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Club Bucanero
Sharon 
Canada
December 2008
Arrival: December/08
Flight and arrival were just fine - bus sitting there waiting for us when we picked up our luggage. Had a wonderful chatty rep on the bus, who actually gave quite a bit of info about the location - including having met Fidel personally at the resort when it first opened 20 years ago.

Rooms:
Advice: Bring your own pillow. The rooms are fine - basic, which is typical in Cuba. The a/c was very noisy, so we opted for leaving the sliding door on the balcony open and turning the a/c off at night. No problems at all (though we were on the second floor - would not have done this had we been on the ground floor).

Restaurants and Bars:
You don't go to Cuba for the food ... no matter how many stars the hotel has. But it was plentiful and there was always something to eat. Nothing outstanding. But the beer is cold and the pina colada's rummy! Water and ice at the bar are filtered, so no issues there. The coffee at the poolside bar is WAY better than out of the machine in the restaurant. We went to the a la carte restaurant once - not worth the effort. In fact, many people left most of their dinner and went over to the buffet. The lunch at the beachside bar grill is better than at the buffet

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The pool was clean and the grounds well cared for. The beach, though small, is delightful.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Walking a km down the road to the public beach was a challenge - being stopped by the hookers is disconcerting. And on the public beach, you can't walk 2 feet without someone wanting to "be your friend". Annoying. We took a taxi into Siboney (about 6 km away - 10 Pesos). Less annoying there. Took the opportunity to visit the local school, where we were able to distribute the things we had taken down (toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, clothes - all very much appreciated and the children are delightful). Took a local bus into Santiago - awful. But then again, I don't like cities, so it was to be expected. Very frantic pace.

Other Comments:
I'd go back to this resort for a relaxing holiday. Seemed to be only Canadians there, which was kind of disappointing - it's always nice to see other nationalities and share stories. A week is enough though - there is very little to do, which is fine for a week. No rental bikes available, which was disappointing. Some people brought their own bikes, but I don't know how safe I would have felt - wouldn't have wanted to leave it anywhere, even with a lock.
Club Bucanero
Melissa 
Ontario
April 2008
We stayed in this resort the first week of April, 2008.

The flight
We flew down from Toronto on a TACA airbus 320 - very clean and spacious with good service. We came back on the same plane, but were delayed on takeoff because the bus delivering some of the passengers from another hotel broke down en route - we sat for an hour on the tarmac. No complaints about the flight once we finally got airborne.

The Hotel.
Things were very much what we expected from other reviews. The room was clean and everything worked. The sheets were threadbare and the pillow small and hard, but we are fairly flexible when it comes to accommodation. The food was simple but fine.

The beach.
The beach was small but nice. Snorkeling was initially good, although the winds picked up toward the end of the week and the water was turbulent and murky because of the surging waves. The combination of waves and rocks makes it an inappropriate place for young children. We heard that the nearby public beach (near the town of Oasis) was good for snorkeling, but there is a dangerous riptide there and several deaths occur there every year.

Diving.
We came intending to dive. It took a while to find the dive center - we assumed it was situated in the small building near the beach, but later discovered the office is in the first room in building block 1. It was a good operation, and the staff were very helpful in getting us going in the turbulent waves at the beach. They have steel tanks, so adjust your weights accordingly. We enjoyed our dive - it was better than we expected given the significant amount of hurricane damage the coast has suffered. Water was 82 degrees.

The Runs
Apparently there has been an intestinal bug circulating the hotel for the last couple of weeks. We certainly both got sick with a 24 hour "runs", that left us dragged out for a couple of days. We personally met 3 other people with the same condition, and suspect there were a lot more.

Because we arrived late in the evening and flew out in the morning, we really only had 6 days of vacation, and it was disappointing to loose 2 days to sickness.

We would consider going back. Bucanero seems to be the only Santiago resort that has a dive shop, and that is important for us.
Club Bucanero
Nevin 

March 2008
Three of us stayed at the Bucanero in early Feb. We read the reviews and were warned by our travel agent that it was only a 2.5 star resort.

Nevertheless, we had a fab time and would highly recommend the place if you are easy going and flexible.

