|Club Amigo Caracol |
|Arrival: 1999, 2002, 2003, 2006
nice airport. quick custom
standard. very clean. friendly staff
Restaurants and Bars:
food could be better at the hotel but the staff were great. the small ocean restaurant adjacent the hotel was absolutly amazing. best langouste and cold spanish sparkling or white wine made it a daily romantic highlight (had to pay extra without complaints).again the staff were a joy to speak to and catch up on the news of the island.
great beach for swimming and sailing. the reef made it a pleasure to use the catamaran. we had to demonstrate to the guides we knew how to sail. once we had their confidence, we were on our own. great sailing by the reef. bring your specialty vest if you want to harness that great wind.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
coco beach by horse and buggy - a must.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|I had the wonderful opportunity to take a vacation with the lady whom I am deeply in love with and we decided to go to Cuba and stay at the “Club Amigo Carocol”….Now the story.
Prior this trip, I decided to book a vacation. I have previously traveled a great deal, done my backpacking through Europe, traveled a number of the islands, and on all occasions enjoyed myself. This trip was important, I wanted to get away, but most of all I wanted Christine (the love of my life) to have a travel experience that she would not forget. So I was looking for a resort which would allow for both. I know I spent countless hours surfing the net for the “perfect place”, and all the time when I thought I had what I was looking for, it was either to expensive, or my gut was telling me something else. I speaking to the agent whom I eventually booked through, she had made a few call and was told that based on the budget I provided her, and what I was looking for this would be my best destination. So out side of the trip at first being completely full at time of booking, then having someone cancel, which allowed us to be booked in, the decision was made. We were on our way to Cuba, Club Amigo Caracol. Prior booking, and after booking I spent the remaining days reading the review pages from this particular site, and in reading through the reviews and reading the “consistent” information my “gut” told me it was the right place to go.
We left Toronto Airport on August 21, 08, and the trip began. I want to keep this short and direct. I truly believe that one gets what they pay for, and if you want a five star resort then pay the extra and go to one (be aware, five star does not mean Shang Grala either). It was a travel day, most of the day was spent at the airport, plane, airport, then a bus to the resort, but as far as I am concerned this is part of the experience. We arrived at the Hotel, weather was hot, and the sun was still up. We were greeted with a long line to check in, but hey make the best of it. Have yourself a rum punch, talk to the person your with, or around you, sit and enjoy the tropic air. Allow yourself to just take in the moment of being in another place with who you are with. After the crowd died down at reception we were booked in and taken to our room. Standing there in our room looking at the ocean, and Christine at my side it was my Shang Grala. Let me be clear, just because it was good for me does not mean good for everyone. All I can say is that I went with certain expectations and they were all met, and exceeded.
The hotel was clean, the ocean was clear, and the beach was beautiful. The pool was warm and also clean, and the staff made us feel like it was home, even though we were about 2000 miles away.
This site and the reviews which were written allowed me to make a great decision, and I would have to say this was a “diamond in the rough”. The food overall was fine. Listen, as individuals from North America, we will have a different way of eating, but I believe in, “when in Rome….” So make the best of it.
The individuals we met outside the resort were great, having lunch in a home of a local was amazing, sure you pay for it, but we certainly did not pay enough for the experience.
The week was amazing, and it is a place I would go back to in a blink of an eye. If you are one who can look past the needs and wants of North American life, submerge yourself in the moment and have some fun then this is the place for you.
I could go one and one, but I won’t. Christine enjoyed herself, as did I.
I hope this will allow anyone who reads this to make an educated decision as to where to go, and I only hope you have the same experience as I we did. Those of you who decide to go, make sure you track down Victor at the bar, and say hello from me (David from Canada)
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|Husband and I spent week Feb 7th to 14th – first visit to this resort –third time in Cuba.
First, the brickbats:
Request for non-smoking was not guaranteed, but on previous trips to Cuba this has not been a problem. Told resort was full so no changes possible and room was re-cleaned next day. However, as all non-smokers know, you can’t just re-clean a smoking room. The resulting allergic reaction to the smoke made me ill for three days – fortunately I went equipped with some medication. This resort needs to designate at least a portion of the rooms and the hotel lobby as non-smoking. Some smokers were totally inconsiderate of us non-smokers, even to puffing away while we waited around the baggage carousel. A lot of otherwise nice Canadians were very much “in your face” when it came to smoking. I think with a little consideration there’s room for all of us.
The Food: Look, folks, this is Cuba. Most of the population live on pennies a day and never see meat. What you get is what’s available. If you can’t live without your Canadian choices, stay home and enjoy the snow. The number of stars has nothing to do with the quality or quantity of food in my experience. It’s the luck of the draw, somewhat seasonal but always lots to eat, if a bit tedious.
The Room: Small compared with other resorts I’ve stayed at, but very clean. No fridge. Air conditioning worked well compared with other resorts. TV reception bad, but then, that’s not why I’m in Cuba.
The Bars: Terrific service. Great mohitos and wonderful coffee of all kinds at the lobby bar. The morning coffee particularly welcome as the coffee in the dining room was always barely warm. I love Cuban coffee and have never had bad coffee with meals before. All the bars were great.
The Beach: Wonderful white fine sand. Swimming perfect for serious swimmers. Wind surfing available for two days only as the sail was reclaimed by another resort and never replaced. Hope this will change for next time. Choose your hammock in sun or shade, just off the beach, and let the cooling breeze wash over you. Perfect.
Entertainment: Ranged from funny and talented to cheesy. Waddya expect? We enjoyed the fashion show. Didn’t care about the quality of the clothing; the models put on a great show. Lots of good sports among the guests who entertained a well.
Tours: Did only the last day tour of Camaguey and would not recommend it. Too rushed. Tour guide very good but needs to shorten the itinerary. We found it just too exhausting given we were taking a late flight out.
Would we go back? We’d love to but only if the non-smoking room could be guaranteed. It’s no fun being sick on vacation.
Recommendations: Book a flight for day-time arrival. You’ll have time and energy to check out your room and the resort before you settle in.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
New Brunswick, Canada
|I travelled to Santa Lucia on January 17, 2008.
Because I live in Atlantic Canada, I had to get myself to Toronto in order to make my flight with Sky Service to Camaguey. I have to say that Pearson Airport has improved greatly with regards to transferring from one terminal to another - HALLELUJAH!!
The Sky Service flight was a bit late leaving Toronto and, hence, a bit late getting into Camaguey. Customs was a breeze - within 10 minutes I was waiting for luggage (all of it was DAMP) and then out into the airport parking lot where I was met by the Nolitours rep who directed me to the appropriate bus. Also, lots of beer vendors (4 cans for $10 - any currency will do!!) were waiting for the thirsty tourists. The bus left for Santa Lucia, a 90 minute drive, and we were at the resort, being greeted by dancers and bar staff by 10pm - not bad for being in a frigid Canada at 4pm!! The check-in was slow as there is only one staff on the reception desk at any time. I had emailed ahead to request a 2nd floor room and was delighted that I was given one. The hotel also kept the buffet restaurant open for us - it usually closes at 9pm, but they accommodate the late-arriving guests weekly.
My room was fine. Although the description states 2 double beds or 1 king, there are actually 2 twin beds in the vast majority of the rooms - only 11 rooms have king beds.
I heard complaints from many people that air conditioners did not work and they were quickly transferred to a new room. My air conditioner started dripping water on the 5th day of my trip and I just dealt with it - put a towel on the floor and garbage pail to catch the majority of the drips - instead of moving to a new room.
My bathroom was alright - the coating on the bathtub was peeling, making it not too appealing to have a bath, and the taps in the tub area were certainly not shiny. But everything worked.
The one oddity of my room is that a neighbouring room's TV remote control would turn my TV on and off whenever it was aimed at the neighbours' TV. That meant that my TV would mysteriously turn on at 3am or 415am or what have you. I just unplugged my TV as there were only 2 channels - Spanish HBO and CNN.
OK - If you are going to Cuba, you're not going for the food!! However, I must say that the food at this resort was much worse than the food I dealt with in Varadero. Lots of guests were well-prepared with packages of ketchup, mustard, vinegar, jars of peanut butter & jam - you could also buy things at the local stores (Caracol Shoppes was the place with the best selection) as each room had a fridge.
I ended up at the omelette bar for breakfast, the snack bar (deep fried hotdogs with deep fried onions) for lunch, and the pasta bar for dinner. Most of the cooks at the "bars" were great and would do what you wanted, specifically for you. However, one cook was determined that you would eat what he gave you - whether or not green peppers made you sick or you wanted tomatoes and he just didn't want to add them - I don't know what was up with that, but it was a single cook and he certainly was not tipped by me.
I did go to the a la carte restaurant and was surprised that it could be worse food than the buffet restaurant!! A soup was offered (no one knew what type of soup but the broth was good), your choice of beef, pork or fish - all served with corn, plaintains and beans&rice. The people I was eating with covered all the dishes and no one could eat their food. Save yourself the bother and stay away from the a la carte restaurant here.
