broke but was fixed promptly, the standard room was perfectly adequate as we had no intention of spending a lot of time there ...

The beach was perfect, enough loungers for all. The water was crystal clear and interesting snorkelling could be done from shore .... the better snorkelling was at the reef where they caution you to stay on the inside of the reef but when we went on the trip to the reef, it was not low tide and the sea was calm and I ended up on the sea side of the reef where the corals and fish are a bit more interesting but the sea can be quite rough and when it is you do NOT want to be on the sea side of the reef with the boat on the inside of the reef

all in all, very good value for the money ... I thought that it looked nicer than Brisas for wandering around the grounds ... I thought the room number markers (fanciful clay fish with human-like faces) were delightful ..

as soon as I got back, I started looking up when the next openings were ....
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Heather 
Ajax
January 2005
We have just returned after spending one week (Jan. 21 - Jan. 28) at the Gran Club Santa Lucia in Cuba. What a wonderful time my husband and I had at this resort. Thanks to the couple of reviews posted on this web site we felt we had picked the right place for us. This resort is posted as a 3 1/2 star, and after visiting it's neighbor "The Brisas" which is listed as a 4 star; We felt we had the better.

The Brisas in comparison: Too many people which the end result is "line ups"
We had the fortunate opportunity one afternoon while walking around Santa Lucia to meet a waiter working at the Brisas. He told us their busiest time is from the end of January through to April, and the capacity of this hotel is 800 to 600. Meaning, there are 6 hundred workers trying to please eight hundred guests. Their grounds are immaculate just as the Gran Club.

Our resort The Gran Club Santa Lucia as mentioned in the above line has extensive plantation surrounding it's grounds. This resort is absolutely beautifully decorated with roses, hibiscus's hedges, and colorful greenery that attracts humming birds. The grounds are well maintained by the gardeners who are up early in the morning raking and pruning everyday. For the plants that didn't survive, they are replaced immediately. This is an oasis in a desert!

The buffet food: We have no complaints. But, for those who are a no carb intake your out of luck. The buffet is mostly vegetables with a couple of platters of chicken, pork, sometimes beef, and of course pizza. There is a chef that will make pasta for you, and another chef that will grill fresh fish, pork chops, and beef. They have a salad bar which serves several different types, or you can create your own. For breakfast my husband likes his bacon crispy, and he found it to be under cooked to his liking. So, he had the grill chef to cook it more while he was making an omelet for him. Fresh fruit at every sitting! We were in heaven! Papaya, pineapple, bananas, grapefruit, dragon fruit, and oranges. We don't get these that taste this fresh, and Good! The deserts truly looked delicious, I can't comment too much on them as I only tried a couple.....honest! But, what I did have were good. Now! You can't leave without trying their ice-cream! That is to die for.

A la Carte restaurant: You need to book this included feature during breakfast time which is set up at the doors to the buffet restaurant.

Our room: We had a standard room across from the reception part of the resort. Which means we had a bit of a walk to the beach, and the pool. We didn't mind, as we sure needed the walk after all that we ate. We had a fridge to keep our bottle water cold, and whatever else you might tuck under your shirt from the buffet.....shhh! The T.V. worked very well, and we watched CNN everyday just to remember the weather we left, and what we had to come home to. Bugs? Well, yes, I did see ants which we brought in on ourselves, the odd beetle, and those funny looking water bugs. But, what do you expect? This is the tropic's. I did not see any cockroaches not like we had when we visited Florida. The rooms are kept immaculate. Our maid not only cleaned the rooms, she cleaned the outside including washing the walkway and windows which meant hanging out the above windows to do so! No Occupational Health and Safety program in this country.

Bars: We had no problem getting what we wanted at any time. All bars were up and running, and we got to know most of the bartenders who sometimes also work in the restaurants. We never seen them ignore the children as posted in one review.

Swimming pool: Clean, and refreshing! But, after a few drinks you won't even notice how cool it is, and the children they adapt in any temperature of water.

Hot Tub: Yes, they have a hot tub, and it is emptied every morning and scrubbed clean.

Beach: This beach we found to be the best of all the resorts in the area including the Brisas. It is kept cleaned by hand raking, and the sand along the water edge is grated by a tractor that removes the seaweed and unwanted debris. I agree with the recent review not to sit under the coconut trees. They do tend to drop over ripe coconuts on unsuspecting persons. There are shade huts, but one has to be early to reserve these. The resort has two paddle boats, two catamarans, and two canoes for your use. For those who are sensitive to parcial nudity - find another country to visit.

