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Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Robert 

September 2008
Just returned from a trip to Brisis Santa Lucia.

Yes I did have a good time.
I will only talk about the positive things I found about this resort.

Room.
We were in the 1500 block of rooms. We were happy with our room. The bathtub was in need of replacement. But the rest was OK.

We were friendly with the maid after giving her a few gifts.
Because we were staying for two weeks, she suggested that we change rooms in the 1500 block to a room with better air conditioning. Boy was she right. I had to turn it to half power to stop from shivering at night. It was way better than our original room.

We had to pay extra for the use of the safe. The first room did not have a key for the room safe, so we had to use one of the safes near reception.
That was a bit of a pain, but the second room had a safe we could use.

Pool.
The pool was nice. Was clean for the most part, even though it was packed with people each day.
You had to pay 20 pesos for towels. But it is returned when you leave. You have to keep your receipt so you can return it with your towel.

We almost lost our receipt. But it was found after some searching.

Beach.
Beach was awesome. Yes there was a lot of sea grass washed up every day. But it was cleaned almost every day. Even after cleaning, there was still some grasses left over. You do have to walk a long distance out to reach deeper waters, but out there, there is no sand. Mostly sea grass, and you're never sure if there are urchins out there. Most days the water was crystal clear.
We got missed by two hurricanes, and a few days it was windy and the water was cloudy. We actually walked, on the beach, for about 2 hours to the West and still could keep walking for at least another few hours to reach Coco beach. We only walked for about an hour the opposite direction, but I'm sure you could keep walking forever.

This resort is near the second longest coral reef in the world. Let me tell you, it is worth the trip to get to the reef no matter where.

You can actually see the waves crashing over the reef from the beach. My friend and I thought you could swim out to it. But after asking locals if it was possible, they all said it wasn't.
It only looks about 1km. away. If you Google Earth it, it shows 1.5km.
So off we went for a swim. We weren't even sure it was the reef. We were determined to make it to the crashing waves, just to investigate what was causing it. I was sure we were going to be swimming out to a large sand bar. Much to our surprise, it was a fantastic coral reef. Boy OH boy was it beautiful. It took us about an hour and a half to swim to it, we explored for about two hours and swam back.
We were dead tired, but very happy for venturing out. So many fish and coral formations. We saw two huge Barracudas and plenty of other brightly colored fish. The water only reached a maximum of about 25 feet most of the way there. And it only stayed 25 feet deep for a short period of time.

The complimentary trip to the reef was great as well.
There is a place about 5km away from the resort to the East where the reef is only 150 meters off the beach.

We met Pepe who ownes a horse and carriage. It's white with a sombrero over the spot where he drives from. Pepe made out trip. He was very friendly and happy. He took us to Coco beach, and the place where the beach is close to the coral reef. He only lives 1 minute away from there. He also took us to Coco beach. If you get a chance, take a trip with Pepe.

There is a very nice Cigar shop on site. They have very good prices, and the lady who works there is very nice and helpful. I stocked up for at least another year. The cigar shop gets a 5 star rating from me. They also had a cigar roller on site for one day. I asked him to roll me a cigar, and he gave me a free one. These were very impressive. A very nice cigar. I only wish he was there another day. Because I had to let them sit for two days before I smoked them. After smoking them, I wished I had bought a dozon more. For 2.5 pesos you can't go wrong. The were almost on par with Cohiba.

Coffee Bar was a God send. I loved the coffee there. I enjoyed many nights there drinking coffee and talking.

The resort has many cats roaming around. I love cats and loved petting them. They ask you not to feed them, because they don't want them around. But I liked them.

The resort is actually closed now for two months for repairs. I understand this is a regular happening. We were the last tourists in the resort. The plane that came to pick us up, came from Toronto empty.

We were very lucky being missed by two hurricanes. From what I understand Camaguey was hit hard after we left. I don't think I'll travel to the Carribean again in August.

Twice lucky.

For the most part this was an enjoyable vacation.

Don't think I'll return to Cuba again.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Sil & Ana 
Toronto
August 2008
Arrival and Flight – Arrived Sat. Aug 26 & left Aug 2, West Jet. Nolitours Package

Rooms – The rooms were clean but if you are looking for air conditioning then you are out of luck. The fan runs but the room is probably 1 or 2 degrees lower than outside temperature. We actually switched rooms after second day. Water was leaking through the ceiling when the people above us were taking a shower. At 1st the lady at the front counter said she had no rooms available, I could believe that so I asked to call the manager since she didn’t care about our situation & all of a sudden there were 2 empty rooms in the same building available. We were in block 5.

Restaurants – DON”T EAT AT ITALIAN RESTURANT. We eat there on our last night & I have never been so sick in my life. I couldn’t believe that a resort would serve food that would make a person so sick. It was the worst thing that could happen especially since we were leaving the next day & I had to travel in that condition. We spoke to other guests while we were waiting for the bus to take us to the airport & there were a lot of people that got sick that week. A couple of people said they were in the hospital twice.

Bars – They were ok expect for the fact that the local people do not know were the back of the line is. You could be in line for 5 or 10 minutes & these people walk up & think that it is their right to go to the front of the line & get served 1st.

Beach and Pools — Beach was nice, that is were he hung out most of the time. I watched a Cuban mother pimp her own daughter to the guy next to me for a day while we were at the beach, it was sad to see such a young girl be rented out like that. There was so much of that going on at this resort.

As for the pool I wouldn’t even dip my toe into it. There were probably 20 to 30 kids in it all the time. I don’t think they were leaving the pool to go to the bathrooms.

Grounds – They try to keep them neat & clean but without any grass things always look dirty. The gardener who took care of grounds outside our building kept bothering us everyday trying to sell us stuff. I guess him & his wife have scam going on. She works in the store at the resort & would tell us to see what we like in the store but don’t buy it; he told us to let him now what we wanted & he would get it for us. I can say we didn’t buy anything off this character. We used to have to look out 1st to see where he was so that we would leave thru another door of the building so we wouldn’t be hounded by this guy. He was unbelievable. We were in building #5.

Activities and Entertainment – Wasn’t too impressed with the shows.

Tours – Snorkeling tour was nice.

Departure and Check Out – It was a long day especially after being poisoned by the food. Check out was at 2pm & the bus wasn’t scheduled to pick us up until 4:30pm.

Conclusion – My wife & I were in Cuba before at a different resort & we loved it, which is why we went back. I have to say that with the experience we had this time we will not be going back. The people have changed. They are not as friendly as they were 8 years ago. The only one who was sincere was the horse & buggy taxi driver named Ramon, he took us around & he was a very nice man to talk to, the rest of the staff were rude & would ignore you most of the time.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Connie & Cliff 

August 2008
We always said we wouldn't write a review because it really is personal preferences in the end. However, this resort needs to be mentioned.

My husband and I stayed here from July 12 to 19/08. This was our 4th trip to Cuba, a country we've fallen in love with, mainly because of it's people, with whom we've made friends, and for the wonderful, organic food and fresh seafood, not to mention the beautiful beaches.

However, we would not recommend this resort and would rate it well below the previous 3 and 4 Star resorts we've visited (Tryp Cayo Coco, Jibacoa and Fallaron).

Although many of the staff were lovely, there was a distinct feeling of discrimination against the non-Cuban tourists. You were blatantly ignored if trying to get served at the pool bar. If lined up at the other bars, and a Cuban guest came along, they were served ahead of you. Sorry, we are all paying guests - we should be treated the same.

The food was repetitive, vegetables non-existent, and only bananas and pineapple for fruit. The buffet was a mess with very few utensils shared amongst all dishes. We feel they do not have the resources in this part of Cuba to support this resort.

The staff at this hotel are worked to death - we talked with several who said they were working 20 out of 24 hours a day for several days straight. A wonderful young chef was working 26 days straight, before getting 6 off. Apparently there is new management - they need to make some humane changes. It's understandable that the staff aren't happy to see you in the morning. They were exhausted. We felt like we were uninvited guests.

Also, unlike the other three resorts, there is blatant prostitution on the beach - with the girls waiting in the water under the wooden rafts - calling to the men on the beach.There were also several older Canadian men who had hired Cuban girls for the week. And there was persistent badgering and hustling to buy stuff on the beach while security turned their heads the other way.

The grounds are a mess and there are feral cats wandering (right into the beach side restaurant) - one was dead outside our room one morning.

This resort is corrupt and we would not recommend it.
Please note that on all trips to Cuba we tip a lot and we always bring extra suitcases filled with gifts and leave our clothes, etc, behind as well. We understand this is a poor country, but feel badly for the poor Cubans who have to work at this particular resort.

We talked to a LOT of people who felt the same way, many who ended up ill during that week. I'd recommend anywhere but here!
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Peter 

August 2008
Arrival & Flight: We (my girlfriend and I) arrived Saturday, July 19th. It was my very first flight and I never did fully relax. I did enjoy seeing the Bahamas, from the air, for the very first time. I enjoyed the sandwich and snack. Went with Nolitours, who provided us with a bottle of rum. (Too bad Iʼm a non-drinker.) The charter was West Jet.

Rooms: Both our rooms were clean. We switched from a room on the second floor of one villa (There are several villas of two to three stories.) to a room on the ground floor of another villa. The first room the key to the safe had been lost. Turned out to be a very good switch. We were next to the ocean and there was usually a breeze blowing. We spent a lot of time sitting on the porch. (Each room had a porch or balcony.) The air conditioning wasnʼt the greatest. Had to put a towel by the door to keep out the crabs (of the animal variety). A flower was left on each of our beds when they were made up. Water was okay for showering and brushing your teeth, but drinking water is piped in from 40 kilometres away. You had to go to the bars or the restaurant for drinking water.

Restaurants: We only ate in the main dining room. The food was okay, but not great. They lacked variety. My girlfriend loves mangoes, but they werenʼt always available. We did not have an opportunity to try the other restaurants.

I received a first hand report from a couple, who ate in the Italian restaurant, of food poisoning. The husband ate something (forget what) that his wife didnʼt. As a result he got food poisoning, but she didnʼt. He told me that others, who ate there, also got food poisoning. The transfer of food from the main dining room to the Italian restaurant was not the best, he says. My girlfriend got food poisoning from a bad mango the last day.

Bars: They were a place for getting water. We did use the coffee bar for coffee (My girlfriend highly recommends the Spanish coffee.) and hot chocolate. We also used the bar near the lobby to get coffee.

Beach & Pool: Loved both. I went snorkeling in the shallow water. Saw many small fish. It was neat. I really enjoyed it. You really need beach shoes to go swimming in the ocean due to coral that lies scattered on the bottom. There are platforms for lounging on, which I never used. (No interest.) The pool was not too big, but nice. Great to just go to the side and step in without freezing your butt off as you do at pools in Canada. The one bad thing is loud music was played at times. It needed to be toned down a bit.

Activities & Entertainment: We didnʼt go to any, but we heard the floor show each night. They tended to play the same songs over and over again. The music seemed to be canned and North American, not Cuban. It became a bit of a joke after a while.

At lunch and dinner local musicians would play. Two days before we left for home this duet played and sang. Fortunately they did so again at our last meal there. They were great. We gave them a nice tip and bought their CD. Theyʼre called Hermanos Pena. Well worth a stay at Oasis Brisas just to hear these guys.