I spent most of my on-land time at the bar closest to the pool - in the same area that the entertainment takes place each evening. The bartenders were friendly and a small tip (2CUC) would mean you got exactly what you wanted without having to ask for a refill. Chewing gum as a tip was a big deal!! I took my own coffee mug as I had read the other reviews - the cups the bars have are smaller than a McDonald's child size soft drink. After the first evening, I left my travel mug in the buffet restaurant and when I tried to retrieve it, I was told no one had seen it. So I attempted to buy another locally. Caracol Shoppes was better stocked than the on-resort store, but it didn't have any mugs for sale. But they did have a 'pickle keeper' for 2CUC which had a removable cover that I put a hole in for my straws - it worked fine, but it does make me wonder why they have no mugs for sale, but pickle keepers are available in a tourist store????
Other bars were near the lobby (open 24 hours) which also served cappucino (mighty good when there is no Starbucks) and in the same building as the snack bar (close to the ocean)
Beach and Pools -
There is no need to fight for a lounge chair at the beach or the pool - there are plenty!! The pool is clean - and David the trained masseuse gives massages for 20CUC/hr on the pool deck - it's the best 20CUC you will spend!!
The beach is not as rocky as I was led to believe - there are shells and a few small rocks in the water, and a bit of seaweed as well. Since I'm a diver I wasn't bothered by it, but a few others were freaked out by the seaweed and what could be in it.
The hotel grounds are well-kept. I remember thinking that they should mow the grass near my room during the first day and sure enough, the grass had been mowed by the end of that day. There are repairs being made to the resort constantly - during my trip, one woman fell into a hole that had been dug to repair a water line. The hole had been left wide open, unmarked, at night. Luckily, only her pride was hurt severely, but the hotel was not willing to make any adjustments for her - they even expected her to pay the doctor that they called to look at her injuries (scrapes, cuts).
The maid staff is friendly - I learned a lot about my maid (whose name now escapes me). I left small gifts for her each day and I could tell which ones she liked by the cleanliness of my room when I returned. At the end of the week, she asked me if my shoes were expensive (a pair of faux-crocs from Mountain Equipment Co-op that I purchased for $7) - I said no and asked her what size she took. She sheepishly replied that she had tried on my shoes and they fit perfectly. I left the shoes for her - one less thing to drag back to Canada.
There are cats at the resort to take care of the little lizards and mice/rats that are common here. These cats can tell time and know exactly when the buffet restaurant opens. I love cats so I made a few feline friends during my stay, but I would suggest washing your hands after handling any of these furry friends - each one I saw had ear mites and who knows what else!!
I visited Santa Lucia specifically with the intent to dive on the world's 2nd longest barrier reef (right after Australia). I expected great dives and was not disappointed. However, my camera chose not to work on a couple of the dives and high winds and hangovers cancelled approximately half of my scheduled dives. Photos are few, but the memories will live on. You can see photos at http://caracoluw.notlong.com
The dives are deeper than I expected - anywhere from 75 to 120 feet in average depth. The one dive shop in the area (Shark's Friends) offers 2 1-tank dives each day and will make a day trip (3 dives + lunch) ocassionally (not when I was diving). They have good looking rental gear and steel tanks in 12, 15 and 18L sizes (80, 100 and 120 cu. ft.) with both DIN and yoke valves. The divemasters are very professional - they saved more than one idiot diver while I was there. Cost is about $30 per dive, but the price goes down as you do more dives.
This area is well known for the bull shark population. However, what is not well known is that the bull sharks are seasonal!! They disappear each year around the start of January and won't be back until mid-May. So I didn't get to play with them at all!!
Other activities are the resorts' night entertainment. I spent a couple of nights watching the one at Caracol and was not impressed - the big thrill of the week was the Fashion Show which apparently has Cuban TV stars parading around in poorly made clothing (I could see seams coming apart and threads hanging off the clothes) for way too long (in my opinion). Guests then have the opportunity to purchase the clothes the next day.
Since I wasn't impressed with Caracol's entertainment, I decided to visit Club Amigo Mayanabo to see what they had going on one night. Now that's entertainment!!! They start the show with an activity to involve the kids (musical chairs, etc.), then the house band plays a few songs during which the resort's dancers pull audience members to the dance floor. It was very interactive. After the band finishes up, the dancers put on their part of the show - a number of choreographed numbers with costumes - the amount of work they put into practice showed.
I took the Last Day Camaguey tour, departing the resort at 1pm (instead of 430pm like everyone else) for Camaguey. I had spoken to others who had done the full day tour and they assured me that it was much too long to spend in Camaguey - the largest city in the area, but certainly not the size of Havana. I was confused by this tour. The tour guide rushed us through Revolution Square and other historical locations, giving little information about where we were or why it was important, only to sit us down in a bar for 45 minutes to listen to a band that no one had an interest in and drink a mojito (which, I must admit, was FANTASTIC). I would have rathered spend more time sightseeing (with information) and skipped the bar completely. The tour ended with a meal (the best I had all week) at a restaurant 2km from the airport, situated right next to a diesel fuel station - a grilled ham & cheese sandwich with chicken wrapped in bacon and a drink. If you take this tour, the bonus is that you are first scheduled to arrive at the airport, so check-in and customs is quick.
I am confused over whether I would return to this spot. The diving was good, but deep so the dives were shorter than I prefer. They also don’t make it easy to get in more than one dive each day. I prefer this area to Varadero – it’s not a complete party town, but you can walk to 2 discos if you choose to leave the resort. The staff at the resorts also did things for you BEFORE you gave them a tip – something that doesn’t happen in Varadero. It's not a direct flight from Moncton or Halifax so that's a negative - but it's a cheap vacation in a warm place when Canada was -30C.
If you would like to read my entire travellogue, visit http://santalucia.notlong.com, and for photos of the resort, diving, and people I met there, visit http://caracol.notlong.com
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|I travelled to Caracol with a couple I had met previously at Jibacoa. We went with Nolitours and the air carrier was Skyservice.
No problems with the flight. Transfer to the hotel is about a 90 minute drive. We arrived after dark. Check in was reasonably quick. Staff were helpful.....the bell boy took my bags to my room and made sure I knew where everything was and how it worked.
Room: A decent size with twin beds, night tables, dresser, TV and air conditioning with remote....a nice touch if you want to change the setting after you are in bed. Lots of closet space to hang your clothes, and also four drawers and a safe with a mechanical key. There is an adjoining sitting room with a mini fridge and a patio door to the balcony. The bathroom is a good size with 4 piece bath and a hairdryer, also a 240 volt universal plug outlet that I used to charge my digital camera battery. Note that the water is solar heated and very hot! Lots of water pressure as well. The best shower I've ever had in Cuba. I had an ocean view that was wonderful. Unfortunately the window would not open. They are currently doing renovations, and I noted a number of windows stacked ready to be installed on the "pink" side of the resort, so hopefully soon the windows will be replaced. My balcony door opened with a bit of effort on my part. The beds are a bit "tired" but I found them comfortable enough. The room was kept spotlessly clean by the maid.
Resort Grounds: Attractive and well kept. The gardeners are at work early, before it gets too hot. The accommodation is set out in a circular pattern which seems a bit like a maze until you get used to it.
Restaurants: There is a buffet restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also a beach restaurant/snack bar which turns into an a la carte at night. The food was basic Cuban resort fare. I found it pretty good. There is a pasta bar at lunch and dinner, also a grill for eggs at breakfast and fish or meat at other meals. Desserts were the usual assortment of cakes and cookies, and they had some very nice donuts most days. Good ice cream at supper, but not at lunch. The snack bar has good french fries, and otherwise serves burgers and hot dogs as well as fish. There is a "dine around" feature that allows you one meal per room next door at Mayanabo each week. We went twice (2 rooms) and enjoyed their buffet. Caracol's a la carte is pretty basic....edible, but nothing special. Choice of beef, chicken or fish. I wouldn't bother again....the buffet was better. Wine is served with meals but not at the bars. Coffee at the buffet is often tepid. I complained and they brought me a cup so hot I couldn't touch it for five minutes! (Cuban humour, I'm sure.) Wait staff were great. I didn't have to get my own orange juice and they brought me coffee from the lobby bar most mornings.
Bars: Lobby bar, pool bar (including swim up bar) and beach bar (not right on the beach, but at the snack bar, fairly close to the beach). I don't do mixed drinks much, so can't comment except that the Spanish coffee is good at the lobby bar if the bartender who knows how to make it is on. No problem with service.
Pool: I never used it, but it appeared to be nice and clean. There are lots of loungers but no much shade. There is a swim up bar.
