logo Old Reviews - Brisas Guardalavaca
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Crawford 

October 2008
I stayed at the Brisas Guardalavaca from October 10 - 17, 2008. This was my 8th or 9th trip to Cuba and 3rd time at this resort, however, the 1st time solo. I flew Skyservice (despite comments from others, I had a good flight both ways) out of Toronto with Signature Vacations arriving at ~ 22:00. At the orientation meeting the next morning, our rep at the hotel told us that we were only the 2nd week of guests since Hurricane Ike and that they had worked very hard to get the Villas section in shape (the Hotel side was closed for planned renovations, and I would presume that now for some major repairs). The villas side, physically, was very similar to my 2 other stays. The room was clean and comfortable and I was fortunate to be in the 1st Villa on the 3rd floor. However, at the morning briefing 3 other guests reported that they had changed their rooms on arrival due mostly to the musty odour (which was more prominent as the rooms had been closed for a longer period than normal). All seemed to be satisfied with their new rooms.

The buffet services was no better then before, in that there was little service, unless you were a repeat guest with a history with the servers. The food in Cuba is never very gourmet, but there was lots of choice, a good assortment of fruit and salad, and of course ice cream. They have "stuck" a bar opposite the front desk that wasn't there 2 years ago, this is possibly to make up for the bars that are closed in the hotel. The only services available in the hotel were the Italian restaurant and Coffee bar, and the disco was supposed to open soon. Of the 2 la carte restaurants, I preferred the Italian over the Seafood, mostly due to the server, Enrico, the air conditioning, and the food is a bit better. However, the Seafood has a nice atmosphere with an ocean view (perhaps it would be more romantic with my wife?). As far as the resort goes it is mostly operations as before (good and bad), the main difference of the resort is the loss of the trees and the shade. Brisas Guardalavaca was always regarded by myself and others to have the best shade beach in Cuba. I go for the heat and the atmosphere, not to burn in the sun, but for now there is very little shade on the beach except for a few remaining trees and the new umbrellas they have put up (but we know that happens to an umbrella in the wind!). Our rep told us that they plan to replant some mature trees on the beach, but this will take time.

The surrounding area received some damage. The Club Amigo next door was damaged and they were busy repairing the roof of the Atlantico. The main public beach did not seem to have received as much damage as it is slightly sheltered, but then I did not make an investigation of it. The market was up and running, as were the shops in the market area. The "plaza" across the road from the resorts was not open, the stores were not stocked, and the bank was closed. There appeared to be some major damage at the end and back of the plaza (again, I did not inspect it too closely). The snack bar in the front portion of the plaza was open, as were the "Banos".

The atmosphere of the Villas is good, except of course if you get a loud, bunch of partiers. Unfortunately, several of the evening shows were rained out, it seemed to only rain just before the show was due to start, but those that went on were good (no lame audience participation shows), and I finally saw the water ballet one night (much to wife's envy). The walkway along the beach is open all the way down to the market area and I defy anyone to show me a better place to witness the sea and night sky then during a full moon in Cuba.

Overall, Brisas Guardalavaca Villas is worth a visit, despite the damage that Ike did to the local area. It may take a few months for the entire area to be up to pre-Ike conditions but it makes for a very relaxing and restful venue. Enjoy.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
pm 
Wasaga Beach- Barrie, Ontario
June 2008
It nice there also in june- with a good price!!
Excellent service with a smile as usual.
Rained at night only-
the villa pool ballet show was above average with good music.
Out door chess- pingpong and volly ball - lots to do.
Nice to see the cubans now can make use of the resort.
The snack bar makes world famous small pizzas.
Spanish lesson in el tejado bar at 2.00pm with Kathy who has personality plus.
some news- the hotel part will be closed august 15th to renovate the hotel lobby and pool but the hotel snack bar will be open and the villa section has every thing to offer- do not not worry!!
get 5.00 canadian changed into 25 cent pesos- and every time you eat at the buffet leave one of these coins its important.
go and enjoy
i will be back to my second home in mid august
Thank you
Las Brisas of guadalavaca!!
pablo
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
GG 
Canada
May 2008
This was our 4th trip to Cuba, 2nd to Holguin. I will not dwell too much on all the great things at this resort as there are too many but I just want to give you a few things to consider when making your choice. I found previous reviews really helpful. Awaiting the luggage arrival was the slowest in the 4 years and when it did come, it came on both carousels so my wife was at one and I was at the other. When checking in (Villa side) I had to ask for a safe key and gave her $20 Canadian with no change forthcoming. When I asked her about this she said it was $16 pesos (14 according to reviews) but I let that one go. Thanks to other reviews I counted my money when making the exchange. As soon as I started to count it the lady gave me a bit more change and a receipt. There are two things I am fussy about and they are the beach(water) and the rooms. We stayed at the Villas and our room was great. Even though the beds didn't look like much, I had the best sleep in 4 trips and it was the quietest. The beach was really disappointing mainly due to the large amount of seaweed in the water. There was only about 4 feet of the nice blue water then you hit seaweed. Although they raked the beach each day, the beach itself was very narrow and rockier than I like. On reading other reviews I had read there were people showing up on the beach asking for food or a drink. We witnessed this as well. There appeared to be several people in and out doing this. Not sure who they were but they were within eyesight of security, had no bracelet and I saw one of the males at the flea market doing the same thing asking for money.

The food was OK and I heard from people who return there each year, the food has improved each year. If you are a pool person and not a beach person like me you will love this place. Two pools and great features. Nightly entertainment was good and lots of bars. The staff was great. For me personally I would' risk going back due to the seaweed. Nothing like the others beaches including Esmeralda Beach (Holguin) where we stayed last year. It was gorgeous. If you can get past the things that bothered me it is a great value.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Canada 

May 2008
This was our forth time to Las Brisas and we would definitely go again. We had not been since 2005 and were amazed at the amount of renovations that had taken place! It was great! We have always gone with the same couple, so when their adult children decided to join us this time, it was interesting to see what their reactions would be - needless to say they are now planning another trip back in December!

We have never booked with Signature Vacations, and probably never would again. Our flight changed three times in a span of 24 hours. It was no longer a direct flight. Instead we had a stop over in Varadero for an hour. So that meant a 6 hour trip from the time we sat in our seats in Toronto to getting onto the tarmack in Holguin!

Our immigration and baggage check went very smooth. When we met the Signature Rep to get on the bus, we were told that although we paid for the upgraded Ocean View rooms, they didn't have any to give us and we would have to wait until the following day and then move all of our luggage to another room. Needless to say I was less than impressed!

Rooms:
We have always stayed in the hotel section of the resort so I cannot comment on the Villas. Our first room was on the first floor which is usually very musty smelling. The lock on the patio door didn't lock until my husband jammed it into the door frame! Once we moved to the ocean view rooms however, it was great! The shower was always hot and always had great water pressure. We left gifts for the maids everyday so our room was always spotless!

Food:
Thank goodness for the Patio Grill. We ate the majority of our lunches here. The buffet was fine for breakfast and dinner but the lunches always left something to be desired! With the exception of one waitress the restaurant staff are always friendly and accommodating! The omelette guy really does work too hard! Miguel makes the best omelettes and is always friendly. We left him a big tip on our last day! The ala carte restaurants are always good...

Bars:
The bars are always great. It was nice to see some more variety then there has been in the past. If you are not really a big drinker, you have to watch them as they usually tend to pour your drinks "Cuban" style - which is a lot of alcohol! It is always nice to Jose from the pool bar! He's the man! I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that they now carry Gin (one of my favs especially in the heat)!

Grounds:
The grounds surrounding the hotel and villas are always keep immaculate! This is in part to the gardeners that work very hard to maintain them. We partied with them one afternoon and it was a blast! When we left we gave them all a bottle of rum to remember us.

The disco seemed to be hopping every night. It rained for the very first time in all the years that we have been there so the nightly entertainment was cancelled a few nights. Oh well, we made up for it in the Disco!

All in all, it was a great time. Some of the front desk staff can be rude, but the rest of the staff bend over backwards to make your vacation memorable. We will definitely be back again!
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Joe 
Mississauga, Ontario
April 2008
Our fifth trip to Cuba, first time at the Brisas... An excellent resort, much as described by previous reviews and I would stay here again & recommend it to anyone.

However there's always room for improvement...ie
- the bicycles are junk, most of them either broken or with flat tires, the rest were ricketty.
- they only had 3 pedal boats operational - could use one or two more.
- it was 36 steps to our third floor villa - ok if you're physically fit.

Just a word about our Conquest reps... Contrary to previous reviews, our conquest rep was fabulous! Case in point... We were given only one room key upon check-in. But we required 2 keys. When we asked the desk for a second key we were told that there was only one key available for the room and we would have to make do. The desk told us that it was impossible to produce a second key for the room... When we mentioned this problem to the Conquest rep at the orientation meeting, she dropped everything and directly confronted the desk on our behalf. The upshot - the problem was resolved in 5 minutes and, within the hour a locksmith recalibrated our doorlock and issued us the 2 keys that we wanted. It seemed to me that many of the guests were unaware of the importance of establishing a good rapport with the travel rep. It was sad that only one other couple showed up in time for the orientation meeting.

If I may add a parting comment of advice... You will get better service and respect if you dress in upscale smart-casual clothing.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
C, K & W  
Halifax, Nova Scotia
April 2008
Had narrowed our selection to a couple of resorts in Cuba and Dominican and had read a lot of reviews.. The Brisas seemed to have the edge in resorts of similar price and we feel we made a great choice. Booked with Transat holiday through Sell Off Vacations Bedford office. Flew West Jet from Halifax, right on schedule. Baggage pick up in Holguin was quick. Met by Transat rep and went directly to bus. 1hr 10 min drive to Brisas. Road rough in spots. Lots of bicycles, mopeds and horse traffic on narrow roads. Arrived at Villas reception. Had to wait for 1 family to check in ahead of us. Receptionist very slow and laid back. Everything done manually. Got one room key but had to return a couple of times the next day to get second key. Bellhop took bags to room and carried them up to second floor Villa #8. Very convenient location, near pool and not too far from beach.

Villa Suite was larger than we expected. Had asked for two twins and cot but got a King and double cot which was fine. Air conditioning worked well with exception of one day we shut it off and it wouldn’t cool when turned back on. Just had to switch off and back on again and it worked great for the rest of the week. You definitely need air conditioning as every day exceeded 30 degrees and only cooled to mid 20s at night.

Asked maid for extra pillows as the ones provided were very thin and she delivered. Left gifts for her each day and got fresh bottled water everyday. Bathroom was very clean and probably had been updated not too long ago. The room was quite sound proof except for a little bird noise from the John Lennon garden outside our room. The Villas pool was clean and taken care of every morning. There were usually a few lounge chairs to spare at the pool. Towels could be exchanged frequently for dry ones, but sometimes ran out by late afternoon.

The beach was nice with white sand, usually a few spare lounge chairs if you looked around. A lot of people play the towel game and tie up chairs that they very rarely used. The beach is short with a coral area between the Villas section and the hotel section. Water was warm. Seaweed was close to shore but not bothersome. The beach was raked everyday. There was always maintenance and garbage pick up happening. Our building was painted while we were there.

The grounds were beautiful, with lots of palms and shrubs, flowers etc. Water features added to the beauty. The cement and brick walkway extended from Brisas past Club Amigo, Alantico to the Market- about a ten min walk. Security guards were posted along the perimeter of the resort 24 hrs. We always felt safe and were never bothered by locals on the resort. There were a few people soliciting along the walk to the market and in the village.

We didn’t participate in any daytime activities on the resort so can’t comment. Evening entertainment by the hotel pool was great. It was generally a more quiet laid back atmosphere in the Villas section. We heard that the hotel rooms were small and could be noisy at times.