Tours: The coral reef snorkeling tour we didnʼt go on as I took sick. Would have loved to have gone on it. Did take the Colonial Camaguey Tour and the Crocodile Farm Tour. Both were very good and I highly recommend them. The tour bus was better air conditioned then our room. We also took the free tour of Santa Lucia that ran most days. Gave you a feel for how the locals lived. (Cuba is a poor country.) It was became a bit of parade as some of those on the tour, including my girlfriend, had items to hand out to the local children.

Departure & Check Out: Check out is at 14:00. However, you could make arrangements with the maid to stay in your room longer. We stayed until 16:00, which gave us more time for swimming and then cleaning up. We paid her 10 pesos, plus some left over items. I was able to relax more on my flight home.

Conclusion: While I enjoyed my holiday, I would have enjoyed it better had I not gotten sick. I came down with probably bronchitis five days after I arrived. I had been sick twice with bronchitis or some other lung infection since the beginning of June, the last I only recovered from about a week before I left. I believe the heat and humidity combined with my weakened immune system triggered my illness. I lost three full days due to it. The rest I was recovering.

Oasis Brisas is okay if you want quiet and you donʼt mind okay food. Itʼs also a place to go to if your budget is very limited. I liked the people. Most of the staff there were very nice. When I took sick most asked about my health.

I would readily go back to Cuba, but not necessarily this hotel. Iʼm tempted to go back in a few years as there is a new hotel that will construction is supposed to start on this September (2008). Iʼm told it will have the same number of rooms of all the hotels at Santa Lucia combined. Hopefully this hotel will be a big improvement over the Oasis Brisas.

It was my first visit to Cuba. I found it fascinating. My girlfriend has been there three times now. She also happens to be fluent in Spanish, which was a big help.

I fell in love with a Cuban cutie, whom I had to leave behind. Okay so this cutie had a tale, whiskers, retractable claws, teeth, a great jumper and very intelligent. It was one of many hotel cats used to keep down the rat population. (We did not see any rats.) We called her our Cuban friend.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Joel 
Canada (Toronto Ontario)
June 2008
Arrival and Flight:
Arrived on Saturday with West Jet (nolita tours). Flight was good (usual flight) with a sandwich as the meal etc. Wasn’t hungry but tried to keep the sandwich for the travel (90 minutes from airport to hotel) to the hotel. No luck, eat the sandwich because customs will make you throw it out.

Rooms:
The room was just a place to put the clothing and go back to rest a bit. The air conditioner wasn’t that strong so going back to the room was a brief respite from the heat but after walking from the doorway to the bed you would be warm. I actually took off the faceplate of the air conditioner control and played around a bit to make it a bit colder in the room (already had it maxed out). It got cleaned every day etc. The bad part was that the water went out for about a day so there was some floaters in the toilet. Also the shower didn’t work at the time either (had to fill up water bottles just to wash our hands).

Restaurants:

1) Main buffet: food was okay (better than Varedero when I stayed there). Although after a couple of days you really start to miss your vegetables. Breakfast is eggs (scrambled, omelette, boiled) bacon and some other mystery meats and some others things (although the fruit smoothies were pretty good). Lunch is fried fish, some chicken, some potatoes and a few other things as well. Dinner was pretty much some fried fish, maybe some chicken, or pork or some other meat. Most of the time each meal was the same every day.

2) Seafood restaurant: have to book it. Everyone said it was the best of the three (Cuban and Italian). Of course the best part was ordering the chicken since the other options weren’t that great.

3) Cuban: didn’t bother going after hearing what some of the other guests were saying about it.

4) Italian restaurant: ended up walking out with another family.

Bars:
The coffee bar was great. A couple of choices for coffee’s but nothing iced. Every morning I would have my espresso with rum and at night I would have a couple more. It was by far the best one. Mojito’s were hard to come by because they didn’t have much mint and when they did get some it went quickly. As for the rest of the bars the service really was terrible. Generally waited for about 5 minutes or more for a drink even if there was one person ahead of me ordering a drink (very slow service). If you see three or more people at the bar you are better waiting at the table you are at until the line thins out a bit. Tipping didn’t help either (although it seemed the bar staff expected a tip for every drink regardless of how the service was).

Beach and Pool:
Didn’t spend much time at the pool…. Not with the beach. Yes there is seaweed, both on the shore and in the water. The later in the day it is the more seaweed there will be. On the other hand, it’s the ocean so what can you expect? If you want the clear beach and stuff go to Varadero (haven’t been to Holguin or any other place yet to compare). It was pretty easy to get shade on the beach which is a good thing. The water was nice and warm and I pretty much spent most of my time on the beach or in the water. Also of note, it was quite refreshing sitting at the side of the ocean (there was a cool breeze always coming off of the water) and quite a noticeable difference in temperature from there to the pool area (about 100 meters away). Plenty of lounge chairs as well so that was good too. It’s a good vacation if you just want to sit at the beach all day long.

Activities and Entertainment:
Took the tour of the local area… I highly recommend you don’t. Not too much to see. Entertainment…. Well, never really bothered to watch the shows that they put on so I can’t say anything about it.

Tours:
Did the snorkeling tour of the coral reef. If you get motion sickness, it’s not good for you to go (seems every trip had someone throwing up). If you don’t get sea sick then I would recommend it. It was quite a good trip, see the reefs, the fish etc. The guide brought out some fish heads to feed the local fish and on the way back he dove in to show us some live starfish. Would recommend that. Also if you have the money and time the scuba diving tour is good as well. Didn’t go on any other tours although I did hear about some of them. Mainly the big problem was about heat.

Departure and Checkout:
Well, for myself the checkout times weren’t bad. Gave time for one last dip, a couple of drinks or whatever. The worst part was the two hour wait between checkout and bus pick up. There was one group that had an early flight (7 am) so they actually had to get picked up at 2:30 am. Careful when booking so you get maximum time.

Conclusion:
I would rather check out other places in Cuba for my next visit. I have been to Varadero before and would rather go there then to return to this place. From everyone else that I ran into that had been to Cuba before they would do the same thing. Although the price was good, I would rather spend the extra hundred or two to go somewhere else.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Tina & Jon 
Montreal
June 2008
Arrival and Flight - Arrived late Friday, June 20, flew in with WestJet (Nolitours package). First time flying with WestJet and by far once of the best airlines to fly with. We received complimentary snacks which consisted of a sandwich, crackers, cheese, and a butter tart. Drinks as usual were also offered. We received everything promised by Nolitours being the part of the Cameleon Club. We also received a bottle of rum in our room which was a gift from Nolitours, all of our Nolitour group received this as well. You must read the pamphlet that Jorge (Nolitours rep) gives you, its very detailed as to when the things promised in your package are being offered. Great job Nolitours and WestJet!

Rooms - The rooms were very clean and basic. They’re some traces of water leaks, but, we are not here for the rooms. Overall, it was all good.

Restaurants - This is where we get a little disappointed. We are not picky eaters, but, breakfast was not a winner with us…always the same eggs, omelets or pancakes. We mainly had lunch at the snack bar over by the beach.

They served hotdogs (pretty tasty), hamburgers, fish & chip (also good) and fries. Supper was a bigger improvement at the buffet, a lot more variety and they had a lot of pork, fish, and chicken. They also had a stand that made little pizzas and pasta (big winner for the kids). We tried the Italian, it was okay, but, nothing too fancy.

Bars - Pool bar --Service is quite slow, but, overall it was ok. We always managed to get our drinks, even if we waited 10-15 minutes to get them.

Lobby bar was quicker, sometimes, but the best one would have to be the one at the snack bar, its almost as if people don’t know its there, so it was very fast. The coffee bar was always our favorite. Great cappucinos and you must try the Spanish coffee, you will adopt it.

Beach and Pools - The beach was not as nice I expected it to be. There was a lot of seashells, and branches in the sand, and in the water. Maybe we didn’t visit the right part of Cuba, but, we were not impressed. We always managed to get poked in and out of the water. The locals are very annoying, they get past the guards and constantly harass you for clothing. They are not selling you anything, they are just selling you there self pity which is not fair. The minute you tell them no, they walk away cursing at you in Spanish…so I don’t think they deserve anything. The ones that work on the resort are the real champs, they choose to work even if they don’t make much, they don’t ask or beg you for anything, and they are the ones that deserve any charities. So if you have any clothing or toiletries you can bring, they are much more deserving and grateful. The pool could use some work, but, it served the purpose just fine. We could always find chairs under the umbrellas. Grounds - The grounds could use some work, but, nice just the same. It still looked like heaven to us.

Activities and Entertainment - The kids liked the kids club, they had computers, and all kinds of games to keep them busy. The entertainment staff, was also pretty good. We have to say that at the beginning of the week, it started off quiet, which was great. Wonderful way to totally disconnect from everything. Other resorts usually have loud music and it can get nerve-racking. Towards the end of the week, the music started and so did the activities, at this point we’d had several days to relax so it was welcomed.

Tours - We had a Coral tour included and that was wonderful for all who can handle high tides. It was a beautiful trip, just not for me! I guess me and the high tides didn’t get along.

We take a taxi for $6 pesos to Coco beach about 15 minutes, and that beach was amazing!! Beautiful, clean, cooler water, more refreshing, and hassle free. We were approached by a lady to buy jewelry and we weren’t ready for her so we asked her to come back and she did. Also approached by Sandor to have a Lobster or Pork lunch at his home, and this is a MUST! You will not regret it. We all opted for the Lobster. We also had fried plantain bananas, rice, and a tomotoes/cucumber salad (we couldn’t even get tomatoes at the resort). We were 10 people and ate like Kings for $65 pesos. You are lucky if one of us could eat like that in Montreal. Best meal of the entire trip.

Departure and Check Out - Check out was fairly quick, but, waiting for the bus was a little long when you are not in your bathing suit!!! It was soo hot, we’d go into the Internet room at the reception to cool off. Our flight was delayed about 30 minutes, but, it wasn’t so bad.

Conclusion - This was our first trip to Cuba and we are not sure we’d return. Vacation is what you make it, for the price we paid, it wasn’t all that bad, we were 3 adults and 2 kids ($3400 all in). We got out of town, relaxed, kids had a blast, and that’s what it was all about. We met a lot of great people that we hope to keep in touch with and had lots of fun! Having stayed at an Oasis chain in Cancun, this one was definitely not what we expected. Would we return? Probably, not.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Karen 
Toronto
May 2008
Arrival and Flight
Nolitours flight with Sunwing. Flight OK, sandwich OK, staff very good. $5.99 for choice of movie on your personal tv - satellite channels for free. Don't buy beer outside the bus when you arrive in Cuba, the bus guy will sell 2 beers for $5 on the bus which is much cheaper. You can get it for $1 a can if you go to the departures area, but I didn't think that it was worth the hassle.

Bus ride OK. Massive line up for rooms. Remember rooms are already assigned, so let the line go down while you sit relax and have a drink in the comfy chairs. I did think that they'd have more than 2 or 3 staff on duty to check you in or set up tables divided by last names or something when they know there's 3 bus loads coming in at once.

