logo Old Reviews - Club Amigo Costa Sur
Club Amigo Costasur
Pam 
Nova Scotia
December 2008
Arrival: February - March 2008
We arrived late at night after a 2.5 hour ride over the mountains in a small bus. The flight from Halifax comes into Santa Clara. There is an opportunity to buy beer before getting on the bus. Bring your pesos as the line up for money exchange was long. Check in was quick and our first impression was that the resort was very basic. However we were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed this little resort. We have travelled to cuba and Mexico and no longer are looking for the fanciest room or the prettiest landscaping. what we enjoy is the beach and opportunities to get off the resort and meet the cuban people. the people in this area and those who work on this resort were the friendliest that we have met.

Rooms:
Basic but there are nicer rooms on the cornors of the buildings. All rooms have a nice ocean view if you are on the second or third floor. I would recommend the larger rooms or stay in the lovely bungalows. We are going back this year and have booked a bungalow. They are right on the beach, fully upgraded last year and definitely worth the extra money. some rooms do not have hairdryers so take your own and bring an adapter for the plug.

Restaurants and Bars:
We always find something that we can eat and enjoyed our service with our friendly waiters Carlos and Jose. the dining hall is right across from the front desk and by day 2 the staff were waving to us like old friends. this sure came in handy when we had a family emergency call. the desk staff were able to fairly accurately predict when we would be coming for lunch! I had one day of 'travellers diarrhea but it was definitely not salmonella! I am a Public Health Nurse and because we like to venture off the resort, we have had our Twinrix vaccine against Hepatitis A and B. Eating anywhere but your own home is always a risk folks! there is a bar at the beach and poolside and also in the lobby. Everthing is a very shot walk if you prefer one over the other. Drinking beer is always safer than mixed drinks and when I was wanting a mojito I was able to have one. the waiters are friendly especially in the lobby bar with Luis and andres being our favorites. the a la carte restaurant had just opened in february when we arrived and they were working really hard to present a lovely meal with very pleasant entertainment. there was a guest from Germany who joined in with the musicians .. very nice night! The restaurant seems to be open to cuban families so if you don't like cubans don't come! also on the weekend we were not over-run by cubans but it seems the staff are able to have some of their families visit. It was a delight to meet their darling children.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
As described in the other reviews, the grounds are very dry and few flowers. During our entire stay they were actively working to improve the resort which was hit with a hurricane a few years ago. I don't understand how the last reviewer could have stayed for the past five years as it just reopened in late 2007! Our travel agent says a gym is due to open this month. The beach is small and sheltered with coral. Very cozy and we always had a beach chair or we could always bring one from the pool area. we are not pool people but it looked clean and had hammocks close by where we could sit and look at the lovely sunset. If we have the experience of a crowd of cubans on the sundays we will mingle and enjoy or plan a trip off the resort for that day!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
the entertainment varies. Our first week it was quite basic but we heard from friends that the next week was much better. We really enjoyed the bikes which were basic but in fair working order when we were there. Every morning we would take the bikes and bike either to the ancon beach, the marina or in the opposite direction to the little village of La boca. This was about 5 miles away and a delight. ancon beach is long and great for walking. You can pay a peso at either end of the beach for someone to watch your bikles and bags. Of course some extra small gifts for their children is always welcome but this is why we come to cuba. We enjoy giving and chatting with the locals. the snorkelling is great at the next small beach with lovely coral reefs all along the coast. Bring your own gear to be safe. I can't remember if there were any on the resort. there are a limited number of kayaks etc. but you have to go in search of them. We shared a taxi to go into Trinidad one day with some resort friends. the town is full of musicians and artists. Just listen and follow into any courtyard. also several tourist bars and restaurants and an outdoor market with linens, crafts etc. My favorite keepsake was a lovely woven beach style basket for a peso. I want to buy more this year.

Other Comments:
So here is why we are going back! We had planned on a 2 week stay last year so we could explore off the resort and travel a bit. Sadly we had a death in the family and had to leave for home after one week. The resort staff were so caring through this difficult time. We were so relaxed during our first week that we had not even snorkelled but only watched others! We had not been back into Trinidad for the fabulous evening music. It is only $10 to take a tour there for the entertainment. We want to see the mountains and do some hiking. We really look forward to getting up each morning and being right at the beach. we will bring lots of books and magazines and share with our new resort friends. who will you be this year?? We will bring a deck of cards and be ready for a relaxing game if a short rain shower rolls over the mountains in the afternoon. we hopefully will jump on the bikes again each day or if they are broken we will rent some in Trinidad. We will visit ancon beach for some variety. We will make some new cuban friends especially as we will take as many Canadian presents as we can. We may be lucky enough to visit a cuban home. We won't order lobster as it is 100 times better in Nova Scotia!!!!! We will remember how lucky we are to be Canadian with all our privledges and we will value Cuba for all it has to offer in the dark days of winter. We will enjoy the wonderful sunsets each night and will have a sweater and long pants in case the night is cool. we will chat with the many european guests who pass through the resort for a night or two. This is the first time I have submitted a review and it is because this is the first area of cuba that is worth going back to. I would reccomend this resort for people who love the beach and exploring. It is a bagain for a two week stay and the people we met at the beach were all friendly. I hope our experience is as good this year. We are booked to return for the last week of February and first week of March so come on down and have a nice time.