Beach: This is not a swimmers beach. Too shallow, too much sea grass and debris.....rocks, shells, etc. underfoot. If you want to swim, bring water shoes. You will need them. On the other hand, it is a snorkeller's paradise! Lots and lots of things to see. We went snorkelling every day, several times a day. About 150 meters straight out from Caracol there is a patch of coral with many varietals of fish. We saw something new every time we went. I've been googling species and think I have identified Fairy Basslet, Trumpet Fish, Soldier Fish, Queen Triggerfish, Spotfin Butterfly Fish, Squid, possibly a Trunkfish, and many, many others I don't know the names of. Of course, Barracuda, Yellowtails, Sergeant Major fish, Blue Tang.....all the "usual suspects". We also saw crabs, and something that looked a lot like a snake but was probably a Goldspotted Eel. We also snorkelled around the piers in front of Mayanabo and Gran Club. Also lots of fish, including the largest school of juvenile Barracuda (18" - 24") I've yet seen. Standing on the pier I saw an extremely weird looking creature that I took a picture of and showed to one of the Cuban sailors. He told me what kind of fish it was in Spanish, but so far I have no English translation and have been unable to find anything similar using Google. In short, a great deal to see in the water....on a par, if not better, than Jibacoa. The beach is also long with white sand that varies in texture from fine to coarse. Due to the proliferation of sea grass, it is not a nice beach to walk barefoot, although I did. If you usually wear shoes to walk the beach, it is just fine. You can go miles in both directions. It is, however, a public beach, and you may be approached by people wanting to sell or trade you things. I walk early, so this was seldom a problem for me.
Excursions: There are quite a few excursions available, including a "last day, Camaguey" opportunity, (if you are on the Thursday Toronto flight) where you leave the resort early and tour Camaguey before going to the airport. You can go snorkelling at the reef, go to the lagoon to see Flamingos, and possibly see wild dolphins. You can go to Coco Beach for a meal and to see the sunset. There are also lots of "unofficial" tours you can arrange locally....ask around. We went to Coco Beach to snorkel, and also went snorkelling off the beach at the east end of Santa Lucia where there is a sunken ship (a boat, really) and the reef is close to shore. This was inexpensive. We took a buggy ride and at the beach there was a guide available to escort you snorkelling.
Activities: Sailing!! Really good sailing!! Had a blast on the Hobie Cat almost every day. The staff are good sailors and windy days are fun! Caracol only has one Hobie, so make your reservations early....it is popular! I also took out the X14 on a quiet day. I wouldn't have wanted to try it in high winds. The hiking extension was missing from the tiller, and the rope holding the centerboard down was badly frayed. There are peddleboats and sea kayaks available. I didn't bother with activities at the pool, so can't report on those. There are bicycles available and you can ride into town or to Coco Beach, for that matter. (some people did).
Entertainment: I didn't stay up for the shows. However, one afternoon they had entertainment before supper and it was pretty good. There are also 2 night clubs close at hand if you want to go out. I didn't do this either, but I understand one in particular might be someplace you would want to avoid.
Internet: This was not available at the resort, although I saw it at Gran Club next door. However, about 1 mile down the road there is a telephone center with Internet and I rode a bike there every day to send email. It was very good....fast for Cuba....and cost 6 CUC per hour. I had 25 minutes left on my card at the end of the week.
Overall: I had a blast at Caracol. The weather was perfect and I kept busy snorkelling and sailing every day. With rainy weather I might not have been as happy. It is a small resort (150 rooms) and there would not be a lot to do on a rainy day. That said, this little resort is a real gem. Great staff, comfortable accommodation, and a super location if you like snorkelling and sailing. There is also a dive shop just down the beach (Shark's Friends) for those who like to Scuba. One downside....the nightclubs can be noisy, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Depending on where your room is and what way it faces, noise could be a problem. With windows closed and air conditioning on, it didn't bother me.....but my room was facing away from it. I would highly recommend this hotel for someone who enjoys the beach and isn't looking for 5 star amenities.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|We were at the Caracol for our second visit from the 31st of December to the 14th of January and again had a fabulous time.
We flew sunwing, the food was good, flight was fine and arrived at the airport a few hours before New Years eve. We were whisked to the resort through fog in time to get there just before the New Year.
We checked in very quickly, dropped the bags and headed out to celebrate. Our last visit had been for one week almost two years prior. As we walked out to get our glass of champagne the staff (who did not know we were coming) repeatedly came up to us, gave us hugs, told us how glad they were to see us again. This could happen at many resorts but these people remembered our names, occurrences from before, commented on how much our son has grown and referenced things he liked from last time.....two years ago. This is indicative of the staff all over the resort, they went out of their way to be friendly, helpful and are great people. These are the best staff we have encountered and we have met many good ones.
The food is fine but not spectacular, the rooms are large with an extra sitting room/ entrance room which is great if you have three people! The rooms are super clean.
The only downside in the staff that we could find was the entertainment director. He and his wife seemed to cross a few lines with the content of their shows and detract from the skill, ability and great presentation of the whole entertainment group, band and dancers. In addition he seems to have trouble relating to the entertainment staff. Leo has now moved to Brisas, which I am sure is a reflection of this. My wife and a friend were sitting with the staff one day just before their meeting. The boss came up and started giving them [----] until he realized they were there. Hopefully they resolve this issue at the resort.
Sanchez, George, Julia, Jenny and the rest were fabulous at the new beach restaurant. The food there was superb making the buffet for lunch not even an option.
David the masseuse is absolutely fabulous and worth every penny.
Off the resort we found a great 'local' restaurant in playa coco, message me if you want details. The horse and buggy was great and my son loved the train into town to bring things to the local school. Before we went to Cuba we told our son he could bring whatever toys, books, etc he wanted but they all had to be given away before he came home. Definitely a good idea.
The ice cream at the restaurant was good but the little tubs at the store out front of the resort were even better.
If you have any questions message me
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|ok do not listen to anyone who says the food is bad first of all, and second club amigo caracol was worth every dime. The staff are amazing they make you feel like kings and queens, the beach is fabulous and warm, and you will have endless amounts of fun. There was so little to complain about, the rooms are big, the maid made the beds and did pretty designs with the towels, you were greeted by everyone you passed, food was safe and plenty of variety. I really can't find a lot to complain about. Of course eeryone has a different experience and unfortunately some have bad ones but all in all if you are looking for a good relaxing trip and you want to come back feeling amazing then you should go to club amigo caracol.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|Serge and Andrea |
| We went on a Last Minute Deal with Nolitours and flew from Montreal by Air Transat. The trip to and from Camaguay was fine and the snack onboard was good. There was about 300 people on our flight, so customs / immigration took about 45 minutes. Have your documents ready ahead of time and it will go improve wait times. Beer was available at the airport for $ 5 Canadian for 2. The bus ride was uneventful and did not really seem that long (90 minutes). The countryside is beautiful if you get to see it during the day.
Check-in was quick with snacks and drinks available in the lobby. A quick snack was nice waiting to have luggage taken to room. The rooms are older, but very clean and comfortable. We had a little sitting area with a mini-bar fridge and a balcony. Maids came every day and cleaned. They always did a super job and we always left a little tip.
There was lots of hot water available for showers, but no plug for a bath. I faked it with a piece of plastic over the drain for a quick soak in cool water for a sunburn. The bathroom has a hair dryer and they provide soap and shampoo. If you want anything else, bring it. You will need a converter to use any of your own electrical devices. They only left 1 roll of toilet paper per day, so ya have to be conservative :). The A/C worked well and we left it on low at night only. One day it rained really hard and we had a bit of water on the floor from the windows. I didn't see any bugs at all in the room and saw only one outside on the grounds. There were little lizards around though in the bushes that were harmless and kinda cute.
The food is plain, but plentiful. There was always a pasta, pizza and a grilled meat for lunch and dinner. There was always fresh bread, homemade soup, fruit (bananas, pineapple, papaya, watermelon), rice and beans and small desserts as well. The main dishes changed every day, but was repeated during the week we were there. I can't rave enough about the shredded beef that was served 3 times that week. It was fabulous! I stayed away from the pork and lamb as I am not a big fan, but others that we dined with said it was good. The white wine was better than the red wine and their Cristal beer tastes like Coors lite. Not bad at all.
There is two "a la carte" restaurants on site. We did not visit the Cuban one at all, but again, others we were with enjoyed the food. We visited the other one at lunch as we heard the burgers were great….and they were! Served with fries. No cheese was available for cheeseburgers.
The cups for drinks at the pool bar are really small. I recommend taking a large insulated coffee cup with lid. The straws fit into it and you don't have to get up every 10 minutes for a drink. There is bottled water in the lobby and at the bar that is safe to drink. They don't have bottles, so you either need to purchase your first bottle in the little store and keep filling it up or bring your own.
