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“Fantastic time at Husa” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Gaviota La Estrella

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Gaviota La Estrella
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5.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   52610 , Cuba (Formerly Husa Cayo Santa Maria Beach)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #10 of 11 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Toronto, Canada
1 review
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Fantastic time at Husa”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 10, 2013

Returned from Husa Santa Maria on the 22 August after a 2 week stay. Went there with my wife and my two sons 12 and 10 years old.
The staff in general is friendly and polite and will do whatever they can to help. However, I noticed that tipping will not affect their service. There is a difference between the days when there was a large number of tourists vs the slower days. At the weekend you do get a lot of Cuban families in the resort so the place gets really busier. The staff seemed to get a bit tired and so the waiting time in line for food gets longer. Sometime I noticed that the staff would favorite the Cubans over foreign tourists. We complained to Javier, the director general and the problem got fixed.

The food was very good. Breakfasts were our preferred meal- really fantastic. Pancakes, omelettes and smoothies were always fresh. We tried ala carte restaurants, you can book them 3 times a week. We liked the Spanish, Cuban, and Seafood. Do not try Italian. However, personally I preferred to stick with the buffet restaurant. For fish and sea food lovers this resort is a paradise. Unless you are a very picky person you will find the quality of food surprising good (especially when you consider you are in Cuba)

Keep in mind that the resort is really large. We went in the low season but I guess that in the high season you have to do a lot of walking to get to places. Francisco, one of the managers (a very nice guy) told us that in the high season the place accommodates up to 5 thousand people.
The beach was the best beach I have ever been to. You can walk for miles. The water is crystal clear. No water seeds.
The shows were really good. The dancers and the musicians looked very professional. It was a pleasant way to spend the evening
The rooms were fine. We had our fridge supplied with beer, pops, tea, water and coffee daily. Always left a peso for the maid.
I read some bad comments about the place and that really surprises me. We stayed there for 2 weeks and we could tell that the new management was really doing their best make sure everything was under control. Consider the fact that this is Cuba and they had to face problems (such as shortage of power for instance) which maybe they thought that they would never had to deal with. We would fully recommend you go to The Husa without hesitation. I think most people will have an excellent holiday

September- 10 - 2013
Toronto Canada

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
INES_ARNAL, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Gaviota La Estrella, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
Dear Brikend b,

We would like to thank you for letting us have your comments after your recent stay at our hotel, through Trip Advisor website.

We really appreciate your impressions on our hotel. It is always a pleasure to receive a positive feedback from our clients, since nothing makes us more joyful than knowing that we have achieved our main goal which is no other than the satisfaction of our guests.

We are very grateful for all the information you provided to future guests, your comment is very helpful and detailed. On the other hand, we are sorry to hear that you felt a differentiation of service to our customers according to their nationality. We do offer exactly the same treatment to all customers; our main objective is to provide the best service and comfort to all our guests.

We thank you again for the time you took to share your experience and we would be delighted to welcome you again at HUSA Cayo Santa Maria if you have the chance to return to Cuba in the near future.

Looking forward to the pleasure of meeting you personally during your next visit, we remain at your entire disposal.

Best regards.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (334)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Kitchener, Ontario
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2013

First let me tell you , I am not a fancy or fussy guy ! This is the second visit to this resort, but under different management ! As it being the first week of Sept, I knew it was going to be quiet . To start off with, I would like to thank all the staff for a good week ! They were always professionl and friendly ! I did see tips being pass out, as I did.... but never seen it being forced for any service ! As for the resort itself, well its getting on in age. So things start breaking down. And if you know Cuba, you can not just go to the hardware store and buy new. So it takes awhile to fix ! But overall it is still a beautiful resort.. As for the food, well if you are not like me and are fussy and fancy ! DON"T GO TO CUBA ! There is plenty there.. You are not going to starve ! So to finish off , during quiets seasons this resort is more for couples and familys.. Its not a party place ! Maybe different during high season. Psssst : Ine's, noticed I did not say anything about the pliers ! ;) ;) Wish you and your company many good years ! And we might see you again ! : ) : )

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
INES_ARNAL, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Gaviota La Estrella, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
Dear Justliving,

I would like to thank you for letting us have your comments after your recent stay at our hotel, through Trip Advisor website.