Excursions: They do not take U.S. dollars, only CUC pesos which equal the U.S. dollars.
Rancho King - horse back riding that includes watching a rodeo, a ride through a village and a real Cuban meal. Cost is 31 dollars pp
Coral tour - cost is 20 dollars pp
Catamaran - includes snorkeling with open bar on board, and lunch on a deserted island. Cost is 69 dollars pp.
Flamingo Tour - A day on a boat to Iguana Island where you will see pink flamingos in the Nuevitas Bay. Lunch and drinks on board. Cost is 53 dollars pp.
Camaguey - 3rd city of Cuba, and a chance to visit a rum factory, and spend some pesos at the local market. Lunch is included. Cost is 45 dollars pp.
Deep Sea - Open bar on board, and four hours of fishing. Cost is 51 dollars pp.
Santiago Overnight - 2nd largest city in Cuba to visit and stay at the Melia, a 5 star hotel. Have a swim with the dolphins plus 4 meals are included. Cost is 169 dollars pp. They also offer an overnight in Havana.

I can not comment on these excursions, as we stayed at our resort, and explored on our own.

I found these tips helpful from other reviewers:

Bring your own mugs, as they keep cold drinks cold, and your hot drinks hot. The resort uses glass, or plastic cups.
Take your own beach towels. The towels they give you comes with a charge of 10 dollars which is refundable only if you still have the towel, and the slip of paper that goes along with it. It is the same for the safety deposit key - Don't loose the slip of paper!
Exchanging Canadian Funds - This can be done at the airport which can be very frustrating waiting in line. You will need your passport to do this, and for some reason it takes them so long to complete the transaction. Or, you can wait and do this at the resort. Word to the wise; just exchange enough money that you know you'll use because the resort will not exchange pesos back to Canadian Funds. And, at the airport they try to give you back American dollars.
Room Keys - ask for two because you need to keep one in the slot to work your hot water tank, and the air conditioner. Believe me, you will run out of hot water after one shower if you don't!!

Weather was great! But, on this side of Cuba the breeze is strong, be prepared to keep applying sunscreen because with this breeze you will not feel the heat of the sun. And, before you know it - your cooked! During the day we had the temperature in the 80's, but at night it gets quite cool, so make sure you take along a warm sweater. This is Cuba's winter.

Tipping - Please do so! We tipped the bartenders, maids, restaurant workers on a daily basis. These people work 8 hours a day three weeks in a row, and make the equivalant to 10 U.S. dollars a month. So, one dollar a day for each of these workers will go a long way, and the smile on their faces will be remembered for a long time. Just think of it this way - You look after them, and you will be guaranteed to have a great time!

Some people like us brought a suitcase full of things to hand out. Like shampoo, makeup, toiletries, pens, paper, crayons, and clothing including shoes that we no longer want. These people are happy to receive this extra gifts. Although, most of the workers are doing better than others that are not working at the resorts. Some will share with their neighbors, and others might sell them on the side. It's no different than buying things at a Goodwill store. We found out their government looks after them quite well. They have all their medical, dental paid for, and they also receive food stamps. No one goes hungry. They don't have the luxcuries as we have, and are use to. One look at what they live in, and you will understand.

Do not be afraid to walk around outside of the resort, you will meet some of the nicest people with smiles that are brighter than the sun. They are very proud of their surroundings, and will not hesitate to invite you in to meet their family. They do not hassle you! We've been to Mexico, and one foot off the resort there, and you are surrounded by them trying to sell you something.

Take a horse and buggy ride for 5 dollars pp, or take the little train for 2 dollars pp around Santa Lucia. Or, do both!

Animation Team - We seen only one show, and we enjoyed it. These workers also teach the dance lessons on the beach, and will have a few games for those who want to join in.

Negative - They think us Canadians are all French speaking, so their English isn't the best. The week we were there, I think most of Quebec was also there! We found only a few workers that spoke the English tongue.

Cigars - Watch out! If they are not government approved cigars be prepared to have them confiscated at the airport! You must have documention from the vendors. Buyer Beware!

