|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|This was our third trip here & it's still a nice spot - BUT;
The first wk (mid Dec) saw the beach mainly disappear. They bus you to an alternative but be warned they don't provide free booze (even water) & there is no shade so take one of their umbrellas. The beach returned the next wk.
They persist in fogging mosquitoes at 7pm so that it drifts over the food. It stinks & hurts the eyes.
We determined that it is not a shortage of food at the Sol
resorts but rather that the presention is pitiful - overcooked, cold (the steam trays are not heated) & the staff had no training in meat carving. There is no excuse for a lack of fruit. We found the staff to be less energetic this year.
They know the problems but ignore them. A VIP visited one nite & boy did we see a big improvement (then it was back to same old same old).
The nearby Bacello Hotel changed managers & brought in a chef from the Dom Rep. Sol needs to copy them.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
| HERE ARE OUR TWO CENTS WORTH....Just got back from two weeks at the Sol Cayo Largo. Beautiful resort, nice people, everyone working there , from the maids to the managers , bar tenders etc. excellent . Had a very good time. No complaints at all. If you should go remember the bug spray!!!!. there are mosquitoes and sand flies. The ocean was very rough but one of the pools has salt water, the other is fresh water, you choose. The thing that we wanted to make a point of this year was that if the only airline flying there (wherever) was Air Transat we would NOT go there. We will never fly that airline again. Last year we vacationed in Guardalavaca and Air Transat seats were too tight (we are both of normal weight). The meal going south consisted of a muffin and coffee. Coming back for lunch we got a soggy sub. We traveled to Cayo Largo with WestJet and, boy, what a difference!!! wide seats nicest people on board and on the ground and an excellent meal there and back. Therefore unless you are really stuck DO NOT GO ON VACATION WITH A I R T R A N S A T !
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
| Stayed at the Sol Club the week of Feb 17th through the 24th, 2007. This was our third visit in a row as we absolutely love the beach, the resort and the staff. After several stays in other locales, this is by far our number one choice for some R&R. Please note that there were 20 of us travelling together, so there was a little less relaxation and a lot more intoxication this time around.
We flew down with West Jet via Terminal 3 and other than having to be there several hours earlier than I would ever think about getting up for work, it was fine. The flight left more or less on time on time and was uneventful--the best kind of flight in my opinion--and we arrived in CL just after 10am. Customs was a little slow but we eventually made it through, changed some money, grabbed our bags and were whisked to the resort by bus.
Check-in was a bit slow and with no one at the MAS desk (those who have been before will know about the desk just right of the check-in counter) it seemed to take longer than in previous years. No one expected their room to be ready upon arrival (keep in mind its maybe 11am now) and very few were.
We were served cold Rum Punch drinks as we stood in line and the band played in the background. I was finally met by the smiling face of Alexander at the desk and he welcomed me back like a long lost brother. I was disappointed to hear that Lizbet, Emir and Tania had all left the resort for other jobs on the island. Anyway, within 45 minutes all 20 of us we were good to go and we headed to the beach to check it out.
Beautiful, lovely, amazing...with the kind of vista that makes you go "Wow!"
Sand as far as the eye can see in both directions and made only more picturesque by the many shades of azure blue that is the sea. The good news was that the beach was much wider then in Feb 2006. The lone exception being the eastern corner of Lindarena Beach between the Pelicano and Villa Lindamar where its quite rocky. West of the Sol Club the beach looked great
too, right around the western corner and on toward Paraiso and Sirena. The
one sad note was that there was so few palapas up in front of the Sol Club.
There were 6 to 8 east of the beach bar toward the aquatic hut, near the beach volleyball court, and west of the beach bar you had to walk well past the lifeguard tower. The frustration was that these were almost all taken by 8am. So, the reservation game had to be played very early. The weather was great and not too windy, so the beach stayed quite good the entire week.
Just be aware that the beach condition can change day to day depending on weather, wind speed and tides.
We did not bother to go to the western beaches as Linderena was in such good shape. Speaking to people that did, however, they mentioned that both Paraiso and Sirena were in very good shape. Just note that there is little shade available at Paraiso. The resort offers a "train ride" to these
beaches and will pack you a lunch if requested. I was told that you must
request it the day prior and you can pick it up at the front desk. I do believe that they still charge 2 CUC's and this was also mentioned by the tour rep, Kim.
It is well documented that you do not go to Cuban Resorts for world class cuisine. The Sol Club is not an exception to this rule. Having said that, the food is decent, there is lots of it, but it does lean toward the bland on occasion. The buffet has lots of hot and cold choices and a carving table with a different main selection each night (steak/turkey/chicken/fish/pork).
There is a grill bar for stir-frys and pasta bar as well. Lots of desserts too! I once described the buffet as an upscale university cafeteria and I still think this is a fair comparable. We did order the lobster one night and it was really good. It does cost $20 CUC's and thus is not part of your all-inclusive. Your server will give you a piece of paper to sign and the charge is added to your room which you pay when checking out.
We also ate at the Ranchon for lunch (often) and our ala carte dinner one night. The food was great! Try the grilled fish or chicken for lunch. You order this from your server. Just note that its not well advertised that you can do this as most people assume that lunch is just another buffet and line up to fill their plates. Ask your server...its worth the wait!
There were many choices of fruits available at all meals, but fresh vegetables were scarce.
My one complaint here would be the set-up of the buffet service itself. All week there was one grill station that sat un-opened through breakfast and dinner. Thus, there were days when the line-ups were un-necessarily long and the wait up to 15-20 minutes. There was some minor grumbling about this.
I thought the resort looked great. The past few years have obviously allowed the plants to mature and blend nicely into the landscape. Fresh paint was in evidence in many areas around the pool bar, the fitness area and several of the guest buildings. Overall, the staff have done a very solid job in maintaining and enhancing the look and feel of the resort. The tennis courts have also been re-surfaced and new stones have been laid along several of the paths between buildings. My one disappointment, as mentioned, was how few palapas were available along the beach in front of the resort.
The Sol Club also got rid of the more comfortable blue lounge chairs around the pool and have replaced them with the hard plastic version, similar to what they have on the beach. The good news was that there was never an issue getting a lounge pool-side at any time the day. Yes, some guests had "reserved" some and went for breakfast, but at no time did our group have problems finding a comfortable perch to lay on. There is also lots of shaded areas available as well for those guests needing to get out of the sun.
The Pool Bar is the place we went for "happy hour" every late afternoon.
The food is very good and I highly recommend the thin-crust pizza. This is an ala carte service and not a buffet. You can also get sandwiches, hamburgers, sausages and fries etc. It is also one of the few places where you can actually get a salad!
Some of our group had oceanfront rooms but many were in the standard accommodations. Our room (1822) was fine: oceanfront, fully stocked fridge at all times, well kept, lots of hot water...no complaints at all. The mattresses could use a serious upgrade but other than that everything was good. Just a hint, make sure you ask the maid for an extra bottle of water to keep in your fridge.
The Sol Club has changed their "towel policy". In previous years, guests received a card that they then took to the Activity Hut near the pool and received a towel. At the end of your stay you would return your towel and receive the card back. You needed this card to check out. If you lost your towel, or did not have the card, you were charged $15 or $20 CUC's. I think what they found was that guests just refused to pay the fine. So, now when you check in at the desk you hand over $15 CUC's and receive a sheet of paper with your name, room number and signature. You take this to the Hut and receive your towel. When you return the towel at the end of your stay you get your form back and reimbursed at the front desk. I have likely made it sound more onerous than it was, but you get the idea. They have your money up front!
We did not witness the staff attitudinal changes that others have mentioned here before us. This was our third visit to the resort and everyone greeted us as they always have--with warmth, friendship and a big smile. There was no sign of staff looking over shoulders, nor was there evidence of a fear that "someone" would see a public exhibition of friendship between a staff member and guest. I hope that this always remains as its one of the blessings of returning to the same resort over and over.
The disco was busy most nights which was great. The Animation team came in a few times but mainly it was filled with guests drinking, playing pool and dancing.
Over all Impressions:
Easily still the best resort on the island of Cayo Largo in my opinion, but not without its warts. The rooms could use new beds and/or mattresses as well as some minor touch up like new caulking around the tub. Nothing real serious but just enough where some of the lustre has worn off. The buffet service could use some fine-tuning as long line-ups at grill stations were common at breakfast and lunch. Opening the other grill would alleviate some of this congestion. Others have mentioned the bugs but, again, we did not notice them or maybe we were just lucky with timing. Or maybe we had just ingested too much vino tinto.
This is not, however, the idyllic holiday for everyone. If you are looking for some serious beach time, major R&R and a very relaxed atmosphere, this may be the resort for you. If you are looking for nightlife, the single scene or cruise-class food, you may want to look at other venues. We will be going back in 2008.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|Blair & Donna |
St. Catharines, Ontario
|Donna and I flew(Feb.17th/07)AirCanada from Toronto(Pearson) to Montreal(Trudeau) and then after a 60 minute delay, on to Cuba(Cayo Largo Del Sur Airport) arriving around 9:00 p.m. The AirCanada(First Class) service was good and the AirCanada pilots landing in Cuba was
" slick-as-shit ". The Shuttle bus that was used to drive us to the resort(10 minutes) was clean and driven at a reasonable speed. Check-in was long (45 minutes). Our room was clean, simple and colourful. Our room(2924) was on the second floor and had a partial view of the ocean. On the last day we watched the entire sun rise. "Bliss" is the correct word to describe the experience.
Air conditioning was available with what looked like relatively new technology A/C unit. A portable hand control unit was used to turn it off/on and control the temperature/fan speed. Instructions for the A/C were at the bedside and were not difficult to understand. Meals were simple, nutritious and tasty. Lot's of fruits/vegetables were available along with beef, pork, chicken and turkey. There was always fish available in many different forms and at all three meals. The beef in Cuba does not taste like the Beef I have grown up with from the Grey-Bruce County here in Ontario or the "organic beef" we presently eat. It does not taste as good.
The "house keeping" was good and deserved the 10 peso tip at the end of the week. Clean sheets and bath towels every day.
The beaches were one of the main reasons we went. White sand, turquoise green water and lots of sun.
The beaches were beautiful but with few palm leaf umbrella's available. That was an unfortunate part of the holiday. Many times we would go to the beach(9:00 a.m.) and find what few palm leaf umbrella's they had, taken. When we left the resort, there were only two more being constructed. Beach lounge chairs were another item in shortage which resulted in more time around the pool than desired. The temperature early in the week was cool(60 F.) but gradually warmed up to 78 F. There was the "Resort drunk" who did stir things up one night in one of the restaurants. He was politely and carefully escorted out of the restaurant by resort staff. His lovely wife had left 10 minutes before.
