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Brisas Covarrubias - Holguin
Francine 
Gatineau, Quebec
December 2008
Arrival: 7-15 December 2008
We had a late arrival and the staff kept the buffet open for us. The staff is very nice at this resort but, still, I would not recommend it. First, it is a 3 hours plus bus ride from the airport on a very rough and very dangerous road (absoutely NOT recommended for people with neck and back problems or for pregnant women). The rooms are excellent - villa-style with big private balconies. The beach is kept clean and is very nice. The pools are the best for children and for exercising. The animation is minimal and repetitive - stretching on the beach in the morning and bingo and dance lessons in the afternoon. The children's mini-club is not very well-equipped but Dunia, the caretaker, is very nice and affectionate with the children. The food is awful and dangerous - my husband got sick after eating fish at the evening buffet that was probably cooked at the bar at lunch. He had a high fever, vomiting and we had to call in the doctor and he gave him an injection. That was 6 days ago and he is has intestinal problems and I have since started too. Fortunately they have a doctor on site 24/7 and she/he is kept very busy. All in all, we do not recommend this resort even if price is more than right and we feel sorry for the Cubans in that area since it seems to be one of their only source of income. But if they don't do anything to improve the quality of the food, they will have to close that resort.
Brisas Covarrubias - Holguin
Lionel 

July 2008
We stayed at this hotel the week of June 20 -27, 2008.

The hotel is three hours away from the Holguin airport via bad roads. The hotel has a beautiful beach, very nice rooms. The food is the usual Cuban food no spices, usally out of snacks. The music was porr, mostly Regeton, no Cuban music. The entertainment at night very poor, mostly tourist who volunteered to go on stage.

The place has some potential but they need to do something about the music, entertaiment and food.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Chris & Eva 
Montreal
March 2008
Arrival - 2hrs-2.5 hrs from airport on bad roads

Rooms - Nice spacious rooms with safes.
trick: stick a piece of cardboard in the slot if you want your AC to saty on during the day
The view is nice if you get a room with an ocean view if not its ordinary...

Restaurants - Couldn't manage to book the one resto !
The buffet/service was terrible.
30 mins line up for diner and supper
and the food was not good even by Cuban standards.
Canned fruits ! disgusting weird leftover mixtures ...
The home made ice cream was good as was the grilled meats
One week later both of us still have stomach problems which is a first since we travel all over in Central America eating local foods !!

Bars - Ok but no international alcool except brandy.
Half the bar tenders were novice and couldn't make drinks
(they took 18 yrs old girls who knew nothing = bad management)

Beach and Pools - The beach is the best thing here.
Its gorgeous creme coloured floured texture sands.turqouise clear water with a visibility of over 50 feet (when the water is not agitated by waves which can happen half the time)
Snorkeling is great 200 ft from shore which is easily swimmable.
Scuba diving was very good too although the dive master is a bit non chalante and the equipement is not that great ie: I found out my BC vest had a leek when I was about to go down but the instructor didn't care !
Pool was nice although I never went in (No swim up bar)

Grounds - Ok, ordinary , No nice gardens like other hotels and there was a bit of trash here and there and on the beach nothing exagerated though.

Activities - Practically nothing.
One night they had a good band playing the rest of the times the activities were amateurish.

Tours - There are 2-3 paying excursions but this hotel is very isolated its 1 hr to the nearest city.

Conclusion - Overall rating 7.5/10
The beach is great its the best part here 9/10
Lots of mosquitos.
Beware this hotel practices overbooking meaning when you arrive at the airport you can be shipped to another hotel of their choice whether you want to or not.
rooms are nice. the view varies
The food and food service is not good. 4/10
general service is Ok
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Burnie 

January 2008
Hola:
My girlfriend & I are preparing to return to our "Garden of Eden" Covarrubias for our 9th.time.
We are leaving Feb.9th,2008 & staying a month.
Thats right a month, not to rub it in but I'm tired of all the nay sayers that think going to Cuba is going to be like a major Canadian city, with McD's, Wendys, Pizza Hut etc. The Cuban people & staff are the most wonderful, caring & humble people I know.
Covarrubias is a wonderful resort, best of the best staff, wonderful clean rooms, lobby, bathrooms, it has the best beach, snokelling , & scuba diving, the food is good we've never had a complaint but we are open minded this is Cuba, & we love the Cuban fare that is served at times.
The bus ride is a little long but soon forgotten once you arrive at Covarrubias, when is the last time you've run into road, & city construction, detours, road closures??? We survive.
If you want more info, or if I can be of more help please email me at relentless54@yahoo.ca
Hasta Luego
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Canada 

May 2007
I am an avid traveler and have been to Cuba 6 times now.
This resort tops it by FAR for the worst resort I have ever stayed at.
Normally I am a very tolerant person, and did tolerate at lot of mishaps on this trip but I really want people to know what they are getting into, choosing to stay at this resort.

First of all, if you are going to fly out on a Sunday night IE 8pm, get ready for the long Sunday night delays. We did not leave the Toronto airport until after 1am.
I had been up 28 hours by the time the bus got us to the resort.
The drive is 3 hours long on a terrible road, many potholes which slows the bus down considerably.
The check in was memorable only due to lack of courtesy on behalf on the receptionist staff. We felt like a bother as opposed to valued guests.

The bellman locked me out of my room as soon as we got to it.
I know he did not mean to, but he ran off to get other people's luggage to their rooms and I shimmied in through the back balcony after climbing up through the railing.
The room was spacious and clean.
There was NO hot water on any day, on any morning. The hot water is solar powered and of course there is no sun all night, and no reserve for hot water.
COLD SHOWERS are awful!
The pool was dirty and was a salt water pool. It needed to be tended to a lot more often.
Internet - 2 PCs - slow and expensive. $8/CDN for 1 hour but you wait so long to get a page up it is not worth it.
They advertise a special meal of lobster for $12 but it was not available for several days. It was just OK when we did get it, the Fri night.
In the dining area, (one restaurant at this resort), there are always flies on you and the food.
The food was terrible, not a lot of choice but of note was the pasta bar - OK and the omlettes were good - hot at least. You will not find hot food in the small buffet. Everything is cold.
The ice cream was delicious and homemade but never fully frozen.
I have concerns that the dishes may also be washed in cold water and not thoroughly cleaned.
The best food I encountered was the mangoes - best I have ever had but they were only available for the first 3 days? Then they were gone. No bananas either. No blender for any drinks whatsoever. We could not even get a pina colada.
They stated that their one blender was broken.

The resort is very isolated, surrounded by bush. Not a lot to do but relax. The beach was very pretty with nice sand, but needed to be cleaned. I picked up a few broken bottles along the shore. The resort too on the grounds, could have been cleaner. Do take the $12 trip to the nearest town Puerta Padre one hour away.

The music on the resort was very loud, night and day, do not plan for a nap! They turned it off around midnight each night even though no one was listening to it. There is a disco but it is down the beach and we did not want to get ravaged by the bugs.
The resort in May, was not busy, low time, thus many Cubans were there vacationing. This was the least friendly resort I have ever been to. The mosquitos were very bad, bring spray with you.
The gift shop was poorly stocked and most of the time the A/C was broken. The little art store, we found to be open one day out of 7.
The bank on site was great - no issues there.

The workers - Isela and her kitten Lucky in the beach hut. Love to you both! They were wonderful.
However - the staff seemed to be overworked as they worked 16 hour shifts.
As far as the beach went - someone let me know if they got to go on the catamaran they have. The worker there never wanted to go out on it. I had to be kayaked out into the ocean by a new local friend to go snorkelling.

The worst part about my trip were the BED BUGS - yes I got eaten alive in my own bed.
The manager of the hotel was advised, I had to go to medical X 3 for cream and Benadryl. Nothing was done except my room was sprayed. How does that get the bugs out of the mattress?

I wished for a relaxing getaway and it was just one problem after another.
Please be aware of what you are getting into! Go to Santa Lucia or even Cayo Coco instead.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Rick 
Fredericton New Brunswick
March 2007
First Sunwing flight direct Fredericton to Holguin. At the resort March 14 to March 22.