Rooms
Renovated bathroom (see photos), but new showerhead sprayed water out the side and soaked the bathroom. New mattresses, sheets & pillows. Fridge, safe and tv worked. Safe cost $14 for the week. New reclining mesh sun chairs on balcony, but it was too hard to open the door to get out there. Zero bugs in room - we were 2nd floor. Furniture dated, but served the purpose. We had room 1324, it was nice and quiet. Maid kept things spotless and appreciated 1 CUC everyday, she seemed to prefer money over gifts.

We got a bottle of dark rum in our room first day and we don't know why. We thought that it was the free gift from Nolitours, but no-one else that we spoke to got one.

You cannot drink the water in your room. It's fine for everything else though. We had brought a water bottle with us from Toronto airport so we just kept that refilled from the bars or the buffet and it was not a big deal.

Restaurants

Buffet: Wine undrinkable, but a nice cold servesa always goes down well. Limited, but we could always find something to eat. Some people didn't find the pizza, pasta and smoothie stations to the far right of the door when you come in, the rest of the buffet is on the left side so it's a strange layout. Pasta station is not made to order, just 2 types of pasta put in big trays one with white sauce and one with tomato then you add you own raw onions, peppers and grated cheese. Thin crust pizza didn't look like much, but it was extremely tasty. You would probably find the buffet repetitive if you put a bit of everything on your plate every time. I only had dinner here 1 night, but lunch almost everyday. The grill was good and had fresh fish, chicken breasts, chicken stirfry, pork chops, liver & onions (really good). They cook one thing on the grill and as soon as it's gone they switch to something else. They quite often had tabasco at the grill only other sauces were sweet ketchup and mustard. Salads were OK, rarely saw tomatoes and only vinaigrette dressings available. They did have lettuce everyday which hasn't always been my experience in Cuba. The only thing I tried that I didn't like was what turned out to be spam meatballs. I had to admit the food was pretty tasty for Cuba.
Lunch is only 12:30pm to 2pm and they close sharp. Dinner is 6:30pm to 9:30 or 10 if a flight comes in.

Snack bar: fries are good, they fry fish at noon and 2pm and it's very good when it's fresh. Hamburgers are made of ham - this seemed to surprise people, there were no beefburgers. Hotdogs were OK. At lunch time there was a small salad buffet set up too. If you want snacks after 5pm you have to go to the coffee bar for cookies/cakes or the lobby bar for little finger sandwiches.

TIP: to book a la cartes go to the lobby when everyone else is in the briefing session with the rep. I went at 9:30 to wait and the guy came early at 9:45 and I was first in line with maybe 4 people behind me. After the briefing ended it was a mess of people getting towels and reservations.

Seafood: Shrimp skewers were good - nothing else was very edible. Tropical Tuna starter was runny tuna salad on top of a big slice of pineapple. Seafood soup had no seafood in it or much taste.

Italian: Service was practically non-existent. Took 1/2 hour to get appetisers and it was like pulling teeth to get a refill on wine. Food was good though, we had shrimp pizza and spaghetti bolognaise.

Cuban: Fish salad was just chopped up fish salad served in a glass. Soup was good farmhouse style soup. Lamb is stew or possibly mutton, but quite tasty. Pork is pork loin with a very nice flavour. Didn't see the beef. Icecream desert was nice.
Wine slightly more drinkable at a la cartes and lobby bar I think rather than buffet. Went to the seafood restaurant at the end of the pier just to the left of the resort's beach. We had a 4 course lobster dinner with wine for CUC$25 each - service and food was excellent and there was a lot of it (see photo). They probably had cheaper things on the menu too. I'd recommend it.

Bars
Coffee bar - awesome. No they don't have iced coffee and don't get mad at the staff because they don't know what you're talking about. If you want Starbucks then don't come to Cuba! Teas (black, camomile or herbal), cappuccino, espresso or specialty coffees - Spanish is great. Nice areas with big new umbrellas to escape the sun for a bit and it's right next to the pool if you don't.

Service a bit slower than I'm used to but not too bad unless you mistime it as the end of the show or something. Pretty limited selection, but if you're that bothered bring your favourite bottle down with you or buy some at the store. Chilean wine that is $11ish here was $6.58 there and they had a good selection of other brand name booze at decent prices too. Cans of beer $1 each if you want them in your room. There is no orange juice at the bars, but you could take some from the buffet in the morning if you really wanted some or buy some at the store.

Beach and Pools
Never a problem getting shade or beds. Towels are $10 paid at reception, get 2 receipts, one goes in your safe, the other is kept at the towel hut. When you return both receipts at reception you get your money back. Good system, stops towel theft I suspect.

Nice beach. Shallow sea especially at low tide - good for kids though. Pool OK, could use a paint job. New beds at beach and pool. Big new umbrellas at pool.

Grounds
They're really working on these, but still have a ways to go. I liked the layout of things, not too far to anything. Thanks to this site we had printed & brought a map which really helped:-) The signs on the resort are wrong! The Cuban a la carte is now at the SW corner of the resort not the NE. A lovely group of gardeners took us there in the end. There is no sign up even outside the door. I suspect that this is the piano bar at night opens at 11pm. Turn left at block 13 and follow the path to the little courtyard with chairs outside.

Activities and Entertainment
If I hear "Compania" one more time I will go insane! Probably great for kids, but not my thing. Didn't really watch shows so I can't really comment. Piano bar doesn't open until 11pm and the disco is being rebuilt on the east side of the resort near the beach, so you'd have to go nextdoor for $5 drinks inc.

Massage - Half price for Nolitours so $20 for an hour isn't bad. You get what you pay for, he doesn't know anything but a light fluffy massage and if you ask him to focus on a certain area he doesn't. Also constant interruptions, phone and people knocking on the door not good. You have to book at the room so you have to find him there - east side of the resort same building as the gym and nurse, but the door is on the outside of the building on the south side.

Tours
Nolitours included coral tour was well worth doing, snorkelling was fun. Snorkelling at the resort was good too, we saw all the usual plus a stingray, 4 jackknife fish together, squadron shrimp in the anenomies, starfish and a small sharp tailed eel (looks like a snake but isn't so don't panic). Best snorkelling was past the white buoy furthest to the right about 50 feet out and curve around the low reef there to the right.

Didn't do it, but thought that the trip to Camaguey on the last day seemed like a good idea. You check out before you leave, take your luggage on the bus and then at the end of the day they take you straight to the airport. We dove with Shark's Friends and they were a pretty well run outfit with good equipment and staff. My regs started free-flowing so I used their regs and they were fine, they didn't even charge me for it. CUC$30 per dive then slightly cheaper for every one after that. Liked short boat rides to divesites, hated steel tanks and getting into the boat. We didn't do the shark dive, but spoke with a couple who did and said that it was good and they saw 3 sharks. Obviously they can't always guarantee that you will see sharks.

Departure and Check Out
Easy.

Conclusion
For $676 inc. taxes each how could you go wrong??? We were impressed for the money, it was very good value. A solid 3.5 star. Many rooms are still unrenovated, so this would have made a difference I'm sure. This was my 13th trip to Cuba it not the best, but not the worst and the cheapest one yet. Pay double and go to the Mayan to get more choices and better food, but the beaches aren't as nice in my experience. We also had 7 days of perfect weather which always helps. Apparently the resort has really improved in the last 6 months and there are many more changes and improvements planned.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Tracey 

May 2008
This is our second trip to Brisas and found most of the changes a great improvement.

There were several things that I came across this time that I have never come across in Cuba before. This being my 5th time there. READ CAREFULLY and beware.

We were getting ready to leave and check out and came across an employee literally rifling through someone's small carry on bag, which they must have left in the front lobby waiting to go. this really disturbed me and was so surprised that it caught me off guard. When I realized what was happening I did go back but he was already gone...very disturbing.

The final things happened at the airport when we were checking our luggage. The girl behind the county said to me very apologetically that they did not have 3 seats together. Our 10 year old daughter was with us and I asked if they had a least 2 seats together and was then asked if I had any Cuban pesos left that I would be changing back into Canadian, after I said no they suddenly found us three seats together. My husband starting asking some of the other people and I guess they pulled this off with a few of them, several said they did pay 5 pesos for them to find seats together. Secondly, the one customs officer (women, quite attractive) could not have been any ruder if she tried. While putting the carry on through the x-ray machine the fellow in front of us got his bag stuck and she literally punched it through and then yelled at him "I told you where to put it" and then gave him a really dirty look.

Finally, when we started to board the same girl was at the doors and we and several other families were in the wrong line, so after we all stood there like dummies, I asked if we could go in the other line and with a very smug look on her face and just pointed. I very sternly said something along the line of I guess it would have been to much to tell us that in the first place. She was ready to let us stand there like idiots. When we walked out the doors she and one of the other customs officer started cat calling after us.

I absolutely love Cuba, I have always found the majority of people to be so friendly and unfortunately these few will ruin it for every one.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Paula 

April 2008
Brisas Santa-Lucia was for my boyfriend & I, an economical choice. The low-priced package (about 1500$ tx inc) for the week is what made us choose the hotel/flight carrier. And you get what you pay for! We stayed at the Brisas Santa Lucia from March 13th to March 20th.

About the flight
We arrived at the airport around 3:30 am Thursday morning (for our 6:00 flight, we hadn’t pre-booked our seats). So we thought there would be no one at the air transat check-in. We were cruelly wrong… Our flight was leaving an hour later (7:00am), and there was a mega line up at the air transat counters. There were 5-6 flights leaving around the same time, and we were all in the same line…when we finally got to the counter we were lucky to get a seat together (the window seats were all already taken, please note that 4 days before the flight I checked the online seats availability and half the seats were still available…). It was 6:12 am by the time we finally got to the gates…

The takeoff & flight was very smooth, the landing was shakier because of all the wind.

On the way back, the ride was a bitter bumpier (mostly in the beginning), again because of the wind.

The food was okay, they gave us a bagel some philly, and an orange juice. On the way back we had a cheese pizza.

About the airport-hotel transfer
It’s a 1h30 bus ride. Passes by rather quickly.

Funny anecdote; our bus after making a stop, lost its 2nd and 3rd gear, the driver had to push it in 1st to then get it into 4th …

Other than that you just get disoriented by the scenery =)

Regarding the overall aspect of the Hotel:
Just for the info: the hotel is now part of the Globalia Group hotel chain since December 2007 («following the strategy in expansion and development Oasis Hotels & Resorts»).

Therefore it is undergoing renovations. Probably to try to regain its ancient glory (this used to be a very beautiful 4 star resort), and to satisfy to the myriad of «four stars» signs all over the resort.

Nonetheless, the public/general areas are surprisingly gorgeous and well-kept. Though you should not expect it to be the Garden of Eden (since the grass was more yellow and dried out than green) it still was a nice walk from the lobby to the room.

The pool was very clean except for the last few days because of the wind.

