logo Old Reviews - Ole Playa Blanca (ex GC Playa Blanca and Barcelo Cayo Largo)
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Istvan & Milada 
Hamilton, ON
February 2008
Arrival
This is our favourite destination in winter months and we have been spending most of our vacation there since 2005.

We were planning to stay in this resort in November/December but due to some problems in the resort after last fall's hurricane, our booking was changed to Sol Cayo Largo (we departured from Montreal because Toronto cancelled all flights to this destination - more expensive combination for us).

Therefore, we decided to take one more week of vacation and arrived in the resort on January 18 with Skyservice. The flight was delayed about 3 hours (it is winter to blame). Other than that, everything went smoothly.

Rooms
We stayed in a two-store bungalow room on the second floor. It was a nice room and all rooms have a big balcony looking to either see or garden. Everything seems to be so close to any room on the resort. Room was cleaned daily and water was refilled regularly.

Restaurants
Our favorites were buffet restaurant for breakfast and dinner, and snack bar for lunch. Buffet at beach is sometimes too busy, you have to wait for seats, but it is worth. We did not take ala-carte this time but other guests say it was good especially at snack bar. We loved food, and since we know Cuban destinations very well, we can tell this resort could be more than 3 ½ star rated. We loved fish, fruit, smoothies, fresh baked buns, cakes, etc.

Bars
Your day in the resort start at Opalino bar that stays open 24 hours for coffee, espresso or cappuccino. This is Cuban coffee and it is the best coffee we ever tasted. We always bring a couple kilos home that lasts until next trip to Cuba. It is needless to talk about Cuban rum, cigars, and cocktails. Once to try it you want it always.

My favourite is 'mojito'.

Beach and Pools
Beach is so beautiful and stretches both sides. There are two ways to get there: next to the beach restaurant and from the left behind bungalows. There has been a lot of renovation done, and since hurricane, hotel is providing big sun-umbrella (at club house). You can take it daily, or keep until departure day. If you come earlier to the beach, you may find soft covers for the beach chair.

Swimming pools are fun in the evening hours when entertainment staff plays games with guests. The water is salty. They also offer Cuban dance lessons or variety of exercises around the pool area.

Grounds
Since we have been coming back to the resort since 2005, we can tell that grounds are well kept; plants have grown; all together - very nice.

Activities
It is completely up to you! They have playgrounds, gym, but we spent most time on the beach, walking and swimming.

Tours
You will find information at reception area and always talk to your tourist representative if you are planning to take a tour.

This time we did not take tours, but month ago we took "sunset' tour and it was fantastic. Not only that you have unforgettable romantic sun set, you get lobsters on the yacht served at sunset, snorkeling, swimming, and fun all the way. Seeing and touching iguanas was a special experience.

Conclusion
After reading all comments from 2007, I could not stay quiet but had to say how this resort has improved. One of the reasons might be that they got a new management; young and ambitious people which we met during the stay. We believe that if they stay longer this resort will regain its ranking as 4 gearing to 4 ½ stars. Congratulations!
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Toni and Dave 
St.Bruno, Quebec
March 2007
I just came back from the Barcelo last Friday. We were 10 people (3 teenage boys, a 78 year old, and 3 couples in our mid 40's) and managed to book all 10 seats on the plane 2 weeks before leaving. All I can say is that it was meant to be. My family and I have been to Cayo Largo 2 other times (Pelicano and the Sol Club) and had a fantastic time each time. Remember, YOU make your vacation. Of course, sunshine also makes a difference!

First off, this is Cuba. The hotels do the best they can under difficult circumstances. You do get what you pay for because you are flying there, with hotel transfers, sleeping in a clean room, drinking yourself into a stupor (should you wish to), and eating until you almost explode. You can do this in a high season period for less than 1200 cdn at a 4 star level. With that in mind, I have no complaints about the food, room, bar, beach or service. Try getting all that at an auberge in Quebec for a week.

We were there from March 9 to March 16. We flew Air Transat, which was punctual and friendly. It took a while to get our luggage, but the 10 minute drive to the hotel from the airport was well worth the wait. The lineup was long at reception, so we decided to make the most of our vacation and went straight to the bar. After a drink we ate at the buffet and then registered. It took 10 minutes and we wasted no time!

The beach was fantastic as usual. The waves were violent at times, but if you respect the water then it will respect you. Pay attention to the flags, it could save your life. As for palapas, we are early risers and had no problem securing the one in front of the beach bar each day. Incidently, be know Roly the bartender from the Sol Pelicano a few years back. The staff do move around. By the way, he makes the most fantastic mohitos. I miss them. Not one hangover for the entire week!

Food was perfectly fine. One must remember that the cooks are home grown - not flown in like at upscale resorts in much more expensive carribbean islands. The Barcelo has a pasta bar, a pizza bar and a meat grill. They have the best soups, and innovating salads. Yes, the food is different, but it can also be very tasty. Their cooking style also caters to the very large Italian clientel. I can't say I had a bad meal (except for the Nolitours Barbeque - ugh!) Needless to say, nobody starved. We ate a la carte a few times. The Ranchon was very slow, but the snack bar at night was really delicious. Absolutely no complaints. The staff was exemplary (as usual). Lunch at the Ranchon on the beach overlooking the ocean was always a treat. Imagine grilled fish with fries and a salad accompanied by a glass of white wine so cold that the outside of the glass is wet from the contrast of the air temperature. All the while, you are being serenaded by a 3 man band singing Guantanamera and Baisa Me. Oh, and the desserts...The only thing missing was the ice cream.

The room was basic, but always clean. We stayed in the main building which was central to everything. Truly, the only thing that sucked was the show at night. Like amateur night at the local high school. Oh well, can't have everything. All in all, we will go back...if the price is right.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
VC Canadian and Wife 

March 2007
You go to Cuba for the beach not the food.

That is an old story, but in this case it is true. The food was okay at least all the time and good some of the time. The pasta and pizza was good, the fruit and veggys were horrible unless you could manage to get some of the canned stuff. Interestingly enough , I saw one of the veggy cans. It was in spanish but the label at the bottom said " Product of China ". The food on the tours was incredible. The lobster was done on both the tours we went on differently but both were superb. The food at the a al cartes were a total waste of time,,,,, in one case a 3 HOUR WASTE OF TIME. This hotel was rated a 3.5 star and judging solely on the food, that would be very very kind.

The staff on the other hand were your typical cuban workers. Hard working, always smiling, genuine people that I respect so much for their work ethic kinds of people in all facets of the resort that I cannot say enough for them. I did not feel pressured for tips ( I tip at random and for exceptional service above and beyond the call ), but some are not shy about asking for a gift or two. I guess if the roles were reversed, I would probably do the same. The resort it self is in need of repair on a few areas, namely the big multi-level pond in back, the small ponds bordering the rear walkway, the boardwalk at the beach front access and the stairs leading to the beach.

They also need a front desk guy that can count to 3 without stopping or getting confused. The young lad they had there on our checkout day was not in his element at all and took FOREVER to count out money

Okay,,, enough about bad

This beach is freakin' incredible. It is basically walking in flour.At the beginning of our week the beach was about 60 feet wide " east of the beach bar " and in that time it shrank to about half and then grew back to almost the original size.

Boogie boarding was great for the surf days and Sirenas et al was great for the snorkel days.The cat tours were great too!!! The first was a " yacht " tour with 4 other couples and the last one was a " special tour " one with 3 other couples on a small catamaran. It was nice to have a bar on the beach so my walks were kept down to under 70 yds but I still managed to walk a few miles each day LOL. Palapas are , again, a sad issue. We solved the problem by buying a " RIO sun shelter " and did not care about the " palapa wars " .

We stayed " east of the Beach bar " and felt so happy./ This truly is place for lovers and in this era , that means all kinds so be forewarned, about what a " couple " is. No PDA, ( except us ), but a relaxing, enjoyable week for sure. If you are offended by nudity, do not come here, but if want to relax with your sweety and live as a carefree child then there can be not other place, at least for the money LOL

We are definitely going back but we are going to try out the Sol club next. Unless the Barcelo puts out a great deal Yes,,,, Air Canada sucks monkey bum and the milk run route they do is horrible
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Sven 
Canada
February 2007
I’ve been to Cuba many times and have reasonable expectations for a 3.5 star.

Barcelo did not meet them at this time.

Beach
There was no beach at this time.

Despite what I was reassured by our rep. Yes, the hotel seemed discounted but at least be up front about things. Just rocks in front and no watersports. We had a short little walk (half a km) through dunes and found a little cove which was nice but we of course no choice but to see the nudity. The sand is like flour.The hotel is very isolated but I was not surprised by this. I do think this has now changed and the resort has a beautiful beach, the sand comes and goes on this small island. Research is the key.

Did take the looooong bumpy train ride to playa Sierrna? Beautiful but no shade for our two year old.

Rooms, We received a spacious room with an extra living room off to the side, We received all the lobby noise from inside and out. Moped rentals, Taxis, ect

Other cabin rooms must be very quiet though.

Resort grounds seemed clean, maids did a good job. Towel art 101,

Pools the salt water pool was large and clean, very light salt not like ocean. No worries.

For Children, There is someone who does activities with the kiddies, my daughter was too young but liked the little playground.

Service was the worst I’ve encountered in Cuba and my Biggest beef. Staff in the outside restaurants ,although not busy would just shrug you off. Despite constant tipping there were many times when I just gave up in disgust. Service inside was better. I understand the circumstance , that the workers have extremely long days and don’t live on the island but I felt like I was an annoyance. Bad.

Food, below Cuban standards, very very repetitive .I know what to expect in Cuba but after three days of the same food, I found myself really looking for alternatives. Never found any.

Because of the location, this hotel seems to run out of things easily, fries?

Specialty restaurant over looking the rocks, oops I mean beach, easy reservations, very windy, and a decent meal. Im not sure but I thought this restarant was closed for lunch. Too bad.

Diving, I HAD to pay by MasterCard I was told by our Rep who actually booked my dives. Bus would pick me up to dive shop in town. punctual,

Dive staff was good with no complaints. Diving was quite good. One of the reasons I chose cayo Largo :Turtles, Mantas nice wall, Fellow diver got sea sick and I was down wind.;0)

The shuttle off site, 15-20 min was inconvenient, especially when I did two dives in a day, therefore four bus rides.