There is a small library in the towel shack beside the massage table in the pool area but the assortment is small so take your own reading material. We left our books there to add to the shelf when we were done. David the massage guy is always booked, so book early so as not to be disappointed. The bartender at the pool bar is Viktor and he makes the BEST Pina Coladas around. Real coconut and pineapple………mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
The beach is beautiful, but it is a crushed shell beach and is a bit rocky. You will want to take water shoes or an old pair of runners for the water. The reef is visible and there is catamarans, sailboards and paddleboats available to use. There is a lifeguard on duty at the pool and the beach. There is a security guard on the beach as well, but I didn't see a need for him as the locals pretty much left us alone. Nobody bothered us with trinkets on the beach. There is tiki umbrellas for shade as well. Farther down the beach there is horseback riding and friends that went said it was really fun and the horses were friendly. There is an Italian restaurant on the pier as well, and I understand that the lobster was fabulous.
The conversion rate for Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) was about $ 1.30 CDN each. They say it is equal to the US dollar. For 2 pesos you can take a tram ride which goes around Santa Lucia at 10 am and 2 pm from the lobby. We were told it was very safe to leave the resort and we did. We went to the highway and caught a horse and buggy ride around Santa Lucia for 15 pesos. It was about 10 km drive. Julio was nice and knew lots of the locals. Carnival / Festival was on the week we were there, so there were beer tents, barbeques and gatherings at the local community centre at the corner of the property. EVERYONE was out having a good time.
We were there to relax, so we didn't participate in the entertainment every night, but we heard it was good. There is only one shop on Club Amigo property and it didn't have very much, but we went next door to Club Gran Santa Lucia and they had a little strip mall with clothes, jewellery, etc…..and a pharmacy and a nurse. They also had the only local Internet and it is 6 pesos for a 1 hour card. It's a bit tricky to use the Spanish drop down lists, but there is usually someone around to help you out.
We had a super time and were very relaxed. We are going back at Christmas to do all of the things we didn't do this time around. We were very attached to the staff and will miss them. We look forward to seeing everyone again in December. If you want a nice quiet place to relax and do NOTHING…this is the place. There were not a lot of kids and we were away from the main tourist areas so were pretty much left alone. This is not a 5 star resort and they don't try to be one - you get what you pay for, it is clean, comfortable and safe. We highly recommend it.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
| You can thumb through all the brochures, compare the pictures and purchase as many stars as your budget permits: it’s not always a guarantee for a perfect vacation, but every once in while you go with your gut feeling and hit the jackpot.
The Club Amigo Caracol in Santa Lucia near Camaguey is one of the best 3-star and thus budget-friendly hotels Cuba has to offer. Santa Lucia itself is a remote resort area with limited facilities: it lacks the tourism infrastructure of Varadero, the gorgeous surroundings of Holguin, and the comfort of the Cayos - but it has a wide 20km long beach, plenty of palm trees and four hotels that are perfectly acceptable when compared to the price tag.
I just need a place to crash…
Rooms at the Caracol are mini-suites with a separate sitting area in case you want to read while your travel companion insists on lights-out. (The sitting area is also where the mini-fridge is located so you’re at an advantage). The air conditioner is quiet, efficient and remote-controlled, the closet is large enough, the in-room safe works, and the patio or balcony is a tranquil place to down a glass of (insert your preferred beverage here) at dusk or dawn.
All units have just been equipped with new TVs and have several English channels - although be prepared for occasional power or satellite outages especially during inclement weather (when you need the TV the most – a very Cuban quirk).
Bathrooms are large and brightly lit with efficient lamps. There’s a hairdryer, but no toiletries other than two tiny soaps are provided. Note: Voltage is 220 Volt throughout the hotel; the prong of your North American appliance will fit, but unless its voltage is adjustable to 220V you’ll have private Fourth of July fire-works right before your eyes.
Will she look good in the morning?
The Caracol looks splendid at any time of the day because there are no wrinkles to hide. Missing: the characteristic musty smell in the rooms. Not missing: any tiles, anywhere. No plant is dying on the lush grounds, no rail is loose, no shingle is askew.
Rooms are located in 2-floor buildings and close to all facilities. The hotel is wheelchair and stroller friendly, with well-lit walkways and ramps. A central path leads to the beach and conveniently passes by a rustic beach bar where you can lean against the wooden railing and watch the ocean while sipping a beer wearing your bathing suit.
In a peacekeeping mission against towel-wars, they’ve built more palapas on the beach and stocked up the lounge chair supply. As an unfortunate counter-measure, the covers on the shade structures around the pool have disappeared (or were just at the dry-cleaners?) leaving close to zero shade at the pool – a shortcoming that will hopefully be remedied.
I’m somewhat of a somehow picky eater…
The buffet restaurant always has an adequate selection including soup and a great salad bar for lunch and dinner. Every dish is labeled in several languages, and if anything still looks too exotic escape to the pasta station (omelets for breakfast) or the snack bar offering well-known and authentic cholesterol-style dishes such as French fries. The pool bar serves a tray of sandwiches in the afternoon that taste especially good with a post-nap cocktail. If you have room in your suitcase (ever thought of stuffing your shoes?), bring snacks such as chips or sweets – do not count on being able to satiate a craving with your pocket money in Santa Lucia since the stores won’t have anything suitable.
At night, the rustic beach bar turns into an equally rustic a-la-carte restaurant where you can splurge extra for lobster or select one of the other dishes on the menu. Have a mosquito defense plan ready. Tip: rub your entire body with a Bounce fabric softener sheet. If this doesn’t help, spray Deet-enforced insect repellant onto lemon or vanilla lotion and apply it. Do not spray Deet on your pantyhose or polyester clothing or you may see your best evening dress melt.
Now that I ate, where’s the beach?
It’s that blue thing you can see from your room window, and that blinding white stuff in front if it is the sand. The beach in Santa Lucia is shared by 4 hotels and has a length of 20km, with long walkable stretches. Shade at the Caracol is provided by numerous palapas and, where the beach abuts the hotel, by natural vegetation.
The ocean is good for swimming – but watch out for the occasional piece of coral or sudden patches of seaweed. Santa Lucia often experiences quite strong winds during the winter months. If the catamaran is still going out under windy conditions, you may want to take Gravol or similar motion sickness medication to fight off seasickness.
Mum, I’m bored!
Then go and play with the excellent Animacion team. Repeat visitors to the Caracol know that one of the greatest draws here is a dedicated team of hotel workers whose main goal in life seems to be to make their guests happy. Although several members from the original entertainment group have left, a young and enthusiastic crew is working hard to keep up with traditions and show everyone a good time: the girl who teaches the dance lessons is a dynamo, the volleyball team a hoot, and the Spanish teacher a walking feel-good pill.
They also put serious efforts into the evening shows, although I missed the astounding musical and dance acts that were brought in from Camaguey 2 years ago and the pre-show bands. This may have been an end-of-season issue since the hotel was not full in April.
For single or lonely travelers: staff is always happy to communicate with you, and you may suddenly discover that you speak “hand and foot language”. Very moving: the senior-citizen cook with a weathered face reflecting years behind the steam kettle who is proudly practicing his limited English he learned so late in life.
No party without a hangover.
Traveling informed is the best defense against bumps on the vacation road.
1) Do not confuse AI (All Inclusive) with 24-hour food and beverage services. Check brochures carefully. At the Caracol, bars are open (i.e., included) from 9:30am to 11:00pm only. After that, you are lucky if someone at the hotel sells you a beer; otherwise you have to go out and buy a drink at one of the nightspots. The Caracol essentially shuts down at 11:00pm although the Animacion team will be happy to stick around for another hour to chat with you or accompany you to one of the local discos (not included). Counter-measure: take drinks to your room before bar closing or buy some cans of Cristal beer or a bottle of rum at the hotel store. Have your water and Coke bottle refilled at the bar.
2) Phone... your room phone is for in-house communication only, and for any calls outside the hotel including to your country you have to use the pay-phone in the lobby. Phone cards are usually available at the front desk, but sometimes they are not and/or neither is the line. You may have to go to the local post office (2 CUC cab ride return).
3) Internet… there is one computer in the lobby for e-mail and Internet use. Tip: keep your messages short and sweet because your long, nicely typed and just spell-checked “letter to home” may be wiped out by a power outage or server crash, courtesy of the local infrastructure.
4) Phone cards/Internet cards/Late checkout, etc. – anything the front desk is in charge of arranging may not be provided as efficiently as your afternoon cocktail at the bar. Reason: you tipped the bartender but not the front desk, right? Although good service should be available without extra tipping, life is tough at the front desk and a little extra attention may be the best incentive to reserve an Internet card or late-check-out room.
What’s outside the Caracol?
Not much – three other hotels, a store, and a small village which makes a good destination for a bike or moped trip. There is also horseback riding, and you can take a horse-drawn carriage to Coco beach – a dream beach for romantic romps and the best tropical photos you’ve taken in a long time. Have lunch at the scenic restaurant on Coco beach, or be adventurous and enjoy a lobster dinner at a Cuban home for about 10CUC (bring your own beer). Every cab or horse cart driver in Santa Lucia can arrange this for you.
