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“Third time here and we will be back!!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Gran Caribe Playa Blanca

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Gran Caribe Playa Blanca
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Cayo Largo del Sur, Cayo Largo 10300, Cuba   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #6 of 6 hotels in Cayo Largo
Peterborough
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
133 helpful votes 133 helpful votes
“Third time here and we will be back!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2011

My husband and I spent a wonderful week here at the beginning of July! Many friends questioned why go to Cuba in the summer - it was our week at the beach - and what a beautiful beach it is! This was our third time to Hotel Playa Blanca and we absolutely will go back again!

LOCATION:
Small island south of the mainland - the airport is located on the island and only a 10 min ride to the resorts! The resorts are all located on the south or Caribbean side!

BEACH & WATER:
Perfection! Beautiful cool white sand beaches - because of the wave action the beaches in front of the Playa Blanca can contract or expand, but that was not a problem when we were there. The beach to the east had shrunk quite a bit but there was tons of beach to the right! I particularly love the limestone rock that frames the beach - and it is always neat to see an iguana sunning itself on them! As for the sea - I honestly do not believe I have ever seen more beautiful turquoise water anywhere. The colours are truly spectacular! And this certainly applies to all of the beaches on the island - including Playa Paraiso and Playa Sirena! Water was also fantastic to play in. We had a few red flag days at the hotel but just took care - and the one day we went to Sirena - we took a taxi (for 2CUCs) but you can also take a free 'train' that runs from the hotel.

WEATHER:
It is summer, it is the Caribbean - it was hot and humid as it should be!

RESORT:
Lovely resort - high ceiling, big open reception area with nice seating areas and a great breeze!
The resort has a hotel part and then the bungalows - each bungalow is two storeys with 4 rooms down and 4 rooms up. The bungalows are the best in my opinion. We have stayed twice in them and once in the hotel. The bungalow rooms are larger with a dressing area and wrap around balconies and if you get a room on the second floor you will always be able to see the ocean!!
There are two salt water pools - one for sports, one for swimming. They are not huge but big enough - and were very clean when we were there. Also, I must say, we only used the pool a few times - we love the ocean and beach!

FOOD:
We have always enjoyed the food at this resort - and we never lose weight! The buffet offers a very good variety of breakfast choices - omelets, fruit, yoghurt, cereals, breads, sweets, regular eggs and meats, pretty much anything you could want. And dinners are very good - the pasta is excellent - you choose the veggies, the cook sautes them and then adds them to the sauce you like (3 or 4 choices) with the pasta - very very good! And there are always many other choices! As repeat guests we also had a special dinner one night. It was very good! I recommend the a la carte restaurants!

PEOPLE:
The main reason we have returned to this resort 3 times is the people. They are wonderful, engaging, helpful, funny ... what can I say? They make our vacation so very special and we now count them as our friends!
Edduard - the front man, has a great smile, is always helpful, and seems to be everywhere!
At the Snack Bar: Rolando (the best!), Yanni, Maryana, Jose Luis, Aleksi - and the bar-be-que chef!
Buffet: Yonel, Jorge Luis, Aleksi, the breakfast omelet queen, and of course a wonderful chef - Radame!
24 Hr Bar: Esteban, Javier, Jose Luis and Duny - fabulous, fun and kind people!
Beach Bar: Daniel of course! Very sweet man!
Gardener: Vladimir
and my man at the Beach was Samoro
and of course, Fanny - she kept our room in spotless condition
The entire Band - they were great!
and all of the dancers - especially Aymara and Fabien (we are so glad he is back!!)
And of course I know there are many many more great people there - these are just a few that we have really connected with! And I really want to THANK ALL OF THEM!!

TIPS ON WHAT TO BRING FOR YOU:
Insulated mugs - keep drinks cold, saves on plastic cups (much greener), and you can give them to staff as gifts when you leave. Bug spray with deet - especially for early morning and at dusk - even with the spray I got bites, but my husband was fine! Lots of sun screen and after sun lotion (aloe gel is great). And the regular first aid stuff including imodium, antiseptic cream, tylenol etc. just in case.

TIPS ON WHAT TO BRING (GIFTS) FOR STAFFf:
We asked what they can really use and here is the list - multi vitamins for children and adults, any over the counter drugs (aspirin, tylenol etc.), condoms, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, reading glasses. We also took very gently used running shoes which were greatly appreciated! The Cubans are truly crazy about their children so if you take anything for kids you cannot go wrong! When you are distributing your gifts, do not forget the gardeners and kitchen staff - they often get forgotten!