The bus ride is really two and one half hours plus. Great bus, and really a cultural tour of rural Cuba ( plus Holguin City) . Make the best of it and have your camera ready. This is the same type of ride you pay $40.00 for as an excursion elsewhere.

Don’t forget the deep woods off. Not sure what is going on , but lots and lots of mosquitoes from 6:00 PM to 10:00 AM. The week had a lot more night rains, and heavy cloud, so maybe the global warming has changed their weather a bit ?

The beach is really a five plus, private clean, lots of fish ,swimming , play , whatever…couldn’t be beat.

The resort. Clean, great staff, but nine years old and could use some major refreshment. Try for second floor units, most have view, and they seem to keep you up above the bug line. Some small problems with things not working, but always resolved.

Food: Look at the bright side , you won’t have to lose 10 pounds when you return. Lots of food , great cheese and ice cream, great fish, and pork dishes, funny salad stuff, desserts all center around a “yellow” cake ??? You won’t go hungry but you won’t rant about the food.

Staff don’t get worked up about pesos( I don’t think they can buy much) instead take clothing, pencils , soaps , children’s stuff. And any kind of leather shoes.

Remember relax, lay back, enjoy the sun and sand and surf…. A great value for the money resort.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Joscelyn 
Canada
March 2006
Amazing resort: My husband and I stayed at Covarrubias from Saturday February 11th to Saturday February 18th. This was our best vacation ever. Those who complain about this resort cannot accept that the standards in Cuba and Canada are different. If they wanted the same Canadian standard of living, stay in Canada and don’t bother going to Cuba. We traveled with an open mind knowing that everything will NOT be the same standard as Canada and we had tons of fun and made lots of friends and can’t wait to go back. There is nothing about this resort that I would complain about. We have traveled before and this is the resort with the friendliest staff and is definitely worth the money. All the food, drinks and activities are included (except for snorkeling). The only thing you need to pay extra for is you are planning on buying any souvenirs or going on the day trips or eating lobsters at the resort. Yes, the resort is located two hours from Holguin airport but it was it was interesting just to look outside and watch the narrow streets and colorful houses as we passed them by.

Food: There is nothing to complain about the food at this resort as there was always plenty of food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served buffet style. There is a chef who makes fresh omelettes (the way you want it) for breakfast and he also makes pasta and grilled sole fish, sometimes salmon for lunch and dinner. They had a wide variety of food and even had mussels a few times. There are two restaurants (El Dorado) which is the main restaurant at which all three meals are served. There is also another restaurant on the beach which serves hot-dogs, burgers and pizzas. You can wear your bathing suit to the beach restaurant but you need to cover up for eating in the main restaurant. There is also a pool bar which has the best rum punches I ever tried. The bartender also serves pina coladas, lots of cerveza (“beer” in Spanish) and mojitos. They also serve espressos and cappuccinos. At dinner, you can also get a bottle of wine which is also included if you take the all-inclusive plan. The only thing we paid extra for was when we ordered grilled lobster with our friends on our last night in Cuba. I forgot to mention there is also a lobby bar.

Beach: The beach is very clean and safe to swim. For a couple of days we were there, it was really cold and raining so there was nobody was at the beach and all the seaweed had come to shore. There are people who go around everyday cleaning the seaweed off the beach and making sure there is no litter. This is a very secluded beach and the only people you will find at the beach are either people living or working at the Covarrubias resort. Toplessness is rare but does exist occasionally. There are also paddle boats and catamarans available for your use (don’t have to pay extra). You can also go snorkeling if you want but there is an additional charge for that. Beach towels are provided. There is a clubhouse next to the pool where you get clean beach towels everyday and you just take you dirty ones over the next day to exchange them for the clean ones.

People: We met tons of people from Canada over there and even the Cubans who work at the resort are extremely friendly. Majority of the tourists at the resort were Canadians (mostly from Toronto, but also from Montreal and Winnipeg) as well as some Germans. The people we really got to know were Keisy (the Spanish instructor and also a professional dance performer), Yokee (another dance performer), Yusy (dance performer), Yonis (archery, comedian). Some of our friends got their hair braided by Yusy. It was 15 pesos for half-head of braids and 25 pesos for full-head of braids.

Entertainment: Even though this resort is so secluded you can never get bored at Covarrubias. After breakfast, we usually hung out at the beach in the morning, swimming, sunbathing, and paddle boating. For those who want to go to snorkeling, there is an extra charge. You can also go on a catamaran ride (which I’m pretty sure is free). Then after lunch, we hung out at the pool-bar sipping on some amazing Pina Coladas and Rum Punches. The Rum Punches are really get addictive cause they’re too good. My husband loved the Pina Colodas. We also tried the Mojitos and Cubanitos. At 3:00 pm everyday, there were Spanish lessons with Keisey, archery at 3:30 with Yonis, Bingo at 4:00 at the pool-bar, Spanish dance lessons at 5:00 usually with Yokee, Yusy, Keisey, Yonis or the other dance instructors. We even learned to dance Meringue, Mambo, Bachata, Samba and a couple of other dances. During dinner, there was usually a band that went around singing at the different tables. There was also a live band at the open air-pool bar at 9:30 pm followed by performances and comedy shows. All the dance performances were really amazing and breathtaking. The comedy skits were really hilarious especially the one about the Canadian tourist at Covarrubias. After all this, the best part was going to the disco on the resort and dancing to Latin music till 1:00 am... Covarrubias has something called a “Sundance” which is a really unique dance that they do everyday at noon, 5:30 pm and after the dance performances around 10:30 pm. The performers always get the crowd involved to participate in the Sundance.

Rooms: The rooms are fairly spacious and very clean. Our maid Izella did an amazing job cleaning our room everyday. If you want clean towels everyday, you just have to put the used towels on the bathroom floor, and she’ll keep clean towels for you. Everyday the maid will keep a bottle of water. You can also write her a note to change the pillowcases or keep an extra bottle of water in case you don’t run into her to tell her directly. It is somewhat of a custom to keep a small gift for the maid. The only place to keep the gift for the maid is to keep the gift on the pillow. We took some chocolates, cup-a-soup, toothpaste, shampoo and body lotion. We also gave away all our remaining toiletries as they really appreciated that. Make sure you ask for a second floor ocean-view room. We had double beds and we just moved them together. The only negative aspect of the room was that the water pressure for the shower for really low. There was always hot water available. The power only went out once and it lasted maybe two minutes.

Day trips: There are several day trips being offered to the tourists at Covarrubias. On Mondays there was a day trip to Santiago du Cuba which was 91 CUC per person. We didn’t go on this trip as the bus was supposed to leave the resort at 6:30 am…Who really wants to wake up that early during vacation??? Also, it was supposed to be a four hour bus ride (one way) to Santiago de Cuba. Not to mention 91 CUC is pretty expensive. We did go to the day trip on Tuesday which was to Puerto Padre, a small town about 45 kms away. It was 12 CUC per person and the tour bus picked us up from the resort at 9:30 am.. It was a 45 minute bus ride. There was a tour guide who gave us a tour of the town of Puerto Padre. We went to a natural arts museum (entrance fee was 1 CUC per person). We walked around Puerto Padre looking at different statutes and monuments. We were given some time to go shopping and we even went on a horse and buggy ride all around town which we had to pay extra. We gave the man 10 CUC and he was very happy. It was definitely worth it considering he took us around the whole town on the horse and buggy ride for almost an hour. The bus picked us upa t 12:30 and were back t the resort in 45 minutes. It was nice to go to Puerto Padre just to get a feel of the real Cuba and how the real Cubans live. There were also other excursions during the rest of the week such as swimming with the dolphins and stuff. However, we only went on that one tour to Puerto Padre as we felt going on the excursions meant we had less time to spend at the beach and we didn’t want to miss out on all the fun activities at the resort.