The restaurants we went to served what my wife calls," German Portions" of food. These portions are "smaller portions" of food. To us, it was not a problem. A nice couple we met from Sherbrooke, Quebec said that they would have preferred "regular portions". I can understand that. Perhaps a choice of size of portions could be offered by the resort.
At our resort there were young cats close to a year old wondering around the resort. They were not aggressive and loved to be fed by resort guests. Feeding them was not discouraged or encouraged by either restaurant or grounds resort staff. They were kept far away from the open air main dining room. It was a nice touch for those resort guests who had cats at home.
Phoning long distance is costly. At least a buck a minute to St. Catharines, Ontario. You're choice!
Cuban Customs personal were professional and polite. Cayo Largo Del Sur Airport ticket staff were polite and courteous. We purchased a bottle of 7 year old Cuban rum at the resort and compared prices at the Duty Free store at the airport - same price. Would we go back again - yes!
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|John & Kim |
| My wife and I just returned from a great week at the Sol Club Cayo Largo.
We were part of a group of 20 who all had a great winter get-a-way. Here's my 2 cents on likes and dislikes we experienced at this resort. We have vacationed in the Caribbean numerous times before but this was our first trip to Cuba.
Beach- clearly one of the nicest we have been too. Water was warm with different levels of wave through out the week. The sand was exactly as we were told it would be - white and powdery and cool. What I didn't like was
the width of the beach. At our resort, it was about 10 foot wide but
often large waves came right up to the lounges. Not enough Palapas for
everyone either . But the water was absolutely the prettiest turquoise
color I have seen. Some snorkeling but farther out than most other resorts I have visited.
Rooms- We had paid for an upgraded "ocean view" room and although yes, we could see the ocean but you can't see the beach because of the large coral formations between rooms and beach. But the Ocean view room did come with a coffeemaker and mini fridge which was great. Towels and sheets replaced daily and maid did a nice job with little figurines with our towels. We let a stack of gifts every day for maids. They kept fridge full of water and pop. We did have small ants in our bathroom sink area all week....they
were a nuisance. Hot water was not always consistent, and especially if
someone else in your 4 room villa was also trying to shower.
Surprisingly, the TV had CNN headline news and HBO. Were not ones to watch tv on vacation but it was nice to catch up on weather and sports scores over a morning coffee on the balcony and a late night movie.
Food- Was okay. I found buffet was better than most with pasta and stir fry bars at dinner and egg/omelet bar for breakfast as well as lots of other items. Fresh bread and rolls were amazing. Vino Tinto and Vino Blanco ( red and white wine) were surprising good too and plentiful.
Coffee on other hand was horrible. Thank god coffee in room was good. Only
2 al a carte and your only allowed one visit to one of them per week so it forced your to use buffet 6 times. I do think with a decent tip, you could get more dinners at al a carte but as we were a group of 20, it was not going to happen.
Ranchon- we had lunch once and one dinner and mostly not impressed.
Pool Bar- ate lunch there most days and servers and food were outstanding.
So good that we never had a need to try anything else for lunch.
Service- I think this is the best part of this resort. We were very amazed at the great service that we were received. We had read some previous reviews and were a little worried but Michele and Daily at Pool Bar, Raul, Danny and Useeme at the Buffet were the best servers I have every experienced. Yes, we actually tipped quite well but these people went way out of there way to make our vacation enjoyable. We tip for great serves provided to us, not to get great service. Tipping- generally each couple tipped Pool servers ( and we kept them hopping) $3-5 CUC peso's every afternoon and dinner servers we took turns tipping $20-30 CUC peso's for a group of 20. Again, we pretty much kept two waiters hopping as we enjoyed
2-3 hour dinners every night.
Bars- Pool bar was the one we spent most time at found the drinks and service great. Lobby bar is open 24 hours and Noel did a great job pouring drinks here all week.
Beach Bar was great as well and not very busy.
Miscellaneous- Like most beaches in Caribbean, lots of topless and certain area's of full nudity but was never an issue. Check in and check out had regular wait times as this is Cuba and things happen slower. We did get internet access to check some hockey scores and phoning home was cheap( $2cuc peso's per minute) but reception poor. Bus ride to and from airport is about 7 minutes ( nice) Tennis courts (2) were in good shape.
Wild cats- resort home to about 12 cats that mostly roam in one or two area's . If yoru not a cat lover you could get startled but them late at night. 2 small stores for buying some trinkets T-shirts, cigars rum, etc... Nothing special You had to pay a $15 deposit for towels and you can switch daily or when ever but if you have an early morning departure, you need to hand back you towel before 6 pm night before.
Catamaran cruise- was amazing. Lots of rum and beer and lobster lunch was best we had. Snorkeling at reef was great and just cruising around Caribbean sea's were fun.
Wrap up..... We really enjoyed the resort and the group we had created a
lot of our own fun. I would come back to Sol Club Cayo Largo.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
| We just returned from our 4th visit to the Sol Cayo Largo, Cuba. This year, we travelled with friends who hadn’t visited the island and had a great time. The weather was beautiful, except there was more wind than we have encountered in the past. We also had a huge downpour the second last day of our visit, and it was cloudy and cool the day we left.
We traveled with Nolitours /Air Transat and had no problems at all. Upon arrival, and clearing customs (without incident), we took our own bags to the bus, and the driver’s “helper” loaded them on the bus. He asked us for money for this service – this is the first time we have encountered this. When we arrived at the hotel, as the report by “Shirleyujest” indicated, there was no one at the MaS desk, as there has been in previous years. We used the main desk and our check in was processed quickly.
This year the food in the buffet restaurant was better than previous years. Even the desserts tasted better for some reason.
This resort definitely needs some work with respect to room maintenance. It is getting a little tired. Our room had broken tiles on the floor and around the tub and loose towel holders. The shower head didn’t fit into the holder properly and kept falling into the tub. There are new hairdryers though, that have tons of power and work great. During the past years, we received a bottle of champagne because we were repeat visitors. This year, we didn’t receive one. Also, in the past, our maids have always done some type of towel art on our bed or in the bathroom. This year we had none, even though we did leave tips.
The sandfleas were brutal this year, especially on the beach. Don’t forget to take your repellent. The beach was beautiful, but had more garbage than we’ve ever seen on it – plastic jugs, bags, junk of all sorts.
One real downside this year, was an incident with some kittens. There were 4 of them, about 5-7 weeks old, who apparently had been abandoned by their mother. Each day, many tourists stopped to hold them and play with them as they walked by their little home on the grounds. Some brought food for them. One morning, around 9:30, my husband was walking down the path to see them and found some staff members picking them up, scratching and wailing, and forcing them into garbage bags, presumably to take them away to be destroyed. We wished that we didn’t have to witness that.
Despite this incident, we really did enjoy ourselves once again, and will probably return next year
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
| We just returned from our 4th visit to the Sol Cayo Largo, Cuba and had yet another wonderful, relaxing vacation.
Three of our visits have been at the same time of year and this time we noticed a few changes and differences, not only at the resort. Some for the better and some not.
We traveled with Nolitours /Air Transat and I must say we would not go out of our way to book any packages with this tour operator. They just seem to be very inefficient and their customer service needs a little bit of work.
Having said that, however, the little “negatives” didn’t really amount to much and we still had a great time.
Arrival at the Cayo Largo airport was fairly smooth but this time seemed to take so much longer to go through the Customs lines than previous visits.
When I got through the first round of Customs and was “permitted” to go through the locked door to the next Customs check (checking personal items), an agent asked if I was with the woman in front of me. I said, “No, I am with my husband, who is still on the other side of the door”. He wouldn’t let me go through his line until my husband had come through so he let other people ahead of me. Not a problem, just thought this was a bit strange.
Our luggage was waiting for us when we got through Customs – that’s how long it took us to get through Customs. Usually it’s the other way around – us waiting for our luggage.
As soon as we gathered our luggage, there were about 10 porters just waiting to take our luggage out to the bus, which is about 50 feet away. We managed to get through all the porters, got to the bus, and left our luggage by the bus, as instructed by the driver and his “helper”. We stood there, making sure our luggage got on the bus, which it did, and then they asked for a tip. We didn’t have any pesos handy so he asked for Canadian money. We have never been asked for tips like this before, especially in Cayo Largo.
Bus ride to the resort (about 10 minutes max) was uneventful.
We had confirmed via email that there was a separate desk for MAS card holders, as there had been in previous years, but when we arrived at the resort, there was no one at the small desk so we checked in at the main desk. It was very efficient.
Our room (0924) wasn’t ready (our arrival was about 11:00 a.m.) and we were prepared for this so we just got changed into our bathing suits and headed for the beach.
We kept checking with the front desk about our room and it wasn’t ready until about 4:00 that day, but that was ok. We found enough things to do at the beach and the resort to keep ourselves occupied.
The porters brought our luggage to our room and it took us no time at all to unpack and settle in.
One of the changes we noticed during this visit was the staffing issues. We didn’t witness any of the “My fren’, my fren’” type of camaraderie. The staff were as friendly as usual, couldn’t do enough for us, but there was that invisible line drawn that they are the staff, we are the patrons. Much more professional and it was very nice. This was noticed in all areas of the resort. From the bars to the buffet and everywhere in between.
The animation staff was, in particular, much more aloof than usual, tending to stick together – especially at night in the fun pub. They would come in and dance together and/or dance in a big group with the vacationers but nothing one-on-one with the patrons.
We played pool volleyball with the staff and that was a lot of fun. What we did notice is that the staff spoke Italian and had kind of an Italian following so most of the pool actitivies (as well as the evening entertainment) was usually spoken in Spanish and Italian – maybe some French in between.
Another change was the towel deposit of $15.00 each. Payable right then and there at the desk, we were given a chit, and were to take it to the Activity Hut for our towels. No problems.
- Shuttle ride
Something else that was new was the shuttle ride to the “virgin” beaches (Sirenas and Paraiso) cost $2.00 “round trip” each. For us, we would take the shuttle to the beaches and walk back. We had a chit for the return trip so the next day we walked to the beaches and took the shuttle back. As of December 3, the shuttle was to be free or charge – this was the start of high season. We were leaving on the 4th.
We had the best food we have had in Cayo Largo this trip. Everything was hot and replenished regularly at the buffet. The whole buffet restaurant seemed a lot calmer to us, when it came to service and the cooks replenished the food.