If you are coming to be pampered and looking for luxury you may want to go elsewhere as you might complain and spoil our relaxation and enjoyment! Also I would like to say that the first review submitted by Wendy is probably the most accurate. we based our decision on her review and she was also very helpful when we emailed her. You can also see her hundreds of pictures if you email her.
Club Amigo Costasur
John 
Calgary, Alberta
October 2008
I have stayed at this resort for the past five years. The staff are very friendly and we got to know and use each other's names. Each year I returned I was greeted with hugs and friendly handshakes, to me like coming home !

However, this past season things have changed. During my four week stay, mid - February - mid - March, several guests, including myself, were stricken with salmonella poisoning, and largely confined to our rooms for up to four days. This outbreak was probably caused by undercooked meat and chicken in the buffet restaurant. One lady spent six days recovering in the International Clinic in Trinidad and upon leaving, had to pay a large bill for her involuntary stay.

There appears to be no manager in charge of the restaurant, certainly the hotel manager, *********, appeared not to be aware of this, even when the ambulance came to take the lady to the Intl. Clinic. One would have thought that in any hotel with a reputation to protect, there would have been an investigation and immediate steps to find the cause of the poisoning and correcting it. Alas, nothing was done.

Another situation, see the comments from "Neil - Ontario". I too, experienced the weekend invasion of the small beach area with about 150 children and adults taking over the entire beach, making themselves comfortable on the beach loungers. Those paying guests who were there to relax and enjoy were soon in the middle of football and volleyball on the beach and a couple were hit with a volleyball. Following this incident we all left the beach and as soon we vacated our chairs, they were immediately used by the local Cubans.

We all went to the freshwater pool to find some peace and quiet. To our dismay, the pool was full of Cubans and the surrounding loungers were all occupied by Cuban families. To add insult to injury, the bar waiters were serving trays of drinks to all. Nowhere was a manager or assistant to be seen.

Most of us gave up and retired to our hotel rooms.

Over all, the manager rarely appeared, even when guests were arriving. However, many times he sat in the lounge and was engrossed in watching the large TV screen.

Certainly maintainance was neglected. I had to go to reception several times to tell them that the two public toilets, had no toilet paper, handsoap or even towels for wiping one's hands. A staff member was detailed to take care of this. The next day, again nothing. Stairwell lights were missing and again no one seemed to be bothered by it.

A fully trained manager should be making a daily inspection of the entire complex and dealing with the above infractions. This was never done.

Obviously, the answer is to replace the present manager with a person who makes the welfare of the paying guests a number one priority.

Leaving on the airport bus on the Monday, the overall comments were that they would never, ever again return to Club Amigo Costasur.
Club Amigo Costasur
Wanda 
St Catharines, Ontario
May 2008
Arrival and Flight
Sunwing Flight was fantastic. Flight attendants were great, friendly, helpful. Food was wonderful. Plenty of drinks (wine, coffee, tea, water, juice) through the flight. Movie to watch. Bus ride to resort was comfortable and entertaining. Encountered livestock walking on road so we had to slow down from 90 kph to 10 kph rather quickly. Crabs were trying to cross the road at night as well, so our bus driver had fun running over them. That’s Cuba! You won’t be able to see much landing or departing as flights are at night (from Toronto).

Rooms
We had the bungalow room and from what we saw of the other rooms is was totally worth the extra $100 for the week. We had two spacious rooms (bed room and sitting/TV room), two double beds (which we pushed together to make one massive king-sized bed) and a nice sized bathroom. All bungalows have an ocean view. We tipped our housekeeper one peso each day and our room was always looking beautiful, with lovely towel animals on our bed when she was done.

We did encounter some local wildlife in our rooms, but nothing to be concerned about. Small crabs came into our room each night under our door and we found them huddled in the corner of the bathroom each morning. After a few nights, we put a towel at the crack when we went to bed and that seemed to solve the crab problem. We had a little tiny newt in our room on the last day, but never anything on the bed. J

Restaurants
We had two major complaints about the resort and the dining was one of them. The food was filling but not typically appetizing. There was certainly always variety, but it generally wasn’t something I cared to eat. I learned after the first day to eat only the plain foods and leave the “salads” and “casseroles” alone. They’re simply a mish mash of the previous days’ leftovers. To give you an example, we tried the soup one day and it tasted horrible. The next day we looked at the soup and it was from the previous day, with squash leftovers added. The next day it was the same squashy soup with beans from lunch added in. Casseroles and cold salads worked this way too. Seasonings were suspect and condiments were a mixture of mustard, ketchup, and mayo. I’m not a picky eater, so I was able to find food to fill me up, but don’t expect much. I survived on plain rice, green peppers, mango, oranges, and meat of the day. Breakfast was the best meal of the day with omelets, fresh juice (grapefruit, orange, mango – not Tang!), fresh fruit, and cream cheese or butter to go with buns or bread. One big highlight was the coconut ice cream. Jump on it if you see it. Don’t wait till you’re done your dinner! It’ll be mostly melted and gone by the time you’re done.