Enjoy Cuba! We did, and are planning on a second trip next year! To this resort? Hopefully! Our luck, they will increase the stars to 5 after a few of these reviews!
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Linda  
Toronto
January 2005
We have just returned from spending one week at the Gran Club Santa Lucia, Cuba. We were there from Friday January 14 and returned Friday January 21, 2005. We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children, aged 10 and 14). We booked last minute and originally were to stay at the Brisas, next door. Two days before leaving we were informed that due to overbooking we were to stay at Gran Club, next door and were upgraded to a junior suite with a partial ocean view. We were not impressed by this development, and after trying to find some reviews of the resort (which are almost non-existent) we didn't know what to expect. It was either go or lose the money. We arrived noon on Friday and although the bus ride is long, it was comfortable and cool. We arrived at the resort and were shown directly to our room. The junior suite was very clean and spacious. One kid slept on a day bed and the other on a trundle bed that originally was underneath the day bed. They loved it because they had their own room with the T.V. My husband and I slept in the other room, so we had some privacy. The bathroom was spacious and always kept very clean. The only problem was no face cloths. But we were warned of that, so we brought our own.

The resort was always kept clean and the gardeners were always watering the plants and raking up the leaves. The resort has alot of flamingos and pheasants roaming around which were very amusing to watch. The pool was great (except the temperature was alittle cool). All of the islands do not heat their pools so we were ready for the shock of the first dip. They even have a slide which my kids had a great time with. The swim up bar was an everyday happening for them. The bartenders sometimes ignored the kids when they went by themselves for something to drink, so either my husband or I would go with them. LOTS OF BEER! The other drinks were okay, but I have had better on some of the other islands that we have visited. The food was good and plentiful. Lots of island fish and papaya. The grill was always excellent and the pasta bar was a favourite of the kids. It was always made fresh. The desserts were not the greatest, but usually by that time were we all full. We stayed with the buffet restaurant because my kids are picky eaters. The animators (the activity people) were great. They always got people to participate in many activities. We tried everything! Archery, tennis, ping-pong, pool,darts,dancing lessons, spanish lessons, games at happy hour, and beach volleyball. They have an activity that will appeal to everyone. The shows were not that great, and usually occurred at 10p.m. A little late for the kids and sometimes for mom and dad too!

The weather was sunny, but alittle cool and lots of wind. We tried snorkeling, but the ocean was too cold for the kids. We also went on the flamingo tour which was all day on a catamaran. We saw the flamingos and had lunch on Iguana Island. It was $56convertable pesos (1CP equal to 1$US) and were to do a half a day of snorkeling on the reef, but the wind was so strong and 4 foot swells that no way were my kids (who are experienced snorklers) going in. Only a few adults ventured in but they did not last more than 5 minutes. It was nice to get out of the resort for a day and see some of Cuba.

The beach was excellent, clean and white. Just watch those palm trees and try not to sit underneath them. There are quite a few ripe coconuts on them and one woman was knocked on the head by a large palm branch falling.

We took little gifts for the maid and each day I would put some on my son's pillow and she would thank us by creating animals out of our towels and decorating them with fresh flowers. I have been to many islands, but this has to be the poorest that I have seen. We also took down some of our clothing that we have outgrown. She was certainly appreciative of our gifts. The dollar store is a great place to stock up on soap, hair barrettes, toothpaste and brushes, candy, pens, pencils, paper and kids toys. Our luggage was packed and heavy going down, but was really light coming back.

We all had a great time at this resort and are thinking of sharing it with another family next year. It was the cheapest vacation and the nicest that we have had.
Gran Club Santa Lucia
Sandy 
Ontario, Canada
January 2005
Some tips if you are travelling to Santa Lucia - Gran Club.

Just returned from a week at the Gran Club Santa Lucia (Dec 27 to Jan 3/05)
Initially we booked with Brisas which is next door, but due to overbooking (no room in the INN for 2 of us) we moved to the Gran Club so we could all be together...There are pros and cons to both hotels but I think we got the better deal by moving to the Gran...See review under Brias for more info..
I hope this review will be informative for you..as there are not many reviews on this hotel...it is lengthly as I wanted to capture everything but I have provided TIPS for each topic.

Background
My husband and I (in our late 30s) and our 2 kids age 10 and 13, as well as my mom and my aunt vacationed here.
We have all travelled throughout the Carribean including Cuba, however this is the first time we have taken the kids.

