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Melia Cayo Guillermo

June 2008
First time to Cuba and can’t wait to go back. I went with my mother in October 2007 and I’m going back with my husband in June 2008. I know several people who have been to Cuba and three of them recommended this resort.

The flight with Air Transat was typical. Box meal was good and the movie was funny. It touched down in Hoquin to pickup/drop off passengers. The wait was longer than I anticipated, about an hour. Next time I will be trying Club Class. No particular reason except I want to see if it is worth the extra cost. Once we landed in Cayo Coco we found the airport spacious, cool and clean. I had to use the bathroom and was pleasantly surprised with how nice it was. There was a counter to exchange currency but we did not use it (you can do it at the resort). Next time I will, as I regretted not having money to tip the bus driver. Got on the bus for the ride over to Cayo Guillermo. It was an unremarkable bus ride. Not much to look at, mostly thick foliage and some sickly looking cows. You could buy beer for the ride. We did not, however some others did and they were pretty happy by the time we reached the resort.

When we got to the hotel we lined up for check in and were brought "welcome" cocktails. No problems checking in and soon we were unpacking in our room with just enough time to take a quick walk around to explore the resort before dinner. After dinner we were so wiped out we went straight to bed.

The next morning we had a meeting with our travel agency representative and learned about the resort and some of the excursions we could sign up for. Our representative was very friendly and approachable. As a thank you, at the end of our week we left her our magazines, as she expressed interest over the recent escapades of "Brangolina".

The grounds are beautiful! Lots of trees, gardens and fish ponds. The gardeners work non-stop to keep everything tidy. Sometimes they would cut down coconuts for guests and make small souvenirs out of palm fronds (don’t forget to tip these guys something, they deserve it!). The pool is excellent. You get a beach towel that you can exchange for a clean. Make sure you return it at the end of the week so you don’t get charged for it.

The animation staff was very friendly and engaging. The bar tenders are kept very busy but they are always friendly and willing to make you their own cocktail creations. I was really looking forward to having a mojito, but discovered that mint leaf is a very hot commodity. Next time I’m going to bring my own. Great cappuccino at the lobby bar by the way.

The entertainment at night was not elaborate but very enthusiastic. We went to a couple evening shows but stopped after 2 or 3 nights. Not so much because of the quality of the shows, but more because I got eaten alive by mosquitoes at night...even though my mom only got 1 or 2 bites.

I can’t comment much on the night life because we are more "early to bed, early to rise" kind of vacationers. I’m told the disco was fun.

Our room was ok. The walls had mildew stains in the corners, but that was expected given the tropical conditions. I brought some fabric freshener for the curtains and bed spread, and that seemed to improve things somewhat. The toilet was a little outdated but it was what it was. The bar fridge was always replenished. We drank the water bottle everyday and they always replaced it. The beds were comfortable and the sheets and towels were always clean. Read the literature in the desk about what to do in case of a hurricane...it is surreal!

The food was plentiful but felt a little repetitive by the end of our week. This is not necessarily a criticism, they just don’t have the same resources other places might have. I really enjoyed the fresh bread and cheese. The pasta/pizza station was delicious. The fast-fry meats/stirfry station was ok. The meat is cut very thin. The salad bar was pretty much the same every night. The desert station was not decadent but they did make an amazing banana crepe dish to order that was to die for.

We got a reservation for one night at the International and another night at the Italian restaurants. The Italian was nice because it is open concept, but we also ate there for lunch acouple times so it was nothing new. The International was nice because it was someplace we hadn’t been yet but they kept the lighting very dim and I could not see what I was eating. Remember to wear your insect repellant at both of these restaurants. Also, beware of the feral cats when there is food around...don’t let them take it from your fingers or you might lose one!

We did one excursion, a full day tour that included stops at 2 cities, a boat tour of some mangroves, a stop at an alligator farm, lunch at a local farm, and stops at sugar and cigar factories. It was certainly an eye opening experience. Life in the resort is another world compared to real Cuban life. I brought some pencils, paper and bubble gum to give out to a couple locals, for example some cleaning ladies at a café. They were very appreciative and I was surprised to see them waiting for us when we went to meet our bus. They wanted to know if we had any soap. I was sad to say I didn’t. I will definitely bring more soap next time. My advice is not to give out gifts when there are a lot of people around, unless you have enough to go around.

Other than our one day tour, we didn’t do much else but relax. One day we went to Pillar beach for the morning. It was absolutely stunning. Make sure you bring your sunblock! There are people at the beach who will take you out to a small island where the snorkeling is suppose to be good. We didn’t do that, but I will try it when I go back. We were going to go to the Melia Cayo Coco resort for some spa treatments, but my mom got a bit of a sun rash, so we changed out minds.

We also went for a walk along our beach. To the right there was another resort, but it was closed for renovations. There is also a small restaurant where you can get a lobster dinner. To the left is the Sol Cayo Guillermo resort, a sister resort where you are welcome to visit and use their amenities.

One thing I struggled with was how to tip. Our tour representative explained that a couple pesos is very appreciated and easier for the staff to use than foreign money. I also brought some stuff from home to leave, like nail polish and costume jewelry. But the stuff they really appreciated was first aid supplies, feminine products, shampoo, soap, paper and pencils. I made sure to tip our favorite wait staff, bartenders, gardeners, travel rep, bus drivers and tour operators.

I would recommend this resort to anyone looking to go to Cuba for the first time, who is looking for a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of city life. I felt very safe here (anyone coming into the Cayos has to pass through a security check point first). October was a nice month to go. Not too busy at the resort and it only rained at night.

So that is it. I was very happy with my trip...obviously, because I am going back in June.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
The Abbass Family 
Sydney, Nova Scotia
April 2008
We just returned from two weeks in Melia Cayo Guillermo. Flight was great and got to the resort very quickly after our arrival. When we first arrived we were disappointed in the condition of the furniture in the lobby. When we sat on one of the sofas we almost sank to the floor and the cushions were filthy. We had stayed at Melia Las Dunas last year which was a new resort so it was a let down when we first arrived at this one. After a couple of days we settled in and met some great people and stopped comparing. Unfortunately my husband got sick two days after we got there and after two days of running to the bathroom we called in the doctor who gave him some pills and got him fixed up. Thank goodness we had two weeks. The resort is tired and in need of some updating . The bathrooms in the rooms are in bad shape and the mattresses on the beds are god awful. The food in the buffet was good but after two weeks you would kill for some changes. The Italian restaurant was delicious and the International was okay. It is built on a lagoon and the restaurant itself is beautiful inside but the smell from the outside isn’t very nice. The beach was nice but for us far too narrow and shallow. Even at high tide you had to walk out very far to even get up to your knees. The bathrooms around the pool are in awful shape so it is wise to go to the lobby when you need to go to the bathroom. We noticed while we were there they are doing some work. They replaced some rotten boards in the roof over the pool bar and we saw the staff going with some new toilets. The sofa we sat on when we first arrived disappeared and there were new cushions on the chairs in the lobby. It is amazing what a difference these things make for a first impression. The grounds are gorgeous and it is a well layed out resort. The rooms are well layed out as well and just need a little tlc. No big deal. The great thing here is the staff. They are a wonderful asset to the resort and are so nice and so much fun. I heard the massages were awesome but never managed to get one but it was nobody’s fault but my own. Out two friends came down with the running starts and several other people we met while we were there. We have no idea why and truly don’t think it was the food. The entertainment was great and they work so hard. The staff work long hours and it is not uncommon to see them in the morning and then in the shows at night. They never complain. Loved the grilled cheese sandwiches and the donuts at the pool bar. Overall I can see why they get so much repeat business because you get to feel right at home and overall the resort is lovely. The only reason we really wouldn’t go back is because of the beach. Not because it isn’t nice to look at or walk on, just because we like to swim in the ocean and we found it too shallow even in high tide.
Melia Cayo Guillermo

March 2008
Just arrived back on March 6th, 2008. Nice resort, people were great. Entertainment staff were awesome - made our vacation. Food was best we've had in Cuba (this is our 4th time to Cuba - Cayo Coco, and Varadero). A la carte restaurants - International was the best, Italian was good too. Lots of choice for food. We are beach people, so were disappointed with the beach - very small beach to walk on-at high tide, lots of weeds further out - so we didn't swim in the ocean, which we normally do during our vacation. If you are bringing items down to give away - they would like children's vitamins and medications. Love Canadian items. All staff were very friendly, from the gardeners, maids, servers and entertainment staff. Would rate at a 4 star for Cuban ratings. Resort itself is tired and is in need of upgrading. All in all was a great trip and would recommend the area.
Melia Cayo Guillermo

February 2008
3 previous trips to Cayo Coco (Tryp, NH Krystal & Sol Cayo Coco), also travelled to the DR 2 times (Punta Cana & Rio San Juan)

We are a couple, early 40s

I will try to cover all the points that I think are important....all in all we had a very good time...we enjoyed this resort the most out of the 3 others we have stayed at in this area (cayo coco). We arrived at the hotel around 1:30...room was not ready but we expected this...headed to the bar for a cerveza (ok...two)...room was ready in about an hour...bellhop brought us and our luggage to our room....1235...very close to everyting...quiet...king bed...partial ocean view. Plumbing is a little old looking but worked fine...always had hot water...and decent pressure. Fridge was off and empty so we asked the bell hop and voila the bar fridge guy arrived....loaded it her up...beer..pop....bottled water..and this was kept up for the week...(water was always replaced) . The first night we noticed the TV wasn't working, called someone and along came a guy...fixed it....(seems something wasn't plugged in the back or something)...other then that no complaints with the room...the pillows were decent....body pillows and two large square decorative pillows.....the room was cleaned daily and I think we always had new sheets...towels etc....she did some fun stuff with the towels a couple of times....but nothing out of the unusual.

Food was good for cuba...yes they overcook everything...and they use lots and lots of oil...but oh well....bring a jar of peanut butter if you need peanut butter...I think I would have liked that on a big slice of toasted bread in the morning....they also lacked in fresh fruit....but it seems this is normal from out cuban experiences... we dined at all a la carte's at least 2x....enjoyed them all...probably liked the international best...(they serve lobster at the international) but also like the italian, they did a special menu for Valentines's Day! Oh yes, the pepper was kind of plain or something and the salt was all stuck in the shakers...so you could bring along some little salt and pepper packets if this is important to you.....

What else? Drinks were good and cold...seemed at the lobby bar there was a problem with the beer...looked flat the last couple of days...good cappuchino (sp) at the bars....

Service was great everywhere....we were nice to them...they were nice to us.....everyone was great...I think we can honestly say that we received the best service at this resort....most spoke very good english...and some french....if you can find one bring along french/spanish...and english/spanish dictionaries....they are in real need of these.... It is a nice resort, well kept..they were always working on the gardens....they have a herb garden by the international restaurant....(fresh basil and parsley....) I thought this was a great idea....have to wonder if a tourist brought down some seeds.

Everything is close....the restaurants.....the lobby...the rooms...the beach...which by the way is fantastic....we walked to the left all the way past the cliff thing every morning...if you are up for it....there is a path that you can follow all the way to Pilar Beach....follow the path...then out onto the road then back on the path...probably about 6 - 8km.....good walk...you can take the bus back (5 pesos). We took the bus to Cayo Coco to visit staff (friends from previous visits) at the other resorts (you get to go to all the Sol/Melia resorts)....and we took a taxi to Pilar...did the excursion over to the island...went snorkeling...good snorkeling...saw a 5'+ long barracuda!!! and lots of other colourful fish....worth the $11 peso...Pilar of course is beautiful....used to be a secret not so these days...it is well visited....anyhow, make sure you bring along water etc.. the bar is closed...they are building a new one....(started 8 months ago....) and although there is a small one set up it seems it is only for the excursions folks...so getting a beer was a bit (just a tiny bit) of a challenge.
Melia Cayo Guillermo

February 2008
Travelled between January 25th and February first. Flew out of Ottawa on a WestJet flight chartered by Transat Holidays.

The flight was nothing special. The added leg room was counter balanced with the boxed lunch. The personal TV's are a nice feature and the range of channels quite impressive. The flight crew were friendly and accommodating.

No surprises at the airport either. One tip I might offer, the airport currency exchanges have a more favourable exchange rate than any of the resort had. (1.10 vs 1.21), so get yourself some money at least before you leave. And the best way to do this is to leave someone from your party to pick up the luggage while you go over to the departures entrance and use the exchange booth there.

Arrival at the report was a little hectic. But there were beverages served and plenty of staff to keep things moving. Since we arrived at the resort around 11:00, not everyone's room was ready, but this was to be expected given the time of day. We were all issued our bracelets and our lugage was stored in a safe area. As far as I could tell, everyone who arrived on the same bus as us was in their room by early afternoon.

Room: We got room 1329. The room was great and had a peaceful view of the gardens. It had all the usuals, two beds, full bathroom, dressing area and actually a half decent hair dryer. The only slight issue with the room, and this could have been a big problem for some, is that it backed onto the entertainment stage and disco, so if you wanted to sleep while the evening show was on it was kind of noisy. It wasn't a big enough problem for us to request a room change though. The chamber made was great and kept the room clean and replaced towels and sheets as requested. The gentleman who stocked the fridge was very nice and would comply with any special requests we left for him (i.e. please leave more cans of beer, or please leave an extra bottle of water.) Each got a peso daily for their trouble.

Bars & Food: We found the staff at all the bars, buffet and restaurants to be quite polite and efficient. We always got great service. By the third day, the staff in the buffet would see us come in and set a table up for us if one wasn't already ready. We also discovered that the staff get visibly upset if you sit at a table that hasn't been made yet. Turns out we should have indicated to the waiter that we wanted it and he would have cleared and set it up for us. As for the bars, the pool bar made the best blender drinks as they had the slush machines. The lobby bar however seemed to have the better selection, as well as the most comfortable seating so we spent most of our time there. We had no complaints about the food. There was always a good selection and the line-ups for the grilling/egg stations really weren't that bad. I have to agree that it didn't appear as though the food at the buffet wasn't really on heaters, but I don't like my food steaming hot anyway so it really didn't matter. The best part of each meal, I have to say, other than the company of the waiters, was the fresh bread, how I love fresh baked Cuban bread!

The pool area was really nice, and we would have enjoyed it more had so many people not claimed chairs for an entire day, that they end up not even using. Please people, you have no idea how much this practise irritates everyone else. We actually saw one group of people claim chairs at both the beach and the pool before leaving for the day! Its just plain Rude! There were always chairs to be found on the beach though so we sunned ourselves there. If the staff at the 'sports bar' know where you are, they'll bring drinks out to you, as will the staff from the beach restaurant when its not busy.

Tour: We did the jeep tour into Moron (its called a safari but probably shouldn't be, so don't be expecting to go off-roading). I highly recommend this tour. Its a full day and you are provided with lunch. If you can swing it, try to get yourself into the same vehicle as one of the tour guides. This will make the day much more interesting as they all speak fluent English and will answer all your questions (besides, its easier to watch the scenery go by if you don't have to pay attention to traffic.)

All in all it was a great trip and wouldn't hesitate to recommend this resort to families with small kids or couples looking for a quiet get away.

If you have any questions, please drop me an email.

