|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
|I've referred to your site many times in the past few years, thought I should contribute my part since we just got back from a lovely vacation at Sol Cayo Guillermo.
We were there for 1 week (Feb.16-23) and had a great time. In many ways I think this resort is under-rated. (We stayed nearby at Melia Guillermo
3 years ago, which is supposedly "fancier" but in many ways I prefer the Sol).
-rooms are perfectly nice, clean, comfortable bed, AC works very well -beach is **AMAZING** (superior to any other in CayoCoco / Cayo Guillermo IMHO). When the tide heads out a bit, beach chair can be dragged into the very shallow water for a nice indulgent suntan / relaxation spot. The beach is less crowded / more spacious than Melia next door.
-also nice, when on the beach and looking back at the resort, it is "well hidden" / not imposing -- only 1 & 2 story buildings (no 3 story "apartment complexes") and lots of palm trees.
-property is a comfortable size, not so small you get cabin fever, but very (!) close and handy to get everywhere. Our room was 1 minute walk to the beach, 1 minute to the pool, 1 minute to the main bar, 30 seconds to the beach-side bar. If you are on the beach and you left something in your room - no big deal, you are there and back before you know it.
-The Kids Club (4-12 years old, approx?) was *excellent* - better run and better facilities than Melia Caribe in the DR/PuntaCana we visited last year, and the MeliaCaribe makes a big deal about its kids club.
They have a good space (nice clean space, good AC, lots of toys, dress-up stuff, a good size small private kiddie-pool, good supervision, and once our nearly-5-year-old-daughter started going it was hard to get her to spend time with us on the beach :-) -as a footnote: The beach, in addition to being amazing - is not 'overloaded' - not with people, not boats, flying boats, party boats, rent-a-motor-boat, "banana-boats", etc. The contrast to out Punta Cana trip of last year was very (VERY!) striking. The tranquil beach is just incredible, and we'll never go back to something noisy again.
-as we've always found for trips to Cuba, service was excellent; staff were very friendly and helpful. (this was our 3rd Cuba trip in 5 years)
-first room they had assigned us to smelled a bit musty. Immediately told front desk this was no good, and they flipped us to another room which was perfect.(musty room was first storey / single level building in "300" block; the second - nice - room was second story in a 2-level building in the "800" block).
-if you place great value on lots of different "a-la-carte" menu restos, you will feel limited here. However, the international (Don Guillermo) resto had very (!) good food, way better than I've ever had at any Cuba resort for "international"; the main buffet had consistently very good dinner offerings, very good breakfasts (fresh blended juice, lots of fresh fruit, nice on-demand omlettes, etc) -- and the "beachside grill"
resto offered very good lunch, either order-from-menu or help-yourself salad buffet / BBQ grilled goodies. My own feeling in the past, is that a la carte restos .. are often not huge improvements over "baseline" ..
so I didn't mind the "limited" choices.
What else to say? The price is great - very competitive - the travel painless (we flew approx 4 hrs from Halifax to CayoCoco) - the transfer by bus is "smooth" and .. I am looking forward to going back next year, maybe for 2 weeks :-)
As a footnote, one of the staff mentioned to us on the last day, that the resort may be closed for a number of months starting in ?may? to facilitate some property reno work. Possibly they want to up their star rating, I don't know.
So. I hope this info is of some use, and might even get onto your website. Thanks for maintaining all this info for the benefit of travellers ... it certainly is appreciated.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
|Mr & Mrs Blakey' (Newlyweds in Cuba) |
| We travelled premium on our flight to Sol Guillermo' (due to us going to get married) needless to say the drinks were free which set us on good stem for our all inclusive trip to cuba .......10 hours flew by from Manchester to Cuba' ..........
Arrived at our hotel and was very impressed' .....the hotel was clean, spacious and reception staff more than helpful with your baggae and location to your rooms' .........
We had the honeymoon suite ( i think) which was beautiful a HUGE king sized bed awaited us' ....a clean room with television, air conditioning, a safe - all with no extra charge for useage'' ........the rooms were cleaned daily with fresh towels and a bottle of water every day.
I would recommend anyone to stay at Sol Guillermo who is thinking of getting married' .....they accomodate for all your needs and the ceremony is beautiful (made even more so special with the people we met while there - Krisha/John/Pete & Joyce, + many more - you know who you are guys and thank you for making our special day 'so special' .........saying your vows overlooking the sea is just once in a lifetime and i wouldn't change a thing' ........
The beach is a picture postcard' the sea is the blue you only see in brouchers - abs beautiful' .....
Our whole stay was enjoyable with as much food & drink as you could possibly handle' ....our favourite was the Cuban Bar near the beach but they only serve RUM with mixers but believe me its well worth an hour or two in there, if only to cool down with the nice sea breeze- try the MOJITO'S ummmmmmm to die for !!!!
We took a flight out to Havana'which is worth a visit if just to see the hustle & bustle of the cuban way of life' ....had 2 days, very tired after but well worth anyone to take a visit there if only for a day - but i would recommend the 2 day trip (Club Tropicana nightclub they take you to on your evening in havana is just amazing)
All in all we had a fantastic time and loved every second of it' would recommend anyone to go'' its mossy heaven by the way but take plenty of 'Afterbite' and get plenty of rum - you dont even know you have them ..........
A tip: be up early mornings - 6-7am to ensure a bed with shade on the beach (we didnt make it most mornings - 2 in all i think we made) but if not you dont stand a chance of getting shade - you just fry in the sun' .......
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| We traveled to Cayo Coco during the month of December and stayed at Sol Cayo Guillermo.
We arrived early in the morning at the hotel. At first, we didn’t had a good impression since our room was not ready until 3 in the afternoon so we were stuck with our jeans and just sitting at the bar waiting. The room setting was not as nice as the other ones I visited. However, the entertainment crew was so nice and made our trip memorable. The food is not that good but edible (what do you expect, its Cuba). I recommend for people to go to the boat adventure excursion. That was the best. We did the jeep safari tour but it was not as nice as I expected it to be. We also paid $5 to go to Pillar beach…….this is a waste of money since the beach looks exactly the same as the ones at the resort. The only difference is that it is secluded so there were no people around the beach. If you are looking to party, this is not the hotel to be in. The disco is pretty dry and not much people dancing. I only got bitten by mosquitoes ones but other than that it was okay. One thing that I would say is missing is the pool bar. There’s a 24 hour snack bar but I wouldn’t really call it 24 hour since by 2AM, the snack bar closes down. Other than that, my trip was very memorable. I would for sure miss all those great show they put and the friendliness of the entertainment staff. I would recommend this place to everybody! By the way, if you are looking to buy rum or other souvenirs, I would recommend for people to buy at the airport since they are much cheaper than at the hotel. The only drawback is that you will have to put all your purchases in your handcarry.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| We travelled to Cayo Guillermo on 28/05/06 and stayed two weeks at the Sol Cayo Guillermo.
The highlights were: The staff are so very friendly and made our stay really enjoyable. The day time entertainment is on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis (which is nice not to feel you don’t have to join in) and the evening entertainment was great. The staff regularly put on dance routines that were very professional and enjoyable to watch.
My advice: take lots of mosquito repellent as they are around 24/7 although regular spraying by the hotel staff does slow them down a bit (they are still a nightmare). Also take long sleeved and long legged cotton clothes so you can cover up at night and be cool and avoid getting bitten.
Take a thermos cup as you can fill it up with drinks to keep it cool and avoid regular return journeys to the bar (even though the service is fast and friendly). Also I took a travel kettle and a jar of coffee and this was great as there coffee is served a bit strong and the mugs in the room enable you to make your own.
There is limited areas with air conditioning so be prepared to keep going back to the room to cool down as it does get very hot and humid during the day (the pool and sea are warm so you don’t instantly cool down!). We bought a fan for 1 pesos and it was the best money spent! Evenings are nice and warm too.
The Hotel rooms are adequately furnished (with TV) although the bathroom is dimly lit. I would recommend taking your own hair dryer.
The food is excellent, we tried all of the restaurants and they were all nice. The International is particularly romantic with candle lit meals (You can book two ala carte meals per week near reception).
Buy cigars at the airport the Hotel prices are over 100% extra.
Take extra shampoo, toothpaste, razors and toiletries as they are in short supply and the staff really appreciate receiving parcels from the tourists either during the holiday or as you leave.
Also, take care when filling in the Visa. It has to be filled in correctly or they will expect you to pay again (take care particularly with the date format as it is the US version - MM/DD/YY).
Tips are not compulsory but the staff appreciate 1 pesos every now and again.
The cleaning ladies clean the room daily and leave flowers / towels in different shapes almost daily which were really nice.
The staff love any clothing with logos (hats, T-shirts, etc) and appreciate anything along those lines being left for them.
Cuba is a poor county and going here makes you realise how much more we have available to us. There really are no shops here, or nothing to really speak of so don’t expect to spend too much money on souvenirs. Also, make sure you pack all your medicines (headache, tummy upset, etc) as they are not available here without seeing a doctor which is a pain if you only want paracetamol!.
Forget sending post cards, the card itself is approx. 80p each and will take two months to get to any destination outside Cuba.
We found the representative very helpful and honest. We were warned about the mosquitoes and various other things about the resort at the welcome meeting and this was very useful.
There are a lot of crabs wandering around the hotel at night but they leave you alone. You may wish to take a torch, we had a room with a sea view and a torch was useful to find your way around and avoid migrating crabs!
Cayo Guillermo is quite remote so if you like a get away from it all holiday in the sun (beach and pool based) then this is for you. I would not recommend it for children or people that cannot take the heat (although apparently Feb / March is cooler and more bearable). August apparently is stifling.
We had a lovely time in this resort. We knew it was isolated so went prepared with books, etc. We also took spending money for trips (we mainly spent our money on trips and tips, no shopping to be had!). I would recommend the Catamaran (all day), speedboats (2 hours) and Havana (all day) we went on all three and they were really good. Havana is a must see although it is a long day (and an hour flight to Havana) but it was nice to get out and see something as there is only so much relaxing you can do!
You can also take a bus to visit the other hotels for 5 pesos. We visited the Melia Cayo Guillermo and Tryp. We preferred our Hotel but it was nice to have the opportunity to visit the others (no shops to speak of there either!).