The a la carte restaurant is available for all guests once through the week. We quite enjoyed that meal. We both got the shrimp cocktail for our appetizer, which was simply cooked shrimp with mustard, mayo, and ketchup on a plate. But the shrimp was fine plain. I had roast chicken (which tasted similar to Swiss Chalet chicken) with potatoes and cole slaw and my husband had chicken supreme (came with shrimp, covered in mozzarella) with potatoes and cole slaw. Dessert was ice cream or flan. The music was great. A violinist and guitarist playing Cuban songs as well as American songs (The Entertainer, Ave Maria, Titanic – My Heart Will Go On, Fiddler on the Roof). They were very friendly and non-invasive.

Bars
We don’t care for alcohol so can’t comment on the alcoholic drinks, but the pool bar was the best. It was open 24 hrs a day, so everything stayed cold and was mostly well stocked. You can get a ham and cheese sandwich, French fries, and hot dogs (if they haven’t run out). Since all we drank was pineapple slushies, we came to this bar. The other slushy machines had a hard time getting the stuff frozen since they were turned off through the night.

Beach and Pools
Pool was nice, convenient, right beside bar and games room. Beach was all right. Definitely rocky, but there is a nice little area to swim without many rocks. Just a little patch about two feet wide to cross to get to the nice sandy water. Doesn’t get very deep in the little alcove where we swam, maybe 4 feet deep at the deepest. We didn’t bring water shoes and got along fine without them. You can walk to the Brisas beach about 2 km down the road, but it’s a hot walk and the Brisas staff try to get you to pay 2 pesos each to use their chairs! We stuck to our own beach after that!

Staff
Most of the staff was nice enough, although some didn’t seem to want to have much to do with us. (You get that anywhere though). We didn’t speak a lick of Spanish coming into this and the people there were great about teaching us a word here or there for what we needed to know. Most of them spoke enough English to get by with us. We found that we definitely got friendlier service when we tipped (as expected, I suppose) but we certainly didn’t just tip everyone. They didn’t act mean if they didn’t get a tip though. We tipped our housekeeper each day, as well as whichever wait-staff we found helpful. These people make 25 pesos a month, so tips are certainly appreciated, but not required.

Grounds
Definitely run-down from the hurricane, still rebuilding, but overall decent. The grass was all dried up since it was so hot and so little rain, but there wasn’t too much litter and the plants looked nice enough.

Activities and Entertainment
10:00 pm show was pretty bad in our opinion. We only saw it two nights, and didn’t see more than two numbers the second time. It started with a cabaret/strip show number (girls getting down to their bras and G-strings) and then went back and forth between singing and dancing numbers. Seemed like high school type talent. We really didn’t appreciate it. Not something to take the kids to.

The sporting equipment was our other big complaint. The bikes were all broken and eventually they just took them away so people would stop asking to use them. There were two billiards tables, one set of balls, and one cue with no felt on it. Very poor quality billiards equipment. Ping pong was only slightly better. The paddles were broken and missing half the rubber surface, but at least there was one ball.

Water sports were hit or miss. You can’t kayak during the afternoon when the tide is out since you’ll hit rocks, but the water sport guys wasn’t there half the time we went in the morning. He likes his rum and has a hard time getting up in the morning, apparently. But when we were able to kayak, it was nice. We found a big school of about a million little fish and even had one jump over our boat! If you’re looking forward to the leisure activities around the resort, look for a different resort ‘cause it isn’t going to happen here.

Tours
We weren’t able to do the Trinidad tour since our rep (Levys) had a family emergency that week and this tour only runs two days a week (the two days he was gone). Instead, we just took the bus to Trinidad (2 pesos each) and walked around on our own. Locals will beg for pesos or just flat out ask you to buy stuff for them in the store. They will also try to get you to buy cigars from a guy they know “just over there”. We brought hard candy and soap to hand out to people we met that were especially nice in the town. The market was a great place to buy souvenirs. Earrings for 1-2 pesos, maracas for 3 or 4 pesos, purse for 4 pesos. And all prices are flexible. If you walk away they’ll start yelling a lower price at you to get you to spend money at their table.

We did the Catamaran snorkeling tour to Cayo Blanco and it was very cool! We’d never been snorkeling before but loved it. The coral reef there was big enough to accommodate a boat full of people and the fish were swimming all around us. The island itself is comfortable but small. Not a place to swim really. You get to meet some nice hermit crabs and iguanas on the island. Bring a book to read and some extra sun screen as you’ll have some time to tan/burn after lunch. We got quite close to the iguanas! Bring your camera to take pictures of them. The lunch was very good as well. Our best meal of the week up to that point. It was a long boat ride (about 90 minutes) but nice nonetheless.

