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Hotel Ancon
December 2008
Arrival: Nov. 28, 2008 - Dec. 05, 2008
Cubana Airlines typical flight. No free beverages of any sort, however seats were roomy with good legroom. Holasun rep. at airport had room assignment complete with key. Bus ride is 2 1/2 hours from Santa Clara to Club Ancon. Due to late departure from YYZ and arrival delay at Santa Clara, we didn't get to the hotel until midnight. Restaurant was closed (of course) so the only food available was from the 24 hour snack bar. Not great, but better than going to bed hungry.

Typical 3 star. A little worn, but everything worked. We were in the 8000 block (not the main hotel building). Our only complaint was air conditioner noise from the adjoinng room. We don't use the air at night, but our neighbours did. With the patio doors open to let in the sound of the surf, our neighbour's air conditioner noise surprisingly came into the room through our inactive air conditioner.

Restaurants and Bars:
Lobby bar and Beach/Pool bar were the only ones open. Quality of drinks (especially coffee) was variable depending on time of day and staff on duty. International specialty restaurant was unsatisfactory. Indifferent service and poorly prepared food. Buffet restaurant was typical 3 star - repetitive, but with plenty of quantity. You could predict tomorrow's appetizers by looking at what was not being eaten today. One plus (for me, anyway) bacon & eggs was available every morning.

Beach is good. long & sandy either side of the resort. OK for swimming, but no snorkelling. The ocean was disappointingly cold while we were there. Pool is large and was totally unused while we were there because the water was freezing cold. Grounds are well kept.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Typical range of activities - Tour of Trinidad, Mountain tour, catamaran to island for snorkelling, etc. We took the bus to Trinidad twice (2 CUC round trip) and toured ourselves around town. The mountain tour (43 CUC including lunch) was a nice way to get up into the hills - good views of both the Caribbean and inland. A 5 km. hike (2 1/2 in and 2 1/2 out) works up the appetite. The ride to and from was bumpy for a good part of the trip due to washed out roadbeds in a couple of places and a 25 year old 5 ton 6 wheel drive truck.

Other Comments:
Hotel Ancon is a solid 3 star destination.
Hotel Ancon
Ontario, Canada
August 2008
OVERALL COMMENTS: This was my third time in Cuba and I must say it was a bit disappointing. Things have changed quite a bit since my first visit in and even since my previous visit. I will NEVER again stay at a resort where Cuban tourists are also staying. Apparently this is the first year that select Cubans are being allowed to stay in hotels as tourists. For the most part (and there were some exceptions) Cuban tourists are extremely rude and keen on making it known to foreign tourists and Cuban workers that they are somehow better than the rest of Cuba. They like to make it clear that they have some wealth and can live-it up just like the foreigners. They repeatedly jump lines and have little issue with polluting the beach with cups, plates or wrappers. The Cuban hotel workers (including hotel management) do not seem to care for them either (at least this is what a few expressed privately). But, they are fearful of commenting for fear of retaliation – most Cuban tourists are either senior government officials or industry managers. For the most part the Cuban man staying at the resort tended to dominate the games area - and fill it with smoke - with little or no regard for the kids who waited for a very long time to play a game of ping-pong or pool. It is really sad and disappointing to see because Cubans are generally friendly and considerate people. But most Cuban tourists that we met during this week were not. And, they do not treat the Cuban hotel staff very nicely.

The food and kids club were also quite disappointing.

The beach itself - which is quite beautiful - and most of the hotel staff were a real plus. I have provided details below that will hopefully help others to make their own travel decisions and how and where to spend their vacation money.

BEACH – Beautiful! It is not Varadero but it is quite beautiful. White sand and warm blue-turquoise water. It is clean, safe, and really quite wonderful. Close proximity to Trinidad (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is an added bonus. The only drawback is the regular stream of Cuban males in the water offering lobster dinners at their homes ($10 pesos/person) or selling beautiful and large seashells. They approach you constantly the moment you get in the water. And, even though they are polite it gets tedious and breaks the vacation spirit after a while.

PROPERTY – For a three start hotel the property is well maintained and pretty. The main complaint here is the smoke that seems to hover fo hours close to the buffet restaurant (coming from the indoor bar) and near the games area as well.

ACCOMMODATIONS – For a three star hotel the accommodations and housekeeping are quite good – especially if you tip the chambermaid or leave some items such as soap shampoo or toothpaste. We did this daily – costs us very little and meant a great deal to the maids.

BUFFET: There is only one buffet. By the third day the food starts to get tiresome and predictable – especially if you are traveling with children.

RESTAURANTS: Food is average but service is good. You always need reservations.

SNACK BAR: This is the only source of food outside of restaurant and buffet hours. It is understaffed (only one person), the waits can be quite long (30 mins for fries is not unusual), and snacks are NOT available all day.

It provides a kind of “hamburger” , cheese and ham sandwiches and french fries. Towards the evening they will suddenly tell you that of the three food items they offer (fries, hamburgers, cheese-ham sandwiches) one or two will not be available for a few hours.

BARS: There are two – one indoor close to the lobby and buffet area and one outdoor close to the snack bar. Both are usually understaffed and the lines can get long – 10 to 15 minutes wait for a drink is not unusual. It can be longer if one or two Cuban tourists in front of you decide to let a buddy or two in-line as occasionally happened. Also, the indoor bar – next to the buffet – gets very (and I mean very) smoky. The cigar smoke has very little place to escape to.