The food was plentiful but not always desirable. Omelets and pasta bar were good. Could always find bread, fruit, potatoes, rice and chicken to survive on. Fresh orange juice was great but not available on our last day. One day there was no butter and another evening there was no ice in the Villa buffet. Beware of birds and flies as the buffet is open air as are all the lobby’s and bars. We did visit the hotel buffet a couple of times but it was busier and longer line ups. Booked our two a la cartes on Friday for Sat and Sun night as they were all that was available for the week. The a la carte at the Italian was disappointing over all. The bread was great, dessert(lemon cheesecake was great) Cesar salad was not edible, the filet was tasty but a little tough. The seafood restaurant was not much better, The rock lobster is a little tough. Wine was good.

The grill always could be counted on for hamburgers, fries, pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. The bar service was great overall but every bartender made drinks differently. You get to know who and where to go to for best drinks. The swim up bars were convenient. We were grateful we took insulated cups with us.

Took two excursions which were great and would recommend both. The Dolphin excursion guided by Jamiee was fabulous and included lobster supper and Afro-Cuban dance show. The inside tour to Holguin included a ride on a steam train, cigar factory tour, lunch, view fro m the cross and shopping in Holguin. It was very interesting and our guide Mercedes was marvelous. There were always horse and buggy rides available outside the Villas. I took an hour tour of the village of Guardalavaca which was great.

Check out was uneventful. Had to vacate room at noon and store bags in lobby. Left the resort at 1830 hrs. The bus ride was not great as we had an older bus that swayed a lot. Beware of cleaners in the bathroom at Holguin airport as they are looking for tips. The flight back from Holguin was right on time. Thought the flight crew was joking when they said it was snowing in Halifax but no joke.

Overall this resort is beautiful, staff were friendly , a good bargain for the price we paid. The food was really the only negative but it was ok. I would definitely recommend this resort and will definitely return. We met many return customers.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
 
Wasaga Beach
April 2008
15th time to las brisas- and i will be back.
out of toronto- with sunwing tour company- it is the best- i have had curt problems with conquest.
lots of teenagers and kids the last week of march- did not like the 17 yr old yelling until 5.00am in front of the hotel.
took a suitcase of things like- mighty mike robot- flutes-dresses - raincoats and running shoes- i have two families up the mountain which i support- remember many of the employees at all these resorts get alot of money and things which people off the resort do not have the oppotunity. Rent a scooter and go meet one or view a cuban baseball game towards banes.
The food and service was excellent as usual.
It is fun to walk down to the cuban beach where there is good music.
I hear they are getting some new scooters- and bicycles- they need them i had a flat on the scooter- and the other one quit.
Having no other resorts on one side of the brisas is nice- for walking in the evening.
Cuba is the most safest country for a canadian to visit- it has the best value for our dollar and some of the best weather.
Would like to go back to club buccanero down at san diego de cuba- it is a couble stone resort- but they need to hire a new chef and some friendly staff- if it is a 3 star then las brisas is an 8 star!
Going back in a few months to my favorite resort!!
Lobster, shimp, good wine- great weather- perfect service - life does not get better!!
questions
pgmbarrie@bellnet.ca
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Family of 6 - Ages ranged from 75 to 11 

March 2008
Halifax NS departure

The flight to Holguin...
Skyservice... Flight to Cuba delayed about 1.5 hours, a great start. Once in the air though, the flight was one of the better charter flights we have taken. The service was very good and there was even a movie and several sitcom tv shows to watch. In this old Boeing 757 the seats are very close together, except in the tail section where there was tons of legroom. Hint: If flying from Halifax grab something in the last 10 rows or so. :) Check in through Holguin security was very quick and luggage was at the ready in jig time. While the rest of traveI party got luggage ready, I barely had time to change some CDN to CUC and grab a couple of cans of Cristal for the bus trip... or so I thought. Skyservice lost a bunch of baggage somewhere along the line so we had to wait until the paperwork was filed at the airport by the large number of people who were involved. Three buses sat for what seemed an eternity in an already behind schedule trip... a smarter tour group would have sent 2 full buses off to the resorts immediately and left 1 bus behind to take those who had paperwork to fill out.

The flight home...
At 4:30am the day of our departure, I went to the internet to check flight times. I noticed that our 10:55am flight had been delayed by 2 hours. Since we were scheduled to leave the resort at 6:30am, I was quite relieved to see the delay. The Villas reception staff explained that when the representative called to reschedule the bus pick ups, resort staff would call our rooms to notify us. Those two hours meant the world to the family... breakfast, a few more hours sleep etc. Well, they would have meant the world except no one told the bus staff or the tour staff about the delay, no call was made to the room, so at 6:30 we boarded buses to the airport for a 1:00pm flight. The Signature rep on the Bus said everything is on schedule... bull, because the first thing we saw when the bus stopped was the flashing delayed notice of the flight to Halifax. I can't believe that no one would actually take the time to check for delays before making us leave the resort. We got to spend 5 glorious hours at the Holguin airport... thanks Skyservice and Signature. The flight home though was actually pretty darn good and seemed to take no time... but jeez, 5 hours in the Holguin airport really sucked.

Internet
I saw one computer in the Hotel lobby and had no intention of ever using it. However, a really nice gentleman on his way out of the resort and on his way home handed me his account info and 1/2 hour of internet use. He was frustrated at the poor speed of the connection and gave up. I used it to check our flight times. At 4:30 in the morning, the internet was really fast... not sure about the rest of the day, but based only on what I heard, it was not good.

Brisas reception
We stayed at the Villas so once passengers were offloaded at hotel section, we were dropped off at Villas reception. Check in was pretty quick although we were not given ala carte cards or pool/beach towel cards or the safe key at the time. We returned later to pick those up after stumbling around asking how we get towels or how we book ala cartes. By the way, when we returned to villas check in desk we were asked "didn't you get those when you checked in?". Towel cards were useless to us that day since the towel booth had run out of towels and closed. No biggie, we used our room towels. We needed a wake up call for one morning and it was received exactly on time.

The Villa Rooms
We had asked for adjoining rooms on or near ground level because we were travelling with younger kids and a senior citizen. Our T/A made the request and I sent several additional requests none of which had received any response. We did get part of our request. Turns out that the adjoining rooms are on the third floor only, which is not very practical when travelling with seniors and children... would have been nice to know this in advance rather than receiving no response. The rooms were large enough though and once they brought us the correct number and configuration of beds, we decided that the accomodations were good enough for us... AND because it was such a pain to get the luggage for 2 adults, 3 kids and a senior up three dozen stairs, there was no way in hell I was moving! Nope, the fact that 3 of the 7 days we had no water pressure at all and the fact that the hot water tap was stripped and kept falling off and the fact that the remote control for the TV was long gone and the fact that the beds were so thin that your hips would get banged badly while you slept if you turned over and the fact that you had to hold the toilet seat up with your knee or have it rest on your back and the fact that it was quicker to have your wife pucker up and blow your hair dry rather than use the hair dryer and that the a/c sounded like a freight train, we were not gonna let these rooms detract from our vacation.
We could make them work for us. No Biggie... I guess, afterall they were kept clean and they were quite spacious.

Buffets
On our first night we learned that the Villas buffet is not the place to eat. The food selection is limited and being open air, it's too hot to enjoy a meal. Two of us were bitten by a mosquito as we ate our first buffet of super dry pork roast and mashed potatoes. I just didn't find the Villas buffet very clean. No biggie. Next night we tried the Hotel Buffet and were able to find something to eat for everyone. A better selection here, and by better I mean wider, not tastier, though I did quite enjoy the turkey and the roast beef nights. I heard the fish was also quite tasty but not being a fish eater I opted for what I can only describe as a pork chop disguised as a steak. Food is all a matter of taste though and reviews may be varied. I will say though that I could always find something to eat once we learned where to go and where not to go and, amazingly, this is the first AI vacation I have gone to where I had not one hint of tummy trouble... I can't say the same about some villa mates who came knocking looking to borrow some Imodium. We were happy to give it to them and happier that we didn't need it. We all stuck pretty much to basics... meat and potatoe... no side veggies or fancy dishes. We avoided the "take a bit of everything" trap and stuck to what we eat normally at home.

One evening at the hotel buffet the magician visited our table. It was a highlight of the trip for me. I watched my daughters eyes light up and their mouths open wide in amazement at the stuff he did at our table. I can't thank that guy enough for that, the kids loved it. For the tables that turned down his offer to perform for them, too bad for you.

Breakfast at the Villas buffet is an adventure in patience. Like eggs? Prepare to wait. You will find that the hardest working man on the resort is the egg-man. Dunno, perhaps this is part of the John Lennon connection, lol. I can understand there needing to be an egg-man for omelets sake, but they actually made this guy fry or scramble every egg for every person as well. Geez couldn't they whip up a batch of scrambled and fried eggs beforehand so there wouldn't be such a lineup?

Ala Cartes
We did the Italian Rest. first followed by the Seafood several nights later. They are standard Cuban AI Ala Cartes, service was fine and food was adequate both as to selection and taste. We were surprised though that our kids enjoyed these evenings better than the buffets despite the fact that we used them to teach them some basic "fancy dinner" etiquette. ;)

Hotel Beach Grill
Er... not my cup of tea, folks. Kids liked the fries, I thought they tasted of fish sometimes. Wife loved the HAMburgers, they grossed me out. We steered clear of here after the first day except for the occasional plate of fries.

Villas beach grill - Artistas Grill
Not sure if everyone knew this but this is the Villas Beach bar and lunch time restaurant. I found this out before heading there from a fellow Debbies member. We ate there everyday and were glad of it. We all enjoyed the fried chicken and fries for lunch. They also serve spaghetti, Pizza, the infamous HAMburgers, and salads. Very relaxing setting, pretty good food (just add a lot of salt), good service and gets you out of the sun for a while. The kids loved the ice cream. When hungry this was the one place we could depend on to find something edible. We also got all our drinks here while at the beach. The service at the bar was pretty good and the selection was fine. Despite the sign on the step, you can walk right into the bar section in your swimsuit straight from the beach and get served.

Pools
Hotel Pool - er... dunno, didn't spend much time there. It was a noisier setting and if I hadn't been travelling with the kids I'd have been in the middle of it.
Villas Pool - Went there everyday. A very nice, relaxing, kid friendly place. On the first day I noticed about 6 guys parked on stools at the Villas pool swim up bar for several hours... they never returned for the rest of the week. I'm guessing that kids and their parents enjoying themselves swimming about was not those guys idea of "action". We liked it here in late afternoon after a day at the beach. The bulk of the guests at this pool are families with younger kids. If you are looking for a party, do not look here, you will be disappointed. We quite enjoyed the pool and the atmosphere. The people who frequented this location for the most part were very nice, friendly, family type people. All kids in the area were very well behaved. We should note that the bartenders at the villas pool were very good and accomodated our kids quite nicely. Some days the chlorine content was higher than the others. That's just FYI... I never complain about there being too much chlorine in a resort pool.

Villas Beach
Not large, but adequate. Stays fairly shallow and is fun for kids to snorkel right off the beach. Lots of chairs and shade. Looking for some party action or topless sunbathers? Look elsewhere. Again, very family oriented location, very peaceful and relaxing. Lots of critters in the water. Watch for sea snakes (I saw two within 25 feet of shoreline), the kids saw a baby octopus, variety of fish and tons of urchins. Can be a bit dangerous though with paddle boats, catamarans and the ultralight flights coming and going. They really need to address this before someone gets seriously injured. Omigawd, pick up your cigarette butts... lazy and disgusting!! We were not particularly happy about being approached by local people on the beach, and even in the water, begging for clothes, shoes, lotions, toothpaste etc.or asking us to get them a drink or a hamburger. We did not expect that and hope that is unique to this beach and not a growing trend in Cuba. We always give what we can, when we can, but to whom we chose.

The Disco
Wife and I went to the disco one night. Pretty quiet spot. The younger folks seemed to enjoy themselves though. Was no place for relatively sober 40 somethings.

Staff
For the most part staff at this resort are very good. Occasionally we found wait staff a bit forgetful, but other than that, no complaints. 9:00 means 9:30-10:00, 5 minutes means 1/2 hour, lol.