Front desk
They hotel offered a late room checkout , When we inquired we we’re tld it was a first come first serve basis so be here at 10.am , When we came to the desk we were told ,sorry to late. After tears from my wife explaining about our young daughter, they finally agreed.

I realize its Cuba, but respectable food and service is something was not offered at the Barcelo at this time and its due to the seclusion.. That being said there appeared to be some repeat visitors. For the most part employees seemed happy, I good Ola was usually returned and they love children in general.

Conclusion:
If your not to picky, are going for a full body tan or just wanna dive …..maybe? This hotel can usually be found cheaply,
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Marg. & Larry 
Ontario
January 2007
My wife & I just returned from the Barcello -- Cayo Largo We were there for two weeks -- Jan 6 -20. 2007. We travelled with Nolitours. We cannot say enough about Nolitours and their service rep that looked after our group. Lyane was fantastic. The flight down -- 3&1/2 hours via westJet) was great, the arrival all went well thro customs etc, and a large bus took us to the resort (10 minutes).Check in was uneventfull and took less that 10 minutes.

This resort was the best we have encountered any where in the Islands. and was our third trip to Cayo Largo, but the first to the Barcello. The beach, altho not to wide was more than we expected and the pools were very good and always clean and well looked after. The food was again the best we have ever had in Cuba. And the choices seemed to be endless. Maybe we were lucky,(but I don't think so) but the beef was comparable to that here in Canada.

The staff was extremely friendly and compassionate, and we felt they went above the call of duty when asked for or about anything. Yes, Cayo Largo is a small, uninhabited Island off the south coast of Cuba, and if you are looking for excitement or things to do other that enjoy the sun, the water and the Beaches, go some place else. We felt that we got more than we expected for our money, and will be returning soon I am sure.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
 

January 2007
We were disappointed in the quality of the Barcelo Cayo Largo resort and how a 4 star rating was ever arrived at. Air Canada had given it a 3.5 star which was more accurate.

The 2 back fountains, and 1 cascading fountain was drained and not working. Te hottubs were drained and not working. The bushes and flowers of the grounds were sad looking and not well taken care of. A few pallepas were tossed into the rock from the last hurricance and no one has bothered to clean them up.No luxury whatsoever. No lush tropical gardens here. There was no hot water in our room, the towels were stained and frayed. The room was a nice oceanview with balcony. The beach was almost non-existant, never mind no water sports whatsoever.The archery arena was shabby and old.

The total nudity was a shock in the least. Italians from Italy rolling around nude on the beach with the waves was not something I wanted a 12 year old to see. The boards on the walkways were broken or cracked, with nail heads poking up to rip your foot open. The floor tiles around the pool table were cracked and broken, causing a tripping hazard. The outdoor washrooms were decrepid with continuous running water in the sink or no toilet seats on some of the toilets. The gardener cutting grass with a smoking, noisy lawnmower at lunch time outside of the Snack bar chased away the patrons, along with the 5-piece band (they were good). The boating excursions offered were overbooked and not available.We were looking forward to a 2 - 4 hours snorkelling trip, that's why I chose Cayo Largo. Driving up the first day to a sad, tired looking entrance and a plain Jane lobby, I knew we were in trouble. This was only my step-son's second trip to the Caribbean and even he commented ' Not as nice as the place we had in Dominican'.

Others have commented on the fumigators coming out just before sunset. The little black mosquitos were terrible. One man we spoke with was bit so much on his legs, and was scratching so hard, that his leg became infected and had to see the doctor.

Of course, lets not forget the famous Cuban food, which everyone warned us about. Some of it was OK, if you had your omelet cooked fresh in the morning, or had a fresh slice of meat from the carver. The pastries were very good and the wine was imported from Spain. Barely any fresh fruit or veggies. The one a-la carte was very busy and we gave up going there. My step-son and husband were both sick towards the end with cramping, diarreha and nausea. Immodium didn't help. The pluses, the friendly accommodating wait and cleaning staff, the white powdery sand and the turquoise ocean. Playa Sirena was a beautiful white, wide powdery sand beach with beach volleyball, and a bus took you there for 1 peso. Apparently the other hotels had the same problem with no beach, and came to this beach instead. We were told by a few people that the Barcelo chain was good. We had met people from Brampton who have travelled extensively and they were disappointed also. I would not be going to this island again. It was too small to provide any of the special services you look for when on vacation. I expected quiet, which would have been OK. You can get white sand and blue oceans just about anywhere in the caribbean. It was the ambience, lushness, activities, luxury I was looking for in a once a year vacation.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Yvonne 
Canada
December 2006
My husband and I just returned from 7 days at the Barceló Cayo Largo, Nov 10-18. We had the best time. Definitely a 4 star. We’ve been to Cuba numerous times and this was our favorite. Weather was perfect.

Airport & Customs. Very slow, it took about 1.5 hours to get through, but there was about 250 people on our Air Transat plane and only 2 customs booths open.

Room: Check in was very quick. Our room, (#4024), was great. Very clean, shower pressure was never a problem nor was hot water. The air conditioned worked perfectly. The mini fridge had a 1.5 liter fresh bottle of water put in it everyday. I loved the wrap-around balcony. No coffee maker. 220 volts in the living and bed area, and the bathroom had a 220 and 120 plug. Fresh towels and toilet paper were not a problem either. We got a bit annoyed at the guests slamming their doors though late at night or very early in the morning.

Food: I found nothing wrong with the food. It was fresh and hot and thoroughly cooked. There was a good, not great selection of food at the buffet. Surprisingly the food was not at all bland. Fish was great. They had a person cooking a variety of pasta for you, and there was also a person cooking a selection of meat or fish on a grill. Different fruit every day usually canned. Desserts were nice. I found the coffee in the buffet to be quite bad, it was because it came out of a machine and the milk that comes with it was really fowl. Towards the last few nights I discovered a trick regarding the bad coffee in the buffet, I would just order a black coffee and then go over to the dessert area and get some ice-cream and put that in my coffee in place of the milk, (yummy). If you want good coffee, espressos and cappuccinos then get them at the bars, they are much much better. The drinks at the bars were pretty basic and they did not serve mojitos while we were there because there was no mint available. The cola was hit or miss, either really flat or perfect. They sometimes had problems with the beer if it came from the pump, and not the can. We did not go into any of the A la carte restaurants, we were just too lazy to line up to make the reservation, but we did not hear any complaints from the other guests regarding them. There are 2 snack bars, one of them being open 24hrs. The food was pretty good and service was really fast. Staff: The staff were fantastic. The waiters and bartenders were all men. They were genuinely kind and caring people. The service was always pleasant and fast. The staff at the front lobby desk was also very accomading and pleasant. No problems there.

Beach: The beach was amazing the best I’ve been on. The water was clear and blue, and was perfect for wave jumping, and could get very deep without warning. The sand was soft and powdery and never got hot to walk on. You could walk miles in both directions and look at gorgeous sandstone cliffs and a beautiful shoreline. If you looked up on the cliffs, sometimes you could spot an iguana or 2. If you want to feed the Iguanas just bring some fruit from the morning buffet, they love it. We also saw Pelicans. We saw lots of people nude bathing and walking along the shore. The beaches really are perfect and unspoiled. The hotel did not allow any watercrafts to go out the week we were there.

Other comments- If you are chemically sensitive be aware that around 6pm they fog the resort, also one morning (7am), a crop duster plane flew right over the resort buildings spraying some sort of chemical.
There are 2 internet machines, only 1 was working when we were there. It cost 10 pesos per 1 hour.
There are only 20 beach palapas on the beach, but lots of loungers. No beach bar either, so bring an insulated mug to take your drinks to the beach. Lots of no-see-ums bugs as soon as the sun goes down and the wind dies, so bring bug juice with deet. The only shop at the Resort had a poor selection of cigars, and as far as alcohol, they only sold Rum and Wine, (it was the same at the Airport). You can exchange money at the front desk lobby. There are shuttles to the other beaches like Playa Sirena & Paraiso
3 times per day. We walked one day for about 2 hours west down the beach past the other various resorts and took a taxi back for 4 pesos.
Keep in mind that this is a Resort with little. nightlife and there is no shopping. It is not a party place.
I would highly recommend this resort.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Marilyn 

February 2006
We have just returned from a one week vacation at this resort. This has been our first visit to any location in Cuba. The resort was nice and close to the airport (within 10 minutes) and the bus ride was excellent. The beach is beginning to return (there was approximately a 50 foot section available at the resort), however, we also found a lot of small beach places along the shore just past the resort. The weather was nice but very cool and windy in the evenings. We found most of the staff to be very helpful but would like to mention a couple of very important items.

1) Check-in time is at 3:00 p.m., therefore your room may not be ready when you arrive. This requires waiting in the lobby.

2) When you check-in BE SURE TO CHECK that you have received your room key AND your towel vouchers.

The couple with whom we travelled encountered major difficulties. When we arrived each couple was handed a package which was to include the room key and towel vouchers and we were asked to sign a document stating we had received them. Our travel companions' room was not ready so the person who had given them the package took it back. Our companions did not even get a chance to check the package for the towel vouchers. When the room was ready they were handed a package again and told where their room was located. They checked their package and found they did not receive any towel vouchers. When we met with the Air Transat rep. on Sunday morning (Kim) they explained they had not received the vouchers and would like to get 2 towels. When they went back to the front desk, the same person who had checked them in on the previous day INSISTED they had been given the vouchers. When the Guest Services person checked, the vouchers that were recorded as being handed to them were found to be in the beach house indicating 2 towels had been taken therefore they could not get another set of vouchers. The only way to get another set was to pay $50 US. This created a lot of inconvience for the travellers. Guest Services sent a bottle of rum and a note apologizing for their incovenience to their room, however, they would not issue new vouchers. The rum and note of apology was returned to Guest Services. Our Air Transat rep. finally had a letter typed for them indicating they were not to be charged for towels when they checked-out. It was a good thing they had taken their own personal beach towels with them. The resort would not admit that the vouchers were either left in the towel house by the previous guests or that they were given to someone else.