For night life, you have a choice between the basic venue Rumbos (outdoor roadside joint with plenty of Cuban dance partners), the Gran Club’s hotel disco La Jungla (where mostly tourists and staff enjoy the late hours), and the “cultural center” Mar Verde. I used quotation marks because it really used to be a cultural center with outstanding musical and dance performances 2 years ago but seems to have deteriorated slightly into an extension of the Rumbos. It is still a good place to have a nightcap and watch Cubans dance – but also watch your wallet and other personal belongings.
Should we go to Camaguey?
That depends if you want to brave the 1.5-hour bus or taxi ride each way, but Camaguey is certainly worth visiting. If you’re a history or architecture buff you’d be missing out on a first-class colonial museum – meaning the entire city. Camaguey has an attractive city core that is perfect for walking, with much to see and plenty of watering (or beering) stops on the way. The streets are bustling with Cuban life and are safe to walk, even at night.
Nightlife in Camaguey has been curbed somewhat (similar to Holguin); many discos or places with live music are presently closed for various reasons. Best bet for a great evening out is still the Casa de la Trova in the city center where you can enjoy excellent Cuban music and passionate Cuban dancing in a stylish courtyard with efficient drink service.
If you are staying for 2 weeks in Santa Lucia, it may be worthwhile to spend the night in Camaguey. Accommodation options are Casa Particulares (private bed and breakfasts), or city hotels such as the Gran Hotel. An evening walk through Camaguey shows you a Cuba your hotel won’t – you can watch a whole city parading, biking, riding, walking, running, sashaying, hurrying, driving by from the comfort of an open-air restaurant or bar. Or you can roam the narrow side streets and stop when, looking through the high Spanish style windows, you spot a little girl on a dirt floor who is chewing on a broken plastic spoon and staring into space. And then suddenly that little girl sees you through the iron bars, takes the spoon out of her mouth, smiles showing the few teeth she already grew, and waves at you. That’s the kind of Cuban evening show I’ve come for.
The Caracol in a nutshell?
I would need a coconut. There is no single or simple explanation why this otherwise basic hotel draws so many repeat visitors or makes so many folks feel right at home. You may have to give it a couple of days – just as you needed to make friends with that older couple who runs your favorite mom-and-pop diner across the street. But once you discover the charm of Club Amigo Caracol, you know you’ve found one of those lower-star hotel mysteries where great holidays can still be had at a budget price. Happy travels everyone.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|Dianne and Alex |
|Went via Nolitour and flew West Jet. Travel to and from Cuba very good. Processing through airport quick and buses waiting. Drive to hotel uneventful as it was dark out and couldn't see the countryside - but got to view it on return journey.
Check in quick and snack and drinks waiting for us in lobby. Room was comfortable, mattress was a little too soft for my liking, but got used to it, pillow too high so used blanket from cupboard and it worked well. Chambermaid soon learned to put pillowcase on blanket instead of pillow.
Room kept very clean, lots of hot water for showers ( it says tub - there is no plug so forget about soaking. The brochure says minifridge, we did not have one in our room, but there was a hair dryer. At night we turned A/C to fan setting because we don't like A/C at night.
If you ask at reception they will spray your room for mosquitoes, we had a couple in our room and most would not find them a problem but I have an allergy so take extra precautions (travel with mosquito netting).
Food is repetitive but you can have variety by choosing different things at each meal. The food is well cooked and the meat is quite good compared to what we have had at other resorts. Try the pasta and grilled meats. We took travel mugs with us for breakfast as the cups are very small. I take my own Tetley tea bags with me. Hot drinks are not served with lunch or dinner. If you like peanut butter, Nutella or jam, take it along with you they do have some home made marmalade and local honey.
There is fresh fruit at every meal - bananas, pineapple, papaya, watermelon. Lots of freshly baked bread. The soup is tasty. Ice cream is only served at dinner.
We did not use the beach bar for snacks as we do not eat hot dogs, hamburgers or french fries, but heard people say that they were very good. The beach bar converts to a la carte restaurant at night but we did not try it.
Take a bottle with you for water, you can refill them at the pool bar, beach bar, coffee bar and buffet. They have water coolers in each of these locations.
I was looking to get my hair braided but the only place I found was a girl walking on the beach, I watched her do one lady but the wind was blowing the hair everywhere and the result was very unprofessional looking, I didn't waste my money.
There is a small library in the shack beside the massage in pool area but the assortment is small so take your own reading material
Take water shoes or an old pair of runners for the water, it is beautifully clear and warm but the bottom is rocky and there is sea grass growing in the shallows so if you do not like the feel of that on bare feet the shoes are great. We went in the pedal boat and it was very relaxing.
We took bikes, they are in pretty good condition (I take my helmet with me - can also use for scooter or horseback riding) and rode around Santa Lucia, there is not much traffic on the road.
For 2 pesos you can take the little train which goes around Santa Lucia at 10 am and 2 pm. It is worth the ride to see how the locals live. The train doesn't stop so I took some small toys which I threw out to the children as we passed by.
We took a taxi to Coco Beach. You can go by horse and buggy if you like but it is about 10 km and the road is bad so you may prefer the A/C in the taxi and the cost is about the same.
Coco Beach is beautiful and worth the trip.
The entertainment staff is great, they are so friendly and everyone joins in to the activities be it morning stretching or volleyball in the pool. They are good fun and they are great dancers!
We checked out the other hotels but I do not think they had as high a calibre and Club Amigo as far as stage show presentation. If you enjoy the music they play you can purchase a CD from the DJ.
The shops are in the hotels and they all sell the same things. Club Santa Lucia has an area of hand crafts during the day and there have some nice things there.
You can buy an internet card in the hotels for 6 pesos for 1 hour and they also sell phone cards.
Anyway, have a great time. As any vacation, it is what you make of it as to its success!. This is not a 5 star and they do not pretend to be one - you get what you pay for, it is clean, comfortable and safe. Enjoy!
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|Greg & Sherry |
| The club amigo caracol is truly a three star resort but a darn good one.
We just returned from a week there Mar 2-9 and had a good time. We have now been to Cuba nine times in eight different resorts ranging from three to 5+ stars.
The staff at this resort were fabulous (front desk excluded) and were the best staff we have had at any resort so far. The restaurant staffs, entertainers, gardeners, cleaners etc. were all very friendly and went out of there way not just to help but to get to know you and your family. The rooms were good with a separate sitting area in addition to the bedroom and bathroom. The building layouts were nice in the snail shapes as you were never far from anything.
The only minor (I emphasise MINOR) issues we had from the resort are exactly what you would expect from a true three star resort. The hot food at the buffet was limited and average although the cooks doing omelettes, pasta etc. were quite good. If you weren't a really picky eater you could find a good meal every time. Desserts were better than most places, breads were good. Salad bar was slightly limited. The hours of the restaurants were an annoyance as they were much more limited than any other place I have been. The beach restaurant was very limited in the food selection during the day but the staff was great and the hot dogs and fries were great.
The beach was beautiful although the first few steps into the water were often a little rocky. The watersports were good.
The activities were fun and plentiful although the bar closing down at 11 pm was a little different.
The area around the resort was great, we spent a fair bit of time off the resort. We took a horse and buggy to Coco beach which was great and had a private lobster lunch at someone's house for $10.
On two of the evenings we took a cab to the "restaurant" in Coco beach. Not exactly what you would expect for decor but the lobster dinners again were phenomenal and everyone had a great time. If you are interested just call a cab, ask them to take you to the restaurant in Coco beach (there is only one) and arrive about 7pm. Walk around to the back and they will take care of you (yes this one is a legitimate authorized restaurant).
Overall for a three star I would give this an 8 or 9 out of 10. If you are expecting a five star you will be disappointed.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|Bob and Veronica |
| We booked a one week trip to Club Amigo Caracol from January 23, 2006 to February 4,2006. The cost was $880 Canadian all inclusive.
This was my 4th trip to Cuba and absolutely the worst trip I have ever had. Although the staff were great that did not make up for the absolutely HORRIBLE food. Everything was overcooked and very unappetizing. I have travelled all over the world for the past 40 years and the food at this resort was absolutely the worst I have ever eaten in my life. In fact we both got food poisoning on our last evening there. This hotel is rated as a 3 1/2 star resort but in comparison to the three other resorts I have stayed at in Cuba it really is a one star. Nolitours should be ashamed of themselves for promoting this resort.
Do yourself a favour, pay $200 or $300 more and go to a true 4 star or
5 star resort if you want to go to Cuba, or take air only, stay at a casa de particular and choose the restaurants you want to eat in yourself. Best of luck. I hope you have a better experience than we did.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|Deb and Gary (Sunnyone) |
| Reviewers Rating: Great
On January 8th my husband and I left Toronto on Skyservice for two weeks at the Club Amigo Caracol in Santa Lucia, Cuba. The flight was a little late but otherwise we had no complaints.
Arrival: On arrival in Camaguey we filed through immigration quickly to find our luggage already off the belt, all lined up waiting for us. The porters were also waiting inside the airport to take the suitcases to the buses. This is the fastest we have ever made it out of the airport to the bus! The ride to the hotel took 1 1/2 hours but seemed to take forever!
