We just got back from this resort. This is our second time in time in Cuba. The currency for turist is Cuban Convertible Peso. You can also pay, tip, in Pound, euros. The exchange rate 1,5 CUC is a pound. re Credit cards, apart from looking out for the exchange rate and any charges, Cuba will not accept any cards associated with American banks. So, no Amex, and no Mastercard if associated with a bank like Capital One.
If you loose your Visa paper don't worry you can get it at the Holgen airport. Visa at the airport cost 15 CUC which is £10. They give you a receipt, give it to your local Thomas Cook rep at the hotel who will reinburse it. Thomas cook charges £30 pounds at Gatwick -:)
Make sure you put 25CUC per person aside for departure tax, including any children.
Keep your luggage allowance under control they do check, and charge for it. You can buy a cheap weighing hook from a shop that sells travel/trecking goods.
Transfer time is about an hour and ten minutes from the airport. Note there is no email access for Blackberry, only text and voice. There's no wireless. Internet access at the hotel lobby is 5CUC per hour and slow.
If you can, take a coffee thermos with you. Keeps your cold/hot drinks at right temperature and saves on the endless plastic cups used for the beach and pool areas.
Most or all rooms have some kind of sea view. All are tired, including the upgrades. We changed rooms three times and checked out a few each time. We found them clean and had experience of insects. The beds are sometimes twins and only pushed together for doubles, others have twin bases and one large mattress (better!) but none we had were fantastically comfortable, firm at best, lumpy if unlucky. The quietest buildings, in order, are 8, 7 and 6; these are on the Luna side and near the quiet pool. 5 has some good sea views. The main block 1-4 is around the main pool and over the reception/bar/restaurant on the Mares side. Inevitably noisier, but quite bizarrely the rooms are quiet when the patio and main doors are closed. All the buildings have lifts and stairs. The naming is not conventional as the ground floor is 1, the 1st floor 2 and so on. Most stop at 3 (second floor) although there is one section that goes one higher.
No need to panic about sunloungers on the beach as there are plenty and they are brought to you where you want them. The pool area gets busy, often there is no space there.
One warning, the steps that go down to the beach from the main pool area on the Mares side are concrete and steep. When its hot, and then it rains, so, when the steps are wet they are like ice, particularly as you look down the stairs - the one on the left. The right side seems to have had less use, and has a more textured surface and therefore more grip. We witnessed three accidents in one day, two minor, one resulting in terrible bruising and swelling of hip and elbow. The worry was if the person had been carrying a child, or had been very young or old, the injury could have been very much worse.
Taxi to Guardalavaca is 5 CUC there and the same back. Horse carriage available at similar price.
Beautiful beach, can be windy and sea can be rough, but nonetheless gorgeous.
Buffet restaurant has a no smoking area outside, but it's small. Generally, everywhere is smoking (much to our disappointment, but judging by the amount of smokers, a joy to them).
The only fresh juice is orange in the morning with breakfast. Others are from cartons, unusual for the Caribbean, but this is Cuba.
The buffet itself is broad ranging and generous and a lot of fresh fish from the Atlantic on the grill at both lunch and dinner.
Generally foods such as rice and bread and pasta are refined/processed, everything is white.
But, considering the situation of Cuba and its people, who find many/most foods we take for granted hard to come by, the buffet is a marvel, even a miracle.
This is worth bearing in mind when loading up, it can't be great for Cuban staff see a lot of waste when they can barely dream of having access to such meat and veg. They bring their own food. (Veg by the way, is the only thing we can agree is pretty grim, usually overcooked or from a tin.)
On the Cuban people: one(?) of their greatest difficulties is affording shoes and food. If you have shoes/clothes you can bear to part with, particularly sensible shoes for working in, please take them and give them to someone/anyone who could use them. Shoes are around 3 or 4 months salary!!! And if you can tip in CUCs or your hard currency, despite what the internet might say, you could make a big difference to a hugely difficult life. Many hotel staff earn 25 pesos (not CUCs) a month. Particularly needed are women's sanitary products: they have NO access to tampons, only rudimentary sanitary towels. Also painkillers, toothpaste, brushes etc.
Also PLEASE don't judge anyone begging (they don't hassle you and are very polite); they are people with no choice. Work is hard to come by; many only have seasonal work and for some even that is a few days/hours a week for four months. Even bus drivers and bus couriers are worthy of a good tip.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.