We just got back from our honeymoon at the Paradisus. We couldn’t have asked for a better week. The hotel grounds are beautiful and huge. It’s mostly couples that stay here. Mainly the crowd was older like in their 50s but there was a number of young couples too so a decent mix. We are in our 30s and didn’t feel out of place due to the older crowd. But this is definitely a relaxing and romantic type of resort as opposed to a party one. Because it was our honeymoon we felt they really made an effort to give us preferential treatment when they could. At the beginning of our stay we were called by Iradia (sorry spelling) at guest services and she asked for us to visit her where she wanted to make sure we were enjoying ourselves and assured us that she was there for any questions that we had or if there was anything that we needed. We had a junior suite room which was very large. I emailed a couple of weeks beforehand and requested a upper level corner room with king size bed and that’s exactly what we got. We were in building 35 which is in between the pool and lobby which was very convenient. The room and bathroom were large. I had read complaints about the bathrooms being outdated. I found them to be fine. Sure they could use with a reno but I didn’t spend much time there. There is a sewage smell that comes from the toilet though. I don’t think this is the hotel’s fault as I smelt the same smell coming from public toilets too. I think it’s just Cuba plumbing. It wouldn’t hurt to bring an air freshener to leave by toilet. Room was cleaned very nicely every day. The grounds of the hotel are beautiful to walk around particularly there is a garden path to Royal Service and there is a nice walkway along the water towards the gazebo. Definitely take a walk around the whole property and explore. The gardeners do an amazing job.
The beach is beautiful and we spent most of our time there. Staff will bring beach chairs to wherever you want to sit. The beach never felt too crowded which is great. My husband spent most of the time snorkeling while I just sat and happily sunbathed. There is unfortunately an egg smell sometimes on the beach though. We assumed it was the algae that was growing on the rocks nearby. Most of the beach shore is rocky but there are some pathways without rocks that you can go through to get into the water. There was only one morning where there was a red flag. Though generally during our stay there were some waves that made the water a bit rough. During that time I would just walk up to the pool to cool down. They have floatation pads for the pool that were nice to lay on. We only sat by the pool once as we preferred the beach but whenever we passed by we found a lot of seats were taken. We went to check out the Royal Service beach once but it felt really crowded as it’s small. I think we just went on a busy day as we took a walk there on our last day and it was much quieter. Overall we preferred the main beach.
The food is fantastic at the resort. We were warned about food in Cuba before we went and felt that those complaints were coming from people that just went to bad resorts as the food at the Paradisus was great. I was stuffed the whole time I was there and only wished I had a bigger appetite so I could indulge more! We practically ate lobster every day. Though overall we found the lobster overcooked which is a shame but it was still tasty. The buffet is the only option for breakfast. We mainly had crepes, pancakes, donuts, ham and fruit. But there is a ton of selection. The coffee service is a bit slow though. For lunch and dinner there are many dining options. So many in fact that during our week we only ate at the buffet for lunch once and never for dinner. The one lunch we had there had tons of selection and was very good. The beach restaurant atmosphere is lovely but we found the calamari just okay and fried fish overly battered but we enjoyed all the side dishes and service. The pool snack bar has amazing pizzas. I can’t believe I would say that the best pizza I ever had was in Cuba! I would order a side of fries with my pizza as well. Really nice tables by the back overlooking a beautiful view. Nice service and wine too. A couple of times a week we noticed they served a small casual lunch by the beach. We had lunch there once where they served paella and sangria. It was nice to not have to leave the beach area for a bite to eat. Though it was mainly self service there for food and drinks. We prebooked our a la cartes with Pablo by email. I was very impressed with his promptness. We tried all the a la cartes and they were fantastic. All had a different vibe. We loved that when you order wine they leave you the whole bottle. Service was excellent at all of them. The only one we didn’t like as much was the Mediterranean restaurant. We found the service and atmosphere quite formal and stuffy. As well it was really bright in there and our table was very close to another couple. Not very romantic. I felt slightly like I was in an old folks home. If they dimmed the lights a bit and put candles on the tables it would make such a big difference. For the Japanese restaurant you need to specifically request a show table if you want the full experience. Because it was our honeymoon we were invited to a special returning guests/honeymooners dinner by the beach. It was a wonderful evening with live music and great service. When we arrived for the welcome drink that evening Eduardo the hotel manager warmly greeted us with a glass of champagne. He was truly interested in how our stay was and asked if anything should be improved. I appreciated that he did not shy away from criticism and felt that he genuinely wanted to make sure we were enjoying our stay and wanted to address immediately any issues we had. We also had dinner at the Royal Service restaurant for $24/person. It was a nice dinner and the food quality was slightly better. Though I would say if you don’t want to shell out the extra you would have a wonderful experience at the other a la cartes as well.
We loved evenings in the lobby bar. The main hall is filled with comfy sofas where we would have drinks and watch the entertainment. We found the main shows were amateurish but we enjoyed the musicians during the pre show. One evening in particularly there were female opera singers who were amazing. The lobby was always busy in the evenings so a great vibe. Bar and table service were prompt and friendly. I felt that a couple of bartenders expected tips but overall everyone was great and were very gracious when tipped. When we had dinner in the Royal Service restaurant their lobby was so quiet with only a few people watching a pianist. We much preferred the main lobby. For those considering upgrading to Royal Service it’s quite secluded and quiet, and a good walk from the main areas. We found we weren’t missing anything from staying in a junior suite.