Guests
A mix of english speaking/french speaking canadians, british folks, germans and every one of them seemed to be enjoying themselves. We saw very few if any frowns which to me was quite remarkable.

Grounds
Very pretty resort all over and quite easy to get around. You're really never far from anything. I think that is what makes this resort a happy place to be.
Sure the food sucks and the rooms are worn out but the place itself just kind of grabs you, sits you down and makes you feel "at home". Warnings that there are funny smells as you walk around and a few eyesores here and there.

Family time
We took a big bubba with us and used it every night...
but only during the night. At the bar, we had it filled with ice and pop and had another insulated mug filled with rum to take back to our room. The kids could enjoy a drink of pop and the adults could enjoy a drink of rum and tucola. With 6 in our party, 3 of them being kids and one a senior, there was always someone who just wanted to sleep. Each night after supper one of us would go on a "Bubba run" to get the thing filled. We really appreciate the bar staff being so accomodating and patient... though in the last few days they would see us coming and just hand over a litre bottle of tucola. Most nights were spent relaxing in our rooms with our big bubba... and our rum. It was quite enjoyable. We even got a visit from one of the cats who somehow made it to our 3rd floor balcony.

The shows
We did manage to get to two shows... the magic show and Caribbean night. Meh... a few chuckles. we tried to get to a third show but some technical difficulties lead to a cancellation. No worries, back to the room for a bubba run and a movie.

The weather
Not sure of the temperature but it was comfortable, maybe high 20's, low 30's but bordering on cool in the shade. Having been to Holguin before and based on a lot of pictures of the resorts in the area, it seemed that this area never got clear skies. We did this week, it was beautiful, a few scattered clouds and I think 2 very short spit showers.

The Market
It's a short and relatively scenic walk along the beach to the Market where local wares are featured. Reasonably priced stuff and basically a good way to break up the week and kill an hour in the morning or if cloudy. We found it a bit too hot to walk back so 6 of us hopped in a horse and buggy and for 4CUC were taken and dropped off at the Villas reception. Was it too much or too little? Didn't matter, it was convenient and I gave him 10cuc. 4 for the ride and 6 for the memory.

Summary
Despite all of its flaws we had a really good time and enjoyed our vacation at this resort. It was truly because of what we made of it and concentrating on what we liked and what we could control. If you are a fussy family do not go here, you will not like it. If you are a fun, party hard type couple looking to have a blast do not stay at the villas, you will have no fun and your antics will not be welcome at either the beach or pool. If you are travelling with kids, say 15 or younger, are not too fussy, can stand the multitude of little annoyances that come with this resort, then you will enjoy this spot.

Questions? tomaz61@yahoo.ca
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Mike and Betty 

March 2008
This is our 5th trip to Cuba and 3rd to Las Brisas.
Again we flew with skyservice .No complaints at all. Just happy to arrive at our destination safe and sound.
No problems at Holguin airport. Everthing went smooth. Some dogs sniffing luggage. That was all.
One of us waited for our bags and the other changed some money for pesos.
The rate there was 89 cuc for 100.oo canadian. Outside where the buses are waiting they now have a little stand where you can buy soft drinks and cerveza for your bus journey. 1 cuc for cerveza. Grab a couple and enjoy the ride. Use the bathroom before leaving as not all buses have the toilet.
Bring some of your own paper and wipes for hands.
The bus ride is a great way to see the country. If you don't leave the resort you miss a lot.
Check in was fast. We stayed in the villas. Its a bit more room and we were there for 3 weeks so it was nice.Nice balcony facing the John Lennon garden.
They keep birds there as well. Worth a look see.The sound is wonderful in the morning. Building 6000 and 7000 is nearest to this.We have stayed in the hotel which is just fine. Most people don't stay in their rooms much except to shower and sleep.You have ocean view and garden view which faces the road.But, a interesting view as well.
The beach is very close walk from either the villas or hotel. It is amazing.There is a pier people like to walk out to . Hubby has fished from here. Lots of fun with the catamaran. You can use the paddle boats or small kayaks.
Out in front of hotel is the ( boardwalk). Hubby and I walked this everyday down to the market in front of the next hotel Club Amigo. The public beach is there as well as their market for soveniers.Everday there is something new. If you see something you would like to buy I say do it. Chances are you will not see it again. Especially art work. It is great. Nice walk. Maybe a kilometer in the sun.
Both villa and hotel buffets are good. You can eat at either one. Small point.( you can order breakfast at the patio restraunt wich is also the seafood al a carte from 10 till noon if you happen to sleep late. Its good.
Both alacarts are good. In the hotel the cappicino bar is great. The Italian ala cart is there. Good food and great service.
Some nights there is a fiddler entertaining in the hotel. His name is Joe and will have you on your feet.The aquatic water dance is great as is the fashion show. My favorite HA HA !!.All entertainment is good. When it ends you have a great outside grill bar to have a latenight drink or cappicino and relax or play cards. There is also a Disco thats starts at 11.00 in the hotel.

You can rent scooters as we did. Need your passport as well as drivers licence. They provide you with helmets.You can also rent a horse and buggy for a good price and they will take you where you would like.You can also hire a cab or rent your own car. Great to see the country side.
We went to some local homes. We were invited and would not miss. Gives you a idea about how and what its like to live there.Very generous and intelligent people. My favorite part is to talk and listen to them.
We took in a baseball game in Holguin city. It was their last home game of the year. Their record was only 2 wins for the season and we were at the last. Its like being at a major league game. They can play. It cost 29 cucs each. They take you there and give you each a t shirt.The guide gets you their version of peanuts wrapped in a tube of paper as well as popcorn.Boy are they vocal if there is a bad call. They actually changed the umpires mind about a call. They razzed him like crazy. It was so much fun.
It costs the local cubans about 3 cuban pesos to enter.What a fun time.

My husband does a lot of snorkling and just loves it here.Its shallow in spots but, a lot to see.

Lots of kids our last week. The cuban people love kids. They have a lot of patients and have fun with them. There is a lady who runs the daycare from 9 to 5 each day,. Her name is Maritza and your kids could not be in better hands.The little ones I happen to chat with do not want to go home.Good break for mom and dad. Would be a good time for a massage on the beach. Highly recommend as I had one every other day .

The staff is super. Talking to them and learning about them and their country is my favorite past time. They love to joke.

I look forward to my next trip there. Saving my pesos as we speak.
Hope this has been helpful.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Wasaga Beach 

February 2008
Arrival - arrived at noon-Feb 16th- fast check in- but had to wait for the security lock until 3.00pm- hotel was full as usual in Feb. did not get the requested rooms but expect that in Feb.

Rooms - Clean- and forth floor was just refurbished mountain view rooms give you the sun mostly all day the ocean view rooms you will not have sun on your balcony

Restaurants - Lobster one was great as usual- Italian restaurant was also very good- lots of appetizers

Bars - Very good service- liked the new wave drink lots of bars on the resort- fresh orange juice and crystal tap beer

Beach and Pools - Pool water very clean and warm beach is not long but okay- went on Katamaran on a windy day- fun

Grounds - well landscaped - gardiners always doing something to improve the resort

Activities - Scootered to boca de soma- had a rear flat tire which almost threw me off it- 3 days is about 55.00
big fiesta on the cuban beach - lots of police protecting the tourists
80 cents for a beer
bicycles have no gears for going up the mountain but okay for level riding

Tours - too much money for me but there is a free little train which goes up the mountain at 2.00pm

Conclusion - My 14th time at the brisas- i like the food and service- if your into newer or long beachs there is others down the coast like the costa verde or pesuero which have a mile long beach.

This resort suites my needs- and i will be returning. Sunwing tour was very good again- but i have had with conquest tours on a couple of trips. Canadians should realize that we are very lucky to have this beautiful country to visit for its safety and good weather. Find some families up the mountain to help with things like- umbrellas - running shoes-cloths-watches-dvd,s laundry detergent-sun block-wind up flash lights- books- pencils-ballons-sandals-radios- and backpacks.
any questions my email is pgmbarrie@bellnet.ca
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Carole 
New Brunswick, Canada
February 2008
Arrival - Flew Air Canada Vacations from Halifax NS to Holguin on Feb. 9th. Everything went smoothly and on time. However, due to a mix-up, there was no "free food" as promised by Air Canada Vacations. No problems at Holguin airport getting through customs/immigration, getting luggage, exchanging money or getting on the appropriate bus. Actually, this was done far more quickly and smoothly than I had experienced on my previous three visits to Cuba, but perhaps it was due to the fact that it was an evening arrival. Check-in at the resort (late evening arrival) was done quickly. We (my mother and myself and my sister and her husband) went to this resort to attend my son's wedding so we joined the other 19 members of the wedding party (from Toronto) at the 24 Hour Bar and Grill around midnight. Before we knew it, it was 2 am so we decided some sleep was in order. On the return flight Feb. 16th., everything went smoothly as well, although we waited in line to check in with Air Canada (ie. we were there before the ticket agent was). Lots of couples did not get to sit together on the plane even if they checked in early, but this was due to an inefficient check-in service (not computerized, seat number stickers were added to the boarding pass by each check-in agent who had access only to a limited number of stickers). We ended up getting seats together as our check-in agent went over to other check-in agents to get the seat number stickers that he needed. We did receive the complimentary meal on Air Canada during the return flight. Our flight left on time and arrived back in Halifax a few minutes early.

Rooms - We requested an oceanview hotel room with two beds and got an oceanview room with a king bed. I was assured that we could switch to an oceanview room with two single beds the next morning and we did that. We were pleased with our room as the bathroom had been recently renovated. The room was not large but it was sufficient for the two of us. The beds were reasonably comfortable. There were extra pillows and blankets in the room and a sufficient number of hangers for our clothes as well as storage drawers. There were a few little issues (ie. light bulb burned out, no plug for the bathtub, and no hairdryer in the bathroom, but I filled out the "What's Wrong?" form the following morning and within several hours, everything was fixed.

We had excellent housekeeping service so no complaints there. We were pleasantly surprised to find a 110 outlet in the bathroom (thus could use an electric hair curler without the need for a converter or adapter). However, I am not sure this is the case for all of the bathrooms as this one had just been renovated. The patio chairs on our balcony were great (modern and comfortable). The view from the balcony was lovely. Our patio door did not lock (ie. lock was broken) but that was not an issue for us. We did rent the safety deposit box in our room (2 CUC/day). It had two shelves and was large enough to store my camera, small purse, wallets, etc. Take a large safety pin (ie. diaper pin) to put the key on and attach it inside your pocket during the day. I kept the safety deposit box key separate from my hotel room card as the door card had the room number written on it (which is a security issue if lost). If you don't want to hear the music from the pool and entertainment area, then oceanview rooms are a poor choice. However, we didn't mind as when the evening entertainment ended around 10:30 pm, the room was quiet. On one occasion (mid evening), the water for my shower was only warm. Otherwise, there was always lots of hot water and good water pressure. The mini-fridge worked great. It was stocked with only one large bottle of water. There was a note on the dresser requesting us to refill the bottle at the bars, but I preferred to buy my water at the gift shop (inexpensive at 1 CUC for the litre size bottle). Actually our housekeeper left new bottles of water for us on several occasions (perhaps because we tipped her on a daily basis?). There was no coffee pot in the room (not an issue for us as you can get coffee readily). Overall, we were pleased with our room. We visted several other rooms and all rooms were not equal! Some smelled very musty and had not been renovated. Also, we visited several Villa rooms. They are much larger. Personally I did not like them though. They had a definite musty smell, and the couches needed to be replaced and storage space for clothes seemed limited. There were little piles of termite dust on the desk each morning in my sister's villa room. There seemed to be a lot of people wanting to change their rooms, but the staff didn't seem to mind that so I think you would eventually get a room you were satisfied with. The Villa rooms would be much more quiet though, and the setting is tranquil and lovely. There is more walking required in the Villa area as it is spread out. Villas are 2 or 3 levels but don't have elevators. The hotel has 5 levels (with elevators). The hotel would be a better choice for people with mobility impairments (as closer to restaurants, entertainment and beach). If I had to pick one area for the resort to improve , I think it would be the accommodations. There was peeling paint around the villas and some of the rooms are dated. Having said all of that, we were very happy with our hotel oceanview room and our room service.