Make sure you take a camera as it is very beautiful and picturesque. The beach is picture postcard and it is an ideal wedding venue and we regularly saw wedding preparations being made (although on a humid/ hot sunny day I wouldn’t recommend the bride to wear a meringue! It was hot enough in a bikini).
We didn’t go for the VIP airport treatment on the way home. The queues were not too bad and there were some shops to peruse after customs. However, don’t forget to keep pesos for the return airport departure tax as it has to be paid in pesos (not sterling).
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| We left Toronto 6:20 A.M , we chose an early morning flight because we wanted more time on the beach but when we arrived there were no rooms until 4:00 pm, so if you are taking an early morning flight to this Hotel, wear beach attire under your street clothes. The flight was with Skyservice it was excellent, a little crowded but it was on time, it was even a little early.
We had requested 2nd floor rooms that were centrally located and a King size bed and ended up in room 204 at the end of the complex which was on the main floor twin beds, our reasoning for 2nd floor was because we had heard from this site that there are no ants on the second floor. We complained and received a bottle of rum but no change in the room. The rooms are spotless, as is the resort but there were many tiny ants around the bathroom sink area and larger ones on the floor, we complained to the maid and asked her if she could spray, the next day the problem was fixed. We only ate at the buffet and our server Marilyn was excellent. The only problem at the buffet was by Wed. the air conditioning quit and the temperature outside was 30 C., they ask you not to come to dinner in beach wear, but anything else was just too hot to enjoy your meal. Other than that the weather was great, a couple of hours of rain one day, with a few accidents from people slipping on the wet tiles. There was a good variety of food at the Buffet, if you like Ketchup or Mustard or a good cup of Tea bring your own, they had Ketchup for about 2 days and then it vanished, suddenly to reappear on our last day. It was a relaxing holiday you just have to make sure you bring anything from home that you don’t feel you can do without for a week. If you like your toast toasted you have to put it through at least 5 times.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| Airport/Check-in: We flew out of Halifax. Our flight (Air Canada) was on time-everything ran smoothly-we had a great flight. Watched “Fun with Dick and Jane” on the way there. The buses were waiting for us when we arrived in Cuba. A man took our bags for us, and almost put us on the wrong bus! But we made it. Our tour guide was great, really funny and served us cold Kristal to help pass the time until we reached SCCG. We had one drop off to make, and arrived at our resort within approx. 40mins.
Check-in at the hotel was no problem, there were about 10 people to check-in, so we headed for a drink, then checked in when there was no line.
Resort Grounds/Room: Of course we were located on the far end of the resort (Rm #113) but we didn’t care, we were on the second floor and had a view of the ocean, as we had requested! The rooms were nice. No complaints really. Would’ve liked to have a coffee maker in the room…we only had one garbage can in the room, which was in the bathroom and tiny, tiny ants seemed to congregate around it. They were no bother either, but if you think that would bother you, then bring some ant traps with you. Oh and one night we found a small cockroach in our bed…that was fun!
The shower worked great, the pressure sufficed. We did have a hard time flushing the toilet though!! Our maid did a great job cleaning the room, and left us some swans made out of our towels on a few occasions.
The grounds of the resort are beautiful. Fairly well maintained, and gorgeous flowers everywhere. The grass is sharp, I wouldn’t recommend walking on it with bear feet! Oh and a warning: some of the palm trees have spikes on them, which hurt when hit. We figure it’s a drunk Canadian male thing, but two of the guys decided to hit them while walking home one night.
I was somewhat confused with the layout at first, but I quickly got the hang of it.
Beach: By far the highlight of the trip. The water was amazing. You could walk over a kilometer and the water was still just over your waist. It was crystal clear water with fine white sand. Depending on the wind/waves, the amount of seaweed that ended up on the beach varied. We only had two really wavy days. There were little white fish that would become visible if you stirred up the sand. Bring out some bread of bananas to feed them and they’ll jump right out of the water.
We felt that you needed to get down to the beach fairly early in order to get prime seating. But we weren’t too concerned, as we’d go down, throw our towels on some chairs and spend most of our time in the water!
Food/Drink/Service: We found the food very enjoyable. We could always find something to eat that was fairly enjoyable. We sat in the same place at the resort and our waitress was phenomenal. We always had our glasses full with water…it was like we took a sip of water and she’d be right there filling it up. One night she sat us in a secluded table, had a bottle of champagne and candles set up for us. Another night she gave us a small gift to show her appreciation. Very, very sweet lady. Our favorites at the buffet were the omelet and spaghetti bars, the tomatoes…everything was thoroughly enjoyable. The Coffee was better at the lobby/main bar then at the buffet.We enjoyed the food here better than in Varadero last year. Both a la cartes were good. We went to the “Curoco” first…the shrimp salad was probably the best thing I had the whole week! Everyone we were with enjoyed his or her meals. The “Don Guillermo” was good as well. Three of the people in our party had the beef tenderloin and loved it. I had chicken cordon bleu…on a bone…not exactly the same as here. But it was ok. The “Capresse” salad was also very enjoyable.
We got sick of the 24hr “snack bar” which was sandwiches, salad or pastries. The sandwiches were good, but the toasted bread cut up the top of your mouth. We over-did it on the sandwiches for sure!
The bartenders were awesome. We were really impressed with there English…they all seemed more fluent in eng/Spanish/French than those in Varadero last year. Drank a lot of rum punches!
Weather: Awesome! Not a cloud in the sky all week. It was extremely hot! Down by the beach there was a nice breeze though so that helped. At the pool you felt like you were melting! At night it was still pretty warm most nights…I didn’t wear anything with sleeves.
Entertainment: This is where I thought this resort could work on. A few of the animators were extremely outgoing…got us to play beach volleyball, I took part in a show at night. But in comparison to those at the Melia Varadero last year, they were lacking some spirit. However we did learn that have been some changes, etc…that has affected the entertainment. The shows at night were hit or miss…some were awesome…
The disco was pretty fun, played a good mix of music. The only downfall is it was a pretty marshy area so the bugs were worse there.
Misc.: BUGSPRAY!!!!!!! Bring a lot….maybe some citronella candles as well if you plan on staying out late. Us ladies got eaten alive by some ravenous “no-see-ems”. We found that they weren’t so bad after they had sprayed the beach, but in-between sprayings we got eaten! May also want to bring some after-bite and/or some anti-histamine along.
We met some great people who made our vacation very special. So, a huge thank-you to everyone! It was an exceptional holiday.
We did the ½ day catamaran tour. It was great. The guys went snorkeling and had a lot of fun…there’s a wide variety of fish. Only suggestion: Grab a bite right before you leave, or bring something with you…we were starving by the end of it.
If you’re looking for a resort to bring your kids, you should consider this one. There are not as many people smoking as in Varadero and the resort, beach and pool are all very kid-friendly!
Departure/Check-out: We had to check-out of the hotel at noon and we weren’t leaving the resort until 8pm, so that was sort of unfortunate. We requested a late check-out and were hoping that we’d get it because we had a MAS card, but the resort was full so we were denied. Luckily, we met some fellow martimers who let us store our luggage in their room instead of the lobby. They gave us a courtesy room that we could shower in, so that was helpful! We did have to give back our beach towels when we checked out so that was a hassle.
Our flight left Cuba right before 11pm…great flight home (I think). I slept the whole way! Got into Halifax at about 4:30am…sped through customs no problems.
Overall: About a 4/5…There were no major complaints, the resort was clean, weather was nice, had a lot of fun, made some great memories…would we go back? If the price was right…we want to see other places before we start going back to resorts. Great trip!
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| My friend and I went for a week in early January of this year. I had been down to Cuba four times previously so was looking forward to R&R and the Sol chain has always had a well-deserved 4 star reputation. (On top of which I researched this site and relied heavily on the positive, glowing comments about this resort.)
Alas, it was not to be. This vacation easily took the cake as my worst Caribbean experience. Where to start?
Let’s begin with the positives – rooms were nicely decorated, spread out over a large compound; mature growth and vegetation; friendly, helpful staff; great Spanish vino tinto
The other side of the coin – the worst food, bar none, in my 10 vacations down south. Very pedestrian, no taste and limited selection (yes, I know it’s Cuba.) I have stayed at other Sol resorts so please……… How bad was it, you ask? A friend happened to be staying nearby at Villa Cojuimar and I was fortunate to have two meals there. It was a night and day experience. On top of which the Villa features lobster weekly and octopus/calamari twice a week…..at a 3 1/2 star Cuban-owned resort! A comment on the beach is in order. I have never seen so many broken, discarded lounge chairs hanging about.
The upside to this disastrous week….thank God our wives were’nt with us!
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| I arrived at Jardines del Rey airport in Cayo Coco on Saturday February 26 for a one week stay at Sol Club.
As usual, Customs was fast and efficient. Having cleared Customs one is wise to proceed immediately to the Bank Exchange located to the left of the Terminal to exchange your money into "pesos convertible". This rate will be slightly better than at the Hotel. Having taken care of the money matter first, now is the time to collect your baggage. Once done , proceed to the exit where you will be asked if you wish a porter to carry your luggage. You may refuse if you so desire. The cost is one peso/bag.
A Tour rep. will be standing outside and will direct you to the proper bus for transport to your hotel. The buses are
modern, clean and air conditioned. Some even sell beer at a cost of 2 pesos. Incidently when I was in Cuba (Feb. 26--March 4) a peso was roughly a 1.32 Cdn.
The bus ride to Sol Club varies in time, depending on the number of people to be dropped off at various resorts. The time passes quickly enough, so one should just relax and enjoy the country side.
I've always found the check-in to be fast and efficient at Sol Club.The front desk staff, Emelio and Norge to name a couple, know their stuff and are always very helpful.
The resort consists of one and two story buildings of either 4 or 8 rooms. I've never really had a problem having stayed in both ground floor and second floor rooms.
This year I found the food to be of a much better quality compared to previous years. My meals at the A La Carte restaurants were absolutely delicious. The Buffet restaurant offers a variety to suit all tastes. Many Europeans frequent this resort so some dishes are strange to Canadians. Some I'll try and some I won't. I just know that it is impossible to go to bed hungry.