Departure and Check Out
Check out was at 2:00 with the bus leaving at 6:00, so we sat and visited for four hours with our fellow travelers. There was a locked room nearby in which we could keep our luggage. Only bad thing about departure is that you eat lunch at 1:00 or so and don’t get another meal until 10:30 on the plane. So grab a ham and cheese sandwich at the pool bar to tide you over while you wait for the bus. Airport had a small duty free shop and souvenirs, so if you forgot anything, you can grab it here. Flight back was non-stop and earlier than expected. Secret tip… If you are the last to board the bus departing the resort, you’ll be the first to get your bags off the bus and therefore first in line to get your plane seats. We got great seats (together, in row 16 which is the emergency exit row along with 15, with lots of room) because of this. If it’s not cloudy, you can see the lights of all sorts of US cities as you fly home, from the Florida coast on up.

Conclusion
You get what you pay for! This was the cheapest resort in Cuba and I can see why. We had an enjoyable week, but I wouldn’t come back here again, nor would I recommend it to a friend. If you already bought your ticket, don’t worry, you’ll enjoy yourself if you want to. If you haven’t, spend the extra $50 to go elsewhere. And wherever you go, spend the extra money to get the nicest room possible. It really will make a difference.
Club Amigo Costasur
Chris 
Canada, Hamilton, Ontario
May 2008
Arrival and Flight : Flew Sunwing from Toronto on April 28 -arrived in Cameguay airport from Pearson, transfered then to Ceinfugoes airport and then took 1.5 hr bus ride into resort, through town of Trinidad at 12:30 am. Given when we arrived- it was very dark and not much could be seen. Coach was nice and had air conditioning with confortable seats. While at first airport stop, we were all locked in Cameguay airport as there were various delays in re boarding, and the Cuban authorities did not communicate well as to the delays, causing some people to become restless and uncomfortable. Good thing was that shops were open so we could all buy drinks and some snacks to stay occupied.

Rooms : Room service is excellent and very good, this was a strong point of the vacation- the rooms had both voltage outlets on our side (we purchased a Superior room, a must!!) as for the $20.00 more, there is a huge difference in size and comfort compared to a standard room. We left valuables in the room as a test, and nothing was missing- cleaning staff was friendly and approachable. We did hear some complaints about lack of hot water, but we did not have this issue. Security guards are all around the hotel portion of the resort and its very safe .

Restaurants : This is the downside , if there is one...Only 1 buffet was there, it was large with good seating, but the food was at times not well identified, in saying that- planty of food to go around..Breakfast was the best, lunch has lots of recycled food (meaning the menu did not change much through the weel). Dinner was ok, but again selection was very limited, but from what I hear this is typical. There was one new al-a cart restaurant that you made reservations for, this was nice, on the beach and had italian and limited sea food selections. Lobster was $12 more and not included. The Pool bar had also a small menu for food, ham and cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers etc, this food was the best and was made very well.

Bars : 3 bars in total- 1 lobby bar- which was good but lacked ice at times, Beach bar was open very limited hours and again, drinks were not cold all the time- given this is a beach resort, it was strange that the pool bar was not open in the evening. The pool bar was excellent and served ice cold beer , and mixed drinks- pool bar was 24 hrs which was good and here is where we got most of our drinks given the great service here.

Beach and Pools : Pool was excellent with the bar close by, lots of loungers and water was very warm and very clean_ in this resort, this is also the place where the stage is for the nightly entertainment. The Beach was not what was advestised, but is ok- this is not a 5 start sandy beach, but a coral reef that has a sandy section, but mostly rockey- meant for snorkling and great for kyaking. There are lots of palm trees close and the shuts give great shade. Its a good beach but not you will need to wear your sandles so you do not hurt your feet going in, once your in, a bit out from shore, its very sandy. Again, its ok, but not what most expect.

Grounds : Overall, well kept, this resort has coble stone walkways, which can be awkward for older people- but they look nice. There are lots of crabs coming up from the beach in the late night and we had a few interceptions of crabs as we walked the lighted beach paths - beach is very good to see at night.. (they are huge, but friendly)- we heard that some rooms in the bungalows had crabs coming in through the door cracks and this scared some people... Eating facilites are clean, this resort is very tidy and well kept, no issues here at all.

Activities and Entertainment : This is where you need to come in with eyes wide open, This resort offers some limited entainment at night from 930 to 1030 (dancers etc) but those looking for any sort of nightlife 24 hrs need to look elsewhere. This resort is for relaxation and not for teenagers or college groups. The bikes that were available did not work and the kyaking and paddle boats were not available at all times as the low tide affects this. Going into town, Trinidad is a must- tours are available for $15 per person and this is a great day to see the local music scene, shops, markets, cigar stores, etc... If you are going here, take the trip , its worth it. As mentioned, this is a place to relax and socialize, this is not a party resort- established couples and friends will enjoy- younger crounds may not.

Tours : See my notes above, tours to city and the local attractions are the entertainment-and there are many to choose from. Sunwing offered a magazine to review of all the local daily trips..Compare prices as at times it cheaper to take a taxi to town then take the tour..
The churches are a must see, as well as the local restaurants that have the bands playing- this is worth the trip as the locals take great pride in their music,,,

Departure and Check Out : Check out was 2:00 pm, which was good so we had lots of time, Room was provided for luggage storage and bus left for airport at 6pm. Leaving the airport, you need tp pay a $25 tax, so be sure to keep this with you..Currency exchange is not available until after you book your return ticket at the airport, this was strange..But the airport duty free is great and if you are buying cigars, wait until then, as cigs are $4 per box and cigars only $15 per box at cuban duty free. If you buy them in the markets, you can pay 5x this..

