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Melia Cayo Santa Maria
December 2008
Tour Operator: Air Transat Holidays

General: My third trip to this resort, and seventh to this location. (four times to Sol next door).

Flight & Arrival: Upgraded to Club Class and had a very enjoyable flight. A quick trip through Customs, and not long to wait for my bags. Transat Holidays rep was very organized, and handed out your package with room key, map of resort, and information, as well as the registration form to fill out. Baggage was marked with your room number before being placed on the bus. This is such a good system.....no delays on arrival, and your bag is taken directly to your room. You are free to enjoy your vacation as soon as you get off the bus!

Room: I received a second floor room in building seven, just the location I had requested. Perfect for me, close to the walkways to the beach and to Sol resort next door. All the Melia rooms are wonderfully appointed and comfortable. The mini fridge is kept stocked daily with water, beer and soft drinks. There are extra pillows in the closet and the king sized bed was comfortable, if a bit firm for me. A desk, day bed, chairs and tables make the room comfortable and functional. There is a coffee maker in the room, also a CD player. My balcony caught the sun all day long, so was generally too hot to sit on. However, it was great for drying my bathing suit! Water for showers was fine, although it takes a minute or two to warm up. Maid service was very good. I had no complaints.

Beach: The beach is in great shape this year, very wide in front of Melia, and lacking the sand "cliff" that was prominent last December. Of course, beach conditions can change quickly with wind and tide. Cayo Santa Maria has a wonderful beach for walking, especially to the east of the resort, as it becomes firmer and easier to walk on. Going west the sand is more coarse and you sink in, making walking more difficult (but a great workout!)

Grounds: Beautiful, as always. Gardens are well tended and foliage is mature.

Restaurants: Very good service and decent food. A bit less variety this year, possibly because of the season of hurricanes and their affect on the growing of produce. I was disappointed that the a la cartes lacked entertainment. Last year that was one of the highlights of eating at them. The snack bar by the pool still serves excellent pizza, and they seem to have realized that it should be cut before being served! Wonderful not to have to "do it yourself". The beach restaurant is great for lunch. Perfectly cooked fish fillet, not to be missed. (I'm vegetarian, but the fish was worth cheating for)

Bars: Good service at the lobby bar, although I don't do mixed drinks much so I can't comment on that. I also don't use the swim up bar, although it did seem popular.

Activities: Sailing was wonderful, as we had a windy week. Fabulous, fast, wet, sails on the Hobie Cats almost every day. When the last day turned out to be calm, I took advantage of conditions to go snorkelling and was able to observe and photograph quite a few fish. Lots to be seen just off shore anywhere there are rocks, but the best place (if you are up for a hike) is in front of the island at the west end of the beach. Lots of Barracuda everywhere, plus quite a few other varietals. I saw a Porcupine fish in the rocks about 15 feet off the beach. I don't participate in many other activities, but there is lots to do if you are interested.

Internet: A huge improvement over last year. It worked well and quite quickly every day. I was able to send emails reliably with no problems.

Sol: Guests of Melia can use the facilities of Sol (excluding food). Sol has a wonderful quiet pool fringed with palm trees, which is a very relaxing place to sit in the shade and read a book.

Pool: The pool at Melia is deep enough in places to dive into, which is enjoyable for those of us who hate wading in. It's a good depth for swimming. I avoid the pool with the swim up bar (although the temperature is likely warmer!)

Tours: There are quite a few on offer, but I prefer to spend my days on the beach.

Entertainment: I love the piano bar in the evening. At Melia, there is no longer a separate room for this, but it is incorporated into the lobby bar. I like to visit the Sol piano bar at night....wonderful ambiance, attentive staff. As soon as you sit down someone comes to your table to light the candle and take your drink order. The Spanish Coffee is particularly good. I enjoy the pianists at both resorts, so I tend to shuttle back and forth at night. There is also a trio (piano, drums and guitar) at Melia several nights a week.

Weather: I had a wonderful week. Some people might not have appreciated the windy days, but it was perfect for sailing and for walking the beach, so I have no complaints. Evenings could be a touch cool, nothing a sweater couldn't handle.

Staff: Some of the best staff around. I have absolutely no complaints. From the front desk, to the bell boys, to the maids, the wait staff, the bartenders and the sailors, all are excellent. Friendly, helpful and lots of fun to be around. This resort has first class people all the way!

Conclusion: I will be returning to Melia, and also to Sol, whenever I can. Simply one of the best resorts in Cuba. I highly recommend it. Enjoy this wonderful location before it becomes too crowded. Barcelo will soon be opening a large resort down the beach to the east, and a new hotel is planned west of Sol. Right now it is still possible to walk on an almost deserted beach. Unfortunately this will not be the case in the future!

Pictures: http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a179/eeeefarm/Melia%20Cayo%20Santa%20Maria%2008/
Melia Cayo Santa Maria

August 2008
Just got back from Cuba, traveled with two girl friends and had a wonderful time met many wonderful and kind people. Many women travel in groups or on their own, this hotel is a very safe and accommodating to its guests.

We took alot of items to give away to the staff and well as tipping, both were appreciated by all.

The staff went beyond any service you would receive in Canada..or on many of the other island- we were totally spoiled.

Clean resort. Great place for honey mooners.

The staff taking care of the boats, waiters, cleaning and yard staff were very kind and attentive to ensure fun was had by all. And also answered the many questions we had on Cuba and the history of the Island.

The dance troop when we were there was wonderful and entertaining.

Internet on island was slow for me but facebook was fast.

We were treated like Queens and will be returning in the near future for a reunion.

Special thanks to the staff at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
July 2008
We stayed a MCSM last September, we fell in love with the place. returned for the last week of May 2008. Everything that was mentioned in Stevenbev's review is pretty darned dead on.

The Beach is AMAZING, The food is ok, and the 2 a la carte meals were excellent (more on this later). The pool is beautiful, entertainment ok.

DEBBIE!!!!! please let people know, although this is an all inclusive resort, in which you do not have to tip, if you do not want to? Should you be looking for Great Service, TIP!!@ And if you really want service, as the french would say, la politesse (politeness) will go a long way in getting you that service. The maids went out of their way for us, the barmen and waitresses as well. There was a Gardner working outside our building in the stifiling heat, i brought him some water and one of our cokes, he returned the favour by cutting a fresh coconut and slicing the top with his Machete, and putting some straws into it for us.

Now, if you are having dinner in the a la carte restaurant, and the food is excellent, and the service impeccable, why get up and walk out without saying a word, or thank you, or a tip. My wife and i were looking at the faces of the waitresses and the musicians, and you could see a slight look as if to say, what was wrong?

Nuff sa

id!! Hopefully, We will be returning very soon for MORE of that GREAT BEACH, and Cuban Hospitality. Word to the wise, get there before the new Barcelo hotel is built!! that deserted, endless stretch of sand will be a memory once the 2500 guest hotel is completed.

Oh and if you don't like cats, beware there are cats here, gekos as well, salmanders, ect ect.

The only downside or comment, was the outdoor restaurant near the pool,the food has to be better protected, from the birds that swoop in to try and pluck stuff,not to sanitary.

Hi to all our Brit friends, fellow Canucks, and all mes Amis Quebecois!!!

Ciao Debbie, you rock!!
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Stevenbev (The Bev half) 

June 2008
A little late but better then never…

About us:
We are a professional couple in our mid 30’s with multiple trips to the Caribbean “under our belt” Cuba by far being our favorite Island destination.

We have stayed in accommodations rated anywhere from a 2* through to 5* and always adjust our expectations accordingly. When choosing our vacations we typically try to decide on exactly the “type” of holiday we are after first then research our options accordingly.

On this particular vacation we were looking for a resort where we could relax, decompress and reconnect as a couple (the children stayed with grandparents this trip).

All and all the Melia Cayo Santa Maria came up trumps and we were very pleased with our experience…

Instead of my usual diatribe when creating reviews I have decided to be brief and to the point regarding this resort, I hope my review will assist others trying to decide whether this resort is for them.

The first thing that should be mentioned about the MCSM is its relative isolation, with an approximate 90-minute drive from the Santa Clara airport, at least 40 of which will be on a causeway built over the ocean. If possible I would suggest choosing a day flight as the scenery both through the small towns and across this man made causeway is stunning, you certainly want to be able to see this!

Check-in was swift and efficient as you receive your room information, bracelet and room key when you check in with the Transat rep at the airport. You may also exchange your Canadian funds to CUC and purchase a few drinks for the road while you wait for others to fill the bus!

When arriving at the resort we were greeted by the dancing and singing entertainers/animation staff whom were there to welcome us to the MCSM. We were also offered a rum punch asked to leave our luggage with the porter, and directed to our room so we could drop off our carry-on.

Finding our room was actually quite easy as the resort map was quite clear and the paths were all clearly marked and well lit.

Our luggage appeared approximately 30 minutes after we arrived which meant we were able to unpack quite quickly and settle in with very little fuss!

The Rooms:
Okay, I have to admit the rooms at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria were the BEST accommodations we have had in Cuba!

Absolutely Beautiful!

These accommodations were enormous, more in keeping of a suite I would say!

Clean, no mold what so ever and even the expected “musty smell” was not noticeable here. Everything was in good working order, including the water pressure which; was always quite strong, I will also include that we never had an issue with water temperature during our stay!

Yes, having stayed at what I would consider a 5* in Cuba (the PRDO) the quality of the rooms at the MCSM far surpass the PRDO and any other place we have stayed previously.

The Grounds:

The foliage is quite lush for a Cayo and the resort quite nicely landscaped. Stunning gardens, coconut and many other tropical trees. I did notice a huge difference in the landscaping between the Meila and the Sol (the sister resort connected to the Melia), the later being almost “wild” and “over-grown”. The care and attention to detail was quite evident at the Melia, and noticed even more so after “touring” the Sol!

The Beach:
Words can not accurately describe this beach, but I will try…


I have never in my travels seen a more exquisite white sand beach. I would absolutely match this beach against such popular American favorites as Magen’s Bay (St. Thomas) or Orient Beach (St. Martin).