The beach as Playa Cerena was absolutely awesome. You can walk for many miles in sand as soft as talcum powder and which remains cool even though the sun is beating on it. We spent a couple of days there enjoying the wonderful colours of the Carribean Sea. On the second day at the beach we found may star fish in the water. We took lots of pictures, however, did not remove them from the water. We were very concerned when we encountered people taking them out of the water to take pictures - we had been warned about how quickly they would die.

The resort itself is very pleasant. However, it does not have a large choice of International food and we found it very hard to find the hot food. Most of the food which should have been hot was lukewarm at best. The only "hot" food was the omelets/eggs cooked on the grill. The coffee comes from a machine and is very frothy. They serve "warmed" milk and it too comes from the machine. We took our own instant coffee and creamer which made the week more bearable.

The staff who work there with the exception of one at the reception desk were very hospitable, friendly and hard working. Please make sure you take money to leave tips for these people as they do not make high wages. They prefer pesos as they can spend them easier than US/Canadian or other dollars.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Ontario 

January 2006
My third visit to Barcelo. There is a lot to like about this hotel. First, the downside: there is currently no beach at Barcelo. However, they provide a free shuttle to Playa Sirena and Play Paraiso, three times in the morning, coming back three times in the afternoon.. Because of wind and tide, the beach conditions have been different each time I have stayed at this resort. Two years ago there was lots of beach, and you could walk west to the other hotels along the beach. Last year, the beach was washed out in front of Barcelo, but there was a good stretch of beach at the east side and the chairs and palapas were set up there. This year there is Playa Capricho, a short walk on the west side, also with chairs and palapas and a bar. Their is also a shuttle to this beach, for those who do not wish to walk. At Playa Sirena there are watersports....HobieCat, pedal boats, sea kayaks, windsurfers. The bar beside the parking lot offers free fountain drinks to Barcelo guests (yes, that includes beer) The bar on the beach is a cash bar. There are palm trees and palapas, and the hotel will make you a box lunch if you request it, or you can eat at the restaurant if you wish to pay. While on the subject of beaches, I should mention that it is possible to access the beach to the east of Barcelo, and once past the communications tower, you can walk seemingly forever to the east. Close to the tower, there are numerous little nooks and crannies where couples find their own private stretch of sand....very romantic! (but bring water and a source of shade if you mean to spend the day)

Weather: It was cool at night and in the mornings, but the days were warm. The start of my week had north winds, so the water was relatively calm (and there was more beach available at Capricho) After thunderstorms Tuesday night, the wind increased from the east, and the surf became quite strong, pounding in on the beach and making swimming impossible (but you could play in the waves) Playa Sirena was a good alternative for swimming and snorkeling.

Food: Very good, lots of selection in the buffet at breakfast and supper. The snack bar has good pizza and a buffet at lunch, and the beach restaurant also has a buffet. Barcelo's buffet restaurant is enclosed and air conditioned, a big plus when mosquitoes became a problem near the end of the week.

Accommodation: I had a room in a bungalow at the end of the east section. It suited my needs perfectly. Unlike last year, there was no problem with hot water. The room was kept very clean and the only issue I had was the lack of a remote control for the TV the first couple of days. (asking the men on the front desk got me nowhere.....they took note, but nothing happened....then I got smart and asked a woman....and had a remote within half an hour!)

Pools: I love the deep salt water pool at Barcelo.....it's 1.45 metres deep, and it is possible to dive into, and you can actually swim in it! It is total bliss to float in calm salt water without the threat of a wave in the face or drifting away on a current.

Mosquitoes: In previous visits to Cayo Largo, I had not found these to be a problem....they were occasional and few.....but this time toward the end of the week they became numerous despite the resort fogging for them. No problem during the day, but as the sun went down, out they came! I was glad I had Deep Woods Off, particularly while waiting for the airport transfer at 8 o'clock in the evening!

Entertainment: I don't stay around for the shows at night, and I don't do disco, but I understand from those who do that there is a good disco at Villa Iguana, about 1 km down the road (and that the walk back after is good for sobering up!) Watching the dancers rehearse at the entertainment centre in the afternoon is good fun. It's also possible to visit the other hotels on foot or by bicycle (free, but tiny!).

Playa Sirena & Paraiso: The most beautiful beaches you will find anywhere....fine white sand, palm trees, clear water. Definitely worth taking the shuttle to see. This year, the shuttle is an actual bus rather than the little open air train of previous years. More comfortable and faster!

All in all, I think this hotel is a terrific deal for the price you pay. It's very comfortable, the staff is excellent, and the only real downside is the beach issue, which I think will plague them in years to come because of their location. The beach was building up quite nicely last fall, and Hurricane Katrina actually brought them more sand, but then Wilma came along and took it away! Beach conditions may improve or they may not. I was there at the full moon, so the tides would be at their highest. Avoiding the full and new moons (highest tides) might be a good idea, although strong winds can effectively wipe out the beach anytime! I would highly recommend this hotel, and I will be going back next year.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
K. 
Toronto, Canada
January 2006
I went to the Barcelo Cayo Largo for one week from January 7 - 14, 2006. I am in my mid-thirties and I went with my mother who is a senior. I am recovering from surgery, so we just wanted to go somewhere to relax all day.

If you're seeking a relaxing vacation, then Barcelo Cayo Largo is a great place to go. There's not much to do in Cayo Largo. We went into town one day. The town consists of a bank, a school, a small museum and turtle farm, the marina and a small gift shop. That's it. There's nobody harassing you to buy things on the beach and nobody taking your picture (as I've found at other Caribbean resorts). The hotel is just a 3.5 star resort, so don't expect luxury. For the money we paid, we got excellent value. Here's my review:

Check-in: The Air Canada flights from Toronto come in late Saturday night. The check-in at customs was about 2 hours long. We got to the hotel at about 11:30 p.m. There were no restaurants open and everybody was very hungry. The staff at the front desk directed us to go to the bar to ask for sandwhiches. The bar staff said that they could give us ham and cheese sandwhiches. I do not eat pork, so I just asked for cheese. They said that the sandwhiches were already made up, so I was out of luck. I was not impressed, so I went to bed hungry the first night.

Room: The room was very basic. What we'd expect for 3.5 stars. We had two beds - I think they were a one-and-a-half size. They were of average comfort. My only complaint was that it was cold, not because of air conditioning - we turned that off. It gets very cold at night in January in Cayo Largo. There were no blankets available. We had a safe and a bar fridge. We were supposed to get a 1.5 litre bottle of water/day in our room. Some days we got it, and some days we didn't. Considering that the water is undrinkable, we should have been able to get more water. The bar and restaurant staff will not give you a bottle of water. They will pour bottled water for you into a glass, but will not give you your own bottle. I bought a bottle every day at the gift shop. It was only one peso (about $1.25 Canadian) for 1.5 litres. The room was kept very clean though the maid did not bring toilet paper very often. We had to leave her a sign after completely running out asking for toilet paper and water.

Resort: The resort was very clean. Most staff were quite friendly. The animacion team were very good teaching classes every day in aqua gym, spanish lessons, dancing lessons. They were very upbeat and friendly. The music was pretty good throughout the day. The entertainment shows at night were pretty cheesy. The dancers tried their best, but they were not at a very high level as I've seen at other resorts. They were very good at the Cuban and latin dances, but their interpretation of American songs were laughable. The shows were all just straight dancing for about 30 minutes. No games or audience participation. But, the kids tried hard and they were very friendly.

Food: I found the food surprisingly tasty. My mom has been to Cuba 3 times and has always described the bland food at the resorts. We were both impressed by the quality and quantity of the food. The eggs made to order at breakfast were good. My only complaint as a non-pork eater is that there was a lot of pork mixed into a lot of things. Often the potatoes or rice would have pork pieces and this wouldn't be on the labels in front of the dishes. The woman who made the eggs would often mix omelettes with pork in a bowl for one person, and then mix eggs for the next person in the same bowl. This is probably not the best place for a vegetarian or someone following strict dietary rules as there will be cross-contamination from meat. There were a lot of vegetables, but the fruits were horrible! At breakfast, there were few fresh fruits - only some pineapples that tasted like cardboard and some sour oranges and then everything else was canned!

Beach: As people have mentioned, there's no beach at the hotel currently. There's a little beach about 1/4 mile up the road. It was pleasant, but few beach chairs and the water was often rough here. I didn't mind as I'm a strong swimmer, but the days that we were there, the water would have been too rough for a weak or average swimmer. The bus goes to Playa Sirena and Paraiso 3 times per day. However, there were always far more people waiting for the bus than could be accommodated. It sometimes took a long time for a second bus to come for those who didn't get on. Playa Paraiso is on the way to Playa Sirena. There's no point going to Playa Paraiso as the bus returning from Playa Sirena is always full, so you could wait a long time to get a bus back to the hotel. There needs to be more buses or buses going to the beaches more frequently - every 30 minutes to an hour would be great. We went to Playa Sirena which was nice. Lots of powdery white sand. However, it wasn't as nice as beaches I've been to elsewhere. It doesn't compare to the white sands of Negril or Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It's also a little boring. No music and there's no free bar for Barcelo guests. If you don't get there early, there's no beach chairs.

Weather in Cayo Largo: We had beautiful weather every day. However, it was quite cool some mornings and evenings can be cool as well. Definetely bring a few long sleeved shirts and pants for mornings and evenings. During the day, it gets extremely hot from about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It cools right down by 5 or 6 to long-sleeves weather.

Miscellaneous: Don't count on using the internet at the hotel. Barcelo has internet, but it rarely works. It's also expensive. You have to buy a card for $10 pesos for an hour usage. Whenever I wanted to use the internet, it wasn't working. When it was working, the front desk staff said that they were too busy to sell me a card and let me use the computer. So, I went to the hotel down the road, "Isla del Sur". Theirs works much more frequently than Barcelo's and it's much cheaper. I paid 2 pesos for about half an hour. However, this brings me to the next point, THE MOSQUITOS ARE TERRIBLE IN CAYO LARGO!!!! On the way from Isla del Sur, my mother and I walked into a cloud of mosquitos. We had to run back into the hotel as we were being bitten all over. We called a taxi to take us to the Barcelo, but in the meantime, the mosquitos would not leave us alone. I cannot describe to you how horrible these mosquitos were. By the time, we got back to our hotel room, I had easily well over 200 bites. These bites are not like what we're used to in Canada. These bites were swelled up to the size of quarters. I had them all over my legs and arms and even my face to the point that I wouldn't go to the dining room. If I return to Cayo Largo, I know now to bring mosquito repellent, stay off of the road in the evening, and wear long sleeves, pants in the evening. Apparently the mosquitos are bad between 4 - 7 p.m., particularly out in the bush.

