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“Paradise!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sol Cayo Santa Maria

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Sol Cayo Santa Maria
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Cayo Santa Maria | Villa Clara, Cuba   |  
Hotel amenities
Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Paradise!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2012

This was my first international vacation and it was so fabulous that I will now only vacation in Cuba! The ocean, sun and incredible staff at Sol Cayo made this trip simply amazing! I was impressed with not only the low cost of this stay but the service was beyond exceptional! The staff were the most personable, friendly and happy people I have ever met and the openness of the resort was wonderful. Sol Cayo and Cuba have truly become a paradise for me.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (163)
Date | Rating
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English first
St Helens, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2012

dont expect much some people go with very high expectations of the place
did enjoy parts of the holiday the trips are fantastic make sure you at least go on 1 trip
mangers and staff do try to do there best for you at all times...

Room Tip: higher floors less creatures and better beach views
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Toronto
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
116 helpful votes 116 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2012

The following are my views/experience at this hotel after visiting for the first time. Yours may differ.

It makes a long day getting to this area, between the flight and then 1 1/2 hour bus ride but if the bus ride is during the day it can be interesting as it passes through small towns.

Rooms – Everything worked, AC, lights, mini fridge and safety box. The large bed was firm and comfortable, but there were a few springs sticking up in places. The bathroom has a 110v outlet for low wattage things like shavers and charging my cameras and netbook. There was mould growing on the ceiling over the tub and around parts of the tub. I personally don't think there is enough air circulation in the bathroom. As mentioned by others I would not pay extra for ocean view rooms since most are blocked by bushes. The room safe was big enough for my netbook, large camera and a few other small things.

Food – I only ate at the buffet. Every morning at 7am the doors would be left open and birds would come in, some of them wandering around the buffet items. This would be very easy to fix by leaving the doors shut and fixing the door so it will not stay open. I always found something good to eat from pizza, roast beef, turkey, fish and an assortment of vegetables. Most nights there was live music in the buffet area. I also noticed some of the food handling could be much more sanitary and I avoided those areas. Things like the long bread stick and knife but no napkin covering the bread sometimes. Everyone cutting a piece would be putting their hand on it. The blender juice area in the morning is another area I avoided because of sanitary reasons.

Grounds – There are a lot of little ups and downs in the main pool, reception area grounds. Some are marked, some not. At night it can be hard to see these elevation changes. The bridge over the pool being one example not lit. It seems every time concrete met marble or paving stones, they were never level. There was always that slight lip to trip over if you were not careful. I personally saw several people fall. The public washrooms were very nice, with flowers and incense burning.

Staff - Here is where this hotel shines. Wonderful, wonderful friendly staff, from the gardeners, wait staff to the bar staff and maids. A special mention to the morning ladies at the coffee bar near the lobby. I was always served a big smile with my coffee. What a wonderful way to start the day. During my stay the sink drain stopped working, I reported it to customer service and went for a coffee, by the time I got back it had been repaired. Amazingly quick service and I heard the same from other guests.

Pools – The water was clear but there was black mould and green slime in areas underwater. There were always lounges available at one of the pool areas. I didn't see the usual lounge saving with towels that I've seen at other hotels.

You are on an island so you will not see the real Cuba here. There are two fake Cuban areas (tour reps words) where you can shop and eat.

Scooters – I didn't use them but did check them out and they looked in good shape. The rental fee does not include fuel which must be replaced or paid for upon return.

Room times – Check in is 3pm, check out is 12 noon. If you want your room past noon, it's $6cuc/hour

Bottom line, I would return to this hotel.