TIPPING:
I tip at home, I tip when I travel.

BIGGEST TIP - Just go with an open mind - Cuba is a very beautiful country filled with very beautiful, well educated, and wonderful people. I think it is amazing what they are able to accomplish with what little have, in terms of commodities (the embargo has put a strangle hold on the country).

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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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
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (176)
Date | Rating
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English first
Tottenham
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2011

When I happened to mention the price of an all-inclusive week to a four star resort in Cuba, my husband said "Book It"". I knew about Cayo Largo, and it's location off the south coast of Cuba always interested me. Well, it was everything we dreamed of and much more. The trip advisor notes were accurate and reading between the lines, we figured that this was the place for us. We upgraded our room to a bungalow, as suggested and it was lovely! We don't go to be waited on or befriend the staff but I must say they were so polite and helpful - not overly hovering which we appreciate. We always tip well and it was well deserved especially to our housekeeping staff. Such a pleasure to come back from a day at the beach and see everything in order and delightful swans etc. made with bath towels on the bed! One day, we left sunglasses in the room and they put them on the swans noses! Being in a bungalow closer to the beach also meant that the bathing suits etc. could be draped over a chair and dried quickly, always a lovely breeze! The food was the best in Cuba that we've experienced, having been to Varadero and Cayo Santa Maria before, however flies were a nuisance! Never watched the entertainment as the mosquitos were out then but no different than here in Canada after dusk. Loved going to Paraiso and Serenis and took both modes of transportation - the train, cute but the taxi for 2 pesos, quicker and air conditioned. Didn`t mind paying for drinks as very reasonable and they came to you! The beaches there are truly out of this world - paradise found! I could go on about the minor inconveniences that have been noted and seem to crop up on all vacations but if you go with an open mind, you`ll love it!!

Room Tip: If you are not happy with your room, wait till the next morning as they nver seem to like instant ch...
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamilton, Canada
1 review
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2011

Overall: Not for spoiled travelers but for everyone else who's in for some great time at a great price~
Reason being...at the end of the day you got a great clean room (stayed at main building), great maid service and always full belly (numerous foods to choose from)

This was my best birthday get-way trip ever! My husband and I (ages 25-30) absolutely loved Playa Blanca & Cayo Largo--because of its people!!! We would like to thank and say HELLO to our new great friends that made us feel welcome - Axel and Yurdy, also best dancers we've ever seen (Dresden, Fabian, Chino, Gerlis and all the girls-you are sooooo talented!!!).
ENTERTAINMENT: Every night show is a must-watch!!! Please dont be shy to participate in any of the shows because that is the best way to get to know the staff and they will make you feel welcome for the rest of your stay!!!

BEACH: Yes there were waves most of the time we went there (but its their hurricane season now) but you can still have fun and go for a swim. If you want calm waters you can take the train (3 scheduled times per day for free) and not so rough as most described) OR take comfortable soft seats/AC taxi bus for 2 pesos per person at any time.
2 OTHER beaches to go to our Paraiso (havent been) and beautiful Sirenas (with star fish!! beautiful shallow and clear waters there)
ROOMS: at main building, spacious enough, AC, safe included in a room (no extra charge), balcony to hang towels or anything else to dry, tv with few international channels, very clean and great maid service. (thank you Nodaisi!)
* our friends had a bangalow and we liked it better than our room just because it was closer to the ocean (better view) and bit more spacious.
FOOD: There was always so much to choose from and we walked away with our full bellies so no complaints! Thank you to Esteban and Javier at Daiquiri Bar - and Osmany and Junior at the buffet restaurant!! Great service from all of you :)))

All the staff mentioned above went above and beyond making us feel welcome and answered any questions we had about the hotel and the island itself.

CONS
Only down side was we did not bring enough sun lotion and good mosquito repellent so had to buy at the hotel. If you go make sure you dont bring the spray lotion but take cream cuz it will last longer. Only good Canadian repellent to get is "OFF" - others dont work good over there.
Only CON for the hotel now is - lunch menu - was the same everyday but it is because the other lunch/bar restaurant is in the middle of renovation but will be open in a week or so.