Accommodations
We were lucky enough to have beachfront villas ( # 219 and 347) with an excellent view of the ocean. The Jr suite has 2 3/4 beds and a pull out sofa bed with a separate sitting area with a table and 2 chairs, TV, coffee table, make up mirror and table/chair. The room was very roomy and clean. The bathroom had a bidet, toilet and newer shower (we had problems with being out hot water ..no hot water after the 2nd shower) The room in general was very clean. Maids came daily to bring fresh towels and make up the beds. Every day there was a new animal made out of the towel.

The rooms that are not beach front are very basic and located across the small road. These are very basic and not as nice.
There is a safe available for a deposit of $25.00 that you will get back when you check out.
Towels are available for a deposit of $15.00 refundable when you check out.

They have a gift shop where you can buy trinkets/rum/t-shirts however they do not have some of the basics ie tylonel, sanitary napkins so make sure you stockup on these before you leave home

TIP# 1 - bring extra role of toilet paper....they are skimpy on it
TIP# 2 - ask for extra room key so you can leave it in the slot that keeps the AC and lights running.

The Pool
The pool was very clean and well situated. The pictures in the brochure do not do it justice. There is a swim up bar. My only complaint about the pool was that it was only 24 degrees which was very cold on overcast days. The Bars - Here is where there is room for improvement. The Swim up bar was the ONLY bar open every day....There was a beach bar that was only open 2 days wwe were there due to windy beach conditions. the bar at the snack bar was only open sometimes for beer.

They really need to have more bars open, as sometimes there was line ups. They had vodka, whiskey, gin and lots of rum. They do not have diet or light pop.
The drinks were OK but if you are looking for nice blender drinks, you will not find them here. They do have fancy cuban type coctails, but no blender drinks. The beer is Crysal or Buccaneer and was Ok. There is no wine at the bar and it closes at 11:00 most nights.
On the second last day I noticed some real bananas at the bar and asked for a banana blender drink and after some coaxing I got a great tasting daquary. I gave him $2.00 and after that he said if I bring him bananas fromt he buffet that I could get more...
TIP # 3 - Make friends with the bartenders and you will have GREAT service..do not wait until the last day to tip!!!! $1.00 is alot of $$ to them.

Cuban Peso and tipping
We converted out Can $$ to Cuban Convertible Peso (CCP) at the airport. You can also do this at the resort. 1 CCP is abut the same as an ammerican $$. This is what they are using instead of the american $$. Cubans do not use this to buy things. They need to convert it to their peco which is worth much more than the CCP.(1 CCP = 27 of the normal Cuban Peso) We did tip where we thought we got good service. We left the maid shampoo, nail polish, etc..which we left on the pillow. I tipped the bar tender for the banana drink and also another bar tender who looked after the kids and us very well
TIP # 4 - If you want to buy something at the airport ie. beer or t-shirt they only take CCP, Mastercard or American $$. They DO NOT take Canadian $$ at the airport.

Internet Services - available for $5.00 hr. There are 2 computers that are fairly slow.

The Beach - this is one of the great features. It is beautiful white sand and the water is crystal clear. There is sea grass that washes up but is cleaned up many times throughout the day.
There are 2 vballnets, 2 catamarans, a couple paddle boats and even on paddle boat with a slide. there is a beachh bar and grill that is only open when the weather permits. It was only open 2 days we were there!!!There is snorkel equipment available.
We snorkelled with the kids by the pier and we saw blow fish, angel fish and sword fish that were very cool!!
You can book a snorkel trip but they go weather permitting.
Horseback riding on the Beach
This was the highlight of our trip. My daughter and I went every day with the fellow on the far side of the Brias - not the one of the far side of the Gran. His horses were well taken care of and he spoke English. Every day we went to see different sights ie the beach, the woods, the town and the flamingo islands.
My daughter and I are experienced riders and he let us canter and run as much as we wanted. My son (who does not ride ) also came with us one day and he tied the small horse to the guide so he would be safe. Most days it was just myself, my daughter and the guide. We took the horses bananas every day and they loved them. I tipped the guide becasue he was wonderful an very hard working. I trusted him to take my daughter when I did not go.