I highly recommend getting a treatment at the spa. We received a discount because it was our honeymoon which was nice. We did a couples massage and it was one of the best massages I ever had. The treatment room was a private hut with deck overlooking the ocean. We wished that could’ve been our room! The rest of the spa area is very nice as well. The salt water pool is wonderful. As well they have an outdoor shower there which was amazing to use. The only negatives was that after the treatment the therapists that were waiting outside the hut looked at us eagerly for tips. When we didn’t tip them immediately they looked extremely disappointed. Of course I was going to tip them but I didn’t have money in my robe that minute and normally I tip when I checkout. I just thought it was awkward. Immediately after I changed a few minutes later I went to find our therapists and personally handed them a tip and they seemed very grateful. As well the toilet stall I was in didn’t have a lock. And when I went to wash my hands there was only one small handtowel hanging. I didn’t want to wipe my hands on at the same towel other people did. But all this were just little things. Our experience at the spa was wonderful.
The only other negatives we had at the resort was checkin. Our flight with Sunwing was a few hours delayed and we didn’t end up at the resort until around 2am. Over a dozen couples were checking in at the same time and only one person was working at reception. Annoying after a flight delay to wait even longer in the middle of the night. I would think there would be a contingency system when this happens for reception staff. As well with our honeymoon package it said we would get a private checkin which didn’t happen. We didn’t need a private checkin but an additional reception person would have been good to hurry things along. As well I read about other guests getting a drink at checkin. I didn’t expect anybody to serve me at that time but there was a couple of unopened champagne bottles and glasses by reception. It would’ve been nice to help myself have a glass after the long trip if they were opened for us. When we finally checked in we had to wait for a staff member driving a golf cart to bring us to the room. Again there was only one person driving the cart and he could only take 2 couples at a time so we had to wait again. We considered walking to our room but we had no clue where we were going in the middle of the night and didn’t want be wandering all around the resort so decided to wait. The reception lady and driver were both very nice though. The driver brought our luggage to our room and showed us where everything was and how to work the AC. By this time it was 3am and I was starving and decided this was a good time to use the 24 hour room service. Again with our honeymoon package it said we would get a bottle of champagne and fruit on arrival in the room. Nothing was there. So I called room service to order a fruit plate. I waited half an hour and no one showed up. I called them back and they said it would come in 5 minutes. I waited another half hour. By this time it was past 4am and just wanted to crash whether I hungry or not. I put the do not disturb sign on our door so if they did show up they would realize I gave up and went to sleep. At 4:45am we were woken by knocking on our door. It took me a while to put on my clothes but when I went to the door whoever knocked had left and didn’t leave us any food. Anyways we were tired and probably more annoyed with all this then we should be and understand that they operate with a skeleton staff at those hours. The rest of the week completely made up for our checkin experience. As well on our check out day our shuttle wasn’t picking us up till 6pm. The normal checkout time is noon but they allowed us to check out at 6pm which was fantastic that we were able to keep the room for the whole day. The only other thing was the honeymoon package included daily turn down service which only happened twice during our stay. I didn’t mention this to the manager when he asked as we didn’t need the extra honeymoon services but I just think if certain things even if small are advertised they should happen.
We rented a scooter one day to go to Guardalavaca. Definitely do this. It was super fun and a highlight of our trip. It was $15 for 2 hours and you can rent one right in front of the hotel. For other excursions we did the Sun Cruise where we swam with the dolphins. A little pricey at $129/person. Even though the weather was mainly cloudy all the day the staff on the catamaran were great and upbeat and the dolphin swim was definitely an experience I’ll never had again. We were served a lobster lunch which was delicious.
We also did the Holguin City Tour. The cigar factory tour was the best part of the trip. As well the lunch at a chicken farm was very nice too with good food. Though we went to the Hill of the Cross and were followed around by beggars and vendors. Same thing happened when we went to downtown Holguin. Being aggressively followed didn’t make us feel too safe. As well on excursions we were constantly asked for tips for everything. I absolutely think people should be tipped for a service but it was getting a bit ridiculous. This was my first time in Cuba though I’ve travelled all around the world and to poor countries as well and have never been so blatantly asked to tip then when I went on excursions then here. It’s really unfortunate that the tourism culture here has evolved to where people expect tips for everything. We didn’t experience this at the hotel just whenever we left the property. As well on the excursion we were forced to watch a live band at a bar that wasn’t listed on the itinerary and I felt like it was a bit of a cash grab as they asked for tips after and the bar ripped us off on drinks. I ordered a beer and coke and was told it was 3.50 pesos but then I saw another group order a beer and 2 cokes from the same server and they only paid 3 pesos. Not nice but oh well. The band was good but it felt like I was forced into a a step aerobics class that I didn’t sign up for. The band was pretty aggressive and tried to force everyone to get up and do these aerobic moves that clearly half the crowd was not into.
Besides some events outside the resort that we weren’t happy with the resort itself was amazing and as I write this I really miss it. I definitely recommend the Paradisus and am convinced it’s probably one of the best resorts in Cuba.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the Bahia de Naranjo Natural Park, in Playa Esmeralda, on the northern coast of Holguin province. Five-Star Ultra All Inclusive Eco-Resort with 354 rooms. Conceived only for adults aged 18 years or more. Maximum comfort and perfection in its private Royal Service area for a fabulous experience in a world apart. Recommended for weddings, honeymoons, incentive trips and wellness/spa.Guest Rooms 354 rooms: 254 Junior Suites, 24 Junior Suites Deluxe, 16 Junior Suites Deluxe Ocean View, 2 Suites Deluxe, 36 Master Junior Suites Royal Service, 14 Master Junior Suites Ocean View Royal Service, 6 Master Junior Suites Luxury Royal Service, 2 Garden Villas Royal Service. Dining: 8 Restaurants (A la Carte, Buffet), 5 Bars. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Resort And Spa
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Hotel Holguin
- Paradisus Hotel Guardalavaca
- Rio De Oro Paradisus
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Cuba
- Hotel Paradisus Rio De Oro
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Resort & Spa Cuba/Holguin