2nd time in Cuba, 1st time in Cayo Santa Maria. Pure resort area with 9 hotels to come here for relaxation and gorgeous beaches. This is one of the first hotels built but one of the better run chains our tour operator guide indicated. At least 90 minutes bus ride to hotel. Two parts to hotel, family side and adult side based on your preference. For the enjoyment of all guests please respect this for the pool area. Mainly Canadian guests (particularly Quebec) and a few Cubans. Property consists of 2 level buildings housing 16 units each, no elevator. I decided to upgrade to a superior class room, stayed in building 28, 2nd floor balcony, family side which was next to the pool and easy access to the beach.
As this is a large resort with close to 1k rooms there are golf carts available to take you to your room especially for those with walking challenges.
Room - mini bar daily restocked with pop, beer and 1.5L water. Sheets and towels were clean but could use bleach to rid of some old stains. Personally, I thought the room upgrade was worth the price for some additional amenities (sitting area-walk-in closet-robe-beach towel)/conveniences and I am all about getting value for what I pay. The only thing was you get a special purple colored beach towel in your room which has to be changed in your room not by the pool like others so you have to catch your maid to do this or leave a note - test out your written Spanish like I did. Lol!
Service - excellent; grounds - very well maintained. Covered palapas sitting areas to hide from the sun along the walkways.
Beach - boardwalks to protect the mangroves, fine beige sand and 6 km to walk to burn off those calories of food and drink; get at least two grilled ham and cheese panini buns at the beach grill at lunch.
Pools - 3 adult and 1 children, nice and clean and below 4' deep which is great for us non-swimmers; food and beverages available right there if you don't want to walk to the main restaurants; washrooms are clean but you should check for toilet paper before you proceed as the paper towel was my friend a few times.
Entertainment - nightly shows was very good compared to many others I have seen in caribbean; live music in lobby / boulevard area but no disco included ($). Many enjoy the lobby bar into the night. Various day time activities (e.g. archery, dance, yoga/meditation, step/water aerobics, Spanish lessons) to partake based on your mood.
Food - overall as good as expected.
Pizzeria - 5/5, very thin crust pizza, calzones looked really good too; Seafood restaurant - 4/5, I had the seafood platter; Mexican - 3/5, sloppy nacho appetizer plus quesadilla/Aztec soup plus choice of fajitas, my shrimp was tender; Romantic - 5/5, I so enjoyed lobster as part of room upgrade; Italian - 3/5, my chicken dish not prepared as expected (poor translation) but was ok; BBQ Grill - 5/5, around the beer garden - must have chicken, skip the beef and enjoy the paella; buffet restaurants - 4/5, variety may look small at 1st but several stations to have eggs cooked to your liking, made to order fresh pasta and grilled to order meats and fish, and you must sample the Flambé caramelized bananas.
Ice cream parlour - 5/5, my goal was to try a new flavor each afternoon. It was more of a race to eat it fast as it was melting on me quick.
One day I saw people drink out of fresh coconut and cotton candy being served too in boulevard area.
Afternoon tea from 5-6PM in main lobby, including the flaming coffee.
Drinks - I'd stick with their local draft beer (or Corona/Beck, also available in bottles in the beer garden) as the daiquiri and pina colada drinks are made from powder, not slushy and served on ice; mojitos were best at the lobby bar; various drinks including champagne and Hemingway Special I happily consumed.
Bank - onsite or hotel reception for pesos if desperate after the bank's business hrs; only bring CDN or other foreign currency (dinged excessive service fees if $US); no bank machine onsite; bank will allow you to withdrawal cash from visa card; tours you can book with a credit card; you must show your passport to change monies and convert back to your country's currency before you leave (after immigration) as their currency is useless outside of this county.
Dinner reservations - line up wait times vary from what I saw but try to book all your reservations immediately upon arrival to try to get in. I had upgraded to a superior rooms so mine were prebooked for me which was fantastic, and at the restaurant opening times.
Peublo Las Dunas - small market/disco/bowling/restaurant close by near buildings 16-17. Blue double decker bus for $1 peso you can take to the other market for more selection that maybe comes every hour else $3 for taxi each way.
Mosquitoes - if you attract them like I always do bring bug spray for sure, 19 bites first two nights, screen on patio door thankfully.
Medical clinic is a short cab away. Have $25 medical consult fee to pay should the need arise.
I have heard good things about the Melia hotel chain and my enjoyable stay with this Melia hotel confirmed this.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.