We really appreciate your impressions on our hotel. It is always a pleasure to receive a positive feedback from our clients, since nothing makes us more joyful than knowing that we have achieved our main goal which is no other than the satisfaction of our guests.

It was a pleasure meeting you and your wife. By the way, you are totally free to share the pliers´ story if you wish… I had fun listening to you!!

I know you prefer to visit cities… but let me tell you that we would be delighted to welcome you again at HUSA Cayo Santa Maria if you have the chance to return in the near future.

We remain at your entire disposal.

Best regards,
Inés Arnal
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Calgary, Canada
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2013

To begin we wake up the first morning the whole resort has no water and this continued through out the 7 days. No beach towel. Terrible food, waiting in huge lines for terrible food. No beach towels on a regular basis. One of our beds cracked in half and it took 6 request to get a new bed. Staff service was terrible. I have stayed in many 2 star and 3 star resorts the blew this place outta the water. Do not go here.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
INES_ARNAL, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Gaviota La Estrella, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
Dear Toni M,

We would like to thank you for letting us have your comments after your stay at our hotel through Trip Advisor website.

We highly appreciate your impressions on our resort, since our guests’ opinions certainly help us to maintain and improve our services and facilities.

Let me explain you that by that time, we had a very difficult time due to lack of water supply. This was due to an external incident that affected not only our hotel but also other resorts in the key. We did our best helping customers, we provided all the time water´ bottles and, as compensation, we offered all guests free late check-outs. All staff spent the whole first night trying to fix the problem and helping with the hard situation. It was an incident that surprisingly lasted more than what we expected, like two more days with momentary water cuts, but obviously not seven days in a row. It coincided also with a very high occupancy, therefore it was really difficult for everyone and we deeply regret for the inconveniences. I would also like to apologize for the lack of towels; unfortunately this was a further problem related to the lack of water supply. We solved it with the household linen provider as soon as possible.

In regards to the food issue, I can assure you that many things have changed since your stay in February. We are continuously redesigning kitchen procedures in order to avoid cues, as well as to improve our service, quality and variety by introducing a wider gastronomic offer and changing the a la carte menus.

We sincerely appreciate your trust in our hotel and company. We will continue focusing our efforts on improving our services, which you will be able to appreciate if we have the pleasure of hosting you again.

We remain at your entire disposal.
Best regards.
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Toronto, Canada
1 review
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2013

I had a good time in the resort. The entertainment is great. They have very friendly staff that will keep you entertained all day.

The food is not that great though. If you love seafood, you'll be happy. If you don't, you'll still find something to eat. But you won't be that impressed. The crepe station is always great though.

The drinks were not that good. They didn't have variety. And they didn't have any fresh fruits or fresh juice to make the drinks with.

The swimming pool is nice. The beach was GREAT but it was full of jelly fish for the first 2 or 3 days of the trip. They then disappeared and the beach was amazing. I must say the jellyfish was the only annoying thing about the beach. Other than that, you get clear water, no waves, soft and clean sand. Best beach ever.

Rooms were ok. The one thing that I liked about this resort is that the restaurants were air-conditioned. This is very important to me.

The bell-boy will take you to the market for free. Just pay him tips.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
INES_ARNAL, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Gaviota La Estrella, responded to this review, September 24, 2013
Dear Max C,

We would like to thank you for letting us have your comments after your recent stay at our hotel, through Trip Advisor website.

We really appreciate your impressions on our hotel. It is always a pleasure to receive a positive feedback from our clients, since nothing makes us more joyful than knowing that we have achieved our main goal which is no other than the satisfaction of our guests.

In regards to the food issue, we are continuously redesigning certain kitchen procedures in order to improve our service, quality and variety by introducing a wider gastronomic offer. We have changed all our a la carte menus which all guests seem to like, and a new chef as well as a new food and beverages manager just joined our team; both are making strong efforts to improve the food service, which you will be able to appreciate if we have the pleasure of hosting you again.