I honestly have to say our American friends to the south would be “green with envy” if they only knew that this little piece of virgin beach paradise existed right at their doorstep.

This incredible stretch of beach seemed to go on forever, however, as the sand is so thick and deep we really couldn’t take advantage of this, even walking close to the water line was exhausting as the deep sand made it seem as though we were walking through partially set cement!

I should tell you that if you do decide to walk along the beach to the left of the Sol Cayo Santa Maria you will come across a nude beach, not “in your face” nudity though. The guests with enough courage to “bare it all” did so quietly and were fully clothed by the time they reached the resort area…

I believe except for a few childish “clothed guests” everybody respected each other’s privacy and space!

The resort did have plenty of water toys (hobie cats, kayaks) which all appeared to be in good repair although we did not utilize them. I should mention you are not permitted to take out the equipment on your own…

2 main pools with and a Jacuzzi which is in front of the snack bar. The pool area had some of the best landscaping, very quiet almost serene like. Having the pool view from our balcony was absolutely fabulous. The resort had plenty of lounge chairs around the pool and nobody had a problem finding chairs, although shade was definitely at a premium.

If you have made the decision or are in the process of deciding to come to the MCSM, PLEASE make sure you reserve a little money in your trip budget to partake in the “spa experience”. As we chose not to go on any organized excursion we decided to put the money we would normally spend towards Spa Treatments…

Steve and I chose the Couple Massages and Hydro Therapy sessions twice during our stay. I believe the cost was 120 CUC per couple each time, and you can decide which type of massage you like, in our case we decided on the 90-minute “stone massage”.

Well worth every single CUC!

Pure unadulterated luxury, which, in my opinion comes only second to the PRDO Spa in quality and tranquility!

There is the 24-hour piano bar, next to lobby which Steve and I spent most of our drinking time. We absolutely loved the atmosphere of peace and quite. GREAT mojitos (never ran out of mint), and the best staff… The lobby bar also housed the resort’s only pool table for which Steve and I did manage to waste away a good couple of hours!

Three more bars “round out” the offerings, a 24 hour snack bar, “swim up bar” and of course the beach bar. For a resort as small as this one, you were never too far away from your favorite libation!

I do recommend a thermos mug to take with you to the beach (Not the embarrassing crude, obscene Bubba kegs); you only need something to keep your libation cold! The flimsy plastic cups on the beach are not only useless but are a hazard to the environment, especially when you notice how many lazy guests just leave their cups lying on the ground when empty!

I was surprised to see quite a few negative reviews regarding the staff at this resort.. We did not run across one member of the staff at the Melia, which we felt, was not 100% professional, educated, and truly concerned about your enjoyment…

Absolute top team of employees!

Unfortunately I can’t say I felt the same kind of love for a few guests at this resort…

Steve and I were shocked at how rude, obnoxious or uneducated/unaware some guests were of their surrounding.

Do people not do a diminutive amount of research prior to booking their vacations?

Repulsively, I witnessed guests treating the staff here as second class citizens, why this resort in particular I have no idea but definitely the worst class of guests that I have unfortunately been on vacation with. Instead of behaving as a “guest” at a resort in a Communist County, I noticed some vacationers behaving as though the owned the resort!

Personally if once and awhile a staff member did become frustrating to deal with or less then helpful I wouldn’t be surprised when I consider how badly some of the staff were being treated by my fellow guests!

Well, I don’t know if it was just us, but I didn’t see a lot of activities during the day provided by the animation team, maybe with a stellar beach stealing the show the animation team didn’t need to do a lot of work.


We really, really did enjoy the evening program…

Something funny we have noticed throughout our travels, and yes, we do tend to try and stick with the Melia chain, almost all their resorts in Cuba perform the same shows…

Different people performing but yep, I have seen the “Around the world with Melia” at least in five (5) different resorts now!

Even though we have sat through these same shows we still go every night… The lobby was the place to hang out and chat with other guest and in my opinion the best bar! Besides that I believe the people who put these shows on work very, very hard and deserve the respect of our patronage, I mean the shows are only an hour and varied so something should be bound to interest you!

After the show if you really were not interested in heading back to the room the only other thing to do was head over the disco at the Sol…

Uhmmm, we only went twice… The disco was pretty dead, in really rough condition and the toilets next door didn’t work…

Okay, so I left the worst for last…

The food!
Okay, I am going to try and be gracious here!

I have to admit in my entire travels south, I have only had food issues twice, once at the Brisas Guardalavaca and now here at the MCSM!

I did become quite ill for about 2 days and I am almost certain the issue was the fish from the poolside restaurant. However, even prior to my “digestive upset” I have to admit the food was lacking in both quantity and quality…

I will say the BEST dish by far had to be the fried Calamari at the beach restaurant!

I honestly could have (probably should have) eaten Calamari all week… Delicious!

Due to my stomach upset we never did make it to our “A la carte” reservations, however the buffet was pleasant enough (air conditioned) and had at least enough of a selection for us.. Caveat here is that we are NOT picky eaters…

Most nights (if you arrive early enough) you should be able to have something from the carvery (usually pork), rice, fish and/or chicken cooked for you, paella and a few pasta dishes…

For dessert I had the fried bananas most nights (minus the crepes) and the one night they ran out of bananas they fried up the mango… Now that was amazing, just wished they had those darn crepes!!!

Please note that you need to leave all illusions of fresh fruit and vegetables at home…

I believe the only fresh vegetables we had all week was shredded carrot, shredded beets, cabbage and cucumber slices! (I believe we found tomatoes slices at the beach restaurant a few times at lunch)…

We didn’t starve and I should say compared to what the people of Cuba have access to we ate like kings and queens and I abhor even having to write how unsatisfied we were with the food offerings, but for the sake of the Average Canadian traveler and their expectations I need to warn others that the food here could certainly disappoint!

In summary…
The Melia Cayo Santa Maria is one resort where I do believe the star rating is accurate.

We have been to 9 different resorts in Cuba and I would definitely rate the MCSM as being at least a 4* resort if not a 4.5* (providing they can somehow manage to bring the quality of food up to par)…

I would say this though…

The Melia Cayo Santa Maria is NOT for everybody!

You are extremely isolated here and far away from the “real Cuba”, you could literally be anywhere in the world as you don’t get that “Cuba feel” that you would have if you stayed somewhere on the mainland.

There is no rollicking nightlife, no off site restaurants or clubs, no shopping and the majority of excursions are “full day” events, as it takes hours to get anywhere!

I found the resort absolutely perfect for relaxation and a little “soul time”… Great place to rekindle the romance and to wile away the hours on the most stunning beach I have ever laid my eyes on…

Happy Cuba travels!

Melia Cayo Santa Maria

April 2008
We just got back on the 24th of April. Amazing vacation. Everything was awesome. The only recommendation I would make is to bring an adaptor for your electrical appliances.Couldn't use my hair straightner. Yikes!!! But apparently you need a European adaptor. Look into it before you go. Thermal cups are a great idea. We brought ours and people were jealous. Probably could have sold some while we were there.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
April 2008
We vacationed at Melia Cayo Santa Maria from March 27 to April 3, 2008. The ages of guests ranged from 30's to 70's, the majority being 40-60. It is definitely a beautiful resort. We have vacationed in Cayo Coco and Veradero and liked this better. If you want a place to find R & R then this is the place because sightseeing and side trips/tours necessitate a 1 1/2 hr trip back to the mainland. I researched Debbie's reviews and found information to be helpful. There is no need to reiterate the positives since they have been said in most reviews. Any negative comments should be taken lightly (ie. cats in the open restaurants. We are not cat persons but they didn't bother us. If you don't feed them they move on). The Mediterranean is the best a la carte restaurant. We would definitely go back again. The
Melia Cayo Santa Maria

March 2008
We visited the Melia Cayo Santa Maria Hotel from February 9th to 16th 2008. There were 29 of us there for a wedding and most of us were aged in our mid to late twenties. We did have a few people in their 40s and 50s with us. I am a fairly well traveled person, having traveled several other all inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela. The purpose of this trip was to attend a friend’s wedding and to get some rest and of course, have a little bit of fun.

The airport was very clean and efficient. The luggage was there almost immediately and we were through customs and all in about 25 minutes. We exchanged some money at the airport. The bus ride was 1 hour ½ and we were fortunate enough to have the ride during the day. We saw 3 cities and enjoyed the view of the fields and the ocean off the causeway.

Arrival and room
Arrival was highly efficient. They had set up a table with envelopes, rooms having been pre-assigned. We had ours in about 3 minutes, gave our room number to the luggage porters and headed off to the room. Our room number was 1513, 1st floor with 2 ¾ beds. Building 15 is quite a central location, if that is what you are looking for. Not much of a view, especially on the first floor, but few rooms do at this hotel. Room was spacious and clean. Standard Caribbean décor. Our luggage was delivered in about 20 minutes.

The hotel is quite big but very compact. Everything is very close by, which made it easy for a group as large as ours to find each other. The hotel in general is very clean. The vegetation is very lush.

The food is pretty good for Cuba. We loved that at the main buffet, they had a grill with a selection of beef, pork, chicken and a few kinds of fish. They cooked that right in front of you, and to your liking. They had a really nice salad bar, fruit bar, nice selection of cheeses, fried rice, pasta bar… There were also some pre-cooked dishes but really, I didn’t dare touch those. Breakfast was great with all kinds of breads, pastries, fresh crêpes, French toast, omelettes, fruit… Be sure to visit Daniel, the guy cooking the crêpes at breakfast and fried rice at lunch. Really nice guy. On the day of the wedding, he even located a tray for me and arranged things so I could bring breakfast in bed to the bride (she has big time allergies, so I wanted to hand pick what she ate). There is also a restaurant by the pool that is open 24 hours and a ranchon at the beach which is open for lunch and turns in to an a la carte at night. There are a few a la carte restaurants but we only tried 2. The seafood one (had lobster, was great) and the Mediterranean for the wedding (steak, was awesome).