SERVICE : Most staff are friendly and pleasant. However, several times it was quite apparent that serving Cuban tourists seemed to be more urgent or important than serving Canadian and other foreign tourists. This may be owing to the fact that Cuban tourists are “higher-ups” in government and industry.

KIDS CLUB: there isn’t one. They have some activities for kids on some afternoons but not daily. Mostly bingo and the like which lasts about an hour. The games area consists of two pool tables, one ping-pong table and a few board games. NOTE: kids under 14 are not allowed to use the pool tables.

ENTERTAINMENT: This consist of a Cuban musical show that lasts roughly 25 to 30 minutes each night. After that there is the disco. Nothing special – small, loud music, and tobacco smoke.

GAMES AREA: Adult Cuban males tend to dominate the ping pong tables and pool tables. They also tend to smoke non-stop. Unless you don’t mind exposing your children to vast amounts – and I mean vast amounts - of second-hand smoke the games areas is really not for kids. Unfortunately, this is the only area with games and kids will want to go there.

CONCLUSION: The big attraction here is the white sandy beach and the proximity to colonial Trinidad. I would not recommend it for families with children. And, I would definitely not recommend it for more than one week. Smokers may enjoy it here – non-smokers will likely not enjoy it as much.
Hotel Ancon

May 2008
I have some time to post how our trip went to Trinidad! We stayed at Club Ancon on the Ancon Peninsula, March 6 - 20, 2008.

Firstly, our flight with Air Cubana was ON-TIME, and went to Cienfuegos, where after doing my homework knew to go across the street to the 24 hour Bar/Convenience Store (they accept Canadian $). Purchased Crystal's/Beer's/Cervesa's, for the road trip. A Hola Sun Representative met us outside the Terminal and passed us our bookings for the Hotel, which was nice as then we didn't have to wait to book in at the Hotel's Reception when we arrived, we went directly to the room. It was dark out so, we wouldn't be able to see anything much anyway, we landed at 8 p.m.

The bus was far nicer than I'd read in other reviews; the ride was uneventful and 90 minutes long. We booked a Superior Room because of reviews I had read, and were very comfortable, it included two double beds, a refrigerator supplied daily with a 1500ml bottle of water, T.V. safe was no extra charge, and full bathroom. Ample storage, closet and dresser. Don’t forget to pack a facecloth as we found out they don’t supply them, and after doing some more homework, European Hotels don’t either.

The Hotel Staff, we found to be as helpful as they could possibly be. To us it seemed as though they were short staffed though, as the swim up Bar in the pool was closed. And there was no beach Bar. The snack Bar at the entertainment area was open supposedly 24 hours, but they did encourage people to close down for the night by about 1 or 2 in the morning, by pouring excessive amounts of alcohol in your drinks. However, if you sat in the outdoor patio, next to the reception desk (open till 11 pm), someone was coming out to ask if you needed a drink or anything else! What we saw most of all were the visitors there, treating the service people as though they were they’re personal slaves rather than respected hard working people! Showing common courtesy above anything else was valued by them. Don’t forget to use your manners that your mother taught you; a simple thank-you, (gracias) with a smile goes a long way!

The Resort itself is not the most updated I've seen however, I don't go to stay in-doors! It's the Caribbean!! It was constantly being cleaned, and that's all that matters!

The Buffet, I cannot believe that people complain about, it would put all of our buffets to shame with the pure magnitude of it. As far as using the turkey from the day before to make a cold turkey salad for the next day is what I do at home here, like me, They DON'T waste! I hate waste! The Al a Carte’ Restaurants were good our favourite was the International.

The daily entertainment included; a trained exercise leader on the beach each morning at 10, Salsa lessons, and Spanish lessons.

The evening Entertainment, for our taste was great, they had a young Cuban pop/rap group there and we ended up purchasing their CD, and enjoy it very much. Repetitive, yes. However these boys have only just begun, and the other option was the dancing group (which were very good), and the older entertainment resembled a Tony Bennet Tom Jones or a Neil Diamond show, which we’re not into.

All in all our two week vacation was indulgent, exciting relaxing, comforting, and we're now going back to the same place May 30/08 for one more week! Must get a trip in to the Topes de Collantes, A protected national park that we didn't get to see the first time as, all the parks were closed on the day we went on the Steam Train Ride, as the New Presidente' was touring all the parks that day. No Problem Man, I knew we'd be back! If anyone complains about the slowness of service or the lack of interest, they should go to Mexico, same type of thing there, I think, all of us North American/European people are far to rushed in this day and age anyway! I don't see Cubans taking off work for stress leave! Maybe we should be taking lessons! I'm going to try anyway! Hasta luego, Until next time.
Gran Caribe Club Ancon