Overall: I would say that this hotel is worth a visit if you're looking for a relaxing time. There's no shopping. There's a small gift shop at the hotels but each gift shop is pretty much exactly the same. Even the duty free shop at the airport is exactly the same as the ones at the hotels and the prices are the same. It was an excellent 7 day vacation. I think I'd get claustrophobic after a week and want to explore and travel more throughout Cuba, but for 7 days, it was exactly the relaxing trip that I needed. I'll probably try other places in Cuba for my next vacation, but I would have no problem going back to the Barcelo if this is what is available. It really is a great value.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
R. 
Ontario
December 2005
I am writing from the Barcelo today 2005.12.26. Day two of a week long holiday!

WARNING ... There is ... NO ... beach at the Barcelo Cayo Largo. None. Nada. Zip. All rock, with waves rolling in. You cannot swim in the ocean at the Barcelo. If you want a beach, you must take a shuttle bus to another area. The shuttle leaves at three times in the morning, and returns three times during the day, the last shuttle returning at 17h00.

As always, the staff are warm and friendly, hard working, and doing their best with what they have. The food is reasonable for Cuba, the waiters pour a good drink, the animation team does their best.

All salt water fly fishing at the Casa Batida is booked, the deep sea fishing boat at the Marina has been booked by one group every day through January 9th, 2006.

Thank goodness the sun is shining, the Cubans are smiling, and I will be going somewhere other than the Barcelo next trip.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Gilbert 
Montreal Canada
July 2005
We where at the Barcelo Cayo Largo from March 31st to April 14 2005. Here is our appreciation of this resort.

THE HOTEL
It is supposed to be a 4 star resort, but at this point in time, it is more a 3 stars to us. It has pottential, but there are too many little anoyances left for it to be a 4 stars. The pool are nice but a little smalls. Rooms in the bungalow are large and clean. We had a king size bed that was very nice and comfortable. All rooms have a mini-fridge, but it is empty. All rooms are suppoded to have a safe in it free of charge, but many rooms in the west side bungalow didn't have one at this time. Bathroom are small, and poorly designed. When youre sitting on the toilet, the door opens on you ! Bottled water is limited to one 1.5 litre bottle per room per day. This is clearly not enough but the manager said it's all they could do. Hot water is still a light brown color, but they are working hard on it to fix this. In general there is hot water, but pressure vary a lot dans it sometimes turn to cold, then boiling. We have experience problems with air conditionning for about 3 or 4 days. It would either not work at all, or come on / cut off in the middle of the night. But I have to say that at the time we where there, the whole island had major electrical problems. The employee's village had been without electricity for 3 or 4 weeks, and only essentials services where supplied (medical clinic, bank, hotels etc.). So the management might have been asked to turn A/C off to spare electricity since they use a central system at the Barcelo (but that is only my belief).

THE FOOD
Well, it is Cuba, not Canada, so don't expect buffet with a million choices. That said, it is generally good, and has a fair variety. There is always pastas and meat cooked on order that you can take with vegetables from the buffet. To my surprise, it was tasty and seasoned. In my previous trip to Cuba I had experienced totaly tastless food, so that is a good note. For breakfast there was always scrambled eggs, sausages, pancakes, cereal, etc. No complaint there either. Some people say the the Sol or Pelicano is much better, but tourist staying at these hotel, and that we met in Cayo Largo, said thes hotel too run out of some items every now and then. At lunch time the Rancheon and Snack are very good, with a nice variety of hot meals and sandwiches. In the evening they become A la carte restaurants (each 3 days per week and not on the same days). Again their menu is fine, and food is good.

THE STAFF
Just a word to say that the vast majority of the staff is simply great. They are smilling, polite and very nice even if they work long and hard hours. We went dacing with some of them at the Iguana's disco, and had a very good time.

THE BEACH
Fine powdery white sand ! It is like flour, never hot for your feet, it is great. But I must say about this beach is that it changes a lot, and very rapidly. Some even call it the magical beach. For example, when we got there, there was no sand at the bottom of the stairs, and the last step was about 18 inches above the rocks. Two days later, there was sand up to the last step, and the beach deep had almost doubled ! So if you get there and the beach seem small don't worry too much the next day it could be wonderful. In fact I would say that on some days the Barcelo beach is the nicest of all the hotel beaches in Cayo Largo. Some said that the waves are bigger at the Barcelo. Well we took a walk to see for ourselves, and in my opinion the waves are just as big at the Pelicano and Sol. Their beaches are not has deep has the Barcelo's and are much more crowded, so I think this solves the case. People should also be warned that there is a bathing suit optional section at the Barcelo's beach (this is the case at every hotel there and at the public beahces too). So if your are uncomfortable with nudity Cayo Largo might not be the place for you, sinc eyou are sure to encouter some nude people on the beach. Finally, if you like to walk in the sand, then from the Barcelo's beach, you can (but not all the time) walk east for hours. It seem like an endless beach, and after about half an hour, you are likely to be alone on the beach.

OVERBOOKING
We haven't heard of any overbooking at the Barcelo, but the Sol pratice it a lot. It happen frequently that the Sol won't have room and send you at a lesser hotel like the Isla del Sur. So everyone should take this in consideration.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Kiki & Kev  
Canada
April 2005
My husband and I just returned from Barcelo Cayo Largo on Saturday April 30th.

Check In: The ride to the hotel was uneventful and check in was like usual. The only downfall we experienced here was that our room was not going to be ready until around 3pm. We had to ask for a hospitality room in order to change into summer wear.

Rooms: Our room was on the main floor closest to the stage area, we found it neat and clean. There was a fridge provided and safe although I did hear from others that not all rooms had a safe. We had no problem with the air conditioning as well we had hot water although you need to let it run for awhile to get clear water and it seemed to get hotter the longer it ran. There were many who had no hot water for the duration of their stay. Only item missing was a clock ensure that you bring your own from home.

Resort: Two pools provided both salt water and one is an odd shape. There was a smaller pool for children and a small hot tub. A definet downfall is the shade. There is very little at both pool side and ocean front it didn't seem to matter what time we went down to the ocean we could not get any shade.

Beach: No complaints here other than shade. It is beautiful some days there is more beach than others although I had no complaints. The water was a little rough on some days and it would have been nice to have some boggy boards in order to enjoy the waves although none of this was at the Barcelo. We did spend 2 days at Sirena although we remained on the side near the docked boats and did some snorkelling there was shaded areas here and no other people. The other side of the beach is deep sand and a looong walk to the water.

Food: We had no complaints about the food there was omlettes and eggs cooked each morning by the chef as well as chicken, pork and beef stirfrys at night. It would have been nice to have more selection although there is not much you can eat for a week and not get bored. We did hear complaints that the food was not hot enough although we had no concerns.

I would definetly return to Cuba although I am not sure I would return to the Barcelo. We had a great week, meant a lot of great people although we like to try different places each year. Feel free to contact us if you need any further information. ck.taylor@sympatico.ca
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Graham 
Canada
April 2005
Myself and friends recently (April-05) stayed at this hotel. The bungalow rooms were very comfortable and air conditioned, however; Regardless of what was on the buffet for the evening meal the food was always cold. There were 2 chefs on duty cooking hot meals, one prepared Beef/chicken stir fry every day and the other prepared Pasta every day.

The restuarant did not open until 7.30 in the mornings so on checkout day (8.30 coach to airport) there was a mad rush. There was no swim up bar and the pools were salt water, (no real problem). There was only one bar open in the evenings so you can imagine the chaos and the service was slow, one barman typically on duty. On several different ocassions they ran out of Vodka, Beer, Pineapple juice and one day the blender did not work so no mixed drinks.

The beach is starting to recover from the storms but there was plenty of seaweed washed up which the hotel did not seem to want to clear. The mosquitos were unbelievable and while the hotel fogged the area the mosquitos were clearly winning. Although the island is beautiful I would not recomend the Hotel.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Steve 
Toronto, Canada
April 2005
Arrival: We had the normal hurry up and wait going thru customs, nothing unusual there. The bags were waiting upon getting thru as were the resort shuttles as well as our tour rep. If you wish to exchange money at the airport, you have to detour over to the departure side, that is were the only exchange counter is at the airport.

Check-in: The short trip to the resort was uneventful, although it was it’s normal bumpy ride. Once at the Hotel, bags were unloaded, left at curbside while we all waited our turn to check in. After check-in I went to the front desk and changed some money. For the daily exchange rates, with the new tax included, there is a small table to the left of the front desk under the Barceló sign. I did several exchanges during the week as monetary needs arose, there is no need to do one mass exchange as there isn’t much to buy.

If you need to get an advance based on a credit card, you will have to get to the bank located by the marina, but check at the front desk and have them check that the bank is open that day…also remember to take your passport with you, a must when a credit card is used.

Rooms: My room was in the main hotel, second floor facing the pool. The room was of average size, came with a small fridge, TV and room safe…heard from others on my floor that not all the rooms had safes. There were 2 beds in the room, a writing table with chair, two wicker rocking chairs with a small table between them. The balcony had two plastic chairs and table on it, a great spot to sit and read in the early morning before heading off for daily activities. The washroom had the normal items that you would expect to find, built in hair dryer, 110 volt plug for your shaver, one thing that would have been nice would have been one of the pull out clothes lines over the tub to hang those wet clothes on to dry overnight, but the shower curtain rod works just as well.

Like most bathtubs in Cuba, getting out of them can be tricky at first, they are not as wide at the floor level as those in Canada, they had a greater floor slope to them and there is a greater distance from the floor of the tub to the bathroom floor…about 2 inches …just something to watch out for. There were a few quick power outages and hot water during peak times seemed to be in short supply.

The only other things missing from the room were:
A) a clock of some kind
B) a radio/cd player
C) small coffee maker…..if you check out my room pictures you will see one , but alas I knew there were not any and brought my own

Resort: The resort has an easy layout…. the pools and beach straight out from the lobby, the buffet is to the right of the lobby, the snack bar to the right of the pool, lobby bar and stage to the left of the pool. The gym, medical centre, tennis and basketball courts are behind the gym.