The nightly entertainment shows were enjoyable and one has to appreciate to effort that the animation crew put into their presentations.
The beach has changed over the years. While still one of the nicest beaches anywhere, hurricanes have wreaked havoc with it. It is now much shallower , for a greater distance at low tide. The sand bars have become less distinctive. Also at high tide the beach is not as large as it once was.
I had no problem finding a lounge chair at the beach, no matter what time of the day I went. There were plenty, and for some reason there weren't too many fools putting towels out to claim their turf. Different story at the pool however.
Sol Club is a wonderful resort. It is small which lends it to an intimate atmosphere. One recognizes faces after only a couple of days . The resort is well laid out with beautiful trees and flowers. It's location makes for a limited number of available excursions. However, the ones offered are interesting. One should not miss the opportunity to go to Playa Pilar with its amasing sand dunes.
This is the perfect resort for a peaceful, stress relieving, relaxing vacation to get away from it all.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| We just returned from Sol Cayo Guillermo and had a very enjoyable vacation. The resort is not huge, but nicely laid out along the beach. The beach was very nice, great for long walks, well maintained (a cleaning crew came by every morning to rake up the seaweed from the night) and soft coral sand. Many small thatched umbrellas lined the beach for shade, and there were plenty of lounge chairs, though they are hard plastic and not the most comfortable. If you can squeeze a thin pad of some sort into your luggage you'll be much happier.
We had a ground floor oceanview room with a lovely view of the ocean about 150 feet away. There are several units that are closer and others that are farther. All back patios and balconies face the ocean, but of course many don't actually have a view of the ocean. The views from non-oceanview rooms looked to be very nice also. All the rooms are in either 1 or 2 storey bungalow linear quads. The room was large and decently equipped, though there was no clock or kleenex. I would have preferred a second story unit so that we could have left the balcony door open through the day and night. On the ground floor we had to settle for air conditioning which worked well. The maid supplied a fresh bottle of water everyday, though the tap water was okay to drink also.
There are 3 restaurants: the main buffet was pretty good, lots of variety, though sometimes I'm sure lunch leftovers were recycled into dinner items. The bread is great and so are the cookies! The cakes all tasted the same even though they were different. The pastries were okay. I was a bit disappointed in the fruit selection, not an overabundance and in the morning it was often frozen if you ate early. The two a la carte restaurants were very good as well.
There is entertainment every night, though we didn't partake so I can't rate it, but it seemed to go on until about 2am. If you aren't partial to it, try and get a room away from the central part of the resort so the noise won't bother you. When we first arrived our room (603) was right beside the pool and entertainment area. We asked to be moved and it was no problem for them to find us one much farther away.
There doesn't seem to be a lot for kids to do at this resort, so keep that in mind if you have young ones.
I had read some earlier reviews wondering why this resort was only rated 3.5 stars. One of the reasons I would say is because the resort is showing its age. They don't seem to be spending much money on certain maintenance items. Nothing terribly glaring, just small stuff like burned out lights, cracked outdoor light shades. A couple of the beach umbrellas had collapsed and were never fixed or removed the whole time we were there. Some of the sidewalks are cracking and some tiles are chipped or missing in various areas of the resort. A couple of the rinsing showers along the beach were broken. A little more attention to litter is needed on the beach. First of all there shouldn't be any, but unfortunately some people are pigs and don't pick up after themselves. There wasn't a lot of litter, but I never saw any staff person on litter patrol. All in all, nothing horribly negative, but some things to keep in mind. I guess this is one reason the resort is a reasonable cost.
The staff were very friendly and helpful and appreciated our appreciation.
All in all, a very good week. I would recommend this resort to anyone wanting a quiet, relaxing vacation.
Don't let your tour rep talk you into spending 20 Cuban Convertible Pesos (about $25Cdn) per person on the VIP lounge at the airport. Our rep told us that there are only 2 check-ins at the airport for 200 plus passengers but the VIP purchasers have their own check-in counter. This is true, but the when we checked in there were at least 6 check-ins and it was no faster going through the VIP check-in. The rep also said there was air conditioning in the VIP lounge impling that there was no air conditioning in the main terminal lounge. Not true. The main terminal is very comfortable and bright and there are 3 duty free shops, a cafeteria, currency exchange and 2 sets of clean washrooms. It's a very nice terminal. The VIP lounge is just a big money grab! Don't waste your money!
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
|Marie and Dave |
| We spent a week at Sol Cayo Guillermo on 21to 28 January 2006. We had a great time.
We left Toronto on Air Canada at 7:00 am on Saturday and arrived about noon local time. Passing customs was pretty quick except for a thorough hand search of a carry on bag. Girls, don't put metal hair clips in your bag. I guess they look suspicious on the x-ray machine. Be sure to have your camera ready on the bus, we saw wild ponies and lots of birds on the trip to the resort.
We arrived at the resort at about 1:30. Our room wasn't ready yet so they sent us to the buffet for lunch. The rooms are really great, beautifully decorated with nice wicker furniture. The resort is great. The food is fine. No big line-ups at the buffet or bar. We had one meal in the international dining room. The food was superb. The grilled salmon was especially good.
The beach is amazing. Shallow water so that even on really windy days you could swim safely, even with little kids. There are lots of thatch beach shades but not too many lounge chairs. Be nice, if you go for lunch, take your towel and let someone else use the lounger.
I would highly recommend this resort. It is small but it has everything you need and nothing you don't. The staff are really nice and the beach is fantastic. The resort is particularly good for small children due to the shallow water and very safe beach. It is also great for singles because they usually waive the single supplement for people travelling alone.
If you need any more info, drop us a line at email@example.com
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
|Geoff (aka GefM) |
| We stayed at the Sol Cayo Guillermo (SCG) from October 22nd through to October 29th, 2005. We are a married couple in our mid 30’s to mid 40’s from Ontario, Canada. This was our third trip to this wonderful resort and as before we are looking forward to returning again and again.
As this was our 3rd trip and I have written a review the other times, I will write this one somewhat differently as I don’t know what else I can say to tell you how much we enjoy this resort, it’s staff or about the resort grounds and accommodations.
You can also see pictures of this resort on my webshots page at… http://community.webshots.com/user/gef_m
AGENCY AND FLIGHT
This year our trip was with Air Canada Vacations. As the past 2 years, we booked our trip with Coco Toth at Bravo Travel, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. As usual, Coco was great to deal with and very helpful. I highly recommend her as a travel agent.
This year our departure date was to be at the same time that Hurricane Wilma was ravaging the Yucatan Peninsula and the Western tip of Cuba, (Pinar del Rio and Havana). While many friends and family were very concerned about us flying to Cuba, there wasn’t any need for it. Our flight was perfect! Very few bumps and the Air Canada flight staff were great as well. This year we were lucky to fly Executive Class and what an option this was. Only 2 seats per row, nice leg room and complimentary drinks. We arrived in Cuba in good time and we were one of the first through customs. We exchanged our money for Pesos at the airport teller that is after customs. No problems but we had to wait about 20-30 minutes for others to clear customs and find the bus. We had time to talk to our rep. while we waited.
As I mentioned, we arrived in Cuba while hurricane Wilma was around, but our weather turned out to be fairly decent. The first few days were sunny, very hot and humid with highs of high 30’s C (high 80’s into 90’s F). By mid week the weather did turn somewhat overcast with sunny breaks, but was still warm and we were able to enjoy the beach every day. We did have rain showers from time to time but again nothing that lasted the entire day. We were never cold in the evening and were always in our swimsuits during the day. Other years we have had perfect weather in October but this was a banner year for hurricanes.
CHECK IN AND ROOM
As usual, check in was a breeze! While our bus to the resorts was full, we were the only ones staying at the SCG, so there wasn’t any waiting in line.
Our room was ready and waiting for us. This year we had room number 902, a couple of doors from our usual room. It was still in the same single story bungalow and was just as nice. The one difference of this room was that we had a king-size bed instead of 2 doubles. The bed also had a bug net hung above the headboard, but it was never needed. In our room waiting for us was a bottle of Dark Rum and a fruit platter. A very nice touch to be welcomed with!
Still in very good condition and as usual the gardeners are working hard everyday!
BEACH AND OCEAN
I was worried about this when we were leaving home. I wasn’t sure what Wilma would have in store for our lovely beach. It turned out that the beach was as beautiful as ever and I noticed that the tractor and beach crew had come by to clean the seaweed even before we got down to the beach. Of course this also does depend on the tides. They tend to clean the beach, starting from the Cojimar working towards the Sol Club during the time that the tide is low. The ocean, while somewhat wavy, was never too wavy to swim and enjoy.
RESTAURANTS AND FOOD
I have to say that even with the resort being at the lowest capacity I’ve ever seen it the food didn’t differ from the past years.
While I’ll agree with some posts who say the food at the buffet can become repetitive, it is still decent. Personally I usually go to the grills and have some fresh food cooked for me. For breakfast I would have 2 omelettes with onions, peppers, ham and cheese. I sometimes had beef with onions and peppers grilled separately. For dinner I would have grilled a mixture of beef, pork, fish, squid, onions and peppers. The buffet usually consisted of dishes with shrimp, potatoes, mussels, pork, chicken, meatballs, beef, pizza slices, sliced meats, breads and pastries for the dinner and some of the same for breakfast. We never ate there for lunch, but I’m sure it was close to the same. For breakfast be sure to have their freshly squeezed orange juice! It is the best! Dinner also had a collection of tasty desserts like crème brule and other pastries, fruit, and the all time favourite, flambeed bananas.
For lunch the beach restaurant is called the El Vigio. For the evening dinner the restaurant changes to an a la carte that you need to reserve and is known as the Conuco. For lunch, there is a small buffet that consists of sliced pizza (very good I might add), fries, sometimes sausages, potatoes, sliced meats and breads, fruit and ice cream. You also have choice of ordering off a menu that has dishes of pork, chicken, and my favourite, pizza. Actually I would walk down the beach, order pizzas for my wife and I and then walk back to our loungers. There is also a bar area. As this is a beach restaurant for lunch, you can walk off the beach with swimsuits and cover-ups.