April 2007
From March 15-29 I enjoyed the sun and most of Club Ancon. With a few exceptions it was a great vacation. I had chosen Ancon for several reasons; great price, 2 weeks just over $110.00 single occupancy, its proximity to Trinidad a colonial town I really wanted to see and the review’s I had read which were for the most part were very good. Some reviewers said the food was the best they had ever had in Cuba. Our Air Cubana flight although an hour late leaving Toronto was excellent with a tasty snack. The bus ride about 90 minutes from Cienfuegos meant we arrived at the resort around midnight. My first assigned room (a standard) was claustrophobic and although it had a sea view there was no balcony. Next morning I asked for a change and was quickly moved to 309 which had an attractive balcony and overlooked the beach. The room was downright tiny, no table, no reading light, 2 ¾ beds one of which had to be moved to enter the closet and get to the safe. The power was 110 so for Canadians no need for a converter. Unfortunately there was no chest of drawers or a place for the suit case so it sat on the extra bed for two weeks and I lived out of it My choice of TV channels was very limited, CNN, the Discovery channel, ESPN and a lousy movie channel plus three others in Spanish. There was a walk-in shower and surprise, lots of hot water. A real plus. My room was in the old section, talk about thin walls, you could here snoring, coughing, talking flushing from the adjoining rooms. From what I’ve been told the rooms in the new section are considerably larger. The main lobby and dining room was close at hand and the beach and pool steps away. Now I’m not complaining about the room really, you get what you pay for.

The Main Hotel:
The lobby was very nice, constantly being mopped and cleaned. Front desk personnel were always attentive and helpful. To book the a la cartes the Customer service desk was also in the lobby but the line-ups long so I never bothered going through the effort. A couple I spoke to on the return flight said the International restaurant was excellent however the Italian one wasn’t so great.

Unfortunately during my stay there were many electricity outages varying in length from a few minutes to several hours. No big deal except the generator didn’t automatically kick in, a must in any resort hotel. If your room was on the fifth floor that created a problem.

The beach: Absolutely fabulous, kilometres of fine white sand just wonderful for strolling or jogging, the water shallow enough for small kids no shortage of sun beds and several shaded cana shelters although the hotel seemed very full. . , Also a plus, waiters to get your drinks as you lounged on the beach. To me this beach is far superior to Varadero. Beach Bar:

The beach bar was excellent and adjoined the snack bar where I had most of my lunches which were very good; pizza. burgers, sandwiches etc. all served a la carte.

The Pool:
A huge pool with a swim up bar was rarely busy in the morning but seemed to be a destination after lunch. Again, lots of loungers and an n easy sloping entrance made it good for all ages.

This was a highlight of my visit. I’m not one for organized tours so it was an easy unescorted destination about 10-15 kilometres away. I went in one morning with Vic a Canadian from Midland who had been there the previous year. We took a mini-bus, 5 pesos return from the hotel and takes about 20 minutes for the drive. If you wish to take a Coco taxi, just stroll 100 metres along the beach and you will see a green awning covering a private bar from which they will call for a Coco taxi. We went in the morning and spent the next couple of hours strolling the streets taking in the newer part of the city where we were dropped off then walking about 15 minutes to the colonial part, with its cobbled streets, en route passing several flea markets on side streets with the usual inexpensive Cuba souvenirs, then a little farther, a beautiful old cathedral, great for a few minutes respite, colonial buildings, and an attractive plaza. We took an hour to relax with a few Crystals in a bar up the steps adjoining the cathedral, where a local group was entertaining. Be sure to give them a tip. We then walked back to the street where we had been dropped and with a couple of beers to quench our thirst took in the busy street scene as we waited for our bus. I would suggest that everyone make time to go into Trinidad, it is truly fascinating.

The other highlight of my trip was a lobster dinner in a Cuban home. Crystal who had been to Trinidad several times arranged with a local for four of us to go. 8 pesos was the cost and it was superb. It was at a home in a small hamlet about a fifteen minute drive from the hotel. The people were so poor but just wonderful to us. There are always people on the beach who will approach you with these offers. Please be sure to take advantage. You won’t regret it.

The buffet:
In a word terrible! Previous reviews had said how wonderful the buffet was. Maybe it once was but the resort changed hands recently and is now owned by Club Amigo. Breakfast, usually good in resorts was horrible. The bacon, disgusting, small pieces of fat with shreds of meat attached, cold pancakes and French toast. A French-Canadian lady pointed out to me the thermometer on the steam table. 71f. (room temperature) and that’s not healthy period. Bread, usually good in Cuban resorts, stale and tasteless as were also the little rolls. Lineups for eggs and omelets stretched back 8-10 people since most of the time there was only one cook. At meal times there was constant cutting into lines and there seemed to be no proper order for the tables and hordes of people moving around.

Dinner, again greasy, unappetizing, greasy goat and chicken sitting in more grease plus several other unappetizing choices. Again, long line ups for the grill with out enough staff to serve the guests. This was the worse dining I had had in eight visits to Cuba. Without exception everyone I spoke to was disgusted. This is a case where the chef and/or food and beverage manager should be replaced. The tour operators from Canada Sun wing and Holasun, the two I know of should look at this property again and if changes aren’t made remove it from their offerings. The best thing at dinner was possibly the salads and the ice-cream for dessert.