Melia Cayo Guillermo

January 2008
Bus to resort- Great way to start a vacation after a long charter flight by selling Cuban beer ( $5 Cdn for 2.) Expect at least a 40 minute ride to the resort from the airport. Buses are large with comfortable seats and of course air conditioned.

Arrival at Melia- We were first off the bus so our check in went quickly.

Rooms- We were assigned a room on the top floor of the second block ( for example, room 6 on the third floor of the first block will be assigned 1306 ). The room was clean and what we would have expected from a 4+ star resort in the caribbean; modestly decorated but comfortable. Although we did have a shower head that could not adjust much higher than a vertical spray, and there was some general touch up needed of paint cracks on the ceiling, the overall cleanliness of the room was there.despite some of the horror stories that appear on here. On the third floor of the main building, the ceilings are vaulted ( to match the roofline ) and they definitely help with the overall spaciousness of the accomodation. The voltage is 220 with the two flat prongs and one round ground prong. An adapter from the Source will suffice to operate a hairdryer provided there is a 110/220 switch on it. ( Don't forget to switch it before you operate it or you will fry it ). There is a hair dryer in the room but the chord seems a little on the short side pretty much like the hair dryers in all major hotels. There is a safe in the room which is operated by the room key as well as a small room fridge which generally gets stocked every day, although the time can vary. An extra peso or two tip will really stock up the fridge the way you want it. Although the times tended to fluctuate throughout the week, we did receive room service every day with no issues

Grounds- One can easily tell the grounds are well cared for. You have to remember that Cuba is in the potential path of hurricanes for 6 months of the year and when one hits the island, cleanup and repair is inevitiable. There was evidence of things that didn't work or needed repair but with the daily presence of grounds staff and maintenance personnel, you could tell the place would not be neglected. And since this is the Caribbean, the workers at the resort move at their own pace.

Food- This seems to be the contentious issue with most travelers to this resort. Keeping food at a buffet hot should be the first lesson in Chef 101. The reality is, unless you are the first one when a new tray of hot food gets put in the buffet, you will get it lukewarm at best. There simply is no warming device to keep the trays hot. With all the other comments on here about the food being terrible, I am sure that if it was hot as it should be, it would taste much better. As it was, the only way to guarantee hot food in the buffet is to have it made directly in front of you ( breakfast omeletts or dinner pasta ) and when one does this, it really limits the variety of food intake at the buffet over the course of a week. As for the a la carte restaurants ( Beachfront, Italian and International ) there were no issues with the food not being hot enough. The International restaurant is not to be missed.

Evening entertainment- Considering the entertainment troop work with what they have, and would appear to have no formal dancing traning, the evening entertainment was marginal. If you are looking for a few hours to kill in the evening, the lobby bar is definitely the buzz of the resort. The lobby bar is where the best drinks are made and seems to be the *kitchen* with people gravitating to it to talk over the days events.

Pool- Irregularly shaped pool was refreshing and clean. Trying to get a poolside chair can be a bit of a chore if one is not early enough in the morning despite a sign ( policy ?) which states no reserving chairs. Considering the hotel puts you on the hook for $ 20 pesos for a lost/misplaced beach towel, I'm somewhat surprised at the number of chairs that were *reserved* with just a beach towel blanketing it. . I would highly suggest you bring your own beach towel so as to avoid the possibility of losing one of theirs. Once you get your initial beach towels it becomes a process of exchanging dirty ones for clean ones. At the end of the stay, you return your towels, they give you your towel slip back and you must return the slip when you check out or be charged the lost towel fee..

Beach- The beach is well maintained and when there is chop in the waters, seaweed gets washed ashore which is then promptly cleaned by maintenance crews. The water is crystal clear, especially in the areas of the sand bars. One should not miss the opportunity to take a side trip to Playa Pilar beach, about a 30 minute *train* ride from the resort. The train will cost you 5 pesos per person and provide you with at least 3 hours of sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling time.

Departure- Definitely take advantage of the VIP lounge at the airport on your return trip home. Cost is 20 pesos per person and one is provided the opportunity to pick your seat on the aircraft, sit in a separate lounge with comfortable chairs, be servied free liquor and snacks in the lounge while you wait and first boarding of the aircraft. We had heard stories about the Cuban airport check in staff of trying to hit returning passengers with *overweight* checked baggage charges but since we travel only with carry ons, this was not an issue for us. Still, best to be advised to watch the weights of your bags on the return trip. Departure tax is 25 CUC pesos per person and this can ONLY be paid in cash. ( you can convert Canadian money into CUC pesos at the *bank* in the resort ).

Overall Assessment: If you want to get away from the cold chill of the winter, relax in a warm climate on a beach or by the pool reading a book and can get a good deal, this resort is as good as any other 4+ star resort in the Caribbean. Having read the mixed reviews on this site before going, we tempered our expectations. We were neither disappointed nor wildly delighted about any aspect of this vacation. We did have great weather, did the best we could with being able to eat hot foods and enjoyed clean comfortable accomodations at a good price. The Cubans who worked the resort were frendly and helpful considering some had difficulities with dealing with the Spanish / English language barrier. There is no obligation to tip but like all service oriented resorts, one should tip when they receive good service and since most Cubans who work the resort have very little, any tip or gift is greatly appreciated. This was our first trip to Cuba and considering it is a 3rd world Communist country, we did enjoy our stay although with the wide variety of vacation choices that are available, it is doubtful we will make a return trip. I would rate our vacation at this resort as an 7.5 out of 10
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Nova Scotia, Canada
December 2007
March 30th-April 6th 2007

Flight-We flew to Cayo Coco with Air Transat. The flight went fine but next time we will spend a little extra to pick our own seats so my husbands knees aren't driving onto the back of the chair in front of him.

Airport- All went well. had to wait for our bags for awhile then made out way to the bus and as soon as we got on the bus it started to pour down rain.

Bus to resort- They sold beer to anyone who wanted it for $5 Canadian for 2 beer. The ride went fine but it was night so we didn't see much.

Arrival at Melia- 2 of us stood in line while the others got the bags. Check in went quickly.

Rooms- We were assigned to rooms 1102-1103. These rooms were basic 1st floors away from the busy areas and we had no problems with musty smells or anything like that. When we had a problem the maintenance guy was quick to fix it.

Grounds- Absolutely well cared for. Everything was green and lots of picture opportunities. There wasn't any part of the grounds that I felt needed extra work.

Resort Buildings- While we were there we saw people painting and doing some other maintenance to the buildings. The only thing I can honestly say that needs working on is the toilets in public areas.

Buffet- The first morning we were there we just got some food from the buffet but realized not all things that should be hot are. Biting into cold scrambled eggs once was enough. So we stuck to having omelets made fresh each morning. Ate at buffet only a few times throughout our vacation other than breakfast.

Al a cartes- No complaints everything was great.

Pizza- At midnight the pizza place opened and it was great for if you wanted to grab a late night bite.

Evening entertainment- This was the best I have ever seen. These people are extremely talented dancers. Every bit entertaining.

Pool- Was very nice and clean. Refreshing but not too much of a chance at getting a seat around pool unless a very early riser.

Beach- Beyond beautiful. Soft fine white sand. Raked for seaweed everyday. The water is gorgeous. You can walk a long waay each direction.

Disco- Was fun but it all depends on the croud

Had lots of fun at this resort and met lots of great people. The week we were there was overbooked and lots of large groups and weddings. I would recommend this resort but would have liked to have been there on a week not so busy. That being said we spent some time at Sol Cayo Guillermo next door and had no trouble getting a spot at the pool, a really nice resort and the buffet food was great. I t was just nice and relaxed. All in all we had a great time.
Melia Cayo Guillermo

November 2007
Just returned from 2 weeks at Melia Cayo Guillermo, this was our second visit to this hotel.

Important, my husband was severly bitten and had to visit doctors, we were told from sand flies. We took 3 different types of spray but none worked. One tip we recieved was to forget sprays, buy tea tree oil and put a few drops in shower gels, shampoos etc (worth a try)

We returned to this hotel mainly because of the genuine friendliness of all the staff, from management down to gardeners, never have we met and got to know so many people at a hotel resort. It is infectious as by the time we left we knew every passenger on our coach back to the airport.

The hotel is 5 star officially, although i love the place i honestly could not give it 5 stars compared to other resorts, it is a pretty hotel, clean etc, but i would say approx 4 star.

We had a 8 week old baby in our group, so anyone thinking of taking a young baby to Cuba, go for it. there were quite a few young babies, just make sure you have everything you would need as it is impossible to buy many things, the shop did have nappies (diapers as our friends may call them)

Food and drink
Its Cuba! we dont go for the food! we never went hungry, always plenty of choice, dont be too fussy and enjoy.

Not for rowdy teenagers, low key, dance shows, they work hard! junior disco if enough children want it, usually for about 30minutes around 8.30pm, main entertainment starts at 10pm and only for around 1 hour.

The jetty took a bit of an hammering in a storm a few weeks ago, alot is missing, hopefully it will be rebuilt soon. Beautiful shallow sea, warm, great for young children.

Comfortable, clean.

Does it make a difference if you tip? YES! Tip the chef in the beach or italian restaurant, comment on how you enjoyed your meal, and see what a difference tipping makes. The chefs work very hard and usually only get to speak to guests if there is a complaint, see the smiles when you compliment, wonderful. The Cuban people are very poor, talk to them for a short while and you will learn a lot, they are lovely warm honest people. We asked what they need the most, and got the same reply, anything that you choose to give them is greatly appreciated. They love chocolate, a real luxury, perfume for the ladies and football shirts for the men, but absolutely anything you give them makes them smile, and sometimes even cry. Be generous, a small thing to us means a great deal to a Cuban.

VIP at airport
do it! air conditioned room with drinks and sofas. You will be so glad you did!

Dont want to bore you any more, any questions i would be happy to answer.

Great value for money, relaxing and friendly, everything you need for a peaceful holiday.

We are going back to Cuba next year, but to Varadero for a bit of a change.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Stephanie and Eddie  

April 2007
My fiancé and I, along with my father and step-mother have just returned from one week in paradise!!! We vacationed in Cayo Giullermo from April 6-13. I don't even know where to begin!

The theme of our vacation was "Just in Time". The reason for this is because everytime we did something or went somewhere, it was the perfect time. Upon our arrival, we grabbed our bags and got on the first bus to the resort. We did not exchange our money at the airport, as everyone said that there was no real difference in the exchange rate. After about a 35 minute drive, we arrived and we the third ones in line to check in. In a quick 15 minutes we were on our way to our rooms. By the time the second and third busses arrived, we were changed into lighter clothing and in the Lobby Bar having beer, champagne and daquiris. We started in room 3119, then got up graded to an ocean view room on Sunday, 2305. The view was nice, really nice, it had to be since we had to go up 60 stairs to get there!

We booked the International à la carte for Sunday evening. We went to the Concierge first thing on Saturday morning and got our reservation. They book reservations on a Monday- Sunday basis, meaning that they don't book that Monday-Sunday's reservations until Monday morning. So we lucked out on this one. Once again, just in time. The view was gorgeous. The hawk joined us all in a meal. He ate his raw meat on the patio, while we enjoyed ours inside.

As mentioned on a few of the reviews, the smell at the International is not the best, but for the food and the view, it's manageble.

As for the remaing à la carte reservations, we went first thing on Monday morning and got reservations at the Ranchon and at the Italian.

The Ranchon has a very nice atmosphere, there's always a nice breeze blowing through. Our diner there went well enough. My fiancé and I ordered the chicken. It was not thoroughly cooked, so we sent it back and had wonderful pork loin instead.

I will preface my opinion of the Italian à la carte by saying that on the afternoon of our reservation, the skies opened up. We have never, ever seen rain like that! A veritable monsoon! We weren't even sure if the restaurant would be open for supper, as it is quite open to the eliments. We ran through the rain and we were greated by a server and shown to our table.

They had simply placed towels on the ground and had someone going around moping up the water. It turned out to be fantastic! It was the best meal we had at the resort!

The first few days at the resort were wonderful. We went to the beach, the pool, the buffet and generally relaxed. On the Tuesday we went out on La Perla to do some snorkelling out on the reef. It was 20CUC each, and well worth it. At this time, there were only three of us snorkelling, the rest of the people on the boat were going to scuba dive. It was amazing. We snorkelled in Hawaii at Molokini, off of Maui, and I have to say that the water here was much warmer, although Molokini does have the benefit of being a crater, so the majority of the big waves were blocked. It did get a little choppy as our excursion was coming to a close, but we made it back in one piece!

Wednesday, we decided to go to Playa Pilar. No matter what you read on other reviews, it's not "just another beach". You have to see it to believe it. When you first go into the water, you'll be amazed at the fish who just come up to you. Go a little further out and bigger fish will come see you. Bring some bread to feed them. The water is crystal clear and nice and warm. We relaxed on the beach for a while and then my fiancé and I took a walk all the way to the rocks at the end of the beach. Actually, it's ancient coral that has turned black. We wandered around, went up a little path, and then something ran in front of us! What could it be? I'm not squeemish in the least, but I did take a step back. My fiancé ( the fearless firefighter) ploughed ahead. It was an iguana!!!! Including it's tail, it was about 6 feet long! We got some pictures of if before it ran up the hill. Eddie went up the hill by another path to take some pictures of some cacti, and then he saw another one (maybe the same one, who knows!). What an encounter!

We made it back to the resort JUST IN TIME! The man in charge of the chairs at Pilar had started gathering them up at about 12:45, someone asked what he was doing, he pointed to the sky and said " One, maybe tow hours". One cue at 2pm the skies opened up and it rained and rained and rained until well into the night. I have never seen rain like that! FYI- the tiles are very slippery in the rain!

The rest of the week was spent relaxing by the pool and on the beach.

I have the same general complaint as everyone else: it's very hard to get a lounge chair by the pool or the beach, but when in Rome! For the days we wanted to go to the pool we would get our chairs reserved and then go eat and come back and enjoy the day.

Another concern is that there are lots of children at this resort, while 99% of them were extremely well behaved, there were a few who were quite rambunctious and disrespectful. We did not hold our tongues, and we voiced our disdain.

Our big adventure was the power outage. The lights were off the majority of Thursday night in the Lobby Bar and the Buffet. We had a candlelit dinner, it was great. From what we gathered, one of the electricity panels was in the basement of the Buffet and due to the massive amount of rain, there was some flooding, so we ended up having a candle lit breakfast as well.

Everyone seemed to accept it and was in good spirits (except for one woman who thought that by demanding to talk to the manger the power would instantly come on.) On the sad day we had to leave, we were seated in the lobby at about 7 or so when a bus pulled up. I asked the rep which flight it was for, it for our ours! We brought our lugage outside and got on the first bus. When we got to the airport we checking in, made it though security and were up in the waiting area within 10 minutes. We got great seats on the plane and everything!

Overall, the food, service, facilities, atmosphere were amazing.