The variety of food was good, it was fresh, although still not much to offer in the way of fresh vegetables. Breakfast offered more fruits than before but we found them to be quite tasteless, for the most part.
Weather and Beaches:
We had fabulous weather the whole week – and the beach itself changed every day. On our last day, there was not a cloud in the sky, which is very unusual. That evening we had a downpour for about 20 minutes. That’s the first time we’ve ever experienced rain in Cayo Largo.
We also walked along the beach to the Barcelo. Something we have never been able to do before. The Barcelo had the widest beach.
All the beaches, by the end of the week, were completely covered with brown seaweed, there were high waves – red flagged for the last 3 days, and much of the beach (and palapas) in front of the Sol as well as the Pelicano had been washed away.
We met up with a lot of the same people we had met over the past couple of years who vacationed at the same time as us. That was fun to catch up with them. Nice to see repeat guests.
Although the grounds are well maintained, the rooms and the furnishings need a bit of attention. Our bed was in need of being replaced – we woke up with backaches almost every morning due to the lumps and bumps in the mattress. Also, the legs of the bed were quite loose and wobbly. As well, the bathroom needed a bit of attention. All was functioning, (well, except for our A/C) but just minor details that could be attended to in order to keep this resort at a 4* level.
We were told that the resort had not closed for the summer months as it usually did so maybe that had something to do with the lack of attention to detail.
There was no loud music being played at the pool during the day and/or all day. Some music we did hear at the pool snack bar, however, was not always Cuban / Latin. We heard the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys, and other "soft rock" stuff. This was a first.
One thing to note is that the beach towels we were given on our second day were white. At first we had been given coloured towels at first and noticed that some other people had white ones. We thought they had brought their bath towels down to the pool/beach.
We didn’t always take our beach towels with us when we went out so on our last day, when we returned from the beach, we noticed that ALL of the towels had been removed from our room and not replaced. It was not just the towels in the bathroom but our white beach towels as well.
We didn’t get our towels replaced until about 6:00 p.m. that day, after several calls to the front desk as well as visits to the housekeeping hut. Fortunately when we went to the housekeeping hut, the maid there gave us two beach towels but we didn’t get any others til later.
The mossies and flies were out and about this time, although they didn't bother us at all. I used the "OFF!" towellettes with great success as well as "Skintastic". Both worked well. Just a thought about the towellettes. They are a great, convenient way to apply repellant. I found, however, that you have to work quickly with them as they dry quickly. One towel covered my legs, arms and neck. Some people may want or need to use more than one.
Keep in mind that this resort doesn't offer a "kids club", although children are welcome at this resort.
All in all we had a great trip. Cayo Largo still holds a lot of it’s magic for us and we will return.
I would be more than happy to answer any and all questions and/or comments anyone may have.
I would recommend this resort to anyone who:
1). Loves the beach
2). Doesn't mind nudity. It does exist here and it's not hidden into the far reaches of the beaches. You WILL encounter it.
3). Doesn't mind toplessness and thongs on the women, both at the pools and the beaches
4). Likes to vacation with European clientele
5). Are looking for a relaxed resort and a quiet vacation. This is definitely not a party place.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|B. Dowd |
Whitby, ON, Canada
|Report on our stay at Sol Cayo Largo, November 11th to 18th:
Room 1126, a Junior Suite Oceanview:
Visiting Cuba should not be mistaken as visiting a fairly typical Caribbean country. Even at Sol Cayo Largo there were many surprises for my husband and I, in our forties. Some were very pleasant, such as the sincerity and good will of the people we met; or the quality of the beach and the diving / snorkelling in crystal blue waters. The lack of noise and lack of litter were truly wonderful, especially compared to many North American beaches. But the list of negatives at Sol Cayo Largo (SCL) is equally long. Our time in Cuba was spent mostly at SCL on Cayo Largo del Sur, for 7 nights, where we rented a junior suite (second story of a cabin type structure) with ocean frontage at the end of a quiet section. The rooms were beautiful.
We went by a small plane from Havana. DON’T DO THIS!!! Each year these poorly maintained Russian planes crash. An oil company employee told us that the company he works for forbids their employees to fly with Cuban air lines of any name. Our Rough Guide to Cuba (2005) said much the same thing, but we didn’t read it early enough to know before booking. We wanted to fly Air Canada and at the time we flew (November 2006) AC was not flying directly to Cayo Largo. Air Transat would have been a much better choice for us as Canadians, even if it involved a trip to Montreal first. On our flight back to Havana I noticed a rust spot where a rivet was missing, as I looked at the wing outside of my window. Enough said.
At the resort we were warmly welcomed, and carefully looked after by the public relations employees, who were inclined to pamper us. The grounds were not quite lush, but nonetheless beautiful, and the buildings are well maintained. But the beach is the big highlight. It felt as though we had arrived in paradise on earth. The names Lisbet and Amin stand out. We approached them most frequently and always felt that there was warm and friendly concern and attention to our needs. On many other occasions we also were delighted with our experiences at the resort, Sol Cuba Largo. Most of the wait staff and other service employees were kind, warm and generous. Most were able to understand English, although most of the people who go to the resort are francophone or speakers of Italian or Spanish. Be prepared, for not everyone speaks English gladly. It can be difficult to make friends without employing multilingual skills.
Some experiences at the resort were not as wonderful. Here’s the list.
Be prepared to have to speak Spanish to be understood by staff, such as to make a request of your maid or to inquire about food choices. You may be able to be better understood in French if you can speak it, but English puts you at a definite disadvantage. Whatever you do, do bring a good phrasebook & dictionary for Spanish if you don’t know more than a few words.
Sand flies were biting all over the beach and even at the pool, quite some distance from the beach. All over body applications of DEET were required at least once a day to prevent the major biting that occurred with great frequency. There were no warnings about this before we arrived.
Pools of standing water, large and small on the resort and the island, in a dengue mosquito zone.
Attempts to control the bug problem through low plane insecticide spraying on the beach at sunset and with a separate man driven insecticide fogging cart throughout the resort (airborne) within an hour of the plane. We did not find out whether the stuff was DDT, agent orange or something else, but clearly humans are at risk and so are wildlife species, however the efficacy against biting insects. There were no warnings about this before we arrived.
Topless women everywhere there is a beach. Fully nude people at the north end of Lindemar Beach, and sometimes walking up and down the beach. I know opinions vary widely on this kind of thing, but be prepared if it’s not your cup of tea.
A word about currency. The “Converted Peso” is worth MORE than the US dollar and exists almost solely for the purpose of trapping foreign dollars, since it does not enter foreign markets and is not subject to fluctuation. You lose a lot of your own country’s currency to receive cash, mostly for tipping and small extras. Every transaction with a VISA card is subject to conversion through American dollars and a conversion rate. This applies whether you are paying for something at a resort or whether you want to acquire currency for cash in hand. By the way, going through VISA is the only way to do this, other than bringing currency from your own country and converting it in Cuba, at a high rate, for low return.
For those who care one way or the other about new age symbolism, be aware that it is everywhere at the resort. The spiral, the Å of anarchy (not contained in a circle) and lots of sun and moon faces, even totem poles.
Having said all these things, I would suggest that no one brings his or her family to Cuba or this resort without buying a good guide book first and reading it right from introductory pages before booking. If you can overlook experiences that my husband and I did not like, or even like them, you will be able to enjoy all the good things about this place, and there are many!
FRONT DESK SERVICE AND COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS:
Surly, unhelpful desk staff who were attractive, pleasant and seemed competent most of the time, but who did not do well when a complaint or discrepancy in the bill arose. The more senior staff were better at apologizing for services promised that were not delivered. At one point when I called to request to speak to the manager I was greeted with the response, “What!!!?”
There were huge accounting errors that could have led to a large overpayment, to the tune of more than 300 converted Pesos (greater than 325 USD). It was resolved after quite some time, as the employee wanted to go over the currency conversion repeatedly instead of talking strictly about the difference between the amount I was promised in my online deal and the amount I was being charged. I had arranged for a fixed deal in American dollars at the Sol Melia web site rather than going through a travel agent. But regardless, the staff wanted to tally up all the nights, person by person, and put me through the pain of doing all the math with them. In order to ensure that there were no further “discrepancies” I had to endure this experience with them, not just once, but twice, to make sure I was not being overcharged again. The first time the person doing the bookkeeping made the mistake of thinking I wished only to pay up to and including that day, despite my wish (expressed in English) to pay the entire hotel bill 3 days before checkout. Her mistake led to two payments instead of just one. The whole thing was maddening.
We had two doors to our junior suite and the one we reached first after climbing the stairs, which we used the most, was locked at 10 AM on the morning of the day we were to leave and check out. We called and asked the desk to fix it. They sent repairmen to the door. What was required was an electronic reopening of the door from the front desk.
This kind of thing happened a few times. The desk staff would say they would send someone to fix a problem, but help would not arrive or not the right kind of help was given (the kind promised in our arrangements), resulting in frustration and repeated requests, making for hassles for us and probably perceptions of harassment on their part. Other problems:
- Lack of beach towels in the room, as promised for a junior suite, until the fourth day. Thereafter we had them there every day.
- Locked us out of our suite’s main door at 10 AM, though we were informed after clearing our room, at noon, that with our suite we were welcome to continue to use the room until 4 PM.
- After informing us that we can continue to use our suite until 4 PM, an extended checkout for guests with suites, we were locked out of our safe prior to 4 PM, resulting in extreme panic as our pickup for the airport was due at the lobby at 4:30 PM
What Management Did In Response to Complaints:
- Warmly extended sincere verbal apologies and a written apology, along with a good bottle of champagne and every extra amenity that was available, including slippers, a free shaving kit, shoe shine kit, facial cleansers, the works…
- Corrected the problems speedily and with empathy for our frustration.
- Provided a taxi to the airport at the end, after a horrific panic when the safe would not open, due to a premature electronic shutout at the desk.
Good Experiences at Sol Cayo Largo
Fantastic beach, beautiful sand, clean clear, pristine azure waters. No warnings from the hotel about total or topless nudity, both of which are commonly observed. Think twice about bringing your kids unless that’s really OK for you.
The pool area is generous in size and pleasant to the eye. It is well maintained.
The rooms are in cabin type structures, pleasant to the eye and isolated two storey buildings that accommodate 4 single rooms or 2 rooms and a junior suite. I feel sorry for those who did not have an ocean view, as the garden view” is sparse.