At this time of the year it is easy to find some jellyfishes due to the water´ temperature, but I can assure you that those kinds are not too harmful.

We thank you again for the time you took to share your experience and we would be delighted to welcome you again at HUSA Cayo Santa Maria if you have the chance to return to Cuba in the near future.

Looking forward to the pleasure of meeting you personally during your next visit, we remain at your entire disposal.

Best regards,
Inés Arnal
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Flin Flon, Canada
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2013

My wife and I stayed at the Husa to celebrate her 50th birthday for two weeks at the end of March/first week of April 2013.
The beach was great. You can walk for miles. The water is crystal clear, but we had more red flag days than not. The weather was good other than the wind and we had a couple of cloudy days.
Being there for two weeks, we noticed a definite difference between the days when there was a large number of people versus the slower days. The service was stretched - especially the buffet - with long lines when it was getting toward full capacity.
The food was okay - the cook stations were actually very good - the buffet provided enough choice that we always found something that was good enough. There were some days that had no butter for example, but the bread was fresh and we were fine without.
We went to all of the al a cartes and all were good. We liked the Spanish, Cuban, Italian and Seafood in that order.
The service was fine. Again, when it was busy the staff seemed to get a bit tired and could only do so much.
The resort was large. We stayed on the Colonial side which was quieter than the Beach side. They are basically identical - mirror images of each other. It is about a five minute walk from the far side to the middle of the resort. The grounds were well kept and we enjoyed the stroll around the resort.
The rooms were fine. Our balcony faced the jungle which disappointed us at first. But we found that we had the evening sun and enjoyed watching the sunset and winding down the day from the balcony. We spent all of time either on the beach or at the pool when the sun was up! We had our fridge stocked daily and always left a peso or two which seemed to add to our supplies.
The majority of guests were French Canadians and as Anglophones we listened for English to be able to make acquaintances. There was the mad rush for the shade at the beach. They were building new structures, but there still wasn't enough on some days. We always found enough chairs and we wanted the sun after six months of winter anyway! There was some pool side activities, but we didn't go to the Beach side very often and there was a lot more action there.
The shows were pretty good. We enjoyed the musicians that played prior to the show just outside the buffet. The dancers were fun to watch. It was a nice way to spend the evening. The bars - drinks were good. Again, when it was busy, there was always a wait to get a drink. You had to be a bit assertive or you could sit a long time. We brought the bubba mugs and that was helpful during the day so we didn't have to make too many trips.
The power was out a couple of times - very brief and I believe it was all over the island.
We went to the shopping 'town' three times. There were different people each time; but there was a big difference in selection. I would suggest that if you find something you want to buy it as it might be hard to find an identical item on your next visit.
We always felt safe. There we guards at the exits from the beach - my best guess is that they were to prevent people from other resorts from visiting. But every resort seemed to have the same colour of wrist bands so I am not sure how anyone could tell anyway.
We exchanged money at both the airport and the hotel. The both were easy - you need your passport - but the time required is totally dependent on the person's attitude and how many are in line.
I would rate the place as a 3.5 to 4 star. Unless you are a very picky person, I think most people will have a good holiday. We went for the beach and weren't disappointed. If you go knowing that it isn't perfect you should enjoy the Husa.

Room Tip: I suggest #26 or #27 on the Colonial side if you want a quiet area, close to the beach and fairly cl...
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
INES_ARNAL, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Gaviota La Estrella, responded to this review, September 20, 2013
Dear blaine v,

We would like to thank you for letting us have your comments after your stay at our hotel, through Trip Advisor website.

We really appreciate your impressions on our hotel. It is always a pleasure to receive a positive feedback from our clients, since nothing makes us more joyful than knowing that we have achieved our main goal which is no other than the satisfaction of our guests.

We are very grateful for all the information you provided to future guests, your comment is very helpful and detailed.

We thank you again for the time you took to share your experience and we would be delighted to welcome you again at HUSA Cayo Santa Maria if you have the chance to return to Cuba in the near future.

Looking forward to the pleasure of meeting you personally during your next visit, we remain at your entire disposal.

Best regards,
Inés Arnal
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ontario
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
162 helpful votes 162 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2013

Myself and my husband and two of my sons stayed at this resort August 16-24, 2013.