Moral of the story is: Pay attention to things going on around you, always eat early (when there's no line and the food is hot and plentiful), tip the wonderful staff (Wilmer in the Lobby Bar is FANTASTIC!!!!!), bring lots of goodies from home for the staff (Wilmer, Serguey and the rest of the Lobby Bar staff love chocolate) and Enjoy! You're in Cuba!!!
Melia Cayo Guillermo
E & S 
Ottawa, Ontario
March 2007
My husband and I returned to Canada after a week’s vacation at the Mélia Cayo Guillermo in Cuba (January, 2007). Given that this vacation was a retirement gift to my husband, I was hoping that the resort would be up to the standard one normally expects from a resort that claims to be a 5-star resort. While there were certain aspects of the resort that we enjoyed, unfortunately there were a number of things that we found disappointing, which had the effect of taking away a little of the joy that I initially had when I planned this vacation for my husband and I. The fact that we were disappointed also surprised me, since we have previously visited the Mélia Varadaro about 4 years ago, and quite enjoyed the experience.

Briefly, the following is a listing of some of our observations of the conditions at the Mélia Cayo Guillermo – both positive and negative.


    Our room (#3236) was a big disappointment:

  • When we arrived, there was an old mattress and box spring leaning against the wall outside our room which was there for three days before being removed.

  • There was a strong smell of must and mold in our room which lasted for the entire week. Obviously, this is not a healthy environment for people to be living/sleeping in.

  • The bed frame required repair and the bedspread was not clean.

  • We woke up on several occasions with bites to our bodies, leading us to suspect bed bugs.

  • The luggage caddy was missing, forcing us to use our only chair to put luggage on.

  • The bathroom door was slightly warped and didn’t open or close properly.

  • The molding around the interior of the bathroom door was starting to disintegrate from dampness. It was literally falling apart.

  • The stucco part of the ceiling had dark stains from previous water damage and the metal part of the ceiling was buckled in several places.

  • The painting on the wall in the bedroom area was damaged.

  • The balcony was not cleaned to remove the bird droppings for the whole time we occupied the room, and the patio door, which contained may fingerprints, was never cleaned.

  • The body of hair dryer worked but had no connecting hose to the handle, making it useless.

  • The sink and bath fixtures needed replacement and the drain in the sink didn’t work very well.

  • The door closer mounted above the inside of the door did not work properly, meaning that we always had to check to ensure that the door was closed and locked.

Resort Facilities and Grounds

    Besides our disappointment with our room, we found that the grounds were not well maintained at all:

  • Grass needed to be cut and broken branches, dead leaves and coconuts were left lying around and not picked up. In fact, we saw hardly any grounds keepers at all on the resort, which is much different than other resorts that we have visited such as the Royal Decameron in Panama, which has many grounds keepers and is always immaculately kept.

  • Walkways and other common areas, including around the pool, needed to be cleaned and swept.

  • In some cases lounge chairs were filthy, with bird droppings on them that had obviously been there for some time.

  • Broken tiles on stairs and passageways needed replacement.

  • Several areas need to be re-painted.

  • We found that the beach was not as clean as it could have been. Also, we were surprised to find lounge chairs strewn around the beach in front of the resort, some upside down and covered in seaweed, which meant that staff were not even bothering to move them out of the way of the tides.

  • The quality of the shops could have been better. We visited the Iberostar resort next to yours in Cayo Guillermo and found their selections of shops outside stalls, and the goods sold in them, to be far superior to that of the Mélia.

Food and Beverages

  • We found that the quality of the food varied greatly from day to day – from very good to poor. However, most of the time the quality and selection of the food items were adequate.

  • Nevertheless, one problem we found was that the hot food items on the buffet were not always kept hot – some being luke-warm at best - which is a turnoff when one is expecting a hot meal.

  • However, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at the International Restaurant, although the smell from the swamp over which the restaurant was built was a bit of a turnoff.

Entertainment and Activities

  • We thoroughly enjoyed the local singers and musicians who played in the lobby, restaurant and bar areas. The quality of these entertainers was excellent. Also, for the most part we enjoyed the quality of the nightly stage entertainment. However, that entertainment seemed to focus mainly on modern dance, while we would have preferred to see more singing, dancing and music of Cuban/Spanish songs, music and dances.

  • We booked two tours – one for snorkeling and the other for a trip to Camaguay. The snorkeling trip to Pilar Beach was very good. Also, although the trip to Camaguay was a little boring (not a lot to do or see in Camaguay), the Cubatur tour guide (Hector) we had for the trip was execellent.


  • For the most part, we found the staff at the resort to be very friendly and helpful. In particular, with very few exceptions we found the food and beverage staff (bartenders, waiters, waitresses and serving staff) to be very friendly and helpful.

  • Also, for the most part front counter staff were friendly; however they could have been more helpful when we brought our concerns about our room to their attention. They didn’t seem to be concerned about that at all.

Other Concerns

  • On two occasions we found that our room door had been left open by cleaning staff.

I should point out that, even though you may not receive any other letters of complaint, since most people do not take the time to write, preferring instead to just not return to your resort in the future, there were a number of other guests who had similar complaints to ours. Some were fortunate to be moved to other, better rooms; however, the fact that they had to pay extra to do so is not fair. There would be no reason to move had the room that they had been given in the first place been up to the expected standard of quality.

In our opinion, either the management at Cayo Guillermo needs a larger budget in order to properly maintain your facilities there, or if they have the budget and are not using it properly, they need to be reminded of their responsibilities to both you and your guests. Also, it could be helpful to have some of your front-office staff tour the grounds and rooms from time to time in order to make sure that upkeep and maintenance is being done as required.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
March 2007
Just returned from Melia on Mar 26th. We travelled with 3 other couples and it was our first visit to Cuba. We have travelled to Mexico and DR previously and were very excited about doing the Cuba thing. I cannot put my finger on exactly why I didn't enjoy this vacation but that negative,nagging feeling is there. First off our check-in took about 1 1/2 hrs, which at 1:00 AM you get a little restless and not the way you want your vacation to begin. When I got to our room I was pleasantly surprised. The Rooms were dated but very clean, no musty smell, and the air condition stayed on as there was an extra card in the power slot. I was very disappointed in the buffet. It was very small, slow service from waiters, except Abel. There was always something to eat, but after 5 days it all tasted and looked the same. The grounds were not appealing, the vegetation was dead or dying. The past 3 years were really dry, therefore sad looking shrubs and trees, the greenery was brown. You do not realize how much you appreciate the lush look of healthy shrubs and flowers until it is not there. We visited the Iberostar, and Cayo next door and their grounds were more appealing to the eye. They must have taken more pains with watering and nurturing the vegetation. There was only 1 day of our Vacation that the red flag was not flying. Therefore no waters sports, no diving, and snorkeling was minimal. The winds were 30-35km hour and it was partly cloudy every day. I spoke to another gentlemen who had been there for 3 weeks and he said the wind blew constantly there. He also said he had been coming to the same resort for 4 years and this was his last as he said it had gone down hill every year. We did the Jeep Safari excursion and really enjoyed that. The beach was nice. The entertainment in the evenings was OK. Mostly dancing and not much for audience participation or comedy. There is no shopping to speak of on or near the resort. Just your typical hemp and shell necklaces. The nearest City is Moron, which is 1 1/2 hours away. If you seek total relaxation, not fussy about food, this is your place. Would I recommend it..... probably not.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Cornwall, Prince Edward Island, Canada
March 2007
Our trip for a family of 4, 2 adults, 2 teenagers under 18, was 7 days from Friday, March 16 to 23, 2007 with check-in at the Air Transit counter. We had purchased Club Transit (similar to business class) seating and we were provided with a separate check-in counter at both Halifax and Cayo Coca airports.

I would recommend this option given the wider seats with more reclining room, meal selection and complimentary drinks, and a more personal level of service provided. One of the nicest features is that the lighting is more subdued, which is especially nice on your return flight as it allows you to sleep. While we purchased the seats at booking time, Club Transat seats were available for about half the price at the Halifax airport so you can take a chance and try at checki n. There were even more CT seats available on the return flight.

The Cayo Coco airport is new, very clean and functional. Cuban customs staff were polite and professional and they do compare your passport picture to your face. Following the passport check your hand bags will be scanned (the reverse as compared to Canada where everything is scanned for departure) and if anything raises a question they will ask to search your bag. They searched our daughter's carry on throughly but quickly and passed her on.

If you bring minor children (under 18 years of age) take them through passport control with you, I left one behind and when she went through they came looking for me. They will mark on your visitors visa the number of minor children entering with you. Repeat this process on the way out so that they can identify the minor children to your visa notation.

Travel of 45 minutes to the resort was by air conditioned bus. You know you are not in Canada anymore as they start selling you beer on the bus, 2 for C$5.00. At this time you may not have any Cuban convertable peso's (CUC), no problem, use Canadian loonies or toonies, or Euros or whatever you have for tips.

At the resort checkin goes smoothly but a bit slow, they may only have 1 or 2 persons on the counter and on Thursday night 3 flights arrive about the same time, so it may go a bit slowly. The staff have a number of things to explain, room keys, towel ticket, banking, your travel representative presentation time, etc. If you want a second room key you need to ask, they only provide one at check in.

Once you have checked in go to your room. Once you open the door, located directly on the right wall is a slot device, insert your room key and this will activate lights and the airconditioner. After you remove your card the lights/ac will shut down in about 5 minutes. This conserves power. You can also use any other credit card sized card in this slot, I used my automobile club card and it worked fine. If the room seems musty or damp, just open the patio doors and let it air out. If you find the room is not acceptable, go to the front desk and ask for another room, I was at the front counter when two visitors did that and they were accommodated.

The rooms are simple but cleanly furnished but do need a bit of updating. If you tour the resort that night you will find it very dark outside the lobby area. They simply don't waste lights and electricity in Cuba. If it is not in use, they don't light it up.

The beach at this resort is excellent with a long shallow area leading into deeper water. At high tide there is not much space between the water and the beach chairs, so the beach become more enjoyable as the tide recedes and opens up. The sand is very fine and enjoyable to walk on.

A really great beach nearby (7km) is Playa Pilar. You can rent scooters, rental car or go there by taxi. If you go by taxi, you pay after the return trip. This beach is sheltered by sand dunes rising behind it and has a very wide beach front, a long shallow area leading to deeper water. A excellent location to spend a few hours. There is even a beach canteen onsite. A small fee applies for parking if you arrive by rental car.

Back at the resort the staff are great, very pleasant, and at this resort we did not feel they were looking for a tip. But we heard alternate views from other travellers at the resort. If you want to tip, the 1 CUC peso is fine. Staff told us that tips are shared among a group working in that area (ie a bar). The staff who work the daytime activities also work the night time shows which are interpretive dance numbers done to various music themes, such as show tunes, movies, etc. My favourite was their play on the Titanic movie.

The Convertable Cuban Peso (CUC) is used for tourist transactions and by tourists in tourist areas. It is not the Cuban peso used by Cubans on a daily basis. The CUC's rate is fixed to the US dollar, so when you convert Canadian dollars to the CUC it is actually the US buy dollar rate you are being charged. Don't worry if you have CUC's left at the end of your trip, you can exchange them for Canadian (or Euro's or Pounds) at the airport. If you use a credit card for purchases you will see the name of the purchase location on your credit card bill and the amount of US dollar purchases converted to Canadian funds.

Visitors to this resort are mostly Canadian from Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The remainder are from the UK, mostly from the Manchester/Birmingham area, with a few Spanish and German speaking visitors.

Food, well this is a bit disappointing, but we were warned beforehand that it is not up to other Carribbean resorts. Even the Michelin guide says Cuban food is bland and that is true. They do provide a good variety but there is an overall sameness to many of the dishes. You will feel a sense of style over substance as if everything is made from a recipe but the cook does not have that first hand knowledge of the dish so they tend to lack a depth of flavour and consistency you would expect. Desserts, well they do love those layer cakes, topped with lime, raspberry, chocolate, etc. At one restaurant they had 3 of the same kind (lime, lime and lime). Other deserts are available but you will notice this propensity to layer cakes.

The beef used in their steaks is more of what we call 'Swiss steak' in Canada. It is that thin steak meat which looks like it has been banged with a mallet. They do very nice pizza's, be sure to visit the Italian restaurant, we did go there 4 times for lunch. Again, you are not home, just pick and choose a bit and you will do fine.

During our stay we hade 3 cooler days (down to 24c) due to a 'cold front' moving across. This provided very high winds which made beach time less than enjoyable. But if you do not experience one of these cold fronts, expect hot sunny weather, maybe a rain shower once during your trip.

On the last day you can keep your room for 10CUC per hour from 12 noon to 3 pm. They have a baggage storage area and you can shower in the gym area. Though most of our group spent a lot of time in the lobby and lobby bar. Even at the late check out of 3pm you have a lot of time until the 8 pm bus pick up and then the later 1030 or 1130 pm flight home.

At the airport check-in is straight forward but the lines can be a bit long if you get three buses arriving at once. Be patient you have lots of time until your flight. If you have not already done so you can get your 25 CUC per person departure tax at the airport bank. You can purchase them with cash or a credit card. Departure tax payment, think of it as an airport improvement tax, and customs clearance went smoothly, lots of customs agents on hand and they were efficient in processing you. Hand bags are scanned after passport control is passed.

Air Transat will offer you their VIP lounge for 20 CUC per person. It provides you with a more comfortable waiting area with free drinks and light snacks. Consider it as a good alternative to those hard backed airport chairs.

One miscellenious item. Upon arrival in Halifax I could not get my car to start due to a dead battery. If this happens to you go to the Commissioner's booth located a short ways to the left of the arrival door. They will call for a cab to give you a boost. The cost is $20.00 but well worth it to get you going.

If you have any questions please email at mszinck@eastlink.ca and I will be happy to reply.

Bon Voyage. Michael
Melia Cayo Guillermo
G & G 
New Brunswick, Canada
March 2007
Just returned from a wonderful 14 day vacation at Melia Cayo Guillermo, Cuba (Feb. 16 to March 2, 2007). The resort is small and very nice, people working there are very friendly; the food is great, never got tired of the food in 2 weeks. Can't say enough about the beach, nice sand, the water warm and a nice turquoise colour. They have a big beautiful pool, but never used is as we are beach people and aren't interested in using the pool with such a beautiful beach and nice warm water to swim in.

The shows in the evenings were very good, better than a few of the places we've been to. The entertainers work very hard and they really put on a great show.

Really enjoyed our stay at Melia Cayo Guillermo and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Kitchener, Ontario
February 2007
We just returned from a week’s vacation at Melia Cayo Guillermo. Our group consisted of four adults over 45 years of age. In a nutshell – we had a fabulous time. We found Melia CG to be a beautiful place to escape Ontario’s winter weather.

We flew on a Sunday evening from Toronto with Air Transat. Not a lot of room on the plane but we had pre-booked the exit row seats so we all had extra leg room. We did this by phone (you can do this online as well) and the extra $25.00 per person was well worth the money.

Things went smoothly at the Cayo Coco airport in Cuba. It was about 11:00 pm when we (two buses) arrived at the hotel and there was a long line to check in. In the past at other resorts we have had staff there to welcome us with a fruity drink. It didn’t happen at Melia. We were glad we had taken the time in advance to join the Mas club. When we showed our cards we were whisked to the front of the line and got checked in quickly. Well worth going to the Melia web site and joining the club. This card also got us a late check out on the last day for no additional cost.

We chose to take our own luggage and find our rooms so that we could quickly unpack and do a little exploring. We enjoyed a couple of drinks at the outdoor lobby bar lounge. The warm air was a welcome change from what we had left at home.