We are already planning to go back next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Plus you get few extras as a return guests....for more info on that please visit hotel's official website.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Cobourg, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 4, 2011

The beach at the resort was not very deep. So when the waves were strong (which was 90% of the time we were there, June) you could not sit on the beach. You had to go to other beaches by cab or bus. (2 pesos per person, one way) You can also get there by a small train or gulf cart for free but the road is really rough. These beaches were great, but not part of the hotel. This means you had to purchase drinks and food with cash. This may be ok with some, however, this is not all inclusive to me and not forthcoming at the time of purchasing the trip. If the hotel does not have a decent beach for there customers, they should make this information availble. I heard other hotels packed a lunch for there costomers to take with them on these beaches. Also, they have posted signs everywhere including on the beach and lobby, that there is no nudest allowed on the beach. I have no problem with nudist, but I believe this to be unfair to families with small kids. I know they advertise some of the beaches in Cayo Largo are for nudist, but Playa Blanca is NOT one of them. So for all people that would like to take-it-all-off....go to the adjacent beaches away from the hotel beach. In otherwords...obey the signs and respect other people that do not want to see you in the buff. Also, they need to better maintain the beach. (lots of seaweed)
About the a-la-cart dinners. This was a terrible experience for us. We are not fussy eaters, but the food was terrible. Stick to the baffet, its basically the same food only fresher and you get what you see. The time we were there (end of June) The place was infested with flies and mosquitoes. We took the half day boat ride for 35 pesos each which was enjoyable. However the snokeling was just ok. Not very nice coral and only 2 types of fish. All-in-all, for the cost of this trip...you get what you pay for.

Room Tip: Oceon View, 2nd floor, well worth the extra cost.
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 29, 2011

We spent a week at this resort starting on June 20. Check-in went fairly quickly but, once again, the resorts in Cuba do not pay attention to requests like king beds instead of two doubles. The resort is fairly plain with no outstanding features. Our room was typical but in good condition and clean. Maid service was excellent.
There are two "pools" on the resort. One was closed due to algae and the other was just a big semicircular bath tub. Good to cool off in but not for swimming. The beach was, as noted before, not very wide. We spent the first 3 days on the beach watching the rolling surf slowly erode the beach. Each day was either a "red" or "yellow" flag day and the waves would bowl you over as you attempted to go out into the ocean. Fun, but a little daunting.
The fourth day we decided to take them up on the offer to be taken by courtesy "train" to Playa Serenis or Playa Paradis. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the beach which is nicely set up but lacking in enough chaise loungers, in our case no refreshments or washrooms. Nice beach and better water conditions but not worth the bone jarring ride on the "train".
Here's where it gets interesting. It rained on two consecutive nights which didn't affect anyone's vacation at all. But it seemed to bring out crabs. Hundreds of them in various sizes. You could see them everywhere, walking sideways down hallways and paths and would skitter away if you came close. The property became pothole marked and these creatures would burrow into the ground to escape the heat of the day or approaching footsteps. Some of the artificial pools/fountains had crab races going on all day with us tourists snapping photos of them. For those that are creeped out about these little guys....stay away for now.
Now by day 5, there was no beach anymore. The pounding waves had done their job and all the sand that was on the beach was pulled back into the ocean leaving outcroppings of rock. None of the umbrellas were left standing and all the chaises were piled high up on the cliff at the beach. So for the balance of the vacation we stayed at the pool.
Food was typical and uninspired again, lacking in taste or flavour. But we know its Cuba and this is what you always deal with in Cuba until you go to a real Cuban restaurant.
When we left, we were glad and plan to never return to this resort again. For the price we paid it filled the bill. It was a completely restful and relaxing place to chill out and de-stress.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montréal, Canada
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2011

I went there from june the 12th to the 23rd, 11 days for a very good price.
It is my fourth times to this hotel, why I always go back there???? Because of the people,because all the workers are taking a special care of tourist.They make us feel home.They do their best to make us having good vacation,always smiling,caring,From the maid in the rooms,the gardeners to the hotel administration.Edduar from the public relation is really caring about every body.helpfull and always smiling and trying to solve any problems we can have efficiently.

ABOUT THE ROOMS: clean and spacious.A good bed,climatisation,hair dryer,everything we need.I had one in the hotel,not a bungalow, ocean view with balcony.It was really quiet and safe.