For dinner the Conuco has a menu of dishes of beef, pork, chicken and salmon. I ate the beef and also some of the pork and both were very tasty and tender. My favourite though was the beef. The seafood chowder appetizer is delicious. The desserts consisted of ice cream, chocolate cake, fruit, and a few others I can’t recall at this moment.
DON GUILLERMO A LA CARTE
As usual this restaurant did not disappoint us. The dishes consist of beef tenderloin, salmon, pork, chicken and a few others that again I cannot recall. The appetizer I enjoyed the most was a smoked salmon, wrapped in seaweed, drizzled in honey and seasoned with dill. My wife enjoyed a shrimp appetizer. Another selection I enjoyed was a seafood soup, similar to chowder. My favourite here is definitely the beef tenderloin. Cooked to your liking. Also the chocolate cake and ice cream is delicious.
For every restaurant and buffet service is great. At the main buffet, you serve yourself, but you are catered to for drinks. Don’t forget any of these people when you are finished your meal. While you are at an all inclusive, the meals are well worth a little monetary appreciation.
As last year it was comical and very entertaining. In fact this year on the last night we were there, I was asked, with a very pouty face I might add…lol…to assist in the show with a few others, 4 couples in all. This was a complete riot and I loved every minute of it. Lets just say, that the end of the skit involved a blindfolded female partner with a pitcher of beer, an empty glass placed in either the front or back of the pants, or on top of the head or like me, in between my legs while lying down and shouting out to my partner where to pour the beer. I’m sure you can imagine the outcome! The audience loved it and so did all of the staff and us unsuspecting volunteers. We did go to the disco this year more, but unfortunately as the resort was at low capacity, there were few people there. Not that this is a complaint at all, but more an observation. The DJ still played the music, a few of the entertainment staff came and we still enjoyed it. It would have been that much better if more of the guests had taken part. If there is something you want to play, be sure to ask the DJ. If he has it, he will do his best to play it.
THE PEOPLE (STAFF)
I can never write any review and leave out saying something about the staff. The staff is the best. Even at low capacity and with many having to come by bus 1 1/2 to 2 and sometimes 2 1/2 hours to work, they are still friendly and warm. They always have a smile and have an “Hola” for you.
As this was our 3rd trip, we knew many people and as soon as we arrived at the resort we were greeted by “Hola, my friends...when did you get here?” Along with big hugs and the traditional 2-cheek kiss
I am amazed by how people can remember us from one year to the next. This trip we were approached by a few different staff members that we hadn't really got to know last trip, so they didn't really have a reason to remember us. They came up and asked..."you were here last year, yes? I remember you, do you remember me?" Well of course I did, but it was a whole lot easier for me to remember than her!
This year we took down some letters to staff friends from others who frequent the resort. While you should be somewhat careful about doing this, I am very happy we did. We got to meet new people and made even more friends.
It is amazing how much you already great trip can be enhanced when you feel like you are at home with many friends!
A question I have from time to time is “why do you choose the SCG over the Melia CG and the Iberostar Daiquiri?” Quite simply, we like the layout of the resort. We like a small resort with bungalows. It consists of about 268 rooms in 1 and 2 story bungalows. It is laid out to stretch along the beach instead of stretching back from the beach. This allows for less walking to get to the beach. The small resort also is easier to get around and seems more personable. Also, because the resort stretches along the beach, there is more beach area for the guests and you are not packed into a small area.
Another question I have had is, “Why is this resort rated a 3 1/2 star and not a 4 star?” This is our favourite resort. While it is great and we have never had problems with food or water or anything, it does not have as many amenities as the Iberostar and Melia CG. I’m sure that this has a lot to do with it. We go to Cuba for the R&R and to enjoy the friendly people. We have never been disappointed by the SCCG in any way. In my honest opinion it warrants more than a 3 1/2 star and if this resort had more amenities, it would easily receive a high rating.
I will also state again to those who are looking to purchase cigars. Black market cigars are not worth the match to burn them. These cigars are quite typically made of banana leaves or worse. Many are not able to be smoked because they are plugged and if they can be smoked, taste horrible! DO NOT purchase cigars from any of the resort staff or off the beach or street. You will be throwing you money away. Please do yourself a favour and only purchase your cigars from the Government approved stores, which include the airport, and resort stores. Cuban Customs is checking everyone that they see with cigars. They want to see the official receipt that is given to you by the stores. If you do not have this receipt, your cigars WILL be taken from you. When you buy from the store be sure to have your passport with you, as they will need some information from it for the official receipt.
If anyone has any questions about the Sol Cayo Guillermo, please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| Country: Cuba
Area: Cayo Guillermo
Hotel: Sol Club Cayo Guillermo
Rating: 3 - 3.5*
Meal Plan: A/I
Wholesaler: Air Canada Vacations
Airline: Air Canada
Date of Visit: September 24, 2005
After a very busy month, I was in dire need of some serious R & R. Since the Caribbean also happens to be the most affordable during the month of September, it did not require much arm twisting for me to book. Why Cayo Guillermo? Besides its obvious affordability, as a solo female traveller, I was also looking for a destination I knew would provide not only the tranquility I was looking for, but safety as well. I've had Cayo Guillermo on my 'to do' list for some time, having previously visited (and enjoyed!) the other Cuban cayos (Coco, Santa Maria and Largo). When Air Canada Vacations was offering a week's stay at the Sol Club Cayo Guillermo, including not only the airfare to/from Toronto, but a connector flight to/from my home town, for the approximate cost of one or two nights at a resort in the Bahamas (Atlantis anyone?) all without the dreaded single supplement, how could I possibly refuse?!?!
Cayo Guillermo is the most westerly islet of the 'Jardines del Rey' archipelago on Cuba's north coast. Cayo Guillermo is an eco-system of salt water lagoons and virgin mangrove swamps where marine birds such as egrets, herons, cormorants and pink flamingoes make their home. Cayo Guillermo has 5 hotels on the beach 'strip', the Sol Club being the last, next to a virgin beach.
These cayos (keys) are the perfect place to visit for those who are looking for rest and relaxation in a natural environment. Those travellers wanting to explore cities and local culture, or spend time shopping and 'clubbing' should look elsewhere. Likewise college and high school students looking for 'party central' over spring break. For all those folks, go to Varadero, Cancun or Acapulco!
The Resort and Clientele:
At ~270 rooms, the SCCG is just about the perfect size. Big enough to have a good sized beachfront and grounds, but not so big as to require motorized transporation to and from one's room to the common areas. The resort is made up of one and two storey bungalows painted in pastel shades of blue, green, aqua and yellow.
During my stay, the clientele was largely British and Latin American. Canucks for the most part were a minority at that time. While I did see some young children during my week, there weren't very many, and the resort certainly did not feel 'overrun' with kids. I was quite pleased that people did not drag their little ones to the a la carte restaurants for late night suppers. It made for a much nicer dining experience.
My little piece of heaven, cherubs included! I had a lovely second storey room in the #400 block. Peeking through the numerous palm trees, gave one a glimpse of the azure sea. My room was a mere hop and skip from the beach. In fact, the layout of the resort is such that no matter where your room is located, you are never very far from the beach.
My room had all the amenities I needed for a comfortable stay. It had a kingsized bed (with kingsized pillows), a fridge, a coffee maker, TV, A/C, iron and ironing board (which went unused, alas), and a safe for which I did not need to pay extra.
The bathroom had a terrific, huge shower with more towels than I could possibly use, a makeup mirror, a bidet and an amenities kit with soap and large bottles of shampoo and shower gel. A laundry line was available over the shower which was a great way to dry wet bathing suits. May I remind folks *not* to hang towels and clothing over the balcony like in some Baltic village; use the laundry line that is provided. I always had plenty of hot water with terrific pressure. The water is potable out of the taps, but sensitive folks should stick with the bottled water supplied by the maid.
Storage space was more than sufficient for me since I travel light. For two or three occupants who are clotheshorses, storage *may* be an issue.
A word of warning: When it rains, the tiles on the staircases leading up to the second storey rooms can get extremely slippery. I know. I wasn't very careful one day and managed to fall about half way down the stairs. Three weeks later, my shin is still extremely bruised!
Beach(es) and Water:
The Cayos' central attraction. While the Guillermo beach is not as stunnigly beautiful as Cayo Santa Maria or Cayo Largo, it's a picturesque beach nonetheless. The sand is soft, light colored and very fine. The seaweed that washes up on shore is dutifully cleaned every day. Interestingly enough, the sea directly in front of the Sol Club does not have seaweed or grass growing in it as the other hotels such as the next door Melia and Iberostar do. The sea bed is the same soft sand found on the beach, yet seaweed does wash up on the beach on a daily basis. The water defies description. On calm and sunny days, the water was so clear, still and azure that no superlatives in my vocabulary could do it justice. Seeing is believing! As others have mentioned, the water is quite shallow, and one must walk out a bit in order to get to shoulder level. The Guillermo beach is a terrific choice for families with young children. There is no undertow, no waves, and no dangerous motorized sea craft buzzing about. Heaven! Palapas dot the hotel's stretch of beach. During my stay, there were never any issues with finding a free palapa during any time of day. I am sure that even during peak season, one can always find shade due to the numerous palm trees that dot the property where one can prop up a beach chair. This is a big plus at this resort in my opinion. I really don't care for resorts that underestimate the need for shade for their clients.
A word of warning: keep an eye on your hotel beach towel at all times. I left my beach towel and belongings under a palapa on the beach one morning, and when I returned 1/2 hour later, my towel was gone. My beach bag was not touched however. I reported this to the Customer Relations staff, but the towel was never turned in. Be warned that a missing towel will cost you $15.00usd at check-out.
One free form pool snakes around the common area fronting the lobby. Alas there is no swim-up bar, but the 24 hour bar is right next to the pool. The pool is quite shallow, and aloso has very shallow sections for small children. The pool never appeared to be terribly busy and the few times I used it, I was able to swim around and do my laps without any kids jumping on my head.
The jacuzzi was undergoing some renovation work during my stay, so I cannot comment on it. It is visually very attractive, but quite small.
