I have read some of the other reviews since we got back this past Monday, the 4th of April, and some things I agree with and some things I think have been exaggerated quite a bit. We arrived on a Monday, March 28th, and check in was about 5 minutes as there were only 8 or 9 people from our flight at this resort.
Beach is fantastic white sand. While some reviewers claim they awoke at 6:30 am to secure palapas at the beach, I can assure you we never got up before 7:30 am, and yes we may have got one of the last palapas down at the east side of the beach, but it was a palapa none the less, and sometimes we weren't there until 8 am or later. But I have to say the last few days of our trip the crowd changed over and suddenly our last day at the beach we barely got a chair. Probably no thanks to people writing reviews saying you need to get up at the crack of dawn. Get serious- you are on vacation- if you don't get one at the beach you can always go to the pool for a few hours anyway- gorgeous wade in wade out pool with very friendly bartenders Ozzie and Elvis to look after you- we spent a few days there too. Two huge pools and never a problem to find a chair or palapa there. Our first two beach days the waves were huge and we body surfed all day Tuesday- great fun until you realize you forgot to reapply your sunscreen- don't forget- it's super hot this time of year and you will be burnt to a crisp- ask my shoulders! Then we had some calmer days, took a pedal boat out on one, and a hobie cat ride on our last day when it was more medium waves again. I walked the beach that last day too- it was finally cloudy enough otherwise the weather had been hot with only rain on one evening. The beach at MCSM had a bit of a step down and more area vs. the other beaches further down had more kids/ families (at Las Dunas/ Barcelo) and was flatter to walk out. But the beach at MCSM was beautiful, clean, no water shoes needed. No jellyfish during our stay. We snorkeled a bit off shore- hubby saw a starfish walking on the bottom, saw a small school of fish closer to shore, and a larger fish of some kind swam under us as we swam back to shore one day, not sure what it was. It is the end of dry season- we had no bugs!
There were a large number of Quebecois there at the same time- probably 75 % - 85 %. There were a few really obnoxious loud people at the pool bar the afternoon we arrived, but other than that we didn't really have issue with any of them, except for their clouds of du Maurier! Mostly they were older, and they do seem to travel in packs, so when booking the a la cartes they slow the lines down as they are trying to book 8 or 10 people at a time sometimes! We practiced our French as well as our Spanish on this trip! I went to our initial meeting the first Tuesday we were there to chat with Raul first, then over to the a la carte line afterwards which had gone down quite a bit by then, and still waited another 30 min. or so but got all early times except for Saturday at the French restaurant was 8:30 pm. Otherwise 6:30-7 for the other 3.
Our room was spacious, someone came right away and helped us switch the a/c on after I asked the maid to help us, need the card in the slot by the door, then the bar guys showed up to stock our fridge. We only missed them one day- guess we weren't home when they came by. We were on a main floor. Our patio door worked fine, locked fine, we had maybe 10 or 12 ants get in the room in a week- nothing major. The shower worked fine, just had to adjust it for our height, and we ALWAYS had water pressure and hot water- and we showered anywhere from 3-6 pm depending on the day. We were in building 22. Further away from everything, and once we found the east boardwalk to the beach it made our life easier- between buildings 18 and 19 I think.
Food: Buffet was pretty good I thought- had omelette/ egg station and crepe/ French toast station, and a variety of fruit cut up, little baked things, some of the cookies were quite yummy, salad area, and at night the stir fry which my hubby had one time and said was great, had 12 or more shrimp in his, and the pasta bar I had once and was delish. For lunch we ate at the beach restaurant- calamari, bbq chicken are fantastic, or at the pool snack bar- great pizzas and calzones- and had ice cream with lunch and dinner lots! It's so hot you almost need it! The a la cartes were mostly pretty good- Seafood was pretty good, prawn cocktail was kind of different with mayonnaise? but 1/2 lobster was good, and Meditteranean was strange, ordered cod and received tuna because it was Friday? And my hubby's lamb was more like mutton. But the French restaurant was great- 1/2 lobster and "birds flambe" chicken were good, and the Japanese was very good- had cucumber salad, a plate with sushi/ tempura , then soup, then the main stir fry which was tasty, not oversalted as stated by someone else, we had Osmey, and fried ice cream for dessert! For an all-inclusive the wine here is better than most places, on the sweeter side and a bit acidic both white and red, but I didn't think it was watered down like one reviewer stated.
We took a taxi to the Pueblo as the shuttle is infrequent- it's only 3 CUC one way, and they were charging 5 CUC to get in- this gave you a drink and a snack. The snack was a skewer of chicken, 1/2 hamburger, some cucumber slices and a piece of raw hot dog with a swirl of mustard- kind of weird. Bought a few souvenirs there, didn't stay for more than 1 1/2 - 2 hours- not much to see and it was very hot.
This resort had a fantastic beach, beautiful flowering bushes and trees that are well kept, good service from everyone, especially Frank, Sonia, Javier, Ozzie and Elvis, and Ruben that we had many times, no one demanded tips and were grateful to receive them. The rooms were spacious and the food overall was better than we had seen in Guardalavaca a few years ago. We had a great time overall.
Don't forget to pack your sunscreen, face cloth for the shower, hat, books, and your cash- debit cards don't work here, Canadian credit cards will. We would consider returning to this hotel, I would even send my parents here! And grab a few Cristal for the bus ride from the airport- it's 90 minutes- also bring a snack for this.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In an island paradise off the northern coast of Cuba stands the 5- star All-Inclusive Meliá Cayo Santa María hotel, especially designed for families, surrounded by beautiful beaches and lush tropical vegetation. This property (358 rooms) offers facilities for incentives groups and a special wedding and honeymoon program. A perfect complement for an unforgettable holiday. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Melia Cayo Santa Maria Hotel Cayo Santa Maria
- Cayo Santa Maria Melia
- Cayo Santa Maria Cuba
- Santa Maria Cuba
- Melia Cayo Santa Maria Cuba