Restaurants - Food was plentiful and good (but not always great). I likely gained weight this trip so guess I can't complain too much. We mainly ate in the buffet restaurants, prefering the hotel buffet as it had freshly-squeezed orange juice each morning, a themed meal each evening, and a slightly wider choice of food. We did eat in the Italian restaurant once and my fish meal was very good. However, others in the wedding party did not enjoy their meal there at all. One day, the repeat visitors to Brisas were invited to a special meal served on the beach and it was excellent - best food I tasted all week. If you are a repeat visitor and get invited to the tree-planting ceremony, make sure to go. The staff make a big effort for this and the meal on the beach afterwards is well organized and prepared (table and chairs, tablecloths, hot food, etc.). I have a gluten allergy (wheat allergy) so could not find much to eat in the snack bar or Patio (beachside) restaurant, but did fine in the buffets. Another member of the wedding party was vegetarian, and he had better luck in the Villa buffet (where the chef was willing to make special meals on request).

Bars - Can't comment too much on the bars as I drink mainly wine and it was plentiful and O.K. most of the time. I was able to get mojitos at the Villa lobby bar, the Hotel lobby bar and at the Patio (beachside) bar. The bar staff was quick and I never had to line-up (unlike other resorts I have visited). You can get coffee there too (and hot water for your own tea bags if you prefer).

Beach and Pools - Beach is lovely. It is much longer and spread out since my last visit to Brisas in 1999. What I appreciated more than anything else is that there were always lounge chairs available (so no need to play the "save the chair with the towel" game). This is the only vacation to Cuba that I have had where there were plenty of chairs. There are lots of shaded spots on the beach too if this is what you prefer. I didn't use the water sports or pools so can't comment on that.

Grounds - The grounds are lovely at both the hotel and villa areas. Everything is so much more mature and lush than during my last visit there 9 years ago.

Activities - Didn't particapate in organized activities, but there seemed to be a good choice. I saw a few activities listed that were different from others I had seen in the past (ie. learn to do basic magic tricks, learn to play bongo drums, Cuban geography lessons, etc.). My mother and I especially enjoyed the piano bar entertainment which happened most evenings in the hotel lobby bar from 6:30 to 8:30. I watched several evening shows which were decent as well.

Tours - Did not do any organized tours but some of the wedding party did and they were pleased. However, I loved being able to walk off the resort every day. The boardwalk along the beach which ends up at the public Guardalavaca Beach and Market Area was lovely. It is a very safe walk for anyone concerned with safety off the resort.

Conclusion - Brisas Guardalavaca resort exceeded my expectations (and the last resort I went to was the 5 star Paradisus Rio de Oro). I visited this resort in 1999 when it was still a Delta resort, so I lowered my expectations knowing that that resort was now older and it was now a Cubanacan resort. The grounds are absolutely beautiful and far lovlier than I had imagined. The food was as expected but honestly, it was good (just repetitive). There appeared to be many issues with the rooms and villas and I think those will need to be addressed in the near future or the resort will lose some repeat customers. However, I cannot complain about my room so perhaps it is the luck of the draw. Service at the hotel was excellent, far better than service I had received at previous resorts. We tipped often but for the most part, I think everyone got good service, whether they tipped or not. My son's wedding was lovely and they received lots of special attention by the staff. My biggest complaint is that smoking is permitted in all areas except the Italian restaurant (where people smoked anyway). You can sit near the open end of the Hotel Lobby Bar and the Villa Buffet to minimize the effects of the smoke, but smoking is still permitted in those places as well. There is a designated smoking area in the Hotel Buffet (at the far end of the room) but it is not a separate room. This is the one complaint I recorded in writing upon departure. In conclusion, it was a great week at Brisas and one I would have no hesitation repeating some time in the future.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Colin & Jennifer 
Ontario, Canada
February 2008
My wife and I, both 34 years old, stayed at Brisas Guardalavaca from December 7th to 14th. It was a Signature package ($1660 in total, taxes included) and we flew Skyservice.

FLIGHT
We were scheduled to fly out of Toronto at 6:00 a.m. but we were half an hour late taking off. The seats were cramped, as always, but my aisle seat was tolerable. They showed movies on the way there and back, which helped pass the time. The breakfast they served going down was terrible, a pseudo-bacon and egg sandwich that I choked down because I was starving. But lunch on the way home, chicken on a bun, was great.

ARRIVAL
We breezed through the Frank Pais airport in Holguin, and for the first time ever, nobody insisted on dumping my carry-on knapsack. They had a dog sniffing everyone’s luggage, presumably for drugs, which I’d never seen in Cuba before. The dog looked like a very young black Lab. We bought beers in the airport parking lot for $1 CUC each and then it was a one-hour drive to the resort on an air-conditioned tour bus. Our guide on the bus was somewhat comical and he did a good job of telling everyone about the sights we passed along the way.

CHECK-IN
Check-in for the villa rooms happens at a separate reception desk. We had to wait a few minutes for someone to take us there, as most of the people on the bus were checking into the main hotel and the bellhops were busy with them, but it wasn’t a big deal. We asked if we could look at a few of the empty rooms and pick the best one, a request that the guy at reception was happy to accommodate (he gave us keys and room numbers and let us check them out on our own), but in the end we settled on the room they’d originally assigned to us. We rented a lock for the room safe (so we could stash our passports and plane tickets, etc.), $14 CUC for the week.

ROOM
We requested (through our travel agent at CAA) and were given a 2nd floor villa room with a king-size bed. The room also had a large sitting area with a couch, 2 chairs and a coffee table, but it could have used better lighting. Our balcony overlooked the gardens and the villa-area pool (not the main pool). There was also a desk and satellite TV. The air conditioning worked very well. Zero bugs. Before we went, I’d read some negative comments about the distance of the villas from the main resort area… this is ridiculous. It’s a short walk, unless you have serious difficulty getting around. We stayed in building #9 (nicknamed “Gibara”), one of the closest to the main hotel, but none of the villas are very far away once you get your bearings.

GROUNDS
It’s a big resort and it’s very well maintained. It was probably the nicest resort we’ve ever stayed at (although we’ve only been to 5 or 6 all together). There are lots of benches and places to sit and enjoy the scenery, and there’s a walkway alongside the beach that connects to the nearby resorts and to the public beach (Playa Guardalavaca) area.

FOOD
This was easily the best buffet experience we’ve had in Cuba; we didn’t bother booking at any of the a la carte restaurants. The hot breakfast consisted of an omelet bar, scrambled or boiled eggs, an assortment sausages (and cut-up hot dogs) and lots of bread and fruit. We were addicted to the fresh-squeezed orange juice, they had a really neat contraption pressing the oranges. Lunch and dinner featured a pick-your-own-ingredients pasta bar, which was great, as well as an assortment of hot buffet dishes. Our favourite dish of the week was chunks of skinless/boneless turkey in some kind of tomato sauce, it was great on white rice. And they had tasty cooked cabbage nearly every day. There’s a snack bar near the pool, connected to the main BBQ/grill bar. They alternated between serving pretty good hamburgers and fantastic choose-your-own-toppings mini pizzas. It was open whenever the buffet was closed, which was convenient when the lunch and dinner hours got in the way of drinking.

DRINKS
We weren’t very imaginative in this area, Cuba Libres or cerveza for me and rum and pineapple juice for my better half, but there were lots of other options.

BARS
El Tejado (lobby bar): This bar is inside the main hotel, containing 15 or so tables with 2-4 chairs each. It’s right next to the main buffet restaurant and looks out toward the pool and main BBQ/grill bar. If you’re ordering drinks that contain orange juice, and you like your juice fresh, this is where they keep the orange press when it’s not meal time.

Bar Parrillada (BBQ/grill bar): Open 24 hours, this is the main resort bar, an open-air concept with a roof over top. It’s right next to the pool and within sight of the entertainment stage. Some of the seats have an ocean view. There are probably 25-30 tables with 4 chairs each. This bar is attached to the burger/pizza snack bar. One day they served the buffet lunch here, roast pork was the main course.

El Patio de los Artistas (beachside bar/restaurant): We thought this was the nicest bar at the resort. It’s at the west end of the property, right next to the beach. They serve drinks as well as salads, sandwiches (tuna, ham or cheese), hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and fried chicken. You can sit inside or on the ocean-view patio. It was surprisingly quiet. Stopping here at least once per day became part of our routine.

There were a number of other bars at the resort, including smaller poolside bars, a swim-up bar and another main bar in the villa area, but the above-mentioned were the 3 we frequented most. Some of the eating and drinking areas were not open when we were there, as the resort was nowhere near capacity.

BEACH/POOLS
The resort beach was nice, although it was quite windy while we were there. There were lots of chairs, nobody seemed to be pulling the early morning towel reservation scam. And Playa Guardalavaca (a public beach that tourists share with locals) is only a short walk away and definitely worth visiting. There are snack bars and beer huts there should you require food and/or drink. We’re not “pool people,” but there are 2 large pools at the resort, one in the main hotel area and another one in the villa area.

TRAIN TOUR
There’s a pseudo-train tour that runs every day, pick-up is at or around 10:30 a.m. in front of the resort and it lasts for about 3 hours. It visits some local villages including Cuatro Caminos, Canadon and Boca de Sama, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. One of the stops was at a station where locals pick up their monthly rations, which was very interesting to see. And the train stopped in Boca de Sama at an outdoor, lakeside bar that locals frequent on weekends so we could buy drinks and use the restrooms.

SCOOTERS
You can rent scooters in front of the villa lobby area for $12 CUC per hour. We rode them in both directions away from the resort, west to the flea market at Playa Guardalavaca and to the very small commercial area nearby (there’s an open-air bar where you can play pool and have drinks), and north-west to the small village of Cuatro Caminos.

TAXI TO GIBARA
We’d read in our Frommer’s book and in Debbie’s discussion forum that this port town was worth seeing. In hindsight I’m glad we went, but it wasn’t the trip we were expecting. I was told that it was about 45 minutes away, so we hired a taxi driver to take us there and back. (If you go, make sure you ask the driver to stay with you. Otherwise you’ll have trouble getting back to the resort. There are no government taxis in Gibara.) It actually took 2 hours to get there and 2 hours to get back. The roads to and from Gibara are in very bad shape and the driver was forced to mosey along at an average speed of 20 km/h. At one point a man on a bicycle passed us, more effectively dodging the huge potholes. It was comical and maddening at the same time.

We passed through a few small towns along the way: Santa Lucia (not to be confused with Playa Santa Lucia which is farther west), Frey Benito and Floro Perez. Passing through these places looking out from the tourist bubble was a little awkward. And we felt like we were in a time warp… fairly well off the beaten tourist path, the government taxi was somewhat out of place amongst the horse-drawn buggies. It was pouring rain that day, and when we got to Gibara we must have been the only non-locals in town. We were immediately swarmed by women selling necklaces, etc., and they were hesitant to take “no gracias” for an answer. We had lunch at a casa particular (a local home where the owners have a licence to feed and rent rooms to tourists) called Los Hermanos. This was another “must visit” lead from a variety of sources, and the food was good (lobster, rice, tomatoes, radishes, pineapple, rice and French fries) but it wasn’t much better than what we were eating at the resort. It was, however, a neat experience. The hosts were very nice and lunch for two including 3 cervezas was only $18 CUC. We met some longer-term casa guests as well, one really nice Australian guy on his first trip to Cuba and a frequent visitor Canadian guy that claimed Gibara was his favourite place in all of Cuba.