Judging by the vast majority of reviews posted here and elsewhere, many a person's vacation seems to be made or broken by something as basic as food! If food happens to be your number one compulsion on vacation, my recommendation is that you don't go to an all inclusive resort, and while you're at it, you may just want to reconsider the whole Cuba thing. Serious food fetishists should rather steer themselves towards the more culinary destinations such as the French antilles (Martinique and St.Martin are excellent choices) or perhaps the Bahamas or Virgin Islands. I can virtually guarantee you will find amazing restaurants on these islands. Now for the rest of us for whom food on vacation is of a much lower priority, I can honestly tell you that the food at the SCCG is of typical Sol Melia quality and I was actually very pleasantly surprised by the variety offered, especially during low season. How can you go wrong with grilled fish, shrimp, chicken or beef, excellent daily soup concoctions, washed down with Catalan wine and finished off with flambed bananas for dessert? Besides the buffet, I dined at both the a la carte restaurants and was extremely impressed with the service and ambiance.
The best selection of cocktails seemed to be at the Cubanito Bar (dubbed 'Steve's Bar' during my stay). This appeared to be the only place where one could get a mojito. Besides the mojito, my favorite poison during the week was the lime daiquiri; very refreshing and not too sweet. Bring an insulated mug to reduce the number of trips to the bar; and when you're about to depart for home, leave the mug/cup with your favorite bartender. You'll make their day, I can guarantee it.
So what's Sol Melia's secret? This hotel chain's consistency in staff excellence is quite remarkable. I have enjoyed staying at six Sol Melia hotels to date, and at each and every one, the staff have been outstanding. (others such as Barcelo take note!)
I cannot even begin to explain how truly wonderful the staff at SCCG were. I am sure they are the number one reason why this hotel enjoys such a high rate of return clientele. From the bartenders who remember your favorite drink, to the helpful Customer Relations staff (thanks so much Wilmer!) to the caring maid who always made sure that I had plenty of coffee and bottled water, towel art on my bed, and who wrote handwritten notes thanking me for the small items I left for her (I've kept those notes - they brought tears to my eyes!).
Things to Do:
My principle aim of this trip was to do nothing; the Cayo's are the perfect destination for this. However, there are on-site and off-site activities to those that prefer a more active vacation. The resort offers the usual array of daily activities such as darts, aquafit, and volleyball, etc. At the water activities centre you can sign out a kayak or a pedal boat, or have one of the staff take you out on a catamaran. A certified dive shop is also on site. The resort also has a gym and tennis courts.
Organized off-resort activities include day or overnite trips to Havana and/or Trinidad, snorkelling trips, dolphin (porpoise) encounters, fishing trips, and various off-road vehicle jungle trips. Car and scooter rentals can be arranged right at the hotel. Sol Melia also offers day passes to other Sol Melia hotels should you wish to check out other hotels in Cayo Coco/Guillermo.
There are no 'malls'. Shopping is restricted to the hotel shops and the airport. You can purchase typical Cuban souvenirs such as cigars, various kinds of rum, T-shirts, coffee, wood and ceramic carvings, key chains, pens, post cards, etc. at the hotel or at the airport. Local artisans did visit the resort one day, but they did not stay into the evening so I missed them (good reason for me to go back! haha)
It has been a long time since I've vacationed during September, so I was not quite sure what to expect, weather wise. If you can dodge the hurricanes, it's actually a really great time to go; the weather is still very summer like, the water is still very warm, and the days are still quite long; all without the high season prices and high season crowds. Sure it rained, but the rain came in spurts which usually did not last longer than half an hour, and it mostly rained after dark. Sea breezes kept the temperatures very comfortable.
Having vacationed in the cayo's before, I arrived fully equipped with heavy duty deet mosquito repellent. To my relief, I succumbed to a mere couple of mozzie bites the entire week. At first I thought perhaps it was due to the season, but judging by the visible mozzie bites sustained by other travellers at the airport, I chalked it down to the hotel's serious daily fogging rituals.
I highly recommend this resort for those who are looking for a quiet, relaxed vacation. It has certainly been one of my best vacations to date. I came home so relaxed and de-stressed that my blood pressure dropped several mmHg's upon my return! Would I return to this resort? Absolutely!
If you still have questions, email me at: Ivona_Lancaster@hotmail.com
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
|Diana and John |
| We booked our trip with Thomas Cook for 31st July - 14th August. Everything ran smoothly with this tour operator. When we arrived our rep was waiting at the airport to welcome us to Cuba with a comfortable air conditioned coach taking just the people who were staying at our hotel (we didn't have to drop off other holiday makers first which was a bonus as SC is the last hotel on the island). The only snag was with the flight. We flew with Excel, and although we were only an hour delayed going there and coming home, it was an extremely uncomfortable flight. I am 5ft 11 and my partner 6ft 2 and we found there was no leg room for us at all. For a 9 hour flight we found this totally unacceptable and didn't make for a good start or end to our holiday. We both could not sit straight without our knees digging into the seat in front - awful!!
Our arrival at SC was at about 5pm. We checked in quickly and were given a map of the hotel to find our room. We stayed in room 920 - which was on the upper floor of a 2 storey block - which is what we asked for at the time of booking. A porter came along within 10 minutes with our luggage. Our room was lovely and spacious, painted Caribbean blue and had a huge president sized bed. There was also a TV, fridge, dressing table, 2 bed side tables, 2 wicked chairs and another 'coffee' table. The air-conditioning was fantastic - definitely much needed after a day on the beech. Sometimes at night we had to turn it down as it got chilly! The bathroom was clean. There were very tiny ants around the sink, but nothing that bothered us. I know some people had problems with crabs in the toilet and cockroaches - which is why we asked for an upper room, instead of a bungalow, but we didn't encounter anything like that. Our room was cleaned at different times every day and we often returned to our towels folded into swans or hearts - a nice touch. Also the maid left us a large bottle of water every day. Our room was well away from the main hotel facilities so we didn't hear any of the noise from the bars/club at night.
The grounds of this hotel are lovely - very pretty and well maintained. The gardeners work very hard - using very basic tools. Often I would be given a flower on the way to breakfast and they always stopped to say hello. The most impressive aspect of SC has to be the beech. It is absolutely fantastic, I have never seen anything more idyllic. The sand is white and powdery and the water is so warm and clear it's like a bath. You can walk out very far until you go out of your depth. Every day tractors would drive up and down the beech picking up the seaweed. The beech itself is very narrow - so there is nobody in front or behind you - all the sunloungers are spaced far apart. I would recommend getting to the beech early to ensure some shade for the day. The hotel occupies a vast stretch of beech - which is more impressive than the other hotels on the island. I would also suggest taking an air bed to use in the sea - as the water is so calm (only on a few days were there any rocky waves) and warm - it's perfect for sunbathing in (the hotel didn't sell them). The pool area is nice - but was very hot, the beech had a nice sea-breeze which helped cool the soaring temperatures. It is also very safe for children - there were many families spending their time on the beech.
Now onto the food: this was the part of the holiday which let it down for us. The buffet 'El Eden' restaurant was ok - nothing great. I found the food to be very samey each night - and by the end of the fortnight I was very bored of eating the same thing. As I don't eat much meat - I found very little variety and often the food didn't agree with me. There were often flies buzzing around the food - which put me off trying certain dishes (this was also the case in the beech bar restaurant - which is an alternative place to have lunch). This is supposed to be a 24hr all inclusive resort - but we found that when we wanted to eat outside the set hours of the buffet we couldn't get anything. Once we missed breakfast and had to wait till 1pm to eat and one morning we were going on a trip earlier than 8am; again there was nothing open for us to grab a bite. This was very poor indeed. Apart from the buffet and the beach bar restaurant (which open at set hours) there nowhere else to eat at anytime (part from a toasted sandwich counter in the main bar - which seemed to be available at odd times - or when the buffet was open - and again had flies around the food). The main bar had a good selection of drinks - hot and cold and quite a few international brands - but ran out of glasses quite a lot (this was also the same in the beech bar) and I would question the rinsing of the glasses as a means of cleaning them!! Also they seemed to run out of ice later on at night.
A huge plus point about this resort is the trips. We went on the overnight Havana trip (about £200) which was fantastic and a definite must if you want to see the 'real' Cuba. The rep quite rightly told us not to bother booking the one-day trip - as there was too much travelling time involved. We were surprised at how many other people from other hotels booked the 1 day trip - only to find when they got the airport the plane was delayed by 2 hours so they all had to go back and get a refund. In the end there was just 10 of us on the trip - being shown around by a fantastic tour guide called 'Alice'. She spoke very good English and was so interesting to listen to. She was so efficient that she managed to catch up our 'lost' 2 hours and we saw everything on the itinery without it being rushed. The 5* Melia Havana hotel we stayed in was superb - a real treat - but again we found the food to be no different from 4* SC. The Club Tropicana show was amazing - a definite highlight. I would definitely recommend going on this trip - it's definitely value for money and an experience we'll never forget.
The 'Jungle Tour' trip was a 20 minute drive from SC and was brilliant. It worked out at around £25 each. You get to drive your own speedboat (2 people per boat) around mangroves and open waters for around 1/2 an hour, before reaching a snorkelling place. We found the current to be very strong here - so small children found it hard to swim in - but could hold onto a rope and pull themselves along. The water was like an aquarium - full of beautiful fish that swam around you - wonderful! It was so good we were considering going on it again. The guys who ran the tour were also very friendly and helpful. On the way back they kept a few of us behind and said 'do you guys wanna do zigzags and drive faster?' we had a brill time - and there was no danger of tipping the boat!
The catamaran trip was around £30 for a whole day which included an all inc. bar and lobster lunch. The crew took us to 4 snorkelling sights - 2 with wrecks to explore and one with a shallow reef (also inc. a stop off at Pillar beech). Again this was good value for money - even though there were jellyfish at the first stop and few people dared to go into the water (although they weren't dangerous!).
Diving: There is ample opportunity to go diving here - although it was a bit of a chore trying to find anyone who knew anything about it. We were told by the rep to go to the next hotel (Melia) and ask about it there. Once we found the dive centre (15min walk on the beech), we were told to meet an instructor the next day at our hotel pool for a refresher practise - no-one turned up. So we had to go back to the Melia hotel again - where John eventually did a practise in their pool (after lots of waiting around). He went and did a 50 minute dive at a nearby island - and loved it. If we had time he would have done more diving. You're very much left to go and find out the information about diving yourself - but is worth doing (this is not a PADI centre).