Location:
The location can't be beat in terms of convenience. It's a half hour from Santiago town - a warm and inviting city with great live music clubs and other cultural treasures. The resort apparently has a free shuttle to town but we decided to go in style and hired a car and driver - with an old convertible. A classy ride indeed!! At only $15, it was a highlight.

The Resort:
The place is a little rough around the edges in terms of landscaping (partly due to a huge storm a few years ago), but again, the location can't be beat. It's situated at the foot of a small chain of seaside mountains. It is one of the most naturally beautiful places around (and I have travelled all over the world) with picturesque rocky shoreline that provides spectacular sunsets. The resort is spread out, so beware that if you end up in the 600, 700 or 800 range rooms, you have a good walk to the beach. We had a ground level room. We were a little leery about that at first but soon appreciated being able to walk right out of our patio doors and around the corner to the water. Overall, a very charming site, but not clinically groomed to perfection.

Rooms:
The rooms are fine. Basic, clean and functional with cable TV, window AC (our's worked fine, but we heard mixed reviews). The beds are too soft for for us and the pillows are tiny, but otherwise, no major problems. The maid service was reliable and discreet, not in your face like in some places.

Food:
Good, clean nutritious food, nothing more or less. The buffet was hygienic and functional. However, this is not a resort where you will put on weight. We ate great fresh veggies and lots of fish. If your idea of a great holiday is Western style variety and all you can eat desert bars, then this is not your place. If you want good healthy food to keep you going, then you're set... The service is so-so, but mainly due to a lack of staff, from what I could see.

The Beach:
Spectacular!!

Beware, this is a rocky beach and requires slip-on water shoes. This fact must be stressed: the beach is not Varadero-style fine sand. A few dummies actually complained to the Sunwing rep and the resort manager... I couldn't help but speak up and tell them that they should take it up with their travel agent, who should have warned them.

However, the view is very special and the beach itself has a cosy feel to it in that it is nestled up against the mountain, which provides some shade. There were always enough beach chairs. The beachside snack bar had great fish and chips with salad, which, for me, tended to be just right for lunch.

Booze:
The bar upstairs from the beach provided good service, but do be aware that the variety of drinks is standard Cuban fare. No international brands are available, but hey, if you like rum, you can't beat Cuba.

As with most resorts, the drinks are served in annoying little thimble-sized plastic cups. If you plan on partying, do yourself a favour and bring your own insulated cup and save yourself countless hikes to the bar.

The Pool:
Never used it but it seemed quite nice. No swim up bar for those who like that sort of thing.

Entertainment:
Cheesy poolside dancers and comedians - not really my style, but they tried hard and was worth a look.

Activities:
The rock climbing is quite good. A trip into Santiago is a must. The live music clubs are very good. For you nervous types who need your hand held, there are organized day trips into town, but you will pay a premium for the babysitting. For those a little more seasoned, I suggest going in alone and staying a night or two in a ``casa particular`` (basic bed and b'fast) with a local family. Cabs are cheap and easy to negotiate. The freelance tour guides in town can be a tad pushy, but will back off with a firm, but polite rejection - but be firm, otherwise you will have one follow you for awhile!!

The Disco:
Good fun right by the beach. Starts at 11 pm. For those not into that kind of thing, don't worry it is not noisy in that the beach is down in the cove and the disco cannot be heard from the rooms.

The People:
Overall, this place attracted a great bunch of people, mostly couples from Quebec and Ontario, with a couple of Europeans. Most of us were in the late twenties to early forties range. It seemed quite easy to meet people and we enjoyed the company of a good number of fun people. Keep in mind that this is NOT a suitable place for children, especially little children.

One other warning - as with most places, this place unfortunately attracts (at least when we were there), a small percentage of ugly Canadians who expect the sun, the moon and the stars for $700 a week - like the drunken wife-abuser from ****** that couldn't wait to get home so he could get real food, a Big Mac, that is...) . There are always going to be rude drunken jerks that treat the local staff like hell. Do us all a favour and speak up about it when you meet these boneheads.

Service:
Good solid staff that worked hard. Overall, most of the staff had a good attitude. Sometimes there were temporary shortages of things like coffee cups, napkins and utensils, but no major problems.