Room Tip: Don't pay extra for an ocean view room.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Kitchener, Canada
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2012

To start with my wife and I are both managers. We need to unwind a couple of times a year due to the stresses of the jobs. That being said our first visit to Cuba was in November 2011 to the Sol Cayo Santa Maria and were so impressed with the overall experience we returned this November from Nov 25 to Dec 2.
WEATHER - Average temp was 25 to 27 Celsius was breezy but made the beach perfect because you did not get overheated and the ocean was somewhat rough some days but the water was gorgeous in temp and color. Beach bar was great except this year there was no music which was a little disappointing
FOOD - our travel agent told us to go to Cuba with an open mind for the food, this is somewhat true but if you stomach McDonald's or other fast food in North America Cuba is on par or better.
RELAXING - you can be as isolated as you want at this resort at the beach or one of the pools, no long lines for anything lots of chairs, beach towels. You could participate in the games around the main pool if you wanted as well. The bartenders come around quite often that you did not have to move other than to use the bathroom and usually remembered what you had previous to drink. As for drink selection we had everything from margarita to beer to scotch and different slushy rum drinks in between ( not an alcoholic either lol). I managed to read and sleep through 2 novels during the week and was totally relaxed by Friday.
STAFF and SERVICE - I can not say enough about the staff at this resort, they go above and beyond to make your stay at their resort the best.
SUMMARY - If you are looking for a relaxing holiday with an open mind and minimal cost then the Sol is for you. If you expect pomp and expensive toiletries marble floors etc. then spend your money elsewhere. We spent just over $1100 for the 2 of us this year and $1400 last year and it was worth it. Our smiles and tans on the bus to the airport was as big or bigger than people who spent considerably more at the other resorts on the same beach we picked up along the way.

Room Tip: 2nd floor less critters and ask for queen bed or king
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Toronto, Canada
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2012

Hello,
We stayed at Sol Cayo Nov 25-Dec2. In overall we had a relaxing vacation. The manager Jorge Luis Vaszuez was nice enough to give us room requested via email. Thank you Jorge.
We love the Pizza place, once you are there make sure you look for it, it is kind of hidden but it is worth find it. We have there lunch very often. We also liked the calamari on the beach. Beach is long and beautiful.
The only thing that we were not happy was the low temperature (resort can not control that :). Most of the days was windy and water in ocean and swimming pool was cold. Therefore, most of the time we did not go in water and you can see only few brave tourist in the cold water.
Make sure that you are prepared for chillier weather and bring appropriate clothing.
Please feel free to ask me any additional questing that you may have.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Adolfo F, Manager at Sol Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this review, December 7, 2012
Dear Nadia2931

We heartily thank you for writing this nice review on our resort. It feels indeed very rewarding for us to acknowledge how guests are able to appreciate our efforts to achieve their full satisfaction.
I hope future travellers will take into account this reliable source of information when choosing the right destination for their next vacation.
It will be a great pleasure to welcome you once again in Sol Santa Maria so you can enjoy another lovely and relaxing stay among us.

Sincerely,

The Management
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hope, Canada
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

I stayed at the Sol from November 7th to November 21st. I have been to Cuba before and have a better than average idea of what to expect. So, given that, I was still a little surprised at the condition of this resort. I read previous postings with a grain of salt as most people have preconceived ideas about what they are getting into coming to Cuba so I heavily discount criticisms. So my take:
Pros:
The Cuban people are fantastic if one takes the time to talk one on one with them whether a gardener or maid or one of the very capable servers. They all have personalities and there is value in developing even a short term relationships. I guarantee they will remember you should you return even three years later. The weather is temperate and not overpoweringly hot. Cloud/Sun mixed in the day and could rain at night. There is still more than enough sun to get a great tan (or burn).
Travelling in November poses some risks as it is the shoulder storm season. I had high waves most of my time there and was unable to snorkel or swim for safety reasons. You take your chances.
The selection of alcohol is more than adequate for any seasoned drinker. The wine was quite palatable for the Caribbean. The red and White wines are from Spain and there is a fairly good sparkling wine as well. The drinks are the same brands as at home with the exception of superior Rums.
Bring an insulated drink holder of a comfortable size as the disposable ones supplied are quite small.
For some strange reason Cubans do exceptionally well with Italian food. The Fontanella restaurant always had good food with nice ambiance and exceptional service. The pasta was very good here and I ate the Pizza at Las Flamencos every day. They do a very thin Pita type crust and Kiln cook them – yummy. I also ate just once at Los Cocos which was likely mostly closed due to the number of guests at this time of year. They have a different type cuisine tending more to the meats.(BBQ) Again exceptional.
The Pools are well spaced and I had no problems with noise where my room was. (5703)
The grounds are very neat and well maintained and the gardeners are eager to supply you with a fresh cut coconut opened in front of you with their big machetes.