Packing Lists: Make sure you take any card with a black stripe at the back so you can use it keep the AXC while you out as you will need to take your hotel card with you when you leave the room. You need a card to turn on the lights and the AC. Take your own toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, a box of Kleenex, about 4 toilet rolls (for one week), pads, tampons (as tampons are unavailable in Cuba). The hotel does provide soap, shampoo and toilet rolls but the maid only changes it once a day so the shampoo, toilet rolls and soap are insufficient for en entire day especially if you have to shower more than once after hitting the beach. Take a couple of bikinis or swim trunks, one sarong, a few shorts or skirts, a few tank-tops, a hoodie, a poncho, a pair of light summer pants, and a pair of jeans. You can always rinse off your bikini or swim trunks in the sink and hang them in the balcony on the rocking chairs to dry. Make sure to take a travel size packet of Tide laundry detergent. Also, take a couple of pairs of flip flops. I took some high heels but never ended up wearing them cause everyone at the resort dresses up very casual. Don’t forget to take sunscreen and mosquito repellant. Also, take some Polisporin and some band-aids and gauze as well as Tylenol, Pepto Bismol and Immodium just to be on the safe size. To see a Dr. at the resort costs 20 CUC and 45 CUC if you want the Dr to make a house call.

Souvenirs: There are two souvenir shops at the resort. However, on the way back from Cuba, there is a huge duty free shop at the Holguin airport which has a wide variety of stuff and the prices are also cheaper. The duty free shop is the one you see after you check-in and go through immigration. It’s the one in the lounge area. They also have a cigar shop that sells different types of Cuban cigars.

On a final note, if you are one of those picky travelers who want to criticize and see the worst in all situations then you won’t have fun no matter where you go, so just stay home. If you truly want to have a good time, make some amazing friends, and just relax and enjoy your vacation and get your money’s worth, then go to Covarrubias.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Marie 

March 2006
Hi all just back from Villa Covarrubias early this morning. Plane landed just past 2AM & we arrived home after 4AM & we are lucky as we only live 5 minutes from Toronto Airport. Feel much sympathy for those that have a long travel from the airport.

THE BAD or the SO, SO
First I'll post the bad - Flight home which is not Sunwing fault as we were aware that we had a pickup at Cienfuguos(sp) I doubt I will ever do a non-direct flight from this hotel again. Leaving the room at 3PM which was quite a nice late check out & getting on the bus at 4:30 is not bad but add the 2 hour drive to the airport, then a 3 hr wait at the airport, then the .45min flight to Cienfug.... close to 45 min wait for others to board there, add the flight home, add the very long wait for luggage in Toronto & our travel time added up to almost 12 hours. Bravo to those from Europe that travel 10 - 11 hrs all the time but to be frank 12 hr travel time is a little bit much for me, or perhaps it's watching the families with young children suffer it out. PS - I'm a pretty fit 49 not 70. The good side was a very quick customs in Hoguin both arriving & leaving & that is not what I expected after some pretty horrendous lines on previous trips. Perhaps Hoguin airport authorities were reading all the negatives & stepped up their staffing.

THE FOOD....not bad just so so.
Having stayed at other 3* resorts in the past I think I can sum up the food situation in a flash. Safe & Hearty that's about it, repetitive, bland. You can only eat sponge cake so many times.... We don't travel to Cuba for the food but I must say that this hotel's food is 2* not 3*, pointing out that my brother informs me that he's had similar in 4* resorts in Varadero so maybe hub & I have just been very lucky in our choices of resorts. The coffee in the main restaurant was probably the worst coffee I have ever tasted in my life.... TO ALL.... GO TO THE LOBBY BAR THEY HAVE GREAT COFFEE!!!! Tip to the RESORT - Invest in a least one good purcolator or drip machine & have it available in your lobby 24 hrs.... We Canadians love our coffee...... all the time.

THE GOOD.
OUR ROOM....

We were given a fabulous location for our bungalow, beautiful view of the water, fab access to both beach & main restaurant. My children were given the room directly next to us -- added bonus. I adored having 24' slanted ceilings. Friends back in Jan from Mayan Riviera 5* had a 8 minute walk to their boys room.

Check in was very smooth - staff very welcoming. Not sure what all the complaints about water is as we not once ran out of water, nor did we run out of hot water & we showered many times between 6 & 7 PM prior to dinner... so I don't know if we just lucked out every time or what but I have no complaints at all about the water. ** I did come down with a severe case of Sun Poisoning, have experienced it many times in the past but this time was paticularly bad - water perhaps even though desalinated has more of a salt residue than some places.

Our bed was neither too soft or too hard, just different than my fab one at home. Our maid was a wonderful English Professeur who did a great job cleaning up after my teens with nothing but a happy attitude and gratefulness of our generosity. She had no attitude about being a maid even with her education as she was grateful to have such a well paying job that made her family's life better. BRAVO TO HER...... great sense of humour & lovely smile.

THE BARS
We found all of the Bar staff extremely attentive, yes we tipped but not all the time. They were no long waits, ever, which is very nice considering this was March break time. Kudos to all the guys in the Bars & especially for having a smile for all the snappish tourists that can bearly manage Hello little own a please & thank-you.

ENTERTAINMENT
The 12 piece band was great, however music which is a must for me was a little lacking. They need a little bit more music, more often & get rid of the BINGO rap/disco yuck at 4PM, keep the bingo it's fun.. change the music. We really didn't get involved with the entertainment staff & to be honest there is not much here for the teen crowd the 13 - 17 yr olds & unless they are very socialble they may be a little bored.

THE FABULOUS...
Spectacular beach - lot's of chairs never once without a lounger for all 5 of us with many empty ones all over. Shade was not a problem for us as I love to walk the beach in solitude at 7:30AM - stay there till coffee opens at the lobby at 8:30 & quick breafast at around 9AM. Shade for those who are late sleepers is a problem, they do need more beach huts. The snorkelling at the reef is great.. lot's of coral & variety, cannot compare to say "Mayan Riviera hot spots" but non the less pretty good. Beach staff very helpful.

KIDS CLUB...
Sorry I have no info as to be honest there were not a lot of children at this resort & as mine are way past that age.

SYNOPSIS....
Would we return, perhaps with a great deal $$ & info that the food has improved a bit - the isolation of this resort puts it in the category of place for REST & RELAXATION. With a change in food & a little bit more of service IE: real coffee served in the main Restaurant or at the very least proper machines maybe.. it all comes down to what you are looking for.. my teens loved this place during the day.... not so much at night... but that would be more to do with a lack of companions not the resort itself.

This beach & the new ownership could change this resort into a 3+* or 4* with very little effort, however it then too may change the price for those looking (especially the seniors) for their quiet little holiday. I love Cuba, the people are genuine and I can't think of another place that I would feel safer. WE will return to Cuba & perhaps do a little bit of a journey on our own... travel around a little bit more, meet more people other than resort... I missed being able to go into a town even just for an afternoon as the cost from this resort was too much to spend for a few hours. Having said that this is still a nice quiet place. If you are looking for wild time I suggest stick with Varadero.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Craig 

March 2006
I booked a last minute vacation to Club Covarrubias in Cuba (landing at Holguin) a couple of weeks ago.

I got my vegan meal on the flights, thanks to Francesca at itravel2000 phoning my request over to Sunwing.

I liked pretty well everything about the vacation. The resort was quiet and out of the way. The accommodation was spacious and clean. The disco was located way way at the far end of the resort and I could never hear it.
Perfect! The beach was lovely and, for a vegan, the food was ample and varied. The staff were friendly and never pestered me for tips, although it was obvious that they would appreciate them. I did give tips when I received any level of personal service. The water equipment (kayaks, snorkels, peddle boats) were readily available and there was a nice lagoon at the end of the resort for exploring. The snorkelling was good, both near the lagoon end of the beach and at the small reef about 5 minutes by boat away. The staff were friendly and the Canadians were rather chatty as well. Unfortunately, there were no mopeds or bikes at the resort, but I did have a nice massage.

The entertainment was hit and miss, so I just appreciated it when it was good.

As you can guess, I went with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. This resort is good for a nice inexpensive quiet relaxing vacation. If you're going somewhere to party, pick another spot. The bus ride is actually about 2 hours, not the 90 minutes as advertised and the roads are in very poor condition, but for me this just added to the adventure.