Staff serving food and drinks were good to us and usually very friendly, courteous and on the ball. They did not ask for tips, and this was appreciated, but we tipped generously as we were aware that tipping was vital to supplement an income that is almost not there. I do not regret parting with more than two hundred pesos for this reason over the course of the week. When I discovered the living conditions and the life circumstances of these generous, kind hearted people, it was worth it.
The maid who cleaned our room is good at what she does. She made beautiful swan sculptures with towels and other nearby objects. We had a lot of floor space, and we were always grateful for the good work she did to keep it all up.
Great beach sports with staff who were helpful and fun.
No dysentery. The food proved to be safe, even when chances were taken.
Extras with the junior suite, such as two meals at the better à la carte restaurants as a bonus with the suite, and a memorable day at La Sirena beach, a cooler with drinks and snacks provided.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|JM and Marianne |
| From JM and Marianne (Canada) who stayed from May 8 to 17, 2006 at the Sol Cayo Largo.
The bottom line: an average resort with friendly staff and an exceptional beach. By far, the best resort on the island. The other resorts were not nearly as well established, maintained or had as nice a beachfront (some even did not have any beachfront due to previous hurricanes).
We are a married couple with three children in our early 40’s who was looking for a relaxing vacation with a long beach for extended walks and total relaxation. We had heard some very positive things about the beach in Cayo Largo for years and chose to go there to finally experience it. We were not disappointed. The Sol Cayo Largo is the last (or the first, depending on how you look at it) hotel on the beach and gave us perfect direct access to over 8 kms of beautiful beaches. Every day, we walked from the hotel to Sirena Beach and back. We did not take the shuttle to Paradise Beach (beside Sirena) and were pleased to have walked the distances. This was definitely the highlight of the vacation and would recommend it to anyone who is in good shape and looking for a relaxing, yet challenging daily walk. All those contemplating going there should be forewarned, though, that nude sunbathing is the norm once you leave the limits of the Sol Cayo Largo beach proper. Outside those limits, you can see all types of people and couples, be they gay, straight, young and old, fat and thin, who are walking the beach. Everyone is very respectful and people understand that not everyone may be into naturalism, so there is no pressure to conform. Because of the seclusion, it was very easy to walk a few kilometres without meeting up with anyone, so we could take out suits off and put them back on as we wished.
Rooms: We had a standard room which was well decorated and appointed. The air conditioning unit was integrated into the main wall of the room instead of being a window unit which made it quieter. It also had a remote control which allowed for better control of temperature and output. The bathroom had a bidet and ample towels. We appreciated the built-in electronic safe, the fridge with a daily 2 litre bottle of water and electronic door key entry. There was TV with satellite (CNN in English, TV5 Monde and a selection of Latin-American networks). Second-floor rooms have hammocks on their patios. The cleaning women did a good job in maintaining our room.
Resort property: The property was well-maintained and well-designed. We particularly appreciated the pool which is in two sections and open 24 hours a day. Signs in several languages indicate where things are to be found and what they are. We also appreciated the Health and Fitness Centre which included tennis courts (2), a soccer pitch, a gym, hot tubs, a sauna and a salon for hair, foot and hand care.
Restaurants and food: We love Cuba for many reasons, but food is not one of them. There was one breakfast and supper buffet, a separate oceanside lunch buffet and only two fine dining restaurants. We enjoyed the selection and variety of foods, which included fresh fruits and fish. However, my wife was sick with the “Turista” for two days as were two other friends we met down there. This was the first time that we had ever been sick while visiting Cuba. However, the number of people who were sick surprised us and gave us some cause for concern.
Nightlife: We were particularly pleased with the evening shows as the dancers and actors were first rate. We wondered what they were doing in a resort instead of being in a higher, more refined venue. We went out to the disco on two occasions, but it was very quiet, probably because it was the shoulder season.
Hotel management and personnel: We were pleased by the overall attitude the people had. The workers wanted to see you back there. We had problems one night with our air conditioner and a technician was there within minutes to work on it. The hotel sent out a notice to all guests about the problems associated with “Fire Corals” which, during the months of May and June of every year, discharge invisible cells to protect themselves. These cells could cause some severe rash in people who swam in the water and did not have any tanning lotion or who did not wash themselves off with fresh water. It would have been nice to have been forewarned by our travel agency about this potential problem.
Problems: No major problems with the hotel or the vacation, except for our flight from Montreal to Cayo Largo on Cubana which was delayed by ten hours initially and late by an hour upon our return.
Would we go back? Not with the kids because of the food concerns and the nudism. But for an open-minded couple looking a relaxing time on beautiful beaches for a good price, this is the place. We will probably go to Cayo Coco next time.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
| Barbara and Mark |
We just returned from the Sol Cayo Largo resort. Mark and I were lucky enough to enjoy 7 wonderful sunny days of relaxation along with another couple.
The ONLY back comment that I have is that uur flight was 45 minutes late taking off from Montreal Trudeau Airport. We were scheduled to depart at 6:00 am but finally took off at 6:45 am. However, even with this small delay, we were poolside with mojitos in hand by 1:00 pm because of the rapide service at the Cayo Largo airport and the quick check-in at the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, our room was ready for us and as soon as our luggage was opened and bathing suits on, we were off to enjoy the afternoon sun. I couldn't wait to get to the beach!
During our stay, we rented scooters, took the catamaran excursion and spend a day in Havana. Havana was a fantastic experience and I suggest that anyone staying at the resort take the opportunity to visit this city. The flight to Havana took only 25 minutes in a Russian plane. Quite the experience I must say! The city of Havana is much bigger than I expected and filled with many beautiful buildings and people. Many of the buildings are under renovation in the colonial part of the city. The hustle and bustle of the city was a good change from the hot sun and the beach. A must do if you are interested in history and culture.
I could go on and on about the beach and how beautiful it is with its white, powdery sand and aqua blue water but the only way to really appreciate it is to see it yourself!
The food was great, actually improved from last year (yes, we at the Sol Cayo Largo in April 2005). The selection was good and the Las Trinas restaurant offered a more refined menu and a superior level of service. Do not forget to finish your dinner off with espresso and/or capucino coffee at the lobby bar! Say hi to Emberto and Rolly for us!
To truly enjoy this resort, please go with someone you love and make it a point to walk to the blue lagoon (turn to the right when you get on the beach and walk for about 1 hour). We will definately be returning to Sol Cayo Largo next year and we suggest you take advantage of this beautiful island before it gets overrun with hotels and people. Enjoy! Hasta Luego.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|M & M |
| We just returned from a one week stay at the Sol Club Cayo Largo and had a great time.
Resort: Beautiful, clean,lush and well layed out.
Beach: Awesome, although not as wide as in previous years directly in front of the hotel, but a short walk to left or right and it got wider and beautiful for walking.
Waves tend to be quite high most days, red flags are up, but we had three days of yellow flags when the water was calmer and easier to go swim in. Lifeguards are on duty.
We had an oceanview room, clean, shower worked great lots of hot water although during prime time the pressure sometimes lessened, room had a huge ceiling fan, and airconditioning with a remote control (handy, meant that you didn't have to get out of bed to turn it off) we used the ceiling fan most of the time it did a great job without making the room too cold. Balcony had a hammock, a couple of chairs and table, nice for sitting in the mornings and enjoying a cup of coffee,( coffee maker in the room) room safe was included at no extra cost. Our room was cleaned daily before noon, there was a mini fridge stocked daily with two big bottles of water. The king size bed was comfortable and the sheets were changed every other day.
The hotel staff was the nicest and friendliest we have ever encountered in Cuba, service was impeccable.
We only ate at the buffet restaurant, nice layout open to the outside gardens, we enjoyed that rather then the enclosed airconditioned restaurants.
Food was excellent, lots and lots of variety, something different to choose from every night, more than enough for even the pickiest eaters.
Waiters were friendly and attentive, refilling water and wine without ever being asked.
The beach and pool restaurants were great for lunch, both had a good menu to choose from.
Lobby bar made the best cappachinos after dinner, also good Spanish or Irish coffees. It also had champagne and orange juice which I drank every night, my husband likes scotch and they had a good assortment of that too.
Met some great people ( hi Debra and Lawrence) Debra if you are reading this the suntan lotion that my girlfriend uses to avoid the rash is called EUCERIN SF 15, after using this product she did not get the rash for the first time in years, try it.
The resort was quiet and there was never a shortage of chairs at the pool or on the beach, certainly no early morning rush to reserve chairs thank god, also lots of shade around the pool, if it was too windy on the beach the pool was always great. We had no problem exchanging towels daily there was always an abundance of fresh clean ones to be had.
The weather was beautiful the whole week we were there, some wind and a few clouds, but that was needed just for a break from the sun and heat.
All in all we had a great vacation, and we will return to the Sol Club for sure.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|Happily Married Tamara and Mark |
| We are at this resort from Jan. 7-Jan. 21/06, with our wedding on Jan.11/06
Airport in Toronto
Well everyone pretty much arrived at the same time, we were due to leave at 4:30pm for Cayo Largo, Cuba with Air Canada. New terminal is nice, we all checked in, I was a little worried about baggage b/c I knew I was over but we had our "bride and groom" hats on that I was ready to use as leverage for some serious pouting. I was 10lbs over but nothing was said, phew!! I did have leis left over from my shower and the girls thought it would be cute if I handed them out at the airport to kind of distinguish us as the wedding group. Well that backfired b/c I left them in the front pocket of my luggage and checked it before I remembered, oops, ha ha. Its kinda nice having so many people with you it makes the time go by alot faster. By the time we sat down to grab something to eat, went through security, shuttled over to the other terminal we only had about an hour left to wait. We were about 45mins late to leave, had to de-ice and then there was a lineup to leave. But we did arrive 30mins early in Cuba so he must have stepped it up and caught up on time that's for sure.
Airport in Cuba
This was the frustrating part, it took us well over an hour to get through customs we were all getting irritating at that point. Got through quickly converted some money and off to the resort.
Check-in was fairly simple, most of my group had applied for the MAs card which helps with some things like a separate check-in from the reception. Our wedding coordinator, Tania, set up a table and did everything for us. It was nice to finally meet her as well after corresponding for over a year. Some other resort workers that we had met the first time we went to this resort remembered us so that was nice as well.
We just booked for a standard room at the hotel, didn't want to bother paying the extra for the oceanview. Plus I figured since I had it good with the wedding coordinator that we might get an upgrade since we were there for our wedding. I also sent an email in that response just in case. However we totally didn't expect to get the junior suite, which was an extra bonus!! So it was like having 2 rooms in one, the funny part was b/c we had 2 rooms we also had 2 of everything(except a bed of course). But everytime someone would call us it would never be the room we were in, lol. We had couches and chairs on one side and the bed in the other room, it was definitely great.