The beach is quite nice and restoring it’s self. It stretches way off to the left at the bottom of the stairs. During the week I was there, the beach gained from 4 to 6 feet at the main part, at the bottom of the stairs enough was gained to add beach lounges from the main section back to the stairs and to the right of the stairs, it went from rock to about 2 feet of sand, so given more time the beach should be back to it’s normal self.

The buffet has the normal fare that one would expect, at breakfast there is a station were you can have eggs of any style cooked up. At dinner there are two cook stations, one for frying meats and the other is the pasta station.

The snack bar and Rancho by the beach are for lunches and are used as the ala cartes for dinner.

If you wish that early morning coffee, you will not find a coffee maker in your room, but head on down to the lobby bar and for we Canadians looking for that Timmies fix ask for a café Americano or you can ask for an espresso, you can either have it there or take your travel mug to be filled and take an early morning stroll.

The pools, like all the resorts on the island are salt water pools, there are 3, two main pools and a small kids pool.

The sports club by the pool has a list of daily activities and is were you get your towels.

The nightly shows were quite good and imaginative, they always started with something for the kids to do, next was the band and then the shows. After the shows, the Rancho became the nightspot until sometime after 1 a.m.

The staff is friendly and if you stop and chat with them, they have some interesting stories.

The other beaches: Playa Paradiso and Playa Sirena are the two beaches down by the airport. There are several shuttles to and from these beaches daily.

Sirena is where the water sports are currently stored, there is a small restaurant/bar…not included in the resort…so you have to take a few pesos to purchase lunch or something from the craft store.

In conclusion: I would go back to this resort, there was talk among some on the way back of planning an early December reunion there. Hopefully now that the beach is widening again, the water sports can/will be brought back from playa sirena.

I would rate this as a 3 to 3 ½ star resort using the 4 and 5 I have stayed in Cuba before as a guide…a few improvements and it will move into the 4 star range.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at steven-macleod@rogers.com

Photo link http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/hazelnutt50/my_photos
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Donald 
Canada
April 2005
There were 4 of us (2 couples) on this trip and we stayed at the Barcelo Cayo Largo from April 2-9/05 and here are our impressions of our trip. I should mention that originally we were supposed to be booked at the Sol Cayo Largo until Air Canada cancelled their flights from Toronto with a week and a half to go and left us scrambling. We got a full refund from Air Canada and booked with Signature but all that was left was the Barcelo. Not what we wanted, but wanting to work on our all-over-tans, we decided to go.

The flight down was with WestJet. The flight left on time and it was one of their new 737-700’s with the satellite TV’s in each seat. Nice idea but there are still bugs to be worked out. The pilot said they work ok east-west, but heading north-south as we were it was constantly dropping off-line. The seats are leather but not the most comfortable, lots of squirming after about the first ½ hour, legroom was good, however, probably about the same as Air Canada and definitely better than SkyService and Transat. Service consisted of dragging large cardboard boxes down the aisle filled with individual cardboard snack boxes, courtesy of the tour operators the flight attendants said. They were ok because we were unable to get anything at the airport early in the morning.

If you have an early morning flight out of Toronto’s Terminal 2 there is nothing open for food outside of security until 5:30 or inside security until 6:00. We got there early to get seats together (3:30) as there is no pre-booking on WestJet and proceeded through security at 5:00 A.M. when it opened. My advice would be to wait until the restaurant opens at 5:30 and then go through security. By 6:00 when the coffee bar inside security opened we had decided we would just wait until we got on board. After the snack boxes they took drink orders and got what was probably the weakest cup of coffee I have ever had. We had another round of beverages later in the flight. The flight attendants are all young and energetic and have all these jokes to tell while you’re taxiing, funny the first time, but would be pretty stale after awhile if you travelled on WestJet regularly.

Landing and de-planing in Cayo Largo was good and we were on the bus to the hotel fairly quickly. Check-in was fairly fast. We had wanted a sea view room in one of the bungalows but none were available as the bungalows on the east side of the resort were closed to fix the water problems that they have been having. We did get the sea view room in the main hotel area that we had paid for.

Our room was on the top floor overlooking the pool area just behind the snack bar area. Nice big room and clean. The halogen lights above the mirror in the bathroom did not work and when I inquired about getting them fixed I was told that they could not get any so we didn’t have a lot of light in the bathroom. The other couple we were with had ants in there room and the cleaning staff had to spray them all week.

There isn’t a lot of landscaping around the resort and around the pool area there isn’t a lot of shade. They don’t have many umbrellas either. Some women were topless around the pool but certainly not the majority. Pool area was pretty full for what had to be a half full resort. Hard to find loungers in the shade but there were all ways some in the sun.

The beach was not too bad most days. It was usually pretty windy most days. Wednesday was really windy; the waves were coming right up to the stairs going down to the beach, so we stayed at the pool that day. On other days, yes, we did get allovertans. We were just past the last palapas as we had our own umbrella that we had brought with us. Other naturists were further along past the first rock outcropping. Still others walked further up the beach past the radio tower. All beach goers seemed to respect each other. Although we were in the minority we never felt out of place. There were a fair number of topless women on the beach.

We rented a jeep (40 pesos for 6 hr.) the 2nd day we were there and did a little exploring. We had to go to the Pelicano to replace some eyeglasses that were lost in the waves at Barcelo beach. So we checked out the Pelicano and the Sol while we were there. We wandered through the Sol and down to the beach. From what I saw it was far more elegant than the Barcelo and certainly the beach was a lot nicer. The Sol was definitely more along the lines of what we were looking for. We carried on in our jeep to the town area to see what it was like. Stopped and checked out the marina, went for a beer at the bar and bought some water at the store for the beach later. We visited the turtle farm (1 Peso) and tried to get some money exchanged at the bank but gave up because the line was moving so slow.

We went down to Sirena beach for some food and drink at the restaurant/bar there. Now I know why we needed to stop at the bank as we only had enough pesos for some fried chicken and some beers. We wandered down to the beach and found a palapa to the far right side of the beach as you are looking out over the water. The beach was not overly crowded and no one was around us so we worked on our allovertans some more. No one bothered us although we seemed to be the only naturists on Sirena beach that day. Again there were a lot of topless women. Took the jeep back and got some more beach time down at the Barcelo.

We went back to Paraiso beach the next day on the train from the hotel. We walked down the beach to the east and found a spot where we could get naked. There were more naturists in this area but I think a lot had walked up from Punta Mal Tiempo. We walked naked quite a ways east back towards the Sol and saw quite a few naturists off by themselves relaxing and enjoying the sun. We had seen quite a few naturists at the Sol beach at the far end palapas but we never ventured farther to the west where I think most naturists go. The rest of the time we spent at the Barcelo beach until Friday our last full day when we went back to Sirena beach and managed to get our same spot on the right side of the beach to get our last bit of allovertanning in.

From all the reports we had read we weren’t expected great food and we didn’t get it. Anything from the buffet was luke warm at best. The pasta station was the best in the evening and the made to order omelettes were the best in the morning. We always had enough to eat. The best meals were the lunches at the Ranchon and the pizza at the snack bar although they did run out of pizzas one day. We ate at the al a carte restaurant one night and the food wasn’t bad. The servers do try to do the best they can with what they have to work with and I certainly have no complaints with the staff except for one that caught me off guard as I had not heard of it before. Apparently the locals cannot buy cell phones for themselves, so I was asked by one of the staff if I would go with someone to another hotel to buy a cell phone and card from someone selling phones there. Apparently they can only sell the phones to tourists so you have to bring along your passport and the locals will give you the money so you can buy the phone for them. Now I’ve done a lot of travelling all over the world and have often helped out hotel staff by bringing items for them that they can’t get in their own country, but this one didn’t feel right and declined saying I was busy for the afternoon. I didn’t really like being put on the spot like that by this individual and didn’t know if it was a scam or not. I did ask one of the hotel staff later that I had gotten to know and they said that yes that is the way it’s down and is quite common. Anyways it’s something to be aware of. Again other than that the staff was great.

We hit all the bars and found the best bar to be the 24 hour bar by the theatre. It had the best selection of liquors and the best staff. The bar on the beach had the least but I was only drinking beer so it was ok. The only other thing he had was run for rum punches.

We went to most of the shows in the evening. They would alternate between the dancers and the entertainers every other night. The shows were OK except the Monday Night Comedy show put on by the same people that look after the kids and provide entertainment during the day. We walked out. We found the skits to be in poor taste. In one they did a skit where a guy would come out crawling across the stage pleading for water. He would go so far and drop dead, and then another would crawl over the first one pleading for water and drop dead a little further along. The problem was that every time they crawled over the guy ahead of them they would either sniff his bum, dry humping him or try to pull down his shorts. There were others just as bad but that was the last straw, plus we didn’t think it was appropriate for all the 3-5 year kids that were in the front row.

We did the catamaran tour on the Thursday. The weather was great that day. It was amazing to see how tame the Iguanas were on the island. We did think the tour went a little long. We could have done without the last stop. I think most of the people had had enough by that time and just wanted to get back. The Lobster lunch was good. Snorkelling was also good.

All in all it was a relaxing holiday and we all got great tans. While the Barcelo was alright I think I would much prefer the Sol as it appears to be more elegant, has more to offer and has a better beach. We did enjoy the beaches and will likely be back at some point.

Allovertanguy and Allovertangirl
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Scott and Trish 
Ontario, Canada
April 2005
Our party of eight went to Barcelo Beach Resort, on Cayo Largo, in Cuba for a week in early April. A party of four adults including a couple of seniors. For all of us, this was our first holiday in Cuba.

The weather was mostly sunny for the whole week. It was also very windy for most of the week. This had two consequences: being sand blasted at the beaches, and having a blast in the giant surf at the Barcelo beach. Shade was also a bit of a commodity at the beaches. Getting to the beach early was a must if you wanted to get a palapas (palm umbrella). Also, chairs were not too plentiful. Be prepared to spend time on your towel if you get to a beach after lunch.

We did find the resort to be spacious and clean. The staff were always cleaning and sweeping - probably because of the wind and the open design of the resort. Also, the staff were very friendly, always ready with a smile. There was a great deal of tipping going on - it seemed to be expected - some of our party went through a fair bit of money that way.