I can’t recall the total price of the excursion, but whatever it was we had agreed on it beforehand. Our trip was somewhat soured by the weather and unexpected distance, but under better circumstances I think it would have been a much more enjoyable trip.

STAFF
As always, my impression of the staff is mixed. Just like anywhere you go, some people are friendly and helpful while others are indifferent. And similar to previous trips to Cuba, we found the nicest people to be the reception, housekeeping and gardening staff.

SIGNATURE REP
Our Signature rep was named Rene (pronounced “Re-nay”). He was very knowledgeable and helpful.

CONCLUSION
We really liked Brisas Guardalavaca. The highlights would be the resort grounds, Patio de los Artistas during the day and the BBQ/grill bar in the evening, and our train tour of the local villages. There were no real low points, we had a fantastic time. We’d recommend it in a heartbeat.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
ewka 

February 2008
We are a couple in our 30's that were looking for a relax by day/party (a bit) by night travelling without kids. (although we have two young ones at home, hence our looking for a bit of both, relax and party)

Our arrival through Holguin airport was very smooth, we were the first ones out of the airport and enjoyed a Cervesa from the little kiosk before boarding the bus.

Drive to the hotel was comfortable and offered great views, but was close to 1.5 hours as we dropped people off at other resorts on the way.

Check-in was smooth, efficient and we were escorted to our room on the 5th floor RM 577. Not oceanview, but still great views of the mountains, countryside and partial ocean. Room was clean and balcony was great. The lighting in the washroom was a bit poor, for make-up or shaving. Water pressure was fine, temperature was sometimes lukewarm, sometimes plenty of hot water.

Hotel common areas, lobby, bars, elevators were all very clean and in some areas quite impressive. Elevators sometimes did not work, but out of the 4, one was usually up and running. During our week, I only used the stairs once. The lobby and common areas are very spacious and welcoming with comfy chairs. Money exchange was located next to reception with long hours, I think till 9 pm or perhaps later. There was a gift shop with all the basics and another one in the villas section.

The buffet restaurant in the hotel and villas were pretty much the same, but did have varied menus on the same days, so if there really wasn't something you liked in the hotel you could go to the villa. Food was OK in the buffet. No one went hungry, you could go to the 24 snack bar and fill up on a great cheeseburger, which we often did. Snack bar also had great fries, pizza, hotdogs and grilled cheese. We went to the Patio restaurant for dinner, had a great meal, mine was the lobster and was very good, hubby had pork/beef and while the meat was a bit tough the rest of the meal was great. A nice change from the buffet. There is a little donut fryer at the hotel pool with sugar and syrup covered deep fried donuts. Very good.

The bars were plentiful and wet. We are not particular as to what we drink, there was always something that they would mix up for you that was good. Mojitos were sometimes available. Cappuccino and coffee was good, but the best was from the cappucino bar, which unfortunately is only open during the evenings, so we had our coffee from the 24 hour bar for the morning fix.

Animacion staff were great, enthusiastic and friendly. Most spoke very little english. I know that this is a country where they speak spanish not english, I am merely pointing out that on previous visit to Cuba, Santa Lucia area, animacion staff spoke excellent english (and french and some italian and german). Daytime organized activities were lots of fun. Evening shows were amateurish but fun. One evening the water ballet was excellent.

There is a disco on site and was pumping music every night at 11pm and has its own bar, however was almost empty every night. In fact, the place pretty much went dead at 11:30 pm. This was my one peeve with the resort, but not the hotels fault. The majority of guests were either 50++ or young families. Not a bother at all, just noone for us to stay up with and party a bit. (we were by no means looking for a party all night till you drop deal just a bit of evening excitement).

We did not go on any excursions, but did rent a moped for 2 days and had lots of short trips into the surrounding areas. Great way to get a feel for the cuban life as we would often stop at little kiosks for refreshments and to try and chat with the local people.

Would we return to this resort, No, because of the age/make up of guests, however I would recommend it to my parents or anyone with older kids (5 to 12), as it did not really have anything for kids younger then 5.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Peter 
Hamilton
January 2008
Arrival - We were a party of 14 flying to Cuba the week before Christmas. Arrival at the Airport went smoothly. Customs was no problem and baggage claim went quickly.

One of our party did get pulled over to have his baggage checked.

N.B. do not travel with itmes made from hemp. In his case it was a shirt.

Rooms - What started off as a disaster ended up as good fortune. The rooms we booked were totally unacceptable. We booked rooms (7) in the hotel portion of the resort and all the rooms had water problems. In defense of the Hotel, it had rained the previous 7 days, and it was obvious that the roof leaked and water had percolated all the way down to the ground floor. They offered us Villa room upgrades at no charge. Kudos to the Hotel and PR staff. Our Villa rooms were very nice with plenty of space and lovely balconies. All fixtures worked well and the rooms were always clean and dry. Maids always left beautiful towel art. We wanted to use the in room safe which incurred a 14 peso charge. Well worth it for piece of mind.

Restaurants - As many other have stated, “you don’t go to Cuba for fine dinning”. That being said we did not have a problem with any of the food. The buffet always had a wide selection of food to accommodate any palate. Breakfast offered a “made to order” omelet station as well as several steamers with eggs, bacon, sausages, etc and a European meat and cheese station. Lunch was usually at the pool\beach bar and consisted of “made to order” pizza and French fries. The pizza was always excellent. They also served hotdogs and hamburger as in “ham” not beef. The lunch buffet was a lighter fair but still plenty to choose from. The dinner buffet usually had a fixed menu with a special theme meal of the day i.e. Mexican, Jamaican, etc. Twice we had fresh roasted pork. A whole pig slowly cooked over coals for several hours… very tasty. The 2 Al a carte restaurants toggled the days they were open (the resort was only 30% full). The seafood restaurant offered several shrimp and fish dishes as well as BBQ lobster. The Italian offered a full 5 course meal. Several selections of main courses and 2 to 3 selections in the others. I recommend having a Spanish coffee in El Cappuccino before dinner.

Bars - The hotel has 7 ish bars. The 24 hour bar (food) is the pool\beach bar. There are 2 swim up bars that are open form noon to 5pm. There are normally 2 lobby bars, but as the resort was only 30% full the Villa lobby bar was closed. El Cappuccino is open only when the Italian al a carte is open, and the buffet has a bar. So in short, you will never be lacking in a place to drink. The Hotel pool bar and its bartender Jose is where we preferred to spend our afternoons. I also highly recommend attending Mikes Bartending School. It held at the Hotel swim up bar once a week. The lobby bar was a nice place to smoke a Cuban and enjoy the nightly musical entertainment. Usually a small group or Violin and Piano player. Oops... and the disco bar was open nightly from 11pm to ????

Beach and Pools - Beaches are very nice, but not as nice as Varadero. Plenty of shade and lounge chairs for all. There is also 24 hours security at the beach and along the beach boardwalk. Lots of good snorkeling, but don’t forget to bring your aqua socks.

Pools, there are 2, and best separated into the quite pool and the party pool. We preferred the party (Hotel) pool. Jose, the bartender, will even let you tend bar if you are into that. We learned to mix several local drinks that way. Pools are very clean with the Hotel pool actually having a deep end, a first for me in Cuba. There is also a small doughnut station by the Hotel pool that is a must try. They come sprinkled with sugar and your choice of chocolate or strawberry sauce. The quite (Villa pool) is actually several pools linked together. There is a combination swim-up bar and poolside bar with nice seating under an arboretum. This pool is where you go to relax and read a good book.

Grounds - Awesome, to quote the daughter of a friend.

The grounds were very well maintained. There is also an aviary, a secret Jacuzzi and a tribute to John Lennon in the Villa area. The Villa has manmade ponds that are integrated into the pool along with a few fountains. There are also tennis courts, a shooting range (pellet gun), large chess board , Bache ball court and a games room with pool and ping pong tables, and a special play building for kids.

Activities - We spent a lot of time at both the beach and the pool. Beach volleyball was the usual beach activity. There was also access to snorkel equipment as well as non-powered watercraft. We used the paddle boats daily and went sailing in the cats once. Plenty of other organized activities as well… the usual fair. You can also take a nice walk west to the other resorts and then into the tourist market. You might even see Christopher Columbus along the way.

Tours - We did none, but others guests where happy with what they took.

Conclusion - For what we paid I was satisifed with this vacation. I would go back but would only book a villa room. The hotel is being renovated but has a way to go before it is completed. This is not a 4 star hotel, but I always feel its the people that make a good vacation, not the hotel. If you have an questions I can be reached at reviews@bernieandbear.com
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
J. Smith  
Calgary
January 2008
I and 15 family members went to Brisas Jan 4 to 11 and in some instances we were very disappointed. All 16 of us became ill and only ate at the resort and many of us are still suffering. Although we found the rooms clean our bathroom was moldy, the toilet ran all the time and two of our family members toilets needed immediate work due to flooding problems. Four members had to have their room assignment changed because we did not receive what we booked for and a honeymoon couple received a room with two twin beds. Some of the bar tenders were down right rude and ignored some guests. Requesting a coffee at the Villa’s bar appeared to be a crime of some sort as the bar tender became down right obscene with a guest. For an all inclusive resort they provide a single bottle of water in the room fridge (which had to be plugged in and the water was room temperature) and provide a note instructing guests to get it refilled at the bar. Upon registration we tried to purchase a safe key to lock away valuables. That took two days to accomplish, being instructed by front counter staff they were too busy (very unfriendly service). In the end all it required was for someone to hand us the key from a drawer – which by the way we paid 16 pesos for, only to find out later it should have been 14. All of these things leave negative impressions. None of the members of our family are ever planning to come back, despite the fact that for some of us it was the fourth trip to this resort and for four it was the very first time. Not a good impression at all. In comparison, our daughter went to a Mexican all inclusive four star resort a few weeks prior to this trip, and was shocked at the lack of amenities and service at Brisas Guardalavaca in comparison. We spoke to a few guests and each was very disappointed in the resort, the service and amenities – and one in particular mentioned your website and how deceptive it was in comparison to reality.

The good points were the nice beach, which is well maintained, lots of chairs, great volleyball, excellent hobby cat operators and overall excellent service in the dining rooms. The food was above average and we heard many people praise it. The maid service in our rooms was exceptional (all 8 rooms).

All in all, I don’t believe this resort deserves a four star rating. Maybe a two to two and a half at best.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Paul 
Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada
January 2008
Just returned from a great week at the brisas hotel for one week.(Jan 7-14).

The food was above average as usual and the service from the bartenders and waiters is excellent.

The rooms at the hotel are clean and fresh- with balconies.- the first 2 days it was windy and a little cool but then it warmed up - like usual. Vollyball was a blast- and the spanish lesson with kathy- well worth going at 2.00pm each day.

BUT, it will not be booking with conquest - the two cuban reps. do not know what the word service means- The one refused to give me a receipt for 10 pesos- and then curtly did so- and then had the nerve to ask for it back when i got to the airport- then i asked her to help me get a wheelchair for my 83 year old mother- and she ignored me- i talked with other couples who found them both rude- and unfriendly. I travel to holguin 5 times per year- and i not be spending my money with conquest.

The brisas should be proud of there staff- and service- it is my second home away from home.

Horse back riding across the road- good snorkelling out front- located at the base of an attractive mountain with the " chorro de maiti" to check out- and a scooter ride to " boca de soma" is worth seeing. There is large caves to explore up the mountain- and guess what- you are never trespassing( but watch out for some of the bulls in the fields). With a 5 minute walk- take in the 24 hours cuban beach with bar- and the " la roc" disco.

Try and give supplies to people up the mountain- off the resort- who to not have the oportunity to socialize with us tourists- they need small flashlights, umbrellas. used running shoes, back packs, dvd players, watches and sunblock.