I won the trip and when I read the reviews I actually thought often of not even going as they were so bad. I planned to use my vacation time to go to Halifax to see my son who lives out there. After searching flights and hotels to stay in Halifax for a week with my husband I found it would be cheaper for us to bring him to Cuba with us and we could also afford to bring one of our other sons so they could also get to spend some time together. We figured we would focus on family time and not invest too much in having a positive resort experience. I am so glad we made that decision.

When we arrived check in was fairly quick and we were directed to the bell boy so he could bring our luggage to our rooms and we set off with our map in hand to find them. It was much easier than anticipated. We were in Building 27, rooms 2608 and 2709. Both rooms were clean and spacious and pleasantly decorated with blue and white as the theme. My son is disabled and uses a wheelchair so we had requested that our rooms be side by side and on the first floor. They not only met our request but my sons room had an accessible bathroom with a shower (no tub) and the rooms joined by opening two doors which was just perfect. These were seriously the best rooms we have stayed in at any resort with our son. It not only afforded us the privacy of separate rooms (and the bonus of no single supplement for my son being in a room alone) but then the convenience of being able to easily go to him when he needed it and for us to open up the rooms for additional family space. My son from Halifax arrived the day after us and got his ocean view room as booked. It was in the building beside ours (26) and on the second floor. Awesome view however the room was slightly smaller than our rooms in bldg 27. All things functioned well in the rooms and they were cleaned daily by the most lovely ladies who went above and beyond to make cute towel art every day...incorporating flowers and notes. We tipped the ladies $3CUC daily. Beds were firm but not torturous and the pillows were actually quite nice and puffy. We had a king in our room, my son adjoining us had two doubles and my other son had a double and a single in his room. There is a hair dryer and an iron if you need those things. The vanity is separate from the toilet and the shower/bath. Be forewarned you can't flush the toilet when the electricity is out. The AC worked great in all three rooms. Hot water was plentiful when the electricity wasn't an issue (it was for about six hours one day) the water pressure was adequate.

Fridge was stocked with one large bottle of water, 2 Buckaneer beers, one coke, one sprite when we arrived. Every day at about 11am the men would come around to restock. We were usually in the room to greet them as my son would require assistance getting ready each day after breakfast. It was easy to get additional water and drinks of your choice if you just asked nicely and we would also include a tip of $3CUC.

The buffet breakfast was always very busy and on the weekends the local cuban families came to the resort so it was very hectic from Saturday to Sunday. There was more than enough ham in various shapes served at this meal. It became a running joke with us. Square ham, round ham, triangle ham (squares cut in half), fried ham, steamed ham and cold ham slices. There would be pans of ham sitting side by side in the various shapes like that would constitute them being a different type of food..lol. A few times there were also some cut up sausages which were actually very good and I don't even like sausage. We mostly stuck to the omelets and had one every morning we were there. I would once and awhile get some fresh fruit from the lady I fondly termed the "fruit nazi" as she guarded her fresh fruit she was slicing and handed it out sparingly...issuing a bit of a glare if you asked for extra. We tipped the omelet man $3 every morning and our servers were tipped $2 as all they really did was bring some water and coffee. They make excellent espresso and cappuccino at this resort by the way. We enjoyed it not only at breakfast but also at the main lobby bar in the afternoon.

Lunch was served every day at the grill by the pool. It is best to arrive early as they are slow with restocking items and clearing tables. If you drag in after two then you will likely be hastily seated at a poorly cleaned table and have little selection of food. I personally ate the grilled fish every day as did my one son. My husband and other son preferred the grilled to order meat station better but it always had a long line up as I guess more people prefer meat to fish. In addition to the grill stations there is the ever present sliced ham, bread, salad makings (but no dressing) and a few pans of hot foods. The hot foods were often some kind of stewed beef or chicken, roasted chicken pieces (which were always very good), french fries and pumpkin and some other things that I just don't recall as I never tasted them. Food at the grill was always tasty, selection might be smaller than most other resorts I have stayed at but the food that was there I did enjoy for the most part. My husband by the third day started to bring french bread cut through the middle to the grill with him and asked the cook to grill it while he was grilling this meat and then place the meat in the bread to make a hot sandwich which he would then add a variety of the salad vegetables to top it off...this worked very well for him.

