I'm just back from a couple of weeks at Club Amigo - 22/09/09-06/10/09.
I travelled with my girlfriend (both 24) from London with Thomas Cook. Overall we were both very happy with our trip and I'd recommend it to a friend.
Flight – Very comfortable, we didn't upgrade to premium but I think the main benefit is free drinks and a bit more room, but to be honest there's lots of space for an average sized person to handle a 9 hour flight in the economy section, but I guess if you are looking to drink bucket loads on the plane (hey, you are on holiday after all !!) then go for it, but remember you're going to have two weeks of all you can drink, so pace yourself !! Food on the plane is so so and I wasn't too impressed with the in flight entertainment (there is at least one radio channel dedicated to take that !) but when the plane's comfortable that's the most important thing.
Resort – It's probably all been said before but Guardalavaca is simply beautiful. Amazing white sand gives way to crystal clear blue water. There are two main beaches, the one in front of the Club Amigo is superior to that in front of the Brisas hotel. There are also a couple of little coves, the larger of these being the “Christopher Columbus” Cove which is complete with a statue of Columbus marking the spot where he reportedly first set foot in the Americas. All beaches in Cuba are public, so if your put off by Cubans with the audacity to visit a beach in their own country maybe stay in England. When we went there was plenty of room on the beach and lots of sun loungers which I think are free, but I tipped the guy a peso but I don't think you have to pay. There are water sports included in your price, snorkelling and pedalos and you can pay a little more for things like bannana boats. As these beaches are public there is no hotel bar on the beach (except at the Columbus beach) but a guy goes round selling cold beers which, as is the case everywhere in Cuba, cost next to nothing by British/ Canadian standards.
Accommodation – Ok the hotel itself. This is where lots of people's holidays to Club Amigo seem to fall down. We stayed in the Villa's section of the resort and I cannot recommend to you enough upgrading to this section. The main hotel in my opinion didn't look fantastic and this may be where you'll be staying if you don't upgrade. I contacted Thomas Cook after we had booked and was charged 10 a night extra and I think it's the best £140 I've ever spent. Our room was spacious, clean and safe. We had an Oceanview room on the second floor which had an amazing view which I loved waking up to everyday and a nice little balcony which was nice to chill out on after a long day and before a night out. Maybe e-mail the hotel beforehand to request an ocean view room, it may work it may not but it's worth a shot.
The one often repeated criticism of the resort is the food and I must say there is some truth in it and this is the one and only are which I would say was a negative on our holiday. The main buffet neither of us enjoyed particularly. There seemed to be a lot of flies in the main buffet (which of course is going to happen in a hot country) but there seems to be no measures taken to stop them landing on the food, which, when it's left out for a few hours at a time is quite unhygienic. The better option is to eat in the 24hr snack bar. Here you can get fresh omelettes in the morning and Pizza/Pasta/Fish/Burgers and chips at lunch. I preferred this to the main buffet but as you can imagine after two weeks this can be quite competitive. There are very few alternatives off resort without getting a taxi into Holguin which will set you back 30-40 pesos each way. My girlfriend is quite fussy when it comes to food and she subsisted on a diet of crisps, chips, little pizza's and this fizzy orange drink which I think she may be addicted to now.
Night life – I love a night out and having a drink and a good time are a big part of my holiday, but if you need West End super clubs with multiple floors and bars, I'd really advise against Guadalavaca. In fact I've been to Havana, Santiago and Varadero as well and basically you won't find many clubs on a British scale anywhere in Cuba nor in most of the rest of the world. Basically if you can have a good time with a bit of music, some drink and a good crowd then you'll have a decent time. There is a disco which is part of Club Amigo. It's basically a small bar with some seats and a dance floor. It is also home to a very intense lighting system which will almost blind you (if the rum hasn't already!) but it's included in your package so you don't pay a penny to get in or for your drinks. The music is a mixture of Spanish language and English (or more accurately American!). The Disco was open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday whilst we were there which to be honest is ok as you probably would get bored if you went there every night. The disco is open 'til 1.30am and is a good start before you move onto La Rocca which is a partially covered club at the end of the beach at the Club Amigo end. We went on a Saturday and I would highly recommend it. The music is predominantly Spanish Language (although inexplicably at one point they played Bon Jovi, don't let that put you off) and as long as you don't mind being put to shame by the locals who will make it clear to you a) How rubbish Brits are at dancing and b) How much better looking they are than us – then you'll have a good time. There are also a couple of beach bars down at this end of the beach which are great for a relaxing drink as is the 24 hour bar at the resort.
Excursions – We went on the Holguin by night (good value), Ocean Paradise Catamaran Trip (amazing – loved it), Dining with dolphins (again, I didn't know what I'd think of it but I enjoyed it so much) and Jeep Safari (so so). We also took the land train which arrives outside the hotel at 10.30am every day and takes you to the little fishing village of Boca de Sama which was really good to see parts of the Cuban countryside you wouldn't normally and cost 10pesos return, I'd really recommend it.
The best trip we took whilst we were there was one we organised ourselves, to Santiago de Cuba. We like exploring and the organised excursions only give you a day in Santiago or a night in Havana. So we took a cab to Holguin Viazul (name of the bus company) bus station (35 pesos each way) and took possibly the most comfortable coach I've ever taken in my life to Santiago (12 pesos each way takes around 3 ½ hours). When we got to Santiago we stayed in a Cassa which is basically the Cuban version of a B&B. We paid 12peso's per night for a nice little room with an en suite and a lovely terrace which had a roof which provided great views of the city. I would only advise this if you are a confident traveller as when you get to Santiago you'll be mobbed by people who want you to stay in their cassa, each claiming there's is the best. There is no way of knowing who's genuine other than your gut feeling. If you don't feel up to this then there are a couple of large hotels in Santiago. We went to Hotel Melia for dinner one night which is by far the nicest hotel I've ever seen in Cuba and houses a bar on the fifteenth floor which has great views of the city and the food in the restaurant is amazing.
A holiday is what you make of it and Club Amigo provides a great base. It's crowning glory is probably the beautiful beach and the biggest let down is definitely the food. For the money we paid I'd say it was fantastic value but if you want opulent luxury then it probably wont cut it for you. I probably wouldn't go again, but that's only because it's such a big world that I probably wouldn't go anywhere twice no matter how much I loved it.
My tips to enjoy yourself, go with an open mind – use the reviews on Trip Advisor as a guide rather than gospel, they are after all just peoples opinions. Upgrade to a Villa, I can't stress that enough, I'm so glad I did. Be adventurous, going to Santiago was a great experience but keep hour wits about you. Oh, and have a great time !!
If you want to ask me any questions feel free to message me.
- Also Known As:
- Club Amigo Atlantico - Guardalavaca Hotel Guardalavaca
- Hotel Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca
- Amigo Guardalavaca Hotel Holguin
- Amigo Guardalavaca Club
- Club Amigo Guardalavaca
- Club Amigo Atlantico - Guardalavaca Cuba - Holguin Province