I will be back to the brisas very soon
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Susan 

December 2007
Just got back from 7 days in the sun at Brisas with our 4 kids tween through teen and university age. We are well travelled in the south. Just beware of the hotel section of this hotel. Basically a 2 star with the old style long hallways and smelly rooms with worn furniture. We moved to the villas and it was as described, a good 4 star in Cuba. Staff was the best part. Very warm and helpful, no pressure for tipping as we have seen elsewhere in Cuba.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
heather + flipp {sisters) 
canada + england
December 2007
Your Arrival
don't think of taking meat into the country, they xray your bags on the way in and thought i had meat, it was laura secords chocolates in the foil wrap which confused their machines,they also rewieigh your bags so if you are over at toronto, they will charge you again there. change your money at the exchange here, its by the baggage collection. we had an hour and half drive in the middle of the night, we dropped off at 2 hotels, and only ended up with 3 of us on the bus, finally arrived at 3.15 am, it has a 24 hour bar so no problem! and check in took minutes we just had to wait for the bell boy to arrive back from showing the other man where his room, was to show us where ours was, then back down to the bar!

Rooms
nice size with 2 double beds, nice and clean, maids did lovely towel art every day, sometimes the towels didn't arrive until the afternoon.
we were i the hotel section on the top floor, and luckily the lifts worked, though i wouldn't have like to been stuck in them when we had the power outages which happened for a few minutes most days, as they were very small lifts

Restaurants
one was closed as it was the quiet season and they were painting the chairs every day outside the restaurant. went to all the alacarte's, nice food, but would be nice if the family's with kids could be occomodated at separate times from the newly weds, mind you i think that the kid in the high chair enjoyed the newly weds wedding cake! the buffet was always good, there was always something to eat even if it was bread and ice cream!! and the freshly made omeletes are the best, the waitresses are so grateful for tips, i left a bottle of nail polish one day and she found me out the next day to think me. the pool side snack bar does the best pizzas while you wait, you get to chose what you want on them

Bars
bars where great, we had our own personal bar girl at the villa pool, and she would have the drinks ready by the time we swam up again, and you had to ask for less rum if you wanted it, or more if you were adventurous. do take your own thermal cup, their little plastic glasses don't keep the drinks cool long, i did take one but it broke the first day, and boy did i miss it, so it would be a good idea to take a spare!

Beach and Pools
lots of loungers at the beach and pool, we went the first week of october and the hotel seemed empty, often we were the only people at the villa pool all day, pools looked clean, but occasionally had a crab swimming around in the bottom, security guards on the beach so felt safe walking along in the evening. there are 2 hot tubs, the villa one is hidden by the john lennon tribute, just stand beside his statue and look towards the villas you will see it hidden, it took us a couple of days to find it!

Grounds
kept very nice by men with big machettes, if you are a returning visitor you get to plant a tree and put a stone with your name under it, nice thought

Activities
didn't participate, but they had the usual soccer, volleyball, dance classes, and a show in the evening, but theres no cover if it does rain, not sure what they would do then the internet didn't work most of the week the spa girl was sick all week, but apparently they do manicures etc there we weren't pressured to join in any games (which has happened at other resorts)

Tours
didn't go on any, and in fact because it was the quiet/wet season, they weren't running the train into the local village either that was advertised in the travel brochure

Conclusion
a lovely quiet holiday, first week of october, woke up to a lovely hot sunny day every day, but it did rain every day usually about 4pm for about 30 minutes, so just make sure everything is waterproofed and continue enjoying the pool bar, we had a lovely relaxing holiday catching up on gossip, so all in all a very nice holiday
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Paul 
Wasaga beach area - Ontario Canada
December 2007
Arrival - One hour ride from airport on greyhound type bus

Rooms - either villa or hotel type

Restaurants - seafood al a carte
italian al a carte
24 hr buffet Bars - several

Beach and Pools - medium length good size pool with swim up

Grounds - well keep many plants- and outdoor lovebird cage

Activities -
weight room
vollyball at 11.00am
tennis court
water ballet show at 9.30pm is awesome

Tours - can be pricy

Conclusion - Leaving Jan 7th for my 13th time to the brias hotel in holguin- it has very good food and service and is walking distance to many interesting things to do.
any one wanting info on this hotel feel free to email me at
pgmbarrie@bellnet.ca
p.s. in feb. when it is 25degree celc. in veradero it is 30 degrees celc. in holguin!!!
p.s. take umbrellas, running shoes and flash lights- thermasas-sunglasses-sunblock-jeans-notebooks and give them to cuban people- who live off the resort- they need them badly
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Lisa 
Ontario, Canada
November 2007
On October 16, 2007, my husband and I travelled to Cuba with our 9 month-old daughter on an all-inclusive with Sunwing Vacations. This was our first time travelling with her so we were a little apprehensive, but it went pretty well. The flight was good. The only thing I didn't like was the stop-off at Cayo Coco. It made the trip just seem extra long. The customs was pretty quick at the airport in Cuba although we were delayed because we had walkie-talkies that the customs people seized and they had to fill out a long form to do that. But the bus was waiting to take us to the hotel (needless to say everyone else was on it, waiting for us to board so we could get to the hotel). The bus ride was an hour so if you have small kids beware of that. It was a nice air conditioned ride and our little one slept through practically all of it. The first day of the trip is a write-off because of all the travelling. We got to the hotel after 10 p.m.

Rooms - The rooms were nice. We had a king-sized bed and a garden view of the side of the hotel. The room wasn't fancy, but it was clean and the maid did pretty designs with the towels and blankets everyday. You have the option of having your room cleaned each day and having your towels changed. Laundry and ironing is an optional paid service. We didn't use it so I can't evaluate it. We had a warm shower every day. I only remember the water pressure being low one day. They gave us a crib for our little one and that was great because she slept comfortably. I don't know how available the cribs are during high season, but we just asked for it and got it right away.

Restaurants - The buffet restaurant had the same breakfast every day, which consisted of various pork dishes, bread, omelets and scrambled eggs. That was hard for us because we don't eat pork and it was always exactly the same. Their yogurt was great though. The cereal would take some getting accustomed to. I only tried it once. The corn flakes were more like cornmeal flakes! The omelets were good The chef who makes them is such a sweet guy and he's very talented with the omelet flipping. It was really entertaining. The lunch and dinner were much better than breakfast. They had a good variety most days. One day the rice was spoiled but everything else was good. The A La Carte restuarants were beautiful, expecially El Patio on the villa side. I heard the seafood at El Patio was great. We only had the chicken, but that was good too. The service was fantastic at all of the restaurants. The people are generally very friendly and accomodatiing They took good care of us and even entertained our little girl when she got squirmy. I thought the Cuban ice-cream was fantastic. It didn't have a trace of anything artificial in the taste. I had to have it every day during lunch and dinner. Remember to tip the wait staff and the chefs. They'll be nice to you either way, but they really look for the tips because they only make 10 pesos a month otherwise.

Bars - We didn't use the bars much, but people seemed happy with them. They serve unlimited drinks all day and all night, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. They have a swim up bar in the swimming pool too.

Beach and Pools - The beach and pools are absolutely gorgeous. The pools are pretty clean and warm. Our little girl enjoyed the pool on the villa side. The beach was just great. They have equipment for snorkelling. I kept forgetting to take a banana with me to attract the fish so I only saw a few colourless fish, but I saw a lot of people snorkelling and I heard that you can see some colourful ones if you take a banana with you. The sand is white and beautiful. The beach is not super long, but I loved it anyway. Words cannot describe the beauty.

Grounds - The hotel grounds are gorgeous. We found the villa side even more beautiful than the hotel side and went over there to take pictures. That side is also very quiet so it's nice to go there if you want peace and quiet. It's like paradise over there.

Activities - There are lots of water activities you can do: paddle boats, sailing, catamaran, snorkelling, beach volleyball etc. We didn't do that much because of our baby. There are paid activities you can do as well. Skydiving was a popular one while we were there. We watched the skydivers land on our beach. You won't be bored here. That's for sure.They had performances at night, which we missed becuase our baby had to go to sleep. If you are in our situation, the TV has about 7 available channels - some american, some british and some Spanish. We always found something we could watch while our baby was sleeping. Cuba is pretty safe so you can venture down to the market and buy souvenirs or you can go into the fishing village and talk to the people. A older lady invited us to sit with her in front of her house and chat. Just remember to take some stuff with you to give away to the people in the village because they really need it and they will ask you for stuff.

Tours - Their website advertises some free tours that are no longer available. The trip to the Indian Village is no longer available and you now have to pay 10 pesos per person for the train ride. The train ride is worth it. You get a tour of the Guradalavaca area and you get to stop at a school. Be sure to take things you can give to the children: school supplies for when you stop at the school and shoes, clothes etc for when the train stops in the village and you can give things away. There are also buggy rides for $15. They take you to the fishing village. The best part of it is the ride itself. The train ride offers you more information and is longer (2 hours). We didn't go on the bigger tours - Havana, Swimming with the Dolphins, Santiago de Cuba, etc. because we didn't think our little one could handle it, but they sounded very good. There are lots of options for excursions. Our Sunwing guide wasn't really available so when you get him make sure you ask all the questions you need.

Conclusion - We loved Brisas Guardalavaca. It is great for a family vacation. We weren't sure we would be able to have fun travelling with an infant, but we did. We would go back again. It is so safe in Cuba we would feel safe taking our family there. It is worth the few dollars that you'll spend on it because it is so much cheaper than other vacation spots and you get the value for your money.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Sherri 
Toronto Ontario
July 2007
My name is Sherri, I am from Toronto Ontario, and I travelled to Brisas Guardalavaca July 8-15 2007, with my husband and three boys ages 10, 10 and 14. We flew with Sunwing and found the service on the plance quite good. They had a couple of extras that we did not receive on Skyservice in the past, so this was pleasant and friendly. As for the hotel, I found the best feature was the grounds by far. The flowers and the walkway along the beach was fantastic. We felt safe throughout the trip, even when we all went for a bike ride to the market and along the roads.

The only critism I may of had was some days we found it difficult to find food we could enjoy, but we didn't starve or anything. I also would have liked to have access to a volleyball, they only have one and won't lend it out, so next time I would bring one I could inflate there. As well as bring my own float for the pool. These couple of things would have been good to know ahead so I could have brought. But other than these minor details, the trip was amazing.

We snorkelled everyday, we went on the catarmaran trip and snorkelled along the coral reef, which was amazing and beautiful.

We stayed in the villas, 6103. The room was spacious and the location amazing. The maid service was quite good. All in all, I would definately recommend this resort and feel it deserved it's 4 star rating.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Mikey 

March 2007
2 week stay Feb.19 to mar.5

We flew with skyservice from winnipeg.Had to stop in Varedero for about 1 hr. It is a direct flight back.Arriving at holguin we exchanged money. rate 1.30 Hotel was the same.Going through xray they now have 3 tables on the side. I guess it is random but, I got picked to look in my carryon. They tosselled it around and sent me on my way. Another fellow was asked about a cd player I think. He told them what it was and moved on.We then bought crystal for 1 peso for the hr. bus ride. Still love it for my 4th time.

Check in was very good.We had asked for villa 6000 and happy we got it.

Close to the beach and near the John Lennon garden where they have lots of birds. We had a coffee maker but, villa building 7000 did"t.No bad odors to speak of.Beautiful towel art everyday.We also had afridge with water. No cerveza. got our own.The villas have a pool and buffet as does the hotel.All shows were at the hotel.

The new grill bar is great.Lots of snacks and Roberto is still the king of pizza.The Italian alacart still great. Wear pants guys. Best Mojitos there. Thanks Israel.

Santiago trip was fantastic. 3hrs there and 3 back. Was very insightful.

Great tour guide. Wouldn"t have missed it.

New facility for the dolphin swim. Fantastic. 99 cucs get you aswim with them for 20 mins. Ride on them is extra 10 pesos paid there. It also includes dolphin show and sealion show. Both have there own stages.I could go on and on but' if you go you will see for yourselves. We have been to Playa pesquero resort 3 years ago. Wonderful place but, very big. We personally prefer Las Brisas. Seems more cozy and closer to the market.Closer to beach and wonderful funny people. Can't wait to return.