Sunday we met with Tania our WC to make the final decisions and arrangements for Wednesday. Had our witnesses with us as well, MOH and BM. Picked out the flowers for the girls and guys and myself of course, the cake. Went over that we wanted to do the private ceremony and to have the band there(all these extras of course). The wedding itself was $350CUC so that wasn't bad. She asked what time I wanted for the hairdresser and she booked that for me. She also went ahead and booked my whole group in the other ala carte restaurant on the friday so we could all have a nice dinner together before everyone left on Saturday, which I thought was nice. One thing that was disappointing was Tania was due for her 10 day leave starting Wed the day of our wedding so she wouldn't be there to share it with us. She left us in the care of Lizbet and Emir, who both took over and did a fantastic job.
The resort hadn't changed too much, maybe a little more vegetation, since the last time we were there 2 yrs ago. The staff are still phenomenal. Amongst the ones we already knew from the last time we got to meet a couple more that were great with their service and became good friends. Roly at the lobby bar is a hoot and will spare no booze. Michel at the swim-up bar was the one we spent most time with between filling up our mugs everyday with all 17 of us and constantly grabbing us pizzas every 5mins. He's a really great guy to know. Just as a note a big thing as far as gifts to bring more so for the guys is mach 3 razor blades. They even enjoyed looking at my husband's car magazines, alot of which they haven't seen, we left that with them as well.
The next couple days everyone lounged around got familiar with the resort. Tuesday most of us went on the Catamaran cruise, kind of like our rehearsal day. That was alot of fun everyone had a good time. We had our little time with the guys and girls and separated for the night. Easier so I could have the girls in our suite to get ready b/c it was nice and big and an advantage of having 2 bathrooms and many mirrors for 4 women, lol.
Wednesday Jan11/06 - Day of Wedding
My MOH stayed with me in our room, we went for breakfast around 8:30am and then left b/c we knew the guys were coming for 9am. We went back to her room to grab what she needed, dress and makeup and stuff and the other 2 girls grabbed their stuff and came back to my room as well. I had a shower and then I headed to the salon for my appt at 11am. Wasn't sure how long it would take, considering we're in Cuba after all, to do my hair so I wasn't taking any chances. I brought a picture album with me of how I wanted my hair done and he did a good job, considering it was a lot looser than I originally had it in the pics but that was how I really wanted it. He didn't even use a curling iron either, although being under the dryer for a half hour was brutal thank god the place was air conditioned. Every so often someone would come to visit me with drinks or food. I think I was finally out of there around 1pm. By that time it was hot and humid. It was forecast to rain that day so of course I was paranoid. It sprinkled a bit but that was about it. Hung out in the room till it was time to leave. My MOH's sister came with the flowers, we had picked pink lillies for them to put in their hair but it came as a few buds on one big stem that they ended up holding them. And if you decide to get flowers for the guys make sure you have pins, all they have are safety pins, which really didn't work too well. We also had to get the guys roses cut b/c they came with a full stem as well.
The bus was leaving at 2:30pm for everyone else to go to the ceremony our time to start was 3pm, it was 20mins away, on the virgin beaches. Since there was only room for 3 people, my father and my MOH came with me afterwards in the jeep. They came and picked us up at my room at 2:40pm in a golf cart to bring us to the lobby where the jeep was to take us over. I was fine until I got there and saw the whole set up and my husband standing there waiting for me, it looked incredible, and so I lost it and started to cry. When we got there though, the girls started to walk down the aisle and here I am being handed a drink and someone trying to get my shoes from me, lol. My Mom later told me how she agonized over what shoes to wear with her dress for the wedding, only to find out that they took them away from her and everyone was barefoot.
The ceremony was short and sweet, listening to one version in Spanish and then in English.
We had decided to do this ceremony at that beach b/c we didn't really want alot of onlookers that tend to lurk at the hotels so it was quite amusing when the train shuttles that are used to trek the hotel guests from the hotels to those virgin beaches goes by as we're right in the middle of our ceremony, totally ironic!! Of course it stops and if you've seen the pics, all you can see is everyone taking pictures, they were also all yelling and hollering. Ah well. After the ceremony we did tons of pics and had a dance with the band, it was very nice and very romantic.
They even had a table set up as well so people could grab some water and refresh themselves. We then travelled back to the hotel and got in this decorated golf cart with a sign Just Married on the back and a bunch of cans. So they proceeded to take us around the resort blowing a whistle and honking the horn letting everyone know we just got married, it was funny and embarrassing at the same time. Lizbet told us before we left the beach that they were taking us back to the resort and were going to plant our own palm tree! We had no idea, what a nice surprise! So after our golf cart jaunt we ended up at the place where they do this for all the couples who get married there, we had a little post as well with our initials on it which was beside our tree. My husband filled in the sand around the tree and I poured the water, it was very touching and can't wait to visit it once again.
We were transported once again via golf cart to the pool restaurant where we relaxed and hung out. The bartender, Michel, who we got friendly with at the swim-up bar had put aside 3 bottles of champagne for us to celebrate with before dinner.
Took some more pics around the resort and then we headed back to our room to grab a couple things before heading to the beach restaurant for dinner. When we got there it was entirely decorated. Ribbons everywhere, towel art, petals in the sink and tub, a fruit basket...etc. It was beautiful. After taking some pics, lol, we headed to dinner. They had separated us from the rest of the restaurant so it was like we had our own private room. And again the table looked amazing, wonderfully decorated and we were all around one big table.
The food was delicious everyone kept commenting on the meat, sooo good. Had some speeches, we really didn't have an agenda and just left the floor open to anyone who wanted to talk. Had some kisses, then came the cake, again beautifully decorated with pink roses and petals, not sure what kind of cake it was but it was good.
Went to the disco afterwards for some dancing and relaxing from a tough day, lol. Gave the DJ our CD with our song and then the rest were just dance songs. My Mom came up and asked me to ask my Dad to dance, he was tired and wanted to have the father daughter dance so he could go to bed. Thing was we didn't put anymore slow songs on the CD b/c we weren't going to do all the dances just our first one and that's it. So my Dad and I ended up boogying to Hung Up by Madonna, it was humourous. Danced all night, we left not too long after that, it had been a long emotional day and we wanted some time alone. We found out the next day too that the DJ never came back so the bartender kept replaying our CD, people got a little tired of hearing the same songs, ha ha.
Rest of the Holidays
We got breakfast in our room the next morning which was nice. Pretty much just consisted of relaxing. Hung out at the beach, rented scooters and jeeps and toured the island until everyone left for the airport on Sat night. Sunday had our wedding dinner down by the water which came with the wedding package, great food! I had a huge lobster tail and my husband had chicken(not a big seafood lover) along with appetizers and dessert. Monday, we had a Honeymoon cocktail in the early evening. A few other couples were there as well, the band was there and they gave us champagne and cake. They also showed us the "real" way they do the ceremony for marriage, using a bouquet of roses and spitting some booze on it and then rubbing it up and down on each side both groom and bride(I guess for luck), afterwards they booked us for our Honeymoon dinner, except for the wind problem we were having, it was a nice night as well.
All in all it was the best week of our lives and it was great that we could share it with friends and family who could join us. To top it off my brother got engaged the day after our wedding!! Well I think that's the end of my story, WOW, sorry for all the babbling.
My pics are already on the site under the wedding section but for those of you who haven't seen them I will put the link on here as well.
Happily Married Tamara and Mark
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|Jim & Marc |
We flew out of Montreal with Air Canada to Cayo Largo in 4 hours. Pretty good flight. We arrived at a fairly small airport and we were cleared very quickly and at the resort in 30 minutes. We checked into the resort and in our room in 15 minutes. We found only one problem when we arrived (approx 10:00pm), there was no food. We brought it up with the rep the next day and we were told that they were suppose to accommodate us. Not a big thing.
My buddy and I went to Cayo Largo mostly for the diving. We usually go to Cozumel but decided to try something new. I can only say that it was decent and we would go back again. It is not like Cozumel but we knew that. The diving operation was a little unorganized but they did their very best. We got to meet many great people and they ensured our safety. Marine life we saw were; Nurse Sharks, Eagle Rays, Stingrays, Moray Eels, Groupers and many different species of fish. The boats were sufficient.
I've got to say, it were beautiful. We arrived on Sunday and by Tuesday the waves wiped out the beach. There was a little piece left that we used. By Friday the beach had totally recovered. It was very weird but something to see. The beach bar was never very busy and the wait time was minimal.
Never spent time there but we did notice how quiet it was. Lots of available chairs.
We ate at all of them and preferred the pool restaurant. The food was good and the service excellent. All other were acceptable. Best al a carte was the indoor one. This year, the resort is have problems with mosquitoes and flies. The outdoor restaurants required you to use bug spray. Not a big thing. Some people made a fuss but what do you expect.
Very acceptable given you shouldn't be spending much time in there anyway. Water pressure and heat was good and a/c worked fine.
If you are going there to party, you better choose another resort. This resort is quiet and very relaxing. Would I go back, certainly. It is a nice island and it provided everything we were looking for. We dove everyday so it met our needs.
P.S. If you go, please say hi to Janet the lifeguard. Tell her Porko and Marco from Canada say hi. She will know who we are. Thanks
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|John & Ruth |
Nova Scotia, Canada
| My wife and I made our first trip to Cayo Largo in January 2005 and would highly recommend it to anyone! Great weather, great hotel, fantastic beach and really nice people.
Our flight from Toronto to Cayo largo was uneventful and smooth. Arrived about 1/2 hour early and didn't have a problem with Cuban customs and immigration. Just the usual slow process. The trip to Sol Club was quick as expected and the check-in took a bit longer than expected as we chose the wrong line. Our room wasn't ready so we explored the resort and of-course the pool bar. We got to our room in an hour or so and it was just as we requested... king size bed, 2nd floor and a view of the Pelicano and partial view of the ocean! Everything perfect... room was clean and everything worked. We used the tip we read on this site and used an Air Miles card in the slot to keep the power on so we didn't have to leave our room key there all day.
The food at the buffet was generally very good... better than the last place we were, Tryp Cayo Coco. Nice variety and plenty or it. The selection changed daily so you weren't bored and there was always something there we liked. We didn't try the other restaurants but heard the food was good but nothing special. The food at the pool bar/restaurant was great for a snack. The burgers were reportedly great but I stuck to the fantastic pizzas. We had lunch at the beach bar/restaurant everyday and fell in love with the grilled fish offered everyday. Tilapia was my favourite.