The resort has 3 bars; the lobby bar (4 Vientos), the pool bar, and the beach bar (El Caribe). They all offer very good service and pretty much the same drinks. However; the lobby bar has a blender and offers better drinks. In my opinion the Pina Colada (crushed ice, pina colada mix) of the lobby was amazing compared to the juice you get at the pool/beach bar. The Mojito seemed to be a difficult drink to get…the excuse we were given; ‘the herb is not good enough to make a decent mojito’. So if you want a mojito, get it early because there will be no more ‘good herb’ come night time guaranteed (unless things have changed in the last few weeks).

Overall; it’s not quite yet a 4 star hotel. But, from what we have seen of the other hotels (we saw the Gran Club, the Caracol, the Mayanabo), it looks like our hotel was the nicest, cleanest, and the generally well maintained one. At some point during our stay we met an intriguing personage who previously stayed at the Gran club. Apparently it used to have the nicest rooms, but when he came back this march he changed hotels, it seems Brisas now has the nicest rooms… Who knows we all have different tastes, expectations, and experiences …

About the Room:
Unfortunately we did not have the chance to get a newly renovated room…

We had asked for a king bed in our package…instead we got an air-condition lacking, two beds small room. It really does get small when you have two suitcases on the floor…Even tough the building was old, and the furniture had signs of wear (it was screaming to get replaced, especially for a 4 star hotel want-to-be), the room was kept very clean by the maid. As far as the beds go, they were not comfortable at all; it seemed as tough the mattress was inexistent and my pillow cover was half covering the yellow, stained pillow…On top of that there was no mini-bar, and the safe in the room was not functional (the box was on the wall, but it had no lock…). So we had to get a safe next to the reception, no problems there.

At first it didn’t really bother us because we were just so happy to be in Cuba, we basically threw our stuff in the room and ran to the beach!

It was later in the day that we went at the reception desk and we asked for a room change, alas they said it was not possible…but they would send a staff member to fix our air conditioning problem. From what the manager at the reception told us there are only 11 rooms with a king bed… Don’t know if it is true but anyways they don’t seem to have caught the drift about king beds yet as the intriguing personage we met during our stay pointed out, to which we all (us + a couple we met) seemed to agree… Anyways, to come back to the air conditioning it effectively got fixed; except it was fixed in reverse! The low flow was high flow and vice-versa… Well at least we had air conditioning!

The next day, we saw people leaving so we decided to try our luck again and ask for a room change. Finally! Success!! We moved from block 12 (1215) to block 11 (1113)! Big change? Right… Well the room was more spacious, we had a huge bed (which consisted basically of 2 single bed mattresses stacked together…), a mini fridge (old, but working), a safe (it was too late we had already paid for the one near the reception), air conditioning (functioning with the same strange problem as the previous one with everything in reverse).

The bathroom was the same from a room to another; there was one small sink (practically no counter space), a small & narrow bathtub, and a toilet. By the way if you want to take a bath, bring a bath plug!

During our stay we meet a bunch of people; the resort seemed to be running at full capacity. We met another couple who changed rooms from block 25 to block 2! Apparently the room they got was renovated, nice, comfortable, and had 2 sinks ;)! Maybe you’ll get lucky!

Anyways we were trying to spend the least time possible in our rooms…there was not much to do except to sleep. Plus we were having a blast at the beach & at the pool. With time we even got used to our room =)

Yes, there was the TV but there wasn’t much to see I think there was one French channel (TV5Monde Amérique Latine), HBO (in English, with Spanish subtitles, it was quite distracting to read the subtitles when you speak Spanish), CNN (in English, and a Spanish version), another Spanish news channel, and some other educational channels in Spanish (one with an English course!).

Regarding the restaurants :
They are 3 «À la carte»; the Italian (The Venetian), The Sea Food (Bohio Del Mar), The Cuban, a Buffet (Tubaquey), and a Snack Bar.

The Buffet; average, eatable and I think there is an effort to vary the menu (lunch & dinner time).

The breakfast buffet is open from 8:00 am to 10 am (except some days when people leave early thus opening at 7:00am). It’s always the same thing, eggs, pancakes, cereals…

Lunch time; from 12:00 to 2:00 pm.

Dinner; from 6:00 to … never found out ! lol

The snack bar is next to the pool, and the beach bar (Caribe). Even tough people say its 24hours, its not true !! It closes at 5pm… From 5pm to 11:00pm it becomes the sea food restaurant (Bohio del mar). We never had the munchies after dinner so I don’t know if it re-opens after being the sea food restaurant …

The Italian seems to be the one easiest to get reservation to. We got reservation to ours on the same night. The Food is average, but it’s okay. Note : Side dishes all come together, and what is written is what you get !

The Sea food; the pineapple/shrimp skewer was delicious!!! The rest was not that great, but at least they have chicken in their menu (which was average) for those who do not wish to take a chance.

The Cuban; we had the lamb; it was also delicious, very tender. The side dishes not that great… By the way; the Reservation desk for the restaurants is open from 10:00 am to 12:00, and is located in the lobby in front of the reception desk, right where you can see the red/white stained-glass windows. In our case, at 9:30 there was already a line up… and at 10:00 it was even worse… Be sure to make reservations rapidly; the sooner the better. Especially if you wish to try the 3 restaurants as places are limited (funny thing is when you go, you’ll find that half the restaurant is empty…shortage of staff maybe ?).

Concerning the Beach :
Playa Santa Lucia is very beautiful, even with the sea weeds. The water is rather shallow, you will have to walk quite a bit to get to deeper waters (but this seems to be the case with all the beaches in Cuba). The sand is not as fine as you would want it to be mainly because of all the branches and shells (especially after seeing the fine sand of playa Bonita, see below), but it is overall a 4/5 in my opinion.

About the Activities :
The entertainment Staff was awesome; there was a variety of activities near the beach or near the pool such as; ‘water football’, volleyball on the beach, to water polo, to bingo, to dance lessons… near the pool.

We only saw one night show; it was pleasant; most of it was dancing. The dancers were talented, the choreography was interesting, and the music was enjoyable.

You should also snorkel near the beach,

What excursions you should do while there? Here is my top 3;

- PLAYA BONITA (a catamaran excursion), a full day excursion costing 55 CUC / person. It’s totally worth it. The excursion includes a one hour snorkeling experience near the coral reef. The variety of sea species and corals you can see is amazing! It was a unique experience. By the way they provide everything; including a brand new, never used snorkel it’s a basic one but if you don’t want to buy/bring one, it works just fine ! After the snorkeling the catamaran drops you to Playa Bonita one of the 3 beaches of the «Cayo Sabinal» (a cay, on the eastern coast of Cuba, a natural habitat, apparently protected). Bonita beach is a breath taking, pristine stretch of beach. A must to see! Most of all the only people you will see there are the people you took the catamaran with and a few locals (at the bar playing cards…), so you will have the beach nearly to yourself! You can take a long walk alongside the water, it’s very romantic! Differing with the water of Playa Santa Lucia the water of Bonita beach is not shallow, thus a few meters in and the water is already belly high. A few meters further and the water is up to your shoulders while it still remains crystal clear, you can see still see your toes! =P En résumé: the sand is so white & fine, the water is so crystal clear, it’s as if you were looking at one of those post-card perfect beach pictures!

- The CORAL TOUR (another catamaran excursion). It’s basically the same as the first part of the Playa Bonita excursion; you have the opportunity to snorkel for an hour at the coral reef. It’s a 3hr ride (1hr to get there, 1 to snorkel, 1 to come back). Since we were with Nolitours (‘Cameleon Club’), it was included in our package. You know if it’s included might as well do it… If not included it was 25CUC/person. Unfortunately, the catamaran (for the coral tour, which is not the same one used for the playa Bonita excursion) was broken in the beginning of our stay, and the wind of the last 3 days made it impossible for us to do it.

- LOBSTER DINNER; be it at a local’s house (cheaper and a much more authentic), or at coco beach.

You can also do the day in Camaguey excursion, which we did not do, but from what we heard it was a very interesting and inspiring experience.

-->N.B. If there are no more places for the playa Bonita activity, you can access Cayo Sabinal by car (by paying a toll of course, plus the 70 CUC for the car rental)…Make sure you get the right directions (and bring your passports)!

--> There was a lot of wind the last days we were there; as a consequence all of the aquatic activities were canceled (catamarans rides, even water polo…). Renting a car is an interesting solution as long as you go with more than 2 people (it splits the costs!).

Some last tips :
--> The convertible peso aka CUC is a local currency, it only has value in Cuba, and it doesn’t have any value back in Canada! You can only change your Canadian dollar into CUC once in Cuba. You can change it at the Bank, the Cadecas, etc… We did not have time to change it at the airport. They are taking their sweet time even if there are only 2-3 people in front of you, you end up waiting 20mins, we experienced it when it was time to go back and we wanted to change CUC’s back into Canadian dollars. Anyways there’s a Cadeca at the Hotel. And by the way if you’re thinking of bringing US dollars there is a 10% charge to change them into CUCs, so don’t !

-->Credit cards are accepted and work as long as they are not issued by an American bank (ex: amex, etc). You can even withdraw money on your credit card even if you don’t have a PIN at the Cadeca (but the 10% charge applies, since they can’t charge your card in CUC they convert to US dollars…). At the end our stay we wanted to take out money that way but there was no signal that day. We returned the next morning; it took the cashier 5-6 tries to get it to work! The moral is: bring cash, less hassle!

-->You can bring gifts for the maid (I went and bought a ton of stuff for less than 20$ at Dollarama, including 6 little gift bags).

-->Bring your old shorts, t-shirts, caps or any type of clothing that just stacks up in your closet and you don’t want to wear anymore, a lot of vendors asked us for clothes instead of money as payment for what we wanted to buy… Staff, maids, locals also appreciate the gesture.

-->Be careful on buying cigars or rum other than from the shops. As someone there told us; the banana leaf cigar scam is quite popular. The rum may look like rum, but may not be rum when you get home or it’s not the 7 year old rum you expected …

-->At the Camaguey airport there is a duty free shop + 2 gift shops + 1 refreshment stand. So if you want to buy a ‘carton’ of cigarettes wait to get to the airport! They were 22.50 CUC (we had bought one from Shop Caracol for 37 CUC, we bought a 2nd one for that price!). The rum is a bit cheaper at the airport for ex; a 7 year old rum bottle was 11.90CUC at the shops, and was 11.75 CUC at the airport… Not that great of a saving…You will also find there some artifacts (same as some of the hotel ones) for cheaper, ex : I bought a really nice snail type of thing for 8 CUC and found the exact same thing at the duty free shop for 5 CUC… The 2 other gift shops also have interesting objects/artifacts. Chiefly one of them has huge collection of shot glasses (way better than the ones you can find at the hotel, in my opinion).

--> The day we arrived (Thursday) there was a nice collection of chokers (hematite ones, and shell ones) we did not bother to buy it thinking that we would have plenty of time during the week. Only some days there were no vendors at all, and we never saw the chokers / necklaces again after that… there were other style of necklace but no more hematite / shell ones. So gift shopping wise; you will easily find the outside market (local artifacts), the hotel shop, and the cigar shop (all near the lobby bar). You can also go to the Shop Caracol a 10 minute walk from the hotel (you can take a horse-taxi if ur lazy =P). Don’t bother following the signs that indicated ‘Centro Commercial’, it closed down (I don’t know if it’s temporary for repairs, renovations, or for good, anyways when we were there (13-20 march 2008), it was empty, there was nothing left but the credit cards stickers on the glass doors).