Adios Mikey
Will post some pics if I can figure it out.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Julie  
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
February 2007
If I had 5 thumbs I give give Brisas Guardalavaca a 5 thumbs up! Brisas had met all of my expectations. I felt very safe during my 7 day stay in mid February 2007 with safety being high on my list. The staff were always very courteous and kind from the maids to the cooks. We were never bored as the entertainment was plentiful! The resort is very clean with remarkably white sand and clear blue water. The maids in the villa's went above and beyond to be sure our rooms were comfortable.

We recommend you show your gratitude (with the odd peso and a smile) to all the staff as they bend over backwards for your comfort. The cooks at the grill should not be overlooked as your usual 'fast food' cooks as these guys work long hours and at such a fast pace in the heat all the while still smiling! It will take a day or two to get used to the food however, food was always fresh and available at all times. The a la carte's were nice, we tried the Italian place on Valentine's day which I thoroughly enjoyed!

We recommend splurging a little for the catamaran boat cruise (unlimited drinks) to stop and snorkel around a coral reef feeding the fish where the next stop is swimming with the dolphins (10 extra pesos to have the dolphins give you a 'push off' which is exhilarating) to end things off with a lobster lunch (or chicken, whichever you prefer). After your meal you cruise back to your bus on the catamaran (more unlimited drinks). Be sure to have a few extra pesos for tips to the bus and tour guide (Mario rocks!) along with the catamaran staff. Our favourite place besides the beach was the hotel pool in the swim up bar area (ask for the 'bucket' and let me assure you it will be a recurring request!).

I don't have one negative thing to say about Brisas Guardalavaca and am sure you will neither. I would definitely go back however it is more of a couple's/family resort and not to be compared to the party places such as Varadero or Cancun. I went with a friend of mine and we had such an excellent time. The disco is always fun and perhaps bring a couple of your favourite burned CD's for the disco as most of the music is not up to date.

Tips:
- Brisas uses 220V, bring an adapter for your electrical equipment (curling iron etc.).
- Use the 'do not disturb' sign on your hotel/villa room once in a while as the maids thoroughly clean your room on a daily basis which is sometimes not needed. Put your used and dirty towels in the tub if you want them to be exchanged.
- I have used the laundry service for a pair of jeans which cost only 1 peso, excellent job and my jeans were returned the next day.
- Bring a few items for trading at the market for some items you may wish to bargain for (market is only a 7-20 min walk from the resort).
- Even though this is an all inclusive resort, please be generous and tip when you feel a bar tender/server/maid/ entertainer has done a great job.

Hope you have a great time!!!
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Ken 
NL, Canada
December 2006
Just returned from a two week vacation at Las Brisas. This was the fourth vacation at this resort; but the first since 2001. We were disappointed to find the 'hotel section' is still closed for renovations and were not informed, prior to departure. The 'villas section' was nice enough; but the buffett restaurant is gone downhill .No cereal or pancakes for 11 out of 14 days and three kinds of fresh fruit at breakfast; in a country that grows all this fruit. Usually, only one kind of salad dressing - don't like 'French dressing' - too bad. Lunch and dinner not much better; recycled and little variety. The ' a la carte' restaurants were very good; but you are limited to, two visits per week. Except for the 'house band' , entertainment was non existent. It's very unfortunate, since this property was a favourite of mine. The property and beach is still beautiful and most of the staff are great; but 'four star resort' - don't think so! Cuba is still a favourite destination, but next time we'll go elsewhere.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Diane 
Keswick, Ontario
November 2006
My husband and I and our 2 children enjoyed a relaxing trip to Las Brisas. The people there are truly wonderful and exceptional. It is true that the trip to the airport is very long and boring.

The beach was lovely, but not long enough. Holguin is beautiful but unfortunately we would not go back, if you want action do yourself a favour go Varadaro.
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Paul 
Barrie, Ontario, Canada
August 2006
Back to the brisas in guadalavaca cuba for the 8th time august 4th for a week. I travel alone and never get bored here. I like the location of the brias, the food and the snorkelling. I bring a bicycle with gears to use since the hotel bicycles are old and have no gears. This hotel is located at the base of a mountain range which is nice- up the mountain there is many cuban familes- and the chorro de argeological and a boy scout camp-furthur there is " boca de sema" which is historical importance. The hotel part of the brisas is being renovated and will be finished in nov. but it does not effect your visit now- since the villa section has everything one needs. There is horseback riding directly across the road. A market one kilo down the road- a canadian embassy walking distance from the hotel. Make sure if you rent the scooter- do not take your passport- have it photocopied at reception.
pgmbarrie@bellnet.ca
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Sue 
Canada
June 2006
My husband Frank and I went to Brisas Guardalavaca from May 26- June 2, 2006.

The ride of an hour from the airport was the only annoying thing!!! Probably because we couldn’t wait to start our vacation!!

We stayed in the Villas section because the other side of the main hotel was under renovations. This did not impede us at all from having a wonderful vacation. The facilities were incredibly clean, staff is kind and accommodating. The food we got very used to but I would recommend the Italian restaurant. The waiter Raciel was wonderful and food was first class. The only thing we paid for was a bottle of red wine at dinner because we did not like the local red wine.

Change your money in the lobby, never a problem. Internet access was adequate but phoning out is not really an option in Cuba.

Pool was wonderful and clean, the entertainment at night was fun and if you have kids they would love it!!!! Always something for them to do and the staff love them.

Not much shopping but there was a little craft area 10 minute walk from hotel.

All in all a wonderful relaxing trip. We spent most of our day reading under the sun and jumping into the pool to grab a drink ( Roger the bartender was helpful and spoke perfect English to help us translate). I recommend a vodka punch!!!
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Danny, Danielle, Luc & Remi Robichaud 
Dieppe NB Canada
April 2006
My husband, our sons (Luc 12 and Remi 10) and myself just got back from our 2 week stay at this resort. We had the most wonderful time on our lives. We were treated like royalty by all we met.

ARRIVAL:
We flew direct from Moncton NB on Westjet, smooth flight, nice light snack and personal TV's at every seat. Upon arriving to the Holguin Airport everything went smoothly, no problems at customs. The bus ride took about 1 hour to the resort, our guide was very informative which was really nice since it was our first time to Cuba.

HOTEL:
We didn't stay in the hotel section, but did check out the lobby and had our money changed there as well. Watch the daily rate exchange, as it changes daily. The hotel lobby is very clean, and the staff are very accomadating.

VILLAS:
We stayed in Villa building, #6 our room #6204.....Junior Suite.....very nice! Clean, large and a beautiful view of the ocean!! It was wonderful. Our maid was awesome when we got there only 1 cot was in the room we asked for a second as we had 2 boys, within 15 minutes a second cot was in our room. Our maid was very appreciative of the small gifts we left her, (we never ran out of clean towels, however they do not have face cloths, so it's a good idea to bring your own). Please make sure to leave a small gift on the bed...(toothpaste/toothbrush, soap, shampoo etc..)they work very hard to make your stay enjoyable...

RESTAURANTS:
We had a little problem with the food, did not find there was much variety at the buffets. We found the hotel buffet to warm...and the staff there did not seem as pleasant as the staff at the villa buffet...(Mario, Sandra, Sury and Maria are the BEST!!!) We did have a bit of a problem eating with all those birds flying in the buffet, and those darn cats were always at our feet.

POOLS:
If you want peace and quiet to read your book and realx, well the villa pool is the place for you. If you want excitement and loads of people, then go to the hotel pool. We spent our time at the hotel pool. They both have swim up bars, but the hotel pool is much livelier. I think there should be some music in the background all the time. My boys played water polo every day and had a great time... It takes place everyday at 3:30 in the hotel pool!

BARS:
You won't die of thirst at this resort! The bartenders at all bars are great....Jose (the firemen)at the hotel swim up bar is a sweetheart and will make your drinks very special. He even let my husband (also a firemen) cover for him on his break....We had a few strong drinks, but he eventually got the hang of it and it was lots of fun...Carlos our floating bartender, never really knew which bar he was going to be at -- he was always smiling and made us feel like familly....Luis and Pedro at the villa swim up bar were also very nice and Pedro even had to put up with some singing and dancing, all he kept doing was laughing and pouring more coffee cream and creme de banane until there were no more....I am sure the Macarena never looked more hillarious!!!!

BEACHES:
This was our first timers to Cuba and were expecting long white sandy beaches. Well....its not exactly that, but it is a very nice beach. Beautiful white sand, the water was lovely, and had the chance to do some snokelling, since there are rocky areas with lots of cool fish and you don't have to go very far out. This was very nice and convennient when you have children. There are always lots of lounge chairs on the beach..... There is no music at the beach which was kind of a disappointment for us. The first week there they had a hot dog stand and a juice bar at the beach, but they took it away the second week not sure why, as this was great when you wanted to just stay at the beach and not have to go to the poolside....

ANIMATION TEAM/ENTERTAINMENT:
Our 2 boys spent most of their time in the Club House.... - Sometimes we had to remind ourselves they were in Cuba with us, we hardly saw them! Roger has a very special personallity and has captured part of our famillies heart...He is one of the best assets of this resort. Alexandro and Mirko were also entertaining, and the boys really enjoyed the time spent with them.... Joe (the Cowboy) is wonderful, always has a smile and makes everyone feel part of his familly...he is a hoot!!! He always has something funny to say... Gerardo - He is a lot of fun and very entertaining.... Ramiro the DJ - he will play anything you want if he has it....and he was kind enough to make our youngest son DJ for an hour....Our son thought he was in Heaven!!!! - (thanks Ramiro for the souvenir CD) Soulange - was very pleasant and made aerobics look easy!!!!NOT!!! The rest of the team wasn't very outgoing - we thought. They never made conversation with new people, they kind of kept to themselves! The house band, they were OK...but would not stay up to watch them every night! The shows are too late, when you are up at 6h30 in the morning to enjoy the sun all day there was no way we could stay up past 9h30 pm....It would have been nice that the shows would be on before the house bands on some nights.

REPRESENTATIVE:
Our Air Transat Rep. Luis was great...he made sure our stay was very nice...He even made sure that when my sister and her husband arrived on April 9th (one week after us) that they would be in the same villa....that was very nice....

OVERALL:
I would recommend Brisas. It was our first but definately not our last trip to Cuba, and I would go back to Brisas.

Adios Amigos!!!
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Wayne & Paula  
Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada
April 2006
Well, my husband and I are "new-bees" at the resort thing. Just spent a lovely week at the Brisas Resort from April 2-9, 2006. Our names are Wayne and Paula from Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada. We were 1 couple out of a party of 6. I read alot of the reviews on this web site and feel I can help with my opinion of the resort.

ARRIVAL: We flew direct from Moncton NB on Westjet, smooth flight, nice light snack and personal TV's at every seat. Upon arriving to the Holguin Airport everything went smoothly, no problems at customs. My husband was the lucky winner of the random luggage search....no problems though. The bus ride took about 1 hour to the resort, made a few stops at other resorts first. Be sure to buy a Cervesa for the bus ride, only 1 peso at the airport. You'll need it, as it is pretty refreshing in the heat.

HOTEL: We didn't stay in the hotel section, but did check out the lobby and had our money changed there as well. Watch the daily rate exchange, as it changes daily. The hotel lobby is very clean, and the staff are very accomadating. Get to know Rosie, she is the Public Relations person, and the perfect person for that job....she goes above and beyond to help. You also have to make your A La Carte reservations in the hotel lobby....didn't know that until Day 2.

VILLAS: We were a party of 6 travelling together. We all managed to stay in the same Villa building, #5. Wayne and I had room #5205.....Junior Suite.....very nice! Clean, large and a beautiful view of the Patio Bar, the boardwalk and the beach!! It was wonderful. Our maid was awesome too. Be kind to your maids by leaving small tokens of appreciation (like shampoo, lotions, personal products, and things for their children), and you will have special surprises left for you when you go back to your room at the end of the day!! I would definately reccommend the villas to anyone. You are literally a 2 minute walk to the beach, to the villa buffet and pool area, and about a 4 minute walk to the Hotel pool.