Overall:
Check this place out if you can roll with the waves. This is great value for money and really is a charming place to explore, although a little rough around the edges.
Club Bucanero
Paul 
Mid Ontario
February 2008
Arrival -
The plane was stuck in snowbank in toronto
gave people the room key on the bus- strange
no bell boy to help with luggage

Rooms -
very small single beds no head board- drinking water or fridge
but nice cobble stone even inside the room
my room was one kilometre from the little beach block 600

Restaurants -
It should open at 6.00pm and no later
there was no air conditioniing at all
no service- get up and get your own drinks
there was rice and then coloured rice and the soup had no taste
but there was fresh bread

Bars - expect 15 min. to get a drink there was one bar by the pool and one bartender Beach and Pools -
very small and only at the far end of the resort
okay for snorkelling

Grounds - Not bad- except there was squawshed sea crabs on most of the sidewalks Activities - vollyball animacion group was alot of fun- except the ball went over the sea wall a few times

Tours -
too price
road bicycles most of day
my bicycle is still there- for i told the sunwing rep to get the bus driver to put my bike on before all luggage but he did not and i had to leave it with the gardener- very strange also the buses never pulled up to the front together in a row but one came up and then the crowd pushed to fill the bus- very silly

Conclusion - If you want a cheap flight to see the area- and dont expect friendly service at reception- and need a place where you can leave your things- its okay- but for service and fresh food and to enjoy an all inclusive for a week- it is unacceptable- they need to hire a new chef- replace the front reception- except winnifredo in reservation was very nice- for this hotel has SUCH POTENTIAL- for it is all cobblestone and it has a great location it just needs more investment money and a new manager
then i will return- for it has very low traffic roads for who enjoys to bicycle and explore
Club Bucanero
 

December 2007
Our family of 4 just returned from Club Bucanero yesterday after vacationing there for Christmas. First our flight was bumped up so we had to leave early in the morning. Once on the Sunwing plane the vocal didnt work for the movie & 1 week later on return nothing worked, not even music. The resort hosted a beautiful Christmas dinner & the entertainment daily was great. The resort has suffered major hurricane damage & effort should be put into the clean up of this. If you like to scuba dive($) or snorkel - this is a great place for you! Rooms are kept clean from our experience. Huge iguana's wonder the property but seem to be harmless. There are friendly cute dogs to escort you to your rooms. The resort is very spread out for rooming - the 800 block is the farther from anything - we were in the 600 block but would have preferred the 400 or 300 block. Block 100 is closest to the disco, beach & scuba. Buildings are 2 floors with stairs in the center. A couple downfalls of the resort is that breakfast is only from 7:30am to 9:30am which is not a long time - should go to 10:30 at least as people are here to vacation. For the soda - there is NO diet or light pop - so not at all appropriate for a diabetic! Alcohol is much easier to access than bottled water. They have a nice Brazilian Whiskey which is close the Canadian Whiskey - that was a bonus. The resort lacks daytime entertainment - games during the day would add a lot to the activity program. There is NO face clothes in the rooms so bring your own. They do supply wee shampoos & bath get - the showers are nice & roomy but sometimes hot water is lacking. There are NO alarm clocks in the room. The beds are Twin & have very small pillows so if u can bring your own pillow, you will bonus out. The electric outlet in our room was 110v. Meals were okay but not spectacular as not a 5* resort - food was very repetitive - the breads were good. We ate alot of chicken. Pasta was served twice daily usually with a soupy tomato sauce (no meat). Wine is served with meals. The beach disco seemed to get locals there. The pool water seemed to be freezing all the time - once in its fine - bring a cheap air mattress to float & relax on. Leave it there when you are done. ohh ... we didnt like the begging of staff for items - like my daughters bikini & my friends running shoes. We had a bad experience when leaving - we checked out the nite prior & handed in our beach towels-the maid came running after us in the morning saying we stole the beach towels & about 10 mins later again she came saying we stole the bathroom towels (which she failed to put in 1 room) 24hr All-inclusive means only 24hr Alcohol - no food could be found in the nite! I dont think people should have to go to the bar for a coffee or kids to get a simple pop. At the airport awaiting return - bring some toilet paper - u will have to buy it from a lady otherwise!! There is NO Brazian whiskey at duty free - booze seemed to be cheaper & more select at the basic resort store. The exchange rate is much better at the airport than at the resort. Leave your US money at home. Also note in CUBA that a Meridan master card is NOT accepted as it was bought out by a US company. American Express is also not accepted. If you like a massage, you can get a full body massage (1hr) for 9 peso (about $10) & 1/2hr for 6 peso. Tourists can only spend tourists convertible pesos - not local monies. Remember to bring your water shoes if you go to the beach. Another tip is to bring your own insulated drinking cup for them to fill otherwise you will get a small 7 oz plastic disposable cup with a long tall bendable colourful straw. If you want fruit in a drink - you have to get it from the restaurant yourself & bring it to the bar as there is none at the bar (banana)I guess I could keep thinking of stuff but I best sign off ... all the thoughts here came randomly ...
Club Bucanero
Barney 