Lobby bar: Great place out of the heat for a few drinks, but the staff are often overwhelmed by crowds trying for a drink. We know service is slower in the Caribbean but this bar just can’t handle it. Often there were upwards of 15-20 people crowding the bar trying to get served however what with specials orders such as specialty coffees, mojitos and other drinks taking time to prepare and only a bartender or two and a couple of servers also trying to serve drinks to lobby sitters and an outdoor terrace 25 metres away, there is no way this is bar can function with any degree of acceptable service for anyone. There wasn’t even a blender or machine to make pinacoladas. Surely they are aware you don’t shake ingredients to make blended tropical drinks. Where is the food and beverage manager or the resort manager? One look and they should be able to know this is not good.

A few comments: I would guestimate 80% of the guests were Canadian, maybe 60% of that from Quebec; the balance European and several Cuban families on their annual vacation. A good thing for me, the guests for the most part were in their 40s and upwards. It didn’t seem to attract much of a younger following. Most Canadians who had been there before said the difference between now and past visits as far as the buffet went was day and night, they would not be back. Those on their first visit said the same. They wouldn’t return. All very sad. The staff is great; the beach beautiful and sure there is always something one can find on a buffet but this one was truly an example of how not to run a buffet. If you want to lose weight this place will help. However, I may return if reviews closer to when I go are positive. Things can change. If anyone wishes, email me scoutie1999@yahoo.com
Gran Caribe Club Ancon
Joe and Karen 
Ontario, Canada
January 2007
We were at the Hotel Ancon from January 11 until January 18 2007 inclusive and we had the most wonderful time. Having read some negative reviews about the Ancon we were just a little apprehensive before we went. Well we needn't have worried. This is a very well-run hotel with good management and great staff. Mostly in the travel books it is classed as a 2 1/2 star but indeed the staff and management are 5 Star. We were certainly treated very well all week. There are two sections to this Hotel. One section is a seven-story building with two elevators. The other building where we stayed were all superior rooms and it is to the east of the main building and is three stories tall and all the rooms have balconies.

THE FLIGHT. Our flight with Cubana left on schedule and was quite comfortable with larger seats than the normal charter aircraft. They served a lunch on the way down which was quite adequate and was pretty good for airline food. They served coffee after lunch and if you wanted an alcoholic beverage they were $3 Canadian each. For the alcoholic beverage you had the choice of beer or rum. Not bad really. The flight was smooth and quick. Three hours and 15 minutes we were on the ground in Cienfuegos. Getting through Cuban customs and immigration was easy. The airport is quite small but very pleasant and easy to get through. No problems with the luggage.

THE BUS TO THE RESORT. Some chap on our flight brought in some contraband electronics and spent an hour trying to brow beat the Cuban customs into letting him bring them into Cuba. He failed at that one but managed to hold up our bus for one hour and 15 minutes while he argued with the officials. Needless to say people on the bus were a bit upset. Not him though. He brazened it out by complaining about customs officials and how lousy they were. The bus ride to the Ancon Hotel took one hour and 20 minutes and as it was dark we weren't able to see the countryside but the time went very fast all the same. Our tour representative already had our envelopes with our room keys and room assignment and also our wrist bands for the all-inclusive, these wrist bands we put on on the bus. So we were all set when we got to the Hotel at 12:30 a.m. to take our luggage to the room and go to the 24-hour bar and have our first wonderful Mojito. Yes they had mint. Our first impression of the Hotel and staff was certainly positive.

OUR ROOM. This was just a great room. We had chosen a superior room and we were certainly happy we did. Our room was oceanfront on the second floor with a very nice balcony. The balcony was furnished with two chairs and a table. The view of the garden and the beach was fantastic. The garden was especially beautiful with loads of bougainvillea. Our room was a fairly good size with two single beds, two night tables, a writing table, a blanket box. The room had a safe that was situated in the closet and the safe (no extra charge) was opened with your room key. The room had a television that showed about seven or eight TV stations. Three of those TV stations were English-speaking. There was a small fridge for keeping your water and drinks cold. The fridge is certainly a must as far as my wife and I are concerned. The room had a good size closet with lots of hangers. The bathroom had a shower and a tub and wash basin. It also had a very good hair dryer and the electric plugs were 110 volt. There were two other 110 volt plugs in the room by the bedside and there was two 220 volt plugs on the other wall. No shortage of plugs. Every day we had two clean towels left by our housekeeper who kept our room immaculate the whole week. We had towel art all week as well. We had no problems with hot water anytime during the week. It was hot hot hot. We did try the air-conditioning out one afternoon for about an hour. It worked fine.

THE BARS AND FAST FOOD DINING. There were two bars. One bar was in the lobby of the main Hotel Building. This was quite a nice stand up bar if you wanted to sip a cool drink and people watch in the lobby. They also had maybe six or eight tables that would seat four per table right in front of the bar. They had mostly Cuban domestic drinks. They did have some gin and vodka and some Canadian whiskey(no name), but it was mostly domestic Cuban rum and liquors. No complaint there. The lobby bar staff were friendly and courteous and we never had to wait for a drink or service of any kind. Adjoining the large comfortable hotel lobby was an outside area with about 40 tables and if you sat there one of the waiters or waitresses would get you a drink from the bar if you wanted. Pretty good service with a smile. This bar opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 10 PM. Perfect for to have a drink before lunch, before dinner, or a brandy after dinner when dining at the buffet which was next door. The other bar was in the entertainment area and was a 24-hour bar. The service there was excellent also. They had lots of waiters and English was spoken if you're Spanish couldn't be understood. In this area there was a snack bar that served pizzas, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and different kinds of sandwiches. Service was excellent here at this snack bar also as you didn't have to wait very long for your food. Mostly the french fries and other food were done in small batches so the food was hot at all times. At lunchtime in this particular area the chef barbecued chicken or fish or pork outdoors on a big charcoal barbecue. Yummy indeed!. The beach in front of this particular area was served by waiters. If you wanted a beer or rum or any other drink the waiter brought it right down to your Palapa, with a smile I might add. I hadn't seen this in too many hotels before. Not hotels at this thrifty price anyway. Just marvelous. Tough on the waiters, but marvelous for the guests.