Check-in We were given check-in cards to fill out on the bus so when we arrived at the hotel check-in was fast and painless. There were cold drinks and sandwiches waiting for us as well as dancing and music. The porters were lined up to show us to our rooms and help with the luggage.
Rooms: Our room was down near the ocean. You could see the beach from the windows. We were on the ground level with a small patio off the sitting room with two chairs to sit and people watch. The bedroom had two beds, we pushed them together for a Hollywood king! The furniture was dated but everything was clean and well looked after. We don’t spend a lot of time in our room so as long as its clean, we are happy. The bathroom was quite large with a bathtub and shower. The water pressure was great and the hot water was HOT. The air-conditioner worked really well but as the evenings were cool you didn’t need it that much. There was a small fridge in the room to keep you water cold.
Food: Like everyone says…you don’t go to Cuba for the food. This is true here too. There wasn’t a lot of selection but what was there was good. The pasta bar was great with a few different sauces every night. In the morning there was a chef at the grill to cook your eggs the way you like them or your omelette with all the trimmings. The beach bar serves hamburgers, hot dogs and fries all day, a good choice if you don’t want to leave the beach. The beach grill turns into the a-la-carte restaurant at night. You can have lobster or shrimp at an additional cost. The lobster was large and cooked very well but the shrimp was not worth the money, 5 shrimp on a skewer for 6 pesos. There is an espresso bar off of the lobby but it doesn’t open until 9:30. This was too bad, as it would be nice to have an early morning cup of java to start the day.
Beach: The beach is beautiful, great for early morning walks to get the perfect sunrise picture! There is coral just off shore that is a little hard on the feet but after that it is sand again. There is some sea grass further out, I’m a bit of a baby, as I like to have the nice soft sand, no grass. The water doesn’t get deep fast so it is good for kids and those of us who like to bob. The beach is raked everyday by a tractor to get rid of the sea weed that has washed up on the beach over night. Goggles, fins, masks, windsurfers and catamarans are all available on the beach. We took the catamaran out to the reef where the driver dove in to bring up a star fish for us to see. There are plenty of shade huts and chairs.
Bikes: The hotel had just gotten new bikes so the guys took a bike trip to Coco Beach about 8km from the hotel…mostly dirt roads. They said the bikes worked well and really enjoyed their day.
Pool: The pool is very small but it was never a problem as I seemed to be the only one ever in it. Most use it to go to swim to the bar! There were a few volley ball and water polo games and the aqua gym was fun. The kids pool is off the main pool. It is a square shallow pool more suited for toddlers, I could see how the older ones would get bored.
Staff: The staff at this hotel are what makes it so special. They go out of their way to include everyone. They are there early in the morning to late at night and never seem to lag. We never met a cranky one in the whole two weeks. The evening shows were not Broadway shows but we all enjoyed their efforts.
Trips: We took a cab into Camaguey..what a great day! Our cab driver’s name was Rene. He came to the hotel the day before to go over what we wanted to do and see on our trip. First stop was the violin/guitar workshop. The workers said they finish one instrument a day. There are 6 or 8 of them working there with very old..tried and true, tools. Not an electric one in the place! They pointed out that the main wood they use was maple imported from Canada. Next stop was a terra cotta pottery place. This was a family run business where they make the distinctive pots you see all over Camaguey. Every tour has to have a church! We were introduced to our guide who took us all through the church even to the catacombs and tunnels under it. The thing we couldn’t get over was the antiques. We were handed alter pieces and other articles to look at that were dated 1902 etc. History in your hands not roped off! Lunch was at a private home…incredible meal! No city tour is complete without a bicycle cab ride. For one hour we rode around the small streets and alleys looking at the houses, theatres and markets. Got a beautiful woven beach bag for 2 pesos. Had to stop at a rum factory! No automation at this one…someone fills the bottle, someone puts the cork in, someone bangs the cork in with a rubber mallet and someone glues the label on. Hey, it works! After a long day we headed back to the hotel. If you want a great Camagauey tour call Rene or ask his son Sanchez..chef at the beach grill. You are on the meter with his cab so this is a legitimate tour. The van holds 6 people comfortably.
Conclusion: Yes this is finally coming to an end! The weather wasn’t the greatest and the hotel wasn’t the fanciest but this was one of the best vacations we’ve had. We would go back to the Club Amigo Caracol in a second! pictures are http://community.webshots.com/user/cubagary
|Club Amigo Caracol |
| This web site made us very comfortable booking our vacation at this resort. Thanks to everyone who contributed! The reviews are really so positive and for the most our experience matched up. It is worth noting, however, that these terrific reviews can raise your expectations which is a little unfair to the resort, and I think this happened to us. Suffice to say it is really a 3-star resort. I will limit my further comments to the kids club, and the pool, as no one else seems to have mentioned specifically vacationing here with with young kids - Our kids are 4 and 6.
The kids club is described in the brochure as "Supervised kids club ages 3-11". Having made use of kids clubs extensively in the past when travelling to Varadero with our kids, we were very disappointed. This one is quite different. In the interest of informing future families - here is what to expect.
The kids club was non-existant on the first two days. We made several complaints to the signature rep, and made sure many staff from the animation group knew that we really, really both wanted and expected there to be a kids club. There was no facility, or room to meet, which differes from other Cuban vacations we have enjoyed, where there was an air-conditioned facility filled with toys and games, and usually even a tv, and videos. At Caracol, apparently the staff would round up the kids at certain times and organize activities. The official times were from 10:30-12:00 and 3:00-5:00. We pushed and pushed, and finally by mid-week staff from the animation appeared to "baby-sit" the kids at the pool. There were only two occasions where there was an organized excursion to the beach, once to play in the sand and once to visit a neighbouring resort's pool. The resort was obviously having staff problems relating to the kids club and we learned that a student had been operating it for the past 3 months but had returned to school. During our week it was different people each day, and they obviously did not have experience in organizing the kids and providing structured activities. There was an enormous language barrier for the children, as there were children speaking French, English and Italian, and the supervisor often spoke only spanish. I guess its no wonder she didn't venture into any other activities beyond playing with them in the kids pool. There is no way any child over 6 or 7 would have been interested in this. And my little guy was reluctant to go off with a different person each day, which made it difficult for us. And I really felt I had to stay nearby in case things didn't go well, or there was some discipline problem.
The pool itself was a disappointment, again, because our kids are 4 and 6. The "kids pool" was a small square pool that was equally shallow everywhere, (.35 meters). It had absolutely no appeal for my children, it would only be good for toddlers. The other pool, also not very big, was the same depth everywhere with steps leading down, at 1.25 meters (approx 4 feet). My children could not touch beyond the steps. And oddly, there was a wall between the two pools so you could not be in the big pool and watch your kids in the small pool. This is not usually the way it is in a kids-friendly resort, but at least if you know what to expect, you can decide if this experience will work for you and your kids. Make sure you bring floaties unless your kids are excellent swimmers.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
|Brad & Kellie |
|We just got back from a great trip to Club Amigo Caricol. We had a wonderful time and loved the people there.
The hotel is small with a tiny lobby, a sports/Karaoke/dance bar, pool bar, beach bar and grill and a buffet dining room. You will know lots of people within the first day or so. We are English Canadian and we did find that there seemed to be many Italions and French Canadians. English speaking Canadians seemed to be the smallest group. The staff can speak all three languages and try very hard to talk with you.
The staff keep the grounds kept up. Seems like when a leaf falls there is someone to rake it up. It is very plain looking around the place with very few flowered plants. But apparently this hotel is closed for half the year and it takes that long to get the vegetation looking good again. I had a little friend who would see me coming and jump and get me a fresh flower each day. We gave him a pair of jeans before we left. He also hugged us. Little things mean alot to a Cuban that mean nothing to us.
Our room was simple but very nice and always cleaned each day. The maid did fancy swans and made the bed look nice each day. We had a small sitting room with a mini frig which was not stocked. We brought our own salad dressing and kept bottled water in it. The washroom was large and the shower worked! Hot water too! The air conditioner was tempermental and usually worked but would stop once in a while. Did not really bother us. The first time it quit I called reception just to inform them and they asked me if I wanted to be moved...we stayed and it worked from then on?? I thought that was pretty nice of them to offer to move us. Once we kept the temperature a little warmer is seemed to work better.
For breakfast each day they had an egg bar, toast, variety of fruits, cereal, coffee, awesome fresh squeezed orange juice, bacon (that needed to be cooked) french toast, etc. I had no problem selecting food at this meal. Forlunch there was a pasta bar/grill and then the buffet table. We enjoyed both. Even though there wasn't a huge variety what we ate was always tastey. There was chicken, fish, beef, ribs, salmon etc. to try. There was also rice, veggies, beans. Nothing fancy but we never left hungry or felt ill all week. No stomach problems either. I did not eat hamburgs or hotdogs at the beach grill but my husband did. He said they were not bad. The fries there were good though. I loved the pizza at lunch from the buffet and stuck with that and salad. There were different fruits available all meals. They hadyummy icecream and desserts for lunch and dinner. There was one a la carte restaurant. We had fish the first time and lobster the second time. We really enjoyed eating there.