The three shows we saw were entertaining but not Broadway caliber... but that was OK. The lobby bar was the place to go after supper and before the shows... it si a bit cramped when you get a crowd in there and it best to get a couple drinks at a time as the service ca be slow at peak times. After the show it was of the the "disco" for drinks and dancing with a few games of pool. Sometimes, not the best music but after a few drinks we could dance to anything!
The only excursion off the resort we took was to spend a night at the Carpa bar in the village. This is the bar in the village where the staff life. We had a great time... it was packed with workers from the resorts who were all very friendly. Music was true Cuba dance music and the beer was cold! We stayed much to late and finished our night off at the lobby bar drinking tequila shooters.
The weather was perfect all week. in the high 70's to low 80's all week. No rain and only two days with cloudy periods in the morning. Temperature in the evenings was in the mid to low 60's.
The highlight of the trip was the beach. It was big, quiet and the water warm. We loved the surf on 4 of the 5 days but the smooth water on the remaining days made it great for snorkeling on the small reef’s just off the beach.
We both were looking for a beach that wasn't too busy and where we could spend the day relaxing in the nude and this beach didn't disappoint! This was our first time going to a nude beach so we weren’t sure whet to expect. My wife was a bit more nervous than I but we went to the beach on the first day and planned to give it a try. As advised by others , about 9am we went to the beach and walked a few minutes up to the western end. About half way up, the beach turned from a mostly topless beach to a fully nude beach. Nudity is tolerated and accepted on the beach. We easily found a cabana and before I could get my clothes off, my wife was nude! Needless to say she enjoyed her first time! We spent every one of our seven days from 9am to 6pm nude on the beach! We met the nicest people around us on the beach. We had such a good time on the beach our next vacation is sure to be at a clothing optional location.
Before I finish, here are a few tips...
1. bring a large thermos cup with you as the drinks on the beach are served in small plastic cups... they don't hold much and get warm quickly.
2. don't plan on buying cigars at Sol Cayo Largo as the selection is poor and the airport had even less.
3. when leaving for home, ask about the VIP service at the airport. we did and it was worth it. For 20 pesos we went to the head of the line at Cuban security at the airport and then escorted to an air conditioned VIP room with comfortable chairs, drinks and food for the two hour wait for the plane.
In summary... what a great time. We would love to go back.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|James and Christine |
|I think the review from Karen and Marty is very accurate and I thought I would like to add some of the changes and upgrades to the resort since we were there last December.
We too are now MAS card holders with the Melia resort chain. The membership is available on line and it is used for people who frequent Melia resorts around the world. This entitles you to a speedier check in, request for a particular room,bed size,
late check out and we received a free bottle of wine in our room. Anyway, on with the review...
The resort has been well maintained since last year and they have rebuilt the "masage" area overlooking the pools. The painted wood railings around the balconies and entrances to the suites are all being replaced with vinyl covered aluminum this month and they look great.
At the beach: the beach bar and walkways have all been replaced since the hurricane of '04 and there is a nice new massage enclosure down on the sandstone bluffs. The lifeguards are in their new structure which has a birds-eye view of the whole beach.The palapas were being planted in the beach when we were there with many more sitting up on the bluff waiting for the beach to appear.
The sand on Cayo Largo is an amazing white powder that contrasts beautifully with the green,blue water.The problem is that the shore is exposed to the waves and the tides and mother nature. For this reason the beach changes shape and size very easily and often. Last year there was a deeper beach at the Sol Club but this December the tides were high and the waves licked right up to the base of the stairs.At low tide we gained about 20 more feet of beach. There was still lots of beach for walking of course,volleyball,etc. .We had a wonderful time and recommend you see Cayo Largo.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|Karen and Marty |
| We flew out of Toronto to Montreal the day before, for a connecting
flight early in the morning to Cayo Largo. No problems at all with this.
This is our first time with Air Canada vacations, and we were impressed.
Upon arrival in Cayo Largo, very smooth going through Cuban customs and
onto our bus. It is only a five minute drive to the hotel, not a very
scenic drive mind you, but that was expected.
Since we are MAS card members of the Melia hotel chain, we had our
check-in separate to the rest of the group, and it was very well handled
and welcomed by Lizbet, a very gracious hostess. Our bags met us at our
room shortly after a walk there. We had room 3622, an oceanview room
with beach access right beside us. That proved to be very handy. The rooms are beautiful, lovely balconies, high ceilings,comfy king bed.
Our maid was very good, excellent with the towel art...and with keeping
the room clean. Our frig only got stocked once in three weeks, which we
never did figure out, it wasn't a big deal. As long as we had water, it
was ok. Water came daily. Our air conditioner was a bit leaky, solved by
putting a towel under it. They did come in and fix it, I guess the maid
must have told them about it, once again, no big deal....it worked! Our first walk to the beach was stunning! This is the true attraction
for Cayo Largo......takes your breath away, the colour of the water and
the sand. When we arrived ,the water was glass like and calm, some
people said they had never seen it so calm. That was to change though!
For a couple of days it was wonderful...
The second week , we had a storm come through, lots of water and
flooding in the main areas , lobby , restaurant. I did hear of some
people with water in their rooms, but we were fine. The staff did an
excellent job of using sqeegees non-stop to prevent slipping on the
tiles. In the third week, Tropical Storm Arlene came at night...we did
not know it till the next morning. It rained the next day and high
winds...The computers were down, and I did not get any messages about
the storm till after the fact. (maybe a good thing!)
While we were ok, there were people afraid and concerned. I have to say
the staff was excellent and calm about the whole thing. They opened the
fun pub all day and all the dining was in the buffet area as the beach
Ranchon was closed. It made for a lot of camaraderie, and chatting with
people in a flooded lobby that you might never have met otherwise! Hotel
management sent us a complimentary bottle of rum for our inconvenience,
due to the storm. Another nice touch, appreciated.
Out of 21 days, it rained five, so I don't think that's bad at all...
Food: Most of the meals are at the buffet, except for lunch , you have
to go either to the pool restaurant or the beach grill.
The buffet was good, plentiful.....pasta bar was excellent and way more
than you could eat sometimes. We were able to eat at the Ranchon and Los
Trinas twice each, as Marty had a birthday and we were given a dinner
reservation for Las Trinas for that. It was a lovely dinner. I must say
we were disappointed in our second dinner there. Extremely small
portions and service was a bit lacking...maybe not enough staff?
Ranchon was very good food, had the fish there almost every
Lobby Bar: Excellent staff on at the lobby bar, entertainment provided
by the bartenders was hilarious. I found it a little hot some days to
sit in there, as there was not much breeze. I loved the water around it
,with the turtles and fish swimming around.
It was near the lobby bar we saw plenty of hummingbirds, beautiful
birds. I have never seen so many in other parts of Cuba as we did there.
Crabs are also in abundance, fascinating to watch and hear them click,
clicking as they run away.
When we would go back to our room at night, there always seemed to be a
contingent of 6-10 crabs waiting for us by our walkway! so cute!
Pool: We didn't use the pool as much as the beach, but for relaxation it
was great. Marty went diving and I would go to the pool and read and
jump in when it got too hot. Plenty of loungers and shade to be had.
The book corner is right by the pool, a nice little getaway to read
quietly, with soft music, coffee and pastries....very nice touch. There
are books in the animation house and some in the book corner, in many
Every night around 6-6:30, the tractor would come by and fumigate for
mosquitos. We never found them to be a real problem, though we did see
people who did. There was also a warning about the red caribe.... a type
of red coral organism in the water which causes rashes....also, we didnt
experience this, though some people did.
Marty went for diving at the marina. He was impressed with the
professionalism of the dive masters there. They were very safety
conscious. They have a tank to rinse out suits and he left his there to
dry out and went back to get it later. He bought a package of five dives
for $165.00, which is cheaper than one at a time. The weather and rough
seas prevented him from doing more diving than he did, but he enjoyed
I appreciated the fact that there is internet access. It is so much
cheaper than phoning. I had to be in contact with work at one point, and
that was a great help. Also just to let the kids know at home we were ok
, and what room we were in etc.
We visited the museum and the turtle farm, interesting stuff....but
doesn't take up a lot of time.
The excursion we wanted to go on , got cancelled because of the water
conditions. disappointing but better to be safe.
We knew ahead of time about nudity on the beach and we are ok with
that. Around the pool ,there was no nudity or topless. On the beach ,
from the Ranchon it starts off with bathing suits , then topless and
then total nudity at the end....It was totally comfortable. Whatever you
choose, it was ok.
The red flag was up for "no swimming" for most of the time, but you
could still play at the shore, and venture out a little bit into the
waves. The lifeguard was advising people not to go out too far, and they
seemed to be paying attention. There was an undertow which could be
felt, so I would not have gone out too far. The power of nature was
awesome. The beach was totally changed from the time we arrived, till
the time we left. I can only assume it will go back, when nature feels
It wasn't all a rosy time, there were some negatives. I want to be fair
and try to understand the situations we encountered, and I really think
the staff working for 20 days, then going home for ten, is a different
scenario than most other resorts . As English speaking people from
Ontario, there were times when we felt ignored, and snubbed both by
waiters and guests. Some waiters (very few) would save tables, and shoo
you away from sitting there , as they were saving them for people. One
in particular, would not serve us, since we did not speak french back to
him...The other ones made up for that. The banana ladies in particular
were always super friendly. We got to see a total turnover in staff,
being there three weeks. (I also can't fail to mention the cuban bands
who played at meal times....excellent! )
I did have to ask for information in English and hotel maps....which
were in short supply. Plenty in French and Italian.
All in all, it was a totally relaxing holiday. If you want a party
time, I wouldn't go there for that, though I suppose people make their
own parties wherever they go. We usually went to bed fairly early, tired
out from the sun and the water.
The beaches are the thing to see, absolutely a sight to behold. The
water is so clear and beautiful...and the sand is white. You can walk
for miles and be alone.
Thanks to Doug and Christine for all your help with info on Cayo Largo,
and the weather updates! It was such a boon to have veteran Cayo
Largo-ites, offer help....:)...Your love for the place is evident. Thank
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
|Ghost Rider |
I flew into Cayo Largo directly from Montreal (2nd week of May 2005) and I was flagged to have my luggage opened and searched, apparently because I was a Canadian citizen, but was not born in Canada. They instructed me to empty the contents of my luggage. I responded by saying that if I do that, it would take me an hour to put it back in. So I suggested he search my belongings without removing them. He did so and discovered the little blue box which I was trying to smuggle into the country…my Q-Tips box. I tried to explain what it was, but he did not understand what it was, so I showed him the picture of the q-tip on the back of the box and made a squeaking sound as I tried to clean my ear with my finger. At the time, it wasn’t funny, but we had a laugh over it later.