Bars and entertainment
There is a bar by the beach and waiters who come and take your order on your chairs. There are 2 bars by the pool, one of them being an in the pool bar. There is a lobby bar and a bar in the discothèque. Drinks are free pour and to the inspiration of the bartender. Argel at the lobby bar was my favorite bartender. He was really sweet and made the best mojitos, in my opinion. We often got behind the bar and made our own drinks. The night of the wedding, the bartender gave up on us at the disco and basically let us mix our own drinks when we asked, which was really great! There was a show each night. They were the standard Caribbean shows. Dance show and audience participation shows. I find them to be dreadfully boring but some people enjoy them. It really depends on your entertainment exposure and experience, I guess. The disco opened at 11 after the show. The DJ Tony is great and plays a good blend of traditional Cuban music, popular salsa and merenge and more modern pop and eighties hits. He was pretty good at gaging the crowd and gladly took special requests.

This resort caters to honeymooners and older people. I would say that the age average was 45. That being said, it was a good thing there was a group of us or we would have been really bored. Definitely not for singles and youngsters looking to party.

Taking the windsurfers, paddle boats, kayaks and such out was really easy and fun. There were daily volleyball games. There is a spa, which I did not go to. Some friends went and said it wasn’t all that great. The gym was really nice and air conditioned.

Beach is gorgeous. White powdery sand. The water drops pretty quickly. We had a mix of quiet water days and wavy days; it really depends on the wind. No snorkeling to be had right in front of the hotel. Plenty of chairs to go around. As with all all-inclusive resorts, shade comes at a premium on the beach.

Gorgeous big pool. Technically, there are two but they are right next to eachother. There are several foam floaty mattresses which was absolutely awesome! Plenty of chairs and a fair amount of shade.

The staff was wonderful. I was actually pretty impressed with the amount of English spoken by staff at all levels. I never had any problems making myself understood, despite the poor state of my Spanish abilities. The Cuban people, in general, were all very kind, welcoming and joyous.

Catamaran Excursion
We went on the catamaran excursion on the Tuesday and this was the highlight of the trip for most of us. There were 23 people in our group who participated so we had our own boat. Juan and Guillermo were our captain/entertainment staff/cook/barman… Both of them were absolutely fantastic and very friendly. We left the hotel at 9AM and boarded the boat and were off around 9:45. We were on the water until 4PM. We went snorkeling twice, visited a deserted island and sailed around. The snorkeling is average. Great for those who have never been before. I could be disappointing to those used to more lavish coral reefs like those of the Mayan Riviera. The meal consisted of lobster tail, rice, vegetables and shrimp. (lobster could be substituted by chicken) It was the best meal we had all week! And to think it was cooked on a boat! We really had a wonderful time and all was perfect. Did I mention it was open bar? 80 CUCs for the trip and every penny well spent!

The wedding was gorgeous. They had it on the beach around 4:30PM and it was really nice. The ceremony was quick and the staff was very helpful in setting up things as we asked and keeping the half naked sunbathers out of the pictures! The reception was held between 6-8PM in the discotheque where there were hors d’oeuvres to eat, a barman and a DJ. Dinner was in the Mediterranean restaurant at 8PM and was great. Around 10PM, when we got out of the restaurant, we headed out to the pool Gazebo where the bride and groom did their first dance. They had purchased a boom box on which we could plug our i-pods which was really handy. We then partied the night away at the disco and lobby bar where all guests and staff were very friendly and congratulating towards our entire group.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. This hotel has all the necessary elements for a great vacation: great beach, good food, great service and warm weather. I would definitely recommend it to people on honeymoon, for a wedding and for r&r. I would not recommend it for party seekers or for those who would like to see the “real” Cuba.

My pictures are posted here:
Keep in mind they are my personal pics so some may not be all that interesting to you

Feel free to e-mail me at marilouemard@hotmail.com if you have any questions or would like any precision on any of my comments.

Happy travels!
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Ken & Jopie 
Port Hope, Ontario
January 2008
Great rooms, I had emailed ahead and asked for ground floor and to be place with the couple we were travelling with. We got exactly that!
The cleaning staff were great and if something was overlooked, 1 phone call and it was taken care of.

The buffet was good for Cuba, what can I say. The Mediterranean was fabulous, as was the Italian and the Seafood was great! I strongly recommend getting in line early to make the reservations to these restaurants, they book up fast!

Plenty of bars with the piano bar and the snack bar remaining open 24 hrs. We screwed up and didn't take the large mugs......next time for sure!!!!!!!!! Bartenders and waiter would do everything to accommodate your requests

Beach and Pools
One of the nicest beaches we've been to. Great for snorkeling or for sunbathing. The pools are great, clean and plenty of poolside lounges, the bar service at the pool is great, look for Alberto at the poolside bar, he will look after you!!!

Well kept, maintained daily.

Plenty of daily activities, the nightly entertainment was great

We did the Santa Clara tour, the best part was I got to drive the steam train and the tour of the Cigar Factory as for the rest of the trip, not so good but that was do too some pushy tourist on the bus that wanted everything their way, Wouldn't take this tour again, you can buy the cigars and rum cheaper at the airport duty free.

We highly recommend this resort, we had a couple days with rain and still found the resort and it's staff great.....Will be going back.The one thing I would recommend is the VIP lounge at the Santa Clara airport, worth every penny!!!!!!!!1
Melia Cayo Santa Maria

January 2008
This was our third vacation to Cuba, and we very much enjoyed our trip to Melia Cayo Santa Maria.

In a word, gorgeous! We walked east along the beach each day right to the end (about an hour each way). If you plan to do the same, make sure you bring a hat and a bottle of water with you. The sand becomes more firmly packed the further you get away from the resort. Along the way you’ll pass Las Dunas and what we understand to be a Barcelo (under construction). There’s not a lot of coral from a snorkelling perspective, but there are several species of fish to be spotted, including starfish. We also stumbled across several live conchs, which we took pictures of then returned to the water. If you walk westwards along the beach (much more difficult walking as the sand is loosely packed), be aware that there’s a clothes-optional section just past the Sol. The water along the entire length of the beach is stunning; crystal clear (when calm) and the epitome of Caribbean blue.

Watch out for the jellyfish, as they’re the clear, almost invisible variety, not the blue Man-O-War that’s seen in several other parts of Cuba. The calmer days seem to be the days when there’s a greater concentration of them.

Lots of lush vegetation everywhere. The grounds are beautiful.

One of the largest “standard rooms” we’ve ever had. Comfy beds, nice furnishings, balcony with ocean view, and a warm tropical colour scheme. Our only complaint is that our room was visited several nights by numerous red ants. Don’t know if any of the other rooms near ours (#1721) encountered the same.

The food at the buffet was plentiful and varied, there’s something for everyone. We went to the beach restaurant most afternoons for a nibble (great calamari) and to the snack bar once (decent pizzas). There are four a la carte restaurants (you can go to three of them) – Italian, Mediterranean, Steak House & Seafood. We went to all but the Italian, and had good food and service everywhere but at the Steak House (mint sauce on the steak?). We heard several other people voice their disappointment with it also, so I’d suggest avoiding it. Truth be told, the “Steak House” isn’t in a building at all, it’s a poolside palapa with tables and chairs set up underneath it (during inclement weather, they use the snack bar). Drinks
Good. Bring your thermal mugs with you so that you don’t have to make so many trips to the bar. Those who think it appropriate to bring massively oversized thermal mugs with them should think again; it’s nothing but embarrassing.

Hit and miss. We had some very good servers, and some horrible ones. Good service didn’t seem to be dependant on tip.

The best we’ve seen, absolutely excellent. The best was the Cuban show, on Tuesday night. Shows start at 9:45, and run about an hour.

General Comments
-We missed having the option of sitting outside at the buffet; only indoor seating is available.

- The resort could do with another bar near the front of the resort (we never saw the “Piano Bar” open once; I believe it functions only as a disco now). The main bar can become quite congested in the evenings.

-There are numerous cats around the resort. The only restaurants they can get into are the Beach Restaurant and the Snack Bar, and they don’t bother you unless you begin feeding them from the table. If you want to give them a nibble, do so outside the restaurant.

-Very few Europeans at this resort, the crowd is mostly Canadian, with roughly half the crowd being French-Canadian.

- Transat Vacations is currently the only Canadian tour operator offering this resort. They rate it as a 4-1/2* property, which we felt was accurate.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria

January 2008
Many basic things are covered by other reviews, so I will mention a few things as side note. This is my second trip to Cayo Santa Maria. I was at Melia Las Dunas last year. The Melia Cayo Santa Maria, in comparison is smaller and cosier, The staff are very seasoned and know what they are doing – English is widely spoken. This resort is older and showing some signs of age. However, the beach is spectacular – it has the best stretch of beach in the whole place. The resort is compact and very easy to navigate. Another plus is the abundance of pool and beach loungers. Hardly any towel reserving goes on and it’s not even necessary. The pool has foam floaties… which was nice. Some people take them to the beach but there are always plenty to go around. The food was fine… typical ok Cuban resort food. Vegetarians need to be wary: even though a dish may be labelled as vegetables, it is often dressed and decorated with pieces of ham, fish, etc. We only went to one a la carte restaurant: the steak house. It was a lovely, romantic evening. The food was really nice. We enjoyed every meal and never missed one! I am sure we had EXTRA meals! The beer is cold and plentiful at the bars. The mixed drinks are awesome… they free pour as much rum as you want. The coffee was the best… We sometimes had cappuccinos in the afternoon with shots of Cubay coffee liquor: so good! And the mojitos… wonderful.

A few issues: our shower head (which was of the hand held variety) could not be mounted high up, so in effect we had no shower (unless you wanted to hold it up the whole time, or have someone hold it up for you). The piece that mounts the shower was broken. We asked about it three times. Finally someone at the desk was kind enough to admit that the part wasn’t available and it would never be fixed. We then fixed it ourselves using hair elastics. We had a few cockroach incidents in our room (a ground level room). A few burned out light bulbs. A few times when there was no hot water. Our safe was broken upon arrival – they replaced it right away. A few times they didn’t fill the fridge and told us point blank there were not enough beverages to go around (fair enough). There was some garbage out behind our room: beer cans, paint cans. The thing I was most concerned about though was a serious sewage leak behind the beach grill / Seafood restaurant that was very close to our building (Building 11 - Pelicano): there was raw sewage bubbled up to the north side of our path. I spoke to the desk about it… nothing was done, no work people ever attended to it that we could see – it was there day after day. There were workmen there everyday however replacing the little lamps on the adjacent path. It was just an unpleasant sight and smell to walk past several times a day.