The rooms could use a little sprucing up but they were always clean. We didn’t come to Cuba to spend waking hours in our rooms but they were more than adequate. At times in the late afternoon the hot water in the shower was barely warm but we managed just fine. After running the air conditioning for a couple of hours on the first evening any musty smell disappeared quickly. We had brought old magnetic strip cards and that helped to keep the air circulating (when needed) when we were out of the rooms. We were in rooms 3212 and 3213 – no problems. A couple of minor repairs to the hairdryer and remote control were fixed within 24 hours – that’s not bad for the Caribbean.

The grounds of the resort were beautiful, so lush and full of palm trees, gardens and flowers. The pool and beach areas had a good amount of shade and sun, great for everyone. The pool was never crowded. The pool wasn’t heated but never so cold that we couldn’t go in it. Refreshing! Numerous hammocks were scattered around the resort – most in the shade of palm trees. Great spot for a siesta or to read a book.

The board walk down to the beach was lined in palm trees and benches. The view was breathtaking and the changing colours incredible. The beach was a little narrow when tide was in but when tide was out in seemed to stretch for ever. We enjoyed walking the beach when the tide was out. We visited Sol Club one day for lunch – visitor bracelets available at Melia’s front desk. We also walked the other way past Iberostar to Cojimar where we vacationed a few years ago. The beach was cleaned each morning and there was ample room for everyone. Chairs were saved by towels at both the beach and pool. This practice frustrates me; especially when no one uses the towels/chairs for hours on end but you really have no choice but to join in. The pier stretched well out into the water and was a popular place to walk, sit on or fish from. The boards could have been a bit closer together but really wasn’t terribly dangerous.

The food was the best we have had whether in Cuba or Mexico. The pizza on the first night was really tasty. We had no problem getting reservations in all three a-la-cartes – the Ranchon, Italian and International restaurants. We enjoyed all of them! The buffet with its three fresh food stations – meat (with fish, calamari, prawns, steak & pork chops), pasta and stir-fry had a decent variety. At times things could have been filled up more quickly but no one in our group went hungry. Good bread and desserts too. There was an abundance of good fresh fish at all of the restaurants - two of us ate fish at every meal. At the same time there was plenty to choose from for those none fish eaters in our group. Sit down lunch – ordered from a menu was available in the Italian and Ranchon restaurants. Buffet open as well. Also popular were the ham & cheese sandwiches from the pool bar.

We sampled many drinks during the week and found the rum to be flowing freely. Our thermos cups helped to keep things cold and keep the sand out. We found wait/bar staff to be extremely friendly and service was good. The service did not depend on tips. We tipped frequently but didn’t feel pressured at all. We liked the white house wine and the sparkling wine that was available.

The lobby and lobby bar was a fun place to be. We had some rainy weather and the lobby was definitely the place to be on those days. The lobby bar was very popular in the morning for Americano coffee. It was busy before and after dinner too. What a way to begin and end our days!

We watched a couple of evening shows in the theatre. The entertainment staff worked hard to provide lively productions. We were tired at the end of the day and often missed the shows. We could hear the theatre numbers from our rooms but the shows were over by 11:00. We didn’t hear anything else after the shows ended.

A bank on the resort grounds meant that exchanging money (from Canadian) was easy. Rates fluctuated slightly but seemed to be pretty consistent with the airport where we had changed a little bit of money at time of arrival.

While we were there the majority of guests seemed to be from Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and Britain. Most were adults with only a handful of children.

The bottom line for us is that we would return to this resort without question and we will be sure to would recommend it to our friends. The other couple in our group had never been to the Caribbean before and they thoroughly enjoyed. Melia is a great place to relax, enjoy a break away and have a wonderful Cuban vacation. Sun, ocean, pool, warm weather, cool drinks, decent food, friendly people – not sure what more you could want!

More info contact us a carshell@rogers.com
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Diane and Dave  
London, Ontario
April 2006
We stayed at the Melia Cayo Guillermo from April 9-16 and enjoyed our vacation! However, there are definetly things about the resort that I did not like and will be honest about them. I think the reviews I read before I left were very informative overall and many of them were quite accurate.

We have both travelled extensively through Europe, U.S. and the Carribean. More recently we stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach in the Mayan Rivieria (4+), the Occidental Grand Flamenco in Punta Cana (4+) and the Sandals Grande St. Lucian in St. Lucia (5).

I had always heard wonderful things about the Melia hotel chain and therefore I was really looking forwarding to staying at one of their resorts. However, in saying that I'm not sure that I would stay at another as I was expecting much more and I preferred the Iberostar that we stayed at in the Mayan Riviera and the Occidental resort in Punta Cana.

Beach (5 stars!):
The beach was gorgeous! The water was so clear and you could walk for miles. There is some seaweed in the water infront of the resort, however, if you walk a little further to the left the water is clear for miles out. It really is breathtaking. There is also a really nice long pier that the resort has, however, they really need to do something about the wood planks, as they are very far apart and you feel like you are going to fall through them at times. So be careful walking. The beach definetly gets filled up quickly. We didn’t have any problems as we get up for the sunrise every morning (which was at 7:00). However, even at 7:00 there were a few palapas taken. So I suggest getting up early if you really want to get a palapa……and don't try to steal other peoples, just get up earlier!

Pool (4 stars):
We are beach people, so we only sat by the pool 1 day of our trip (when it was windy at the beach). The pool is always very packed with people and it is difficult to find chairs unless you are up early. Once again we didn't have that problem! The temperature of the water is quite cold though, I'm not sure why they keep it so low. The pool isn't very large, however, overall it was nice.

Rooms (3 stars):
This was probably the worst part of the resort. We were in room 2203, which was on the second floor right beside the Lobby. The location was good. We were on the other side of the theatre and could not hear anything, so that was good. Also the resort is not very big so it isn't a far walk to anything. The rooms, however, are definetly old and need some serious renovation. We don't spend too much time in our rooms, so we weren't that bothered. However, you do still expect to have nice facilities when you spend money on them. We had a king size bed (not two doubles pushed together), which was nice. The water pressure was pretty bad though and at times you had a dripping faucet and were trying to wash all of the shampoo out of your hair. It was pretty bad. I heard others that had the same complaints, however, apparently the people who had rooms on the 1st floor didn't have those problems. So that is something to keep in mind.

Food & Restaurants (3.5 or 4 stars):
We weren't expecting much, as we had heard really bad things about the food in Cuba. The food definetly wasn't of 5 star quality or anything, however, there were always plenty of choices for us. Don't get me wrong it wasn't the best food we have ever had, but we didn’t starve or anything. Also I don't know why people complained about booking the reservations as it was a very simple process. You book your reservations at a stand right next to the front dest

After a while the buffet does get quite old, however, in the morning you could get fresh omlets and any sort of eggs made and for dinner they had various stations set up where you could get fresh stir frys made, meat grilled, pizzas made and pasta. I really liked the pasta station.

We went to the Italian restaurant for lunch a few times and really enjoyed their pizzas. I tried their pasta, however, and it was tasteless. We went there for dinner one night and I was sad that we wasted a reservation, as it really wasn't that great.

This restaurant is located out of the front of the resort and the location really isn't that appealing. It is located on a swamp and the views aren't that great. We heard that the sunset is really beautiful, however, we were there on a night that was cloudy and didn't get to enjoy that. The atmosphere and the food however, was really good. I would have liked to go back there another time.

Beach Grill:
This restaurant is close to the beach and we went there for lunch a few times. You can either order things from the menu (they have cheesburgers, chicken etc) or you can get lunch from the buffet (not much option). But it was decent overall. We didn’t go there for dinner.

Grounds (4 stars):
The grounds were pretty nice. There are palm trees everywhere, which is nice and everything is definetly kept nice and clean. However, I have definetly seen nicer grounds at other places I have stayed at.

When we arrived in the airport there was a currency exchange that said that they had cheaper rates then when you get to the hotel. I don't know why, but I believed them and exchanged my money there (along with everyone else it seemed), however, when we got to the hotel we noticed that the exchange was MUCH better at the hotel. So, that is definetly something to keep in mind. Also, make sure you bring enough $$ with you, as there is no interact or visa machine where youc an withdraw money from, we learned this the hard way when we were departing and didn't have enough $$ for our departure tax. They told us there was one at the airport and there wasn't one there either! Thankfully for us we met a really nice couple who helped us out! Otherwise I don't know how we would have gotten out of Cuba!

Also, you can get a late check out up to 4:00 p.m. on the day you are leaving. We had heard people mention that they had a hard time getting a room so we made sure we were up early and requested a late check out at 7:00 a.m., although the front desk told us to come at 9:00 a.m., and got a room. We paid an additional 40 pesos for the room though. Apparently others came around 9:00 a.m, however, and only got a late checkout to 2:00 p.m. So get there early! We were lucky and came up from the beach around 3:00 p.m. to take our showers and get ready. However, while my husband was finishing his shower the water shut off completely. There must have been many people showering at the same time and the water still wasn't back on when we checked out of our room at 4:00 p.m. So I would suggest going up to your room earlier for a shower.

I personally don't think that we would stay at this resort again. I wasn't really overly impressed with the Melia chain and we aren't the type of people to go back to the same place twice anyways. Although we enjoyed our stay, there are definetly other places I would return to over this one. We met some people who told us how much they loved this resort and have come back for a second time and I can only wonder where they have stayed at in the past. We have stayed at some really nice resorts in the past, so I guess our standards are a little higher than most. We also heard that this was definetly one of the nicer Melia hotesl they have stayed at in Cuba, and that didn't exactly reassure us.

The trip definetly served its purpose for us. We were looking for a relatively inexpensive last minute getaway to relax on a gorgeous beach and that is what we got. We didn't get the 5 star atmosphere, however, we weren't really expecting that. Also the rating systems in Cuba are definetly different than in other areas like the Mayan Riviera. I don’t think you could compare a 4+ in the Mayan Riviera to a 4+ in Cuba, completely different rating system! However, if you want a vacation that has decent food, nice grounds, beautiful weather, gorgeous beach and clear water then you will happy.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Cape Bretoner 

March 2006
We were at this resort from Feb,26-Mar.5,2006.

Flight- Flew with Air Transit.Flight from Halifax too Cayo Coco approx 4.5hrs.Little uncomfortable for those of us over 6ft tall.but made the best of it.meal served.....Liquor offered for $5 a shot.Flight uneventful.

Airport- A little intimidating with lots of guys in Military Uniforms & two drug sniffing dogs.No problems here....Airport people.(security could smile once & awhile).

Bus ride to Melia from airport approx.25 min.

Resort- BEAUTIFUL! Rooms need a little freshening up but Maids always had them spotless when you returned after lunch.Grounds aare spectacular with Maintnance men always working & Improving the area.

Beach- Gorgous,a little bit of Seaweed at High tide,Low tide is great as you can walkout for a couple hundred yards of almost Snow white Sand.

Staff- Fantastic,They will go above & beyond the Call of duty to try & meet your every request.Drinks were great-Tried the Mojito,Tequilla Sunrise,Pina Coloda,,,,,Loved them all Equally.
Honarble mention too Istavan & Andre at the Rancho Restraunt & Bar by the beach....These guys have personality +++ & are a real Asset to the Resort.

Must also mention Wilmer at the Lobby bar who is always Cheery no Matter what time of Day.

Weather-Was Great 28-30oc everyday lied on the beach everyday,little windy but no problem.I personally like it a little hotter but got an excellent Tan.

Pool- Very Nice visited swim up Bar ,Pool always crystal Clear & refreshing.

Excellent choice for a vacation.....Would go back again,but would book 2 or 3 weeks before Departure date as you will definitley get a better deal.We paid $ 3200 for a week from Halifax tax.incl. for 2 of us.

Enjoy your Vacation you can't help but not at this resort
Melia Cayo Guillermo
NS, Canada
March 2006
Just arrived home from a wonderful trip to Cuba where myself and 11 family and friends stayed at the Melia Cayo Guillermo resort. My overall impression of the resort was very very positive. The resort itself had the most wonderful facilities, pool, beach, abundance of chairs, volleyball, tennis (with a great tennis pro), shows at night, disco, excursions, etc. I would definitely recommend it to anyone, especially families. One word to the wise for all the single females, Cuban men (unlike Canadian men) are quite forward, by the third day I had to pretend I had a boyfriend to fend off some of the advances. However if you like that sort of thing, then it's all good. There are not a lot of single guests, mostly families, couples and of course the older generation. However, if you travel in a large group, its going to be fun regardless.

The food was ok. I would definitely recommend making as many night time reservations as you can. The buffet gets old fast. The Italian restaurant is lovely, as well as the beach side Cuban restaurant. The water is definitely safe to drink (as least it was for me) no one in our party got sick and we drank water from the bars as well as ice cubes. Bring an insulated mug if you can, they are great for carrying around drinks, AND stay cold. The Cubans will ask you for them after your vacation is over, as they are very hard to get there, so it makes a great gift when its time to leave.

The rooms are pretty standard, clean, and have lots of towels. One word of advice there, if you have to check out (12 pm) a long time before your departure, definitely bring an extra towel with you from home, for the beach etc. You have to turn in your towel at 12 when you check out. You can get a late check out but only till 4pm.

The bank is very handy (right on the resort) so its no problem to change money at any time. I exchanged 200 Canadian for about 150 tourist pesos, pleanty for 1 week. I did a bit of tipping along the way for great service usually 1 peso at a time. Probably 20-30 in a week, my parents tipped much more.

We had unbelieveably sunny weather, very very hot. The first few days were a bit windy at the beach, but never at the pool, and when the wind died down, we wished for it to come back. There is a safe in your room, which is operated by the room key, great place for passport etc, but I wouldn't recommend bringing anything too valuable.

When leaving gifts, its great to leave things for the maid, but also bring things like shirts, treats, toothpaste, lotions, pencils, shampoo, CD's etc for the dancers, the gardners and staff in the restaurants. They are VERY appreciative and the maids get A LOT of stuff.

I would definitely recommend this resort!
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
February 2006
We (My wife, our 9 month old son, myself and a couple friend) recently spent 1 week at the Melia Cayo Guillermo and really enjoyed it. As all other Caribean resorts we've been to, you have to take the rating in that light and with that it was comparable with others and in line with our expectations.

The room was nice and comfortable and the crib we requested for our infant son was very great (I believe I heard that others got different ones but we got a collapsible type that appeared to be brand new). The grounds were very nice and constantly being kept up. The resort isn't brand new (I think it's from the late 90s) but everything looked ok. Overall, everything was nice, the public bathrooms were usually kept quite clean and had toilet paper. The gym looked nice although I never went in.

I'm not particularly picky about food (except that I won't eat seafood) and I was pleased with the food there. All of us really enjoyed the meals at the 'restaurants' (I think Italian was the best but the Seafood Grill was very good as well and the 'International' restaurant was good too). The buffet was fine although I've been to resorts where I thought it was better and/or offered better selection. In any case, every night we'd go to the buffer, I'd get the 'made-to-measure' food (e.g. stir fry, pizza, pasta, etc) and I thought that was excellent. I thought the wine was good although I'm fine from an expert as well as the drinks from the bar (although I they don't appear to use real fruit for the drinks).