We were dissapointed with the bar service. A great rum cocktail was provided to us when we arrived from the airport. I enjoyed a couple while waiting to check in. Unfortunately, when we asked later, the bartenders and the travel rep didn't know what it was. They probably have more specialty cocktails available, it is just difficult trying to find out what they are, there was a bit of a language barrier with the bartenders and there wasn't a bar list of cocktails available. Also, the bar was understaffed during peek hours and you sometimes waited a long time for service. The beach bar was a picnic afair, not a fully stocked bar. A cooler filled with some fruit juice, plastic jugs of beer and a few bottles of rum was carried down to a palm shelter on the beach every morning. If you take the shuttle to Playa Sirena - a beautiful beach worth seeing - where the kayak! s etc. for Barcelo are, there is no bar service there which is included. Instead you buy the drinks for a few pesos each $5 Cdn. I find it puzzling that the resort splits its water sports and refreshments up and still calls itself an all inclusive resort, because while one is available, the other is not.

While on the topic of water sports, they are located at Playa Sirena. The water there is unbelievable! The pictures you see are spot on. I snorkelled for a while and found a large conch shell and a giant starfish. There were also a few fish to be seen. It was rather windy and I was not allowed to use the HobieCat. (He offered to take us for a ride.) I also noticed the ride thing in another posted review. This was dissapointing because I looked for a resort to book which offered sailing. I like to sail.

Our party of eight went on the day long catamaran excursion. It was well worth the money. The stop at iguana island was fun. Bring some fruit to feed the iguanas. We stopped at a sheltered reef where the snorkelling was good. There is a bit of a current and the water was about 12 feet deep. I photographed lots of reef fish, coral, and a stingray. The two beach stops on the cruise were beautiful. One stop was at a very shallow natural pool. The boat stopped and the crew pulled in some lobster which we ate for lunch. Now thats fresh!

Two of the ladies in our group took the excursion to Havana to see the sites. They seemed to have enjoyed their trip.

Hot water (warm) was on and off for all of us. The air conditioner worked well on low in our room but one of the other couples with us didn't have airconditioning that worked. Safes are not in all the rooms; but, there is a hotel safe at the front desk. Service was sometimes not timely. I had to go to the front desk three times to get money exchanged as there was no money on two occassions. Also, clean beach towels are not always at the towel hut for exchange. The shuttles don't always leave on time and we found them to be crowded. The shuttle was overfull one day leaving the beach and a lot of people had to wait for another.

We ate at the a la carte restauant and although we were booked again for the next night - it wasn't busy - our whole group did not want to go back. We went to the buffet the next night instead. Breakfasts were great - the cook made great omelettes. Their coffee is different and quite strong. My wife and I enjoyed it. Bring imodium though, four of the eight of us had gastro-intestinal difficulties.....wooooosh.

The nudity at the beaches was a bit of a novelty. Kind of fun, kind of erotic. The area of the beach where the full nudity occurred was not crowded although there was a mix of people, both with suits on and off. When in Rome..........

Personally, I would not go back. Going to get towels or money over and over, and ordering food on the menu and finding it not available after while is a bit frustrating. I like sailing and was unable to go sailing. I also don't like cold showers. I ejoyed the week; but, other beach resorts have water sports at their beach and fully stocked beach bars that are nearby and included.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Solina 
Toronto
March 2005
We loved the Barcelo!

My 12 year old son and I have just returned from a holiday at the Barcelo - March 20-27, 2005.

I had read all the reports about the hotel not being up to par and that the Sol was a better hotel. I had tried to book the Sol and it had sold out the day I went to the travel agent to book it. When I found out that it was sold out, I nearly cried. I didn't want to book the Barcelo as I had read all sorts of bad reports about it. As I had no other choice..I booked the Barcelo anyway...Boy was I glad that I did...What a good call. The Barcelo is awesome!

The Barcelo was the best hotel I've stayed at in Cuba ...I've been to 3 other resorts. The beach is there and is amazing...It has beautiful sand and is very interesting....I LOVED it!

We checked out the Sol for a day....Well...for all the hype, it's not as good as the Barcelo...It may be fancier, but it's far away from the ocean, a long walk to the water, too formal and quiet. At the Barcelo, we were right at the ocean, the resort had great happy energy and there was music..beautiful music all day and night...they had a lovely Cuban band playing constantly at the Barcelo. My son and I spent a full day at the Sol and were happy to leave and very happy to return to the great energy at the Barcelo.

The hotel rooms were way better at the Barcelo...Big, clean and new. We checked out the rooms at the Sol and they were not as big or as good as at the Barcelo. Also, the ping pong table at the Barcelo is new and way better than at the Sol....the tennis courts were also newer and better at the Barcelo. The pool was the only thing that was bigger and better at the Sol. The pool at the Barcelo is good...but not as fancy or as big....We had no complaints however...

The staff were super friendly and the food was good at the Barcelo. We also tried lunch at the Sol for comparison and the food was not as good. The pizza is way better at the Barcelo.

There are free buses to the Playa Sirenas beach...not a problem getting on. If one bus is full another arrives shortly after for the overflow. The beach at Playa Sirenas isn't as amazing as they say...It's kind of boring. The beach at the Barcelo was prettier and more fun. There's also easy access to the Barcelo beach as you can use the stairs near their beachfront restaurant.

The rooms were very quiet and comfortable...we slept extremely well every night...Never a problem with noise...Also, we had lovely hot water every day...no problems. The water at times did come out a bit orange, but once it ran for a minute it cleared up. They also gave us bottled water in our hotel room everyday.

I would highly recommend this resort for fun and relaxation in the sun. I would give this a 4 star rating and I would definitely return to the Barcelo.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Daniela 
Toronto, Ontario
March 2005
THE WEATHER
Sunny, hot and humid every day. Nice breeze all week, which prevented the mosquitoes from coming out.

THE BEACH
Yes, there is a beach at the Barcelo now and it can be accessed from the stairs (next to the Velamar restaurant) which connect to the main central path of the resort. The beach is very pretty because of the rocks that are directly behind it. There was an iguana that would come out of the rocks and sit in the sun in the morning. Pelicans would fly above the beach in the morning and in the evening, just before sunset. There is also a beach bar at the Barcelo beach.

Towards the end of the week, the beach got smaller. Some palapas and chairs sat in pools of water on the beach. Apparently there was some tornado activity in Florida and it made the water really rough for a couple of days. That didn’t stop die hard thrill seekers from body surfing in the waves. We heard of one person who broke her/his shoulder and had to be airlifted to Havana.

Playa Paraiso and Sirena were as beautiful as ever and the water was much calmer there. We walked over to Punta Mal Tiempo and it was just spectacular with rocks jetting out of the water and the pelicans who just sat around watching us and letting us take pictures of them.

George (not sure of the spelling as it is pronounced “yorge”) who used to work at the Sol Club is now the water sports attendant at Sirena. He’s a great guy and he’ll take you on a ride on the hobie cat for free. Also, he will take small groups of people out to one of the coral reefs to snorkel twice a day. It costs $10/person and it is definitely worth it because it’s ideal if you don’t want to spend the whole day and $80/person on a catamaran in order to snorkel. The coral reef was incredible even though the waves were quite big.

When the heat and the brightness of the sun become unbearable, there is nothing better than spending some time at the Sirena restaurant. It is one of the nicest locations for a restaurant I have ever seen. You look out to palm trees and white sand on one side, and palm trees, white sand and crystalline blue water on the other. If you don’t eat lobster, the food is actually quite cheap, considering the salad bar buffet is included with your meal. And the three-piece band that plays there is amazing, much better than the bands at the Barcelo.

Getting to Sirena and Paraiso was quite stressful for some people. Sometimes the line-up to get on the shuttle bus was quite long and some people seemed to want to ignore it and cut in.

THE FOOD
We have been to the Sol in the past and the food at the Barcelo does not compare. First of all, there was less of everything. I remember that at the Sol, the food at the buffet would be kept covered at all times because of the flies. At the Barcelo, the food was left uncovered and the flies were always on it. You can imagine how the heat and the flies would make for an intestinal disaster. In fact, some people did get severe diarrhoea. The only thing that was better at the Barcelo was the pasta and I suspect that is because of the Italian clientele. However, the bread was not good. It looked like baguette, but it did not feel and taste like baguette. It was not crusty at all. Also, the Sol had a variety of hard cheeses that you could slice yourself, whereas at the Barcelo the cheese was sliced and left out for the flies to breed on it. Breakfast was good if you ordered an omelette. And there was always a good selection of fruit and dessert. However, it seemed that you would get anything you wanted if you arrived early for your meal because it would take a long time for the empty platters to be refilled. I don’t blame the workers for this, it is obviously poor management and understaffing. In fact, the service was horrible. Sometimes you would order a drink and it would take 15 minutes for you to get it, even when it wasn’t that busy. I don’t think many of the Europeans (Italians) tip, so the Cubans don’t see why they should hassle for anyone. The servers were surprised the first time we tipped them and they expressed a lot of gratitude. Guillermo is definitely the best waiter at the buffet restaurant. He will go the extra mile to make you feel comfortable and is so professional. If you go there, find his section and stay there.

The buffet restaurant is divided into three rooms and it’s very uncomfortable. I could never cross my legs under the table, I barely fit and I am not a big person! Also, it often got unbearably hot in there and the air conditioning was not always working. I liked the restaurant at the Sol Club much better, it was more intimate, romantic and I loved the fact that it didn’t really have walls, just curtains to block off the breeze or the heat.

The snack bar by the pool was good. Pizza and baguette sandwiches were the favourites. The servers at this restaurant also seemed to be in better spirits than the servers at the buffet, who looked unhappy and stressed out, which is not the case at the Sol where all the servers were a riot.

The service at the 24 hour bar was not that great either. The bar tenders looked tired and not very friendly. I don’t think they get many tips and that’s a shame. I noticed that service improved once they recognized you as a “tipper” and they would ignore other people and serve you only. I was surprised to find out that the bar was not all inclusive. In fact, Campari, Bailey’s, Cointreau and other liqueurs were not included. Also, one bartender did not know how to make Martini. Luckily I found a couple of other servers that could make a good Martini Dry, but unfortunately they didn’t have olives.