Paragliding - this is around £25 for 15 minutes. It happens on the beech between SC and the Melia hotel. This was fantastic - a definite highlight. You go up to around 1000ft with a 'pilot' sitting behind you. Taking off from the beech, the speedboat takes you out to sea quite a way before the pilot removes the rope and you sail gently back down to where you took off from. Totally safe - you can see for miles the beautiful island of Cayo Guillermo (don't forget to take a camera!). This doesn't happen every day - look out for the parachute going up on windier days.
The people who work in this hotel are extremely friendly and helpful - and they made us feel very welcome. We'd like to say a particular 'hola' to Roberto - a waiter in El Eden who looked after us very well, the pasta chef, Elvis in the Cubanito bar and many of the gardeners and waiters. Any problems were sorted out straight away - one couple we met found a crab in their toilet in the middle of the night and a porter came out straight away to get it out! The entertainment people worked hard putting on shows at night and were always encouraging you to join in their activities in the day. I would definitely recommend tipping - 1 or 2 Convertible Pesos goes a long way and is very much appreciated and deserved - once you've been into a Cuban town or village - you realise the reality of Cuban life.
Mosquitoes - I was bitten only a few times - nothing too troublesome and certainly not as bad as other places we've been to. There were a few crabs around at night (particularly one 'family' which lived under our steps) and although they weren't that nice to see or hear scurrying around - they are definitely more frightened of you!
Overall we had a very relaxing and memorable holiday on a beautiful, paradise island. We are going to try somewhere different next year - but would like to try the more upbeat Varadero at some point in the future. Apart from a few things mentioned earlier - we had a lovely stay. I would recommend this to families and couples who want a relaxing holiday and who don't mind staying 'on-site' as there is no town or shops nearby to walk around.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
|Trip: Cayo Guillermo is an island off an island off the main island of Cuba. Flights land at Cayo Coco. We had booked initially with Air Canada Vacations to go to the Sol Cayo Largo in October last but by mid-March cancelled the flights to Cayo Largo and offered the flight to Cayo Guillermo. We were very disappointed with Air Canada Vacations because they charged more money for a hotel of fewer stars and left us without seat reservation privileges and having to fly on a stand by, which meant taking whatever was left at the time of getting the boarding passes.
Currency: At the present time, the currency for tourists is the convertible peso equivalent to $0.72 Canadian. It s better to change at the Airport bank and not at the hotels where we have seen the rate drop to $0.70 or even $0.69 Canadian.
Beach: The four hotels in the island are in a row, and the Sol Cayo Guillermo is the one at the end. The water level is shallow for quite a good distance, making it not dangerous for children. The sand is white and powdery and there are palapas and beach loungers that people seem to reserve very early in the morning by leaving towels on them!! If it is not too windy the waves are not very strong. It is possible to walk North (turn left as you leave the Hotel) to playa Pilar about 2.5 km, it is a nice secluded beach in a bay.
At about 2.5 km East, on the sea is one of the best coral reefs in the world; you can get there by catamaran and further explore it. It costs 11 convertible pesos/person/hour.
Weather: Cayo Guillermo is facing the North Atlantic and receiving North East winds, so it can be relatively cool specially in January.
Hotel: This resort is small, with well groomed gardens; there are 268 rooms in total. All of the accommodation here is in one or two-story bungalows, with no more than 2-4 units per bungalow. We had a great room on the second floor, 1210, it was quiet with good sized bathroom with abundant cold and hot water at all times. If your travel agent can put in your room request (upper floor, corner suite, ocean view, king-size bed, etc) it's best to do this at time of booking. There is a congenial, good family atmosphere in the resort.
Food: Adequate, it may be lacking in spice or variety, but there is always a good selection, great fresh fruit, fish and seafood, yogurt and cheeses. There is a pasta bar where a chef will make pasta and sauce from scratch for you, and there's always rice, vegetables, fruits, and good homemade ice cream. There are lots of dessert options and delicious fried bananas. The coffee/espresso/capuccino is very good. You can book 2 a la carte dinners/week and eat at the buffet the rest of the time, the main bar and snack bar are open 24 hours which is standard in the better hotels.
Tipping: Much appreciated, but not expected. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful in general. We did not find that the service altered depending on whether you tip or not. Sometimes you just come from the beach and you're not carrying cash.
Shopping: The government owns and controls stores, so the content from shop to shop between tourist hotels changes little. If you want to bring back Cuban goods (rum, cigars, coffee) it's best to get all that at the large duty free stores at the airport when you leave. Prices are a bit lower than at the hotels, and the selection is greater.
Our great Sol Cayo Guillermo trip was done for under $1200 per person/week, all-inclusive (including taxes, service charges, and other fees). We would go back to the Sol Cayo Guillermo; we loved this resort and would return, we highly recommend it.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| We booked our trip through Sunquest Vacations for 29 March - 5 April 2005. Our flights on Skyservice were smooth and uneventful. The travel agent called late in the afternoon of the day before our trip to say that, due to resort overbooking, we would be bumped to Melia Cayo Coco for the first two nights of our vacation. We were not thrilled about this but decided not to let it ruin our vacation. After two nights at the Melia, I was very glad to arrive at SCG. And I must say, I much prefer it to the Melia, even though it is not rated as highly as that resort. It is much livelier and certainly a lot easier to navigate and the food is much better.
The layout of Sol is very nice, everything is within easy walking distance of the centrally located lobby and pool. The grounds are the prettiest I have seen in many Caribbean vacations, with stunning flowers and many little seating areas with statues and ornate benches.
I was in room 401, an oceanview room with easy access to the beach, and my friend was given room 402 right next door to me. The only negative aspect of the room was the number of small ants present. We asked that our rooms be sprayed on a number of occasions, but on the ground floor so close to the beach, it's difficult to keep the insects from coming in. If you want an oceanview room, I would suggest asking to be situated on the second level. A couple we had met were kind enough to lend us their can of Raid bug spray and we were able to get rid of most of the ants that way. Other than the ants, I saw just one spider in the room and one of the insects that are usually found in palm trees. There were some cute little geckos running around outside the room but none of them found their way in.
What can I say about the beach? The green water was absolutely gorgeous and is surprisingly shallow for about 400 metres, allowing one to walk out quite far from the shoreline in water that only reaches one's knees. The beach is rather narrow and gets more so in the afternoon with the rising tide. Having walked down past the Melia and Iberostar, I have to say that Sol CG has the best stretch of beach of all the resorts on CG.
The food was good. Although we were told that we could eat at the a la carte restaurants for 4 dinners (rather than the usual 2) because of the overbooking of the resort, we were only able to get reservations for one night in each of the Cuban and International restaurants. They were both very good, with tremendous service. The buffet had enough choices to keep us happy - for breakfast we enjoyed the french toast, pancakes and omelettes made to order. The best item for lunch at the buffet was the pasta station, where you chose the pasta you wanted (penne, spaghetti, macaroni or rotini), then chose from a number of toppings including tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, peppers, etc. and three types of sauce -- delicious! Lunch is also available at the beach grill, where you can choose items from their menu or from the small buffet. For dessert after dinner at the buffet, don't miss the bananas foster - they are absolutely wonderful, as is the delightful lady who cooks them.
Overall, I enjoyed Sol CG very much and found it preferable to the 5* Melia Cayo Coco due to its intimate size, lovely grounds, personalized service and stunning views.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| April 2005
| I stayed at Sol Club Cayo Guillermo for one week 27/03/05 until 03/04/05.
I arrived at Jardines del Rey around 9.30 in the morning. The weather was beautiful and things were looking good.
PASSPORTcontrol was smooth and efficient with the Customs Official wishing me a pleasant stay.
Off to the left of BAGGAGE PICK-UP is a small window for the BANK EXCHANGE. Go there first if you wish to exchange your dollars or euros for a slightly better rate than what you will receive at the Hotel. Having done this, pick up your luggage and proceed outside to your Tour Representative. You may decline to have a porter take your baggage if you so desire. The walk is not far. The Tour Rep. will indicate your bus for you.
The BUS ride to the resort does not take long, depending on the number of people debarking prior to reaching Sol Club. The guide on the bus will give you a brief description of the region. Beer on the bus is only 2 pesos. (aprox. 2.50 cdn)
I happened to be the only person on the bus going to the resort, so I figured CHECK-IN would be a breeze. I realized that a room would not be ready,as check-out is only 12 noon, but I could still grab a drink and hit the beach. Imagine my surprise upon arrival when I saw the line-up stretch halfway across the lobby. Over a hundered brits were heading out for the airport. However all was not so bad.
Emilio at the front desk spotted me and realized that I was arriving. He motioned me to the counter and while still helping people check-out, he checked me in. It took no more than 10 minutes. He told me to leave the bags and get something to eat or drink and to come back in about 30 minutes and he would have a room for me. IMPORTANT NOTE HERE 30 minutes Cuban time is aproximately 1 hour 11/2 hours canadian time. Remember this.
The ROOM that I received when I returned to the Front Desk was situated in the 200 Blocks area--#227-- Yasmany was my Camerrera and she was absolutely wonderful.
I left her a peso every day along with a small gift--maple candy, gum, tooth brush. soap etc.. I also took the time to write her a note thanking her for the great job she was doing. The next day she had left me a note in reply and the day before my return, left another note thanking me and wishing me a safe journey with the hope that I would come back again. We met almost every day and even though there was a language barrier we still had some good laughs.
The rooms at the hotel are large. I had 2 large beds, a small fridge (a large bottle of water every day) T.V. with remote, table and 2 chairs, 2 end tables and desk. The toilette, biddet, sink and shower were all working just fine. The large closet contained the room safe at no extra charge. I also had a nice balcony with table and two chairs which was perfect for a large Cubata before supper.