We actually all enjoyed the shows and thought they were excellent (even our son would wake up and loved watching them). It's hard to believe that the performers have already put in a 12 hour day. We were amazed that the talent, especially considering that they probably have similar shows with equaly talented performers in each of the other resorts in Canada. (Funny enough, the babysitters from the BabyClub were some of the performers so it was funny to see the babysitters scantily clad at night). The shows were fairly short but were different every night.

The staff were all very friendly, made us feel welcome and were always very helpful. My only complaint is that some of them seemed to expect to be tipped for any service. While, we did tip on many occasions, this is an all-inclusive resort and I feel that I shouldn't be expected to tip (e.g. having "tip jars" left out) (that being said, I understand that they live very poorly and every tip they receive is a huge to them so can't really blame them).

As mentioned, the pool is not heated and was pretty cold but with the sun, that wasn't much of a problem other than the initial shock. The hot-tub was useless as it was just cold bubbling water). The ocean was very nice and clear and pretty quiet (although we had A LOT of wind during our stay so it was probably a bit more wavy than usual) and the beach was very nice although, as mentioned, during high tide, becomes pretty narrow. For those that want to snorkel, it's not a great area for it since off the beach, there is not much to see and even going to the reef by sailboat wasn't as good as many other places we've been to.

The main reason we picked this resort was because they offer a baby club (serving 0-4 years old). While we're happy to travel with our son and want to spend time with him, obviously it's very nice to be able to have a bit of time for yourself as well. They seemed well set up; they are located in a building close to the beach, which, while not airconditionned, had several windows and was always comfortable whenever we went. They have play structures outside, a padded play area inside (foam on the floor), a small room with several small beds (although I never saw anybody using them) and a bathroom with a change table and a shower. Most of the time there were 2 employees watching the babies (although a few times there was only one). It's open for about 5 hours a day (I think - 10-12:30 and 3:00-5:30) but they also offer 'private babysitting (at At first we were a bit hesitant to leave our baby with them but they looked very qualified and eager to help so the first day we left him with them for 10-15 minutes while my wife stayed and observed how our son adapted (he was fine and enjoyed it). The next day we left him for 20 minutes and after that we were comfortable enough to leave him for 1 or 2 hours (I think in all we probably left him with them on 4 occasions). They would feed/change him as required (we supplied food and instructions and diapers) and he seemed to be in great hands.

Since we were there with our son, we decided not to do any excursions other than 2 hours of snorkeling

My biggest disapointments about the resort were the lack of chairs around the pool. Unfortunately, if you didn't go to the pool first thing in the morning, it was hard to find several chairs together (particularly if you wanted shade, which we needed with our son). It seemed like such a shame since most of the time, at least half the chairs just had towels on them and weren't being used for hours on end. The weather was nice but not as nice as we would have hoped because it was VERY windy on several of the day so that made it difficult to go to the beach with our son since there was a lot of blowing sand and we were concerned the speed of the wind could be bad for his ears. Perhaps other areas in Cuba aren't as susceptible to get such winds since they are not directly facing the Atlantic (if you look at where CayoCoco/CayoGuillermo are in Cuba, you'll notice that there really aren't many other islands between it and the Atlantic ocean.

Overall, we loved the resort and we would consider returning (even if it's fun to visit different areas).
Melia Cayo Guillermo
February 2006
we just returned from a week at the Melia and had a great time (Jan27th-Feb3rd ) We flew out of and into Ottawa on Canjet ,typical flight no frills but the crew both ways made the flights enjoyable,On arrival in Cuba the process thru the airport was quick but I did feel a little intimidated by the Cuban authorities as they check everything in your bag questioning me over and over what my mp3 player was and about my camera which both are typical devices so i don't know what the problem, there is a bank there in the arrivals to change your Canadian money into Cuban convertible pesos but if you can wait there is a bank right outside the resort front door to exchange your money sometimes there is a line up but you soon learn the best times to go. The buses are waiting right outside the front door to the airport and you will be approached to have your bags taken there by a porter but really its just as easy to do it yourself. The buses are quite comfortable and if you need a cold one they sell them on the bus for $3 Canadian.

This went fairly smooth it took about 10 min and we were on the way to our room, here your large bags are taken there by a bus boy and if your room is on the second or third floor it is well worth it, this is were our first tip was given out as the lad had to carry all the heavy bags up the stairs and he worked hard, We got a room numbered 2202 and in my opinion the was a perfect place to be as it was close to most parts of the resort that we wanted to use, rooms on the right of the resort are close to the disco and theatre and i think it would be rather noisy at night,

Our room was typical of the Caribbean it was clean no sign of any bugs and everything worked , you need a converter for any appliances as they run 220v, there is a hair dryer in the room but it blows air like a faint blast so if you need a good hair dryer bring your own, now the shower is another thing as at times there is very little water pressure and it is usually when most quests are up getting ready for the day or night at the same time so I quickly learned to rise early and had no problem there , lots of hot water and at times to much, if you want clean towels everyday make sure to leave the dirty ones on the floor or they won't replace them same as the sheets if your want clean ones take them off the bed, the pillows are different as they are long so both sleepers use the same pillow takes a little getting used to, bring a plastic video card as this is inserted in a box just inside the room door and it keeps the air running and lights on, your suppose to use your room key but when you take it out it will shut everything off in aprox 10 min.

The pool is very nice but the water can be cold at times when we arrived the week previous had been cool and the water took a couple of days to warm up, we had sun everyday and temps in the high 80's so cool water was at times refreshing, there are lots of lounges around the pool but these go fast especially if the beach is windy and people "reserve " them in the usual manner sometimes not using them till late in the day not fair but what do you do, there is a pool bar where you can get all the fancy drinks and grilled cheese sandwiches which are not that bad enough to fill a void when you get hungry.

The beach is a little walk from the main resort but not to far it is cleaned of seaweed everyday, its narrow at high tide but expansive at low tide, the water is warm and clear , the one thing I didn't like was at times there were a lot of jelly fish which floated in not real nice as they can give a nasty sting, another complaint is that there isn't a beach bar so if you need a drink its a hike to the pool bar to get on.

there are three of them and in my opinion the best was the Italian just off the pool it serves pasta and pizza during the day and not a bad menu at night, the other two i really didn't like but its because they serve a lot of fish and I don't like fish, The buffet was typical of any resort and if you can't find something to eat then there is no hope for you at any resort as this one had a large selection of different foods.service was quick and i never went hungry.

This was my first visit to Cuba and i found the staff to be warm and friendly and wanting to help there was a bit of a language problem but it varied as to who you were talking to, in the week i was there I got to know a lot of them, they make very little and work long hrs 15hr days 6 days a week ,most live 2hrs away in or around Moron so even the drive into work is tiring for them,

Here is where it's hard to give anyone advice I personally left tips as I felt they deserved something extra from me, other people would disagree and say its all inclusive and that's fine but in my mind it wasn't much and i probably spent $80- $100 on tips not allot when you think that some of these people make dick all made me feel good so I tipped

The resort was everything i expected as i have travelled through most of the Caribbean and its on par with any 4 star resort, would i go back Yes if i was the type of person to go to the same place but I like to go to a different place each year, this resort is out on a caye and other than two other resorts that's it no place to go so if your looking for a busy spot its not this one , the resort was built in the late nineties and already it was getting tired looking but nothing out of the ordinary and i put it up to where it is in a country where most things are hard to maintain let alone a resort that gets used hard everyday of the year.

If there is anyway i can answer anyones questions please feel free to e-mail me and i will try to answer them' teebow49@hotmail.com
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Marek and Krysia 
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
January 2006
We recently spent a week at the Melia Cayo Guillermo from January 15th until January 22nd. We have had friends who stayed at other Melia resorts and we were expecting to be in for a real nice time, but were extremely disappointed. Our overall impression of the resort is that it is nice if you are either over the age of 60 and are looking for a quiet place where not much is happening, or a family with young children who go to bed at 9:00 PM. Our package was through Air Transat and the ride down was crowded, however a word to the wise: spend the extra $100 per person and upgrade to first class for return trip - best $100 spent on this trip. The flight out of Toronto and back to Toronto was delayed, however the pilot did a great job and made up time quite nicely. Ok, enough about the traveling aspect.....here is a break down of our impression of the resort, the food and the staff, followed by an overall summary and our opinion. At time of travel the conversion rate from Canadian dollars to Convertible Cuban Pesos was $!.00 CDN = .70 Convertible Cuban Pesos

Staff: not overly friendly at the front desk - we were surprised since Melia is supposed to be a superb Spain-based resort chain and the front desk staff did not exemplify what we would have expected from a Melia chain. The chamber maids were lovely enough, but as usual the tipping goes a long way. We did not leave money on the pillows, rather we left clothing and other such items...however we felt that the tipping issue is a little ridiculous in Cuba - we do not feel that at a 4.5 star resort we should have to tip every time we turn a corner - what the heck are we paying for if we have to then supplement it with tip after tip after tip. The best bartender in the evenings is Gisel at the lobby bar - really nice and did a good job. The staff at the pool were very disappointing. At one point we came to the swim up bar and no one was there for a good ten minutes....we finally caught the attention of the two bartenders who signaled that it would be another ten minutes or so because they had so many people at the pool side bar....ok, this is frankly not our problem - this is purely a human resource problem and to be honest I think it is embarrassing to have people wait at a purported 4.5 star establishment for that long of a time period - unfortunately Melia has an organizational problem at this resort (more to come at the food portion of this review).....as for expecting waiters to go near the beach, forget about it. We only saw a waiter once going near the beach and it was only at the very point where one can access the beach via the boardwalk - we are certain though that even if we did order a drink the ice cubes would have melted by the time the waiter got back to us because it likely would not have been any faster than a half hour.....now for the worst part - the animation staff. I am not a snob or a critic of performance art but we have never, in all our collective travels of the Caribbean, seen a more less than enthusiastic animation staff. The whole point is to motivate and draw people in which they failed miserably at - at times I felt like we were at a seniors complex waiting for the next shuffleboard tournament to begin - oh, did I mention they have pool side bingo?.....and what's more, I have never seen animation staff eat and drink with the hotel guests - to be honest they should have their own eating place and not be lounging about eating and drinking with the guests - it is very unprofessional and looks extremely cheap. Overall the services provided by the staff were rather disappointing.

Entertainment/Activities - the evening shows were a disappointment. They began at 10:00 and usually ended at 10:45, much to our relief since they were quite bad.....if I had to sit through one more Cuban ballet recital I was going to plead to be taken off the island - meaning each show was laden with extensive quasi-ballet dances.....I only saw the animation staff dance cha cha cha once and salsa once - now come on, we are in the heart of salsa being in Cuba and would it be too much to ask to see a casino rueda or a salsa number, or even a rumba.....the disco was also a disappointment - we are hard pressed to go to a karaoke night back in Canada so why we would flock to see one in Cuba is beyond me....the disco, on the three nights that we visited it, was also disappointing. The first night we peaked in after the "show" there was a man singing "New York, New York" on the karaoke machine....the second night we went in after the show to find that the animation staff member who led the guests into the bar would not relinquish his microphone after leading the guests from the show area to the bar, so for the entire half hour we were in there we had this idiot singing along to the merengue, salsa and reggaeton.....needless to say we left. The third night at the disco was a repeat of the first time we went in, that is, a man singing New York, New York on the karaoke machine - I think perhaps they only have four or five songs for guests to sing along to. There was one show that made us laugh and it was the Cabaret night....but again, we only laughed for about ten minutes, we were subjected to another ballet number so we stopped laughing at that point. Basically if you are expecting to be hanging from the rafters and partying to the wee hours be prepared to either leave this resort and find one nearby that will bring you in and let you party (this did not happen for us so we do not know if this is a possibility) or do not go to this resort if you are looking for a fun experience with the option to party like a rock star cause it ain't gonna happen......the only place to be after the show is the lobby bar so you can drink away the painful fact that you are at a resort where nothing happens after 11:00 PM..... as for activities that are initiated by the animation staff, well, there are very few to choose from - there is pool side bingo, a contest where on sucks a coffee bean up into the end of a straw and tries to put it on a second plate, archery and BB rifle gun shooting. The latter two are not something the animation staff really promotes, they exist and it is up to you to figure out how to use these services. Again, we cannot emphasize enough how lacking in imagination the animation staff were - they did not even try to excite and motivate guests to get involved and have fun.

Food - the food was great overall with a great number of choices. I would rate the choice at the buffet a definite four out of five. The Italian a la carte was disappointing - pizza, the same you can order for lunch does not make for a great a la carte meal and we ended up having to head over to the buffet since the Italian restaurant was not appetizing whatsoever. The international restaurant was okay, but a warning, however romantic you think it is to sit by the "beautiful sunset vantage point" (the open windows near the middle of the restaurant) do not do it - the smell from the putrid water in the stagnant pond surrounding the restaurant will make you nauseous.....the best place for lunch is either the pool side grill or the beach restaurant - we ate at the latter every day and the red snapper is divine....the other criticism is the fact that in all our travels we have never encountered a line up for the buffet - meaning to get into the restaurant....this was shocking to us and again, smacks of organizational problems...if you have a resort with say 300 rooms you should have a buffet ready to accommodate at least 500 people.....this was ridiculous and again, not what you would expect at a 4.5 star resort.

Rooms - clean enough, although fresh sheets every couple of days would be nice, and also a tip to people - make sure if you want clean towels to throw them on the floor otherwise you will not get clean towels. We did not spend a whole lot of time in the room but it was spacious enough and no complaints on that count. The only complaint we had is that there was an issue with the water in that it would go from very hot to cold after about three minutes in the shower, or would just stop altogether - something the hotel needs to look into as friends of ours did not experience this in their rooms. We must emphasize though that no tipping = no clean rooms. We were savvy enough to bring stuff to give away with us so we were treated very nicely, but I can just imagine what it would have been like without tips. We were also in the 1300 block of the resort, third floor ocean view - we had two double beds stuck together and not the king size we had wanted.

Excursions - were rather pricey so we did not bother with them since we have both been on extensive trips and have seen a lot and done a lot so we did not bother going off the resort. There is a speed boat trip that one can take and an excursion to Pilar beach which people had a great time at, so going on other reviews from travelers I would recommend these trips but cannot personally comment as we did not attend them. We did get out on the free half hour Catamaran and that was a lot of fun - we were going to go out to snorkel at the reef via catamaran (14 convertible pesos per person so about $17 or $18 Canadian dollars - oh, by the way, they only take convertible pesos and we exchanged our CDN dollars at the resort "bank" without any issue) but this was canceled for the rest of the week because of the strong winds.

Beach - beautiful white sand beach but rather narrow - when the tide is out it is great, but when the tide is high there is not a lot of room to walk down the beach comfortably as one has to be aware of navigating the chairs....the water is gorgeous and was fairly warm when we were there but unfortunately there was a very strong wind off the ocean which made is noisy and not all that fun....if you want to bake near the beach go behind the dunes with a sun chair and enjoy. The boardwalk is a bit shakey so if you are afraid of falling in or deeper water I would not recommend going out there..... the beach itself is not cleaned on a consistent basis so you have to contend with a great deal of seaweed washed up on the shore, also a warning, watch out for jelly fish - we saw a few in our walks along the beach in low tide and it is something to be aware of as it can be a painful experience if you happen to step on one in bare feet. The hotel should make a more concerted effort to clean the beach up.