December 2007
This was the first time to this resort and I only stayed for the first night and last night.I did find the people of the resort very friendly and helpful when I did need some help.I was in Santiago for most of the time and did some travelling around the area.The roads were so so for driving on.My room at the resort was clean and it did have some ants on the floor ,but nothing that was a problem . The buffet on the last night did run out of meat but did have fish left, but also I was late getting to the buffet as it was crowded early.So if I had got there early things would have been OK. By late I was about 20 minutes before closing so running out of food didn't bother me , early bird does get the worm LOL.You could see that the storms have been hard on the waterfront part.I found it a clean resort and maybe I should have spent more time there.It being a slower time was great for me as I don't like going with the big crowds.There gets to be to many rude and demanding people for my liking and the Cuban people are just doing there jobs. All in all I will return to this resort with the closeness to Santiago it makes it nice to get off the resort for a day ,but also know your close to your room . If anyone has any questions please feel free to PM me and I will try to answer any questions.
Club Bucanero
Cindy & Bill 
Mississauga, Canada
August 2007
Just arrived back on July 25th - there for one week. We were looking for a cheap holiday and paid $560 taxes included. Did loose two days travel due to flights in and out. Bus ride to hotel was quick and comfortable. Only one person checking in travellers so really slow. Hola Sun rep when arrived helped as well. We had a room in the 400 building second floor. All rooms face the ocean which was really nice. Prior reviews about very noisy window air conditions were true! Room was extremely basic compared to more lavish resorts in Cuba we have stayed at but clean and comfortable. Safe is included. Still no extra umbrellas around the pool so shade is a premium. Most guests crowed in by the pool bar as close as possible to allow as many guests to have some shade. Reviews were also correct about the bars running out of liquor, pop, and beer. When they did run it they did try and replenish it as quickly as possible. You might have to wait a few hours though and have to change your drink of choice. Liquor is rum, vodka, whiskey, banana and orange liquor and bucanero beer basically. Food in the buffet first two days was actually the same. This kind of concerned us but the food did get more selective as the week went on. Very bland and repetitive but acceptable for a 3 star hotel. You would have a choice of two rice dishes, maybe a potatoes dish, one vegetable, fish and likely two choices of meat. Food is not labelled so you will have to ask. Had rabbit one night. Also soup daily and assorted salads. Grill at beach serves burgers, dogs, fish, fries only. Some shade there. They have the grill restaurant which is shaded so guests eat and sit there as well. Upstairs is the bar - again bar stools and also some seating. Water was a little rough. Kids who brought floatation devices had a great time body surfing. You need water shoes. snorkelling equipment is available. Animation staff very friendly. Most guests did not want to participate and they didn't force you. Many repeat guests were at this hotel and keep coming back because of the people. All staff welcome any gifts you have. There is a small fishing village nearby and Joel one of the animation people did suggest dropping off stuff there as these people are not front line and get little. Animation staff can also arrange lobster lunch in the village for you if you want. You get lobster, rice and salad for 10 pesos. Rather good deal! We were there for carnival and have a blast speaking to the cubans, dancing and drinking. Love to do that again some day. Taxi into Santiago is 15 pescos each way. Nightly shows were pretty boring. Nothing to do at the hotel accept talk to the guests. We were glad we had a friendly good bunch of people to mingle with which made the days and evenings really enjoyable. Being a small resort it is easy to meet people. The locals working at the resort will chat with you but tend to wait for you to initiate the conversation. Some of the bar tenders speak pretty good english others not as much. One pool table in the lobby minus a tip so if anyone is going down and can bring a repair kit a good idea. No rain - very hot and humid the week we were down. A couple of days we kind of regretted going with the heat and humidity. Some cubans as well were given rewards by their employers to stay at the hotel for 3 night stays for hard work. We found these people pleasant and courteous. Others on Saturday and Sunday purchase the day pass. Some of these people were a little rude. If you want something to eat for luch get to the buffet early as the day I went they ran out of pretty well everything. Some people commented in past reviews that staff asked for gifts. We did not find this so. We offered our gifts to those who we choose to give. The last nights though Lola the signer and one of the dancers were asking some of the women for any shoes, clothing etc that they might be able to spar either for them or someone they know. I did give Ray the pool guy a pair of sunglasses which he was most appreciated of. and my thermo mug to Sandos one of the entertainers. If you see them say hello from Cindy and Bill of Toronto. Would we go back?? If the price was around $600 taxes in or if reviews claim better food and no drinks issues. Would consider paying $200 more for a better hotel though. If it wasn't for the fellow Canadian we met there no sure the stay would have been as nice.
Club Bucanero
Larry, Martina and Jason 
Peterborough
March 2007
We just returned from a two week vacation at the Bucanero from March 6, 2007 to March 20, 2007. We have been traveling to Cuba for years and pretty much have been to every area of the island. Had been to Santiago de Cuba many years ago and decided to return and explore the area more. Chose the Bucanero Hotel, as we were able to get an amazing deal through Sell-off vacations and Hola Sun. For three people we paid a total of $3100 for two weeks, including all taxes.