I did not care for the drinks at this hotel. My husband wasn't as fussy but I really didn't care for their pop or the rum. I am used to white Bacardi rum with Coke. I luckily took some packets of Crystal Light and made up a litre of it a few times and enjoyed my drinks a little more. They just were not creamy or very tastey to me but it wasn't a big deal....I felt good each morning!!!
The pool was nice but plain. There were tons of chairs and most sitting empty all the time. We felt like we had a privated pool sometimes. There is a swim up bar and it also is the bar by the Show. We did leave our towels on a chair one morning and went for breakfast and they were stolen. I am sure by tourists. We couldn't believe someone would take them so be sure to watch yours. They cost us $30.00 U.S. The staff felt terrible but could do nothing. They have so many towels to account for or they need the money. Or the staff would have to pay for the shortfall. In the end they ended up compensating us with something else. We did have to pay for the towels though. We each had a wonderful massage by the pool. It was totally relaxing and we both wished we would have had another before we went home. It was only $10. for a half hour.
The beach was very pretty. For some reason our beach seemed to be desserted most of the time. There were lots of chairs and cabanas to sit under. The beach is long and we walked it many times. Both ways. We toured into each hotel to check them all out. The Club St. Lucia and the Brisas had tons of people on the beach. There is a coral reef out aways so if you have tender tootsies you might want to take water shoes or wear thongs. It is a pretty nice beach and there are lots of free things to do at it. There is snorkelling gear, hobie cat and paddle boats.
We have travelled to many places. We found the staff at this tiny hotel just incredible. They truly love their jobs and want to make you happy. They work from morning till night and have a smile for everyone. They knew our names by the second day. There shows were really good and we didn't miss one of them. They involve you in lots of activities, soccer, volleyball, darts, stretching, arobics, dancing and Spanish lessons. I am probably missing some things. We took a pile of our kids clothes, some work pants of my husband, shoes, hair prettys, toothbrushes and every time we gave a small gift the smile we received was so genuine. We wished we had of taken more clothes. This staff works well into the night and if tourists want to go to the bars they are more than willing to take you. I don't know how they get up. They will dance with you and talk to you and you will learn so much from them. I give the staff a 5 out of 5!
We took the bikes out several times, walked lots and took a horse and buggy ride to Coco Beach. There we had a beer in a beach bar with our buggy driver. He then took us to see his house there. He was really nice and we really enjoyed our ride with him.
All in all we had a fabulous time. We never go back to the same place as we figure there is just too much else to see but we would recommend this place to anyone who is not fussy and wants a relaxing vacation. It is a good value for what you pay! Happy Holidaying if you pick this spot!!
|Club Amigo Caracol |
Niagara Falls, Ontario
| We recently returned from Caracol and have nothing but good things to say about this resort. We were in a party of 15 people (adults and children) and we all had a fabulous vacation. This is a smaller resort but had all the amenities you could possibly need and want. Good food, very clean, nice beach, friendly staff and safe. No mosquitoes!!
a) The food was good at the buffet and you could get hamburgers, hotdogs and fries at the beach bar throughout the afternoon. We tried the a-la cart one night and it was ok. Morning included omelettes, eggs, bacon, fresh grapefruit, pineapple, croissants, fresh squeezed orange juice, yogurt, cereal, toast and more. Lunch always included awesome pizza as well as pasta and grilled meats. Supper was similar to lunch but with more variety. All staff always made sure you had drinks and we never once had to wait for a table - for 15 of us. After dinner we would enjoy coffee, cappuccino or espresso at the coffee bar beside the buffet.
b) The rooms were spotless and spacious. Our group had 5 rooms and there were no problems with air conditioning, hot water etc. We had a suite with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and a sitting room with balcony - it was great!!
c) The grounds were well manicured in spite of the lack of rain. The gardeners were out every morning raking leaves and trimming the hedges, cutting the lawn etc. They were very friendly as well.
d) The beach was beautiful. Lots of chairs, shade if you wanted. Not crowded. We played volleyball on the beach and soccer baseball, football too. You could get snorkels, masks, lifejackets, etc. right at the beach. There was a catamaran, kayak and windsurfing and paddle boat if you like. The beach was also very clean and raked regularly. There was a bit of coral when you entered the water but once you passed that it was sandy beach. The pool was also good. The swim up bar was a lot of fun and there was a washroom right near the pool and the beach that were cleaned regularly.
e) The shows were good. There was a talent show one night, modelling, Miss Caracol pageant, Cuban dancing. The animation team was superb. They were a very talented bunch. Douglas, Yuse, Jude, Jenny and Omar were a pleasure to be around. Very warm people who made our vacation a lot of fun.
We hope to go back next year with even a bigger group. All 3 Santa Lucia resorts were nice but this one was definitely less busy and one I would chose again.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
| My friend and I (both 23) stayed in Club Amigo Caracol, Santa Lucia during Quebec spring break. The hotel was amazing. We were greeeted with live music, and the check-in took less then 5 minutes. And we were in our room within the next 5 minutes.
The rooms are actually little bundalows, and are very new and clean. The only thing we could have complained about was our bed, which had a very old matress. But it wasn't that bad. The room had TV, AC w remote, balcony, fridge, 220V, very hot water, with very strong tap pressure!
The beach was superb, and not at all crowded! Lots of space, and sun! Water was gorgeous, and so was the weather. There were kayaks, pedalos, and a catamaran.
There is one buffet restaurant, one a-la-carte (need reservations), and 3 bars (one near restaurant, one near the pool, and one on the beach). I must say that "Cristal" by far beats most beers we can get here is Canada! The food is not bad at all. The pasta was great, and the freshly pressed O.J. is awesome! Oh, and not many people seamed to tip. We did, and this was very appreciated. At one point we even got our beers brought to us before we got to the table by the cabaret!
The Catamaran tour is a must (69 pesos / person), but includes 2 snorkling areas, and a lobster dinner on a superb beach!
One of the best things about our stay was the super friendly entertainment staff! Yuce, and Yude were super fun. We learned a great lot about the Cuban life from them. They took us to clubs after the Cabaret shows, and hand out with us on the beach.
Santa Lucia is very low key, but the club is super good. The people are nice, and I strongly encourage bringing clothes, shoes, and small electronics for trade for some cigars, and rhum.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
| My wife & I just got back from a week stay here & we really enjoyed
ourselves & would recommend the resort whloeheartedly. Friendly helpful
staff, very good food, good facilities, & clean modern buildings & rooms.
We liked the size of the resort (150 rooms). It seemed to have as much
beachfront & property as larger neighbouring resorts (Las Brisas & Gran
Club), but with fewer guests, the beach was not too crowded. We could
always find a handy beach chair with some shade if we wanted it. Walking
past the beach fronts of the other resorts mentioned, we noticed a much
busier setting, with many more guests & chairs lined up side by side
right along the beach. Also, at Caracol none of the rooms were far from
the beach or central facilities. This has to do with the "snail" design
of the resort layout. It's a spiral with the main buildings roughly
You have your choice of kicking back & relaxing or participating in
events & entertainment here, the animation staff is very upbeat, but
it's not in your face if you just want to relax.
All in all, highly recommended.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
| February 2005
| My husband and I spent the week of January 21-28 2005 at Club Amigo Caracol, in Santa Lucia (Camaguey), Cuba. We flew from Montreal with “Signature Vacations” on the airline “Skyservice.”
IMPORTANT ADVICE REGARDING LUGGAGE
As per many reviews that I had read online I brought used clothing, school supplies, running shoes, and a myriad of other items in an extra suitcase I had purchased for $5.00 at Goodwill. Unfortunately I did not read the fine print on our tickets and you were only allowed 2 bags totally 20kg per person. Skyservice charges $7.00 extra for each kg that you are over. So needless to say the extra items cost us $70.00 in extra luggage. So keep this in mind when bringing extra items for the Cubans.
When we were there one Cuban convertible peso (pegged to the US$) was equal to one Cuban peso. As per other reviews if you bring cash Canadian or US dollars, make sure you bring brand new bills, without tears or pen writing on them. I tried to exchange a $20.00 at reception with a tiny, tiny rip (1mm) in it and they would not exchange it for me. Also make sure that you do not have to change your currency in a hurry. On the last day before we left we wanted to purchase some souvenirs and we needed to exchange some funds at around 4:00pm. They told us to come back at 6:30pm as they were running off something on their one and only computer at reception. The stores were closing at 6:30pm.
We were greeted by the staff when we arrived and a Cuban band was playing. The bell boys are excellent are great and are very great full for whatever tip you give them. The average Cuban makes $15 per month. Thus a $1 tip (1 Cuban convertible peso) was even appreciated.