Restrooms - they stink and are obviously on an ancient septic system. What is sad though is that they appear to be staffed by someone who is constantly cleaning or in and around - we learned quickly that this is some sort of a ruse in order to mingle with tourists - I was approached by the female cleaner in the lobby bathroom and asked whether my top was very expensive in Canada and then she launched into a woe begotten tale of how she is trying to find her daughter a similar top and so on and so forth....I have a kind heart and am extremely generous, but being accosted while coming out of the toilet and washing my hands by someone who would like me to give them my top is a bit over the top....

Pool - very cold as is the Jacuzzi - you best pray for a sweltering day otherwise the water is cool, neither is heated so be prepared to chill and get used to the cold water. It is not as big as appears in brochure photos and not all that deep....the pool bar is a disappointment and poorly staffed and managed. A warning - you had better get there by 8:30 AM to reserve a spot on one of the lounge chairs otherwise you will be out of luck unless someone leaves one empty....this whole thing is a bit ridiculous in our opinion and the "rules" posted by the pool should be enforced i.e. no saving of chairs and also no running - there were so many children running at the sides of the pool it is a wonder that no one was seriously injured.

Snack bar - non-existent really.....there is a little tray of sad looking hot dogs in the lobby, or some sandwiches or pastries depending on what they feel like putting out, but it is not properly stored (meaning not refrigerated) and if four grown men walk up and help themselves there will only be a trail of crumbs left behind....

Sauna and gym - first of all, we were not even made aware of the fact that there was a sauna and only found out about it four hours before we were supposed to leave. This would have been a nice option for those cooler evenings when we were looking for a nice way to warm up....the gym is actually ok, not too big but has all the right equipment and is fairly up to date.

Souvenirs - there is a little market at the beach - buy your stuff here as the resort stores are WAY overpriced.....also, tobacco and alcohol should ONLY be bought at the airport, again via convertible pesos which can be exchanged for Canadian at the airport - go duty free at the airport on your way home.

Travel to and from resort - I know we wrote about this at the beginning but here are some tips - the flights on Air Transat from Toronto to Jardines del Rey airport are notoriously late on Sundays - there and back. The road to and from the resort is something my boyfriend and I have nicknamed the road to hell - there was a pothole the size of Toronto in the road......it is recommended for five pesos each to take a cab to the airport in order to beat the rush of all the other tourists from the Melia....this was well worth the money, albeit a very scary and bumpy ride. Departure - ok, royally sucks in that you have to be out of your room at noon, and even if you pay extra (which might not be an option since there might not be any free rooms) you still have to be out by 4:00 PM - this is odd since other hotels we have been at allow you to stay right up until time of departure if you pay the extra money. So what does one do? Well, here is a tip which some people forgot from the Air Transat rep (Marie-France who incidentally was very exceptional and very good - knowledgeable and great under the strain of so many tourists clambering at her): use the gym showers. My boyfriend and I had the use of a bathroom and shower to ourselves at the gym prior to departure which is so very nice especially if you have spent the day in your swimsuit at the beach or the pool - you can lock the door and it is quite roomy - make sure to ask the guy working in the gym for towels - also, if you are grabbing the 8:00 PM bus, make sure you go shower no later than 4:00 PM or 4:30 PM, as after that there will be a huge line up and the showers will be really gross.

Overall impression - this Melia hotel would be rated a 3 or 3.5 at most in places like Varadero...certainly not a 4.5 and definitely not a 5 star as the sign would have you believe when you walk through the front doors. We would recommend this resort to older couples who want to get away to a nice quiet spot for rest and relaxation and for those who do not mind going to sleep at 11:00 every night or keeping things quiet.....please remember to bring your bug spray as there are terrible mosquito's, one of us got bit to death while the other only sustained three bites the whole time..... For those young couples in our demographic (30-40) without children this is not the place to be - you will not have fun dancing the night away as this is not even an option. The pool is cold and it closes at 8:00 PM so no night time dips to cool off.....Also there is no real option to party and have a great time at this resort in terms of mixing it up and having fun.....oh, one last warning - when you are walking into the hotel please, please, please watch your step - one evening in order to have some fun we decided to have some drinks after the show and watch the new arrivals come in - it was about 11:30 PM....either these travelers were particularly dense or just plain tired but three people within a five minute span tripped over the first step coming into the lobby - it is an annoying little step in front of the huge black Melia Cayo Guillermo welcome mat, so be warned and watch your step...thankfully no one was seriously hurt but it is something to be aware of. I also think the issue of tipping ad nauseam needs to be addressed - why is it that we pay a great deal to go away and rest and relax, only to be subjected to worrying about whether or not we tipped the staff enough in order to be treated as we would expect to be treated at a 4.5 star....the tipping issue it out of control and needs to be addressed much like it has been in countries like Jamaica where tipping is not allowed or seriously frowned upon because they expect their hotel staff to provide superior service to all guests and not have any preferential treatment because one guest throws a few bucks at a staff member.

Our overall and final impression is that this place should be rated a 3 star as it was poor in the areas of staff and overall accommodation of guests. We will also never stay at another Melia chain since our expectations of a chain that purports to be five star failed miserably. We were honestly expecting something superior in terms of service and accommodations and boy, were we ever sadly disappointed.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Phil & Karen 
September 2005
After reading various reviews we decided to honeymoon at the Meliá Cayo Guillermo resort in Cuba between 15th and 29th September, 2005, booking the holiday through Thomas Cook (UK). As a result of being on our honeymoon the package promised a room upgrade (if available), basket of fruit, bottle of rum and late check out!!

We were looking for a quiet resort where we could relax on the beach without being hassled, but which also offered the opportunity to ‘dip out’ and see the country on trips.

This would be our first visit to Cuba, our previous experience of the Caribbean being three holidays in the Dominican Republic - the last two taken at the achingly beautiful Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus in Bayahibe. Taken as a benchmark, I suspect this resort would prove a tough one to match anywhere in the world and we wondered if the Meliá could compare.

We used Air Parks to park our car and provide transfers to/ from Manchester Airport. This is the first time we have used this company and the standard of service was truly excellent.

Our flight from the UK was aboard a Thomas Cook Airbus A330. As usual we booked the premium seats which provide a quicker check in, larger baggage allowance, wider leather seats with more legroom, free drinks throughout the flight and priority baggage handling. Estimated flight time was around 9½ hours.

Just over an hour into the flight and we were enjoying bucks fizz whilst watching the first of the in-flight films when the Captain announced there was a problem with one of the engines and it would not be prudent to continue – instead we were to return to Manchester once we had dumped sufficient fuel to land in order to have the fault investigated. It was at this point that I began to regret having avidly watched the ‘Air Crash Investigation’ television series!

In the event I needn’t have worried as we were in the hands of total professionals - the flight back was uneventful and the flight attendants were completely un-phased. Once back, whilst we waited for the engine to be checked out, we were lucky enough to visit the flight deck with one of the pilots who explained the controls and the problem to us (a slightly overheating engine). For our part we were happy that safety was seen as being paramount.

The fault was resolved without undue delay (in our view) and we were on our way within 4 hours of landing. The new air crew had the plane flat out and we made the journey in 8¾ hours, landing around 10:30pm local time – to the delight of the Brits waiting to come home!

Our passage through the modern, air-conditioned airport (Jardin Del Rey – Garden of Kings) was fairly swift and we were transferred by air-conditioned coach to the resort, arriving around mid-night local time (we were the last drop off). The check in was smooth and the resort had thoughtfully kept the buffet open for our (very) late arrival. We also saw that there were several notices which had kept the waiting Brits informed of our progress and they had been allowed to keep their rooms whilst waiting, evidence of more thoughtfull touches.

We declined the offer of food and made our way to Room 3202 (a second floor ‘quiet’ room, which is what we had requested) where we gratefully collapsed, bathing in the cooling flow of the manually adjustable air-conditioning (3 fan speeds and temperature control). We found that the room’s electrics were enabled and the safety deposit box operated by using the door lock swipe card (and therefore there was no additional charge for the safety deposit box), a neat system which worked well.

The next morning we rose early despite our long flight – a facet of the 5 hour time difference – and made our way to the beach where we witnessed a delightful sun-rise (along with a handful of other jet-lagged Brits). With this, our honeymoon at the resort officially began…

Firstly, it has to be said that during our stay the resort never appeared more than half full. As a consequence we never had to queue for food, rarely did we have to wait to be served at the bars and there were always numerous loungers/ pallapas available at the beach and loungers/ shade around the pool.

So, Room 3202 – no upgrades were apparently available – proved excellent for our purposes. It was handy for all parts of the resort and yet far enough from the action to be quiet. There was a good choice of lighting permutations, the air-con worked fine, there was a huge, firm bed (great), sufficient storage for our clothes, a TV with various channels, a dressing area with sink (supplied toiletries included soap, shower gel, shampoo and shower caps, all in a neat case), there were sufficient hangers in the built-in wardrobe, a fridge and a toilet room which included a combined bath and shower, a bidet, phone! and toilet.

The room was serviced daily by a maid, with fresh towels left for any deposited in the bath, and we often returned to find delightful folded towel and bed spread arrangements. There were hand towels, bath towels and a floor mat provided – beach towels are collected/ swapped from a cabin near the beach. The fridge was stocked daily by one of the bar staff (as required) such that we always had bottles of water and cans of beer and coke available. We did get a bottle of sparkling wine and a selection of fruit – although we had to prompt the Rep twice. The power and water supply to the room never faltered throughout our stay.

Technically the room has a sea view – if you leaned over the balcony. However there was a huge palm tree across the balcony. In our view this provided welcome shade and on stormy nights a wonderful soundscape. The balcony had a table and two low, but comfy loungers.

Staff. Brilliant. Every member, from the maids to the bar staff, the waiters/ waitresses and reception staff will have been through the Tourism Training Colledge (a two year + course) and many will be highly trained in other fields – choosing to persue a career in tourism as this offers better pay prospects (i.e. in the form of tips). Their enthusiasm and helpfulness is seemingly natural.

Whilst our command of Spanish is very restricted we made the effort to speak in this language as much as we could and this was clearly appreciated. However all the staff we encountered could speak English, so whenever our abilities failed they took over smoothly.

We also took gifts of nice writing pads and coloured pencils and left/ gave these to various members of staff, who we learned had children, throughout our stay (quality paper is seemingly really scarce). These were very well received. I hope their children enjoy them.

Tips. Look, these people depend on tips and what is a pittance to you is a fortune to them. Tip regularly, enjoy it and think of the happiness you are spreading. It feels good. We received excellent service, with or without tipping. We noticed that any tips went into a communal pot for sharing between the shift. Note that staff shifts change regularly – so if you leave your tipping to the last day you may not find the staff member you want to tip.

Also bear in mind that none of the staff live on site. They are all bused in and out daily to towns that are either a one of two hour drive away. They are all stars – each and every one.

Finally a word for the Manager, always around with a cheery disposition, encouraging his staff and keen to engage with the clientelle – a charming and obviously hard working man, who made an effort to speak to everyone from our group on their departure day.

Resort. Constantly being preened, tidied and painted it was certainly well maintained. The gardens were well established and a delight.

The main bar and reception were in the same area. Adjacent were two internet stations, but not broadband and with a foreign keyboard – the ‘@’ symbol is tricky to find so just use your e-mail account to copy/ paste one over if you need it and a little trial and error will turn up most keys (3 Pesos – about £1.80 – for 30 minutes). There are also small shops which sold rum (same price as we found everywhere else – a by-product of ‘the system’) and various treats/ presents. A variety of seating was available in the bar and reception area and we never struggled to find a comfy, quiet place to sit and enjoy our chilled dark rum with ice!! Light snacks available in the bar area generally included savory rolls and sweet breads.

The main buffet restaurant – enclosed and air-conditioned – provided breakfast and evening meals. There was a good choice of food available and we always enjoyed a decent meal here. Waiters/ waitresses provided table clearance, drinks and warm friendship.

For lunch there were various choices. The main bar and beach bar provided savory rolls, an Italian restaurant offered excellent Italian food and a beach grill offered a range of grilled food including steaks, burgers, fish. These restaurants were both waiter/ waitress served.

In the evening the speciality resturants were the Italian (the same one used for lunch) and the Lagoon ‘a la carte’ restaurant. Presumably owing to the ‘off-peak’ nature of the season these were open on alternate evenings. As part of our package we could have two meals in each per week, however we chose to eat just once in each for our evening meals. Both were excellent in terms of food, ambienace and – of course – service. The lagoon restaurant offers pleasant sunset opportunities around 7:00pm – so remember your camera!

The pool was well maintained and offered a nice cooling swim on our return from the beach or occasionally early morning. I would not describe the water as being ‘cold’ at any stage. The pool was big enough for a nice swim without being huge or particularly deep. There was a walk up and swim up bar available in this area and the enthusiastic annimation team kept those who required/ sought entertainment here happy – this did not include us.

There is a fine Entertainment area, however we did not attend any shows. Those who did seemed pleased by what they saw. We did not attend the disco (which follows the shows).

There is a Gym, but we did not use it. There is also an arts/ conference room which often hosted arts displays. An area near the beach bar was used for a craft fair most days.

Covered corridors provided access to all areas when the weather was inclement, however the rain inevitably made the floors of the corridors and stairs wet and once they were in this condiditon they became extremely slippery in parts so due care and respect were needed.

Bear in mind the resort is built on what is basically mangrove swamp and that the green, lush state of the land indicates that water is abundant. Anti mozzie treatments were applied to the grounds most days and some evenings by means of a power spray. Even so mozzies were out and about during most of our stay and we had to use anti-mozzie creams throughout. Despite this we still had a few bites each!

The beach, as has been described several times, is simply beautiful and if you are in any way not completely enthralled by it you should immediately seek psychiatric help. There is also a major bonus with this resort in that it offers a delightful pier for strolling, lounging in the hammocks or fishing. It also serves to attract large shoals of fish, providing wonderful snorkelling opportunities when the water is clear – and on several occasions during our stay it was amazingly clear. We found a huge range in terms of types of fish which could be found and they were great fun to discover and swim with.

The beach was manually/ mechanically cleaned daily by an enthusiastic team. There are plenty of rubbish bins provided and in general the beach area was always in a clean state.

We would get to the beach around 8am and generally would be around the first there. The pallapas would provide shade, if required, from about 10am onwards through the day. On most days there was a pleasant, cooling onshore breeze. Occasionally this was quite stiff and when this was the case the sand would be blown up and we’d get a fine covering on our sun cream. This was not a problem as a dip in the sea/ pool or a beach shower were mere steps away. The beach is quite narrow at high tide and on a few occasions a dip in the sea literally meant stepping off the sun lounger!! When the tide was out delightful sandbanks were formed, however ‘swimable depths' were never more than 30-40 metres out.

Importantly for us we were never hassled on the beach by sellers or anyone else. There are security guards around, but never intrusive and in reality you are in a controlled area that Cubans in general are not permitted access to.

There were occasionally para-surfers and the odd motor launch around, but in general this was a quiet beach, which is what we wanted. A stroll to the left would see you at the neighbouring Sol (which you are allowed to visit and use) and then out and around a pleasant headland – a walk which we did one cooler morning. To the right were the Iberostar and Cojimar resorts. In our view the Meliá was the nicest looking of the four resorts on Cayo Guillermo.