Dinner buffet was likely our least favorite place to eat. When we arrived on the friday evening we attempted to go there for a meal. There was a large grouping of Cuban families waiting to get in and a security man at the door trying to control them. They were quite loud and were getting increasingly agitated at not being able to enter. I waiter was instructed to bring my husband and my son in ahead of the locals and once in we were a bit disturbed at how busy and chaotic it was in there. Thankfully the waiter just swept us through and told us he was taking us to a different restaurant that was on the other side of the resort. He explained it was really closed over there but it had been opened up for the night and we would be able to dine there. They were serving the Cuban menu however by the theme on the walls I assumed that this usually was a seafood place. It was quiet and cool and a very welcome place to dine after a long day of travel. The food was excellent and the wine was better than I would have expected. We all had the meat soup to start and then the roast pork for our main...both were totally delicious and though not gourmet were like really good home made food. My son and husband enjoyed the stuffed potato as the appetizer (they really liked this and ordered it again when we ate off the Cuban menu) and because I have a gluten allergy I had the plantain (the potato was breaded) which was a bit dry and not so great..but added butter and pepper made it edible. The next night we were stuck at the buffet and it was really dreadful. My husband later talked to the head chef and he explained that on the weekends they change the buffet to accommodate the mostly Cuban clientele. We felt that it would be best to book your a la carts dinners for friday through Sunday if you can to avoid the buffet over the weekends. The other a la carts we ate at were the Spanish and the Italian. We really did enjoy everything we ordered from the menu and had no complaints. This was likely the best food I have eaten in Cuba and I am astounded that so many complain about it. It is NOT gourmet by any stretch of the imagination but it is good quality and flavorful. I felt like I was dinning at friends house, food was very simple but well prepared and servings were for the most part huge. I wish we could have eaten at the a la carts every night.

Book your dinners as early as you possibly can in your stay. Her desk opens in the morning at about nine...get there then and wait for her or you may have a hard time getting a la carte options during your stay.

For snacks or a light meal you can get grilled hamburgers and hot dogs down by the beach bar ( never had any as I have a gluten allergy and couldn't have the buns). 24 hours a day you can get sandwiches from the beer garden....my son had at least one ham and cheese one each day..they are grilled and if you ask nice they will add some extra cheese...my husband liked them also (my other son and I have gluten allergies so never had them).

Now on to drinks...........blech...my least enjoyed part of my stay. The better quality liquor was an extra charge. You could get some moderately decent brands but they were limited. If you like to drink Gin you are out of luck and even more so if you like gin and tonic...be warned there is no tonic available. Vodka brand served was also very dubious. The beer was good my husband said and he discovered you can get bottles of Becks. Coffee was good and cappuccino, expresso and cafe con leche is available at the lobby bar, the restaurants and also the beer garden. Drinks by the beach were served in tiny tiny tiny ....did I say..tiny plastic cups. This is a resort I would recommend bringing a refillable cup to. They made pina coladas and margaritas from a pre made slushie sort of mix not from any kind of fresh ingredient. They taste ok but I only drank two of them (from the tiny cups) while there and stuck mostly to filling my big cup with ice and water. I noticed they made mojitos and some other mixed drinks at this bar but didn't really pay much attention to what they were. There are NO blender drinks so keep that in mind. There are actually NO blender drinks available any where on the resort.

Now to the best part.........the beach. It is gorgeous, soft white sand and stunning clear blue/green water. It was so beautiful it was almost unreal looking. You could walk for quite some distance in either direction however the walk to the left was the longest and if you want to make it all the way to the end...bring some water and a hat as it is a good hike there and then back. When the tide is in you are limited as to how far you can walk in either direction without wading through some water. The shore line is totally sand, no rocks in the water and you can wade out quite far without getting out of your depth. It is a perfect beach for young children. The water can get little waves if the wind picks up but nothing like the beating surf you can get in other places I have stayed. I loved to just wade out and bob in the water soaking in the peaceful beauty of it. I brought a float and spent some time just drifting around on that every day.