Conclusion : Overall, we had a great time, our travel rep (Levy) was good and approachable. Very clean resort with helpful staff.
If you are going for a long sandy beach, look for others, and same for night life..
This resort is great for a place to relax , unwind and have a calm get away with lots of sun, drinks and friendly people. We met some great fellow canandians and many travlers to this resort some from Poland, Germanay and Italy. A good value overall.
If anyone wants to email me and see pics, I can be reached at ctgill@gmail.com. Vito - thanks
Club Amigo Costasur
Neil 
Ontario
March 2008
Location of Resort:
Airport: Cienfuegos
Closest Town: Trinidad
Beach: Playa Ancon, on Caribbean Sea

Other Resorts in Area: Brisas Trinidad and Club Ancon are 1-2 KM to the east of Costasur

Time of Vacation: March 17-24, 2008

Arrival and Flight : Flew Sunwing. Left on-time. Sunwing offers complimentary hot towels, decent meal, sparkling wine, wine with meal, coffee water or pop. Alcoholic beverages may be purchased for $5. Most people on the plane were headed for Santa Lucia which was the first stop, so those going to Cienfuegos deplaned in Camaguey for 30 minutes. Duty free much larger and offered more selection that at Cienfuegos. Exchanged money at Cadeca in Camaguey. Lots of $1CUC coins available.
Arrived at Cienfuegos airport after 30 minute flight. Luggage available very quick. Did not see any porters to carry luggage to bus.

Bus to resort about a 90 minute trip on a modern coach.
Beer ($0.90 CUC) for the trip available from cantina just outside entrance to airport.
Check-in: Only about 30 guests arriving. I was near front of line so my check-in reasonably quick process, but those at back of the line probably had a bit of a wait. Other Club amigo resort (Marea Del Portillo) distributes keys on bus. Much better process IMHO.
No porters to assist with luggage to rooms. OK for me, but there were many seniors that could have used some help, especially considering the cobblestone pathways that made for tricky wheeling of luggage.
Note: Upon booking I requested a king size bed, and this request was granted.

The lobby is very busy in the morning. Costasur is used by tour companies as a one-day stopover for their customers. Every day there were many arrivals and departures.

Rooms: Bungalow was awesome. Very large. Separate living room from bedroom. King size bed. Bathroom off of bedroom. Shower only. Two in-room air conditioners (not window air conditioners, but quiet and very efficient units). A/C compressors outside and behind each bungalow.
Nice patio with 2 comfortable nylon-webbed recliner chairs. Beach only a few metres from porch. Caribbean Sea maybe 25 meters away.
Spectacular sunsets every night from your own porch seats.
Lots of hot water.
No room fridge.
No room safe. Safety boxes available at front desk at $2CUC/day plus $15 key deposit. WARNING: safety deposit box key is on key ring, and has YOUR safety deposit box number is clearly indicated. Lose your key, and the finder knows which box it opens and you could lose your safes contents.

Restaurants : There is one a la carte, but I did not use so can only comment that other guests seemed to like the food. Lobster cost $12 at the a la carte. The buffet restaurant offers typical food. Grill station with meat of the day (often mystery meat), fresh fruit, usually four varieties: oranges, grapefruit, mango, bananas, and that small round fruit with pink flesh and tiny hard seeds.

Hot dishes ie potatoes, meat (re-cycled from previous meals). typical salad offerings: cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, black and green olives, carrots, peas. Mixed salads ie pasta/fish. Other salads of which I could not identify ingredients.
Bread selection not great, usually only one crusty loaf, plus buns. Butter available, no margarine. Good desert selections, including ice cream. Unfortunately ice cream always in a melted state due to inadequate refrigeration.

Cubans have breakfast nailed. Good omelettes, fresh fruit.

NO fresh juices, just 'tang' varieties.

Coffee better that average restaurant coffee.

Food average, and one should be able to find something to eat. I never went to bed hungry.

While they had tent cards describing food contents in the hot plates, there was no way to correlate the tent card with the food, because the tent cards were always the same, yet the dishes changed with every meal. Service typical. No real effort to clean up tables from previous guests. Wait staff tended to prepare a table when new guest arrived and hovered near a table. Usually half finished meal before waiter brought my beverage.

Bars
Pool Bar (open 24 hours): Mojitos available first night at pool bar. Returned next day and was told no mojitos, due to no mint.
Good grilled ham and cheese sandwiches available at pool bar. Espresso machine at pool bar.

Lobby Bar: Didn't use much. Espresso machine available. Bar tender a bit crusty with me when I asked for a mug of agua con gaz. He stretched out his arm toward my mug ( a 20 0z. bubba) with palm upturned and clearly indicated that I was asking for too much. Next day I went without my mug and asked for a glass of agua con gaz and I was told he did not have any. Not sure I believed him.

Beach Bar: I'm not sure what the story is at this resort re mojitos. The beach bartender said he could not make mojitos because he did not have sparkly water. He had lots of mint. In fact there is a really large patch of mint growing beside the steps. I bought a bottle of agua con gaz at the tienda for a few mojitos.

