Having read the mixed reviews before we set off we were not sure what we were going to find on arrival. We had read several reviews referring to the 'Plus' but could not find much info about it, it was not an option when we booked with Thomas Cook. We stepped off the plane at Holguin into a tropical paradise and 32C (I was really glad I changed into my shorts before we landed). The misery of 3 months continuous rain in the UK was quickly evaporated and the holiday began.
Collecting our bags was the first tip nobody had mentioned. I stood for ages watching for our cases to appear, my wife in a convenient spot caring for our hand luggage and waiting for me to pass her the bags after I took them off the carousel. Little did I realise that the extremely helpful airport workers were taking cases off the carousel and putting them in little groups to make it easier for the passengers to collect them. I spotted my first case and as I pulled it off the carousel and turned around to head to my wife I spotted our other case. I had been stood in front of it for 10 minutes watching the carousel! Had I only had one case I could have been the last person to collect their luggage. So there it is, tip number one (number 2 actually as the first tip would be to change into summer wear before getting off the plane), check the groups of cases stacked around the carousel, yours may be with them and you may not need to stare at the carousel for 30 minutes plus. You could be on the bus for around an hour so if you had a bottle of water on the plane try and get them to fill it up before you get off. Failing that, vendors outside the airport will accept pound coins or notes if you don't have time to change money at the airport. I never changed any money at the airport so I cannot comment on any rate comparison with the hotel. After 10 hours on the plane sightseeing on the way to the hotel was impeded by several catnaps, not to worry, plenty of opportunities to sight see later. Arrival at the hotel went without any problems, we did notice whilst we were there that most arrivals were greated with a fruit punch (non-alchoholic), a nice touch, perhaps Thomas Cook should take note. A few people immediately upgraded to 'Plus' at 10 CUC per head per day (a CUC is a convertable Peso and the exchange rate for sterling is about the same as the US dollar). We decided to see what the normal accomodation was like before deciding about the upgrade. At this point it is a good idea to change some money if you did not change any at the airport. It is also a good idea to get some smaller notes and coins, ideal for tipping. The bellboy will deliver your luggage to you if you are in the main hotel. If you are in the Plus section they have electric vehicles similar to thos at UK airports and they will take you and your luggage to the block where your room is. This is not a regular shuttle service, just for arrival and departure. One or two CUC tip for the bellboy/driver is a nice gesture considering they saved you from struggling with your luggage. You do not need to tip and some would say the service you get is the same either way. The difference is that if you tip occasionally the staff tend to converse with you more and you quickly get to know them and they you. Once they know you they start to anticipate your needs, if they are not busy, your drink will be on the table/bar by the time you get there.
Our room was in the older part of the hotel, but clean and comfortable, around a similar standard to a travelodge with a bit more storage and hanging space. The room safe was very easy to use. We had a view overlooking the swimming pool and bar area with sun on the balcony all afternoon. It was noisy when the animation team were in action and until about 1030 in the evening but we were usually out of the room at that time so it did not affect us. Some reviewers have said that there was music and revelry throughout the night and it kept them awake. We did not experience this, as we said earlier it was pretty quiet from 10:30pm onwards. If you want a quiet holiday you may want to upgrade to the Plus but make sure it is not one close to the beach as the disco is on from just after 11 pm until 2 am and it is down near the beach. We were close to all the amenities (directly above the entrance to the buffet) and never felt a need to upgrade, some people did, but most we spoke to were quite happy being in the older part. We didn't have a kettle in the room though, you get a coffee machine in the Plus, some people said they didn't use it as it took to long. If we had known we would have taken a travel kettle with us. You can also get coffee 24 hours a day from the main bar. The voltage is 220V AC around the same as the UK but using flat pins so you will need an adapter. The hair drier in the bathroom is reasonably powerful and it has a normal 2 pin round shaver socket as well.
Staff overall were friendly although sometimes slow to serve (mainly in the foyer bar unless a pretty young woman wanted serving), they did run out of fries for a few days and the buffet food wasn't always as hot as it should have been, but there was a good selection and the lunchtime pizzas at the Italian were a favourite with most people. The a la cartes were ok but nothing special but did give variety to the buffet. Overall we really enjoyed ourselves, pool and sea temperature were perfect, great service from Leo at the aqua bar and Olga in the buffet restaurant at breakfast and lunch. We definitely recommend leaving the resort to meet the locals. Most Cubans are really friendly and are happy to talk to you and they lead such different lives to us its a real education.