The grounds are beautiful with a lovely variety of all kinds of plantings. Buildings were not as run down as I was lead to believe from other reviews, they actually looked really good. The resort is easy to navigate once you have been there a day or two. The beach is reached by crossing a long dark wood bridge (one by the beach bar and another by the water sports building) and then stairs down to the sand and an additional climb down a sandy hill. It is in no way accessible if you have a mobility issue. The wood walk way is HOT by noon so make sure you wear some flip flops or other shoes as it will be very unpleasant to walk on without them. The shower is on the beach bar walk way and because it is the only one there is usually a line up to use it during peak times (lunch and evening). The sun shades stretch along the beach and there are many but if you want to sit near the bar you should get out there early. Beach towels are in your room when you arrive and you likely won't get a second one during your stay. This didn't bother me as you really don't use them for anything but sitting on..on the plastic beach chairs. Shade is a little more difficult around the pool...i would say if this is where you want to spend your day you must get their early to secure a shady spot. I never spent much time there so it wasn't an issue for me. If you want to take a ride on the little sail boats just stand on the beach where they go in and out and wait your turn...later in the day there is usually nobody waiting...I did it and it was a fun little ride. They have wind surfers, paddle boats and kayaks. I think you just sign them out at the water sports center. The week I was there nobody seemed to be using them...except for on man windsurfing one day. I didn't go to see any of the shows so can't comment really. I did see the practices when we were getting sandwiches at the beer garden and the dancers looked to be very skilled.

The pool is ok........it is a pool.lol. Nothing spectacular. There is one end with swim up bar that is separated by a wall from the other end which I assume is a child friendly side. The water on both sides is strangely shallow and can't be much over 4 feet at the deepest point. The water was warm and because of the many many people in it the few days I visited it, not the cleanest. I personally couldn't see going in it when that beach was so spectacular and clean and closer to my room.

To wrap it up I will say that my over all experience was far better than I had anticipated from the reviews here. Rooms were good, food was for the most part very good, and the staff were all warm and friendly. Front desk seemed a bit tense a few times when I approached them but as soon as they saw I was not there to complain about something they quickly warmed up. There was NO internet the entire time I was there and the electricity did go out but only once for about 10 hours during the day...only problem with that is the water doesn't work either and that means no shower or toilet flushing. I think that on the days that the Cuban families are not at the resort it is much quieter and calmer and likely for most tourists a more enjoyable time. I am sad to say that the local families tend to be much louder and demanding than the other guests and I feel that the staff at times do not appreciate them being there. Would I return to this resort or area of cuba again, likely not as the drive to the resort I found to be just too long. It was close to two hours and though the drive on the main land was interesting that last 40-50 minutes crossing the bridge was what made the drive feel too long for me...not much to see to distract you from the fact that you are sitting on a bus. I will have to be honest that Cuba has never been a favorite destination for me and I likely would never have chosen to go back there if I had not won the trip.

If you are looking for a budget holiday and you don't mind the bus drive, or the limitations of this resort I have described then it is an excellent place to spend some time enjoying an amazing beach. I think you get more than you pay for at this resort. When we booked from Toronto it was only $748/pp with no single supplement...for air, transfer to the resort, food and drinks and room......seriously I don't think you could beat it. The service was good regardless if you tip or not, we prefer to tip. I greatly appreciated that they are food allergy aware. I wrote a letter in English AND Spanish that outlined our food restrictions, nuts for some and gluten for others...and we had no problems getting directed as to what on the menu was or wasn't safe to eat. This was likely the least stress we have experienced in this department.