There was no kids club as advertised, but for me travelling by myself, that wasn't a problem.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Dan 

March 2006
we got back the 18 feb from villa covarubias after a 2 week stay. we flew air transat in wich we had no negative remark what-soever. we purchased our package through selloffvacations.com and tour mont-royal. the sales rep from selloffvacations.com was cold but efficient. no room for negociating. the departure scedule was very tiring having to be at the airport in montreal at 3 : 00 am ehich meant we left home at 12 : 30 in the morning. our plane took off at 6 : 00 am and we landed at holguin at around 11 : 00 am. people complained of the 2 hour transfer from holguin airport to the resort but i personely enjoyed it. you get a real view of how the majority of cubans live. (note) negotiating through pedestrian, bicycle, tractor, scooter and horse drawn carrige trafic is not for faint of heart. sit towards the back of the bus and look sideways.

at the resort
we were greeted with the regulatory debriefing the next day at villa covarubia by the tour mont-royal rep (omar), we were checked into our rooms without delay. we were even encouraged to have lunch at the buffet before we were invited to go to the front desk and check in. when we got to our rooms (we were 6 in our group) we had no water and for close to half the time we were there we had no hot water. this in itselfwas our only real gripe about our vacation. front desk didn't seem in a hurry to remedy the problem, but then it was an off and on problem. it was always a question weather i was going to be able to have a shower after comming out of the ocean or the salt water pool (only one) without having a heart attack with cold water.

we didn't have any trouble finding chairs at the beach but pool-side you had to be quick. if you enjoy snorkelling the best place to see fish with the least amount of effort is in the lagoon. i went with my son both on the open water by pedal-boat and in the lagoon and for the best variety of fish go to the lagoon. in the lagoon you just wade in and you're up to your waist in an under sea paradise.

regarding service nothing to balk at. after the first couple o days our waiters knew our group. we would come in for supper at 6 ; 30 and either ricardo or boris would have put 2 tables together, filled our wine glasses and supplied 2 bottles o wine fer our tables. more than ready and willing to head out to the bar for our boy's pina colada (no alcahol). our cleaning lady (nancy) was more than cooperative. seeing that we consumed more than the one bottle of water per day we asked and she gave more water.

note; we sent post cards durring the first week of our stay. it's been a month now and our freinds haven't yet received them yer. and for those connaisseures of rum, ask the right people and you can have a good aged rum for close to half price copmpared to the boutique at the resort. 4 pesos per bottle at the time instead of 7.65 pesos.

at first i was p'd-off that our water problem was unreliable but al in all i'll have to admit, thanks to the excelent sevice of nancy, boris, ricardo, raoule, juicy, nicky and others i may have forgotten, it was a pleasurable and memorable voyage. would i return? i could be convinced but only for 1 week the next time.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Canada 

February 2006
Friendliest Staff Ever!!!

Spent Dec. 30 – Jan. 6, 2006 at Club Villa Covarrubias, which is situated west along the coast from Santa Lucia Beach, and east of Playa Pesquero.

Flew Cubana through Holasun on their new A320 Airbus. Definitely more legroom than any other flight.

Delays left us landing in Hoguin at 4 a.m., bus headed off at 5 a.m. in horrible fog. Driver was horribly lost, at one point the road turned into a white sandy beach and we could just see the water to the left of us!! When was the tide coming in?? A couple of us suggested to the driver that he turn around before we got stuck in the sand, and finally at 7:45 a.m., 15 minutes after sunrise, we arrived at beautiful Villa Covarrubias.

We had been assigned our room number and info packet on the bus, staff were wonderful when we arrived, porters grabbed our bags, and had them in our rooms by the time we got there. They would have had a snack for us, but the buffet was already open for breakfast LOL!!!
1) Staff , Activities and Show 10/10

WOW, this is where Villa Cova really shines!!! EVERYONE was so friendly and kind, even when I saw some remarkably rude and ignorant tourists insult them!!! (A group of 21 expected instant service, drinks for all, forgetting that there were other people there!!)

The front desk staff were brilliant, Kenia the PR person was wonderful, Maria, Luisa and Anya in the buffet were so friendly, Kenia our camarera wrote notes and made blanket sculptures to thank us for our tips, Tony at the pool bar, Jovani the gardener who liked to practise his English…I could go on forever. Had a fabulous hour-long massage from Haroldo, his wife Rubiseida also gives massages, they cost 16 CUCs here and I would pay $120 for the same thing in Toronto!

The animation staff were also out of this world. If I went back on my own, I would never worry about being lonely. There are activities all day, archery, two types of dance lessons, aquafit in the pool, aquafit in the ocean, volleyball, soccer on the tennis courts, tennis, BINGO (I won a bottle of rum the first day!!). Lots to do but they never bother you to join like at some resorts.

The Shows: They were by far among the best I have seen at a resort. The 8 piece band from Puerto Padre was topnotch, the dancers were out of this world, and even the Miss Covarrubias contest night was funny without being too rude for kids. Most nights were music and dancing, excellent!! One night was skit night to give the dancers a break. We just about cried laughing at the Titanic skit, don’t sit in the front row if you want to stay dry. Also, in the skit with “Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli”, someone actually ends up in the pool, it was hilarious!

2) The beach 9/10 Beautiful white/pink, powder beach with minimal seaweed and a soft sandy bottom over the entire bay! About 500 metres from shore, at the end of the boat buoys is a small rocky reef filled with beautiful fish. Bring a bit of bread for food and they come out of hiding. Weather was 28-30 C every day, not a drop of rain or one cloudy day!!

The beach chair problem has been solved, they had so many some are still stacked up, but they could always use more palapas. With more shade palapas, this beach would be a 10. At the western side of the beach many people just pulled their chairs into the shade from the beach restaurant. Lots of kayaks, pedalboats, a hobiecat, etc. Although we were there at a very busy time, we never had trouble getting something to take out.

3) The rooms 9/10 We had a fabulous room, huge, oceanfront with a king bed and wraparound balcony with rocking chairs. It was spotless and newly decorated. One of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever had! Shower pressure was not enough to get soap out of your hair and I had to fix the toilet with my duct tape (I’m sure they would have done it if I had called, but I have fixed so many toilets the world over, I just do it!)

Lots of TV channels, HBO, CNN (English and Spanish), Animal Planet (English with Spanish subtitiles), Golden Movie Network, ESPN, TV5 (French dubbed in Spanish), Cartoon network (Eng), TBS, RITMO Central (Spanish music videos), Channel 13 is hotel info, although some prices are outdated), and 2 Cuban channels, one travel and one news, weather and educational shows.

4) Grounds and Facilities 8/10

The grounds were beautiful and much more mature than shown in the travel brochures. Flowered bushes were everywhere, grounds were constantly being raked, stairs and hallways outside rooms were spotless.

Pool was very shallow, only deep enough to swim in a small area, but kept perfectly clean. More loungers and shade umbrellas need to be set up near the pool.

There is a pool table and pingpong table which were constantly monopolized by one group. It would be good if the person at the towel hut handed out the pool cues and pinpong paddles so that everyone could take turns after one hour.

The lobby and bars are bright, clean, and attractively decorated, lobby washrooms were clean, but like the beach restaurant were without soap.

5) Food 4/ 10 There are 3 places to eat, the main buffet restaurant, the beach bar Ranchon, and the pool snack bar that has cheese and ham sandwiches only.

I have never complained about food at a Cuban resort before, but this really needs to be attended to if this resort wants to become a 4 star.

Bread at the buffet was absolutely stale, the grill staff were overburdened, having to run back into the kitchen for extra food, and foods on the hot table had little variety. The wait at the grill took forever.

Many of the foods on the salad table were dishes like canned corn and canned chickpeas, yesterday’s rice and beans. Vegetables from the night before came back dressed in mayonnaise. The ice cream bar didn’t have refrigeration or ice, so it was melted after the first 20 minutes.

The owners really need to hire a chef from a successful hotel, like the Blau Costa Verde where we had fabulous food and get their kitchen organized and get some variety into the menu. The Ranchon had pizza, sometimes fries, sometimes pasta, generally a better lunch than the buffet. The Ranchon could be used as an a la carte for some variety in the evening.