The beach is reached via wooden walkways or bridges across areas of mangrove which are nice features and the main walkway and pier are lit at night, offering romantic strolls. We also used the loungers for stargazing or storm watching on several evenings which was nice.

The beach bar is actually just off the beach to the right of the pier and has tables for sitting at, two pool tables and a table tennis table, more importantly it offers cooling drinks. Quite rightly, these are supplied for the beach in plastic cups (you get glasses if you’re drinking/ eating in), however the plastic cups are quite small so taking your own travel mugs is definitely recommended – the staff are happy to fill these and they even regularly cleaned ours out for us. A massage hut is also available in this area, the prices seemed very reasonable (30 pesos – about £20 – for a full body massage, 15 pesos – about £10 – for a facial) although we didn’t use this facility either.

The water temperature was simply stunning. During the early part of our stay the air temperature was probably in the region of 32 degrees – and on entering the sea ‘to cool down’ we found it the same temperature! However, this was a sign of things to come…

Rita. Whilst there the resort was touched by the passage of, the then, Tropical Storm Rita. The manager and staff were fantastic – looking after us with great care whilst working hard to put the resort into a protected state. Because of the low-lying nature of Cayo Guillermo (the flight to Havana later revealed that in reality there isn’t much to it), we were on a one hour evacuation warning (to nearby Cayo Coco) for a day whilst the storm passed by. To us, this was a fascinating opportunity to see the power of nature in action first hand. Although the storm was potentially a very dangerous thing, we felt safe and in good hands. The hotel put ‘the Weather Channel’ on the TV (this was the first time we had switched it on), so we could watch the news. We wish the eventual victims of Rita and their families well.

In terms of the weather we enjoyed blistering sunshine for the most part, but we also witnessed some enthralling electrical storms, some amazing tropical rainstorms and Rita.

Trips. We did the speedboat tour – excellent value and great fun – which provided the chance to drive a speedboat through the mangroves to a stop off point which offered breathtaking snorkelling, before a return trip (it is well worth taking an underwater camera – these can be purchased as part of the tour or from the resort). We also did the one day Havana trip which involved a flight and guided tour – this was truly fascinating and provided our much desired opportunity to see some of ‘the real Cuba’. Finally, we did the one day Colourful Cuba excursion – this again provided the opportunity to meet the locals and was good value. There were a broad range of other trips available, including catamaran, sea fishing and dolphins.

The return transfer to and passage through the airport on the way home went smoothly and the standard waiting area was fine – cool, with toilets, refreshments and a duty free shop available. The return flight was uneventful, taking 8¼ hours thanks to a good tail wind. Air Parks were waiting to take us back to the car parking on our exit from Manchester Airport.

On reflection we really enjoyed our visit to Cuba. Tourism is very much the lifeblood of the area and indeed county – being the number one industry. The people really need you to visit and to be generous whilst there. In return you will be made to feel very welcome.

In all we were certainly made to feel very much at home during our stay at the Meliá Cayo Guillermo and we enjoyed a fantastic and memorable honeymoon. This is a wonderful resort, with extraordinary staff set in a superb tropical landscape – we were well pleased with our decision to stay there, feel that we received good value for our money and would recommend this resort to anyone. If we return to Cuba it will be to this resort.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Brian, Catherine, Lauren, Jordan and Oliver 

August 2005
We had a two week holiday at the Cayo Guillermo early August 2005.

We had a fantastic time, good food, excellent hotel, wonderful beach, clean pool, good variety of food and drink. All the staff were friendly, the grounds well kept and if you tried a bit of Spanish everyone was very appreciative.

I think we picked the wrong time of evening to go to the international restaurant. The lagoon smelt and the mosquitoes were a pain, in the end we had to walk out. They really need mosquito nets for that particular restaurant. The mozzies were not an issue anywhere else....

We asked for a room change, which was organised without delay. The first room was a little damp. The second room was fine.

We went scuba diving (excellent), swam with dolphins (two day coach tour - tiring but worth it), went on the catamaran (excellent) and flew to Havana (must do).

Overall we were well impressed.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Barbara, Jon, Jonathan, Anna and Peter 
August 2005
Spent 2 glorious weeks at this resort 20th July - 3rd August 2005

Room: We had great adjacent rooms. Very comfortable and easy to fall into after a night at the disco bar (fun pub). We won't tell you our room numbers because we hope to get them again next year. Would recommend bringing extra wire hangers. Fridge was stocked every day but if you leave about 5 pesos you get extra drinks.

Beach/Pool: The beach was excellent and any seaweed was cleared away every day. The sea was warm like a bath and we enjoyed dragging our sunbeds into the sea to sunbathe. The pool was cool! We particularly enjoyed the swim-up bar. There were great activities around the pool each day organised by the animation team.

Food and Drink: The International and Italian restaurants were very good. The Italian at lunchtime was excellent especially the take-away pizzas. The ranch by the beach had a great variety of food. The buffet restaurant was a little below par - the waiters had a problem arranging tables for larger parties and the food was hit and miss. Sometimes if you were lucky the food was hot! most of the time it was cold. However there was always something to eat but it did mean queuing for some time or eating the same food every night. But this was no big deal. The lobby bar is a good social meeting place and you can guess the time by what song is being played on the piano (8.10pm - My Way, Frank Sinatra). Don't forget to check out the sports bar near the beach - it does great ham and cheese rolls.

Staff/People: The staff worked really hard and helped to make our holiday one of the best ever! As Cuba is a communist country they do not have much and are always very grateful if they are tipped. We became very friendly with the animation staff and if possible please take out pens, paper, coloured pencils for their children (who they only get see once a week!) and any extra clothes you can fit in your suitcase because all their clothes are gifts from tourists. Special mentions to Anibal, Jimmy, Nairovis and Ismavis and all the dancers who were a great laugh in the disco and at the local bowling alley after the evening shows.

Excursions: As we have been to Cuba before we only went on one excursion this year which was deep sea fishing. Seven of us piled into one small boat and managed to catch 24 and a half fish (and some seaweed!). The sea was a bit rough and would advise, if you don't have good sea legs, this is probably not the trip for you. We cut the trip short due to rough seas (if you're going to be sick, don't do it against the wind, as we learnt from experience!). In the past we have visited Havana and would suggest booking the trip during your welcome meeting as it is very popular and the best trip on offer.

Summary: The Melia Cay Guillermo is a fantastic resort and whilst not a 5 star according to English standards, it is the best hotel on the island. There is plenty to do during the day and evening if you want it. The shows were easy on the eye and entertaining. The dancers work very hard and practice all day. The VIP lounge at the airport is not necessary as the departure lounge is spacious and airy. We are definitely returning to this hotel next year for THREE weeks - see you there!
Melia Cayo Guillermo
July 2005
My girlfriend and I travelled to Cuba for its beaches, culture and relaxation. We went from 22nd June – 7th July and we come from England, travelling from London Gatwick. Each day was as good as the next and the whole experience was better than we had imagined.

Arrival and Check-In: We arrived at about 5pm. As we were sitting near the front of the plane, we managed to be one of the first people off and we got through the passport control very quickly and easily. I went to retrieve the bags as my girlfriend went to change up the money as you can’t get Cuban money back in the UK. There was an airport staff member who was taking the bags off the carousel and putting them on the floor which helped a few holiday makers. Try to avoid the locals hanging around the front of the airport who try to wheel your bags to the coach for you as they ask for a pricy tip, which we avoided due to previous experience.

Room: We had booked a sea view room for an extra supplement through our travel agent that we thankfully got. We had a splendid view of the pool and the sea from room No.2310. Our bags we brought up to the room by one of the ‘Bell Boys’. As we’d got to the hotel by 7pm we went down for dinner in the buffet and went for a romantic stroll down to the beach to adjust ourselves to the resort.

Beach/Pool: The beach at the hotel was definitely the best that we’d seen. There is a pier that fishermen use but is great to go to the end of to snorkel off. There is a water sports hut where you can hire Hobbie Cats, Kayaks, and Peddlelos. We used the Peddlelos quite frequently and peddled out to shallow waters way past the pier. We didn’t use the pool too often due to our fondness of the beach, but the pool is spacious with a swim-up bar, shallows for the children, and a volleyball net for the afternoon games. There’s also a Jacuzzi which was relaxing in the Cuban heat. The setting is nice for the pool and has lush gardens around the area.

Grounds: The grounds of the hotel is always very well kept by the hard working, under paid staff. They are always seeing to the Palm trees and tending to the plantation or even cutting down coconuts for guests. There was one gardener, Richard, who was always friendly, had a smile on his face and cut down the best coconuts. He even took the trouble remembering our names and said a personal goodbye on the day that we left.

Food: The food at the hotel was quite good, with a pretty good selection in the buffet. After 2 weeks the selection does get a little bit samey, but the carvery does change each night and the band that occasionally comes in to sing to diners at their tables does differ the flavour at times. Also the choice of two Al-a-Carte restaurants that you’re allowed to dine in twice a week each also makes dining a lot more pleasurable. The Al-a-Carte restaurants are the Bonsai (Italian) which is very lovely, where we had fantastic service and top quality food on both the occasions we dined there. The ‘Lagoona’ restaurant is situated just adjacent to the hotel entrance, situated over a mangrove swamp. On a clear night, you get to see a beautiful sunset. The service is also top quality with a romantic atmosphere added. At times there can be a waft of stagnant water when the sun goes down, but it does add character if it’s not too pungent. I’d also like to mention the unlimited take-away pizzas was a particular favourite of mine.

Staff/People: The staff in the hotel are probably the friendliest that you’re likely to meet, even as they’re on a small monthly wage as well, so a small tip to the helpful staff won’t go amiss – we’re all rich out there compared to the locals. We happened to find the staff in the Lobby Bar to be the ones who we got on the best with as we had our ‘pre-dinner’ drinks and socialized there each evening. A particular favourite of ours was the barman Arlent, who was the most cheerful and helpful person you’re likely to meet. He did us a small favour on our last night, and was interested in the English language and taught those who’d listen (dirty) Spanish. Others that deserve a special mention are Livan, who liked telling his jokes and how he talked ‘matter-of-factly’, Gisele, who got on with anyone and everyone, and Tommy, who created his locally famous ‘Tommy Special’, an interesting concoction of rum, spirits and flavouring. In the buffet restaurant, Rememberto was always friendly, did the best pizzas and delivered to your table as well.

Excursions: The excursions that we did were the Jungle Tour, Colourful Cuba, Sunset Cruise and the Catamaran Trip. The Jungle Tour is a firm favourite with all the people that do it as you get to drive your own speed boat to a fish breeding river in the mangroves that you snorkel through. I’d like to point out that if you want the best drive, then go first as I was advised by a holiday maker that you get the better drive and to race against the tour leader on the way back – Not True!! My girlfriend got a fantastic picture taken and the longest drive and the bigger thrills on the way to the snorkelling, and I got a shorter drive and slower pace back to the start!! Colourful Cuba is recommended to those who want to taste the real experience of Mainland Cuba. We were taken on (another) speedboat (not to drive though L) on a freshwater lake, then onto a Sugar Cane Factory, where they take you by steam train to lunch at a ranch. The best part of the trip was to the Crocodile Farm where for one Cuban Convertible Peso we fed the crocodiles, and for another Peso we got to hold a baby croc. There on was a ride into Moron the closest town by horse and cart. Be careful when sent on your own around the town as we were being harassed to buy ‘fake’ Cuban Cigars. We were taken to see a band in a café before going back the resort, an hour and a half coach ride. The Sunset Cruise was a trip on the Catamaran out to sea to see the sun setting just beyond Cayo Guillermo. It is highly recommended for those who want the best from their holidays. The Catamaran trip was the best trip as we were taken to two snorkelling sites on the Coral Reef where you see the most beautiful fish. From there we were taken to just past Playa Pillar (the most beautiful beach in the world which is accessible by taxi for 5 pesos per person – we went 3 times) and were given lunch on the boat and went snorkelling to see the starfish. Friends of ours the next day did the same trip and got to see a ship wreck as fishermen were using the spot we were on the day before. We got to spend 2 hours on Playa Pillar when the catamaran moored there and on the way back to base, we were lucky enough to see wild Dolphins swim by the side of the boat. It made our holiday.

Summary: The Melia Cayo Guillermo is worthy of its 5 Stars. Don’t expect it to be an English 5 Star hotel – it’s a Cuban 5 Star hotel, and is the best resort we’re stayed at. The hotel is huge, with interesting wildlife (we took nature walks most nights and saw the biggest crabs ever). I’d also recommend the VIP Lounge on the way home in the Airport as you have priority check-in, priority departure tax, and an air-conditioned room with unlimited sandwiches and drinks, all for 20 Pesos. The extra day that we got due to technical errors on the plane coming to Cuba was highly excepted as we got to spend an extra day in paradise.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Montreal, Canada
June 2005
My husband & I (31 & 30 years old) travelled to Cuba because of their renowned beaches. And we were so pleased with what we found at the Melia. We went from May 29 to June 5th, and each day was heaven. The soft, white sand and the crystalline water are divine. We've posted our pics.

Cayo Guillermo is an island, no residents, only 4 hotels. If you want to do something different, you have to try an excursion.

Check in: 10pm, was done quickly. We put our bags down in our room and dashed to the beach. It was pitch black, but that feeling of sand beneath my feet was unbelievable!

Our room: always clean, (HBO movies on tv if you can't sleep), fridge stocked. Always had running water. I only learned this on our last day: if you leave your dirty towels on the floor, the maids will replace them. Otherwise, if you leave them hanging on the towel rings, they will not replace them. Water is precious; they can't waste it.

Beach/Pool: Sand is soft white and thin. The water is see-thru. We spent almost all of our precious time at the gorgeous beach. The wind was very soothing there. The sun is terribly strong and the palapas' are so useful. We never had any trouble finding a lounge chair (they're padded!). By 10:30am, it would start getting busy. But the tourists are equally divided between the pool and the beach. The beach has a low tide til about 10am, then it reaches closer in. The water is very warm and shallow for a long way in. Bring a good book and relax. Or go for a long walk to see the other 3 hotels on the island.

Grounds: very well kept and beautiful. Lush, and green and flowery. It's just so gorgeous.

Food: much much better than what we had anticipated thanks to several negative reviews. The buffet is always your best bet, has a lot of options, is open for breakfast and dinner only. It's closed during lunch, at which point you can try the grill restaurant closest to the beach or the italian restaurant which has really tasty pizzas! You can even get them to go! Very convenient.

Excursion: We opted for the catamaran ride (approx $70 pesos/person). It was amazingly fun. We stopped at 2 snorkelling destinations. Beautiful. Then, rode to Pilar Beach, whose turquoise waters take your breath away. On the boat, we had the most delicious lobster, chicken, veggies, rice. Drinks included. They also offer Jungle Tour (drive you own speed boat + snorkelling), Havana day trip (+cigar and rhum factory visits), plus I can't remember what else.

The staff at the Melia are super nice. We tipped all the time, only because we wanted to, not because we felt we had to. At all. The service is always equal whether or not you tip. We tipped the bartender, the buffet waiter, the nice lady who made our omelettes, the nice guy (with a missing finger) who made me a cricket from palm leaves, the old man cutting the grass (who no one noticed), the other guy picking up yesterday's empty cups and cigarette butts off the sand, even the poor guy who spent the day walking up and down the beach (with his closed shoes), taking our drink orders! They make very little money; you can't help but be generous. We're all financialy wealthy compared to them.

