M&K - Abbotsford, BC
Sol Cayo Santa Maria/ I’d go back , maybe ...
We had a good time, but really had to accept a lot to get that. At the end of the week I was rested, well fed and had drunk well! The service is good, the staff are older and more experienced and it shows. The food (only 1 a la carte) , so it was buffet most of the time, and it was good, varied and it was the first time we saw peanut butter available ! (no bacon the whole week).
This really is the most beat up resort we have stayed in. It tested our range of what we would accept. Not so much in a bad way but the expression "you get what you paid for” is true. Most things we "didn't get” we did not care about. This is now our 8th or 9th all inclusive and we have learnt it is more about matching your needs/ expectations to where you are going - doing the research I guess ... We love a beautiful beach, we got that, decent food, yeah we got that, friendly staff, yes they are, but the actual resort looked battered. Cracked and damaged walkways are my big beef; seriously in the dark this place could be dangerous. I have a flashlight, which I recommend bringing to this place as the lighting is a bit poor at night. It’s not just the walkways you have to look out for - you have to watch out not to step on snakes, toads, geckos, lizards - all totally cool but only if you seen them before you step on them!
This place is like 12 years old and boy it looks like 25 years old. Broken lights, light covers, ponds drained and empty, fountains not working, ground art broken and not repaired and the worst - no sign in front of our building telling us the room numbers! We wandered like idiots looking for our building the first night only to realize after a while that the sign was missing (building 64 missing sign for rooms 6401,2,3,4), not fun at night. The grounds are more or less natural; there are few flower displays and manicured gardens, which was OK with me.
I agree with when someone previously said that tipping in the buffet was kind of useless as getting the same server never seemed to happen - the staff changed often. The shifts changed for staff too, so a nice staff from morning 2 days would be found in the afternoon other days. Tried to give gifts away and could not find some staff for many days - wife figures some are part timers.
The room - interesting - mini fridge was unplugged when we go there. Very frugal re: electricidad - need a card in a slot to keep power/air conditioner on - my Aeroplan card worked great allowing both of us to have card keys. The room is big, the bathroom is big. Both are old. The bathroom ceiling had to have been repaired like numerous times, the ceiling was rippled with cracks. The shower had stains, mold and the tub had been refinished with spray refinish. Think motel in some small town up north .... OK but ...
A la carte restaurant is Italian, lots of pasta and bread. It was good, not great. The building "pond" was drained and full of bugs. There was fish pond around the lobby, and the fish are big. But around the pond you could see litter, plastic cups in water etc. There is just too little clean up going on, lots of cigarette butts on the beach too. I think what we learnt in this trip is our limit. I don't think we will go under 4 stars now, the difference is notable.
For example, we did not get chambermaid service one day at all. We tipped - and well - gifts and money. So I think our maid got sick and was not replaced - that kind of thing. Went to guest services and the next day our room was done.
They have a good selection of wines and booze in the hotel shop - busy place, pop, snacks and souvenirs.
The beach - wow, OMG! It is a fabulous beach. The sand is "quicksand" like soft and harder to walk on than in Ensenachos - there it is finer and firmer to walk on. Lots of palapas but most palapas had holes that allowed too much sun, my wife had to move to the pool for a palapa that had full shade. It affected how we could spend time on the beach as she needs shade or she burns instantly - and ticked her off too.
We loved the idea of the Panoramic bus going around the cayos - and the new pueblos with vendors shops and restaurants. 1 peso per person per trip, cheap and family friendly. Got to love Cuba - $4 for a 26er of rum (Havana Club) , and that's probably tourist prices!
We never saw more than a few minutes of a night show, seemed ok but really can't comment.
The pizza restaurant served the best pizza we have ever had at a resort - we ate there three times for lunch!
My wife's 2 pet peeves - the reusing of table clothes in the buffet; when dirty - turn it over- still was dirty and kinda nasty. The bathroom, mouldy shower curtain and drapes. The bathroom has full window, definitely a design error LOL!
Weird things - the remote in the room was for a different brand of TV. Changed the TV manually all week. Who cares? I grew up when that was normal - before remotes. I know back in the cave man days, who cares. They had great English and Spanish movie channels, one of the best selections what have ever had - even in 5 star places. Feral cats all over, kind of entertaining to watch....
This resort for me from a review perspective is a dilemma, I had a good time, the beach was great, the experience fine but some of the standards are just too low. Would I go back - maybe, at the right price and with company that doesn't care about the conditions. I don't think my wife wants to go back. I had a good time, I had a relaxing time, read many books, drank and ate and was OK with Cuban style: i.e. hamburger with Cuban cheese, cabbage and cucumbers - a Pueblo cheeseburger! You either like it or hate it. I realize Cuba is Cuba, standards are different. Doesn't mean it’s bad. I'd go back... maybe ....
- 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