Breakfast had the best food, pancakes, scrambled eggs, omelettes, french toast, but no bread that was fresh. Juices and coffee were available.

Conclusion: Villa Covarrubias is a spectacular area with four star buildings and five star beach, but the lack of variety and quality of food and lack of a la cartes for variety will keep it a 3 star. Owners also need to address the issue of the lost bus drivers, I have heard from others that this has happened on several occasions. Someone needs to go out with a trunkload of signs and hammer them in at every turn after Delicias.

If you are looking for a quiet, friendly place with a fabulous beach, this is the place for you. However, I would not recommend this place for large groups who want a party. A small place like this does not have enough staff to send extra waitstaff to attend to the needs of a large party. My family will definitely return.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Lynda and Gilles 
Ontario, Canada
January 2006
Hey Debbie,

This trip was our first one so we can't compare it to any other resorts, but let me tell you...it was the best time. I must say that the trip from the airport is long (two hours) but well worth the wait. You get to see all that is Cuba, and the way these great people live. It made me realize and appreciate what i have.

The ocean view from our room was great. The rooms are very clean with the ac as cold as you want it. We left gifts and money for our cleaning lady.

Little tip: don't leave anything on the bed that you want to keep, the cleaning lady takes it. I asked and the locals tell me that things left on the bed are gifts for them.

Day trip: (three hour drive) The day trip to go swim with dolphins was very costly but worth every penny (120 cuban each). You get to swim with 2 dolphins for 20 minutes. You then get a lunch paid chiken or pasta (very good). Bring water and toilet paper it is very costly in the corner stores.

The food in the ocean bar is good you get hot dogs hamburgers, fries. At the morning buffet, get an omlet, they cook it the way you like! It's great. The milk shakes are the best, bananas with ice cream...mmmm good.

The booze is good, they put alot of rum in their drinls. They are not cheap. Try a sunshine they are great. My husband drank beer (crystal) he said it was very good.
You can purchase booze for cheap at the resort store.
They have free catamarang rides try it it's really fun.
I recommend taking the kayake into the lagoon. Bring bread, and feed it to the fish. Their is even jelly fish in the lagoon. The ocean water is wonderfull and the sand is nice too. The pools are great, warm and clean.
I recommend the 15 $ snorkeling (bring bread ) it is wonderfull lots of coral and fish fish fish lots of it!
The dico dance bar is nice to. It opens at 11 and runs till you can't walk to your room. The disco bar is far from the rooms so you are not awaken from the music. This resort is small and nice you will enjoy it i'm sure. They are little cottages so you don't have to go up an elavator. It is all alone in the midle of nothing. If your plan is to migle in other resorts, this is not for you. I also recommend this resort for couples with kids. My kids would have liked it i'm sure.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
 
Great White North
June 2005
All the past reviews are right on. Just a few points I want to add.

1-My parents never received their postcard. I purchased it in the gift shop (for 1 peso...expensive) and 0.5 peso stamp. The saleslady didn't even punch it up on her cash register...guess she made a little profit. I gave the postcard to the guy at the front desk. Maybe he kept the stamp and through away the postcard (just speculating). I told him him I would just put it in the mailbox but he insisted on letting him mail it. STRIKE 1

2-The same saleslady tried to pull a fast one and charge me an extra item on my 6 souvenir purchases. After 5 minutes of trying to show her error (like she didn't know) she FINALLY itemized the souvenirs to the cash receipt and noticed there was indeed an extra item (worth about 9 pesos). But, I forgot to mention, she was quick on passing my credit card so instead of going through the trouble of a refund I took something worth the amount. Nice scam. She apologized, though (sounded empty). She also charged me about 10% commision for my VISA when she told me it would be 3%. STRIKE 2

3-The food was repetitive every day. Most items (rice, pasta, salads, etc...were there every day with 1 or 2 different plates. Now I'm not a person who expects the best of everything from the poorest of the world but I ate the same thing everyday. There was very little variety. Maybe because it was low season and the budget was tight. BTW...DO NOT eat the hamburgers at the beach restaurant. The meat sometimes had chunks of hard fat in it. STRIKE 3 Everything else was edible.

I know Cuba is a poor country, especially that region from what my Cuban neighbour tells me, and somewhere it makes me feel like an a**hole to criticize but I left over 100$ in tips in one week necause my heart went out to them. That did not include the approx $30 I spent the evening before leaving at a dollar store buying deoderants, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.. as a prevoius tourist had written. (Very good advice, BTW, if anyone does go visit) What offended me somewhat was when after leaving a peso tip when having a drink (which is more than what I woud tip a barman here) they would sometimes shoot me an offended look when I had later had another drink like the tip was to be expected. Hey...barmen! Keep your looks for the Eurotrash who never leave a cent. Be grateful Canadians are among your clientele.

On the positive side... I received a beautiful thank you note from my chambermaid, Jaqueline, written in excellent English, for leaving her all sorts of gifts and money.

Some advice...close your bathroom door at all times. There is no metal bug screen in the bathroom window and when it rains the mosquitos flew around the white lamp just outside the bathroom window. Oh...and try to get a second floor room, if you like to see the ocean.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Joan 
Canada
March 2005
Hello Debbie

Our trip to Club Villa Covarrubias in Cuba was absolutely wonderful. We arrived on Saturday, March 12th. This was our first trip to Cuba so we did not know what to expect. We were told by a local that the word, Covarrubias means "white shell" in the Cuban Aboriginal language. We found many white shells on the beach.

The weather, people and food were all great. There were lots of activities, i.e., pool table, ping pong, sailing on a hobie cat, paddle boats, kayaks, beach volley ball, tennis, snorkeling, gym and archery. All of these activities were included in this all inclusive resort.

We especially enjoyed the: calm, clean ocean; peaceful, clean lagoon; white sand beach; wildlife and nightly live entertainment. The color of the ocean was emerald green. This was all beyond our expectations! We were so pleased about how clean our room and the resort was. We left our maid some money and clothing on a pillow to show our appreciation. We were told that the monthly salary for the maid is only about $10/month.

In my opinion, this should be a 4* resort not a 3* as advertised. We were told by other guests who had vacationed at this resort several times that it was considered a 3* because the rooms do not have a bath tub; however there is a very spacious shower with excellent water pressure and lots of hot water. In addition there was a bidet which makes up for not having a bath tub. It was also given only 3 stars because there was only one à la carte restaurant. We enjoyed the food so much in the el dorado restaurant that we did not even bother to go to the à la carte restaurant on the beach.

We also liked the fact that this resort was very small, and not too many people. Only Italians, Germans and Canadians (from Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia) on the resort. I believe that Canadians were in the majority. People were all very friendly. We felt very safe and secure and did not worry about our children being alone on the beach or pool area. It is a child friendly resort.

On the first day, right after the orientation, I introduced myself to Kenia, the PR person at the resort. From that point on, Kenia was so helpful during our stay. I asked her if we could possibly have a room with a view of the ocean and she tried for several days but because it was all booked up she was unable to find us a room with three beds (a triple) facing the ocean.

On March 19th, it was our daughter Elizabeth's 13th birthday. I told Kenia about this a few days before the day and she said that she would organize a cake with candles and a nice card. Elizabeth was surprised during lunch when everyone in the dining hall sang "Happy Birthday" to her in several languages.

My husband and I were very impressed with the food at El Dorado restaurant. We especially enjoyed the fried cabbage, egg plant with sauce, chick peas, brown beans and rice, and other delicious Cuban food. The salads were fresh and tasty. This was an excellent place for vegetarians. It was such healthy, delicious home cooked food. I especially enjoyed the fish which was usually fried and very fresh. One evening I treated myself to a grilled lobster ($12) and it was excellent. It was actually a crayfish; however in Cuba it was called a lobster. It was huge, enough for two people.