WARNING: Beach bar was without ice most of the week. Other bars had ice. OK, this is what I think the problem to be: To replenish the ice bucket or to get more sparkly water requires a bit of work, or a bit better management from the food and beverage manager. See above re pool bar not having mint. Lots of mint available near the beach bar, but pool bartender didn't or couldn't walk over to get any. Also I observed a beach bartender fill a water bottle with water from the shower beside the bar. I hope that the water was not served to guests. This observation fits with my theory that staff did not want to, or were not allowed to leave to replenish supplies.

Beach and Pools : Didn't hang around pool, therefore only few comments. Did observe that there were many loungers unused at pool side. Beach could use more loungers though. Ratio of location of loungers needs to be adjusted. Several hammocks with shade available near pool. Small kiddies pool located beside main pool.

The beach bar roughly divides the beach in half. Lots of palapas on both sides of the bar, however, virtually no loungers on the left side of the bar. Beach sand a bit coarse, but clean (except for the cigarette butt filters. Gawd I would like to wring the necks of these inconsiderate smokers).

Natural sea pool offers protected swimming area.

Beach towels found at pool area. $20 deposit required. Can exchange as often as desired.

Grounds : Lots of burnt grass. Not many trees for natural shade. Nice looking tennis courts. Strong sewage smell near tennis courts.

Activities and Entertainment : Appear to be a hard working group, that doubles as the doormen and women at supper. Only took in one night and show was typical...singing, dancing and skits. Actually saw them practising on the beach some of their moves. Group leader made the girls run up and down the beach if they didn't get their jumps just right.

Internet: $6CUC/hour. Typical dial up connection. Busy in the AM.

Cell Phone: Rogers quad band phone work. Can text as well. Cell phone ring tones not an issue at all as I didn't hear but one or two cell phones all week. Surprised at number of staff that had cell phones.

Tours : Went on Trinidad tour. Never again. Trinidad must be done on one's own time. Cigar hustlers abound. You're a sitting duck with your resort wrist band on view.

Departure and Check Out : Got late check out. See below for reason.

Conclusion : Typical 2.5 - 3 star Cuban fare. Good bang for the buck One exception: The bungalow is awesome. Well worth the extra cost. Resort met all my expectations, except for the beach disaster (see below).

MAJOR DOWNER: On the last 2 days of MY vacation, (Saturday and Sunday), the beach was crowded with Cubans. Sunday was by far the worst. There were about 150 and they took over half of the beach. They had lively games of volleyball and soccer. Unfortunately, they were loud...REALLY loud, complete with a whistle blowing volleyball referee.
Try to imagine that you are lying in the middle of a school playground at recess, surrounded by a hundred screaming kids, and have to dodge balls being thrown about. That is what I experienced on the beach that day.

The whistle was also used to call the kids out of the water and to call them to eat. Walking over to the sea was too far I guess (where's a walkie talkie when you need one!)

I talked to the PR person about the noise. She said that Cubans can use any beach in Cuba. No problem with that I said, but they were also using their equipment. My lounger was beside the volleyball court, and I was bonked a few times. I could not move my lounger as there were no others palapas available. Also questioned the number of visitors. She said that a dozen purchased day passes and had white bracelets, so they could use the equipment. SHE QUITE IGNORED MY PROTEST THAT AT LEAST 150 WERE ON THE BEACH. This was a well organized event of some sort. Clearly the resort knew this, but chose to ignore the problems it created for the paying guests.

Back at the beach, I did not see one bracelet. Hmmm, 12 supposedly pay, yet no evidence of bracelets. Wonder were the money went?

When they all left at about 5 PM, the silence was deafening. Finally I could hear the crashing of waves.

BEWARE: THIS IS A PUBLIC BEACH. SUNDAYS ARE A WRITE-OFF IF YOU WANT PEACE AND QUIET!

Summary:
This is a Club Amigo resort. I have stayed a couple of times at Club Amigo Marea Del Portillo. The food and beverage management there is far superior to that at Costasur. To be fair, Costasur was formerly run by a different group. It may take awhile for the new management to rid itself of bad habits, practices and/or staff created by the culture of the previous regime.

Would I go back. Not if the resort can't control the number of day-trippers on the beach.
Club Amigo Costasur
Susie 

March 2008
FLIGHT: we flew West Jet from Halifax,, great flight, a boxed lunch and movies to watch,, don,t care for the night flights though.

ARRIVAL: We got to Santa Clara airport at 11 pm Cuba time,, We were to be 90 minutes from hotel , but:: it ended up 3 hours ,, why, we haven,t found out,, same on way back,, didn,t care for that too much as i was to this hotel 12 years before and it was 90 mins.

ROOMS: all the rooms are the same size,, small, some with king, some with twin some with double beds ,, The bungalows are a lot more spacious but they were suppose to have mini fridge and bar in them,, none were in any of the rooms as they were not all finished refurbishing them from the results of the hurricane from 3 years ago, they looked exactly the same but outside were painted all different colors as before they were all painted white.