Cons:

Check in can be slow and getting luggage to your rooms may take a bit. I suggest go with the flow, grab a drink from the conveniently located bar next to the lobby and sit and relax. Supper can wait, the room can wait, and you are on holidays.
Do not be surprised at ANYTHING in regards to your room. I was initially placed in a room (Ocean view) close to the beach. 1. No view, just trees. 2. No aircon (which was ok with me) 3. No water pressures so no morning shower and possibly no toilet flushing. 4. Door to patio would not close or lock. 5. Safe was broken. 6. TV didn’t work (also OK with me). So upshot was I calmly asked for a change in room.(be calm. If you get snotty with your check in clerk, human nature dictates they will get snotty back at you and why would you tick off the only people that can help you have a good vacation)
Room number two had an partial ocean view (Do not pay extra for this) but 4 of 6 lamps did not work, patio door did not close/lock and bad water pressure again (fixed two days later)
The Beds are Rock hard. (personally I prefer a firm surface) If you have travelled anywhere outside of Canada/US you will realize that this is more common than not. The beds are good for your back and if they bother you, drink a few more rums and you will sleep just fine.
The distances between your room and the lobby, restaurants, pools etc. can be quite a distance so if you are mobility challenged (bad knees or hip etc.) you may reconsider this resort just for this reason. Some of the cobblestone pathways are broken or missing bricks and can pose a hazard especially at night.
Make sure you bring a small Lamp/torch as the walkways are quite dark at night. Bar stools in the pool bar are ALL broken to a certain degree with some being dangerous to sit on.
In general the physical state of this resort really needs attention. They are at work every day but not making much of a difference, if other postings are to be believed.
Aside from the Pizza and pasta and the reservation restaurants the food is not great. You do not ever want to take a Vacation to anywhere in Cuba for the food even at a Sandals or Breezes. The buffet warmers are not effective, the vegetables are a half step away from mush and the desserts are bland. Having said that some of the fish is fresh caught locally and the fruit in the morning is great. There are also crepes which I did not try but seemed popular. Also if you like coffee I’m told it’s quite good.
There are a few excursions offered here, I didn’t take advantage of them but I was told that the Dolphin visit was a rip off and the Catamaran cruise and Jeep safari were fantastic though the Catamaran was beached a few days because of the waves.
There are two made up “pueblos” within just a few km’s they don't appear Cuban to me. Spanish or Mexican maybe. Most of the shops there were closed (possibly due to the time of year) and only a few craft tables were there with the stock overpriced souvenirs we all love.
In Las Estrellas pueblo there is a tower you can climb for a good view and photo op. In Las Estrellas is also a very popular Discotheque. Wed and sat are the best nights for this. Make sure of your transport however as the buses don’t always run after hours. Possibly a 3 dollar taxi. It's a 5km walk home.

In conclusion I would say that if you are a social people person not given to material comforts and enjoy other peoples company, including locals who work at the resort this is a good place. Especially if you get a good rate as I did.
If however you are a little fussy about aesthetics, quality of food, state of the room and the property don’t go here. You will be miserable.

One important note on tipping; Cash handed to a server will be put into a pot and shared with ALL resort employees doubtless including the government and resort owners. If you wish to reward someone here with appreciation, give them an envelope with their name on it or a bag, box or wrapped something. Personalize the tip and they keep it for themselves. A lot of travellers leave clothes, toiletries and other goods behind when they leave. I’m not sure if these are divided up or not. I’m sure they are appreciated though.
Another note; Many cats are on the property, Tame and unintrusive even cute. But need to know if you have allergies.

Best way to think is: Don’t expect much and what you will allways get more than what you expect.