The gift shop was very nice with lots of local wood carvings, oil paintings on canvas, jewlery and hand made toys. The wood carver, Saoul was there some days and he actually carved his name and date on the bottom of the turtle that we purchased for 8.50 pesos. I was told by the shop keeper that they have to pay 67% of the purchase price back to the government as a tax. This leaves very little for the shop keeper and the craft person.

The lounge chair/tiki hut situation was the only problem that I can think of. The first few mornings that we arrived on the beach after breakfast (9:30am) there were no tikis left and we had to search for beach chairs. We did find a bit of shade under a palm tree but having a tiki would give us the best shelter from the hot sun. After two mornings of this, I decided to wake up at 6:50am (with the help of an alarm clock) and run to the beach to reserve a tiki hut and 4 comfy beach chairs using our beach towels and also hanging our beach bag on a hook on the tiki pole for good measure. Afterwards, I would walk up and down the clean, white sand beach barefoot, looking for interesting shells and watching a magnificent sun rise each morning. By about 8:20am, my family would join me on the beach and we would go together for breakfast at the el dorado restaurant.

The cuban music on the beach was sometimes too loud and over powering and we just simply asked the people at the watersports hut to turn it down or off and they were always willing to comply.

We especially enjoyed the two hour bus ride back to the airport on Saturday at 5:30pm. It was daylight as we drove through several small towns and the country side to reach our destination of Holguin, population 400,000. The resort sent a guide on the bus who explained the sugar cane plantations, banana plantations, the various towns along the way. We saw a large reservoir that supplies drinking water for the people of Holguin which is simply running out of water due to lack of rain for the past four years.

We enjoyed our holiday so much that we asked Omar, the Conquest rep if we could extend it another week and he checked with Conquest Tours and they told him it would cost us $2,750. CDN to stay for another week. We thought this was too much and decided to return on March 19th.

Omar was sick and did not go to work for many days. Kenia tried to help but she did not know the prices for the excursions. Ricardo was his replacement and he was able to explain the various excursions. We were told by Ricardo that the Swim with the Dolphin trip was $139/person. We did not take any trips off the resort during our stay. We didn't mind as there was lots to do on the resort and we were just happy to be there enjoying each other and the great holiday.

On the last day, we were able to keep our room at no extra cost until 3:45pm as our bus to the airport was only at 5:30pm. Go to the reception desk before noon and ask to have the room key re-programmed to a later time. The safe key had to be re-programmed at the same time.

Do not use US$ on the resort as there is a 10% discount. It is better to use our Canadian money to purchase the Cuban Convertable Peso ($0.79). Be sure to rent a safety box in the room at a cost of 2 pesos/day it well worth it. Do not lose the beach towel as the resort will charge you 20 pesos. You can use the internet on the resort however the cost is 8 pesos /hour and I was told it was very slow. There was a 24 hour medical service available. Lastly, there is a charge of 25 pesos/person to pay to the Cuban officials at the airport in Holguin as a departure tax. Only children under the age of two are exempt from the departure tax.
ardefen@hfx.eastlink.ca
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Samantha 
Canada
February 2005
9 of us (7 thirtysomethings and 2 over fifties) spent a wonderful week at Villas Covarrubias Jan 29 - Feb 05 2005. Our Jetsgo flight was on time and got to Covarrubias without delay in a mini bus which took exactly 2 hours. I would say we got everything we expected out of this trip. I did a lot of research before going to Covarrubias, so I knew what to expect. I'd say on a whole the vacation was relaxing. The weather was beautiful, not one yucky day and we all have the tans to prove it :) I've been to Puerta Vallarta Mex., and the DR twice, and this by far was the best beach....white sand, and bright turqoise water. The only downfall was the lack of beach chairs. Luckily we are early risers, and there were 9 of us, so we managed to get up early and save our chairs. We didn't like doing it, but if you didn't get out there by 7:30am you lost out on sitting on chairs on the beach. They could use more chairs in general, not many near the pool bar either... The food was good, nothing fantastic...except the turkey one night! But nothing inedible...My recommendation would be to bring a bottle of hot sauce along...We we're travelling with 2 vegetarians and they seemed to be pleased as well. We did order lobster one night, and that was great, well worth the $12. The beach bar is great at lunch. We did have an a la carte dinner there on our last night. It was OK, the food at the buffet was better, but it was nice to sit outside for dinner!

We made it to the disco one night and had a great time there too... The service was a little slow at times, but usually the fault of the guests..."butting in line" was a problem. I'd say for the money we paid, it was a great vacation spot, clean, beautiful beach, fantastic weather and no one got sick off the food :)
If you are looking for an activity filled, loud, busy resort, do not go to Covarrubias...you will be disappointed...we did meet a few people with that complaint. But I (and most of the people I travelled with) was more than happy to sit by the water with a good book, catch the rays, a little snorkling and I was a very happy camper...if you want to experience the Cuban way of life and be able to walk to other resorts, visit cafes, or eat a huge variety of food, don't go here!! Veradero or Puerto Vallarta in Mexico may be more "your thing".
I would be more than happy to visit Covarrubias again and again!!
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Three Amigas 
Toronto
January 2005
Hello Debbie!
I'd like to submit my review of our stay at Gran Caribe Club Villa Covarrubias in Holguin Cuba, from January 15-22, 2005.

We are three 30-something female friends who've just returned from Club Villa Covarrubias located on the Playa Covarrubias in Holguin. We sought great value with an amazing beach and we were not disappointed. We arrived at Holguin Airport via Skyservice late in the evening of January 15th. The lineup for converting Canadian funds to the Cuban Convertible Peso was ridiculously slow. The bus was forced to wait for about an hour while the droves of people awaited their respective exchanges. I would still highly recommend obtaining your pesos from the airport, nonetheless, as the hotel was in short supply of small denominations all week.

The drive to the resort was lengthy as the driver was apparently new and got lost en route. After numerous circles in the dark and several stops for assistance, one of the the guests who'd been to the resort before was able to help find our bearings and get us on the right path again. I don't blame the driver for this...the roads were narrow, poorly signed and very dark. The tour operator or Hotel should not have sent an inexperienced driver on this route for the first time in the middle of the night. About 3 1/2 hours later, we arrived at our destination. We were checked into the hotel promptly and offered sandwiches and sodas as refreshments which were greatly appreciated, even though it was 3:30 am! Our bags were waiting for us by the time we made it to our room. We knew we were close to the ocean...we could hear the waves as we wandered in the pitch dark in search of our room number. We were located on the second floor, # 9226...in the morning we discovered we had a stunning ocean view close to the security post on the west side of the property.

Our room was very spacious which is surprising for a 3* Hotel. We had anticpated passe accomodations, but were actually surprised. Our washroom was beginning to show its age, the sink was a bit chipped and the mirror was scuffed up, the grout in the shower was a bit discoloured and had a few mould/mildew spots, but nothing serious and certainly not a health risk (two of us have severe mould allergies...we would know!) . We left our maid, Maria money and gifts every day and in exchange (as per our request) we always received extra bottled water and toilet tissue. We actually brushed our teeth with the water. We did notice the discolouring that some people have complained of, but it is a temporary discolouring, probably from the water sitting in the pipes. Once you let it run a few seconds, it's perfectly clear. We even washed a few white garments in the sink. We didn't request our towels be exchanged every day, and actually our maid took it upon herself to change them for us when she realized they were a couple of days old. She was extremely attentive, which we found impressive considering how many other rooms she had to care for as well. On the day we left, we gave several staff members including Maria, our leftover toiletries, and a few other items such as magazines, snacks, shoes, etc.

On our first day, we got acquainted with the resort, which was surprisingly small and very easy to navigate our way around. The resort was jam-packed with people, which we heard several times is very rare. When we first arrived we were told that there were 280 guests in the resort. By the time we left, we were told there were 350. During the week we had high winds and cooler temperatures from Monday to Thursday. The beach was practically empty and the pool was packed. People were desperately seeking chairs which was impossible. I'm guessing that there were 100-150 chairs on the property, half of which were broken. We played the towel game by reserving our chairs at 6:00 a.m. We would ensure someone stayed with the chairs all day in order not to lose them. I would say this was the only major downfall of our stay at Covarrubias. We witnessed several arguments throughout the week when chairs would get switched or taken. Considering the remoteness of the hotel and the lack of activities, I feel it's fair to say that the Hotel needs to sort this situation out.