If you want to go to Havana, best to book before you go, as we couldn't do this once we were there (no more availability). Definitely worth doing trips out - plenty of jeeps, katamarans etc to islands, other towns etc. If you do any trips that include seeing a school, you could take some colouring pens/paper for the kids as they are quite poorly resourced and really appreciate this, also soft toys, the doctors at the hospital are very short of pens! So if you have a bit of spare luggage allowance take some with you.
Remember this when you go there and you will be prepared for things like the fact that the internet is almost non-existent and wifi - what's that? If you're worried about back home, take a cheap pay as you go phone, text messages cost us 49p and getting a signal was no problem.
We did have our towels taken from the loungers, and there is a 15 peso charge per towel if you don't return them, so you may want to take your own beach towels if you want to be sure you don't incure this cost. It is a bit daft that you have to get a lounger quite early if you want to be close to the shore and in the shade, but if you are patient, things change quickly and you can move to a better spot usually quite soon. If you want to book watercraft (kayaks, pedaloes etc) you do need to start queuing by 9am otherwise they will all be booked for the day. Take some bread and bananas into the sea with you and you can feed the fish by hand. You are surrounded by fish as soon as you step into the sea, and the varieties change as you go deeper. If you don't like putting your head under water or snorkelling it doesn't matter, you can see really clearly from the surface. After you've done that you can do an aqua gym session in the sea! There are some rocks in the sea, so advisable to take water shoes/jellies, but plenty of sand as well.
Souvenirs are fairly limited, when you've been to one market you've been to them all, but the crocheted beach dresses are a must for ladies and if you buy a Che Guevara hat you will be saluted wherever you go!! Plenty of rum (£5 a litre) and cigars (hand made and expensive). Throughout our 2 week stay I didn't see any insects of any kind in our room and the land crabs that I have seen mentioned are rarely seen and about the size of a 5 pence piece. There are plenty of people working to ensure you have a wonderful holiday, the ones that are generally taken for granted are the security staff on the way to the beach and patrolling the grounds. It suddenly dawned on me so I gave one of the guards a 3 CUC tip and his genuine gratitude almost knocked me over! Judging by the reaction they obviously are normally taken for granted.
I wouldn't bother upgrading to VIP at the airport. There are enough shops to keep you occupied, a cafe and plenty of seating. As Holguin is such a small airport it didn't take long to for us all to board. Don't forget though to set aside 25 pesos per person to leave the country (everyone has to do this including Cubans) and if you have forgotten they do take credit cards (Mastercard) but not anything USA related such as American Express or Visa.
Overall a very relaxing holiday with plenty of sunshine and friendly people (staff and guests) in and out of the hotel. Would definitely recommend it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Blau Costa Verde Beach Resort is located on the seafront next to the fine white sandy beach of Playa Pesquero in eastern Cuba. Our Holguin resort is surrounded by luscious tropical vegetation. At Blau Costa Verde Beach Resort the natural environment is fully incorporated into the resort. Blau Costa Verde Beach Resort offers spectacular views from our rooms over 36 000 m2 of gardens and natural vegetation. Blau Costa Verde Beach Resort offers (with extra charge): Souvenir shops. Car and moped rental. Taxi service. Parking. Laundry service. Medical services: nursing service in the hotel and medical visits on request. Bureau de change in reception. Massage services. Hairdressers. Special dinner. Weddings. Blau Costa Verde Beach Resort ALL INCLUSIVE: Breakfast, lunch and buffet dinner. 2 á la carte restaurants per week, reservations are required. *Dress code long trousers. Local beverages and select international brands. Non-motor water sports. Sporting activities: volleyball, basketball, tennis, aerobics and snorkelling, daytime and evening entertainment programme including Spanish lessons, dance classes, and nightly shows. Minibar. Teatime. Discotheque. Fitness Center. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Blau Costa Verde Beach Hotel Holguin
- Blau Costa Verde Cuba
- Blau Costa Verde Beach Resort Cuba/Holguin