BEACH: The beach is small but nice for swimming, the old beach had lots of coral and sea urchents so you had to wear water shoes, that is the main beach for great snorkling. lots of room on the beach but not enough lounge chairs,, should have brought some from pool as no one stayed around the pool.

STAFF: Bartenders were fantastic, some of them remembered me from 12 yrs previous as so did our maid,, lots of the staff has been there for 20 or more years,, Louis,Alex and Coutie was the best, lots of fun when you went to the bar,, they always saved the Havav Club just for us as we didn,t care for the other ,, or we would take our own and they would save it for us,,LYEANNIES, the public relations girl was just excellent,, she found out i was there before and i got free 40 oz, wine in room one day,, she was just great doing her job.

MONEY EXCHANGE: on site,, take canadian not US,, you get better exchange for the Cuban Convertable Pesos,, they charge more for exchanging US dollars

MEALS: not bad,, same old thing day after day, you don,t go hungry because a lot of variety, Bread wasn,t much and the juice tastes like tang from the package, lots of salads , stuff for tossed salads and hot dogsm sausage, hamburgers and at night was always pork , turkey , beef or FISH,, so all in all you wouldn,t go hungry,,, most days the soup was good. Desserts were plentiful and always had good ice cream.

GROUNDS: the grounds we clean and tidy, they were not green because they don,t water them,, only when it rains lol

ENTERTAINMENT: the entertainmant was just TERRIBLE, the worse we have ever seen,, singing every night,, no performances at all, no people from the audience,, same songs over and over,, just the pits,, they used to have the best entertainers ever when we were there before,,

ALL and ALLL we had a very good time and would go back,, definately a 3* plus
Club Amigo Costasur
Wendy 

January 2008
Flight: Sunwing – it was good; hotmeal, champagne and wine. We were supposed to fly to Cienfuegos via Santa Lucia and direct from Cienfuegos to Toronto but as we were getting on the plane, Sunwing handed everyone a letter saying the flight plan had changed. This turned out better for us flying direct there and back but not so good for the people who thought they were going direct to Santa Lucia and back. People like to try and blame the travel agents for this when notified in advance which is totally unfair. Maybe all airlines should just give notice like this so travel agents get no hassle. It really is only common sense that it is neither the travel agent’s fault or even the fault of the airline.

Resort drive was 1.5 hours away. It was dark so we couldn’t see a lot but it would be a pretty drive if in the day.

Sunwing Rep: Levys – best rep we have ever had and we travel 4 or 5 times per year.

Resort has just reopened a month or so ago – closed for almost 3 years doing renovations after hurricane destroyed a lot of it. Bungalows were totally new inside – they were not ready until almost the 2nd week we were there so people were disappointed who booked them and didn’t get them right away. They did luck out though getting money back and a free trip (stay) for another time. I wished we had of booked one. The bungalows have a separate living room area with TV and also a fridge. The standard rooms don’t have a fridge but there is a thermos style container you can get filled up with water from the bar. Standard rooms were new also and fairly small but we are never in our room anyways. We had 3 of us staying but the room only had 2 twin beds – they fixed this our next day and gave us 3 twin beds in a bigger room. Most rooms seem to have 2 twin beds but I did hear of others who had a child with them that had a king and a twin in a standard room. The rooms by the pool are noisy when the show is on but the show is only on from 9:45 – 11 pm. Security is everywhere!! There is no safety deposit box in room which we missed but we rented one at the front desk for 2 pesos per day plus 15 pesos security deposit which you get back when you hand in your key.

Made some very special friends with staff. Also, it was probably the best entertainment team and entertainment manager ever – they are not there permanently; they are on a contract and don’t really know for sure how long they will be there. All the shows were fantastic and we never usually watch shows at resorts. A lot of the staff has worked there for 20 years or so but have been out of work for the whole time resort was being renovated. We found many staff didn’t speak English very well but we had no problem with that.

There was snorkeling stuff, kayaks, pedal boats, ping pong, pool, bikes, volleyball and other activities that the entertainment staff organize. Internet was fast and cheap – 6 pesos for one hour. To use the phone service you have to buy a phone card. To call Canada it was very expensive so if you have a cell phone and rogers service, I recommend just texting home. They don’t have a phone service to call Canada from the room or front desk – you have to buy a phone card and use a pay phone. Many people left me messages from all over cuba at the front desk but I did not receive any messages which was the only unfortunate thing.

The view is absolutely incredible with the mountains in sight. Our resort was the only one that had this view. This is also the only resort that has a private beach. Went to the Brisas to check it out – was very pretty but you could not see the mountains. The Brisas and the Ancon are both public beaches. Walking thru the Brisas was a different feel – we liked our resort better. Most staff were very friendly and helpful. When we walked thru the Brisas, no one said hello. You couldn’t walk to the Brisas from the beach; you had to walk from the road or take the bikes (not all bikes were working) but you could walk from the Brisas to the Ancon on the beach – they are on the same beach and basically right next door. They had a bigger beach but I would much rather have the view of the mountains. Lots of people came our way to go snorkeling – fantastic snorkeling at the Costasur. There is a coral reef where our resort beach area becomes public and lots of people from the other resorts would take a cab over to snorkel here. I do recommend water shoes as there are many rocks in the water. There were a lot of trips you could take and they were reasonable.