The buffet, pool, bar, entertainment stage and front lobby are all within steps of each other. Another bar, "the lobby bar" was just outside of the main lobby...one of our favourite hangouts in the evenings. The lobby bar made delicious lattes which we indulged in frequently! There is also a beach bar/restaurant (which was closed 4 of our 7 days due to the high winds) and a disco at the far east end of the property. There is a pool and ping pong table beside the pool and archery behind the buffet. Gift shops are located outside of the main lobby as is the internet cafe and medical office. The gym was extremely substandard, I am afraid to say. The equipment was rusted and filthy. I went into the gym once and left immediately.

We were "initiated" very quickly with how things work at COVA. We discovered that great service was subject to tipping well. We were glad to do it and as such we were treated like Royalty. Likewise, we discovered that we had to be a little less "polite" in order to survive the trough-like chaos at meal times. There is no such thing as waiting your turn. Intitially it was rather annoying that the staff would turn a blind eye to blatant butting in line, but then we realized that they are in a tough position of trying to make everyone happy. We just learned to be a little less sensitive and a little more aggressive, developed the "when in Rome" theory. With the beach restaurant closed almost the whole week of our stay, we ate almost exclusively in the buffet. The food was very good for Cuban standards...the usual repetitive staples but with unique twists and variations of spices, every meal was a bit different than the last. We were very happy to see green lettuce served at almost every meal, something that is not always available. I must comment on the excellent icecream served at dinner time and the red and white wine served at lunch and dinner. I think they'll need to grow a new vineyard thanks to my friends and I! The Cubita coffee was, as I remembered from my previous trips to Cuba.....excellent!

The evening entertainment was something we attended most nights as there really isn't much else to do at COVA after dark. After the "show" of the evening we would gather in the lobby where there are comfortable sofas and we'd indulge in the lovely lattes from the lobby bar until it closed at 11:00. There we met many wonderful people and made lots of great new friends! After 11, the ONLY thing to do was attend the disco, which we did twice. The first night we were there, there were very few people there, and very little smoke. We had a great time "shaking our thangs" till closing! The second night we went, there were significantly more people and the smoke was unbearable. Because I suffer from asthma I was forced to leave. Subsequently I was ill for a couple of days after the fact, so I was unable to return to the disco, much to my great dismay. I must say hello to Julio...."Senor Sandwich"....an incredible dancer....better luck next time, amigo.

We only took one excursion into the local town of Puerto Padre which was very interesting. We tagged along with a group of hotel guests. We went into several little shops that had odds and ends for sale and we also checked out one of the former "dollar stores", of which we were shocked by the inflated prices. We went to a local fruit market, the zoo and completed our tour with a nice cold cerveza at a local cafe. The excursion was a real eye opener for many of us.

Club Villa Covarrubias is a quaint, pleasant place for those in need of a relaxing getaway. I think that 3*'s is a realistic rating for this hotel. I must say that the staff make this hotel the warm, inviting place that it is. I would definitely return to Covarrubias in future.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Don  
Canada
January 2005
January 2005 just got back from a wonderful week in Cuba. We went the same dates as last year, January 8-15, and are already planning for 2006.

After reading some very negative reviews, I wonder how much investigation was involved. Covarrubias is NOT a place to visit if you’re looking for a wild night life or big time menus. The “animacion” or entertainment is what I would call “fun”; lots of music and dancing, theme nights and audience participation. A new friend we met almost laughed herself sick one night at some of the actions of guests who were called up on stage.

My wife and I took my 77 year old mother with us this year. She had the time of her life and is looking forward to going back. We were greeted with hugs and kisses the first day in the dining room from last year’s staff. Alexander, Luisa, Maria, the list goes on, are very good at their job. They are attentive but not “in your face”. Here’s our review:

Arrival at Holguin Airport: Quickly processed through customs although, last year I was asked to open my suitcase. It contained mostly over the counter stuff like Advil, burn ointment, etc. and I was allowed through with it. We traveled to Covarrubias (VC) via small 30 passenger bus. It took about 2 hours.

Because it was during the day, we were able to see the “real” Cuba; pretty distressing from a Canadian’s point of view. Old cars, trucks, bicycles and tractors make up the transportation modes. Housing is interesting to say the least. What strikes you though is the cleanliness of the people. With dirt for your front lawn and one 60 watt bulb in the house it wouldn’t surprise you to think the kids would be dirty. Not so. We found the trip to CV enlightening.

Arrival at Villa Covarrubias: Lots of handshakes and hugs at the front desk were the norm. The staff actually remembered us which is quite remarkable when you think of all the faces they see in a year. We rented a safe in the room for $2.00 a day Cuban Convertible Peso. I bought a Net card for $8.00 (1 hour) and then porters take the bags to our rooms and we got settled in.

Meals: We ate all our meals except one in the main dining room. The exception was in the outdoor dining room off the beach. Food is pretty basic; mostly chicken, eggs, fish, pork and a little beef. One meal we enjoyed calamari. There were lots of salads but not in a Canadian sense. Foods we would serve hot, they serve cold. It makes it interesting. Potatoes, tomatoes, corn, beans, cabbage, plantain, cucumbers, onions, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, (and some stuff we didn’t know what it was) etc. There is enough fruit variety to give you a diabetic fit: oranges, pineapple, fruitabumba (papaya actually but in this region, the word “papaya” has a bad connotation), bananas, grapefruits, watermelon, etc. A good bit of Spanish to remember is Que es eso?, what is it? All meals are buffet and include everything. There is a hot grill where you can get omelets, hamburgs, etc. There are a variety of beverages such as café con leche, pineapple and orange juice, milk, sodas, beer, wine etc. There was lots of bread and rolls plus a variety of desserts including ice cream made on the premises. The hours of operation allow sleeping in as well as catching a late dinner at 8:00 p.m.

A special meal was served for returning guests. There were about 35 to 40 of us with one gentleman having visited VC 13 times since it opened 6 years ago. Another couple had stayed 12 times. It would appear their expectations had been realized. The meal was wonderful.

Staff: I can’t say enough about them. Courteous, watchful, friendly, accommodating, come to mind. Even with the obnoxious, overbearing and ignorant guests, they remained a great example of decorum. One guest suggested that perhaps our Canadian service industry should be sent to Cuba to learn some manners. When I asked our waiter if he would be working the morning of our departure, he said it was his day off but if we wanted him to, he would come in anyway and say good bye to us. Try that one on a North American waiter.

Rooms: Because of a water shortage, there is a notice in the washroom that says to leave the towels on the floor if we wanted them changed, otherwise, hang them up. The water does come out yellowish when the taps are first turned on. So, you let it run a second or two. (We have exceptionally hard water where I live and the water sometimes comes out brown and that’s in Canada.) I read in one review that the writer was distressed to have to brush his teeth with that water. I guess he didn’t understand that the bottled water wasn’t just to drink, poor soul.

The rooms are cleaned everyday and unless the sheets are on the floor, they aren’t changed. The “sand in my bed” comment cracked me up. What we did was brush the sand off with our hands. It worked!! The maids leave a large bottle of water everyday and will leave two if you ask them. The fridge is a typical bar fridge and keeps everything nice and cold. Every day, the maids create a sculpture out of towels to greet you when you get back after lunch.

Tipping: Since American dollars are not used any longer, you can get Canadian money changed to the Cuban Convertible Peso at the resort. The exchange matches the $US which at the time writing was about $.77 on the dollar. Do not take any Canadian currency that is crushed, torn (even a tiny tear), or mutilated in the smallest way as they won’t take them for conversion. There are two kinds of pesos so make sure you are getting convertible pesos if you buy anything and you get change back. The people peso is worth about one third of a cent Canadian. That is the peso used by the Cuban people. This brings us to tipping. Please do not tip with Canadian dollars. We had staff asking if we could take the damaged money and give them convertible pesos at value. The $CAN was just a worthless p! iece of paper and the coins were even worse.