There was something wrong with the phone in our room, as it rang several times in the night every night (and a recorded voice on the other end). Finally, we unplugged it. Occasionally though, we did plug it back in, in anticiaption of two requested wake up calls. Unfortunately one wake up call never happened and the other was half an hour late. We had to rely on ourselves to get up in time for one excursion and on our departure day. There was no clock radio nor clock of any kind in the room. My advice is to bring a travel clock with alarm.

Do you like feral cats? There are plenty around. You can feed them, they are quite friendly.

The spa is spectacular and has every imaginable treatment. The tennis courts are new, amazing and always available.

We did two excursions: Catamaran day trip (a lovely day, loads of fun) and the Santa Clara city tour (very interesting and enjoyable day!).

In summary, YES I would return. The resort is a wonderful, warm, pleasant place, just the right size, extremely comfortable and lots of fun.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Kim and Peter 
Georgetown, Ontario, Canada
January 2008
Arrival - Our flight down was with Air Transat and no problems. Once off the plane we collected our luggage and went through Cuban customs. Although it is a small airport, it was quite efficient. Out in the parking lot the tour agent greeted us and we were checked into the hotel right there- given our room card keys, resort maps and excursion info. Then onto the bus to head to the resort. Our luggage was tagged with our room number and we were told it would be taken to our room for us on arrival. The drive to the resort is quite enjoyable- a warning though- there are no bathrooms so go at the airport- it is a 90 min drive- think twice about that cervezas to drink on the drive! If you can arrange it, arrive during daylight hours as the drive is very enjoyable. Lots of villages to pass though and country side views. The caseway connecting the mainland to Cayo Santa maria is amazing and an enjoyable drive. On arrival at the resort we were greeted with welcome drinks and dancers. We had our room keys so no waiting at reception, just headed straight for our room which was easy to find with the map provided. Our only negative comment was that our luggage was not available for 3 hours so it is wise to take a change of clothes (something for the beach!) in your carry on so you can change without waiting for your luggage.

Rooms - The rooms were very nice. We had emailed ahead after looking at the resort map on this web site!! We requested a second floor room, king sized bed and gave several building options. We were very pleased to find that our request was accomadated! The rooms are set up as a suite whis is so nice. There is a small foyer as you first enter then a sitting area with a chair, coffee table and day bed. The bed takes up the remainder of the room attractively decorated with sheer material (mosquito netting which was not necessary-just decorative). Off the bed area is a dressing area that has a sink, lots of room with a vanity and mirrors, a closet which had hanging area and drawers. The safe is located in the closet. Off the dressing area is the bathroom which had a shower/tub , toilet and bidet. There were plenty of towels provided including a beach towel each- if lost had to be paid for-could be changed as need at the animation centre. We did not have any problems with hot water but found we often had to run the water for up to 3 minutes or so before it became hot. There is also a writing desk/chair, entertainment centre with TV and minibar. There is also a small boom box in the room which had a CD player, so you could bring some if you wanted to, but who wants to spend that much time in the room, even if it is nice! Each room has a balcony with white wicker table and chairs which is nice. A second floor is preferred as many of the first floor rooms have trees right up to the balcony which would make the rooms dark and not much of a view. We could see the ocean from our balcony although we did not have an oceanview room.

Restaurants - There was a good variety of restaurants. The main buffet always had something we liked. The food has a strong italian influence being owned by the Melia chain. We did find it to be quite repetitive but with the pasta bar and the meat grill you could customize your order and enjoy more variety. Be sure to check out the stewed rum bananas for desert- they are amazing! We found the a la carte restaurants to be a nice break from the buffet but the quality inconsistant. We really liked the Italian, the Seafood was average and the Steak House OK but it is outdoors and not the most practical setting-however, all of the meat is grilled on an outdoor grill. Overall we found the roast pork to be very good, the beef and seafood not bad and the chicken too fatty. We were there for a week and had 3 a al carte restaurant choices. We did not choose the Mediterranean which we heard was quite nice. One piece of advice, we booked our a la carte sittings as soon as we arrived- before we even got to our room. We got the times and places we wanted and did not stand in line. It seemed there was a line up every time we passed later and the rest of our stay. For snacks and lunches there is the 24 hr pool snack bar which had good wood oven baked pizzas and beach restaurant with the amazing calamari. There are also small buffets at each with salads etc.
We have been to only one other resort in Cuba- Breezes Jibacoa- and found the food to be superior but you still had to remind yourself you were in Cuba and not to be too critical.

Bars - Lobby bar (great cappuccinos), pool bar (swim up) with pool snack bar (walk up), another pool bar (other side and only open until 3pm!), beach restaurant and beach bar.I found the service to be very inconsistant at the bars and generally if you tipped, it did not make a difference how you were served. Some servers were definitely better than others and some more engaging. English was often a barrier and most servers were more fluent in French.

Beach and Pools - The beach is the real selling point for this resort (we also chose it as it was adults only). We would head to the beach around 10-11am and never had a problem finding chairs and a palapa. By 11 am there would be no palapas left but there was only one day when it seemed there were very few beach chairs available. 4/7 days were calm and sunny with temps around 30C- we had great weather. One of those days there were alot of jelly fish and we could not swim. The other 3/7 days were quite windy which made for fun body surfing- partly cloudy with temps around 25C. We had one rain shower which lasted maybe 20 min and we did not even get off of our lounge chaise!
The pools were very nice- 2 main ones right beside one another. We would go there after lunch for a change of scenery and enjoy floating on the foam floaties. There is a hot tub but we never used it- I did stick my foot in it on passing and thought it might not be hot enough. Later in the afternoon the swim up pool bar got qutie rowdy but was good entertainment- their seemed to be an awful lot of drunk people from Quebec the week we were there! Almost 90% of the resort was filled with Canadians.

Grounds - The grounds were very beautiful but we did find that in some of the outlying areas that there were areas that needed manicuring and weeding but that is being very picky. We did not find the resort too big and enjoyed walking around. We were allowed to go next door to the Sol and we thought our resort to be nicer:). We were not permitted to go to the Las Dunas resort so cannot comment on it.

Activities - The animation team had lots on the go-things to do every half hour or so. The usual stuff- dancing, spanish lessons, plus yoga, tai chi, archery etc. They did not seem to be really well atended but there were always people there. There is also a gym which looked nice (though the window!) and a spa. Heard alot of people say the spa was nice (lots of girls had their hair braided there) but we did not attend.

Tours - Heard alot of people say the catamaran snorkeling tour was amazing. If we had been there longer we would have gone. We took in the Swim with the Dolphins tour (125 pesos each). Despite the long dirve (2 1/2 hrs) it was so worth it. If you have ever wanted to experience swimming with the dolphins, this is the place to do it. You take in a 20 minute show then get to swim with the dolphins. You can get some great photos getting dolphin kisses and being pushed thought the water on their noses (it is truly amazing). They have a professional photographer there who will take pictures if you want (10 pesos each) but it is worth it- nice photos. You have a nice lunch after (get the prawns) and then head to Cienfuegos for some touring around and shopping. A really fun day!

Conclusion - We had a great time at this resort and found it to be a really good value for the price. We would definitely go again but will likely try to see some other areas of Cuba first. Highlights-Beautiful beach, food not too bad (good for Cuba), and the dolphin excursion.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Sun Bather 

January 2008
Dear Potential Vacationers,

I don't really know where to begin. I have just arrived from an amazing week long vacation at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria in Santa Clara Cuba. My boyfriend and I were there from January 10th-17th. Not long enough that’s for sure.

Airport Check in:

I guess it all depends on how many planes are arriving. It was extremely busy. At one point we almost thought that our bags were lost because they were not coming around and other flights were arriving. Thankfully we found them!!! The currency exchange booths took forever. You are better off doing it at your hotel. All in all, not a bad arrival.

Bus Ride:

I loved it. Even though it was an hour and half ride it was great. The scenery was beautiful. Going through the various little towns was interesting. The drive was kind of scary, they all drive like maniacs. Driving through Santa Clara was nice. The streets look like little narrow alley ways. It was such a tight fit. If the windows were open on the bus I would be able to touch the buildings along the streets. The best part of the drive is the final stretch, driving along the causeway to the secluded island of Santa Maria. That was defiantly memorable. You’re driving on a 10km road built on the water, actually the ocean, it was stunning!!!

Hotel Check In:

We received an envelope as soon as we boarded the bus at the airport. The envelope included a map of the resort with all the restaurant times, excursions included as well. We also received our room key!!! Therefore we did not have to go to the front desk and check in... We didn’t even have to wait for our bags; they would be at our rooms... I would suggest packing a few beach wear in your carry on as to not wait for your luggage. We were instantly greeted by dancers and singers at arrival and a cocktail as well!!! We didn’t know if we had to directly go to our room, so we roamed around a bit until we eventually reached our room, the front desk called to tell us that our bags were coming.

Hotel Room:

No complaints. Very nice, clean and roomy. We had a nice big king size bed, with a day bed too. I had emailed the resort the day before to make a request to have a room within the center of the resort, close to bars, restaurants and pools. I was surprised that the building I had asked for specifically was actually given. Building 27, room 2722, located directly behind the Italian a la carte, 24 hour snack bar and the pools. Even though we did not have a view of the ocean, it was still nice, besides you’re not going to waste any time on your balcony anyways. The bathroom was very nice and clean. The toilet, shower and badee (probably not spelled right) were in a separate room from the sink. I liked that, while one showers, the other can get ready. Bed was super comfy, sheets were cleaned, tons of pillows for a comfy sleep. We didn’t bring a watch, so we never wanted to sleep in too late, so we got a wakeup call every morning. But we eventually got used to it and realized what time it really was throughout the day.

