I've stayed at Las Yagrumas 3 times since 2000. I am a teacher and have brought just over 150 Canadian high school kids there as part of a larger exchange. Since 2000, the staff hasn't changed very much, but the cleanliness of the hotel has. (More about that below)
The hotel has 2 full time animateurs. Joel is terrific and will go well out of his way to ensure that you enjoy your stay. He runs the Cuban dance lessons and the karaokie bar amoung other things. He's a great guy. The front desk people are accomodating and friendly. They speak English well enough to understand any difficulties that people might have and they are anxious to correct any deficiencies.
The food is just ok by Canadian standards but superior by Cuban standards. The rooms are basic but functional. By Canadian standards I would rate this hotel as a 2 star at best.
Now for the problems....Cockroaches! Big ones! Only in certain rooms, but they were there. My group took up 22 rooms and we had bug problems in 7 of them. The hotel staff were eager to deal with the bug problems, but were limited by resources and therefore somewhat ineffective.
The second problem is probably what caused the cockroach problem to begin with. Since Raul Castro took over the country, he has loosened the restrictions on Cubans using local hotels and facilities. (I see this as a very positive move) The locals are permitted to use the pool and hotel facilities on weekends. (fabulous if you are looking for some interaction)The problem is, that on the Saturday and Sunday that we were there, there were hundreds of people in and around the pool. When they left at 6:00 pm, the litter, dirt and leftover food was everywhere and took hours to both clean up and refill the pool with water. Thus the cockroach problems.
I wouldn't bring another group of students there until the hotel is cleaned to Canadian standards, but for the adventurer who wants to learn something about real Cuban culture, I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this place.
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