The meat on the small buffet was very tasty (fish, pork, beef, turkey, chicken) and the deserts were like you would find in a bakery. However the salad bar was not up to Canadian standards. However, considering everything that was on the salad bar was grown in Cuba and they had a drought when we were there, we ate like kings and queens compared to what you average Cuban eats. The service was excellent. Maria was our waitress and she cleared our plates as soon as we put our fork down. It probably didn’t hurt that we gave her a gift bag full of goodies a few times. I just wish I had brushed up on some simple Spanish phrases as you can’t really talk about much else than food in English with the restaurant staff.
The pasta bar was great and had a lot of variety and they usually had a special meat freshly cooking on the grill. However be prepared to wait on average 5 or 10 minutes for you pasta to be cooked as we always stood in a line of about 6 or 7 people until it was our turn to order.
We went once to the À la carte restaurant on the beach. It was a very nice setting, a few tables and again outstanding service. My husband had shish kabob, which was free and I had shrimp, which was $6.00 CCP. It was great.
Our room was 1085 and was overlooking the beach. We had a king size bed with a small living room with a patio door. I was surprised that we could get as many channels on the television as we could. There must have been 7 channels in English, including CNN and a few movie channels.
One day we decided to take the bicycles into the nearest town, I think it was called Tararacos (anyway the opposite end of the resorts from the town of Santa Lucia). We ended up walking the bicycles as the peddles were bent and they were difficult to ride. However it was well worth the trip. You saw how the real Cuban’s lived and we ended up talking to a few Cuban people in English who explained about their living conditions, salary, education and how most businesses are owned by the government.
We took a horse and buggy ride to Playa Coco which is about 8 km away from the resort. Most days there is a little train that will take you there (at 10) and back (at 3) for 2 pesos. Gustavo our driver stopped whenever we wanted and also explained things to us such as the hotels which are half built, to be built and the flamingo sanctuary. They sell coral on the beach. We exchanged a pair of running shoes I bought at Giant Tiger for $6.00 for a coral necklace. We also gave some clothes to the kids in the fishing village as they don’t have as much access to clothes as the hotel workers. We also gave a beer to Gustavo and he stopped half way back to share it with a fellow buggy driver. We felt a little guilty drinking one pop and one beer each.
We took an organized tour to Camaguey. It included a visit to the rum factory, cigar factory, lunch at a Cuban restaurant a tour of the city including a marriage house and important squares and churches in the city. Even the trip to Camaguey was well worth it. On the way we were given a talk by our tour guide on: the history of Cuba, the culture, the resulting complications on Cuba due to the lack of water and gasoline (ie 30 Cubans riding in the back of a truck, standing up), the vegetation, housing and education were explained as well.
We took the organized tour to Rancho King. We rode on the buggy as opposed to the offered horse back rides. We watched the rodeo, ate a meal (roasted pork) and several snacks. The highlight of the excursion for me was stopping in at the local school. I handed out pencils, erasers, plastic scissors, stickers. All of the children were very appreciative as shown by their beautiful smiles. I also handed out candy to the children on the way to the school. (Things I purchased at the dollar store in Canada were like gold to them)
My husband did a reef dive with Sharks and Friends. He really enjoyed it. (Some people actually went on the dive tour to feed the sharks) The dive shop is located beside Brisas hotel, a short walk down the beach from Caracol.
We would definitely recommend staying at Club Amigo Caracol. It was an excellent value for the price we paid.
|Club Amigo Caracol |
| My husband and I spent a week in January 2005 at Club Amigo Caracol, in Santa Lucia (Camaguey), Cuba. We were a bit apprehensive to book this Cuban hotel because of the deterioration of Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca where we went three times in 2004. Let me tell you right away that we were amazed by this resort. For the price we paid, it was well worth it and beyond! We’re going back this year for sure!
Fun Fun Fun
I highly recommend this small resort which is all about entertainment. The staff and animation team do a terrific job. They are everywhere, all the time, non stop from 7:30 a.m. to midnight and most nights later than that. There are also three night clubs outside the resort, a short two minute walk away, packed with tourists and Cubans every night while we were there. More details below… 10/10
IMPORTANT ADVICE REGARDING CURRENCY
If you bring cash Canadian or US dollars, make sure you bring brand new bills, without tears or pen writing on them. When you exchange your money at the reception, they are very picky at the quality of the dollar bills. They refused three of our $20 bills. A guy saw the reception refuse its $50 bill because of a tiny almost invisible stain. He had to go to the bank to try to exchange it and I do not know if he succeeded. You can always get a cash advance on your credit card at the Bank.
We were greeted by the staff when we arrived. Check-in was fast and friendly. Now is not the time to ask for an extra key or to rent the safe, nor is it time to ask for a room change. Come back tomorrow and be patient… The staff working at the reception could be more client-oriented. Most of the time, they just ignore you or start to serve you and then start doing something else. 6/10
Since the resort is quite small, the clientele is not scattered all over the place and it is easy to meet people and the staff. The week we were there, there was a nice mix of Canadians, Italians and a few other countries like Argentina and England and the clientele varied from friends, singles and couples with and without kids, students and elderly people. Kids were well taken care of by dedicated staff all day. 9/10
Small buffet but very tasty food. Nothing to complain about. The service is super courteous. There is a chef who prepares pasta and grill, choices change at every meal for lunch and dinner. The salad dressing is not very good, nor is the Cuban mayonnaise. Bringing your own would be a good idea if you’re into salads a lot. In the morning, the bacon is not cooked enough to our standards, but the chef that prepares the omelettes will cook it more for you on his grill if you wish. 8/10
We went once to the À la carte restaurant which is open air where the lunch snack bar is near the beach. Very nice setting, a few tables and again outstanding service. We had a choice of chicken, shish kabob, fish and for a supplement you could order filet mignon which was very good and spiny lobster. 8/10
There is also a restaurant on a pier in front of the next door resort (the Gran Club Santa Lucia) you can go to but it is not included. Some friends went and they had a blast, especially when their waiter stripped down to his bathing suit to dive and get their live spiny lobster in a cage underneath the pier! 10/10
Nice rooms in one or two story bungalows that have been renovated. The furniture is a bit tacky but you get used to it. All rooms have a small living room with a patio door. The doors are kind of corroded and hard to open on the ground floor, but on the second floor, they’re better. Bathrooms on the second floor are also more spacious. Lots of drawers and space to put your stuff and a fridge in every room (for your salad dressing!). Brand new air conditioning but since there were no mosquitoes, we opened the windows and did not use A/C much. 9/10
Did not go much on the beach all week. Way too windy that week and what comes with it: seaweed, big waves, sand in your ears, etc. Some people did not mind but we did. We hung around the pool which was very nice, especially the pool bar… 8/10
We did not go on excursions. We only went to Playa Coco which is about 8 km away from the resort. Most days there is a little train that will take you there (at 10) and back (at 3) for 2 pesos. You can also go by horse-drawn carriage or taxi. It’s well worth it. Very quiet beach in a bay with 3 restaurants to eat at lunchtime. We were strolling down the beach in the village of Playa Coco (watch for broken glass in the sand) and we were lucky to be approached by this man who serves food in his house. So we had spiny lobsters tails for only $6 each in a casa particular. The meal came with rice, tomatoes, coleslaw, fried banana chips and mango for dessert. In this very modest house, there was a huge fridge and freezer, so we figured the food would be ok. It was absolutely wonderful. 9/10
Bring clothes, soaps, eye crayons, disposable shavers, paper and pencils for the kids, etc. to give to people in the village of Playa Coco, they will appreciate it a lot. You will also find very poor areas in Santa Lucia, behind El Rapido snack bar on your right when you exit the resort and also on your left, past the Brisas resort on your way to the bank.
Entertainment - after the show…
At Club Amigo Caracol, there is no disco. Who cares, hotel discos are always empty anyway. The animation team hangs out with the guest and at around 12:30 or 1:00 in the morning, they will ask you to follow them (part of their job too) to the next door hotel disco (Gran Cub Santa Lucia) where there is a $5 cover charge and all you can drink. There is also the Centro Cultural (called Via Verde) just outside the resort where you watch a Latin show, then dance Reggaeton and Salsa ($1 or 2$ cover charge depending on the night). When it closes around 2 a.m., everybody heads to Rumbos just outside the resort on your right, there is no cover charge and you can party until the wee small hours of the morning. Everywhere the music is Latin (Reggaeton, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, etc.). 10/10
Things to bring
- A flashlight – The hotel does not have generators. One night after the show, there was a power failure in all Santa Lucia and we had a hard time getting back to our room in the dark (electricity came back at six in the morning).
- Clothes and gifts for the Cubans.
- Candles for the receptionists!
- Facecloth and blow-dryer (220 V).
- Salad dressing (!).
We will definitely go back to Club Amigo Caracol. We loved it. It’s a 3 stars but it is great one compared to other 3 stars we’ve been to. The animation team is the greatest asset of this resort.