THE MAIN DINING AND BUFFET. We ate all our evening meals at the buffet except for one . The one evening we booked at the a la carte we had seafood. Lobster to be exact at no extra charge. We were also served house wine (which was quite good) with our lobster dinner. We had no trouble making reservations for this seafood restaurant. The lobster was very good and we certainly enjoyed our meal. As we really are not a la carte people we mostly dined at the main restaurant buffet.

BREAKFAST. I always enjoy breakfast, and breakfast was good here at the buffet. They had some wonderful breads of all types. They had fresh fruit. They had fresh salads. They had quite a few cold meats. They had cereal, orange juice fresh squeezed, French toast, poached eggs, fried potatoes, crispy bacon. They had an omelet station where the chef cooked eggs any style right in front of you. I had an omelet with different fillings for breakfast every day. They had lots of fillings on hand for the omelets. You never had to wait very long as the chef was skilled at what he did and very organized. The cooking staff worked very hard.

LUNCH. There were many choices for lunch. There was lots of salads. Lots of bread. Soup. Lots of vegetables. Lots of fruit. There was a pasta station where pasta was done for you on an individual basis. There was a grill where the chef would cook you some pork chops or chicken or fish whatever was on the menu that day. The meat was cooked right there in front of you and I thought the speed and service was excellent. There were no really long lineups for lunch. Usually after my lunch and of course after my dinner too I would have some wonderful Cuban ice cream that they served every day during the week we were there (3 flavours). Too much.

DINNER. At the buffet dinner was a mirror image of lunch. We always started with soup and it was quite good. We always had a choice of fish or pork, chicken or on a few occasions they had ground beef with rice. They also had beef stew with large chunks of beef. They had french fries and other types of potato almost every night. My favorite was the different types of rice that they cooked. Some of the rice was wonderfully spiced and I just couldn't get enough of that. I would say there wasn't any night that I was disappointed with the food and that's saying something. There was always a good choice. As with lunch there was a pasta station where pasta was individually prepared for you. Also there was a chef to cook you pieces of fish or pork or chicken. Never a lineup that was too long that you had to wait an undue amount. We were also served wine with dinner if we requested. They weren't stingy with the wine. The wine always flowed generously. At dinner the waitstaff were the best I've seen anywhere. Mostly there were at least two top-notch waitstaff in every section that carried the day. That's all I'll say about that.

THE BEACH. We found the beach to be excellent. There are maybe 7 or 8 km total of white sand beach. We walked all of the beach from one end to the other and the sand was white and fine and quite solid to walk on so I didn't end up with charlie horses every night (leg cramps). It really was great walking. At no point were we approached by panhandlers or people selling merchandise of any kind. At no point on our daily walks did we ever feel unsafe. People were just friendly. We went swimming several times in the ocean in front of the Ancon and the water was quite warm and the sea was very calm for the whole week that we were at the Ancon. You can walk out from the shore at least 30 m in most places in front of the Ancon and the water will be just chest high. Very nice indeed. I haven't seen too many nicer beaches for swimming. There are lots of Palapas on the beach and lots of lounges. We never had any problem getting a sun lounge or Palapa.

THE HOTEL GROUNDS AND SERVICES. The grounds are kept very well. There are tennis courts for tennis enthusiasts. There are two pool tables just off the lobby for pool enthusiasts. There is a diving Center on the beach to look after scuba diving enthusiasts. There are very good shops in the basement of the Ancon that have quite nice merchandise at reasonable prices for the souvenir shopper. There is a store where you can buy liquor and beer in the Ancon basement also. There is a cigar maker in the lobby almost all day. Also in the lobby is a lady or gentleman who looks after guest services. There is an Internet service in the lobby as well. Downstairs in the basement there is a bank or Cadeca where you can change your money. The exchange-rate for the Canadian dollar at the Cadeca was the same as at the airport. The lobby has big comfortable chairs and sofas to relax and people watch and you can have a Mojito served to you by the waiter or waitress from the lobby bar. The tour reps are also in the lobby most days so your needs are well looked after here at this central lobby.

THE HOTEL POOL. Quite a large freshwater pool. The temperature was always pretty good for me. The depth of the pool ranged from .5 m on one end to 2 m on the other end. There were lots of lounges to relax on and sun yourself. The pool wasn't too busy the whole week and it was a pleasure having a swim every day. The pool bar was closed on this particular week but the 24-hour bar is just 20 m away so you don't have far to walk for a drink if that is the case for your week.