Food: To be honest what do you really expect... It’s not intended to be a gourmet place. Buffet has variety, not everyday though. Pretty much same food every day. I will say the omelettes were amazing and so were the pancakes, try the strawberry sauce, delicious!!! You can reserve 3 a la carte restaurants a week.

Mediteraian (next to the buffet restaurant):

That was great!!! I don’t remember the appetizer I had, but dinner my boyfriend and I had the beef mignon. His was cooked a little rare for my liking but mine was GOOD. Since I was celebrating my birthday that particular night, they came out with a sponge cake (I think that’s what it was), with alcohol on it, and poured on our plates. They dimmed the lights, lit our plates on fire and the cake and sang to me. It was so nice. Therefore the food was good there and the service was oh so pleasant.

Seafood (restaurant on the beach, serve lunches there as well):

I had the shrimp cocktail for an appetizer. It was really good, served in martini glass, 4 shrimps on a bed of lettuce with I think it was mayo. It was really good. Them I had the calamari in tomato sauce. It wasn’t amazing, but it was pretty good. The best was the fried ice cream. LOVED IT!!! I do recommend you visit this same restaurant for lunch. Why??? Their fired calamari. It is absolutely amazing. We had it every day for lunch. The last day was the best, we savoured every bite. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE have it, for us at least....yummmmmy!!!!

Steakhouse (Directly across from pool)

This is a brand new restaurant. We kind of cancelled our reservation. We heard from other people that it was not good at all. Apparently the ribs were fatty, the chicken was bloody and the rest was just as bad. So we decided to skip it last minute. It was our last night anyways, so we partied instead of eating.


Defiantly enough for every one!! There’s the 24 hour piano bar, next to lobby. Pool bar in the 24 hour snack area, swim up bar on one side of the pool and the other small bar (didn’t notice till last day) and lastly the beach bar. Bring something to have your drinks poured into. Unless you are actually sitting at the bar, they will serve it tiny plastic cups by the pool and the beach. We used BUBBA Kegs that we bought at Canadian Tire. Mine wasn’t as big as mu boyfriend’s. Mine was only 20oz...um...his was like 55oz!!!

Service Staff:

To be honest, some were not as nice as others. Some spoke English, a lot didn’t. At the buffet and a la carte, very fast and efficient. As soon as you sit, they serve whatever you want to drink (their white wine for dinner is good). Our bed was made and sheets changed if needed. Our shoes were even placed neatly against the wall, floors mopped, fridge stock (if needed), and fresh towels every day. They would leave those cute towel sculptures on our bed every day. The best was the elephant; they used a baseball cap and put sunglasses on it....haha...


BEAUTIFUL!!! I have never seen such a wonderful, white sandy beach in my life. This was my 3rd time in Cuba and by far the most outstanding beach ever!!! The stretch of beach seemed as though it went on forever. On the right, they were building the new huge hotel (apparently 2800 rooms...wow) and if you walk along to the left, past the neighbouring resort, is the nude beach. If you dare to bare you sure can there!!! I won’t lie there were jellyfish. Most were just dried up on shore. I think I saw 2 in the water actually moving. I also saw a lot of people swimming and none were stung, so I think it’s safe.


2 main pools, 1 little pool at the club house, Jacuzzi in front of the snack bar. I will let you in on a little secret. Wake up in the morning before 9am and find a spot by the pool area to reserve for the day. There are a lot of lounge chairs surrounded everywhere, no problem finding chairs. The secret is the location of the spot. Right in front of the 24 hour snack, directly in front of the 2nd pool, is a Jacuzzi area with lounges including shaded areas. The secret is that first thing in the morning is covered in shade. But as soon as you are done breakfast is sunny. It the best spot guaranteed. You got the pool a few steps down to cool down a lot, right beside you a Jacuzzi for a bit warmer cool down, bathrooms around the corner, swim up bar a few feet away and food as well. We had that spot all week. It was perfect!!!


Various activities throughout the day. Water aerobics was fun (even though I only did it once..hehe). good way to burn off breakfast. The entertainment staff was great. Ricardo very nice!! There was a fashion show twice that week, and then at the end you were able to purchase it. Some of the stuff was beautiful and not as inexpensive as you would expect. A few afternoons there were these 2 guys on those little sport bikes doing flips and spins and all these cool tricks right in between the 2 pools. That space is not that big so it made their tricks look even better. As for the nightly entertainment, nothing too great. It’s all the same at every resort pretty much. Except for one particular night. There was an amazing Michael Jackson impersonator. He was amazing!!!! Looked like him and danced exactly like him (first rows are needed to sit at to experience this show). Amazing performance of Thriller and Billy Jean. It was AWESOME!!! Then there was the disco, which started right after the show. It’s a reasonable size space, pool table on the left, lots of couches to sit on, and of course a bar. Load music and a lot of fog. This was a little over done!!! A few drinks later it gets tolerable.


Ahhhhh the spa!!!! Make sure you reserve it asap. Already with your hotel package is the HydroTherapy (I think). This means is that you get to use their spa facility for a whole hour. First you use the sauna, then take cold shower, then steam room, another cold shower, hot bath and lastly Jacuzzi and then bathe in the sun. It’s very private and a bit away from the resort, so really quite and accessible from all the neighbouring resorts. This spa is one of the best in Cuba. My boyfriend and I scheduled a Couples Massage. It was 116 pesos altogether for an hour of relaxing massage. Worth every single penny. It was a perfect day, because we had the HydroTherapy first for an hour then the message for the next. I highly recommend it!!!

All in all, I feel this was the most wonderful resort we have ever stayed at. I would defiantly go back next year. The week started off really quite, a day in to it a bunch of rowdy young Quebecers arrived and the noise began. They grew on you in the end and were a lot of fun. My boyfriend believes he made lifelong friends!!!! Defiantly a resort made for couples, singles and those who really just want to relax and truly vacation.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Venus & Eddie 
London, Ontario, Canada
December 2007
It is our 4th time to visit Cuba, and second time to this resort. We have traveled , cruised and have visited different resorts, but we have not experienced the same satisfaction that we had in Melia Santa Maria, Santa Clara.

The staff is the number one asset of the resort, so warm yet professional, and always willing to please clients. They are almost like family. Whether you give them tip or not the service is the same. (not that you will not give tip, they deserve it). Talking of staff the first one we have to mention is Rusbel Santiago Gonzales.He's one of the Customer Service Representative. Very fluent in English, little of French, and some other language. Not only is he top notch professional in his line of job but very warm. He use to be an English teacher I believe. So for clients who needs customer service assistance, do not forget his name. Everyone is great but it is nice to talk to someone who can really help with the language barrier. And kudos to Yaima & Yosbel. They're one couple who we meet in 2004 and is still in the resort. They made our stay much more homey this second time around. There is George (part Chinese), he's excellent too and Humberto. Thank you all for making our stay a memorable one the second time around. Thank you to the kitchen staff, the cooks they are very good.

Added attraction, is the Spa. Ladies or gentlemen, try it. Ask for Roberto if you must. We met him in 2004 and I can't believe our luck, he's still there. I must say management knows how to keep their good staff. View the spa on line, you'll know what I mean.

The food, my husband and I can't complain. There are so much selection, it is just a matter of trying what you are comfortable with. There is no way someone will get hungry in this place, we had a feast every night. From tuna, red snapper, calamari (you have to try it), shrimps,crabs, . You guess it right I love see food and I know if it is fresh. They even had pork roast 3 times during our stay. How can somebody complain. Filet mignon at the Mediterranean Restaurant is excellent (per my husband). Had the seafood k-bob. It is good...... Desserts are ok, found only at the main restaurants. But with the fresh tropical fruit selection I was set. They had guava,papaya,pineapple, and so much more. Oh and for hot coffee, how about cappuccino for breakfast,lunch and dinner. Bailey's by the piano bar while waiting for the nightly show is just heaven. Do not forget to watch the nightly shows, you won't regret it.

The rooms are very comfortable, we had bungalow 12, lucky spot. My husband has a back problem this time so we requested the one that is more central. It is near the restaurant,swimming pools and the Med. restaurant. We are surrounded by garden well manicured and blooming with flowers. Room is well kept, Lili the one assigned to our room is excellent. We've taken pictures of what she made out of our towel's, it is an art. Hopefully I can copy it.

The beach is just beautiful, one of the best beach we've been to. It is so clean, no sea grass like other beaches. You can walk on the sand without beach sandals.

The resort is being converted to adults only in November. I hope they'll change there mind, we have 2 grandchildren and is planning to bring them with the whole family, sort of Christmas reunion. But if it will be an adult resort, it is too bad..

We have brought lots of gifts and manage to distribute it to almost everyone. From the waiters,cook,gardener , bell boys and even to our tour guide Isabella.. You can't help but give them, they are so thankful for anything you can share with the. We brought candies, hair accessories, crayons, clothes, sandals, make up, eye make up, flavored cookies, and mix nuts (no wonder our luggage is so heavy) . My they ever appreciate it.

Do not forget your bug repellant, flashlight, it comes handy at night. I don't know what it was for some other clients, but we had a great time walking at night, strong breeze but still lovely, you can smell the flowers . Had a feast too with coconut water and coconut meat called MASA in Cuba. Thanks to Guilberto and other gardeners who made it possible for me to have it. Try it, not too many knows how to eat young coconut, it is excellent and it taste so sweet.

One comment to the management, with the washrooms, comes with age are mildew. I know it is petty but very important to most people. Try to maintain it to the standard, I know your pool guys always make sure the mildew in the pools are cleaned, so do it too with the washroom walls. It is beautiful and comfortable with even added bidets, but if you see a mildew , let's say I am kind of squeamish.

I can go on and on, in short I highly recommend this place. Oh by the way last but not least, thanks to Eduardo the general manager. He's always visible to all and so easy to talk too. Very friendly and approachable.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Vancouver, Canada
November 2007
Arrival - We are a recently retired couple and this is our third trip to Cuba, having stayed at Sol Melia in Cayo Largo & Breezes, Playa Pesquero near Holguin. We travelled on an AirTransat package staying two weeks in mid November. Cuban immigration /customs clearance was very quick and our luggage was already waiting for us. The transfer to the reosrt was smoothly organized with the bus trip from Santa Clara and easy check in as described in other reviews.


