My girlfriend and myself stayed in the Paradisus for 10 days at the beginning November, and had a wonderful holiday we will remember forever.
In this review I will describe our experiences, and also try to give a few helpful hints for anyone considering this hotel.
Arrival:- We found the arrival at Holguin airport to be well organised and within 45 minutes we were on our coach to the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel we were met by a very pleasant Cuban lady, who organised our rooms quickly and efficiently from a desk slightly away from the main reception. At no time was there any confusion, and the check-in could not have been simpler and was over in minutes. As soon as we had our key, a bellboy in white uniform took us to our room in a motorised cart.
Rooms:- This is the one and only aspect of a holiday at the Paradisus that I would say people intending going there should think carefully about. To help explain there are mainly two types of rooms; standard rooms which are located in 2 storey blocks and superior rooms which are in semi-detached villas.
All the accomodation is contained within what I would describe as being a heart shaped area within the layout of the hotel. If you can imagine that at the bottom of the heart are the main hotel buildings and the 4 al la carte restaurants, and at the top the swimming pool. The standard rooms are all contained within the centre of the heart shape and all superior rooms run along the outer edges and look outwards. A central walkway divides all the accomodation into either being on the sea side or garden side.
The rooms on the right hand side face the sea - BUT the sea is heavily hidden by a thick forest which completely envelops the rooms. On the other side the rooms instead face the gardens and mountains in the distance and have a much more OPEN and BRIGHTER aspect.
Before booking we had requested a 1st floor standard room with a king size bed. When we arrived we found we had been given a ground floor room with a king size bed. The next day we queried this and were informed very politely, that they have limited 1st floor rooms with king size beds and that they normally reserve these for honeymoon couples. As the resort was not full we asked if we could change to a 1st floor, and this request was not a problem at all and the lady on reception gave us a key to look at 4 rooms and got a bellboy to take us to the rooms. We choose a new room that had a lovely view of palm trees but was a little dark requiring lights on during the brightest time of day.
We were perfectly happy in this room which was spacious, clean and in which everything worked from the shower, to the CD player, to the room lamps. But then on our 5th day we happened to be taking a walk on the garden side and noticed a maid cleaning one of the superior rooms and asked if we could take a look. WOW! Although the room was exactly the same size as our own, it had the most amazing view of the gardens and was incredibly bright and fresh looking. We immediately enquired about upgrading and told it was possible for just an extra $30 for the room (not per person) per day, which we thought was great value as the setting was so much nicer, the room was better decorated with nice pictures and toiletries, there was an outside shower in addition to the one above the bath, and best of all your very own hammock outside! We were so excited (we are City folk so not used to greenery!) that the first day in our new room, we ordered a 3 course lunch with champagne and sat and eat it on the lovely patio looking over the very quiet and peaceful gardens.
Now! A word of caution. In our opinion the superior rooms and the standard rooms on the garden side are far superior to the same rooms on the 'sea' side. Even the superior rooms which were nearest to the sea, seemed to be permanently in the shade because of the thick forest surrounding them.
Restaurants and Food:- This is definitely what makes this hotel outstanding. The choice in the evening included lobster, king prawns, swordfish, crab, beef, lamb, chicken, pasta, pizza - and that is just the buffet! Even if you only ate in the buffet there was so much choice that I defy anyone to say there is not enough variety. Plus in the buffet the chef will cook your king prawns, beef or whatever you are having the way you want it cooked. Now for the restaurants:-
1) Japanese - Superb Food and Entertainment. The chef will cook whatever you want right in front of you. It is also just sheer entertainment as he will crack jokes all night! If you only try one al la carte restaurant then make it this one. We ate so much our stomachs were groaning. The beef teriyaki is to die for! Living in London, we can honestly say that the food here compared very favourably to some expensive restaurants we have tried in London. The building itself is very pretty and looks as though it should be in downtown Kyoto. This is one of just two Japanese restaurants in all of Cuba.