The hotel is on a beautiful setting, overlooking cliffs. In the distance are the mountains (around 1300 metres high). We had read numerous reviews from the resort and didn’t have high expectations. We have been to places in Cuba ranging from 2 ½ to 4 ½ star. I would say the rating of a 3 is appropriate for the resort. It is a small scale resort with 200 rooms, all in two storey buildings and all rooms facing the ocean. We stayed in the 100 club rooms which were close to the beach. The rooms were basic, but clean with either a big walk out terrace or big balcony. Our room also had a fridge and air conditioner (overheard lots of people talking about the noisy air conditioners), however was seemed new and fairly quiet. Always had hot water and seemed to have a very powerful shower.

The least enjoyable thing about this resort is probably the beach. >From the reviews we didn’t expect a big, beautiful beach, but what faced us, was indeed very small. Very rocky with lots of washed up coral and rocks. Without water shoes there was no going into the ocean. From talking with people the beach outstanding, but then again the southern coast of Cuba is not renowned for it’s beaches anyways. Secondly, hurricane Wilma took a huge beating out of the beach, washed up boulders and destroyed so much of the resort that they were closed for over a year and just opened up again in November 2006. We did not enjoy beach life as there never seemed to quiet space, people were crowding beside each other and not much shade (……what is it with people that have to move in with your lounger and come close to other lounger within an inch????? …..it’s like sharing your bed with someone!!).

The pool area is nice. As the setting of the resort is on a cliff, once can oversee the ocean, no matter where you are in the resort. Again, we were there during part of March break and there certainly were not enough loungers for everyone and also very little shade. In old pictures it looks like they used to have many palapas, none left now after the storm. Just 3 or 4 umbrellas and on windy days they didn’t last very long.

The hotel advertises the buffet restaurant that is open for three meals a day and 2 a la carte restaurants. Well, there is only one a la carte restaurant, which didn’t operate the first week we were there. When it did open it was hit and miss with getting reservations. When you do go, only one waitress serves the whole room. Slow as molasses……………..and the food is really no different then the buffet restaurant. Overall we have learned that food is not to be compared with Canadian standards. By no means are we picky eaters. But of all the places we have been to the food at the Bucanero was probably the most bland, repetitive and limited in selection. Since it was a busy time while we were there, they often ran out of food, particularly meat. We liked that the buffet restaurant had many tables outside set up, all with view over the ocean, which we took advantage of.

Staff was friendly for the most part. It was hit and miss with service at both the beach and pool bar. They often ran out of beer, coffee and other supplies.

