It has taken a year for me to right this (I was there Feb 2011), I do travel a lot and nothing stands out in my memory more than the week in Playa Giron. - The people I met and the rustic nature of the resort made an unforgetable week for me.
First arrived around 2am after a long and bumby bus ride, check-in was slow (like most resorts) and had to walk 10-15 minutes to a hut, on the way I passed goats and stepped in horse manure along the unlit paths, tripping several times on the uneven paving stones.
The cabin was shoddy - much like an old hunting cabin or cottage. Laying down on a smaller than average single bed that must have been 30 years old, the smell of the sheets and pillow was so disgusting, I realized no matter how tired i was not going to be able to sleep like this - no matter how exhausted I was, I had to get a cleaner pillow.
Braving the pitch black of the unlit paths, the donkey, horse, goats and land mines, I trudged back to the reception area. Asking for where I could get water and a clean pillow the man behind the counter looked at the sky and said "it might rain", I mention the pillow situation and I now had to find the maintenance man - it is 3am, I am tired, it is dark.
I was directed in to the back entrance of the KITCHEN. Looking around the kitchen, I could not believe that my meals were going to be prepared in this space. I found the maintance man, a friendly gruff chap who still considered himself a bit of ladies man around the resort. I mentioned the pillow issue, after we took some pieces of hard, dry pineaple from a large open tray of prepared fruit ready for breakfast, we were now back on our way to my remote shelter.
Upon arriving at the modified ice fishing hut that was to be my home for the next 7 days, the maintenance guy smelled the pillow and made a face and a gag, it was that bad. He seemed to have keys to everything so we walked a few minutes to a vacant cabin where he gave me a pillow from that cabin - It was better - I wanted a tip (of course) - i gave him one of my company T-shirts as I always take extras.
The panaramic 12" tube television - with a few grainy channels, provide entertainment while I fell asleep - I was actually scared - the cabin was isolated, dark and very insecure - I eventually found some sleep, but was awake by 7am.
Looking at the rusty fixtures and stained sink, my reflection in the old mirror demanded a shower, shave and good toothbrushing. Turning on the cold water tap, I was greeted with a foul smelling liquid, a mixture of black particles and salt water came out, my teeth needed brushing - I decided not to use this water, and just brush my teeth without water. I did use the water for shaving - the foul smell was maked by the shaving cream. The shower delivered the same type of water from the cold tap, but nothing from the hot tap - the water was COLD, I froze trying to get clean and wash my hair.
Getting dressed and deciding to investigate the lack of HOT WATER - I walked around my cabin, turns out the cabin was actually two units and my friend had been housed in the other half of this hovel, I found the problem, the hot water heater was laying on its' side and had been disconected for quite some time - judging by the corrosion, rust and plant life that had sprung up around this defunct and abandoned unit. This wayward hot water heater was to provide hot water to both sides of the unit, so obviously my friend was in the same situation as I was. To this day I have no idea why they would have put anyone (let alone two people) in to an unihabihabitable room.
Talking to the front desk, I was finally able to get water from the gift shop, I bought 6 bottles. Talking to the front desk about the lack of water. The maintenance man was back, sittling in the lobby with his arm wrapped around a young senorita, he chimmed in, saying he would go fix it, we should come back later - remember the hot water heater is sitting disconected, on its side with weeds around it.
Later the maintenance man announced that it could not be fixed, we were then asked by the maintenance man if we could share a room. We of course said NO!
Later that day we were moved to seperate barracks that were slightly less disgusting than our first offerings... this would be our new home for the next 6 days. The water still ran salty and with black mould in it, but the hot water worked, the bed was still a recycled bunk bed mattress and the entertainment system only good for dropping in a full bathtub, in hopes of putting an end to the prison camp to which you have just been interned, I think for guests safety that is why there was NO BATHTUB in the room - only a shower - so you can sleep safe.
The guests at this resort ranged from a few dissapointed families, to many rude French Canadians that just can't leave their politics at home, to mostly awkward single men ( some heavy drinkers others just lonely), hoping to find some affordable company from the local jineteras (jockey/prostitute). I later found out the maintenance man was the man to talk to, he arranged company for many of the guests and even offered me a lady - I did not partake of this activity - I met the few vacationers and single ladies at the resort and we formed a tight group that spent the rest of the week, bonding, talking, laughing and yes even crying.
The food was inedible - but my wife had been kind enough to pack in my suitcase, spices, pepper, salt, hot sauce and a number of condiments to help make meals edible. My spice selection quickly became popular with other guests and we all attempted to make our meals a little tastier. - The juice was warm and chunky, the fruit dry and old. The buffet was held in a poorly ventilated, hot room, with dirty tables, no service and a food selection that I can only guess was created by a retired prison cook.
The snack bar had french fries cooked in almost rancid cooking oil - once in a while fried plantains, although I was never able to get a plate of them.
The gift shop ran out of water regularly. The bar had such a small selection (rum, rum and rum), we were very happy that we had bought bottles at duty free in Toronto. I purchased cans of Crystal (beer) from the gift shop for $1 each and that was my staple alcoholic beverage for the week.
The nightlife consisted of a disco across the street frequented by locals, we saw several fights and I was propositioned several times by young men, offereing me their girlfriends for the evening.
The 'resort' offers a $3 bus ride to Caleta Beuna (probably spelled wrong) - this is well worth the trip and once there food and drink are free - I spent several days there - the food was better, the booze was better, the snorkelling was better - If I had a tent I think I would have camped there for the week.
Now... it grew on me...
Some of the staff at this resort were the warmest friendliest people you could ever meet, Umberto hooked us up with local house to eat at, their food offerings were EXCELLENT and for $10 a person we had fantastic meals. My housekeeper folded all my clothes everyday and hung damp ones up to dry, I finally met her at the end of the week and we hugged and she thanked me for the tips and toys for her grandchildren that I had been leaving all week.
It easy to take long walks (I had my headphones on most of the time and walked for hours up the beach and through town) - the ruins of the military installation that this resort used to be are still evident and interesting to see. The military museum gave another look at how proud the cuban people are. I walked the see wall every day and did the jump across the crumbling gap - probably an unwise decision, but the resort did have a doctor that stopped by some days - a very well educated man, I enjoyed our conversations.
There is a pizza place beside the disco, that served a great pizza for $2
Our tight little group of friends spent days beside the open pool and I thoroughly enjoyed all my time with them. There is another pool on property but it is empty and looks like it has been out of service for many years.
The beach is poor, there is a slightly better one 15 minutes down the beach, that you can swim in - bring water shoes.
This is NOT a place for children, some of the other rooms on the resort were far superior to the two that I had.
There is no visible daytime animation staff or activities other than a paddle boat, there were a couple night shows dancing and band, and the dancers and musicians were very talented. The staff tries so hard with what little they have, they were wonderfull.
Diving is Cheap at $25 a dive.
You very quickly feel safe - even walking through town, the resort is quiet and relaxing - which in retrospect is what I needed from my week away.
It was an experience - I loved it and hated it all that same time. Would I go back... in a minute, but I know I would be dissapointed as it was the people I met that made this vacation one of my fondest memories.
I doubt many people have read all these ramblings, but feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.