We always get a pile of one dollar pesos to tip with. At meals we leave a Cuban dollar and also leave one at the end of the bed for the maid. When you consider that their monthly pay is between 200 and 250 pesos (approx. $10 to $12.00 Canadian), it’s not hard to understand how much a dollar tip means to them. We also take gifts for the staff. We find out if they are married, have children, what the health conditions are for them and their family and take stuff to help. Shoes for kids are in great demand as is pain medication, vitamins for kids, vitamin E for adults etc. Hair elastics, sewing kits, deodorant, hair care products, paper and pencils or pens, stickers, underwear for kids, toothbrushes and paste, combs, soap, calendars, etc. are just some examples of what is appreciated. Use your imagination but don’t take junk. They are worth more than that! Be generous, it will give you a lift.

Beach: White sand as far as the eye can see, warm water as green and blue as you can imagine, straw thatched cabanas, chaise lounges to relax on (there are some with the wheels off but hey, it’s a beach not a drag strip), catamaran sailing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, pedal boating, and most importantly, sun bathing, are all you need for a week or two at the resort. If you are hungry, get a hamburg or hot dog or Cuban Sandwich from the pool bar and get back to what you were doing. Drinks are available all day and into the evening so you won’t get dehydrated in the 80 degree sun. No one tries to sell you anything and you can be totally alone in your book or thoughts or you can make new friends and have a great conversation with people from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, China, Quebec, Britain, etc. One year we met someone from Hawkstone, Ontario and they were living in a house that once belonged to a couple I had married.

General: If you want a wild and outrageous holiday, don’t choose VC. It’s a great place for families with children. The resort runs a program for kids from 4-12 and is kid friendly. The pool isn’t for laps or 10 metre diving. It’s great for getting wet without the wave action. It has a swim up bar so you can get wet inside and out.

We met some young couples who had a good time but the majority was in their late 30’s and up. We don’t have to pose at the beach at my age. What you see is what you get. It was nice to see others who had a little bulge over the top of their bathing suit and didn’t particularly care what you thought. I have made myself a promise though to lose a pound or two but that’s because all that homemade ice cream goes right to the “bulge” very quickly.

Puerto Padre: It’s a typical coastal town with streets and buildings right out of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western (Fistful of Dollars, etc). Not much to see unless you like to take in the old structures and meet the people of Cuba. We enjoy attending church on one of the Sundays we’re their. Ask for Daniel if you need a cab and don’t forget to tip him.

Final Analysis: My wife and mother and I would recommend Villa Covarrubias for anyone wanting a place that is not too expensive and gives you freedom to do what you want when you want. If you need a 5 star with all the bells and whistles, this probably isn’t for you. If you want to make friends for life, give a little back to humanity, come home refreshed and content, go to Villa Covarrubias.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Durga 
Canada
January 2005
Getting there:
Surprise! A Jetsgo flight was on time! (There was a small delay at take-off but the airline is not to blame.) Getting from the Holguin airport to the resort was 2 hours on a bus on a bad road. I must express my admiration to the drivers who did the trip without hitting any bicycles, pedestrians, horses or other unexpected objects.

Arrival:
On the bus we received an envelope with a map and room numbers but still had to get a key from reception, which was not very efficient check-in. After a long trip on an airplane then a bus, it would be nice to take a shower but unfortunately there was no running water in the rooms but there was a big leak on the floor in our bathroom (which was fixed the next day). Then there was no water at all for 2 days making it necessary to bring water to the room at night from the pool in a bucket to flush the toilet.

Rooms:
The rooms were big and mostly clean. Most had a nice ocean view. No complaints here except problems with the water/plumbing. The highlight of the trip was sitting on the balcony and listening to the ocean (great). There also was a small fridge in room and the cleaning lady leaves a big bottle of water every day.

Beach:
Not that great as some other places but OK. There were lots of broken chairs and some rocks underneath the sand.

Food:
I think not bad but did not eat a lot since I got sick after 2 days and survived on soup only.

The fruits were not good: pineapples were too sour, oranges were sour and bananas weren’t good but they did have some papayas for two days. There was a broken coffee machine and broken soft drink dispensers. Ask for strong espresso at the pool bar otherwise expect something more like watered down cappuccino.

Drinks: The basics.

Gym: Open 24h – working equipment – no problems.

Service: Not bad – the people were very nice in the restaurants and bars. Like in most places, they make a living being nice.

Activities: They had dance lessons, archery and beach volleyball but no aerobics. Unfortunately the waves were too big to do any kayaking.

Entertainment: Did not see a lot but nothing great from what I attended.

Disco: If you’re a non-smoker be warned – stay away!

Overall: Could do better someplace else. Also avoid Cuba during Christmas and New Year – the winds are cold and strong, the weather is very cloudy, and waves are very big. It’s great for someone who prefers spending time at the bar and not at the beach.
Hotel Club Covarrubias - Holguin
Tania 

June 2004
I have recently returned from Villa Covarrubias and was very pleasantly surprised by the resort.

The Beach - Was stunning. It's quite shallow which I think would be good for families travelling with children but it was lovely for myself as well. There is a live reef to the left of the resort area and there are many interesting fishes and corals to see there. The beach activities were great as well. I had fun on the sea kayaks and the catamaran. There is a small river to the right of the resort area and it's a nice place for a quiet kayak to see fishes and herons.

The Room - Huge! As I was travelling by myself, I was very impressed with the size of my room. I had vaulted ceilings, a large, clean bathroom and 3 double beds to sleep on! My lanai faced the ocean and had 2 rocking chairs and a table, which was my favourite place to relax before dinner.

The Food - Highly edible. If you're looking for typical North American cooking, you're not going to find it here. The burgers don't really look anything like McDonalds but are still tasty to eat. The sandwiches at the pool bar were a great snack before dinner. Cubans eat a lot of pork, so if you like pork, you will enjoy their version of it (roast pork or grilled with salsa...delicious!). There was always some form of pasta for lunch and dinner, which I enjoyed a lot but, for the most part, the food was pretty repetitive. I still managed to gain weight while I was down there though. As someone else mentioned, the omelettes are great but are a little much for 7 days straight. I liked the yoghurt drink and smoothies at breakfast too.

The Service - Excellent! Anything you wanted, you pretty much got. Since I went in low season, there were not a large number of guests at the resort (perhaps 50 of us) and it was difficult to arrange bus tours (you needed a minimum of 10 people). Omar, our Sunwing rep, would go around to all the guests and ask if they wanted to go on any tours (no pressure) and posted signs on the dining room doors to make sure that enough people would go. Or on one occasion when we couldn't get enough people to go, he helped us make arrangements to get into town via taxi. The staff at the sports centre would go around asking if anyone wanted to use any of the equipment or go out on the catamaran and the animation crew was always around to make sure that nobody was bored and that everyone had plenty to do (volleyball, Spanish lessons, dancing lessons, bingo, etc.).

The Shopping - Fair. There is a small gift shop at the resort but the selection is limited. If you're looking for trinkets to take home the craft shop is your best bet. Also, if you're landing in Cayo Coco before you get to Hoguin and are allowed off the plane, use the gift shop there. It's quite good. There is another one at the airport in Holguin as well as a cigar shop where you can purchase all the good brands of cigars.

The Location - Good. Weather-wise the location of this resort couldn't be better. I don't think they get much rain there ever (including during the rainy season which is when I was there) and the breeze off the ocean is really refreshing and makes the hot temperatures bearable. I didn't visit the town of Puerto Padre but I heard it wasn't too exciting. I did visit Las Tunas and although the shopping was very limited the architecture and art pieces strewn all over the town are amazing. Everything needs paint there but if you can see past that you will enjoy the towns basic beauty.

Overall - Great! I would definitely go back to this resort. The price I paid compared to the vacation I got was fantastic! If you're looking for someplace to have fun but also relax in a low-key atmosphere, this is the place for you. The resort is clean and the staff friendly. The pool is saltwater which takes some getting used to but an excellent place for an afternoon drink. Also, I loved the cappuccinos at the Lobby bar!! A must try if you decide to go.