THE ANCON HOTEL AREA. I will include the city of Trinidad in this. Trinidad, such a beautiful old city. Well worth the visit. We did take a guided tour which we booked through our Hola Sun tour rep. We had a small group of people and it was really great. Our tour guide was the best I've ever had. She took us to a high point overlooking the Sugar Valley just east of Trinidad. What a beautiful place with the Escambray Mountains towering up above the valley. She certainly knew her stuff and was so informative when we visited all of the museums etc. about the history of Trinidad, Cuba, and the province of Sancti Spiritus. This guided tour prepped us for going into Trinidad ourselves the next day and making our way around very early in the morning before the tourists and vendors took over. It just was great being alone on the streets in the morning at 7:30 a.m.. Just wandering around at our own pace taking in the sights and sounds of a busy Cuban morning in a lovely city.

THE WEATHER. The weather. It was mostly sunny every day with small amounts of cloud here and there. The temperature averaged between 27°C and 29°C most afternoons. Glorious weather I would say. I think the poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen from Québec put it in one of his poems or songs exactly how we felt this week "the sun poured down on us like honey". We certainly felt that way every afternoon as we lay on our chaise lounges on the beach sipping our cool Mojitos that had been just served to us by a smiling waiter! Heaven it was..

OTHER HOTELS IN THE AREA. There are two other hotels in the vicinity of the Ancon Hotel. Next door is the Brisas Trinidad del Mar. We got a tour of this hotel and it looked quite nice and we wouldn't hesitate to go there. It is quite a bit pricier than the Hotel Ancon in the brochures and on the Internet. It has quite a nice beach and from what I gather from guests who stayed there the food and accommodation were pretty good. There is one other hotel about 4 km away called The Costasur. At the moment this hotel is under renovation. It looks very nice. We did have a tour of the grounds and I wouldn't hesitate to go there. The beach at this hotel isn't quite as nice as the beach at the Ancon. But it seems quite cozy and small and intimate.

OUR GENERAL IMPRESSION OF THE ANCON HOTEL. A bargain. Absolutely no problem all week. We would go back there in a heartbeat. We are starting to save the money now to do so whenever we can go. The one thing I will say is that I cannot comment on the regular rooms in the Hotel as we had a superior room and were very happy. I do believe that the regular rooms are a little bit smaller and most have no balcony. I didn't hear any bad comments on them from people who were staying in them. All of the Hotel is immaculately kept and very clean. We never seen anything out of place and the staff and management work very hard to make a go of the hotel and to make your stay a very happy one. The manager of the hotel is only there about two years and he seems to have a really good handle on how to treat guests and run a hotel.

OUR TRIP BACK TO CIENFUEGOS AIRPORT. I enjoyed our trip back to the airport at Cienfuegos as it was bright daylight and we could take in the Cuban countryside at leisure as we did have a front seat in the bus. The airport although small was very comfortable and they had a bar and snack bar there were you could buy beer 1.20-1.50 CUC and soft drinks .70-80 CUC and coffee. They had bags of chips etc. there was a duty-free shop but we didn't find it any cheaper than the hotel. The prices were OK. Our Cubana flight was on time and we were back in to Toronto on time. The flight was smooth and uneventful and they served us a nice lunch followed by coffee. They did serve rum or beer at $3 Canadian per drink. Not bad. We would certainly not have any qualms about using Cubana Airlines again and would actually favor doing so as it was a direct flight to Cienfuegos. Photos and videos of the hotel and general area are posted under "Hotel Ancon Trinidad Cuba" at. http://canuck.webcentre.ca/index.html
Gran Caribe Club Ancon
Sam and Irene 
Ontario Canada
January 2006
This was our fourth trip to Cuba, previously also enjoying vacations in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. We visited this resort with friends the week between Christmas and New Years. We booked our vacation with Conquest and flew out of Toronto via Skyservice. No luggage problems in Toronto and our flight was good. We arrived in Cuba ahead of schedule and boarded the bus, along with guests for the Brisas Trinidad del Mar (which is located right next door to the Ancon). The Costa Sur resort was closed for repairs and guests who were to vacation there, were upgraded to stay at the Ancon. Our room check in was done on the bus and so once we arrived at the resort, we were good to go.

Our rooms were in the newer section of the hotel, had balconies with an ocean view, and were only a few short steps from the beach. The front of our rooms faced the bay, and in the distance the mountains and the city of Trinidad. It was a pretty view all around. Each morning we had a beautiful sunrise and each evening, an amazing sunset.

The rooms came equiped with a mini-fridge which was stocked with three cans of beer, a couple cans of pop, and bottled water, free bottle of rum, beach towels, voltage of 110 in the bathroom only, and a wire where our hairdryer was supposed to be. The maid left us new bottles of water daily. The safe was included with the room and free of charge. The beds were comfy and the showers were great. Lots of pressure with hot water both morning and evening.

The weather during our week's stay was perfect. Warm sunny days, blue skies, the evenings balmy and warm.

The beach was very nice. White sand, turquoise water. No seaweed whatsoever, just some tiny shells at the water's edge, and the sea was calm each day. To the left of the resort, a guard had been posted to stop guests from venturing past the resort's boundry. To the right, you could walk past the public beach to the Brisas. Lots of beach chairs and lots of palpa's. Never a problem getting one.