Oh, one last thing ; you can either bring your own beach towels or pay a 10 CUC deposit at the Beach club that you get back at the end of your stay…

A little anecdote on the towels; we brought ours; alas we forgot both of them on one of the lounge chairs near the pool on our last night. We only remembered it the morning of our departure while packing. So as soon as we remembered we went back to the chair we had left our towels on…But no luck there. They were gone. Sadness came, rushing into our hearts. We then decided to check at the reception desk, where the lost&found is supposed to be… No luck either…the woman at the desk quite rudely told us that everything that was lost & found always ended up there, so we could kiss goodbye our towels… (That we had from a previous Las Vegas trip). Anyways, we returned to the pool to say our goodbyes, when we stumbled on a man who was doing the morning pool maintenance. We asked him if he had found 2 towels the previous night ; ‘Si’ he answered , he went down a set of steps next to the pool, disappeared for a few seconds and came back up with our towels neatly folded ! The joy! The happiness! Ah… so a word of advice; if you loose something ask around!

In conclusion; we had a great time, we met some incredible people (locals & tourists), and «the equipa de animación» were great at their job!

I hope this helps & I hope you have a better knowledge of what to expect!
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
C.B 
Caledonia On.
March 2008
My wife and I stayed at the Braises Santa Lucia with another couple looking forward to a well deserved vacation But this did not happen. On arrival we were given rooms that both had water on the bathroom floors due to a water leak above which in turn shut down the hydro for the 600 block due to wet wiring in the overhead light in the bathrooms. The front desk said that they could do nothing for us. $5.00 Can. later we all had better rms. In the morning we went to look at the pool and it was closed due to Green water due to high Algae and were unable to use the pool for five days as they tried to clear up this mess. We tried to use the Ocean but my wife picked up a Bacterial infection on her legs on the beach which deterred that too, medical staff were on site for two resorts but were never able to contact then, on arrival home two hours in emergency she is on road to recovery. The food was Cuban nothing special but the trip to Coco Beach for a Lobster dinner was excellent. We also went to a residents house for another lobster diner for $10.00 Pesos that was excellent too.

The entertainment was OK but have seen better and more of it, only two shows all week. The bar tending was poor for the most of the trip running out of red wine Tequila and poor service not enough staff at the lobby bar and not in a big hurry to serve you,more interested in themselves. Italian dinner was a disaster I cook a better diner myself full of wine, there were no snacks through the day but you could have a Hamburger/Hotdog or fries on the beach.

In closing this resort caters to the Europeans and the French.

This Resort is not 4 star yet, has a long way to go and we will not return to the Braise again but will go to Varadaro or Hogiun were you my pay a little more but get better quality resorts.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Gary 
Point Edward, Ont.
January 2008
We were at the Brisas Santa Lucia January 17 - 24. This was our fourth visit to this resort and we were pleasantly suprised to see the renovations that had taken place. The main pool had been completely redone including the swim-up bar. New stamped concrete surrounds the pool, replacing the painted plain concrete that was there before. The 24 hour bar has been moved closer to the hotel lobby, and the old 24 hour bar was converted into an Italian restaurant. Our room was spotless and the two double beds had new mattress. The food has improved beyond our expectations, and the wine was consitantly good. The staff, as always, were helpful and friendly. I would definately rate this hotel a 4 star. Our only wish was that we could have stayed for two weeks instead of just one.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Sandra 

January 2008
We were at the Brisas Santa Lucia from Jan 14-21 2008.We had a great time.It has been taken over by the Oasis group and they are bringing about many positive changes.This is the fifth time we have been there.Since our last time there the 24 hour bar and grill has been enclosed and turned into an Italian restaurant.We had pasta and filet mignon and they were both very good.The Piano Bar has been turned into a Cuban restaurant where the meals were also very good.We both had the pork.They have built a new coffee bar by the pool and have benches and tables beside it.They have built roofing along the sides and back of the area in front of the stage so people were playing games where before the sun was too hot.This was also protection in case of rain.The new head of the hotel,Victor,told me that during the coming year every room was going to get new furniture.We thought the food was better than on our previous visits. As always we found the staff very friendly and helpful.We took the excursion to Coco Beach and had a great lobster dinner.We watched men spearing blue crabs by the restaurant on the beach and enjoyed Anita's salsa,merengue and cha cha lessons.We plan to return next January and spend two weeks.

We flew Sunwing and enjoyed the glass of champagne,free wine with dinner and a hot meal.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Dan & Effie 
St Catharines
May 2007
Our opinion: 4 stars. This resort was quieter than other resorts we've stayed at, with the area not commercialized at all, which is exactly what we look for. There were a lot of university students during our first week at this resort, however our room was in building 12 and the partying did not bother us. We would certainly return to Brisas Santa Lucia. We also met several other people who liked this resort so much that this was their second vacation there.

Staff: We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful during our 2 weeks.

Room: very clean. The mattress was thinner than we're used to but we didn't have any problem sleeping.

Food: good, with lots of variety. The roasted pig, which was done over a spit by the snack bar, was very good. We also had some of the best lamb we've ever tasted. We were also served beef, veal, chicken, turkey, ham and of course fish. The omelets every morning were excellent (done by Leonardo). Although we aren't big dessert people, most evenings we had their ice cream which was also great. Dan enjoyed the Spanish coffee from the coffee bar as well. He also thoroughly enjoyed the pasta bar.

Beach: fabulous beach, lots of lounge chairs and shade. The seaweed was raked up every morning. This seaweed is not the slimy stuff we're used to...it's more like coarse grass. Once it's washed up on the beach it's like shredded paper. We went snorkeling off the beach pretty much every day - straight out from the water sport rental building, past the orange buoy. Look for the rocks and coral where there's lots of different fish to see. Our last day we must have been the first ones out there. We forgot to bring bread or bananas so the fish were nibbling on our fingers - how cool!

Internet: we didn't use it but didn't hear any negative comments.

Washrooms: the public washrooms were kept clean and had toiled paper. The lobby washrooms had the paper in holders outside of the stalls so I just had to remember to grab some before going into the stall.

Excursions: Blue to Green tour with Olga from the neighbouring resort. Olga and a driver picked us up at 8:00 am in a jeep. We then headed inland where we stopped at a factory which was never used. It was built in the early 1900's and has a legend attached - ask about it. We then stopped at a violin factory, village where we tasted the juice from sugar cane, tobacco farm, family operation where they make flat bread, highest point in Camaguey province, citrus grove, crocodile farm where we had a wonderful lunch, another village for shopping and then back to the resort by 5:00 pm.

Another day Pepe picked us up with his horse and carriage. He brought us to where the reef is close to land where a guide brought us snorkeling over the reef. We then went to his house for a lobster lunch. It was excellent! Finally a tour of Santa Lucia and back to our resort. Well worth the $15 pesos each. Look for Pepe between Brisas Santa Lucia and Gran Club Santa Lucia on the beach with his horse and buggy around 10:00 am.

Finally we did the Playa Bonita catamaran excursion. We saw and handled the starfish, went snorkeling for an hour at the reef and then went to Sanibel Island for lunch. The beach is really beautiful. During our free time we went snorkeling again off the beach. We found different fish again and also followed a reef squid for several minutes. The reef is so amazing. Words just can’t describe it.

Iguanas: We had been advised there were iguanas in the resort, so one morning we went looking for them, with no luck. A couple days later we took a “short-cut” back to our room and, wouldn’t you know it, the iguanas were behind our building where it appears they “lived”. We saw them almost everyday after that.

This was our 4th vacation to an all-inclusive in the Caribbean and we were very happy to find this resort met our expectations.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
David 
London, Ontario
April 2007
Tour Company /Airline: Sunwing
Resort: Brisas Santa Lucia, All inclusive type
Airport: Camaguey, Cuba
Date: Feb 22- Mar 8, 2007

Overall Opinion: Poor tour company/airline; One star resort.

Minuses: Frequently the hot and cold water was turned off for at least part of the day. When the water was on, the hot always took 5 minutes of continuous running to heat up. Horribly stained pillows with pillowcases not long enough to hide the stains unless you folded the pillow in two before putting it in the pillowcase. Lumpy mattresses with springs barely covered by thin fabric. Everything was broken. Poor unimaginative, over-cooked food in limited quantities, no juice, no salad dressings, only instant coffee in the main restaurant from a machine, mixes for the alcoholic drinks limited to a few types of pop, and watered-down powdered drinks. Alcohol limited to the major types. Poor practices in the restaurant (staff handling raw chicken then serving food).

Indifferent Staff:
Many but not all waiters and staff were indifferent to the needs of the guests - often, depending on where you sat, you would have to go search them out to get a glass of water or wine. And that's not because they were busy. Many would just be standing around and talking. Piles of raked but uncollected seaweed lined the beach despite the smelly diesel tractor and wagon that drove up and down the beach but couldn't keep up with the piles.

Sick:
We met many people who got food poisoning (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever) in our second week. At one of the While-you-wait grills, I saw a cook handling raw chicken with his bare hands, and then wiping them dry with a paper napkin before serving the cooked food. My friend and I both experienced food poisoning during our vacation at this resort and despite treatment, over a month later he remains ill. His doctor said the symptoms may last for months.

Pluses: Very shallow gradually deepening sea that warmed up quickly to bathwater temperature in the hot sun, fine white coral sand beach, attractive mature landscaping, sweet fresh fruit, decent red and white wine.

The whole story:
We bought our 2 week vacation from Sunwing, and had spent months planning a driving trip around the area in the south west where we'd hope the water would be calmer and warmer than it was in the north and that included renting a car, and driving around exploring the area's sights and snorkelling while staying at casas particulares, which are much like Bed and Breakfasts. On previous trips, getting out into the countryside, picking up the ever present hitchhikers, and meeting the real Cuban people had been highlights of our trips. We made maps and photocopied the tour books sections on the areas we wanted to go to.

Sunwing:
When we got to the airport in Toronto, the Sunwing staff told us and about 20 others that our hotel was overbooked and that we could go to a different hotel of equal value. A different resort might not be too bad, except that it was 380 kilometers away, on the north east coast, not the south west coast (Cienfuegos) where we had planned to go! Our entire driving trip would be impossible, the snorkelling destinations not reachable. We were furious but our only other option was to get a refund. Not too convenient when you've booked off 2 weeks from work, and are standing in an airport 100 miles from home. The agent said the hotel was a four star, equivalent to the one we'd booked. Very depressed, and angry we boarded the plane for the other hotel. There were many other angry people too. Some had planned to meet friends from previous trips to the area that we were no longer going to. Some had medical supplies to deliver to impoverished hospitals, again, nowhere near where we would be. Cuba is a big island, 750 miles long by 140 miles wide - it wasn't like we could just drive there and many of the roads are in terrible condition, there are very few gas stations, some of which have no gas, or only have leaded gas that's not useable in the modern rental cars. You have to plan your route before you leave home, and make sure you've got enough gas to get where you're going by discussing your route with the car rental agent. One family I met on the plane said when they arrived at the Sunwing counter they were given only 4 boarding passes. Their 15 year old teenage son's friend was told he was flying standby and might not get to go! In the end he did make it. We arrive at the airport in Camaguey and then take an hour and a half comfortable bus ride to our hotel, Brisas Santa Lucia near the town of Santa Lucia. The hotel is beautiful. There's beautiful marble everywhere, the landscaping and vegetation is lush and mature. The lobby and environs are beautiful with artwork, statues etc.

