I visited the Memories Azul in Cayo Santa Maria from the 20th of January to the 27th of January 2012 and found this to be the worst vacation in Cuba ever. This is coming from a person who has been all over Cuba including Cayo Coco, Holguin, Varadero, Santa Clara and Havana, and to resorts ranging from 2 stars to 5 stars.
The Memories Azul says that it is a 5 star resort it isnt. It is much more like a 1.5, border-lined on 2 stars.
The reason why I and 3 other family members selected to to go this resort was because it was a 5 start resort, and I've visited the connecting resort which used to be called "Barcelo" back in April of 2011 at which time it was a 4.5 start, and definitely was a 4.5 star.
Memories Azul was not opened to the visitors at the Barcelo resort but this time it was.
So let me tell you why this resort was a 1.5 star and why I highly don't recommend it.
Everyone goes to Cuba because people are friendly, it is low cost, and everything you expect is what you get. Everyone also knows that Cuba is not Mexico, its not Canada, so the food, entertainment and accommodation is not going to be 100%, but we are understanding and know what we will get for our money.
I love Cuba, and will go back as soon as possible, but this resort will never see me again, and hopefully not you (the reader).
1. The Beach
2. The Restaurants
3. A la carte Restaurants
7. Everything Else
Cuba has the nicest beaches. When this beach belonged to the resort called Barcelo, it was clean and amazing. This time...the beach was full of rocks, plastic cups and cans. The beach chairs were all broken and the there was too much garbage on the beach...it seemed like it was never cleaned.
The restaurants were freezing. I, and 2 other members of my family got sick 2 days after coming. Not from the food, but from the cold. I literally had to wear a sweater to breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The food was terrible, even for Cuba. The food was cold, un-cooked and was re-used from lunch to dinner. Line-ups were terrible as well (15 - 20 minutes to get in, and 15-20 minutes to get your food)
After making lunch, breakfast or dinner (chicken, fish..pizza...) the cooks put their hands out and wait for money... Tips are optional, and this make a lot of people feel very uncomfortable.
If you wanted a drink (water, alcohol, coffee...etc) you werent going to get it at lunch or dinner that was for sure. The waitress (multiple ones) would come and ask what we would like to drink, and never be seen again.
A la Carte Restaurants
When making a reservation for the a la carte restaurants you usually expect it to be good food. It wasnt. Lets just say, we waited in line to get in to the restaurants for at least 15 minutes (past reservation times), and about 45 minutes to get out food.
And lets just say, after each a la carte dinner, all of us would go back to the buffet to get food, because we were hungry. And again...hands were put out waiting for tips.
Cubans are very nice and friendly people. I dont think these were Cuban people at this resort. For one, none...and i mean NONE spoke english. If you call reception to ask where a restaurant is..they hang up. If you ask for anything they hang up.
The rooms were cleaned, and the maid was very nice. That was about it.
However the room mini-fridge was never filled - they would come at night time at around 8:30pm and say "what you want drink"...and they would force themselves into the door to put your "water, or pop" into the fridge...no matter if you were naked in the room.
After taking our luggage from the reception to the room, they were waiting on the truck for us to give a tip before they unload the luggage. Same think on our way back home.
In the reception nobody spoke english. I see somebody here mentioned that they needed a bandaid and was directed to a near by hospital 7km away. Same thing happened to us. A cut on the beach (from a plastic cup in the sand), we needed a bandaid, and the reception didnt not speak a word of english.
I am from Canada, but very disgusted when i see other people from Canada, acting the way they did at bars. Example being...a man putting his finger into every alcoholic bottle on the bar, sniffing and licking his fingers and saying " i want that one" and the bar-tender not saying a word.
If you wanted a drink at the bar...you better hold money in your hand so the bar-tender will see you and serve you, otherwise good luck.
The problem is there are nearly 5,000 - 6000 people at this BIG BIG BIG resort and 128 staff, of which half are maids. So getting anything - you wont.
Cuba is known for having good entertainment, dancers, singers..etc - NOT THIS TIME
Same show every night...exactly the same...same music every night, and every day...
"we are the championship, no time for losers" - constantly plays at night.
If you have small kids and you want to go here...the show is good for them. Thats all.
Also, you wont find a place to sit during the show as 6000 people try to find a place to sit in a 2000 seat auditorium
Upon our arrival, there was 2 big buses with a lot of people that arrived. We were all forced into a very small room where a person who said..
"you sit and fill, after you drink"...that was our welcome and our reception..Where we waited a hour and 45 minutes to get a envelope which had our room number.
One person was registering over 200 people which took forever.
You couldnt exchange your money at any time...other then from 10am - 3pm....which is weird - and each time you would be given a different amount for the same Canadian amount..
It was very hard booking any trips or tours...big big big line-ups to do anything... and the Sunwing workers there waiting to get your booking, would get up and leave in the middle of it.
everyone wants tips...they wait for you to give it to them and stand beside you looking depressed until you do.
no medical staff working anywhere. nobody understands anything you say.
if you asked to get a water bottle in your room. They would say, you get yesterday...no until tomorrow. So you would basically have one water bottle for two days (for 2 people)...unless you go and buy 1 in the store.
You can try to re-fill it at the bar...but usually they say...no water here.
Also, if you want to sleep...you wont be able to unless you drink a lot of alcohol and pass out. The cleaning ladies there start working really early like 3am washing towels...etc
Also they are making a big resort about 2 minutes away. And the construction is 24/7 process of banging. You cant sleep. Thats for sure.
My final recommendation...
Really just try to stay away from this resort. Cuba is great but this is very horrible.
I read the reviews here all the time and never posted a review before, but i highly recommend that you don't go to here.
You will literally spend your trip walking from place to place. Example: 20 minute walk from Bungalow 61 to lobby (restaurants).
The people who left positive (good) reviews, i see where you are coming from and why you would think its a good resort...but you need to visit other places in cuba, and go on a second trip before you say this is awesome...
If this was my first trip i would say wow the ocean was so blue, and the beach was awesome...the sun was nice and the food was great (available anytime)...the booze was free...wow... but for those who have been around Cuba, Mexico, Dominican...and still say that this resort in Cuba was crap...it should mean something.
PS: watch out for the lizards behind the toilet.