The RESTAURANTS at the hotel will not let you starve. Eden's is the Buffet for all three meals. You can choose from the buffet plates or have your own omelettes, pancake, eggs at breakfast, to your own steaks or pastas at supper. El Vigia is the beach restaurant with lots of choices from burgers, dogs, fries, pizzas, paellas, soups, salads to plates of pork, fish,spagetti and octopus rings.There are two A LA CARTE restaurants, El Conuco and Don Guillermo. My experiences at both were excellent although some friends who ate the following night at the Don Guillermo did not enjoy there meals. The Tocororo is also a sandwich snack bar which is only closed when the other restaurants are open. You choose your own ingredients. He makes and toasts the sandwich for you.
The BARS are all very good. The main bar-The Tocorroro- is open 24 hrs. The Cubanito beach bar from 12 noon to midnight, El Vigia beach bar from 10 am until 4pm. Myself I feel there should be another Cubanito type bar at the other end of the resort The beach is long.
Lots of ACTIVITIES take place during the day for those who wish to participate. Schedules are posted so that you know what is going on. The night time shows are pretty good. The activities people work quite hard to make sure everyone has a good time.
This is a somewhat small resort. interestingly laid out, very clean and open. The beach is a bit more narower now after some of the hurricanes of the last few years, but it is still nicer than any of the other resort beaches on Cayo Guillermo.
The STAFF of this hotel are the best. They are very hard working and I know for a fact that management demands alot of them. They however always treat you with respect and do their outmost to satisfy your needs. Of course nothing is perfect but they try, and I mean try. I don't believe you can walk away from this hotel feeling that you were mistreated in any way, shape or form.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| My husband and I have just returned from a week at the Sol Cayo Guillermo and wanted to send our thoughts on this resort. We have previously stayed at the Riu Bambu (March 2004) in Punta Cana, DR.
We flew with Air-Transat out of Toronto. We had a very smooth flight. Nice meal on-board, complimentary soft drinks/juice and a movie.
Arrival in Cuba:
We were among the first off the plane, thus did not have a long wait at Customs. Passports were checked (but not stamped), and Cuban tourist cards were checked. Make sure your tourist card has been stamped with the name of your tour company on the reverse side. A couple ahead of us was detained for not having this stamp. After being buzzed through the door at customs, your carry on luggage is x-rayed. We had no problems, other than our underwater camera being put through by mistake. (tip: pack this in your suitcase) Luggage was slow to come off the plane. Go exchange your money while someone waits for the luggage.
Arrival at Resort:
We arrived at midnight, thus had no line-up to wait in before getting our room. We were given wristbands, a room key-card and a map. Luggage was brought by one of the porters from the front desk directly to our room.
Ours was lovely. We requested a room in a quiet location, and were placed in room 1105 in one of the few 2 story buildings. Far from the restaurants, pool etc. but close to the beach. We had an ocean view (wow!) and a hammock on the balcony which was lovely to relax in. There were 2 double beds pushed together to form a king size; sheets were clean and in fairly good condition. We found the bed very comfortable. Mini fridge was stocked with water, the TV had some English channels, and there was safe in the closet. The air conditioning had a remote control which was a bonus. In the bathroom there was a shower stall with curtain, hairdryer, and soaps/shampoo in a little kit. We did not have any problems with hot water. Room was very clean.
Very pretty in a "natural" sort of way. There are lots of palm trees, flowering bushes and other foliage. In some of the gardens, there are little signs indicating the names of the plants. The gardeners were out daily watering, trimming or adding other creations to the gardens. We were told that there had not been significant rain for several months, but other than the grass being a little dry, things still looked lovely.
Hot and sunny with a breeze. We had only one little bit of rain very early one morning. It was windy at the beach, but not so much that we couldn't sit there and enjoy it. Some days were windier than others; we had 2 days with perfectly flat ocean, and a few days with nice small waves.
The beach was very different from the wide beaches of Punta Cana, but lovely just the same. The palm trees are further back off the beach, and for shade, there are little huts to sit under. (more on this later) The sand was very soft under your feet. The seaweed is raked up each morning and taken away. When the tide goes out, the beach widens leaving more room for walking. We spent everyday at the beach.
The ocean was warm and fairly calm, even on the windiest days. It was very shallow and great for swimming; we went out quite a ways before we were up to our necks. There was no current or undertow and the bottom was soft and sandy. The water was a beautiful blue green and crystal clear. There were many small fish to feed, although we did not notice them right at first. As soon as we dropped some bread into the water they came out of nowhere to feed. Also, saw one jellyfish while we were in swimming, but it never bothered us.
We ate everyday at the main buffet "El Eden" for breakfast and supper. We sat in the same area each day, and thus got to know our servers by the end of the week. There was quite a bit to choose from, but go early for the best selection. We went late a few times, and found that they had already run out of some things. Take a good look around the buffet to get familiar with it when you first arrive.
For breakfast there was bacon, eggs, toast, crepes, roasted potatoes, cereal, fresh fruit and pastries. They served freshly squeezed orange juice which was delicious. For supper, we enjoyed the "build your own pasta", and the home made bread. My husband liked the steak and pork chops which they will cook up for you while you wait. One night they had a small turkey . There were always roasted potatoes, rice, salads some seafood and fruit. We had ice cream every night for dessert with flambéed bananas which were delicious. Overall, we had no problems with the food and everything was well cooked. Neither my husband or I were sick from anything we ate. All the food is labelled, so if you have allergies, you will know what to stay away from.
For lunch we ate every day at the "Ranchon El Vigia" on the beach. This is an open air restaurant, so the breeze (and birds) go in and out. We were not bothered by the birds and even had a small hawk perch at the table next to us one day. We were surprised to find "a la carte" menu service in addition to the buffet. The pizza and chicken were good. The buffet served hamburgers and hotdogs, rice dishes, French fries and buns. For dessert there was always ice cream or fruit.
International Restaurant: Don Guillermo
We booked a reservation here for the second last night of our stay. Unfortunately we were not informed by our Tour Rep. of the need for men to wear long pants. We had anxiously awaited this night all week, but were turned away at the door of the restaurant. Not only was my husband not wearing long pants, but we hadn't even packed any!! Something good to know if you're planning on going.
We tipped generously as we found the staff so pleasant and such hard workers. We were never approached by anyone asking for tips on the resort. The gardeners make small grasshoppers out of palm leaves, and would appreciate a small tip if you have one. We found that anything we gave was much appreciated. We left nail polish, hair clips, lipstick and hand creams for our maid each day. We brought along some t-shirts to give out to our favourite staff members at the end of the week. Things that were much appreciated were band-aids, Children's Tylenol, colouring books and crayons, clothes and shoes. On our last day we gave away all of our remaining Cuban pesos to the people who had been so good to us all week.
One of the best things about this resort was the people, and I am sure we only met a very small portion of them. All staff spoke English which made it a lot easier for us to get to know them. A big thank you to Yanelis, Hector, Odeisy, Elgian, and the Pasta Chef at the buffet! They all worked so hard to please us all week, and always greeted us with a smile on their faces.
Odeisy from Animation does hair braiding in her spare time to earn extra money. (You can book an appt. with her through the front desk.) She would appreciate any "beads" you could donate. Her supply was running low the week I was there, and she cannot get them in Cuba. If you would be able to bring her some for me, contact me via email at email@example.com and I will arrange to get them to you.
Hector the bartender at the El Vigia is wonderful. One of the nicest people I have ever met. He kept us well hydrated all week with Coco-Locos and cerveza, and always greeted us with a smile and a handshake. I have a picture to send down to him, so likewise, if you would be able to deliver it for me, please email.
We had a few small inconveniences during our stay that I will mention for the benefit of others, although none of them even came close to affecting our vacation.
We had some very tiny ants in our bathroom sink. We could not find out where they were coming from. We sprayed some insect repellent around the edges of the counter and that seemed to keep them away.
Twice our room key stopped working, but was promptly replaced by the staff at the front desk, and they were very apologetic. Sheets were changed only once during our stay, and once the maid did not get to our room until the supper hour. She came and apologized as we were getting ready for supper, and did say she would return later if we wished. We told her not to worry about it.
My biggest issue was the difficult time we had finding shade on the beach. (something we never encountered in Punta Cana....) There are many beach huts, but it seem they are all gone by 8am and reserved with towels. I was up one morning for a walk at 7:30, and was still unable to secure a shady hut for the day! Occasionally, when a hut was vacated in the afternoon you could snag it if you happened to be walking by at the right time. Yes, we got very sunburnt, and were very red and sore by day 2 of our trip. However, the palm trees just back from the beach were a good option, and this is where we spent most of our "beach time".
We had a lovely time at this resort and are missing it already. Leaving was sad, as we met so many wonderful people....we hope we can return to see them again one day. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and please say hello to Hector for us if you go!
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
|Baz and Tina and the Girls. |
| This has been one of the only holidays where we arrived as guests and left as friends.The rooms were clean and well kept,the grounds exceptional,and the staff very friendly and helpful.We would highly reccomend the CUBINITO bar on the beach front where you will meet Carlos,Alex and Hermes.They will make you the greatest rum cocktails you have ever tasted.The grill bar is a perfect place to have lunch,the calamari is highly commended.If you do go to the CUBINITO bar tell Carlos that the fat man with all the tattoos says hello.The beach is fantastic and the waters crystal clear and warm.If you go on any trips I would reccomend the full day fishing trip,if you can ask for a boat called-TAURO-The trip to swim with the dolphins was great,but if you want to spend some extra time with the dolphins take an extra 30 peso for and extra 20 mins.All in all this was a fantastic holiday ,we met some great new friends from Canada,as well as the u.k.and other places who we hope t! o meet again next year.If any of you are reading this Hi from Baz and Tina and the Girls.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
|Tim, Julie and Ryan (2) |
| Spent the first two weeks of January 2005 in the Sol club cayo Guillermo, and it was fantastic. Flew from Manchester on a Thomas Cook flight ( not great ) with my wife Julie and our 2 year old son Ryan. When we arrived at Jardin Del Reyes, we were escorted through all the queues to the front of passport control by a very helpful member of staff ( because we had a bambino ! ). He helped us get our bags and placed us on our bus. He then took me back into the departure lounge ( as opposed to arrivals ) and helped me collect my cash. As there was a big queue in the arrivals lobby, this was a great help. It was a great start to the vacation.