Comment: Your tour rep might strongly recommend you opt for the VIP Room for your return flight home. If that's the case, don't fall for it. It's a ridiculous scam. Our rep told us the regular waiting room at the cuban airport has no a/c and no seating! B S! The VIP Room is described as an air-conditioned room with snacks, drinks, sofas, tv. It gives you first access to the plane, or last, whichever you prefer. It allows you to avoid all line-ups at customs. We bought the VIP passes at a cost of $20 pesos per head. Although we were the first bus to arrive at the airport, hence no line-ups whatsoever, that part of the deal was worthless to us right away. Then, while we were sitting on those old couches, in the famous VIP room, having grilled cheese sandwiches, my exploring husband decided to check out the airport waiting room to see how terrible it really was. He returned shocked and insulted to find out it was a large area with high ceilings and a large windows overlooking the strip. It had all sorts of nice boutiques, souvenir stores, tons of seating, AND it was fully air-conditioned. Just thought I'd mention that.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Stella & Robert 
June 2005
We also visited the Melia from April 3rd - April 24th 2005. This is our 3rd visit to this hotel, last year we got engaged there, this year we got married.

Arrival: We arrived at 16.00 hours room not quite ready, got wrist band and made use of the facilities until room was ready.

Room: Got into room around 17.00, no problems with room, it was more than adequate, clean sheets, no smells, fridge was full, TV worked fine, but we did not go on holiday to watch TV. Room did not have a clock, oh dear, I had to look at my watch the strain. No problems with water pressure, and we had hot water all the time. Maid service was excellent. There were no face cloth provided, nor were there T shirts, shorts or swim wear provided, we brought our own with us just in case. With regards to safety on the balcony, if I had a 2 year old with me he/or she would not be allowed onto the balcony spindles or not. We staggered home on many occasions and did not have any problems with dangerous steps in the corridors, we must have had our wits about us after a few Mojito's and the odd rum & coke.

Grounds/Pool: Beautiful, well kept, by the gardeners and the pool man Eduardo who made us hats from the coconut leaves, we always managed to get sunbeds. There was maintenance work being done on an island next to the children's pool, this was covered in sand and was clearly marked as under construction, when we left this area was covered in plants and a huge plant pot, it looked fantastic, we always found all the gardeners very friendly.

Beach: Absolutely beautiful, This is accessed by a wooden walkway, some previous guests think these walkways have planks spaced out on purpose so little kids feet will slip through them, as does the fishing pier. Whether you are in this hotel or any other hotel, these type of guests are looking for problems, why don't they just stay at home in the safety of their own back yard. The walkways & the pier are a feature of the hotel, I am sure they would not look as good if they were paved in marble. (or yellow bricks).

Food: There is nothing at all wrong with the food at this resort, it may be different from home, but your are in a different country, the weather is different from home that is why you go to a different country. You could have lobster, veal, beef, turkey, fish, pork, lamb, and chicken. We always found something to eat, in fact we very often ate far more than we would ever eat at home. If guests from Canada & the UK want to eat Canadian or UK food, can I recommend they stay in Canada or the UK for that type of food. Some of the food may not have been hot, but there was nothing to prevent you from going back to get some hot food. We used all of the A-la-carte restaurants, we did not ever have to queue for bookings, we booked on passing the towel hut, when we saw there was no queue. The queue's were only in the morning when people were changing their towels or a new group of guests had arrived that day. As to the manual reservations, the staff always dealt with us very promptly and courteously and always had time to talk to us and other guests while taking our reservations. At the pool bar there is a grilled sandwich area where you can get toasties, these were great between lunch time and evening meal. If the food was as bad as some guests would have you believe do you really think people would queue 20 minutes to get a disgusting stir fry, I think not, the stir fry's were excellent and worth waiting on.

Staff/People: We found all the staff to be very friendly and every one of them helpful, we did not feel any need to tip, other than for good service which would have done at home. The entertainment team were fantastic people who worked very hard, they are so busy they do not get a lot of time to practice new routines. This is our third visit to the hotel and most of the shows have changed in that time. Maybe Sol Meilia should make this resort an adults only resort, and to try to discourage people from bring children along, after all they need to go to bed early and their parents need to go with them and watch pirated 'preview' stations on TV.

Summary: Staff here are the friendliest people you could ever meet, treat them as friends and they will be a friend for life. Don't be put off by other peoples reviews about this resort, get out there and make your own decision.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Brent and Family 
Toronto, Canada
April 2005
We visited the Melia Cayo Guillermo in April 3-10, 2005. We have traveled to other locations in the Caribbean, however this was our first trip to Cuba.

ARRIVAL: We arrived fairly late on Sunday evening. Check-in was adequate, but mostly because I abandoned my family on the bus and rushed to the front desk as quickly as possible upon arrival. The check in process is completely manual (nothing computerized), so be prepared for a longer wait if the cues are long. Our bags were taken to our room by a very friendly gentleman. If you arrive on Sunday evening there is no music or entertainment in the lobby, so things may seem a bit dead.

ROOMS: Adequate and clean. Our third floor room had a nice view of a courtyard and a bit of an ocean view. Beds were good, maybe a little firm for some. Pillows are long and a bit odd. Sheets were good cotton and clean. Blanket were and bedspreads were a bit tired and ratty. Television worked fine, but you can only watch so many pirated 'preview' stations. TV, luckily was not a high priority. The rooms have no clocks so if you need one bring your own. No bugs or creatures. Bathrooms were clean and well equipped. We had some fluctuations in water pressure (mostly early evening) but adjusted our showers accordingly. No facial tissues or face cloths supplied so bring your own. Maid service was regular and well done. We tipped well with cash and gifts, although we didn't seem to get any special treatment. Keep in mind that Cuba does not seem to have any of the safety standards we are used to. The railing on our balcony had spindles that our two-year old could have easily fallen through. Dangerous steps in the outside corridors are not marked, so keep your wits about you when walking at night.

GROUNDS/POOL: Lovely. Grounds were well kept with lots of flowers and interesting landscaping. Again watch your step in the dark, Pool areas were clean and well kept. There are lots of trash receptacles around so there is no need to leave trash lying around, although some more slovenly guests did. The Pool was clean and refreshingly cool. Never too crowded. Sun beds always seemed to be 'reserved' by people who were never there. The children's area of the pool was a bit disappointing. It was directly beside a fish pond that had no fence so a child could easily fall in the pond. For whatever reason there was a 'island' covered in sand in the kids pool. The sand inevitably ended up in the pool. It appeared to be under construction, but nobody made any attempt to work on it during the week we were there. Gardeners ranged between friendly and gruff. One of them repeatably kept asking me what time it was. I am assuming that he thought I should give him my watch. Sorry dude.

BEACH: Exquisite! The narrowness of the beach at certain times of the day only seems be a complaint for those who cannot seem to understand the natural process of tides. Low tide creates a vast and shallow beach area that is wonderful for small kids. Seeweed? Its the ocean. I am surprised what a great job they do controlling the seaweed. It was windy for the first 4 days so the boats and kayaks were not available. Once the wind died down we had no problem reserving a paddle boat or sail boat. If you do sail, please examine the rigging well before you set off. The boats are not in the best repair. My wife, an experienced sailor, demanded a new rudder before we set off and the people in charge of the boats seemed to think we were overreacting. It was hanging by a single pin. The kicker was that they made us sign a waiver that we would pay for any damage when it was already broken. The wooden walkways to and from the beach have planks spaced out so little kids feet will slip through them as does the fishing pier. They seem to have had a shortage of wood. Again, watch you step.

FOOD: Ah the food. Lets put it this way, if food and dining are something that will make or break your holiday, then you may want to reconsider this resort. For the people who rave about the food I can only ask "What do you eat at home?" We are not picky eaters by any stretch of the imagination and fully expect the food in another country to be different. Different is one thing, but for the most part the food was just bad by anyone's standards. Yes, 'but it's Cuba!" Well this doesn't cut it for me. This resort is owned by huge Spanish hotel chain that could easily afford some consultants that could tell them what their guest from Canada, the UK, and other parts of the world like to eat. The ingredients were there, the problem is that nobody has explained to the food staff how to put it all together. The food was particularly difficult when traveling with a small child. Cold, cooked, soggy vegetables were everywhere. 'Can we have some raw carrots?' I guess not.

I have not focused on many of the a-la-carte restaurants because standing in the combination towel / dinner reservation line-up was far more painful than I could endure. Reservations are administered manually and seem to take 10 minutes per person to complete.

A quick food summary. Yes there are food stations where you can get stir-fry and fresh cooked meats...If you want to stand in line for 20 minutes. The bread is good and will become your best friend. Salad bar is missing one key element. Salad. There appears to be no lettuce in Cuba. Note to Italian Restaurant staff, Cabbage is NOT lettuce.
Meats are cooked without seasoning or salt. Fish is cooked to a dry hard state with extra salt. Mashed potatoes are the flaked from a can variety that contain either vinegar or floor cleaner. We're not sure. The giant paella started off with rice and chicken on the first night and seemed to acquire whatever fish or meats were left over from the previous night. It is an infinite paella that seems to have no end. Less fresh fruit than we expected. Bananas were great as were the grapefruit and papaya. No apples, no grapes. There was fresh squeezed orange juice each morning, but we never saw a real orange. Peaches and Pears were from a can. Desserts were OK. Ice cream was odd and usually melted. Banana flambé is best without the nasty DISCO brand banana liqueur. I don't care if I ever see another flan. There was lots of flan. Lots and lots of flan. I have nightmares about the flan.

The pizza and grilled sandwiches that everyone raves about are mediocre at best. Again I ask "what do you eat at home?" Perhaps the hunger has clouded their judgment? One highlight of the grilled sandwich area however was that it contained what appeared to be the only bottle of mustard in the entire resort.

Do I blame the staff about the food? Not at all. I blame Sol Melia. They are exploiting the Cuban system for cheap food to feed the tourists. The sad thing is that food is really the only thing that keeps this resort from being exceptionally nice and a place you would like to go back to.

The staff were generally helpful and friendly. Some people seemed more interested in tips than others. One guy serving sushi (don't ask how it was) kept trying to sell me cigars. Most of the staff were very kind to our young daughter. High chairs were always available. One minor beef was that the wait staff would always place the hot teapot directly in front of our 2 year old. ???

Entertainment staff worked hard, but seemed to lack much creativity in their activities. Very repetitive. We only used the kids club on two occasions for a short time, but found the lady in charge to be very friendly and responsible. The kids playground is a joke. The slide is a converted pool slide and is nearly vertical. You have to see it to believe it. Again, Sol Melia should import and install a 'real' and safe kids playground as this resort obviously caters to families.

Most of the guests were very nice and we made some nice new friends. Some of the Brits seem to think that the Canadians are all pipe fitters and factory workers. There were lots of kids from the UK, so if I could close my eyes and imagine I was at Hogwarts. ;) Some people were loud, some people littered, and some people smoked too much. That's life. Some people treated the Cuban staff as servants. That was pretty sad.

SUMMARY: The resort is beautiful. The beach is great, and the rooms are fine. Brings snacks...lots and lots of snacks. Will we go again? Maybe, but we will probably go other places first. If I ever went back I would gladly pay more for better food.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Julie & Family  
April 2005
My family and I have just returned today from our stay at The Melia Cayo Guillermo.........What a disappointment!!!!!

This hotel definitely rates no more than a 3*. In fact we went to a 3* hotel in Dom Rep and it knocked spots of this hotel in every aspect..

The pool was very clean but is not heated and was empty a lot of the time because it was so cold.If you ventured in and visited the pool bar you usually had to wait a good 15-20 minutes to be served. The toasted sandwiches at the bar were adequate if you were really hungry.....The Italian was quite nice but the choice was limited and you could have a very poor salad, but the pizza was good.Guess I can only take so much Italian....

The Ranchos beach restaurant again was adequate....no more, but THE BUFFET has to rate as one of the worst we have been to! I know it is CUBA but there are not enough staff and there is no excuse for empty trays, no butter, dirty plates,food that has been cremated, queuing 20 minutes to get in one night and a further 20 inside, etc etc etc......We are not fussy people and when we read on this site before we went, the choice of food which was written about it sounded perfect.....you wait until you get there! The entertainment was dire and as the shows do not start until 10pm we were so bored waiting we ended up going to our room to watch a film every night. I know at lot of people we spoke to did this. The lobby bar sometimes was more reminiscent of a Butlins holiday camp! The daytime entertainment is a joke!

We were told the beach rates as one of the best in the Caribbean.....It is a very narrow beach of soft sand mixed with shells and seaweed, you have to swim out quite a way to actually be chest deep then you hit the grass and coral on the bottom....I did not like that one bit.It was very windy most of the time so you could not use the watersports equipment but then you can't help the weather! The staff ranged from being extremely helpful and friendly to being downright rude. I have never tipped so much in my entire life, and we have been on a few holidays, but it was expected......People were being encouraged to jump the queue everywhere obviously because they tipped well.......call me old fashioned but I like to tip for a good service not because it is expected......and don't be fooled, these must be some of the richest cubans around judging by the rattling of their pockets.

For anyone who has been on a catamaran trip elsewhere in the Caribbean this was not only an expensive joke but also dangerous...we were taken out when it was very windy indeed and there were not adequate life jackets....my son and I spent approx 20 seconds in the water.....it was not good!!

The Jungle Tour was absolutely fantastic!!!! 5* Trip....Must do!

I was sick to death of all the wedding parties....loads of them! We paid to visits to the International restaurant which is very nice and intimate and people actually dressed up to go there which was nice, although extremely smelly because it is set on a stagnant lagoon.....The wedding parties totally took over the restaurant, intimate it wasn't.

Lastly, I think that The Canadians that visit seem to use the resort as a type of Benidorm or Salou.....if you know what I mean!! And smoke....I have never seen so many people smoking in one place for years and years and it was absolutely discusting....!!!! They do have some no-smoking tables but if you are not a smoker you can get a whiff a mile away. Shame they were not Americans because they would not put up with the standards that this hotel offers and we made have had a better holiday!
Melia Cayo Guillermo
April 2005
Hotel Melia 3***1/2 not more then that.
First of all the entrance of the Lobby is POOR needs a new decor badly, At night there is not enough chairs for everyone and also the entertainment is practically NUL..NADA. Even during the weekend saturday night and sunday night NO piano music??

ROOM: we had the room 2316 and with Ocean view but the problem is that when your sitting on the Balcony you don't see anything but a wall because the chairs are to low. Altogether, the room is clean but the pressure of the water is ON and OFF.

The BEACH: beach is the only thing that from all your review, people said it is so beautiful, true ...but not enough chairs for everyone. I really think people gets up at 4:00 a.m. to reserve their chairs putting a towel in case they come to the beach.

The FOOD: well it's CUBA and we did not expect to have great food, the buffet restaurant is situated in a close HOT place with hardly any Air Condition. For the International restaurant it didn't smell bad, but the food well it's Cuba.

Altogether, for nearly the same PRICE I would go back anytime to the PARADISUS of Varadero, Cuba...there it is a 5*.