The pool was also very nice. Fresh water and very refreshing after a day in the sun and salt water. The swim up bar was not in use at all during our week's stay. The view from the pool of the city of Trinidad and the mountains beyond was very picturesque.

There were, however, lots of bugs - sandfleas/ noseeum's/ mosquito's. Most guests of the resort were sporting sunburns and bug bites. The hotel did not fog during our stay.

The majority of the staff were not very friendly. It almost seemed that they didn't want to be there. When we first arrived, we were surprised that very little English was being spoken, being a tourist destination. After a few days, and a few $$$$$, the staff began communicating in rather good English. But no matter how friendly we were, and how many tips were given, service did not really improve much. As we approached New Year's Eve, more Cuban's became guests at the Hotel. The Cuban guests seemed to receive far better service. Service in the dining room was almost non existant.

We had dinner one evening in the Seafood Restaurant which was very good. We enjoyed a dinner in the Itailian Restaurant which was also nice. The Cuban restaurant was closed. New Year's Eve was a gala event in which they tranformed the entire lobby into a restaurant. The resort had roasted several pigs for the occasion, along with lobster, fish, beef and lots of fresh breads, salads and fruit as well as champagne to drink. It was very, very good. The entertainment New Year's Eve, was rather cheesy. No fireworks or anything special marking New Year's. We went back to our room and due to the one hour time difference, watched the ball drop in Time's Square on TV.

Meals in the Buffet restaurant were somewhat disappointing, but we always managed to find something to eat. However, we have eaten far better food at other resorts in Cuba, some of them also being 3 star hotels.

We took a cab into the city of Trinidad. We found the people of Trinidad to be very aggresive, much like the mexican time share sales people. They were very interested in selling us anything that would part us with our dollars. We visited the markets in the city square, toured the church and other landmarks in the square, had a drink in one of the outdoor cafe's, bought some cigars and got out of town. The trip to Trinidad was both surprising and disappointing.

We wandered down the beach and did a quick tour of the hotel Brisas Trinidad del Mar. Very picturesque, pretty pool area, comfy padded beach chairs, very nice lobby. Looked like it could be a nice place to live for a week or two.. ....

The trip back to the airport was long, but as it was daylight, interesting with much more to see. We stopped half way back to the airport at a small wayside cafe for a drink and short break. The airport was very slow and chaotic with poor service. The newest gimmick seems to be to offer VIP service for $20. cuban convertible pesos to get you to the head of the long lines, which didn't mean much as the plane was full with downbound passengers travelling on to Santiago de Cuba. Some seats were double booked, but once we off loaded in Santiago, all was well. We reloaded and our flight home was uneventful.

In summary, a vacation is what you make of it, and we enjoyed the warm sunny days, the fabulous sunsets, the company of good friends, great mojhito's and a week of rest and relaxation without spending a fortune. What more could a person ask for?
Gran Caribe Club Ancon

January 2006
Hi there just returned from two glorious weeks Jan 5-Jan 19 2006, in the Ancon in Trinidad Cuba, it was fantastic weather.

We had rooms in the Colonial section which were very nice. The staff went out of their way to accommodate our requests. Trying to imagine that that resort was devastated only in 2005 by the hurricanes it endured, they have done a remarkable job in refurbishing it in such a short time.

The dock, which I understood had a beautiful thatched room on the end is completely gone except for the metal post sticking out of the water where it once stood, and I also understand there was a huge illuminated sign which could be seen for miles that sat atop of the Hotel that has never been seen again. So I was very impressed with all the work that has been accomplished in such a short time.

The food was adequate, this is our 14th trip to Cuba and have only stayed at the same resort once before, so we have ate at different levels, the buffet was a bit of a disappointment, I have had better buffets in Cuba, but it certainly wasn't terrible by any means. They have 3 Ala cartes you can also dine at and they were very good. The beach restaurant which by the way was open 24/7 served pizza, cheese and ham sandwiches, hamburgers, french fries etc. so there was an abundance of food for the weary travellers.

The beach is beautiful, and I have to agree it must be the nicest beach on the Caribbean side of Cuba, you could walk for miles and miles on the white sandy beach, and it was very nice to swim in.

I was impressed by the abundance of activities you could do, having the town of Trinidad so close (approx 10 minute drive) and the history is fantastic for sight seeing, you have the mountains to tour in also, the beautiful beach to relax on. There is no reason anyone should be bored at this resort.

I have to admit I would love to go back again, you cannot beat the price, and the sun was certainly a welcomed sight.

So if you want mountain view, white sandy beach, a very historic town to visit, diving in the Caribbean, snorkeling, Catamaran rides etc. and not break you pocket book, then this is the place for you!
Gran Caribe Club Ancon
M & M 
January 2006
This was our 8th trip to Cuba, we had never been to the Trinidad area , since the Brisas resort was full we ended up going to the Ancon next door. We had been to 3 star resorts in Cuba and did not have high expectations, we traveled with friends and were just looking for some fun in the sun. Unfortunately this was our first dissappointment in Cuba and we will not return to this area.

Flight out of Toronto was with Skyservice, it was without delay, served a warm meal, seats a little tight but no complaints.

Customs clearing in Cienfuegos went quick, but the 90 minute bus ride to our hotel was long......