The hotel is a 45 minute drive from the airport, on an air conditioned bus with a driver who will sell you a cold beer for 2 pesos ( or £2 if you haven't converted the currency yet ). At the risk of repeating what everybody else has said, the hotel is small (ish ), quiet and the staff are excellent. We were worried about the food before we went, but it was fine. There is no need to eat anything cold, because they will cook fresh for you at breakfast ( eggs, pancakes, omlettes), lunch ( pizza, chicken, pork, fish ) and tea ( steak, chicken, pork, burgers, prawns, shrimps, paella ), and although after 2 weeks it can be a bit repetitive, it tastes good, you're not cooking it yourself and it all tastes very nice with a cold beer or wine. Again, the staff work very hard for you and are definitely worth every tip they make. The two other restaurants which you have to book are both excellent. Although they say only twice a week we knew quite a few couples who dined in these spots most nights.
If you like your entertainment during the day, then the animation team have their moments. Lazy darts, bowls, archery, volleyball and fortunately for me football is about the extent of the days activities. Had some very competitive football matches with the Argentinians, French and animation team. We lost more than we won but it was good fun. Big hi to Yamur and Landi when you meet them. Yamur has my new Man Utd football top so he should be easy to recognise.
The weather was pretty consistent in January. It tended to be windy, cloudy in the morning till about 11am, and then sunshine from there on in. Very pleasant. The pools were a bit cold but to be honest if you like swimming, then go to the beach....it is FANTASTIC, especially when the tide is going out a bit and the sand banks start to appear. It is totally safe for children, far warmer than the pools and a joy to lie on and watch the kids playing. For children, they are just starting up a kids club. My son was a little too young to go, but friends of ours ( hi Mark, Sue, Yana, and the triplets ) had three five year olds who were regularly dragged off to do painting, swim, play games etc etc. Great for the parents who could then retire to one of the hotels greatest little secrets...Cubanitos. This is a small rum bar, tucked away by the sea front. It's three bar tenders Carlos, Hermes and Alex are close to acquiring legendary status. Soooo friendly, entertaining and fun to be with. yet again, worth all of their tips ( and believe me they get lots !! )
What else is there to say, that hasn't already been mentioned on this great site. Whatever you're told by the reps, it IS possible to walk from the resort along the beach to Cuba's "best" beach at Playa Pilar. It can be a long rocky walk at times ( between 8-10 kilometres ), and I wouldn't recommend doing it in flip flops like Mark who did it with me, but it's a rewarding walk. Probably best to get the train there and walk back, because the beach at Sol Club is far nicer and you also have the luxury of all those free drinks when you arrive back.
The rooms are basic but fine. For little ones there are no baths in the rooms, just showers. Mind you the bidets keep them entertained. We met a really good crowd of people when we went which definitely helped ( we made our own entertainment.) Hi to Craig, Mel, Gordon, Yvonne and the previouly mentioned Mark, Sue etc.. ). Look forward to the reunion. If anybody wants to know anything else feel free to mail me at TimGreen1970@yahoo.co.uk .
Dont worry about anything, you're going to have a great time and I wish we were coming. We did visit the other hotel at Cayo Coco where you're allowed to use their facilities. If you just want a break it's fine, but it's not a patch on where you're staying...ENJOY.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| January 2005
|In December 2003 (yes, a year ago, but our memories of Cuba are so fond and vivid) we went to Sol Cayo Guillermo, off the northern coast of Cuba in the Jardines del Rey archipelago. Cayo Guillermo is an island off an island off the main island of Cuba. Flights land at neighbouring Cayo Coco. We absolutely loved our trip here. There are only 4 hotels on Cayo Guillermo, and the isolation is one of its charms. There's no town to wander in to; there's just the beach. And it's the most amazing beach I've been to in all my sun-destination travels (Cuba, Mexico, Hawaii, Turkey, Spain...) The four hotels in the island are in a row, and this one's at the end. You could seemingly walk forever on the beach. You can also walk out in the water seemingly forever. The waves that lap at the beach are playful, but not so much that you'd worry about them knocking over your kids. And you really can walk out into the water for what seems to be a mile and not go over my head (well, my 5'5" head anyways). It's still great for swimming, but if you like to do lots of deep water exploring, you may not be as enchanted. (Though it's close -- about 2 nautical miles -- to one of the best coral reefs in the world; you can get there by boat.) For me, it was the perfect beach. The sand was white and powdery. No rocks. No coral. No garbage. At resorts, so many people seem to hang out by the pool that there's always room at the beach to get set up with beach loungers and palapas.
The sister hotel next door (Melia Cayo Guillermo) had a kids' club, so that's where most families tended to stay. Sol Cayo Guillermo is not a party place (though, like all resorts, they have evening shows and a disco) but is the place to go if you actually do want to relax and lounge on the beach or go for long walks.
This resort had a smallish, intimate feel that I liked. I think there are only 268 rooms in total. All of the accommodation here is in two-story bungalows, and from what I remember there were no more than 4 units per bungalow (2 up, 2 down.) We had a great room on the second floor. We were close to the beach anyway, but being higher up we had a better view of the ocean. Also, the upper suites have vaulted ceilings (maybe 16 feet at peak) so felt more spacious and looked like a ski chalet on the inside, but painted in Caribbean blues and yellows. If your travel agent can put in your room request (upper floor, corner suite, ocean view, king-size bed, etc) it's best to do this at time of booking. But if you don't like your room upon check-in, let the front desk know right away, and they'll do what they can do meet your request. (At time of booking, we put in for an upper floor room with balcony and ocean views, and got what we wanted.)
Go to the orientation that the travel co. has scheduled for you on day 1 or 2. They will tell you how many a la carte dinners you can book (you don't have to dine at the buffet every night, but you need reservations for the restaurants) and which activities are included. The main bar and snack bar are open 24 hours; this is standard in the better hotels.
There are day trips you can take, but we really wanted to relax here. We did book a half day trip, which we enjoyed. It was a small tour (I think 6 or 8 of us) and we took a boat ride (on a Zodiac) through the mangrove swaps, saw an alligator farm, and walked around in the town of Moron. It was a short outing, but we were glad to have a taste of Cuban life outside the resort. On Christmas Day, we went to Playa Pilar, a nearby beach that was a few kilometres away. Again, stunning!
Much in Cuba is one way for the Cubans and another way for tourists. Things generally favour the tourists: better food, freedom of movement, better transportation, ability to buy whatever we want, etc. Another point to note: Cuban citizens are not permitted on Cayo Guillermo or Cayo Coco unless they're there to work at one of the resorts. There's a bridge between Cuba and Cayo Coco, and there's a passport checkpoint. If you're not a foreigner with a valid tourist card, or you're a Cuban who's not on your way to work, you're not permitted to pass. Note about the bridge: While crossing, look out your vehicle window, as the largest flock of flamingos in the Caribbean makes its home here! If they're far out (they're bothered by airplane noise, etc), look for a line of pink on the horizon.
Food: You're not going to Cuba for the finest food, so keep in mind that while the Cubans have a food shortage and are still on rations, you as a fortunate tourist will never go hungry. You may find the food lacking spice or variety, but you'll always have a good selection, and some great, fresh fruit, fish and seafood. Take a bottle of wine with you, if you want something nice to drink with dinner (the wine they serve generally isn't of good quality to begin with, and proper storage may be lacking) and if you're so inclined, take some garlic powder or a jar of minced garlic or ginger. I'm vegetarian (no meat, fish or seafood) so it was a little trickier for me, but there was a pasta bar where a chef will make pasta and sauce from scratch for you, and there's always lots of rice, veg, fruit, and fabulous homemade ice cream. The Cubans are big on sweets, so there's lots of dessert options. (But little chocolate, so you may also want to bring your own if you'll need a fix.) The coffee/espresso/capuccino is very good. Tea is not. If you value your tea, bring your own. (By the way, all these things I'm suggesting to you, I neglected to do myself, and I still had a great time.)
Tipping: Much appreciated, but not expected. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful in general. I did not find that the service altered depending on whether you tip or not. For us, we tipped as much as possible, because the money means so much more to them. (Tips allow them to have money beyond the $20 or so they make in wages each month.) But also, you're at an all-inclusive and sometimes you've just come from the beach and you're not carrying cash, so sometimes you don't tip. Both trips we took down things to give away (clothes, books, medicine, shoes, toiletries, etc), and we left what things we could when we checked out. We left a tip for our maid each day, as well as a small gift i.e. a necklace, a pair of sandals, small bottle/sample of perfume, etc. They really appreciate anything that they can't get in their country, and the trade embargos ensure there's a lot they can't get. We also gave things away to "behind the scenes" staff, and found others doing the same. One guy gave a suit to a gardener, another family gave the pool guy a bag of things from The Bay. We left a bagful of things for the entertainment staff in their dressing room, and a bunch of dresses to the seamstresses.
Shopping: The government owns and controls most everything, so the content from shop to shop between tourist hotels changes little. If you want to bring back Cuban goods (rum, cigars, coffee) it's best to get all that at the large duty free stores at the airport when you leave. Prices are a bit lower than at the hotels, and the selection is greater. Havana Club is the better rum available (go for at least the 7-year), I think Cohiba is one of the better cigar brands, and I'm told that Cubita coffee is excellent. At the airport duty free stores you can also get a decent selection of books, calendars, the ubiquitous Che t-shirts, some handicrafts and artwork...
Our fabulous Sol Cayo Guillermo trip was done for under $1000 per person, all-inclusive (including taxes, service charges, and other fees). The advertised rates will likely be around $780 plus taxes, etc.
Would we go back to Cayo Guillermo? Yes. While I generally favour trying new places (in 2004 we went to Sol Rio de Luna y Mares in Holguin, Cuba), we loved this resort so much and would return, and heartily recommend to others.
|Sol Club Cayo Guillermo|
| I just returned back on the 3rd of Jan and I can't stop raving about this place. It is an excellent choice, beautiful and has a wonderful beach. The service, food and entertainment were all great including the a la cartes. The weather was a little windy, but still got very hot in the afternoons, expecially at the pool where your blocked from the wind. All in All it was an excellent vacation and couldn't of asked for more. I give it a full 10 out of 10!