My partner and I just returned from a week at this resort. While there we spoke with many, many repeat guests that had been coming for years (some up to twelve years in a row or more) and we also spoke to some people who had been staying at the resort for multiple weeks (up to ten consecutive weeks). The vast majority loved the resort and that’s why they stay so long and keep returning. I don’t see the appeal! This was our first visit and it will be our LAST. There is nothing about this resort that would make us want to return. We knew we were going to a “three-star” resort for a cheap vacation and we got what we paid for but we won’t be returning. We were not disappointed with the value received for what we paid but there was no real appeal to make us want to return. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, no-frills getaway in a more isolated area this resort may suit your needs. Be forewarned that the majority of guests are well into their sixties and over.
The resort grounds are kept clean and in the morning you see a multitude of workers sweeping, mopping, etc. Overall, the public areas are clean and in reasonably good repair. The public washrooms are kept clean enough however what I can only assume is hand soap with some bleach added is in used soda bottles sitting by the sink. Toilet tissue is rarely refilled in the public washroom by the pool and in the lobby area.
The beach area is not maintained to any real degree. This could be a beautiful beach (dark sand but who really cares?) but nothing is done to remove the excessive amount of rock in many areas and during our seven day stay we only saw one occasion where any raking or beach maintenance was done. There was one person walking around picking up leaves during the day. It was always easy to get a lounge chair at the beach and also very easy to get a palapa. The beach is not heavily used. If you are staying at the Farallon you will have a five-minute walk down some stairs to get to the beach but it’s an easy walk. If you’re at the Marea you are at beach level. There were a few lifeguards on the beach and there were also lifeguards at each hotel pool.
Unless you leave the hotel area of the beach you are not bothered by anyone asking you to buy things or asking for gifts. If you walk further down the beach you may encounter one or two people but a simple “No, gracias” will suffice if you are not interested. We found the Cubans that we encountered outside the resort to be friendly, polite, and not pushy.
We stayed in a cabana and purchased the VIP package. The VIP package is worth the $30 CDN extra charge in our opinion. Buy this through Sunwing when you book. At the time of our stay the VIP package got you two bottles of CUC $5 rum (we left them behind), two bottles of decent Spanish wine (we took home), four beer, four pop, and two big bottles of water in your room (nothing replenished during your stay). It also entitled you to two trips to the island beach (Cayo Blanco) worth CUC $30 per person, one sunset cruise worth CUC $15 per person, and a walking tour worth CUC $15 per person. We did only one trip to the Cayo Blanco instead of both but it was a nice day. As others have mentioned in other reviews the Cayo Blanco lunch was the best lunch in the seven day trip. More about food later. The sunset cruise was a nice outing (drinks and cheese/crackers provided) and the walking tour/hike/picnic lunch was also nice. We HIGHLY recommend the VIP package if you go to this resort. The VIP package in the Sunwing brochure, on the Sunwing website and the trips we actually received were different. I think this package changes as time goes on.
Our cabana was clean and they do supply two tiny bars of soap and one tiny bottle of shampoo and body wash. Towels were changed daily and the room attendant did an OK job. Some days we got some towel art, other days we didn’t but we really didn’t care either way. We were provided with a few flowers in a vase on the second day and they were changed later in the week. As mentioned in the brochure there is no bath tub, just shower. Water pressure and temperature in our room were fine throughout the stay. We do not know the cause but my partner ended up with a multitude of insect bites during our visit and I had only a few. The only difference was that we slept in separate beds until the fifth night (the beds are only three-quarter size, not really big enough for us to sleep together comfortably). I can’t really say that the bites happened while in bed but that was the only difference, we were together virtually every minute of our stay. We did check the mattress and box spring for signs of insects and found nothing. The bites may have been from sand fleas or mosquitos and they just liked partner more than me? I did see the hotel staff changing out some mattresses in a few other rooms while we were at the resort but I don’t know the reason, perhaps it was just time to change them? The beds themselves were comfortable enough however the pillow that is provided is next to useless.
Back to food – with the exception of a changing variety of proteins (beef, pork, chicken, lamb, calamari, rabbit, different varieties of fish) the lunch and dinner choices are the same each and every time you go to the restaurant. Yes, the meats change but the rice, potato, salads, bread, and dessert choices are nearly identical every meal. There is definitely a shortage of veggies and the dessert choices are extremely limited! We ate at the buffet at both hotels (Farallon and Marea) and didn’t find any significant difference. The food is more nicely displayed at the Farallon and the outdoor patio is nice to eat on at that hotel but the food is pretty much the same at both buffets. You won’t go hungry, but you likely will be bored. I just cannot imagine eating this food for weeks on end with no significant change in the variety or preparation.
Breakfast choices are also the same every day with the exception of they change the two or three choices of fruit available. People in other reviews have commented on “Canadian bacon”. I saw no signs of “Canadian bacon” during the seven days but there was regular (but not very well cooked) bacon available on two or three days. Omelettes and freshly-cooked eggs are available each morning from the grill.
We also ate at both a’la carte restaurants (one at each hotel). The food is basically the same as on the buffet and I left both restaurants disappointed and a little hungry. Don’t waste your time trying to get reservations for the a’la cartes in my opinion.
The snack bar next to the pool had some decent French fries but don’t bother with the hot dogs. They have no flavour to them and the texture is a bit disgusting in my opinion. Ham sandwiches and cheese sandwiches were also available but that’s it for choices at the snack bar (open 11am to 3pm only).
Working in the hospitality industry myself and being trained in food safety I was quite concerned about the food at the buffets. Cold food is not kept cold and the hot food was rarely hot enough. I did not hear about anyone getting ill from the food and neither my partner nor I had any issues but cooked food being just barely warm and cold food being warm, not cold, is just asking for trouble. Be careful!
We did take a carriage ride into the small town and ate at the one local restaurant. This was truly the best meal of the week. The food was very good, well-prepared, well-presented, and tasty. For under CUC $20 (including about 20% tip) we got two beer for me, a bottle of good-quality wine to share, an appetizer for partner and a salad for me, and one main course each. This is a small restaurant with seating for about twelve people and it’s not hard to find in the village. I recommend it.
Bar service at the resort was OK. It really didn’t seem to matter much whether I tipped or not. The drinks come in very small cups (6-8 ounces) and you need to order two at a time to get a reasonable volume of beer or pina colada. There was definitely preferential treatment for the repeat and long-term guests but I can live with that. I think the resort could save some money using larger cups and using less of them.
The “entertainment” during the day mostly consisted of Bingo and that was about it. There were a few attempts at pool volleyball and beach volleyball and a few “tournaments” for kids but that was the extent of the daytime entertainment. Music played at the hotel pool was annoyingly loud most of the time. Evening “entertainment” was pretty much pathetic and drove us back to our room by 9 pm most nights to try to escape the corniness and noise. I was not "Rico Rico" as they say at the resort (I think it means happy?).
The hotel staff, while pleasant and friendly enough, was certainly not as attentive as staff at many other resorts we have been to in the past. I’m guessing it’s a cultural thing? Or perhaps the hotel needs to invest in additional hospitality training. Regardless, we were treated well enough and everyone always greeted us with a “Hola” when passing.
To sum up, if you want an inexpensive, no-frills vacation and you don’t really care about any real variety in your food, I can recommend this resort. If you are looking for more than basic accommodations and basic food you need to go elsewhere.
Cabana on the beach, suggest second floor. #1 through #16 close to pool can be noisy. #'s up to...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.