It is a 3 star so don’t expect 5 star food. The booze was great, the beach was great, the staff were great; you could always find something to eat at the buffet restaurant. The maids were fantastic. There is an omelet/egg guy in the morning and also someone cooking fresh stuff at lunch and dinner. The snack bar was supposed to have 24 hour sandwiches but didn’t always (this feature isn’t advertised anyway). Unfortunately the a la carte restaurant was not opened yet but will be very nice once opened.

There were a lot of complainers – there always are!!! I wish they would just stay home. If the expect the Holiday Inn in Toronto, go to the holiday inn in Toronto. We were totally impressed with what we got for the money and it more than exceeded our expectations. We got an absolutely incredible deal for 2 weeks at Christmas. People said they were bit by bugs and they must have come from the beds but this is not the case. There are sand fleas on the beach just like there is everywhere. Some people are not affected at all by any kind of bites and some just are. It is quite embarrassing how some tourists treat staff at resorts. It certainly wouldn’t happen at home, as we wouldn’t put up with being treated like that so why people act like that on vacation is beyond me.

We had a car for one week and did a lot of road trips. Absolutely beautiful drive through the mountains to Santa Clara – unexplainable (about 3 hour drive one way). Another time we drove through Sancti Spiritus and went to the island of Cayo Santa Maria (about 4 hours one way). Feel in love with the city of Trinidad!!

A cab to Trinidad was $8.00 for 4 people and was about 10-12 minutes away which was very nice. This is the 1st time we have ever stayed somewhere which was so close to a town. You could spend days exploring this beautiful town. The market was great and reasonable. The romantico museum is a must see. Many bars with live music that got my whole family involved in their band. The disco in the cave is a MUST do!! The entertainment guys got a group of us together to go after the show and arranged for the cab to pick us up and take us there then bring us back at a certain time. It was $3.00 admission which included one drink. Absolutely incredible place.

The whole resort is cobblestones which can be difficult for the elderly or people in a wheelchair. We had many stubbed toes. There is still quite a lot of clean up to do around the resort to repair walkways, etc.

Our weather was perfect the 1st week but then we had a cold front come in the 2nd week for a couple of days.

We now have another place that we must visit to see our new friends no matter where we are in Cuba.

If you have questions, feel free to contact me. I have hundreds of pictures also. If you are interested in seeing the pics, I can send you an invite if you send me your email – unfortunately I didn’t weed out any pics so there are lots!

wendy.norman@utoronto.ca
Club Amigo Costasur
Canada 

January 2008
Flight: Sunwing. 1 week. Dec.24th. Sunwing served a nice hot meal. Caution! Do not drink your own booze on the plane. This is illegal as one passenger found out. He was put off the plane at cienfuegos and he was headed to Camaguay. Big taxi bill..

Arrival: No problems getting our rooms and our bracelets.

Rooms: Hotel rooms were all newly renovated. Lots of hot water and good water pressure. Maids do a great job there. All the staff are great. We had 2 twin beds. Our balcony faced the bugalows and ocean. Bungalows. They are great. Big living room area and a big bedroom. Right on the beach. For the extra money it is well worth it. As for the superior rooms I did not see them. They were newly built. No mini bar in the hotel room but you get a big carafe for your water. Just go to the bar and fill er up. There is a mini bar in the bungalows. There is no safe in the hotel rooms.

Beach: The sand is a bit coarse at the beach. Further down the beach it is coarse shells. It is a small cove with rocks protecting it from waves so the swiming was very good. The snorkeling is great here. Also to the right of the cove there is good snorkeling. Lots of beach huts to lay in the shade. Great view of the Sierra mountains.

Staff: They were all great. Each and everyone of them. The bartender at the pool has been there for 32 years.

Tours: We went on the catamaran tour and the truck to the waterfalls. Both were good. If you have a weak heart don't take the truck tour. Real steep hills up and down. You wonder if the old truck is going to make it. we had to stop once to put water in the rad. Dolphin tour=97 cuc. snorkeling tour-10 cuc. catamaran tour-40 cuc. trolling fishing- 200 cuc. high sea fishing-400 cuc. Trinidad city tour-15 cuc. Steam engine tour-23 cuc. tour to cienfuegos-43 cuc. Havana tour-169 cuc. Jeep safari tour- 55 cuc.

Cambio: There is a money exchange office there with the same rate as at the airport. A small gift shop too.

Meals: It is your basic 3 star cuban hotel buffet. I like the food very much. Others, well..... we all have different tastes. The a la carte restaurant was under renovations so was not open. It should be up and running by now. You will not starve here. The soft ice- cream is fantastic.

Grounds: Not a lot of colourful flowers but very nice. The back of the bungalows was all dug up due to the renovations going on at the bungalows. They should be all done now.

Trinidad: A must see city. A taxi ordered from the hotel costs 8 cuc. A cab in Trinidad will take you back for 6 cuc.

Entertainment: Only saw 2 shows. Liked them. Had a flame dancer and a magician.

Overall: I would rate Hotel Costasur as a 3+. Great weather,swimming,snorkeling,staff,tours and mountain view. What more would you want! Great value for the buck