Room Tip: Don't pay extra for Ocean view. Not worth it. The second story rooms may be less likely to attra...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Adolfo F, Manager at Sol Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this review, December 7, 2012
Dear Cory L
Thanks a lot for your valuable comments and feedback, we really appreciate it and on behalf of all of us I would like to thank you for your visit and we are really sorry we haven't fully meet your expectations.I would also like to let you know where are in a process of room renovation wich will be completed by 2013.
In any case and once again I thank you for your visit and comments and we hope to have the opportinuty to welcome you back some time in the near future and being able to offer our best hospitality.
with warmest regards,

The Management
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Vancouver BC
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
49 helpful votes 49 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2012

Sol Cayo Santa Maria was the first hotel built on this Island (1999) in an archipelago 49 km’s off the coast of Mainland Cuba. Early one of the Cuban tour guides told me that Sol was not the hotel on the Island with the most stars, however, it had the reputation of being one of the most friendly and welcoming resorts. I would have to say that they certainly lived up to that. I had a great stay there.
I am not a frequent traveller to all inclusive resorts, however, I would have to say that the food here was the best for any of the all inclusive resorts that I have ever stayed in. The buffet restaurant is huge, I would estimate 100 tables. In the evening there are two buffets, two grills, a salad bar, bread bar, desert bar and probably a few things I have missed. If you did not find what you wanted in the buffet, they will be happy to grill it up for you. In the morning there is a fresh fruit bar and a crepe grill. The crepes with Maple Syrup were amazing.
For lunch I never at the buffet, rather I always made my way out to one of the two restaurants located closer to the beach. The first of these was an Italian style pizzeria. The Asparagus and cheese pizza was great. The bartender also mixed up a pretty good Margarita. The food here was also solidly good. Every second day I would go to the seafood place on the beach, it was a small palapa restaurant right on the ocean. They made calamari’s that were quite good and the 180 degree view of the ocean waves and the wind in your hair really was priceless. These two little restaurants probably made my dining experience here. The food was good and they were a great change from the buffet. I understand there were also two ala carte restaurants in the evening, which you could make reservations for, I never made it to those places though.
The beach down at this end of Cayo Santa Maria really is virgin and pristine. It was a fair bit more private at this end of the Island then when I walked on the beach down to some of the newer hotels. I loved the beach here, probably the nicest on the Island. Nude sunbathing was permissible at the very far end of the property.
The rooms were large, clean and comfortable. Some of the items were older and had more wear and tear on them (shower head holder, remote controls) but on the whole, I really loved my room. The property is a series of bungalows with suites in each of them, not one big building.
There is a bar (one of a few) just off the lobby in the open air. Here you will find the best cup of cappuccino you have ever had in your life. It is so neat to sip a cappuccino there, listening to the sound of the surf and having the breeze in your hair.
I toured one of the other hotels with “more stars” than this one. It was very extravagant; however, there were only about 50 people in the resort that weekend. Back at El Sol, things were hopping and there were a lot of folks moving about. If you are the type that only feels comfortable in high end luxurious and perfect you should probably move along to one of the other resorts on the Island. On the other hand if you are looking for a solidly great value in a place that has a lot of character and is very friendly, you have found your hotel, and you probably will be very happy with this place, as I was.

Room Tip: Ask for a room on the second floor. If you go to sleep early, tell them you would like to be located...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Adolfo F, Manager at Sol Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this review, December 7, 2012
Dear Copado,

We are pleased to receive your valuable opinion about your experiences in our Hotel, thank you very much for letting us know, it is a very important tool to keep working with high standards.

Is great to know you have left our hotel happy and satisfied, that’s the main objective of our staff. For sure we will let them know about your review. Sol Santa Maria family will love to have you back in your next visit to the Cayo.

My best regards,

The Management
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Additional Information about Sol Cayo Santa Maria

Address: Cayo Santa Maria | Villa Clara, Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Villa Clara Province > Cayo Santa Maria
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#4 Luxury Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#7 Top resorts Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Sol Cayo Santa Maria 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In an island paradise off the northern coast of Cuba stands the All Inclusive 4-star Sol Cayo Santa Maria hotel (300 rooms). Ideal for simply relaxing or for exploring the clear ocean bottom and neighboring keys that surround this marvelous Cuban tourist destination. Enjoy an unforgettable holiday with your family, all included. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sol Cayo Santa Maria Hotel Cayo Santa Maria
Sol Hotel Cayo Santa Maria
Cayo Maria Santa Sol
Sol Cayo Santa Maria Cuba
Cayo Santa Maria Sol

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