Rooms - Our room ( a "Junior Suite") was pleasantly decorated and as others have stated just a large room not a real suite. It was on the ground floor of building 21. This is a very quiet location but a long way from the lobby and buffet but quite close to the beach (building 19 is closer). Very few of the rooms at htis resort haave sea views and most of the "garden views" are straight out on to the mangrove forest. In some rooms the mangroves are only a metre away from the balcony, which some people may find claustrophobic. The room was reasonably clean on arrival but the light switches, doors and door handles were really grubby and sticky. Perhaps the previous guests didn't wash their hands. We left a note in bad Spanish (with back-up drawings) asking the maids to please wash these areas, the next day and from then on everything was fine. (The doors on the publlic washrooms all seemed to have dirty handles too. )

Restaurants - As previous reviews have said, the food in the buffet is very good, with lots of variety. The 24 hour snack bar and the ranchon also serve good quality food. The waiters in all the restaurants are very accomodating and extremely quick. There were lots of student / trainee waiters during our stay and they were rotated every few days making it hard to get to know them. The non-trainee waiters did not rotate.

Bars - Service at the bars was very prompt but most mixed drinks had very little alcohol in them.

Beach and Pools - It was very windy during our stay (two days of red flags) and only one day when the sea was relatively calm. The beach is excellent for walking (be aware of the clothing optional section at the west end past "Las Dunas") and we enjoyed long walks. We did not snorkel due to the high waves but there is a rocky section past the "clothing optional " beach. Judging by the pelicans regularly diving in this area, there should be fish . The pools are very shallow and are ok for a dip to cool off but not much use to swim in. The resort was about half full when we stayed and we had no problems getting a palapa either at the beach or pool (even at 10:00 in the morning).

Grounds - The gardens were quite dry when we were there with only a few flowers blooming. The area around our building (Number 21) had an air of neglect, plants were dying from lack of water and the grass had not been cut nor had leaves been raked up. A contrast to the areas around the lobby/buffet which were manicured beautifully. As previous reviewers have said the grounds are quite dark at night. There were a lot of burnt out bulbs in the fixtures, bring a flashlight. I suggested to the management that they use "LED rope lights" along the edge of the paths. This could save them some electricity and last a lot longer than the bulbs they are currently using.

Conclusion - We took a lot of gifts for the staff and found that some are not as weel appreciated as others. The suggestions for gifts that we received from the cuban staff were: clothing (especially for children), baby powder, baby formula . The one item that would be really prized are your old cell phones. The staff have no way of being contacted at work (They often leave home at 4:00 am and don't get back until after 12:00 midnight). We were told that to buy a used cell phone is over $300 CUC . Canadian phones apparently work in Cuba. (Not so useful to the staff are soap, shampoos, pens, as they are allowed to take the used ones from the resort).

We would rate this resort as 7 out of 10 , mainly for the generous and helpful staff. The rest of the resort is sort of average, not as beautiful grounds as Breezes, Playa Pesquero and not as scenic as Cayo Largo.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Mark and Angelika 

November 2007
Hi Debbie,
2nd time visiting Cuba, last year Varadero, this year for our 25th, Santa Clara. What can we say, rooms were clean, maid service excellent, property was well maintained, pool was beautiful, (only used it late at night) Bar service and entertainment was good.

Food at the buffets was ok as well, the 2 suppers at the restaurants provided to us with the all inclusive packages, turned out to be a pleasant suprise.

The staff really works hard, they are very pleasant and do their best for you.

Now as for the beach, it was great!!! The water amazing, stretched for what seemed like miles, it was really quiet(slow season), i walked down to where the new hotel was being built, not a soul anywhere, took the oppertunity to do some skinny dipping.

Aside from one heavy thunder storm on our last day(1hr) the weather was incredible. Didn't have a problem with mosquitos, some people got bitten badly, some didn't, go figure? This place is not PARTY CENTRAL, anyways not in September. So if that is what your looking for, go elsewhere.

Took the Catmaran Sunset Cruise, was Awesome!!

Debbie, it's not would we go back, but a question of when?

Like tomorrow if i could!!!
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Bev and Wayne 
Pickering Ontario
November 2007
As you can see, we have really liked this resort. We have been to Cuba 18 times and this is the only resort that we did repeat visits.

We have travelled to Mexico, DR, Jamaica, Panama, Barbados so it is not that this is our only tropical experience.

The rooms are very comfortable, The beach is lovely and clean. The staff are like family and I must say they have fabulous memories as they can remember you even if it has been a year between visits and greet you with a wonderfully warm welcome back. They even can recall gifts you have given them for themselves or their children... pretty amazing and heart warming.

There have been changes since we started coming in 2004. The buffet has improved, The towel service has changed and become more convenient. The new airport has opened in Santa Clara and arrival and departing is much less complicated than it was in the tiny airport they had.

One thing I would also comment on is that the staff are constantly being trained and their command of different languages of guests visiting from all over the world is amazing. As well, Eduardo, the hotel director is a wonderful person and is always more than willing to listen to a visitors comments and suggestions. He is extremely hands on, as is his wife, Rosie who teaches the staff English, French and cooking. They are loved and respected by the staff and any visitor who gets to know them.

The resort is being converted to adults only in November. We never found it to be overrun with children as it was but it will be interesting to see how it evolves.

With regard to tipping, you will receive excellent service whether or not you tip. We not only tip the "visible" service staff but my husband makes a point to go back into the kitchens to ensure everyone behind the scenes gets a peso.

We also give out gifts of crayons, hair jewellery, stockings, socks (childrens and adult), toothpaste and brushes, toiletries, bandaids, tylenol (for adults and children), colouring books, razors (ladies and men's), exercise notebooks, pencils, pens... these items are of great value to these people as if they have to purchase them, they have to do so in convertible pesos and not cuban pesos and are terribly expensive for them or just plainly unaffordable. In view of how immaculately clean these people are when they come to work and how hard they work, and are always cheerful and ready to give you a gift for just being kind to them, it makes our hearts happy to brighten their days. If you check with your airline (Westjet allows a 45 lb suitcase containing humanitarian gifts without charge so long as you have no person items in it) you too can pack a few items to pass along to these wonderful people. As well, the customer relations staff, animation team and the front desk staff would welcome tips and gifts as well as they do not earn higher salaries than say a bar man.

One warning concerning bugs. If you travel there in the spring or summer, take along your strongest repellant. We were there in early June this year and we could have saddled some of the mossies! In September, there was much much much less bugs to deal with.

We look forward to returning again to enjoy this fabulous resort and all our wonderful Cuban "family".
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Terri and Jim  
Brantford, Ontario
September 2007
Dear Debbie, This is the second time I have sent you a review. I always try to check all our vacation destinations out prior to booking on your site before we go. My husband and I (both in our late 40's) were at this property in July for my birthday. As Canadians we had never gone south in the Summer, but this year we really needed a break, and we do not have the luxury of owning a pool or cottage! We will definately reccomend it to any poor Canadians starved for beach and palm trees! Everything was great, the weather was Humid, but no different than here in Ontario in July, at least there you had the wonderful blue ocean and breezes that you just don't have at home.The only drawback at first was Yes it is rainy season, so the bigs are crazy! We brought bug spray , but for the first few days we were eaten alive! Our Canadian version of Deet apparently does not work at all. I ended up buying whatever it is the Cubans use in the gift shop and mixing it with mine, and finally they left us alone! Another tip, I sprayed my bug spray in my room and as I always travel with small candles for my room, I never had a problem in my room, as other people complained about. Anyway, the food was great, the rooms were clean and comfortable, the beach was awseome! My husband and I went on many long walks as you could walk forever on the beach.Our favorite place to eat was the grill up from the beach, and although we had reservations for the al La carts, we only went to the Italian, which was okay, but we preferred the Buffet. You will never starve at this place! In closing, go with a free mind, bring good bug spray, After bite, and candles, and enjoy! We would definately recomend this property! This was our fifth time in Cuba, and can't wait to go back! Happy Travels, Terri and Jim ~ Brantford, Ontario
Melia Cayo Santa Maria

June 2007
I stay at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria from June 23-30th 2007. 5th time to Cuba.

Flight: Normally never comment on the flight but this was the 1st time flying with WestJet and I must say I was impressed. Very friendly staff, cushy seats and Satelite TV. You must pay $5 for pay per view but didn’t’ need it.

Airport ; Painelss. Heard so much about the airport being so slow and crammed. Perhaps it was the time of year. Bus ride to MCSM is 1 ½ hours. . Went through a few small villages & towns, then across the causeway. There is talk about building an international airport in Santa Maria but I was told they are hesitant because they have learnt from Cayo Coco airport that the extra traffic can harm the bird migration. I don’t mind the scenic tour. Let’s leave nature alone.

Hotel Check-in; Received a envelope with your room keys and registration cards that could be filled in later. They kept the buffet upon longer for the new arrivals while the bell boy took your luggage to your room

Room; Love the room. I had 2nd floor ocean view building #11 which was convenient to the beach & pools. Great location. King size bed & day bed, mini bar, iron, lots of closet space, CD player , separate bathing & vanity area, NO musty smell. My room smelled sweet. Don’t know what they did but for the whole week there was some type of freshener. The décor was nice too.

Resort : There are around 2 storey bungalows. There is a Spa you share with Las Dunas. Gym. Very nice grounds. Beautiful floral arrangements in the lobby that smell so sweet.

Beach; STUNNING!!! Have seen many photos of the beach but until you get there you don’t realize how beautiful it is. No rocks nor seaweed in the water. White sand. There were papalas & chairs available.

Food; Good. I just got back from Paradisus in Holguin 6 weeks prior where the food is excellent so I was a bit spoiled. Tried the Mediterranean al la carte – ok . Lunches are the best. Buffet not open for lunch do to low season. 24 snack bar near the pool had pizzas & sandwiches. The beach restaurant had a small buffet and sandwiches & hamburgers from the grill.