Bus Ride to the Resort:
The bus was very small with no air conditioning. They had attached a small trailer at the back so they could put our luggage. The driver was named Pedro and he made silly cat and rooster noises while he drove. He even picked up his guitar and serenaded us while he drove. The ride took approximately 10 minutes and we were dropped off in the front of the hotel and lined up to check in.
After waiting in line, when we reached the counter, we were advised that our room was not ready yet, so we had to wait in the lobby. We were permitted to roam around the resort but it was very hot and we had our luggage as well, so it wasn’t too much fun. We ended up at the Lobby Bar where we had a few drinks. I kept on asking approximately once every hour, if our room was ready and even requested to be given a room that did not have to be cleaned (one that was not occupied last night), but that didn’t happen. Eventually after 3 hours, when I went up to ask again, they told me it was ready and I hauled my luggage off on a long walk to my room. I think our room should have been ready when we arrived or soon there after, since the resort was only approx half full and our luggage taken on one of their electric carts to the room, in order to make up for the inconvenience.
The lobby bar was pleasant and it was surrounded by a man-made lake filled with goldfish and one turtle. Drinks were good and they even had mini croissants.
Flies and mosquitoes are VERY plentiful here, so bring truckloads of bug spray and don’t wear perfume. They do fog every night, but they do it too early (around 6:30) for it to have any impact on the bugs. Sol Pelicano fogged later (around 8pm) and their bug problem was not as bad.
The Buffet Restaurant is always closed for lunch, so the only food available can be had in the Snack-Bar or The Ranchon on the beach.
The Ranchon (lunch): The food there was buffet style and wasn’t too bad, but it was light food, fish and didn’t include many meats. There was also constant wind which made things very interesting as we could see our rice flying off our plates. :)
At night for dinner, The Ranchon becomes the Caribbean Grill A La Carte Restaurant.
The food here I would call very spartan. The pizza was the thinnest I had ever seen anywhere in my life and the toppings were very thinly spread out. We jokingly called it matzo pizza because it was so thin.
The hamburger was good, but on the menu it stated that it comes with mayo, tomatoes, onions and lettuce, but there was always something missing from it every time I ordered it. When I asked for the missing toppings, I was advised that they had run out of that item. They never had mayo, because they were always out of it. One day they were out of tomatoes, the other, no lettuce, etc. And the toppings were also minimal, such as one small thinly sliced tomato, or one very small piece of lettuce, or one thin ringlet of onion.
I also had french fries, which were so thin that they were quite literally potato chips. The beef pepito was also very sparse, with extremely thin pieces of beef, strategically placed and barely covering the bun. Their ice cream was very good, but as with everything else, was very little in quantity (two little teaspoon scoops).
The waitresses kept on giving us the evil eye because we weren’t tipping them. Well, I’m not going to carry coins on me if I’m wearing my bathing suit, sorry.
Basically all of the food here (and the resort in general), kept on hammering the same message to me…..cost cutting.
Pool Bar (the other side of the Snack-Bar):
The barmen were almost never there, so most times I had to wait 5 to 10 minutes before I was served. They also ran out of plastic cups and started handing out glass cups. There were a few occasions where guests had dropped their glass and it shattered, leaving small bits of glass that were very dangerous for other barefooted guests. Luckily these were quickly cleaned up by the staff.
Otherwise service was average.
Breakfast: This was the resort's best meal of the day. They had eggs, omelets, pancakes, fruits, a very decent selection of pretty much everything, but it was the same every day. This is an open-air restaurant (which was a mistake in my opinion as there are always many flies sitting on the exposed food). This may not be a problem for the locals, but for tourists this is very disgusting as we are not accustomed to this.
They were always closed for lunch. This was very surprising and disappointing to me.
Their selection of food was the same every night with the exception of one table that had a different meat per night (eg. pork chops, beef, fish, etc) which the cook carved for you and placed it on your plate. At night however, the mosquitoes ruled the buffet. I was attacked by them nightly and felt that I was their buffet. I also must have appeared very awkward to everyone as I tried to move my limbs in a failed attempt to keep from getting bitten. I always had to scarf-down my food as fast as I could and get out of there before I was eaten alive by the mosquitoes. This restaurant should really be in an enclosed space in order to avoid this mosquito/fly problem. After a few days of this, I could not stand it any longer and decided to visit the neighbouring resort called Sol Pelicano (also owned by Sol Melia), that is rated as a 3.5 star resort, and have dinner there. We were permitted (as all guests are) to dine there in their enclosed buffet restaurant. This was a Godsend, as there were no mosquitoes and almost no flies. Their selection was very good and plentiful and I actually had the time to eat my dinner slowly and converse with my girlfriend without having to rush out. One night they had roasted a whole pig on their outdoor spit and it looked and tasted very delicious. The cooks even took a picture of us with the pig, which was very funny. I always left the Sol Pelicano Buffet satisfied and with a full stomach and it was only a 10 minute walk from my resort. I also noticed that the Sol Pelicano was host to many Sol officials and a group of 10 or 15 travel agents of some kind that were critiquing the resort, so maybe that’s why this resorts food and services appeared much better than mine.
A La Carte Restaurants:
We were only permitted to visit one of the two a la carte restaurants. In all other resorts I have been, we were able to visit each a la carte restaurant once. Also in other reviews I have seen for Sol Cayo Largo, people had mentioned that they were allowed to go to both a la carte restaurants, so I am puzzled why we were not allowed to sample both. Maybe another cost cutting measure.
We chose the Ranchon Caribbean Grill and made reservations. We thought it over later and decided to switch our reservation to the Las Trinas restaurant because it was indoors and we’d have fewer problems with the mosquitoes. However we were told (on Tuesday) that reservations to both a la carte restaurants were full for the entire week and we could not switch. I found this very odd because the resort was not even close to full capacity. This was confirmed when I went to the Ranchon Caribbean Grill and saw that it was only one quarter full. I believed this to be yet another cost cutting measure by the resort.
Our meal was excellent though and the waiter was very kind and even snapped a picture of us. The mosquito problem was minimal at this location due to the wind.
The beach was always windy with many waves. They had a flag warning system but there were never any green flag days. There was one red flag day and the rest were yellow flag days.
I tried to swim on two separate days (yellow flag) and was always beaten by the waves. Both times I was up-ended by the waves and exited the water dizzy and with sand in my swimming trunks. Needless to say, there were no beach activities at all due to the constant wind.
The beach bar is non-existent. All that is there is the roof. I was very disappointed at this as I had to walk up to the Ranchon in order to get a drink and walk back to my umbrella down the beach. Yet another cost cutting measure?
The beach is not lit at all, so we could not go for a moonlight stroll on the beach. Everything was pitch black, so evening strolls were limited to inside the resort, battling the mosquitoes as we walked. I also could not enjoy the nightly entertainment due to the mosquitoes.
This is a saltwater pool which I really enjoyed because I don’t really like chlorine, but it appeared that the pool is almost never cleaned as it got progressively worse during my stay. By the 5th day there was much debris in the pool and all the guests were staying out of the pool. A staff member with a Sol Pelicano t-shirt came over and skimmed out all the surface debris in the late afternoon after the guests complained. I assume the pool boy works multiple resorts in order to cut costs?
The debris from the bottom of the pool was never cleaned however and there was noticeable algae buildup growing in the corners of the pool and on the intakes of the filter. Usually at other resorts I have been to, they vacuum the pool every morning in order to maintain it clean, but it appears that this was not done at this resort.
I was sort of looking forward to going in the Jacuzzi as I had seen it in the promotional material for this resort. However, the Jacuzzi was not functioning and looked like it had not been used in many years as it was unpainted and rusted.
On the last day I saw a crab in the pool along with a lot of debris and thousands of dead mosquitoes. This was after the big rain storm, so I guess that was to be expected.
There was only one souvenir shop that I found on the resort, and they did not include most of the local handicrafts. We went to Sol Pelicano next door, and they had local artists selling their crafts every night. I wanted to buy a souvenir t-shirt but could not find one that I liked. I was looking for a simple shirt with maybe the Cuban flag that said Cuba, but could not find one. Most of the shirts were of revolutionaries, etc. Not really a souvenir for tourists I thought.
We found some local handicrafts, at the Sol Pelicano resort, that we wanted to purchase and we went to the Sol Pelicano lobby in order to exchange money into CUC (CUban Convertible pesos). We wanted to get 25 CUC’s, the counter person told us that 25 CUC’s would cost us $35.18 CDN and he does not give or accept Canadian coins (although if you give CDN coins as a tip, they will gladly accept it). I could not believe that after making a killing on the exchange rate as they are, they are quibbling over 18 cents.
He said that he can exchange $40 CDN which would give us 28.15 CUC’s, so we accepted, but when we handed him the money, he scrutinized every bill and concluded that he could not accept a $5 bill because there was a one eighth of an inch tear on it. We got so annoyed that we asked for our Canadian money back and did not return to buy any souvenir handicrafts at all.
The exchange rate when I was there was approximately 71 cents CDN per CUC. In addition to this, they charge an 8% exchange fee on all non-American currency. So basically you are paying $1.40 CDN or more in some instances, for every CUC exchanged along with the added hassle when you go to exchange it.
Tourists are forced to exchange 25 CUC’s that is needed at the airport for the departure tax. We exchanged it at the Sol Cayo Largo lobby and the counter person waived the 18 cents and even accepted the $5 with the tiny tear. So we paid $35 CDN for 25 CUC’s.
We tipped our maid daily (approx $2 CDN per day). For three days she made swans, alligators and elephants with our towels, then she stopped. With the exception of one day when she cleaned our room at 10am, our room was usually cleaned around 5pm, which I thought was very late. One day we came back from the pool at 7pm and had no towels at all. Apparently they had run out of clean towels. I tracked down the maid and requested towels. 45 minutes later, the maid returned with two beach towels as a temporary measure. On another day, they had run out of bottled water (they’re supposed to leave one 1.5 liter bottle in the fridge every day). I had to track her down again later in the day to ask for a bottle. The towels consistently had stains on them also, I assumed they were clean, but it didn’t leave me with a good feeling based on the other things I had experienced at this resort.