Everyone seemed to be very pleased with the à la carte restaurants. And because there are always ways of circumventing the rules in Cuba, some people were able to eat à la carte almost every night. We ate at the oceanview restaurant (Velamar) three times because it was nice to be by the water with a full moon and also because it was windy by the water and there were no bugs. The Velamar turns into a beautiful dance club after 11 or 12pm and sometimes it would stay open until the morning. We never ate at the Opalino à la carte, but we heard that it was good.

THE ROOMS
We paid for an ocean view room and ended up in the main hotel, on the second floor, overlooking the pool. We were a little disappointed because we would have preferred a bungalow, but it turned out to be ok because we were always so close to everything that it made our lives a lot easier. If you go to bed early though, I would strongly urge you to request a bungalow and be forceful about it and tip all you can to get it, because you will not sleep in the hotel unless you have earplugs! We were so tired our first night that we went to bed at 9:30. We could not sleep until 12:30 because the music and the loud talking at the nightly show were so loud that it sounded like they were in our room. I think the sound reverberates in the hotel lobby and is amplified by the time it gets to the rooms.

We were lucky because our room had air conditioning almost every day. It would cut off every once in a while but we never really suffered from the heat much. Some people never had air conditioning and they said that they couldn’t sleep because of it. We always had water pressure and hot water in the hotel. People in bungalows never had warm water. Some people in the hotel told us that they never had hot water either, so we were pretty lucky in our room.

Our maid Kenia was pretty good and left two bottles of water for us every day. Other people said that their towels weren’t changed every day and that they didn’t get water everyday. I wonder if this had anything to do with tipping or lack of it. We heard of some people leaving a lot of money for the maid and having their fridge stocked with beer and pop. I don’t know if it’s true, but I wouldn’t be surprised. When the Italians arrived, I noticed the maids going into some rooms with bottles of wine.

One couple had to change room Saturday night because their room was infested with tiny black insects that look like mini beetles. They said the room was covered top to bottom, including the beds and it was absolutely disgusting! They were on the third floor in the hotel and I think the room number was 235 if I remember correctly. They also said that the bugs were all over the hallway, so I imagine that there would be other rooms with the same problem.

BLACK THURSDAY
For those of you that stayed in Cuba before, you know that the workers work for 20 days straight and then go home for 10 days. Wednesday was supposed to be the changeover day. Our maid left us a note telling us she would go home, some of the servers told us that they were going home. Then Thursday came and everyone was still there. There was a problem at the airport and the workers could not go home. All hell broke loose.

No water, no air conditioning, no new towels for anyone! Apparently the same thing happened at the Sol Club, so it wasn’t just a problem at the Barcelo.

THE MUSIC
The musicians at the Sol were outstanding. They would play to the whole restaurant and they were just incredible. The bands at the Barcelo didn’t play often and would only move from table to table. That is one thing I really missed while I was at the Barcelo: good music. All I heard all day was obnoxious disco and Italian music.

CONCLUSION
Although our week at the Barcelo was not as relaxing as we had hoped, a good sense of humour and a little flexibility goes a long way. We had a good time in the sun and in the water and ate pretty well. I would not recommend the Barcelo to someone who is looking for a quiet vacation. The Sol Club is ideal for that. I would give the Sol a 9.5/10 and the Barcelo a 7/10. But it is Cuba and it is Cayo Largo and it’s always sad to leave it behind.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Female, 59 
Goodwood, Ontario
March 2005
This was my second trip to Barcelo Cayo Largo. Last time was January 2004, with my sister. This time I travelled alone.

Room: I had a very nice ocean view room, 2nd floor in one of the "bungalows". (It does pay to have your travel agent mention that you are a repeat customer!) The room was kept clean, and I had no complaints about the housekeeping. Unfortunately, I was in a direct line with the beach restaurant, which turns into a disco at night, so I wasn't always able to sleep with the patio door open (which I prefer) and listen to the surf....at least not until after 2 a.m.

Beach: You may have heard that Barcelo had lost its beach....well, it has it back, just in a slightly different location! The beach is building in nicely at the east side of the resort, and is accessible by several sandy trails. This was no problem for me, but could pose a challenge for someone who finds uneven ground difficult. While I was there, they began using the old stairs down from the beach restaurant, and this worked fine at low tide. When the tide was in, there were water covered rocks at the foot of the stairs....not quite so easy, but at least you could avoid "sandy toes" when you were leaving the beach. The water, as usual, was that wonderful torquoise colour, and very clear. The beach has palapas on it for shade, but you need to be there early to ensure you have one. There are also comfortable cushions on the chairs, but again, if you are late you may have to be content with a plain uncushioned chaise. This beach drops off into the water gradually, and is perfect for body surfing. To the west, where once you could walk along the beach to the other hotels, it is now rocky and inaccessible. However, the east beach is easy to access at low tide, and you can walk forever in that direction. (the longest I managed was two hours, and there was lots more beach ahead of me when I turned back!) With a little effort, you can be the only person on the beach, perfect if you relish solitude.

Playa Paraiso & Sirena: There is a regular shuttle to these two west facing beaches. They are very beautiful and worth seeing, even if you don't desire to try the water sports available there for Barcelo guests. There is one HobieCat, some paddle boats, and sea kayaks available. Sometimes it was a challenge finding the staff member in charge, and it seemed there was only one guy taking care of all the boats, but I managed to get out for a couple of sails on the HobieCat. (it was out of commission part of the week, with a tear in the mainsail) They have been building more palapas at Playa Sirena, so shade is not as hard to come by, and they also have quite a few chairs available there now. Snorkelling is also good in this area, notably at Punta Tiempo, which is the sand spit a bit south of Playa Paraiso. Try inside the reef there.....lots of fish to be seen. (and the shuttle driver will drop you off and pick you up there if you ask....it helps if you tip him!)

Food: I had no problem with the quality and variety of the food at the buffet....but some people were complaining. Personally, I can't think of a restaurant in Toronto that wouldn't become boring and repetitious to eat at, if one tried doing so for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a whole week. The snack bar is good for lunch.....pizza and cerveza....yummy!

Staff: All were very nice, I had no complaints about service.

Pools: There are two for adults, both salt water. A small pool is available for children, also a miniature playground with swings and teeter-totters.

Entertainment: I really can't comment, since I don't stay up for the shows. The music was nice most evenings, and I could hear it well from my room. The dancers are super, and it's interesting to watch them rehearse in the daytime. There were some beach volleyball games going on most days.

Hot Water: This was a bit of an issue, mainly because there wasn't any! At least not in my room, and from the comments I heard, lots of others were in the same boat. The water wasn't freezing cold, but at best was lukewarm. Tolerable, but I missed having a hot shower. Also, it is noticably yellow at first, but does run clear after a minute or so. (possibly sulfur??)

Iguanas: You will definitely see these if you walk the beach to the east. They seem more numerous this year, perhaps because they are less shy. People have obviously been feeding them (they like bananas) and some are becoming quite bold.

Hotel Guests: I would say most people at the hotel were from either Canada (English & French speaking) or from Italy. I didn't notice many other languages spoken. Most people were sociable and it wasn't difficult to find a snorkelling companion.

Naturism: The "clothing optional" part of the beach is on the east side. This was not a problem in my opinion, but you should know that if you walk to the east, you will probably encounter people who are opting for the "all over" tan.

Weather: In a word, perfect! Hot and sunny every day. We did have thunderstorms one night, and the dawn broke cloudy, but it soon cleared off and turned into another sunny day.

Money Exchange: There seemed to be a chronic shortage of C.U.C.'s and it took persistance to obtain these, especially one peso notes. (They often would try to give you coin, saying it is the same. It is not.) Eventually it was possible to obtain what I needed.

All in all, I enjoyed my trip to Cayo Largo. Barcelo has a few rough edges, compared to what I have heard of the other hotels, but then you are not paying as much to be there as to visit the Sol properties. Cayo Largo is the right destination if what you desire is perfect white sand beaches, crystal clear water, good snorkelling, and solitude. It may not be the place of your dreams if you are wanting more entertainment, but is one of the best relaxation destinations I have seen.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Anne and Rod 

March 2005
We just got back from a two week vacation in Cuba. We have travelled there before and have always thoroughly enjoyed the country and the people. Our trip to Barcelo Cayo Largo was a big disappointment. The hotel looks tired (we know there was hurricane damage in the fall of last year). There was very little shade round the pools - with scraggly palms (desperately in need of water) and a few umbrellas - quite a few were broken and shabby. I managed to get my only one the day before we left and it collapsed! The hot water was cold except for lukewarm water 2 days before we left and warm water the day before and it was always rusty - very badly so. It stained my washcloth dark brown. I have highlighted blonde hair so only washed in cold water otherwise I would have been an orange redhead! The front desk staff told us to run the hot water tap for 15 minutes to clear it!! The hotel also ran out of toilet paper for a day! The laundry broke down and on several occasions we could not get clean towels. The hotel provided one liter of bottled water per room per day, if you ran out you had to buy any more you needed! When at Sirena Beach - the alternative for the hotel you had to buy all drinks. At Sirena there was very little shade. On another occasion we could not exchange our currency for pesos - they had run out of money! The food was quite good but very repetative and after 2 weeks we were a little tired of the same menu. Someone in a previous letter stated the food was recycled - in some cases that was so. I picked a piece of green moldy bread from one basket. One of my concerns was the chef was cooking the stir-fry using the same spatula to turn and serve the cooked food as he was using to mix the uncooked chicken, pork and beef (which had been cut and prepared earlier in the day) on the grill - that is an absolute no no - I tried to explain to some staff - I did not want to embarras the chef in front of guests, but they could not understand what I meant. Needless to say I did not eat stir-fry again. The hotel caters primarily to Europeans and we found that most of them were smokers. The main dining room was divided into 3 sections the 2 outer ones were spacious having large windows that open and a high ceiling - they were designated for smokers. The inner section was for non smokers - it was very noisy and cramped. The staff in the hotel (with the exception of some of the front desk) were absolutely the best thing about the hotel. They worked long long hours from 6 in the morning til midnight with a 3 hour break in the afternoon and always had a smile on their face - they were uncomplaining and always helpful. The topless dress at the pool would be a little disconcerting for some people with older children and the beach used by the hotel had complete nudity at one end - again didn't bother me but might be offensive to some. It was a relatively short beach so they were pretty much right there. This is not a 4 star hotel it is barely a 3 star in our opinion.