Restaurants
We only ate in the buffet restaurant and the snack bar. You could book in the Cuban ala carte in the AM, but we never went there. The Pizzaria was not open when we were there. The snack bar was open for lunch but only from 12 til 4 and served frenchfries, hamburgers and hotdogs. They also had sandwiches and fruit there.
The buffet restuart was excellent and always had a great variety.
Breakfast - Great variety, omlet grill, my son says they had the best tasting OJ and banana smoothies ever!!!
Lunch - Excellent variety including a pasta bar, fish, cheicken and every day pizza. You have to eat in here and can not take food out and you must wear shoes and cover up or shirt.
Dinner - Again excellent variety and great tasting food. pizza every night , about 3 - 4 choices of meat on the grill, pasta bar, salades and desserts..something for everyone.
You could get wine and beer during lunch and dinner in the buffet . You can also book the ala carte seafood restaurant that is at the end of the pier. We did not go there but heard it was excellent for lobster and seafood.
TIP # 5 - Watch the hamburgs from the grill..sometimes they are under cooked
TIP # 6 - Banana smoothies and freshly squeezed OJ is the best for breakfast.
TIP # 7 - Take some ends of the loaves of bread and feed the flamingos, ducks , peacocks and fish at the pier.
TIP # 8 - If you go riding take some bananas to feed the horses. I also took the guide some food and a soda. He was very thankful.

Grounds
Very well kept with beautiful flowering shrubs. Gardeners are always raking and watering to keep think nice. There are peacocks, flamingos, and ducks wandering the grounds. There are also small flowing ponds that add a nice touch to the grounds.

Activities/Excursions offered
1) Kids Club - my son participatd in this some days but there really was not alot going on for the kids. One day there was an artist there and the kids drew pictures and he helped them. One day they went on the train/bus to the town for a tour and at the end of the day they play games and have a party.
2) Train/Bus that goes to Santa Lucia - 1 hr
this is an hr tour into Santa Lucia...there is no guide or anyone talking so you have no idea what you are seeing etc..but it does give you an idea of what the town looks like ie. goes past the school but no one tels you this is the school. It does not stop anywhere in town and cost $2.00.
3) Carriage ride
For $20.00 the 4 of us toured the town and surrounding area of Santa Lucia by horse drawn carriage. The driver spoke some English and showed us around.
4) Coco Beach - is about 15 minutes away and a beautiful secluded beach. You can go by taxi, carriage or scooter here. We did not go but heard it was lovely.
5) Bikes - we attempted to go for a bike ride and did make it into the small town, however, the bikes are not in the best shape so if you attempt this, be prepared for a very slow and painful ride!! there do not have helmets but do have bikes of all sizes. These are free
6) Scooter rental - $7.00 hr
We did not do this but you could rent a scooter for $7.00. I heard of scooters breaking down and getting flats.
7) Animation team
The animation team works very hard form morning to night. They start in the AM at 8:00 and work until after midnight teaching dance lessons, playing vball, organizing games and entertaining at night. Most of the young kids are very genuine, however, some have a hidden agenda....so if you have teenage daughters or are a woman travelling alone, be very careful as they tend to gravitate to the single and young women.... New Years Eve Dinner and show - was Excellent!! The dining room was transformed into a 5 star dining room with special entrees, desserts, roast pig and sculptures for the occasion.
The New Years Eve show in the evening was spectacular with some of the best dancing I have ever seen in the carribean. At midnight they launched a huge fireworks show. It made the night very special.
8) Evening entertainment
This was pretty much the same night after night..if you are not a dancer you will find this very repetative, however the live band is very talented and provides excellent cuban music. The animation team dances with all the young girls and single women from about 9:00 - 10:00. At 10:00 the show stars and goes until 11:00. This part is different every night and ranges from fashion show to to Mr. Santa Lucia to the best couples (if you hear these words head for the bar!!)
Most shows were very funny but some were a little cheezy. The dancers are very talented and work very hard. The MCs speak 4 different languages so things tend to drag on and on...
TIP # 9 - The evenings got very cool and I did not take enough long sleeves of sweaters. There seems to be a cool breeze in the evening so be prepared to dress warm if you stay for the show.

The weather
Out of the 7 days we were there we had 2 days with no or little sun. the rest of the days were party sunny. It rained every day but not for long and evey day it was VERY windy!!! and the wind carried on until the evening.

I would say that 50% of the people vacationing at the resort were french speaking Canadians, 30% were German and the other were Spanish. The resort is Italian owned and has just switched owners which may be why it seems to be not running at capacity.

Hope this helps..pls email me at NHEckert@AOL.Com if you would like to see pictures or have any other questions.