ABOUT THE FOOD: Good quality,good variety.chicken and fish are excellent.
At the buffet there is a pasta bar wich is perfect,a pizza bar.There was lamb one night...hum delicious! Always something good to eat.
At the à la carte resto: calamars are the best I ever eated !!!!Shrimps, cooked to perceftion.We went 2 times, and do not need more because the buffet was very good.
The restaurant Ranchon on the border of the ocean was closed because of renovation,but it is supposed to be reopen by the end of the month.
We can have hot sandwiches at the bar at any time of the night.
The wine, white or red are good and served generously.
Lyonel at the buffet is giving a very good service,he speaks a good french and he's so kind with every body.

ABOUT THE BARS: CAPUCINO in the morning prepared by Duny or José Luis are so delicious.Both of them are calm,smiling,giving a good service promptly.

ABOUT THE POOL,THE BEACH. they had a problem with the pool that has been solved.Salted water pool...The beach....Ho wow...always a chair, don't need to reserve a chair early in the morning, cleaned every day.The beach is naturel, so some day there was a lot of waves and less beach, but we had so many days with a beautifull beach,palapas to get shadow.The weather was really hot, but with the wind on the beach ,it was paradise.What I like the most is that there is not so many people, we can be quiet almost alone in our area.It is like a virgin beach !It is a place to play in the waves.You can also have a quiet ocean by going to the Sirenas beach or Paraiso Beach with a little train driving you there.
ACCOMODATION: You go there ?!!!....you have to try the massage, 25 pesos for one hour and Hector is a physiotherapeute,very good for hurting muscles.The spa was not working,but with 36 degrees I prefered the beaches to the spa.There is Internet , but very slow....reallynot a place to spend time on Internet.
ACTIVITIES:We went on the catamaran excurion for the sunset....wonderfull,magical! we also went to the village, small boutiques,bank. and a very nice Caban bar to listen cuban music,dancing salsa,there is also a show with a magician.We can see that they all really try to do of this place a paradise.On friday night there is a big party in the village,all the hotels, tourist and workers are going to the fiesta in the street,music,dancing.It is a must to do !!!
To the hotel, the animation is not that good, we feel they do there job, but never asl clients to have fun or dance with them....except if you know a dancer....they should improve this for the hotel.Nothing during the day....they annouced the program,but that's all ! At night show is good, very good dancers,after the show they invite client to the disco.It would be great having music and dancing at the hotel.What I noticed is , there are not allowed to dance,talk too long,have funn with clients.There are even not allowed to have a drink with tourist.Somethings changes in the hotel, previous times we had fun by dancing having drinks with workers,this time, they were not allowed....after their work....lets go out of the hotel!!!! They should consider that there are some other places in Cuba where we can talk,dance,drink and have fun with workers....and i am not talking about having s...,just talking about having fun with them.

There was a lot of moskitos and flies when we arrived...it was june....hot and humid.e saw that they were worrying about it,they fulmigate around the hotel by plane and etc.Last days were really better, less flies and moskitos.

GENERALLY; I will go back again to this hotel, not so expansive, good food,clean room and the feeling of being an important person for them,they want to keep the hotel a good place to go, and they all work hard for that.I had visit another hotel in cayo Largo, a good one, more expansive, I spent the day there....but when coming back to Playa Blanca, I felt coming back home.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2011

We loved this plcace because it is calm(especially at this time of the year. THe sand is faboulous, thoug the best beaches are a little far from the hotel. But you can walk in peace as much as you can. The service was very friendly(Juan y Yonel). You can go one day expedition or watch the nesting of turtles. The sans is like withe lour! The best is to rent a «condo» with sea view.
Bernard et Hélène

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Gran Caribe Playa Blanca

Address: Cayo Largo del Sur, Cayo Largo 10300, Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Cayo Largo
Amenities:
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 6 hotels in Cayo Largo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Gran Caribe Playa Blanca 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
For those who dream of days in intimacy, peace and full enjoyment in the Caribbean, they have Playa Blanca Hotel (ex-Barcelo Cayo Largo), the destination of all your desires. This property harmoniously combines nature and culture, offering all-inclusive services to all its guests. The hotel mixes beautiful architectonic designs with high comfort. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Gran Caribe Playa Blanca Hotel Cayo Largo

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