We would be very wary of using Barcelo again.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Carol 
Ontario Canada
February 2005
My husband, 16 year old daughter and I have just returned from Barcelo Cayo Largo and were pleasantly pleased with the resort.

I had read some of the previous reviews and was starting to get a little worried about what we were getting ourselves into. I have to say we had a great time.

Many of the previous comments were noted – this is definitely a 3+ maybe 4 star location. BUT this is also a small island with little activity outside of the hotels, so you make of it what you want to. Be prepared to relax in the sun – don’t expect to go to market after market to find the touristy trinkets that you would find on the mainland.

The water problem (little or no hot water and discoloured) was fixed on our second day at the resort – they finally made the decision to turn off the water to the entire resort so that they could get it done correctly – I was told they had been trying to “fix” it for about a month and didn’t want to interrupt the guests. The water was hot and clear following the fix.

We are not picky eaters and found that the food exceeded our expectations. We were warned by several friends that the food, in Cuba, generally tends to be – well – limited. We found this not to be the case. We had turkey, rabbit, fish galore, pork tenderloin, beef, a great beef burger with fries and the list goes on. We always left the table satisfied.

The wait staff at this resort was very friendly and helpful. If one couldn’t help they got someone else who could as quickly as they could. The maids kept our room spotless. When some of the front desk people decide that they can smile and be helpful without suspicion and argument they will have corrected any of the staffing issues that we met with. Do yourself a favour – you want the best service possible - tip 1 peso a meal, give the pool guy a couple of peso here and there and they will bend over backwards to help you. Chat with the entertainment staff and you will find out anything you need to know with regards to the resort. Language problems are virtually nonexistant – most of the staff speak at least 2 languages many speak 4 or more.

Playa Sirena is the “replacement beach” for Barcelo at the moment – they were to re-instate the resort beach with all of the water sports equipment the week that we were there but have decided to hold off for a bit longer while they work on a way to make the beach easier to access. It is doable but you must climb some rock to get there. Sirena beach is well worth the visit – it is very spacious, the sand is like talc and the water is beyond words, gentle waves – no large rollers to knock you off your feet, it is great for the unsteady and children .

We took the trip to Havana – unlike in the previous review – we had little or no problems. Flight, conducted bus tour and guided walking tour. The flight left on time we only waited 10 minutes from arrival to board an older Russian made prop plane with 3 windows on each side and a total of about 30 seats. Our guide was very open and would answer our questions – the sights were all over the spectrum of reality. I can only say I count my blessings that I live in Canada. The abject poverty was unbelievable but when you looked past that you could see the incredible beauty that was the city – Old Havana was worth the trip on it’s own. I only took 250 photos that day.

Please remember that this is Cuba and they work by Cuban time. If they say 6:30 for dinner it will probably be 7:00, it may be late but hey are you really in a hurry to get somewhere – you are on holiday. The way they look at the world is totally different from us – it will get done – eventually. Be open minded - it is a different culture. If you are looking for an American type of holiday - go to Florida.

We travelled with Air Canada Vacations for the first time. Lin the rep was at the hotel 6 of the 7 days for some period of time and was as far as the telephone at all other times. She was very open and a wealth of information. It was nice to fly on an aircraft with some real leg room.

All in all, we had a wonderful time at Barcelo Cayo Largo and would we go back again? Without question.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Jayne  
Canada
February 2005
There is now a beach at the hotel Barcela Cayo Largo. We were quite worried after booking this holiday (without a warning about the beach) and then later reading the January review that reported that there was no beach at this hotel. The beach now is large enough for many to enjoy with plenty of personal space. However, visitors should be agile to get to the beach as you need to climb down some rocks (not too difficult if you have flexibility and mobility). There are currently no stairs to the beach. However, this could change as more sand is shifting towards this part of the island with the force of the ocean currents. They are anticipating that simply through the natural restoration process, the beach will be restored within the next few months. At the time of our stay, however, there were still no water sports at this beach. The water sports were supposed to be available at Playa Serena, another local beach that you can shuttle to freely.

We went to Playa Serena by shuttle one day and we did see some non-motorized boats, but no one to speak to about taking these boats out Albeit we didn't really try to hard to find out about the water sports available at this beach paradise. Just wading in the water and waking along the beach was enough for us to relax and enjoy our stay. This beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen in all of my Carribean visits. You may need to be very patient and tolerant, however, to get to this beach. Our shuttle was over half over late in arriving to take the waiting guests to Playa Serena. Moreover, on our shuttle experience, the shuttle was too small to transport all of the guests that were waiting. In other words, some guests waited close to an hour only to discover they could not get on the shuttle to the beach. This is not a pleasant way to spend a holiday. Antoher warning is that shade is limited at the distant beach so borrow an umbrella before you venture there.

Our stay was also negatively affected by a shortage of hot water. In our unit, there was only one day we had warm water. Our friends who stayed in another unit nearby had tepid water on several days. Many days also saw the water colour to be bright red, leaving a rusty residue on the clean white towels and I assume our own bodies.

The food was plentiful and there was a great deal of variety. However, unlike the previous reviewers, we found much of the food to be quite bland. With each passing day, making food choices became easier as we became more acquainted with which foods had more flavour and suited our individual tastes. The fish was wonderful, the pizza by the pool was great, and the food in the beach restaurant called the Ranchon was good. We enjoyed the grills in the main buffet area where they will freshly grill you fish, beef, chicken and make omlets in the morning.

The rooms are clean and the staff is friendly. When we were there, there was a shortage of items such as light bulb, so if your bulbs are burnt out as was the case with both of our bulbs in the ceiling near our mirror in our bathroom, you are out of luck. Blankets are also limited and often unavailable when requested. Also be careful, if you request anything extra like a blanket (or are given a sheet instead of a blanket because blankets are unavailable), Be sure to notice if these items disappear one day in the cleaning process. Our friends were told they needed to pay $25 US for a 3/4 white flat sheet that went missing in their room. They had been given this sheet as an alternative to blankets which were unavailable one evening. When blankets appeared the next day and the sheet disappeared, they simply assumed it was taken away because it was no longer needed since the blankets arrived. Fighting over a $25 sheet charge at the end of your stay is no way to end your vacation. Our friends were told they would not be given a bus pass to the airport if they didn't pay the sheet replacement cost. This was a stressful way to end their trip.

If you are looking for sand, sea, and sun, there is plenty of this at this location. There is tennis, ping pong, and darts. The pool is clean.

There is nothing much else to do on the island, however. You can rent a scooter or a jeep or take a bicycle. We did take bikes out one day and enjoyed the ride along the coast to explore other resorts.

We took a day trip by airplane to Havana which was an interesting day since we had never been to Havana before. The airplane trip to Havana ($125 US) was eventful, however.
The plane that was scheduled to take us came to the Cayo Largo airport and left 1/2 hour early with no passengers on the plane, even though all the passengers who had signed up to board the plane were lined up to board the plane with boarding passes in their hands. No explanation was given as to why our plane left without anyone on it. Luckily for us, a tour representative on her day off, was amongst the passengers schedule to board. She was kind enough to arrange alternative transportation. We didn't know what we would have done if she hadn't been amongst us. We were not supposed to see a guide or anyone else official until we landed in Havana and since we were stranded in the airport without a plane (or a bus to return to the hotel), we would have had a difficult day if this unofficial travel rep on her day off had not been one of the passengers.

For lovers of sand, sea, blue skies, and quiet, the island of Cayo Largo would be a good choice. Be aware, however, that you will be 125 km off the south coast of Cuba, so travelling elsewhere in Cuba requires a plane.
Barcelo Cayo Largo
Bev and Wayne 
Pickering, Ontario
January 2005
We spent Xmas Day to New Year's Day at Barcelo Cayo Largo. My husband and I are "young" late 50ers.

They weren't kidding about having no beach but I must say that although it would have been nice to have one, the overall experience of being on this island was well worth it. It is a wonderful place to go hiking/walking.

The hotel was spotless (in spite of a previous review I read).

The food was not recycled, in fact I assisted one of the chefs concocting a sea food/rice dish! There was a wonderful assortment, fresh food which included hips of beef being offered more than once during the week, stir fry of beef and chicken breast (deboned) cooked to your satisfaction. All in all the buffet was excellent! I understood from two other guests (who have been chefs in Canada) that one of the prime complaints about the resort from fellow travellers was the food and we couldn't quite figure that one out! Grow up people and learn to eat big people's food! We were so happy with the buffet, its food offerings and the wonderful service that we didn't bother to go to the al a carte for dinner.

They had a great bar/restaurant/snack bar out by the pools during the day that provided excellent food, you could order from a menu and had the opportunity to select items from a small buffet of salads, fruits etc.

The rooms were very nice. The bedding (linens) superb! I felt like I was sleeping in a 5 star hotel. The bed were extremely comfortable and as I say, the linens were lovely, clean, and crisp!

Great hairdryers too! Best we've experienced in Cuba and we have been to seven different resorts since 2000.

The staff were great. They are a warm loving people and I can't say enough good about them!

Good entertainment in the evening! Unlike some resorts in Dominican where they rely on using the guests as continual props to make a show, these entertainers/dancers worked endless hours during the day, preparing for the show at night and were quite professional! Bravo!

Now for the dark side! It appears that health and safety guidelines are not the same for the Caribbean as they are for Canada/USA. There is no lighting, signage to caution someone unfamiliar with the walkway or reflective tape to indicate a very deep steps when you are walking the foot bridge to view the ocean by the restaurant/disco. I noticed as well that there are staggered steps leading to the hot tub in the pool area that should have indicators on the edge that there are stairs, as the materials they are made of visibly blends in with the lower step, even in daylight. There was also a poorly planned step around one side of the bar in the entertainment area and I'm amazed that no one fell at that one either up or down, in view of lack of reflective tape or a marking on the edge of the step that would indicate there was one.

Otherwise, Barcelo was a lovely experience. The art work they have had done in the main lobby is amazing as well!

Our trip was also enhanced by meeting an amazing assortment of wonderful people not only from Canada but from Italy as well.

The World of Vacations representative was also quite helpful and I'm sure appreciated a positive comment rather than some of the minutia being complained of!