The Beach: Fine white coral sand but a lot of seaweed washes up that needs constant raking but never seems to get all raked up but you can easily step over it to get to the water. Sufficient beach chairs and thatched shade structures called palapas (in Mexico). The water is very shallow, a long way out so the water heats up quickly. I took many pictures of fish in front of the resort and on the catamaran and coral garden boat trips. The water was very clear and even if stirred up would settle quickly. Email me at lesauvage@gmail.com if you'd like to see my pictures, especially a secondary male stoplight parrotfish or search for stoplight parrotfish Brisas on picasaweb. The secondary males begin life as females but change into males if there aren't enough males around. We would recommend both the full day catamaran snorkelling trip and the half day coral garden snorkeling trip but only if you could stay at a different resort. Camera is a Canon A520 and Canon underwater housing.

The Room: When we get to our room we discover the mattress is old and extremely lumpy with the springs sticking almost all the way through - very uncomfortable and our fridge didn't work. So we complained to the Sunwing rep who said she'd have it taken care of. She was sweet but nothing was ever fixed. When we discovered all the other deficiencies, we were really angry. Our phone didn't work, our satellite TV (about 3 English channels) was off the air for the first week and then periodically off and on during the second week. The power went out several times; there was frequently no hot water, or cold water turned off separately at different times. Some days the water was turned off altogether until sometime later in the evening. One day I had to use the waste basket to flush the toilet. The maid ignored that our soap ran out. There was no shampoo. The following day I asked for soap. She said she'd bring it. It never came. We were out of soap for three days until I finally asked for some in the hallway, which she finally provided. One day she left our wet bathmat and towels on the floor, unreplaced. The beach towel shack was almost always out of towels. We could hear the guests above us in the two story building and in the hallways. There seemed to be no trap in the bathroom floor drain which was so loud whenever our neighbours ran the water that we had to cover it and close the bathroom door at night. Our room (2500 block) was near a staff parking lot containing several fantastic old classic cars and we were awakened every morning at 6 am with loud conversations and truck engines.

The food: Some of the food was OK, a few things were quite good, like the fresh fish off the grill, but mostly the food was poor quality. The spaghetti tasted canned though it wasn't. We know there are lots of shortages in Cuba, but this resort served substandard food, relative to all the other resorts we've stayed at in Cuba. The fresh vegetables for salad were limited mostly to cabbage, cucumbers and green tomatoes. There were peas that seemed to be frozen but were always hard and dry as if they didn't cook them, and canned mushrooms, onions and garlic you could add to your omelette with the stone-like peas. They had labelled a sugary Koolaid type of drink "Juice". The milk was reconstituted powdered whole milk - you could still see some of the powder floating on the top. There were two types of plain cake they would sometimes make fancier by adding coloured icing. The flans / custard were more like pudding. The cooked vegetables were either boiled to death or too hard to cut, eg. potatoes, and literally the peas were too hard to cut! Very limited seafood other than fish, was of poor quality. The roast turkey was fairly good. There was only one type of flavourless jam called melocoton which is peach. Cookies were always shortbread style - pretty good and made with butter. There was never any chocolate. While you wait grills would make an omellete or fried eggs for you but the ingredients were limited. While you wait Pasta Bar suffered the same lack of ingredients. The pasta sauce tasted and looked like Campbell's tomato soup. They had raspberry and coconut yoghurt but only until it ran out about halfway through the breakfast hours. You had to get there early. There was fluffy white french style bread. Once only I saw half a loaf of whole wheat and once I saw whole wheat rolls. There was no salad dressing except for one day out of the 14 - that was the day the managers were visiting. They did have unmanageably large slippery bottles of oil and separate bottles of vinegar though these were allowed to run out in the beach restaurant. The staff either didn't care that the supplies ran out, or they were told not to refill. I suspect some of both. Empty food trays would often not be refilled even though the buffet was still open.

Coffee: In the buffet restaurant where all meals are served, the coffee was instant and came from a push button machine - undrinkable. This, in a country that grows superb coffee. The snack bar had an espresso bar where you could line up for excellent coffee and then carefully walk it over to the buffet restaurant. There was never any cream, though that is the case all over Cuba.

The fruit: The grapefruit were uniformly excellent, sweet and juicy, but the resort rationed the fruit most of the time, by making you wait in line for a server to cut it up for you. They also had sweet juicy oranges though they were tough as nails inside because they were juice oranges. The pineapple was sweet about half the time. Miniature bananas were always sweet. They also had guava which was interesting though full of seeds, and papaya which seemed ok.

Food Service: Many staff seemed indifferent to our presence in the dining room and would ignore us unless we walked over to them to ask for water or wine. I saw one man trying to figure out how to use the instant coffee machine with 2 staff 8 feet away doing nothing. He gave up without them coming to help him. Some staff were very friendly and provided excellent service at the tables removing our empty plates and refilling our water and wine.

Massage: Frank at the massage booth near the pool gave me an excellent one hour massage for 20 pesos (25 CDN)

Internet: 6 pesos (about 7 CDN per hour) but there was only one unbearably slow, old PC which you had to line up to use.

Washrooms: in the lobby and restaurants had no toilet seats and sometimes no paper.

Overcharged: We paid almost 1700 CDN each for 2 weeks, but we met people who had booked one week for $600. Considering that you only fly once there and back, 2 weeks should be less than $1200.

Summary: This used to be a 4 star resort when it was run by an international joint venture with the Cuban government. It appears that company is no longer involved and it has slipped so far down, that I would give it barely a one star rating. Considering that so many people got food poisoning, I would definitely recommend that you stay away from this resort. Tour company: We believe that Sunwing knew all along that they were going to switch us to this lower quality resort. Their motivation to do that would also be to fill their airplane, which would otherwise have empty seats. We will never ever fly Sunwing again. And in the future I will make sure we book a resort that is run by a joint venture with an international hotel company.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Rosanna 

April 2007
Hello My name is Rosanna. I have visited Cuba, Brisas, Santa Lucia twice so far. My mom, Adua Colonna workes with a tour guide called Voyages Arc en Ciel, Montreal Canada.They tour all over the world,and one of which include Cuba, Brisas, Santa Lucia. My mom, Adua has been to Brisas with a groupe of Italian elders for the past five years now. Every time they come they have a blast. The food is great, the people are friendly and heart felt, the shows are amazing, the rooms are great and the service is fantastic.

My mom, Adua asked me to send you this on her behalf because she can not use a computer nor write English. She wants me to let you know that on behalf of all the groupes that visit Brisas, Santa Lucia, thank you for your warm hospitality, and generousity. They are planning a new trip there again next year. My mom is well know for Santa Lucia Brisas queen of every year, every year.

I plan to return again myself along with my daughter next year as well wirth the groupe. We loved it there. If you can I'd like to say hello to Vladimir, who is a specail person in my heart. I hope he is safe, happy, and healthy for all his years.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Lynn 
Ottawa
March 2007
We travelled on Sunwing from Montreal on Tuesday March 13 2007 returning on March 20th.

I booked this trip in late February and wish I had read the reviews first. I'll begin by saying that I have been to Cuba many times since 1983, that I am not overly picky, I am aware of the inevitable shortages and problems that can occur and that usually, the weather and the people of Cuba can more than make up for the shortfalls. Not this time!

Brisas Santa Lucia is rated as a 3.5 to 4 star hotel by many major tour operators. Unfortunately, the standards are much closer to a 2 star, unable to cope with 400 + rooms.

Restaurants
One buffet and two "a la carte" restaurants that are exactly the same,so don't bother making a reservation. The food goes from OK to unpalatable...and while I understand about shortages, this is about basic food preparation. Everything is either overcooked, greasy and congealed, or bland and disgusting, with the exception of the night's they have a pig roast...if you're willing to line up for 45 minutes to get served of course. In the beach a la carte restaurant, which opens at 6:30 p.m. the fish plates are prepared as early as 5:00 P.M, cooked, waiting to be served....you can observe this as you walk by..The only thing worth ordering is the pizza. I may not have had Cordon Bleu cuisine in Cuba, but I certainly ate well in the past. There is no excuse for the food in this resort.

Bars
I note that in some places, the ads claim 7 bars. Are you kidding? There are exactly 4 bars....and only 3 are open during the day, which is a little tough when the hotel is full believe me. After 5:00 p.m. there are only 2 bars - the snack bar and the lobby....Again, notwithstanding shortages etc..., absolutely no effort is made to produce a list of available drinks. Nothing I asked for was "available" - no Pina Coladas, no Margaritas, and lastly, no Mojitos, Cuba's National drink. I spent the week drinking Rum Collins and gave up asking for anything else. There is absolutely no reason for this. The bar is well stocked....it's like going to a restaurant, looking at a bunch of ingredients and asking for a dish based on what you see....! Ridiculous. Conversely, as I walked through the neighbouring Gran Club Santa Lucia, they certainly do much better with a vast array of tropical drinks for your pleasure!

ROOMS
While our room was clean, a horrible smell persisted all week that we attributed to the central air conditioning. The beds are lumpy, the pillows are barely there but the sheets are clean. Our neighbours found cockroaches in their room, and were visited in the early morning hours by what they thought were squirrels on their balcony. It was actually 3 huge rats, which can be very frightening. It explains the reason for a huge colony of cats that roam the resort.

BEACH
The Beach and the Waters are beautiful...no complaints there. There are many beach chairs, all in good condition. The beach towels are a little frayed however and not always in great supply.

OVERALL
The staff are friendly and helpful as always. It rained for two days, overcast for 2 and sunny for 3. It is is also very windy, and I suspect that this is natural for this area. My husband had a great time diving, I got sick and had to see the Doctor...she was very nice but for some reason they like to give tourists injections, even for the flu. Go figure! We were very anxious to get home...and that's never happened before.

Stay away from this resort and if you want to visit Santa Lucia, better to book at the Gran Club. It's smaller and I hear they have an Italian chef.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Lynn 
Ottawa
March 2007
I booked this trip in late February and wish I had read the reviews first. I'll begin by saying that I have been to Cuba many times since 1983, that I am not overly picky, I am aware of the inevitable shortages and problems that can occur and that usually, the weather and the people of Cuba can more than make up for the shortfalls. NOT THIS TIME.

Brisas Santa Lucia is rated as a 3.5 to 4 star hotel by many major tour operators. Unfortunately, the standards are much closer to a 2 star, unable to cope with 400 + rooms.