Staff: Very friendly. They have a lot of student staff due to the up & coming hotels to this area.. Next door to the new Las Dunas is going to be a 2000 room Barcello resort. They are getting prepared for this. The staff were great. Ariel & William at the beach bar were great. Xiomara & Junier at the beach restaurant were so sweet. Can’t say I met any unfriendly staff. All were very pleasant. Service was great.


#1- Catamaran $72 CUC– 2 snorkel stops with lobster lunch. These are always nice. Marina is about 15 minutes away.

#2 – Trinidad $72CUC – I so wanted to do this trip knowing it’s far. Pick-up 7:30, was back by 7:15. Love the scenery. Made a couple of stops on the way. One stop was at a potter shop where you can get great clay pots & things. Another was a tower & souvenir shop. Trinidad is very different than other cities in Cuba that I have seen. Very unique. I loved it. Once we got there we did a walking tour around. Went to the Romantic Museum and had lunch. You had time to buy souvenirs from the vendors at the market. You can barter there (which I hate) . There was more begging then I was used to. I spent 4 days in Havana alone & never experienced it as I did in Trinidad. Four or five kids would surround you asking for anything they could get. They had a “hustlish” attitude. In Cuba it is mandatory to go to school so this is their choice. They will be the future hustlers of Cuba for sure. They did not intimidate you it was just annoying.

Summary : Melia Cayo Santa Maria is a great resort. It will be adults only starting November. Take your kiddies to either Melia ‘s next door , Las Dunas or Sol Cayo Santa Maria. Beautiful beach , nightly shows ok – Tues Micheal Jackson is a hit.

One thing I will say if you don’t like cats…… felines……DON”T GO!!!! There are organized cat gangs there. Beware. 2 beautiful small tabbys will greet you with an Hola once you leave the buffet. If you feed them, another orange tabby will jump out of a vase. Morning & night there were there. The black cat family works the beach restaurant. They get the smallest one to meow to you … once you feed them the other 2 come out. Then Miss Priss shows up … I called her that because she was more fussy and had good table manners.

There is another family that works the 24 hour snack bar. There you’ll see a cat with really slanted eyes that will jump up on your lap. Of course you excuse the cat because it’s strange slanted eyes & you will feed it. The others come out & you end up feeding them all.

I had 2 cats work my bungalow. Saw them every morning & night.

I did see a pregnant cat at the edge of the Sol & Melia boundary so not sure what area that cat will work.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Pat and Paul 
April 2007
We stayed at the beautiful Melia Cayo Santa Maria from March 30 - April 13 2007.

We enjoy the resort reviews & have decided to post ours.

We arrived at the Santa Clara airport late on March 30 we were in & out in good time. No problems were encountered at the airport and soon we were on board a comfortable bus heading to our resort.

Although we arrived late at night check in was very smooth, the best we have experienced thus far. We were given an envelope containing our room keys and a registration form which we were told to complete and drop off at the front desk at our convenience. We had no problem locating our room and our luggage arrived shortly. We found cold salad plates and beverages awaiting us in our room.

The rooms were spacious and very clean, we had no problems receiving towels and face cloths. The mini bar, we soon learned, was restocked in the afternoon, we sometimes missed it but if we called there was no problem receiving the requested beverages.

Staff are very helpful and the maids did an excellent job keeping the room clean and making towel creatures as well as providing fresh flowers. We tipped and also provided small gifts. Overall we found the staff to be helpful and friendly; some really enjoyed practicing their English and would carry on conversations in the dining rooms if it wasn't terribly busy.

The grounds were beautiful and very well maintained. Although we had heard the lighting was not great we had no problem and although we did bring flashlights as suggested, we only used them once and that was due to a power outage in the entrance way of our building.

We took advantage of the excursion the resort offered to Havana from April 5 - 7. It seems they had over booked and made the offer to anyone staying 2 weeks we had thought about taking the Havana trip anyway. However, the Resort offered an extended trip (from that normally offered) and at no charge. This was certainly an unexpected bonus! We had an excellent guide (Carlos) and a very clean comfortable bus. The driver was very good and did all he could to accommodate each and every one of us. Thanks guys! We toured many points in Havana, witnessed the Cannon ceremony at the old fort, shopped at at open market and ate at some traditional restaurants. While in Havana we stayed at the Melia Habana, a beautiful hotel. Having to move out of our original rooms was a minor inconvenience and we were provided with similar accommodations upon our return. Any problems that came up upon our return were quickly remedied.

We also took the Catamaran snorkeling excursion, we had so much fun! Well worth the price, the food was excellent. Drinks were plentiful and the music was awesome. The beach we visited was so beautiful.

We noted prior to leaving their were some complaints about the food. We especially enjoyed the Italian and Pizzeria a la cartes. The buffet had a good variety and we could always find something to our liking. We were not especially fond of the meat as we found some of it tended to be very tough! The breads were the best! Kudos to the bakers! Calamari at the Beach restaurant was good, in fact we ate most of our lunch time meals at the beach restaurant. Sadly, we only discovered how good the pool snack bar was at lunch time toward the end of our stay. Even the ketchup was so much better, can't figure why they wouldn't use the same kind at the beach as well!

Lots of cats we don't dislike cats but prefer they not be around the tables at the open restaurants. Hard to prevent that I guess.

We love the beach and this resort had the best we have visited. You could walk for long distances on either side. However walking to the right past Las Dunas afforded you an opportunity to enjoy an absolutely beautiful beach with sand like fine powder packed hard which made walking so easy. This area was practically deserted; WARNING a resort is being built and this beach will in all likelihood be inundated with tourists in no time! Swimming here was great as well. You do have to get up early in the a.m. to reserve palapas at the beach. But the bonus was you got to see the beautiful sunrises...not a bad trade!

Although we came armed with lots of bug repellant and after bite remedies we never had to use it.

We were disappointed in the nightly entertainment it was not anywhere near to what we have enjoyed at other Carribean resorts!

The resort was impressive and we very much enjoyed our stay,definitely I would go again. The beautiful beach and calm relaxing atmosphere are things I look for that is why I prefer the smaller size resorts.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Ray & Deb 
Calgary, Canada
April 2007
My wife and I stayed at this resort from Mar30 - Apr13/07. What can we say we'd go back in a heartbeat. It was wonderful. Here's our impressions;

Flight: As some of you know we had to fly out of Toronto due to the fact that AirTransat does not fly from Western Canada to this resort. Having said that Melia was well worth the extra time it took. Flight was OK. Had no issues with them. We did however pre=book our seats so we were not jammed in. Left on time, arrived Cuba early.

Airport and Transfer; The Santa Clara airport must be experienced to be believed. Its very small. It does have about 6 - 8 passport control stations, but only 1 security screener,and1 luggage carosel. It was to say the least slow. Bus ride to MCSM was nice. Went through a few small cities and then across the causeway. Total trip time from Airport to MCSM was about 90 mins.

Check-in; Fastest we've ever had in our 4 trips down. Dancing girls met the bus along with a very welcome rum punch. Recieved a envelope with your room keys and resort registration cards inside and was told " fill them out at your leisure and return to the front desk" Quick and smooth. You can take your own luggage or have the bellboys deliver for you. We took ours.

Room; We were in bldg #8 next to the path to the beach. Great room. Very large, bright, and spacious. Room was very clean. 1 bug was found the entire 2 weeks. First day on curtain, after that none. Asked for a kingsize bed and recieved it. It was very comfortable. Plenty of towels and face clothes daily. Air-conditioner worked great all 2 weeks. It ran pretty much all the time. Plenty of hot water all day every day. Maids did an exceptional job in keeping the rooms clean and fresh.

Food; You will not go hungry at the Melia. There is 1 buffet and no less than 4 al a cartes. The only glitch here is that as the resort gets busy so does the buffet and some times it very hard to get a table. There is an abundance of dishes every night including turkey, pork, fish, shrimp, salads, fresh fruit, and desserts. If you can't find something to eat at this resort, maybe this resort's not for you. The al a cartes are reservation only and the staff pretty much stick to that. No reservation, you don't get in. Al a Cartes are Italian, Meditaranean, Creole, and Pizzaria. All of them are good.

Resort; The property is wonderful. Very lush and green. The staff work very hard at keeping the grounds clean. There are flowers and flowering shrubs everywhere. Coconut trees are in abundance, as are other fruit trees. The resort has 2 pools separated by the walkway to the swimup bar. They also have a separate kids pool at the kids club. The are never enough palapas around the pool to keep everyone cool, but there are certainly enough chairs. When you're staying at Melia you have access to its sister resort the Sol. You can use there gift shop and bars as well as the disco. You can't however use their food facilities. The resort offers a number of excursions in and around the island as well as further away. For example Havana, Trinadad. Scooters, cars are available for rent. Resort also offers bikes to its guests.

Beach; What can we say. It is simply stunning. The turqoise color of the water, the white sand, its a postcard. The beach does have a bit of a drop to get down to the water due to the erosion, but remember you're on a island so erosion does occur. You can walk miles in either direction if your so inclined, we did numerous times. Its an adventure every time. Palapa, again are hard to come by when the resort is busy, but again there are certainly enough chairs. If you have mobility issues its quite a stroll to get to the beach.

Staff; What can you say about the staff. They truly are the ones that make the Melia the resort it is. They are so friendly. I don't think we passed a staff member that didn't offer a friendly smile or Hola the entire time we were there. There are far to many to mention, however you must introduce yourself to Henry at the pool bar, Ozzie and Elvis at the Swimup bar, and all the rest who made our stay most enjoyable. As far as the entertainment or shows go they were disappointing.

The Melia CSM is a beautiful resort for all. Families, singles, young and old will certainly enjoy this gem of a resort in our opinion.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Frank & Barb 
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
April 2007
A long time ago, while attending my second alma mater, I wrote a very pro-Castro article in The Dalhousie University Gazette, (Halifax, Nova Scotia) which was decidedly anti-Batista - (the puppet leader supported by both the US and the US Mafia, when the latter usurped 95% of the Cuban sugar crops, 100% of all the gambling casinos, 85% of the power, and on and on). I have a great love and respect for the Cubans, their Leader, (Castro- I cried when he came to Pierre Trudeau's funeral), and their trials & tribulations brought on by the efforts of the US and the Cuba extremists in Miami, to do them harm - hey remember the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and other attempts, and the fact that Cuba cannot trade a single thing with the US?

