My husband and I flew with Sunwing on April 9, 2013 for one week. Our first time to Cuba and from what we had heard from others, don't have high expectations for food or accommodations.
We chose the "Cays" to avoid busy Veradero Beach as we were here for the beach and R & R. I had booked us into the Spa Suites Section of the Hotel (18+ only) rather than the Park Suites (family section with kids) since it was our first trip without our kids in 12 years. The ride from the airport was 1 1/2 hours as our hotel is the first drop. Checkin was fast and very efficient. From there to the hotel lobby entrance where we were to wait for a ride to our room. Big surprise! The hotel was overbooked and we were upgraded to a private one bedroom Villa!! The biggest surprise of all was that the Villa section of the hotel is 2 kms. away from the main hotel!! No problem they said as there is a van that goes back and forth but only until midnight. One night it didn't return after 10:30pm. The downside of this whole review is that we spent more time on the van and waiting for it than we did enjoying our Villa!
The Villas are gorgeous and very private, approx. 1200 Sq. ft. with a private patio and jacuzzi tub inset. Ours had an ocean view and a king bed. The advantages of staying in this section - quiet, private pool for villa guests only, a butler/concierge that makes all dinner reservations (unlimited) and access to the Colonial (gourmet) Restaurant for poolside breakfast, lunch and dinner (inside). If you spend alot of time in your villa, are not looking for activities, music, shows, and don't mind not having a bar/lounge when the pool bar or restaurant closes, this is the place to stay. OR you can still stay here and spend hours waiting and travelling by van (1 only) back and forth to the main lobby. By the way - an old minivan - seats 10 max and is unbelievably difficult to get in and out of. NOT recommended for elderly, obese or unfit people. Also, be prepared for wet seats - not nice if you are dressed for dinner and someone was picked up at the beach to return to the main hotel.
The service everywhere in the resort was spectacular and always done with a smile! The food far surpassed our expectations,especially in the Colonial. The Chef is to be commmended as everything there was cooked to perfection and always consistent. We had 3 dinners there and my husband had the Lobster Thermadore each time - Amazing! The servers, especially Yan and Elainette were so professional and friendly. They strived for the personal touch of remembering your likes and tastes from one meal to the next. All of the staff at the Villas were the best - special mention - Toni our entertaining pool/towel man, and both pool and beach bartenders. Our room was fairly clean but had a urine odour in the toilet/bidet section and our room was not provided with beach towels on arrival. Although it stated 24 hour room service, the menu showed specific hours for food and the Villa Reception/restaurant closed at 11pm.
Entertainment at the main hotel was great. There was a show each night (we saw 3) and there was always music and activity in the lobby each night. A Philharmonic Orchestra even played one evening and they were awesome! The piano bar would have been a huge draw for us if it was quieter but it echoed noise because it had A/C, and was always packed as it has the only bar. We missed going to the nightclub because we had no way of getting back to the villas after midnight (a 2 km walk down a non-lit road)
Food - the buffet was very good - variety & tasty - alot of fresh seafood and items they will cook on demand rather than having them sit and get soggy or dry. Amazing soups and fresh bread every meal. One evening they carved a turkey and it was delicious. Downside -There were always lineups. The Italian Restaurant was good but all entrees were not available. The Steak House was not good when we went and the Seafood Restaurant was OK. #1 Rule of Thumb for Cuba - AVOID BEEF. They are not known for it and we have some of the best in the world. Don't expect much if you do order it. Even the hamburgers and meat sauce had large, very chewy chunks. The Asian Restaurant was closed and we had heard it was one of the best on site. All drinks were Premium Liquor, rather than local, and always well made.
Ensenachos Beach - one of the best of 100's I've been to and some great snorkelling 10 meters out. This beach is worth the short hike. Megano Beach is very nice too. There are no motorboats or jetskis to worry about, very little undertow and no vendors. The sand is smooth, very little seaweed and the water is crystal clear. Snorkelling equip. is NOT available even though it shows as included. The few palapas get snatched up early and apparently some were washed away with the last hurricane. As with most resorts, people put their towels on shaded chairs in the morning and don't return until after lunch. It's annoying but typical of all inclusives. The pools were beautiful with a nice mix of sun and shade and floats were available for guests to use poolside. The grounds are spectacular, with lots of tree frogs and large iguanas that love being petted and fresh coconuts cut open by Mario.
We ventured outside the Resort twice - a one day fly trip to Havana. Very interesting, but tiring and alot of difficult walking. All the historical buildings are under renos so are closed and covered in scaffolding. Our guide was not the best compared to others we were told about. Be sure to get a box breakfast made up as we were not told and there was nothing available in the snack room before it closed at 6am. We also went to the Estrella market 10 minutes by taxi in Cayo Santa Maria. Great to pick up a few souvenirs and some rum. Cheap to get to by taxi or on the double decker bus. It is connected to Memories Azul resort.
This was by far one of the best all inclusives we've been to which have included the DR and Mexico, Club Med, Palladium and Bahia Principe resorts. We normally tip select staff at the end of the stay but we actually spent every peso we had before the final day because the staff all deserved it and work so hard for so little. We felt like tipping was constant but take extra for them!
If Iberostar could get their act together and provide easily accessible golf cart transportation for all guests, not just the Villas, they would rate a 5/5 from me but it is a major flaw in their operations that needs to be addressed immediately. We also heard complaints from others staying in the Spa Suites. The other resorts have carts so why not Ensenachos?? For this reason, I would not stay in the Villa section again, even if it was a free upgrade.
A huge Thankyou and special recognition for the two bellmen (one is greying - names escape me) that seemed to be at the entrance 24/7 and took abuse from everyone who required a ride within the resort.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located on the impressive Cayo Ensenachos, Cayo Ensenachos brings all the Cuban flavour to some of the most exclusive Caribbean beaches. Holidays in Cayo Ensenachos are always great. The area features two exclusive, beautiful and quite unknown beaches. Kilometres of golden sand waiting for you and facing the turquoise-shaded ocean. Two of the beaches are bound to captivate you: Megano and Ensenachos. The heavenly beaches and the luxury hotels and resorts in Cayo Ensenachos, offer anything you might think of. Rest is only one of the attractions you'll enjoy if you spend your holidays in Cayo Ensenachos, one of Cuba's most exclusive destinations. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Ensenachos Hotel Cayo Ensenachos
- Occidental Royal Hideaway Ensenachos Cayo
- Royal Hideaway Ensenachos
- Occidental Royal Hideaway Ensenachos Hotel