Calling from the hotel room to Canada will cost you 2 CUC’s per minute. I called and had given the phone number printed on the hotel room phone, to my family in Canada so that they could call me. It’s only 10 cents per minute to Cuba. But the phone number printed on my hotel phone was not correct. I had also called the hotel from Canada before I left, but the phone number on the Sol Melia site is wrong as well.
It seems that the hotel would rather have the visitor pay. Therefore making the tourist leave more of their money in Cuba. Or at least that’s what I think anyway.
The room was very nice overall. The large sliding door at the back of the room had a broken handle however, but everything else was in good working order and pleasant.
The bathroom faucet was not working and we called Guest Services. They dispatched a maintenance person and the problem was fixed promptly.
I kept on finding ants and other bugs in our room, even though we were on the second floor. I can’t really complain about that though, as this is a tropical location, and seeing a few bugs isn’t too much of a problem.
The night before we left was a complete disaster though. In the middle of the night (at 2am) we woke up due to noise. Apparently there was a heavy rain storm in the area. My partner woke up to go see out the window, when she slipped and almost fell. I turned on the light to find streams of water trickling from the wall and flooding our room. I used all the towels we had (2 bath towels, 2 regular towels and a foot towel) and put them on the floor, but it wasn’t enough. There was approximately a quarter of an inch of water in our room and I was also concerned about the light fixtures on the wall, as the water was trickling right over them and could get into the wiring and cause us to get electrocuted. I quickly called Guest Services and advised them of the problem and was told that I would be given another room tomorrow. I told her that I was leaving tomorrow and requested that someone come to my room and try to contain/correct the problem. Fortunately, the rain stopped approx 10 minutes from my phone call and in 1 hour there was a maid and a security guard at my room. The maid picked up all the wet towels, mopped the room and gave us new towels.
Since we could not sleep due to our watery adventure last night, we were 3rd in line to check out. The line was very long and there was only one counter person (even though there were other staff available), so checking out was unnecessarily long. We went to eat breakfast after we checked out and after we finished, the line was shorter, but still there.
We were the first in line for the bus. Taxis and taxi buses were shuttling fed-up people to the airport. Then one of the Scuba excursion buses pulled up in front of the hotel with his diesel tailpipe 5 feet from our noses. He let the bus idle for 15 minutes picking up people that were going on this excursion. Afterwards the driver gets out of the bus and walks over to a few buddies of his and starts chatting. At this point I had my fill of breathing in diesel fuel, so I walked over and told him to turn off his engine, which he thankfully did.
I researched this resort thoroughly and even had it recommended by a friend that went 3 years ago, but it seems that the resort has been left without renovations since that time and things have decayed. We didn’t go through one day without a disappointing incident. I understand that Sol is trying to cut costs and I even agree with it, as they have to make a decent profit as well. But if the customer (in this case the tourist) notices your cost cutting to this extreme, then they are definitely doing something wrong.
Although I consider this the worst vacation I’ve ever had, in all fairness, it was still not 100% bad. At least I relaxed and did enjoy the sun a bit.
I would expect a lot more from a 4 star resort, which this is definitely NOT. This was a good place to relax, but it’s certainly not worth the money I paid. I could’ve received the same/better value from a 3 star resort and paid less as well.
Cuba needs to have their tourists return to their country, if they keep disrespecting and gouging their tourists, they will never return.
All these problems made me conclude that I will not be vacationing in Cuba any time soon or maybe never.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
| My partner and I are in our early fifties and have been to Varadero many times (and other destinations as well: the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Spain, Greece, Egypt). However, it was our first time in Cayo Largo and we found the beach one of the most beautiful we have ever seen - especially the Sirenas beach, more on that later - and the resort most enjoyable. We thoroughly enjoyed our one week-vacation in Sol Cayo Largo and highly recommend it.
Beaches - The beach at the Sol Cayo Largo is definitely superior to the ones in the other hotels in the island and one of the most beautiful ones I've seen in the Carribean. The sand is so fine it does not absorb the heat; water was at 24 degrees, even early in the morning. Watch for the undercurrent though which was strong at times; you need to be cautious when swimming and body surfing when the yellow flag (caution) is up. In spite of that, the swimming is very very pleasant. Walking west (i.e. away from the other hotels) you will find more beautiful beaches.
The beach that tops them all, though, is playa Sirena. The water is simply beautiful. To get to Sirena, there is a shuttle that takes you in the morning (pick up at the hotel reception at 9 am and 10 I think) and takes you to playa Paraiso. From there it's a pleasant 10 minute walk on the beach to playa Sirena. The shuttle will pick you up at 3 pm and 5 pm from Paraiso back to the resort.
The resort - We loved Sol Cayo Largo! Staff will go out of their way to please you. We enjoyed room 1714, which was near the amenities, near the pool and near the beach. Our maid, Julia, cleaned our room everyday, changed the sheets, provided clean towels, and surprised us every day with designs she made with towels - elephants, swans, hearts. She also left us beautiful hibiscus and bottled water. Gracias Julia!
The food is scrumptious. The oranges and grapefruits are so juicy and delicious; the ice cream is yummy, the omelets are made to your liking, so are the pasta dishes at the pasta bar. I would suggest that you choose fish or pork, not beef. We enjoyed getting to know our excellent waiters, Noel and Alexander.
Tips - They were discreetly given and appreciated. We had brought some sports caps, panty hose and other small gifts, which were very appreciated by staff.
The pool, with salt water, is very pleasant with lots of lounge chairs and shade around it. We enjoyed aerobics and volley ball at the pool, and eating delicious hamburgers and drinking mojitos at the pool bar. We enjoyed the tennis courts and recommend you book the courts no sooner than 6 pm as it gets quite hot.
We went to three shows in the evening and enjoyed them. We especially enjoyed the Disco Show and the Cuban Night Show. Bring mosquito repellent!
One activity we were looking forward to do, but didn't, was snorkeling. There was no snorkelling excursion, which was disappointing. We would have had to pay for the catamaran excursion which included some snorkeling along the way - a lovely excursion which we had already taken when we were in Varadero - but were not interested in taking again.
A word on scuba diving - although we are not scuba divers, we met a scuba diver who was spending three weeks there, who said he was a bit disappointed because there were frequent delays caused by the electricity shortage. This meant that departures were often delayed because the equipment was not ready due to lack of electricity. He was pleased with the locations the divers visited, though.
The flight - We flew out of Montreal with Transat - with a two hour delay on the way, and no delay on the way back. The flight was fine, the chairs comfortable, the food passable.
A last note - we have been to Cuba 7 times - this is one of the best holidays we've had in the Carribean, and Cuba has come a long way in the tourism area. If you are looking for a rest and relaxation vacation, this is a destination worth considering. We'll definitely be back!
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
| WARNING to all who book the Sol Cayo Largo. For the last 4 weeks, the resort has been overbooked and have been sending people to the BARCELO instead. This is fine if you are contacted before departure and agree to this, however we were 8 couples on this flight that had no idea. You can imagine our surprise. I strongly recommend that you confirm with your travel agent no more than 2 days before departure that you will in fact be staying at the Sol Cayo Largo. While we were there, there were more over 30 more overbookings on Tuesday and Thursday from Italy, and 10 more on Sunday from the flight that brought is home.
The BARCEL0 is a new hotel, but not well appointed, and more sutted for the younger crowd. There are very few umbrellas by their pool and almost none on their tiny beach that is very difficult to reach. You have to climb over 2 sand dunes to reach the beach - too ad I can't post a photo of the rocks that they placed at the beach level in order for you to climb down the last 4 feet. For a youger person, no problem, but not easy for senior citizens.
The Sol Cayo Largo is a beautiful location and well worth the trip, but make sure you get what you pay for.
|Sol Club Cayo Largo|
| Just a bit of Background:
We are 30 something's with lots of travelling experience (Worldly and Caribbean), love good food, are active and enjoy our peace and quiet. We flew with Air Canada Vacations and surprisingly had no problems............even departing from the West Coast............
We spent a week at the Sol Club in January. Our room (Ocean View) was very clean, quite large and overall very enjoyable. It's a small resort and wasn't completely full at the time which added to our enjoyment. The Buffet was on par with most "Resort Buffets", the usual pasta bar, salads, meats, fish etc. Once you find your groove it's easy to find what you'll enjoy. Again, if you want "McDonalds" don't leave home. The food is fresh, replaced often and a good variety. The ice-cream was especially good. We really enjoyed the cappuccino's (from two Starbuck's diehards) but the buffet coffee won't appeal to most tastes (the Lobby and Pool bars serve excellent cappuccino). The best food to be found was at the Pool bar, very good sandwiches, burgers, pizza's and fresh fruit. The ala carte's (we went to the Cuban and the International) were very good, especially if you're somewhat adventurous (Cuban).
The house beach was excellent, with showers and sufficient Palapa's and chairs. Even snorkelling was very good, nice to see a 4 foot Barracuda, lobster, sea turtles and rays on a house reef. The sand and water are amazing....better than many other destinations. Amazingly the sand is always cool on your feet.......The other facilities are of a high standard (the Gym, Jacuzzi's, sauna etc.).
There are cars and scooters for rent which make getting to the other beaches easier and well worth it. There is little trouble changing Can$ to Cuban$. The Hotel, Airport (departure side) and the local bank do this. The village is small with few services but a "nice to see", it's about 7 km's from the resort. The turtle farm is a worthwhile trip, it takes just a short visit and is only $1.
As we are both scuba divers we dove with the local dive company. You can book through the Travel rep at the Resort and we'd recommend this as it booked up super fast. Especially if you are experienced divers, as the early morning (deep) dives fill quickly. Is the diving good? Yes. Very good, a large amount of colourful coral and big marine life. Every dive there were large Barracuda, we saw turtles, rays, morays and Nurse and Black tip sharks. The boat is sizable if a bit crowded, but the Lobster lunch ($10) is well worth it as it's better and half the price of the Resorts lobster. There are a few "gifts" to purchase including rum, cigars and the usual T-shirts and things.
The weather was great, usually mid 20's and sunny. My wife found it cool (but only Egypt was hot enough for her at 46C) but I loved the slight cool breeze and was comfortable in shorts or pants for dinner. The entertainment was quite enjoyable as the performers really go out of their way to put on a good show. There are excursions available including a day Trip to Havana (which we missed).
Overall, the Sol Club (the Best Resort on Cayo Largo, our opinion) is compares well to other Caribbean destinations, the highlights being: great beaches, good food, cleanliness and very friendly staff. We would definitely come here again. If you have any questions please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.