Restaurants
One buffet and two "a la carte" restaurants that are exactly the same,so don't bother making a reservation. The food goes from OK to unpalatable...and while I understand about shortages, this is about basic food preparation. Everything is either overcooked, greasy and congealed, or bland and disgusting, with the exception of the night's they have a pig roast...if you're willing to line up for 45 minutes to get served of course. In the beach a la carte restaurant, which opens at 6:30 p.m. the fish plates are prepared as early as 5:00 P.M, cooked, waiting to be served....you can observe this as you walk by..The only thing worth ordering is the pizza. I may not have had Cordon Bleu cuisine in Cuba, but I certainly ate well in the past. There is no excuse for the food in this resort.

Bars
I note that in some places, the ads claim 7 bars. Are you kidding? There are exactly 4 bars....and only 3 are open during the day, which is a little tough when the hotel is full believe me. After 5:00 p.m. there are only 2 bars - the snack bar and the lobby....Again, notwithstanding shortages etc..., absolutely no effort is made to produce a list of available drinks. Nothing I asked for was "available" - no Pina Coladas, no Margaritas, and lastly, no Mojitos, Cuba's National drink. I spent the week drinking Rum Collins and gave up asking for anything else. There is absolutely no reason for this. The bar is well stocked....it's like going to a restaurant, looking at a bunch of ingredients and asking for a dish based on what you see....! Ridiculous. Conversely, as I walked through the neighbouring Gran Club Santa Lucia, they certainly do much better with a vast array of tropical drinks for your pleasure!

ROOMS
While our room was clean, a horrible smell persisted all week that we attributed to the central air conditioning. The beds are lumpy, the pillows are barely there but the sheets are clean. Our neighbours found cockroaches in their room, and were visited in the early morning hours by what they thought were squirrels on their balcony. It was actually 3 huge rats, which can be very frightening. It explains the reason for a huge colony of cats that roam the resort.

BEACH
The Beach and the Waters are beautiful...no complaints there. There are many beach chairs, all in good condition. The beach towels are a little frayed however and not always in great supply.

OVERALL
The staff are friendly and helpful as always. It rained for two days, overcast for 2 and sunny for 3. It is is also very windy, and I suspect that this is natural for this area. My husband had a great time diving, I got sick and had to see the Doctor...she was very nice but for some reason they like to give tourists injections, even for the flu. Go figure! We were very anxious to get home...and that's never happened before.

Stay away from this resort and if you want to visit Santa Lucia, better to book at the Gran Club. It's smaller and I hear they have an Italian chef.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Brenda & Dirk 
London, Ontario, Canada
March 2007
Hotel Name: Brisas Santa Lucia (Camaguey Airport)
Travel Dates: February 24 – March 3, 2007-03-19
Tour Operator: Nolitours, booked online via itravel.2000 less than two weeks prior
Flight time: Just over 3 hours, Air Transat
Bus from airport to resort: 1.5 hours, comfortable air-conditioned bus, beer for sale
Parties travelling: 4 adults 30-38 years, 2 adults 59-60 years

Overall: 2 ‘Star’ Rating. Despite the beautiful beach and great snorkelling, this resort is not recommended for those who have good food, good beverages, comfortable beds, or nightlife high on their vacation wish list.

Brisas Santa Lucia has a number of two-story villas, each with 2-4 rooms. The villas start at least 50 feet back from the beach and are spread through the grounds back towards a road (with very little traffic). The buildings are pink and peach and most of the rooms, with the exception of the ones closest to the pool, are garden view. There aren’t any oceanfront rooms and it wouldn’t be worth paying for an upgrade to an ocean view room, as the villas are a ways from the beach.

Beach
The beach is absolutely beautiful, with bright white sand and clear, turquoise water. It’s wide and long, so there’s lots of room for strolling. The water is warm and shallow forever. The beach chairs are standard, hard plastic, some with cracks. There are lots of thatched roof umbrellas, palm trees and sea grass, especially in the really shallow areas by the shore. A diesel-fuelled tractor trolls the beach each day, with two men and a little weiner dog behind it raking the washed up sea grass into little piles and then scooping it up.

Beach Towels
They did not have enough beach towels for everyone, even early in the morning. They weren’t able to wash the towels every day due to lack of water and/or lack of water pressure.

Rooms
The rooms are les than basic. The two ‘double’ beds are what we would consider two slightly larger than twin beds. The mattresses are thin and likely quite old. The pillows are stained and thin. There was a sheet and a thin blanket; the bedspread was the top sheet folded funky by the maid. There was a small closet and 3 drawers for clothes. We paid 29CUC/40CAD for the safe (no deposit back), where we kept our camera, passports, $, etc. There was also a small fridge, table and chair in the room. The patio was small, with only one dirty chair and a small table. We unplugged the phone as it kept ringing throughout the night (some sort of technical problem prompting everyone’s phones to do so).

Showers
We had little pressure, lukewarm water, cold water, hot water, no water and a couple of nice, hot good-pressure showers. It really fluctuated.

Food
Overall, the food was horrible and repetitive. With a few exceptions, they had the same options at the buffet for lunch and dinner. There was a pasta bar every night, with spaghetti noodles, tomato sauce, canned mushrooms, diced peas & carrots and sometimes broccoli. No beef, but lots of pork and tough, chewy chicken (turkey once or twice, also tough). Fish grilled in pieces or whole as in with the head still. They had a pig roast twice. The salad bar consisted of shredded cabbage, shredded beets or radishes, a bottle of vinegar and a bottle of oil. There was lots of white cheese, melted from the heat and hard on the edges, as well as, slices of toasted bread with a squirt of mustard (??).

Raw fish was left out in piles not on ice for hours; raw chicken was carted around in plastic containers not on ice. The smell in the dining room and around the bar areas was pretty disgusting at times. Breakfast was the best meal, as they made omelettes and fried eggs. They also had fresh pineapple, guava, papaya and bananas, but the ‘juice’ is made with a powder and water– orange or papaya. The coffee was fantastic, with whipped steam milk. They had a coffee bar where you could get cappuccinos, lattes, Spanish coffee, etc. With only one a la carte reservation per stay, we were only able to try the Italian restaurant. It was better than the buffet as far as food, wine and service. The snack bar served fried cheese & bologna sandwiches, hot dogs & hamburgers (sometimes) and frozen French fries fried in very old, stinky grease with an awful taste.

Beverages
Ugh - disappointing. No blenders = no slushie drinks, no juice = powdered ‘koolaid-like’ drinks with strong rhum and little ice, watered down foamy, warm keg beer in small plastic cups. Bottled water hard was hard to get and if you go to the bar for a bottle of water, they will rinse out an old pop bottle with tap water and then fill it with purified water. Water sold in the gift shop had lids that weren’t sealed and with quantities at varying levels (??).

Snorkelling
There was some great snorkelling by the buoy to the right of the beach. There are lots of fish and even more came when we fed them bananas. You can go for an arranged tour on a large Catamaran if you book it in advance by lining up at the guest services desk ahead of time and paying around 29CUC/42CAD). While they won’t mention this when you book the tour, they may or may not take you. It depends on whether they have enough other people (they told us they needed at least 10) and cancelled on us at the last minute.

You can also go to the guys in the Watersports hut and book a smaller, 6-8 person hobie cat. You may get a bit wetter, but the view and experience is amazing. It’s about 4km to the reef each way. The reef itself is amazing, with huge fan and brain coral in purples and yellow and all sorts of fish: angel, parrot, trumpet, sergeant majors, snappers, crawfish, skates, etc. It costs 15CUC (about 19CAD) per person and takes about 2.5 hours.

The reef was amazingly alive and the fish abundant. Sadly, several people were finding, or buying, live conch shells and starfish to take home. One man was even bragging about leaving the ‘sucker’ (a live conch) alive on his balcony for two days and then tossing it in a bush. How very disrespectful of our beautiful, unique ocean. People are so ignorant and should be ashamed at such disregard. They should also know that they can be fined $400 by immigration if they are caught bringing these items, dead or alive, back to Canada. Leave the marine life for the coral reef to thrive or for the locals to eat.

Other Watersports
The Watersports centre is in a blue building to the far right on the beach. They have fins, masks and snorkels that they tell you to sign back in within one hour. They also have a few ocean kayaks, paddle boats and hobie cats. We saw a banana boat ride one day and a jetski one other day, but they may have been from another resort.

Bikes & Mopeds
The bikes looked fairly new and the rental fees were reasonable. The mopeds were brand new. You sign a waiver advising you they are not liable for you or the moped should you have a mishap. Helmets are mandatory. If you turn right from the resort, go down a paved road for about 1km and then a dirt road for about 8km, you’ll end up at Cocoa Beach. You have to drive very slow on the gravel road, as it has a lot of potholes and is quite sandy. It was around 19CAD for 3 hours, or more if you rent the mopeds for the day.

Cocoa beach is a beautiful, scenic beach. There’s a small pub and that’s about it. There is a village with a few ‘houses’ on the peninsula. We snorkelled there, but didn’t see many fish. The water is in layers of turquoise and blue. It’s breathtaking.

Entertainment/Nightlife
The disco was closed. The piano bar opened at 11pm. As far as we know, we weren’t near any towns or villages with any bars, clubs, etc. The entertainment staff performed every night, but nothing very interesting. A few of their acts were highly promotional, with tour videos and contests to win ‘50% off’ a tour. They brought people up on stage to ‘act sexy’ and repeated where people were from over and over (Canada, Canada, Canada). They did one show with cool Cuban outfits, dancers and a contortionist (human pretzel).

Staff
The employees were friendly and tried hard. They paid more attention if you tipped them – the omelette-making guy, the waiters, waitresses, bartenders, maids. Even little tips, or gifts (we brought chocolate bars) helped with the service. The staff rotated a lot, so we only saw a few of the same staff at breakfast and occasionally at dinner. The bartenders weren’t helpful – at all – with drink suggestions and they did not have any drink lists posted.

Wheelchair Accessible
With many rooms on the ground floor, wide entrances to the restaurants and cement walkways throughout, this resort appeared to be wheelchair accessible. We noticed a man in a ‘water’ wheelchair in the ocean, but we’re not sure if the chair was provided by the resort or if he brought it (it looked pretty large to travel with if he did).

Currency
You can’t buy Cuban pesos anywhere but Cuba. Tourists buy CUC, which are 24/1 for the pesos used by the locals. Bring your Canadian $ and exchange it there – at the airport or the hotel. You need to get your money exchanged right away, as there is a 10CUC/14CAD deposit per towel and a 25CUC/37CAD fee (not deposit) for the safe lock. There’s a 10% penalty for using US cash. No US credit cards are accepted.

Weather
The weather was perfect – nice and bright and sunny, with hardly any clouds in the sky. It didn’t rain once. By the looks of the very dry soil in the gardens, it looked like they’d had very little rain before we arrived. It was windy a few days and got cooler at night, starting around 5pm. Light jackets and long sleeves came in handy on some nights.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Denvor 

March 2007
We booked our vacation with Sell Off Vacations online 2 weeks before our trip, I thought we had got a good deal, until I spoke to people at the resort. I then realized that we had paid over $220/ ticket more than most people, a large amount considering I went with my wife and 2 kids. I could have saved over $800 if I had booked the week before. Never the less, we went on vacation to enjoy ourselves. The night we arrived, we got in just after midnight, after the 1 hour drive from the airport. The service at the hotel was okay, they checked us in as fast as they could, we got a really nice room that lead into the kids room, which we were happy about. Unfortunately our happiness ended there.