2) International - Very Sophisticated and Romantic. This restaurant looks the least interesting from the outside, but once you step inside you would think you are in the dining room of a French chateau. The room is beautifully decorated and filled with candlelight. The food is terrific and the service excellent. Just one small example, when we sat down the wine waiter asked us if we would like a couple of champagne aperitiffs to start. We said yes and our drinks were brought to the table. A little while later he came back and asked if we would like to see the wine list. We said no as we are not big drinkers and would stick to the champagne. We thought he would just top up our glasses as the night progressed, but no, he brought out a new bottle, opened it and placed it in a champagne bucket. We felt so bad because we could not finish it! Oh, and the champagne tasted fine to us!
3) Mediterrean - Grand setting, OK food. This had the most impressive entrance which resembled a fine European drawing room. However the food was at best OK.
4) Cuban - Nice setting, Food so-so. This is set on its own ground above water. The mosquities are a nightmare so we would recommend if you eat here to cover up as much as possible. This is real Cuban food which to be honest is not very exciting, but this might be the only chance you will have to try Cuban food, so at least give it a try. We did - twice!
Finally a word about the booking system. There seems to be some confusion as to how it works. It is quite straightforward. You are allowed to book each restaurant once per week (not per holiday visit as someone else said in another review), so if you were going for a week you could eat once in each of the al la carte restaurants and eat 3 nights in the buffet. We were staying 10 nights and managed to get booked into the al la carte restaurants for 7 nights. The lady who did our bookings was absolutely charming and bent over backwards for us and was able to book the nights we wanted at the times we wanted.
Beaches and Swimming Pool:- The main beach is lovely and is shared with another resort. It's about 1km long and has nice sand and good snorkelling. The entry though to the sea is quite rocky, so take sea shoes if you have them. The three smaller more private beaches are also very nice but have no facilities. The swimming pool is large and clean with a swim-up bar, but we think the resort could do with a 2nd pool.
Staff:- Absolutely delightful. Never on holiday have we met such charming, pleasant, smiling, hard-working people. They will do anything to make sure you a have a nice holiday, but they do not go around looking for tips. Take the opportunity to speak to as many of them as possible, they can all speak at least a little English, and are very happy to chat. We ended up giving away about $300 in tips, but we don't begrudge any of it. Remember the average Cuban earns just $20 per month.
Outside the Hotel:- Take the chance to explore the countryside by hiring a horse driven carriage. We did and the driver was a lovely man, who was delighted because my partner could speak in Spanish a little with him. He invited us to his house to meet his wife and to see how he lives which was lovely. Oh and someone complained that the countryside was not very interesting as it is mostly farmland. Yes it is mostly farmland, but it is also very luscious and green with tall Royal palm trees everywhere. I would rather have this anyday than golf courses and theme parks. In our opinion the countryside is beautiful and unspoiled.
Castro, Cuba and Communism:- I cannot help mentioning the fact that some people don't seem to realise that Cuba is a third world country with a Communist government, and that consequently things there are very different from other holiday destinations. The Cuban people do not have even the most basic things we take for granted such as soap, toothpaste, toilet roll, pens, pencils, paper, nappies, medicines etc. The fact that a hotel of the standard if the Paridisus exists at all is remarkable.
So go to Paridisus, you will have a great time!!!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the Bahia de Naranjo Natural Park, in Playa Esmeralda, on the northern coast of Holguin province. Five-Star Ultra All Inclusive Eco-Resort with 354 rooms. Conceived only for adults aged 18 years or more. Maximum comfort and perfection in its private Royal Service area for a fabulous experience in a world apart. Recommended for weddings, honeymoons, incentive trips and wellness/spa. Guest Rooms 354 rooms: 254 Junior Suites, 24 Luxury Junior Suites, 16 Luxury Junior Suites Ocean View, 2 Suites Deluxe, 36 Master Junior Suites Royal Service, 14 Master Junior Suites Ocean View Royal Service, 6 Master Junior Suites Luxury Royal Service, 2 Garden Villas Royal Service. Dining: 8 Restaurants (A la Carte, Buffet), 5 Bars. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Hotel Holguin
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Resort And Spa
- Paradisus Hotel Guardalavaca
- Rio De Oro Paradisus
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Cuba
- Hotel Paradisus Rio De Oro
- Paradisus Rio De Oro Resort & Spa Cuba/Holguin