I am now 66 years old, and my better half (wife) being some 16 years my juinior, almost guarantees us to have a divergence of opinions. This was our second trip to Cuba, and our third resort to have stayed at - 4 star Beeches and 5 star Paradisus Princesa Del Mar at Varadero at Varadero last year, and this past year, Melia Cayo Santa Maria, Mar. 16 - 23.

Our Findings and Opinions:
Right off the mark, the mostly young Cuban Staff working here are just the most genuinely friendly people one could ever hope to meet!! The rooms are very clean, bright and spacious. The maid service excellent, the mini-bar service (once you find the truck which only comes in the afternoon) needs a little work. The buildings are situated very close to the beach and/or pool, which is great as well. Almost everyone you encounter speaks fairly good English (French as well). The layout of the resort is excellent, the grounds stunning. There is no problem in getting a beach palmeto as long as you tie your towel to one early in the morning. So what are we complaining about?

Well, the wind blew gale-force every day except one that we were there. This simply meant that one could not swim in the Ocean as it was too rough, even for quite advanced swimmers/sailors such as ourselves. So one is forced to do the "pool thing or eat and here is where the problem of management at this resort definitely comes into question. The food offered is simply in very short supply, totally devoid of any taste (not even garlic), and guaranteed to be served cold, regardless of what "hot" dish you are eating. You couldn't find any warm rice at all, and no microwave. Don't waste your time looking for beef, there isn't any worth looking for, including at the two a la carte restaurants which are simply horrible, and a disgrace to the resort, and there were never line-ups to get in, now I realize why. All the wine is Spanish of low quality, both reds and whites. (One can purchase a nice bottle of Chilean Merlot in the gift shop for 4.50 pesos, and worth the purchase.) Even the soups are horrible! How can one screw up a soup? To be fair, the omelette's are great and they always have eggs. The buffet bacon is available with 1/2" of liquid fat lying on top of it. Replenishment of food in the Buffet was seriously wanting and if you didn't get there early, you had much less choice. There was no lobster at anytime except on the Catamaran trip - the best meal we had by far!!! All this is the fault of management. They don't want to serve anything decent and in quantity, because it will be gobbled up, and that means more costs for them, it's that simple! The Calamari was good, the pizza's fair.

Conclusion: Next February stand out on your snow-laden patio deck, and light $1,000 bills and toss them away or go to a 5 star resort somewhere, preferably not run by the same chain. fwmosher@yahoo.com
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Jeff and Rhonda 
April 2007
Stayed at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria March 16-23. This was our third trip to Cuba, other two stays were in Cayo Guillermo. We really enjoyed our week. It is a beautiful resort and a nice relaxing atmosphere. The rooms are large and well cleaned. The beach is absolutely amazing, as was the pool area. The size of the resort was perfect. We were in building 15 which had a nice pool view and was close to everything. The yellow buildings are certainly the most convenient. We found you could always find something to eat at the buffet, but it was certainly better if you went shortly after it opened as they did not replenish regularly. We went to the Mediterranean and Italian a la cartes. Both were good. The service was excellent and the musicians at the Italian Restaurant were wonderful. We also enjoyed the snack bar by the pool. As for the airport in Santa Clara, a lot of people have complained but we didn’t feel it was bad at all. It was air conditioned and very clean and the people were friendly. It is a little crowded getting your luggage because the area is quite small but you’re on vacation so just relax. Once you get your luggage you can head outside and grab some cold beer at the stand outside. Enjoy, we certainly did.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria
Halifax, NS
April 2007
Just got back from Melia Cayo Santa Maria on March 31. Cannot say enough great things about this spot! This was my third trip to Cuba, my first traveling alone. I had stayed at Melia Cayo Guillermo two years ago so chose this resort due to the small size and basic similarity.

Flight out of Halifax was uneventful. Small airport, took a bit of time to unload baggage but well organized and we were on our way fairly quickly. Bus trip was long but time passed quickly. Even at night it was an interesting trip. We passed through several small towns with the guide telling stories and noting points of interest.

Check in was awesome, though it was after midnight when we arrived. They had envelopes for each of us containing registration card to be completed the next day and room keys. Bellboys took room numbers and our bags arrived in our rooms shortly. Friends I had made on the trip and I were in the bar having a few drinks before settling in.

The only downside to the weather was high wind. No rain, some clouds first few days but sand blasted on the beach. We still managed to spend long hours on the beach each day though.

The facilities were beautiful and as always the staff was accommodating and friendly. The rooms were very large and quite lovely. The buffet was decent though we ate in the a la carte restaurants most evenings. Note: though they indicated two a la carte meals, we just kept booking them and no one seemed to mind. The pizza was great at the Italian Snack Bar (open late for a la carte) Feta cheese salad was wonderful at the Mediterranean, and the Creole/Cuban was nice as well. The Ranchon by the beach served good lunches and the Italian was happy to pack pizza to go. People seem to complain about the food ant any resort. I am not terribly fussy and can usually find something to keep me satisfied. Bottom line, I did not go away for the food, remember where you are, relax and enjoy!

The night life is limited which was fine with me but may make this a poor choice for those looking for more excitement. There is the option of going to the disco at the Sol next resort over but I heard some mixed reviews and did not bother.

We did the snorkeling Catamaran excursion at about $80 US. This was a great day, even being from Halifax, had some of the best lobster of my life. I had scheduled a massage at the spa at Las Dunas beside us. Beautiful facility. Cost was $28 for 25 mins or $58 for 50 mins. I cancelled as I ended up pretty sunburned and did not think a massage would be all that enjoyable, but my friend went, raved about it, best massage of her life...ask for Roberto!

The shop at the resort had a very limited supply of alcohol to bring back. I waited for the airport, hoping the selection would be better but it wasn't much better.

A note on traveling alone. I was somewhat nervous, ok lets say terrified at the idea. Any reservations I had soon passed. I met wonderful people quickly, never felt vulnerable in any way, was completely comfortable at all times. So, if you are considering it, just do it!!

Unfortunately the area is building very quickly. There will apparently be another 5000 rooms there by 2010. I think that would deter me from going again. Part of the appeal was that it was small and relatively un crowded. I cannot imagine that many more people.

So, overall, this resort was all I could hope for. I have found the Melia chain to be consistently beautiful. I would not hesitate to recommend it
Melia Cayo Santa Maria

April 2007
My wife and I visited Melia Cayo Santa Maria in March Break for our Honeymoon. We were looking for a laid back, relaxing trip in a tropical paradise, and that is exactly what we found! It was the first time either of us had been anywhere South of Canada, and we were absolutely amazed with Cuba and with the resort.

We had e-mailed earlier for a room upgrade, and although we did not have an upgrade upon our initial check-in, we were moved to an upstairs oceanside condo within 10 minutes of our request to the front desk. The view of the resort was spectacular, the room service-both the maids and the in-room bar- was first class. Our privacy was respected and the maids did a wonderful job of cleaning and leaving towel art.

We marveled at earlier complaints about the food, because we always found something to our liking at the buffet, except perhaps when we showed up with 20 minutes left and the fresh food was running out.....We wish we had discovered earlier on that fresh omelettes, crepes, fish, and meat are cooked to your specifications in front of your eyes(in the buffet) at various meal times; be sure you take advantage of this service! The fruit especially was better than any product we can get at our local grocery stores.

The Catamaran/snorkeling trip is a must-do, even if you don't snorkel.
The scenery is amazing, the fish are plentiful, the beach where you stop for lobster lunch is gorgeous, and the booze flows nonstop if you wish it. We quickly made friends with many of our other shipmates, which made the trip even better.

The Santa Clara day trip excursion was also fantastic. The sugarcane plant, cigar factory, Church in Remedios and Che Guevera Monument were all worth seeing. If you are going expecting to shop-don't. If you are going to see the Cuban countryside and immerse yourselves in a small bit of real Cuban culture-do. We took a bottle of rum along to pass the time, but we also stopped at a bar or two. However, clean toilets were scarce, as was toilet paper.....so take your own! Our bus driver and tour guide, Luis and Simon were great!

The beach was simply amazing. The waves were great fun to play in and swim. Do take advantage of the Hobie-cats-they are a blast, especially when the wind is up.

The nightly entertainment was excellent- beautiful costumes and a very well-trained dance troupe. The four vocalists were also first class. It is evident that the staff works very hard to provide a varied and entertaining concert for each night we were there.

The ?water journey? at the spa was really relaxing, though the steam bath was extremely hot! Apparently I was the lucky person who received a foot massage as part of my journey; no one else I spoke to received this treatment. The gymnasium staff are helpful and friendly as well. I made use of the gym on occasion. There is a decent selection of weight training equipment, as well as a room with bikes, treadmills and rowers. The gym use was free with our all-inclusive package.

The aqua bar (and Elvis the bartender) was definitely a favorite spot to hang out for a few hours when we had spare time. Nothing was more relaxing than laying on one of the floating cushions with a cold Cuba Libra!

The staff at all levels are very polite and helpful. They are also quite poor, and sometimes lack daily necessities that we in Canada take for granted. If you have room in your suitcase, pack extras like toothpaste, soap, etc., and good used clothes, sneakers, ball gloves your kids have outgrown, etc.- if your maid or bell boy can?t use them, I guarantee they know someone who will be able to!

Perhaps the best part of our trip was the new and hopefully lifelong acquaintances we made. Finding a group of people to relax and have fun with was really rewarding and made our vacation even more spectacular. Having them live within hours of our home in Nova Scotia will certainly make this a distinct possibility!
Melia Cayo Santa Maria

March 2007
wife and I were there in febuary 2007. Place is unclean,especially public washrooms, service is "fair" at best. Food selection limited. The place is ""crawling"" with cats. Resort is no more than a 3 star--at best--