The Hotel
This is supposed to be a 4 star resort, I’ll rate it a 2 star, I have seen motels with better food and service. Apart from the pool and the main hangout area, there’s actually nothing to this hotel. I found myself and other guests been approached on a regular basis, by the staff, asking for handouts such as toothpaste, shirts, shorts, sneakers, sunglasses etc. Someone even asked my wife for my daughters $200 mp3 player.

On the 2nd day our suitcases were broken into, the locks were totally trashed, our camera, charger, cd’s, some clothing and shoes were taken, we made a complaint but nothing was done about it. 3 other guests had the same thing happen to them that same day, and more throughout the week. On our 3rd day, 63 people in the hotel, myself included fell violently ill, food poisoning of some sort some people thought it was the water, others the food. A few doctors were called in to help treat the affected people, others just took their chances. Once word got around that all this was going on, everyone just sort of wanted their vacation to be over.

I was not at all impressed with the entertainment, every night it seemed to be the same boring stuff over and over. For 4 days they played the same CD repeatedly from 2pm til 7pm everyday. Eventually someone complained bitterly about their performance, only then did we see an instant improvement in the entertainment.

In the hotel brochure they offer a kids club. What Kids Club?? There is nothing.
They offer all day entertainment, salsa lessons, beach volleyball, water polo etc, even that was non exsistant, so I paid $3400 for me and my family to go on vacation, and I got What??? A bed, louzy food, perthetic entertainment and my belongings stolen. I should have stayed home!!!
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Amy 
Ottawa, ON, Canada
March 2007
My boyfriend and I just returned from Brisas Santa Lucia. We booked our tour with Nolitours two weeks before and received a great deal...although after talking to people we found out that booking three weeks before had been cheaper. We were a little worried after reading the results but were quite surprised and happy.

Weather
The weather our entire week was perfect. Not a single drop of rain and the temperature stayed between 30-35 degrees.

Food
The food was the only complaint that we had all week. It wasn't bad, just repetitive. There is a good breakfast buffet with omelettes. Dinner always seemed to be the same as lunch, just reused. Every night there was a make your own pasta bar that was then cooked in front of you. The snack bar is always open and has fries, burgers, hot dogs, and pizza... we never went hungry. There are 2 a-la-carte restaurants, the Italian one is the exact same food as the buffet, but the international one was awesome! We spread them out over the week to break up the buffet. If you are a picky eater, this is not the place for you.

Excursions
We did a few excursions... Snorkelling in the coral reef was amazing and well worth the money. We booked it directly through the guy that took us out, not the tours, and got it half price. Make sure to bring an underwater camera because the fish are amazing. We also rode the horses... they go through the village a little and then back along the beach. Great experience! We went to a local’s house for lobster dinner, it was a little sketchy at first and we were nervous but they were so friendly and the lobster was so fresh, they had caught it for us that morning. The last day we went to town early on the Camaguay tour and it was a great experience as you get to see the way people live in Cuba. Everyone that went was so glad to have gone.

Beach
The beach was indescribable. Absolutely breath taking. There were weeds that washed up in the morning but were cleaned away right away. It is not really weedy when you are swimming, just some short weeds in certain places. We did not find it a problem at all. You can walk the beach forever and it never runs out of gorgeous sand.

Drinks
The drinks are 24/7 and there are multiple bars. The swim up bar is the best, you can just sit in the water and drink. A good idea is to bring a mug so that you do not have to keep going up to the bar, the bartenders have no problem filling them up. A bad thing is that this bar does not have mixed drinks, like slushie ones. There were still pina coladas and daiquiris, etc... they just weren't icy. We went to the resort next door for a day, and they had the slushie drinks... that is mostly what we drink so had we have known, it could have been a deal breaker.

Staff
The staff are awesome! They go out of there way to help you. All speak pretty good English and appreciate anything you give them. Hats, like ball caps, are a huge hit. Any old hats or t-shirts that have anything to do with Canada... Canadian Tire, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Blue Jays... they love.

Overall
Overall, we had an amazing time; the only parts of the resort we had problems with were the food and the slushie drinks. We weren't expecting a lot because of the price we paid and were pleasantly surprised. If you are picky or are used to a 5 star, this is not the place for you.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Randy 
Toronto
February 2007
I vacationed at the resort on the week of February 17th with my wife and adult daughters.

Food and Drink
I've been to Cuba twice previously and considering the shortages in Cuba, the menu was fine. My daughter is the pickiest eater in the world and she got along okay. The fruit juices were watery and sugared. I like to have a coffee with my meals, but it was only available at breakfast. However there is a coffee bar near the main restaurant where European style coffee is available at all times. For those who are dieting and eat cereal in the morning, the only fare available was pre-sweetened, so don't expect to keep your weight down by eating corn flakes! Most fancy drinks were not available so we stuck to beer, wine and simple rum mixes.

Facilities
The beach was groomed daily and the drop off was extremely gradual. Some water plants, but nothing unpleasant to walk over. The gymnasium had a lot of non-functioning equipment, so one could not engage in a full exercise regimen. There was also a shortage of balcony chairs, we had one per unit which means we had to move a wooden padded indoor chair outside for cards. The grounds were well kept and the employees worked hard to maintain the resort.

Trips and Activities
Horseback riding was very reasonably priced and my family enjoyed riding by the ocean. Times are very flexible. There were paddle boats available, but I really couldn't see where one would go, as its just an ocean shoreline. They have an activity schedule posted at the beach entrance for those interested in participating. We took two trips, including the day excursion on a catamaran to Playa Bonita which included snorkelling at the reef. The colours and variety of fish were stunning and the beach lunch included a huge portion of lobster, which if bought in Canada would justify most of the excursion cost. Playa Bonita was a beautiful fine sand beach, superior to the resort shoreline. My daughters also took the Colonial Camaguey tour, and as newcomers to Cuba they found it very educational.

Overall Comments
If you're not expecting a luxury resort, you won't be disappointed. The employees were pleasant, hard working with a ready smile. I personally found Brisas somewhat noisy as the huge speakers on the central stage are pulsing most of the day and night. So light sleepers beware! I also found a higher than expected population of smokers at the resort, so I had to position myself accordingly to escape their fumes. If you wander off the groomed beach you may be approached by persistent people wanting your shirt or trying to bum something off you. I suspect any material item given to them will be sold. If you really wish to help the Cuban people take some medical products, disinfectants, first aid items or patent medicines to the Nacional Clinica in nearby Santa Lucia. Do not take it to the new medical building as that is where the privileged receive healthcare and its well provided. The Nacional Clinica is beside the bank and its an ill equipped shabby building which serves the average Cuba patient. They need everything they can get. The free ferro-train from the hotel passes the clinica twice daily. Just ask the driver to stop there and run the items in. Or if you want, you can take a horse buggy down for 6 pesos. Who knows, your contribution could save a life.
Brisas Santa Lucia - Camaguey
Shiana (23) and Timothy (23) 
Montreal
July 2006
June 23rd to June 30th 2006

My friend and I visited Brisas Santa Lucia last month, for a week. We booked through Tripcentral.ca and we paid 689$ each for everything.

Overview:

Planning the trip: Our agent (Maria) at tripcentral was very professionnal and very helpful. She booked eveything and made sure that I had all of the appropriate information before we left. She even reminded me about the electric converter. By the way, it is very useful since everything is 220 volts. The only off-side was that our tickets said that the flight was at 7h30 whereas, the website confirmed that it was always at 8h30.

Flight: Check-in was very quick and we had a baggage checker that looked the other on our extra 10 pounds of luggage J. The flight was late, a little long and very uncomfortable. There isn’t much leg room on the plane with Canjet Airlines. We had a continental breakfast which was really good and the flight attendants were helpful when you needed them.

At Camaguey Airport: The airport is air conditionned which feels good considering the heat and the waiting period. The transportation to the hotel was waiting for us after we passed through customs. The ride was about one and a half to two hours long but very comfortable. It was worth waiting for the second bus because you can stretch out your legs.

At the hotel: Once you arrive, you are welcomed with music and kind, friendly employees. You must line up to get your room number and key. You can take the safe for 29 CUP and they give you back 15 CUP on the return of the key.

There are bellhops to take your bags and I suggest you take advantage of the service because they explain the resort as they pass by. Make sure have some change to tip him for his services because they are very helpful.

Room: Our room was far in the back, 2121. I was a little dissapointed because I wanted to be close to the beach and the pool but I guess everyone can’t be close to the main attractions. The room was spacious and clean. We had a little problem with little bugs during the first couple of nights, in the bathroom, but I had brought Raid bug spray with me and i’m glad we did... I didn’t see anymore bugs for the entire week.

We thought that all of the channels were spanish execpt CNN but we were proven wrong on our last night. The satellite was just broken and this is why we didn’t have all of the normal channels in our room. We practiced our spanish listenning abilities.

The cleaning lady was very sweet and she always made special setups with our towels and fresh flowers. It is recommended to leave little gifts everyday due to the changes in shifts.

And for all of the sceptics, the air conditionner worked at all times.

Food: The food is ok but I expected something different. One week is more than enough time to get fed up and wanna go to the snack bar every once in a while.

Restaurant: The employees went to certain tables several times before they came to ours. We then found out that we were sitting right at the limit of both sections. It’s like if we weren’t there pretty much... Once we changed places and I approached one of the waitresses, we were served quickly every other time. Breakfast was my most favorite meal.

Snack Bar: fries and sandwhiches...that’s all... sometimes they have hot dogs but you have to be very lucky.

A la carte: This supper was what we would usually eat in Montreal. I think we enjoyed it more because we were missing regular food.

Pool: The pool was nice and warm. It w as always clean and it had a swim up bar.

Beach: the beach is very warm. If you don’t like warm water then this is not the best beach to go to. There is alot of seaweeds in the water. That is the only downfall. Beware of the towners that beg on the beach. Some of them are very friendly but there were two women who really didn’t appreciate the clothing and toileteries that we gave them. They didn’t even tell us thank you.

Activities: There was some nightly entertainement every night. There was suppose to be kids time from 8h30 till 9 but it only lasted one night. There were gifts at the end of every contest.

We went snorkeling one day for 55 CUP at Playa Bonita Beach. That price included snorkeling, lunch and a couple of hours at the beach. It was a learning experience and one that i would never wanna experience again. We both got sick from snorkeling because the equipement was defective. We ended up drinking alot of sea water and got sick. The lunch was pretty much oil with food and not food made with oil. The beach was fun.

Entertainement: There is a disco room on the resort and the piano bar but the adjacent hotels also has very interesting and hype parties. They are not too far to walk at night. Different story in the daytime.

Health factors: Timothy got sick because he drank their juice which seems to be made with their water. He had a blazzing fever on his entire body and he had a migrane. This lasted two days until we went to the next hotel’s pharmacia (ours was closed) for “Tylenol”. Do not drink their water. We suggest that you buy water or get it fulled up by the restaurant or the snack bar.

When I look back on the time we had, it was fun and relaxing. If you are looking for a place to relax with a loved one, then Brisas is the place. If you are looking for a party area, then Varadero would be the best bet.