You can change your money at the hotel, I didn't feel there was much of a difference in the exchange rate and it was the most convenient way for me. I changed only what I needed for each day so as to not be left with a giant wad of CUC at the end of my stay. We did not take any trips so can't comment on them. We did go to the pueblo ..one day my son and I went to check out to see if it would be ok to dine there with my son in the wheelchair....we had a quick lunch of shrimp which was tasty but salty...went to the cigar shop and bought some little cigars and a bottle of beefeater gin. Both items turned out to be cheaper at the little store at the resort. We returned the next night for a dinner at the Steak restaurant so as to avoid the buffet at the resort. It was ok meal but no worth the $127 CUC we spent on it. In fact that whole experience was very strange. The Pueblo was more like an abandoned movie set than a little town. It had no ambiance and was a bit creepy at night. The resort is very well laid out ..if you look for short cuts by going through the other buildings you will find that no matter where you are located it is not more than a few minutes walk to anything.

The airport you fly in and out of is a tiny one and don't expect much in the line of food choices or other amenities as you wait for your flight home to leave.

Room Tip: We loved building 26 it was minutes to the beach, pool and lobby and restaurants.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
INES_ARNAL, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Gaviota La Estrella, responded to this review, September 20, 2013
Dear snlvrr,

We would like to thank you for letting us have your comments after your recent stay at our hotel, through Trip Advisor website.

We really appreciate your impressions on our hotel. It is always a pleasure to receive a positive feedback from our clients, since nothing makes us more joyful than knowing that we have achieved our main goal which is no other than the satisfaction of our guests.

We are glad to hear that your son’s room was comfortable and adequate for him; we are also really proud to learn that it is the first time you enjoy such a well enabled room for disabled people and with the necessary facilities.

It really surprises me your comment in regards to the blender drinks, which we obviously count with. Our bar men prepare great natural juices and different cocktails with blenders.

In regards to the towels, guests can change them at the Sport Club located at the pool area or if the operation of the hotel allows it, our maids try to deposit them in all rooms as a courtesy. We are sorry if yours were not replaced.

The pool is surrounded by adjoining palapas, therefore it shouldn´t be a problem getting shaded areas. On the other hand, we apologize if you felt a lack of cleaning at the pool´ water. We obviously clean it daily with strong disinfectants.

We are sorry for the momentary power outage as well as for the Internet connexion. Unfortunately, the Internet service throughout the key is still very slow due to lack of technological resources of the network company.

We thank you again for the time you took to share your experience and we would be delighted to welcome you again at HUSA Cayo Santa Maria if you have the chance to return to Cuba in the near future.

Looking forward to the pleasure of meeting you personally during your next visit, we remain at your entire disposal.

Best regards,
Inés Arnal
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2013

An average hotel with no surprises except the beach which has the softest white sand and pristine clear water.
The queue for food can be long and frustrating at times. Go before the peak hours and service can be rendered.
Bring your own towels if you cannot stand the stained towels provided. They are probably rust stains and not blood I was told.

Room Tip: Blk 27 is quiet but easy access to the beach and dining rooms. Ask for 2/F or 3/F as the glass doors...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
INES_ARNAL, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Gaviota La Estrella, responded to this review, September 4, 2013
Dear Zack L,

We would like to thank you for letting us have your comments after your recent stay at our hotel through Trip Advisor website.

We highly appreciate your impressions on our resort, since our guests’ opinions certainly help us to maintain and improve our services and facilities.

We regret for the stained towels; we already made the necessary arrangements with the outsourcing laundry to fix this serious inconvenience, but as you mentioned this is a common problem that all hotels at the Santa Maria key suffer because we all use the same industrial laundry service and transportation that unfortunately stain some of the towels with oxide

We apologize if you had to wait in queues due to high occupancy; it is something we really try to avoid through continuous procedures.

We sincerely appreciate your trust in our hotel and company. We will continue focusing our efforts on improving our services, which you will be able to appreciate if we have the pleasure of hosting you again.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon. We remain at your entire disposal.

Best regards,

Inés Arnal
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gaviota La Estrella

Address: 52610 , Cuba (Formerly Husa Cayo Santa Maria Beach)
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Villa Clara Province > Cayo Santa Maria
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Luxury Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#9 Top resorts Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
Hotel Class:5 star — Gaviota La Estrella 5*
Number of rooms: 1308
Also Known As:
Barcelo Cayo Santa Maria Beach And Colonial Resort
Barcelo Cayo Santa Maria Beach & Colonial Hotel Cayo Santa Maria
Cayo Santa Maria Barcelo

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