RESTAURANTS: We are a bit finicky when it come to eating, so we did find the food a bit different and hard to get used to, but don't get me wrong....there is lots to choose from! The villa buffet had a huge selection. For breakfast Franko makes the best Omelettes, the wait in line is worth it. The fresh squeezed OJ is awesome, and the fruit is of course great. For lunch we discovered that the Patio Bar(which is the Seafood Restaurant at night) serves excellent pizzas, spaghetti, and fries. Never too busy, because not everyone knows they serve lunch. (we found out on day 4) The hotel buffet, we felt didn't have as big of a selection as the villa buffet, but again enough for every taste bud. The Italian A La Carte I would say was very good. Service of course very good, and the food was great. The Seafood A La Carte was only OK, but then again remember, we come from the Maritimes.....where seafood is our specialty! I recommend the Brochette with Lobster and Beef. On the second day, (april 3), there was a pork roast by the hotel pool....it was DELICIOUS!!! They had all kinds of drinks in pineapples and grapefruits (with Rum of course), it was great!

POOLS: If you want peace and quiet to read your book and realx, well the villa pool is the place for you. If you want excitement and loads of people, then go to the hotel pool. We spent time at both places. They both have swim up bars, but the hotel pool is much livelier. Difficult to get lounge chairs at times on the hotel side, I don't agree with people putting their towels out at the crack of dawn then only showing up after noon to use them, but thats just my opinion! There are always lots of lounge chairs at the villa pool. I highly reccomend that you play waterpolo while you are there. It takes place everyday at 3:30 in the hotel pool, and its a blast! I am not the athletic type, but had a ball playing! There is also water volleyball in the villa pool, but never made that one.

BARS: You won't die of thirst at this resort! The beer of choice is Cristal, and is good; then of course there are all the Rum drinks! If you are the daring type at all, try the "Hoochie-Coochies", they are those drinks that kinda sneak up on you. They make them at the swim up bar in the hotel pool. For the best Mojitos go to the swim up bar at the villa pool....very refreshing if you like mint. All the bartenders were very nice ....my favorite is Carmen at the Bar and Grill by the hotel pool ( if you see her tell her Paula Says "OLA"). One thing I noticed over the entire week, the employees were all very friendly and if you were friendly back they remembered you as the week went on! Very nice touch, since we are so removed from the reality of our busy lives! Never made it to the Disco Club in the hotel, but 2 out of our party of 6 did; Said not many people were there, and the dance floor is very sticky.

BEACHES: As I mentioned, Wayne and I were first timers to Cuba. I guess I had a vision of a long sprawling beach. Well....its not exactly that, but it is a very nice beach. Beautiful white sand, the water was lovely, and had the chance to do some snokelling, since there are rocky areas with lots of cool fish and you don't have to go very far out. There are always lots of lounge chairs on the beach.....at least by the villa side. Like I said we were 2 minutes from our room to the beach, so very convenient. Noticed there were security guards on the boardwalk near the beach 24 hours a day (offer them something to drink once in a while....it gets hot). Make sure you sign up for the catamaran, its worth the ride!

ENTERTAINMENT: EXCELLENT!!! The house band is great. My husband is a musician, and he is not easily impressed, well we didn't miss a night! The dancers after the band are also very good. Worth going to see....every night!

OVERALL: I would recommend Brisas. It was our first but definately not our last trip to Cuba, and I would go back to Brisas. I forgot to mention that we met alot of very nice people there during our week. Many of them fellow Canadians, and I am sorry if we didn't exchange e-mail addys. I want to say a special hello to Dave & Simonne, Debbie & Bernie, and Dawn & Gary!! I hope my review of the resort helps people when planning their vacation. Like I said.....we would go back!!!

Adios Amigos!!!
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Steve and Tanya 
Chester, Nova Scotia
April 2006
Well, yet another two weeks at Brisas has come and gone, and already it seems like a life time ago that we were there. I'll do a basic review of the resort then a review of the excursion we did this year. Hope everybody can get some good things out of it

Arrival
We flew this time with Signature Vacations and Sky Service. The plane was just another cattle car, squeezing in as many seats as they can. Being 6 feet tall, this makes it impossible for me to sit in a regular seat without having my knees jammed in the back of the seat ahead of me... so we requested the emergency row, and sat there on the way down. I was very impressed that Sky Servivce still serves a hot meal and it was very good. Other carriers should take the hint and get away from the cardboard wraps they serve.... although flight times were the worst and we were delayed by 2 hours, we got in around 11:30pm. The flight was smooth, the movie was OK and check in through Customs and Immigration was a snap. The bus ride took about an hour by the time we stopped at three other resorts, but was OK.

Hotel
Brisas is a resort I like very much, and I hesitate to say that it is in bad need of a "facelift", but since it is closing from May 1st to Oct 1st, for just that reason, things will be great in no time. They are redoing all the rooms, the plumbing and electrical, and redoing the pool grill and bar. Hopefully, the disco will be redone too, as the floor is wearing out quickly, from all that latin grooving!

Villas
We didn't stay in the Villas this year, but two couples of friends did. The rooms, as always, were great. Both couples enjoyed their rooms very much. 1 couple had a junior suite and actually enjoyed staying in their room during siesta time and in the evenings. They asked for an upgrade from a regular Villa and for $30pesos, got a junior suite with an ocean view. Not a bad deal.

Restaurants
We enjoyed the food at the Hotel Buffet moreso than the Villas this year, as the Villas tended to cater to more European tastes, and served a lot of "pickled" food, and some choices that I wasn't familiar with. The hotel catered to more "North American" tastes. Both the Italian and the Seafood a la cartes were delicious, and as always, Roberto's pizzas and the fries were great! This year, in addition to "HAM" burgers, the choices were beef burgers and chicken burgers... a nice change.

Services
Public Relations was fantastic, thanks to the efforts of Rosie, who did everything to make every guest feel welcome and to see that things were to everyone's liking. One thing that has become a bit difficult is that the horse and buggy's are not allowed to sit out in front of Brisas any longer (why, I don't know) but you have to walk almost to the Commercial Centre to catch a ride.... slightly inconvenient. The massages are now charged to the rooms directly, as are many of the other services provided by the hotel. Only one computer was working at the Internet site, and there was always a long lineup, so we didn't get to email anyone. The tree planting is still a favorite activity for returning guests, and we got to plant our tree this year!

Pools
Once again, we never touched the water in the Villas pool (3rd year in a row) and spent all of our time at the hotel pool. The only complaint I have about that is that there were too many kids in around the swim up bar, splashing the guests sitting there trying to enjoy a drink... where the heck are their parents?

Bars
As always, the bars were great, with many drinks to choose from. However, one thing they could stand to have is a blender, as a pina coloda would taste that much better properly blended. Also, I wasn't able to get a daquiri, as they didn't have the facilities to make one with fruit... however, we made due!

Beaches
The beach in front of the hotel was great this year, with amazing snorkling just off the pier, but watch out as the glass bottomed boat now leaves and comes in to that pier.... the beach in front of the Villas was beautiful and the hobie cats were going full bore as there was a bit of wind most days. Scuba lessons also were in front of the Villas.

Excursions
It was too windy for most days, so the catamaran was cancelled except for 4 days out of two weeks. The flying boat also couldn't fly for those days. We opted for the trip to Holguin, and I'm really glad we did! It was well worth the money, and a fun and fantastic time. We visited an old sugar mill, rode a circa 1907 train (was steam but converted to diesel), visited the cigar factory, ate luch at a great restaurant, had an hour free time in Central Park, then back to the resort...tired but full of great memories.

We also did the "train ride" from the resort. This is a great little trip and I recommend it to anyone who wants to get off the resort to see the countryside.

We rented scooters and did our own tour too. A lot of fun, but becareful to learn the rules of the road.

Entertainment
As usual, the staff at Brisas went above and beyond to entertain, however, there was some problem with the band that fills in for the house band, so there was no live music for a couple of days when the house band was off. The tribute to John Lenon was, once again, fantastic and we were chosen to release the doves at the beginning of the show. There are always activities going on at Brisas, and the staff works very hard to make everyone enjoy themselves.

Complaints
Brisas used to be the best resort with the best casual atmosphere, mostly because the staff was allowed to eat in the buffets, or at the grill. Not anymore. I was told by a staff member that this is because some guests complained that they were paying to be there, and why should they have to "share" their meal times with "the staff".... personally, I would rather share my meals with a friendly staff than guests who have that kind of attitude. Anyway, now the rules have changed and the staff is closely monitored to see that they don't break the rules... this simply serves to create an atmosphere of tension, because the staff is always looking over their shoulders to make sure they aren't doing something wrong. Yet, they manage to maintain the level of professionalism while fostering friendship with the guests. My hat's off to them.

Overall
I would return to Brisas again, ostly because I am curious to see the renovations and to see my friends again. This year was a special year as we got engaged, and the staff are hoping we will come back there to get married next year.... we'll have to see about that. I would recommend Brisas to anyone, but I would caution that since the hotel section is closing for renos, anyone traveling there in the off season had better go with an open mind, regarding the services being offered during this time. This is one case where research should be done to see if this is what you want for your vacation... aafter the renos are complete, I fully expect Brisas to be back to it's old wonderful self...with a new look!
Las Brisas Guardalavaca
Ray & Deb 
Calgary, Alberta
April 2006
What a gem of a resort. My wife and I just returned from Las Brisas Guardalavaca on Monday Apr.3/06, and quite honestly I don't understand where all the negative reviews come from. Did you stay at the same resort we did?. Now having said that everyones taste is quite different so I'll leave it at that. The following is our review of Las Brisas and our vacation:

Flight: Flew with Skyservice from Calgary. Absolutly no issues at all. Lots of leg room for both of us, but can understand if your a taller person. Food is average but its airline food, its all average. Arrival was drawn out in Holguin, but that is because of the size of airport. Took over a hour to get luggage, but again its a small airport. Transfer to the resort was flawless. Takes about 1 hour from Holguin to Las Brisas.

Check-in: Went very well. No issues here.

Room: We were booked into a Villa room but found out latter that we were given a Villa suite at no extra charge. Don't know why. Was great. Had a ocean view and was close to the beach and market. Rom was very clean when we checked and our maid kept it spotless all week. Saw 1 insect on the last day, a ant however I'm sure he came in on 1 of us from the balcony.

Resort: The resort itself is fabulous. It is well laid out, if you are in the villas or in the hotel section. You can use the facilities either way. There are numerous bars in both sections. The buffet restarants have something for everyone. If you can't find something to eat here maybe Cuba's not the place for you. Roberto's pizza's are great. The 2 al a carte restarants are very good, the seafood one is the best I think. If you like Italian you will enjoy the 2nd al a catre which is the I talian rest. Snack bars a good but again limited to burgers, hot dogs sandwiches.Lobby bar is a a great place to relax or unwind over a Las Brisas or a coffee after a busy day.

Staff: What can I say about the staff except wonderful. There was not 1 staffer we walked by, passed by, or was served by that didn't offer up a smile or a friendly "Hola mi Amigo".

Beach: If you like to snorkel or suba dive this is the resort for you. Apparently it is great. My wife and I do neither but we know people that do and it is great. Swimming not so much. The beach is slightly rocky and weedy. You can swim but its not Varadero. There is a boardwalk that separates the resort from the beach but its not a issue. Take a walk down the boardwalk to the local market. You'll find some wonderful gifts for friends or family. The merchants change daily so it kind of different each day.

Check-out: It was a breeze. No problems at all. Again long line ups at the airport but again its small. Lots of people.

Overall: This is a wonderful resort for all types and ages of people. There is always something going on. If you have never been to Holguin consider Las Brisas. Sidebar to this review. If you want a fun excursion try the day trip to Santiago de Cuba. Its a long bus trip ut well worth it when you get to the city.