The Buffet restaurant was kept open for our arrival, the food was not very good, poor variety, lots of mystery dishes, no fresh vegetables, fruit was limited, we thought because it was late, but food did not improve the whole week we were there, actually the worst we had ever had anywhere. During our week there, they offered a seafood restaurant downstairs which we tried one night, it was very good with fresh salad and lobster. New Years Eve dinner was good, they turned the whole lobby into a buffet restaurant, they tried very hard and put on a good spread with lots of variety. The Italian restaurant was also good. We never had a chance to try the Cuban restaurant so can't comment on that.

The service overall was somewhat lacking, staff was not real friendly, most would not speak any English until we tipped them and then they were fluently speaking to you????

Lots of local people stayed at the hotel over the holiday season, and were always waited on first even if they were in line behind you at the pool snack bar, they were served first, this did not make things pleasant a lot of the time.

Rooms were small but clean, with balconies facing the ocean, had beautiful sunset every night, mini fridge with 3 beers, some pop and water. Water was replenished every day, but not the beer or pop that was a one time deal.

Lots of hot water, showers worked great with lots of pressure.

Beach and ocean were beautiful, the water was warm and shallow to walk into, it got deeper gradually, no big waves so one could float quite nicely. Unfortunately once you came to the end of the hotel property, you were stopped by a police man and not allowed to go further, apparently a few days prior to our stay some people had been robbed down the beach, so much to our disappointment we could not take long walks on the beach.

During our catamaran ride we noticed army guards patrolling on the hotel rooftop, couldn't not figure out the reason for this.

We took two Cuba taxis to the city of Trinidad, which turned out to be another disappointment, people were very aggressive in the the market square, almost worse then in the Dominican Republic, our men were hounded to buy cigars out of several peoples living rooms, these people were sooo persistent it became annoying! Overall this adventure to town turned into a bad experience and we could not wait to get out of there.

On the whole the entire staff of the hotel was not friendly, the service in the buffet restaurant was none existent, most days we ended up setting our own tables, got our own wine and coffee, the tablecloths were never changed the entire week we were there, and were rather disgusting by the end of the week.

Did we have a good time, yes, we made our own fun, would we return, NO, there are a lot of nicer places to go to in Cuba!!!!!
Gran Caribe Club Ancon

April 2005
Ola my vacation reviewers. This is Morris from Montreal again (wrote about Atlantico in Guardalavaca last time.)

This time I went to Hotel Ancon on Playa Ancon in Sancti Spiritus about 1 hours drive from Cienfuegos Airport

I just got back on Thursday April 7th from 2 weeks at Hotel Ancon in Trinidad and it was absolutely wonderful.This hotel is rated 2 1/2 stars but I believe it deserves a star up on this rating .The Brisas is right next door (you can walk over to it from the beach -about 100 yards away) and is rated a star higher but the food is the same (I asked some guests at the Brisas) The architecture is a bit more modern and it is a newer hotel but you also pay a few hundred dollars more. The older section of the hotel (the main building at Ancon) the rooms are a bit small but the bathrooms,air conditioner,beds are all pretty good and they work and who spends time in their room during the day anyway.The newer rooms in the new section are a bit bigger. The weather was 32 Celsius and sunny for all the 2 weeks. The Caribbean Sea is a gorgeous blue green color and warm The Cuban people like I said in my other review are beautiful and genuinely are outgoing and friendly if you only speak them as some of them are shy with tourists but with a little smile you can strike up a warm conversation any time. The city of Trinidad (14 kilometers away and a short 5-7 peso ride) is a charming town with plenty to see and do.The outside bazaars are everywhere and you can get all kinds of handmade goods, from carvings to cotton tablecloths to clothes and of course cigars, hand rolled on the spot or in the box whatever you prefer. I was invited to share a meal at a Cuban's house and if you accept (I strongly advise you to do this as many tourists do take advantage of some of this Cuban hospitality) and you will have a beautiful and long lasting friendship with the family that invites you to their house).I miss Cuba and it's people already and I will go back when my next vacation is due. Wishing you all a happy and memorable holiday I will say adios until next time.
Hotel Ancon - Playa Ancon - Trinidad

December 2003
This is an older hotel on Ancon beach near Trinidad on the south coast of Cuba. It is said to have been built by the Russians during their time on the island. The hotel is in two parts. The older center part is 6 or 7 floors. On the top floor are several suites.These are shabby but spacious with a huge veranda overlooking the ocean. They are worth asking for tho there is now probably a premium. The other rooms we saw were small and somewhat worn. The food was not very good but we were always able to find something to eat and were never sick. They made a salad from left over fries mayo and peas which was memorably awful. The beach was very good. A bit of a walk and you could have lots of beach to yourself. The guests seemed to be mainly european. The area is wonderful. Rent a little car and spend a day or two driving around. The mountains are very beautiful. The people are shy but friendly and polite. The roads are marked sparingly but there are signs. The city of Trinidad is very close and worth several visits. The hotel is also across the road from the Sunsail charter base and this is why we came here. The sailing in the islands off the south coast of Cuba is amazing. There are almost no other boats except for a few fishing and lobster boats. The navigation is simple line of sight to the next island. We will go back.