The resort is very isolated for this particular area I found that they didn’t offer a lot of tours. We got a little bored after two weeks. Went on a ½ city tour to Santiago de Cuba. This was interesting, although I couldn’t get over how the locals just swarmed you and begged for soap, money and clothing. I found this to be extreme compared to other cities in Cuba we have been to. Also went on the ½ day mountain tour. Amazing!!! Would highly recommend it!! Drove into the mountains, stopped at coffee plantations and finally climbed 450 steps to the top of a look out (approx. 1300 metres). The view from up there was amazing. The hotel also has a catamaran. It was broken the first week but managed to take a one hour ride the second week. Gorgeous….as you head out to sea the mountains become clearly visible in the background. The resort also offers a daily mountain hike….not for the faint at heart!!! I am a little afraid of heights and if you are, don’t go. You climb up cliffs and eventually head down a canyon, where the last part involves a climb down a steep ladder. Some amazing plants, cactuses (150 years old) and birds to see.

The beach bar was quite neat. High above where they served drinks had an amazing view. For $13 we ordered lobster one day. It was a huge tail and worth every penny.

My husband is an avid diver and went out every day. The dive centre is right on the beach. It costs $30 a dive and for a package of 10 he paid $265. Most were shore dives and on some days a boat came to the beach and took divers out to sea in order to dive at a shipwreck. The reefs and walls are almost right of the beach and my husband was extremely pleased with the dive masters and would recommend the diving in this area. Snorkelling is also right of the beach. The dive center lends out equipment if needed.

To conclude, we had a great vacation. However, given the beach and the food, we would not return. I realize that everyone has different priorities, certainly the price was right for the two weeks. Would we return…….probably not!!!!
Club Bucanero
Brian 
Toronto
February 2007
This was my fourth trip to Cuba, and my first trip to the Santiago area. The weather was great, particularly since it was Janaury - I chose Santiago partly because it is the hottest part of Cuba, and the water is the wamest too.

Club Bucanero is an all-inclusive about 20 km east of Santiago, on the coast. It is 3 stars, and based on the 2 other places I have been to in Cuba (see Villa Tortuga, Varadero & Blau Arenal, in Playas del Este), it is probably an accurate assessment. The advantage of this place is that it is the closest all-inclusive to Santiago, which is great if you want to see the city or to use as a base of operations for this western part of Cuba - many of the other hotels are 50 to 100 km or so west of the city along a very isolated area of the coast, or there is a Club Amigo about 20 km east of Bucanero - it has a much much nicer beach.

At Bucanero, all of the rooms face the water - and all of the rooms on the second floor have a balcony. Now, this resort is at the end of the road in from the main coast road - it is wedged between a cliff and the water, but the coast here is all rock. There is a tiny, and I do mean tiny, beach at the far west end of the property - I would guress it is 150 feet long, if that. There is a place that rents scuba gear and a bar overlooking the beach. Other than that, there is only the pool area. If you want a bigger beach, there is one 2 km away, towards the main road, or you can drive about 10 km west to Playa Siboney, which is the main beach for the locals and is moderately crowded.

The rooms are fairly nice - TV includes CNN and HBO, water was always hot for a shower (solar panels onthe roof). the rooms have stone faced walls - kind of hard on the head since the beds do not have headboards! My A/C unit was very noisy. Internet access is painfully slow, and some people had trouble booking the restaurant during the weekend because the person you book with is only there weekdays.

The food is pretty typical for Cuba - which is not a compliment because I hated the food - you can get fried eggs at breakfast, but I found the other meals disappointing, but I can't really comment beyond that because I only had the occasional meal at the resort. No food is served at the bar by the pool, and the one by the beach stops serving food fairly early in the afternoon.

I rented a car and spend time exploring cities and staying in casas, and only do the all-inclusive thing because it is so cheap if you buy it at the last minute (you get a bus to and from the airport, a safe place to leave your stuff, and always know you can get a bed or a meal when you really need one) for about $100 more than buying just the airfare. I drove like crazy and went to Guananamo, Baracoa, Bayamo (a good jumping off place to see Pico Turquino and Castro's rebel base in the mountains), Manzanillo etc. - the road to Pilon is specatacular, but the road is in really bad shape past Chivrico.

So, I would go back to Club Bucanero because it suits my needs, but if you are looking for a place with a good beach, look elsewhere.