Traveled October 30-Nov 6 with husband and two kids (7 and 3).
We booked this trip fairly last minute as a “value” vacation just to get away with the kids for a week. We just paid for a 5* vacation to Mexico (adults only)in September – so with this trip we wanted to save some money. For the four of us to go for one week (taxes and departure fee in) was $2140. For the same week of travel for four people to Mexico/Dominican etc. we would usually have paid between $3600 and $4200 – so please keep that in mind when reading reviews and making your decision. Though it may be ranked as a 4* resort, you can’t really compare it to a 4* resort that is double the price.
Book this hotel if you are a laid back, easy going traveler who doesn’t sweat the small stuff. You want to park your bottom on a beautiful beach, but don’t want to go too far from home (flight from Toronto was only 3.5 hours!). Good value for your money.
Do not book this hotel if you are easily stressed when things go wrong, run out, or get broken. If you’re very particular about hygiene and food, you may want to pass on this location.
Most of the issues with the resort can be explained by the social and economic climate in Cuba – so if you can be forgiving and let little things slide, you should be fine.
CHECK-IN AND ARRIVAL
The check in process as you board the bus is GREAT. Nothing worse than being travel weary, finally arriving at your hotel, then having to wait in line. We were able to go straight to our room despite the fact we arrived several hours before check-in. When we got to our room we had no toilet paper, no toiletries, no towels and no pillows. This was a bit distressing as the kids had to use the washroom immediately. It took two calls and about two hours but the maid did come by with the missing items. It took about an hour for the luggage to be delivered to the room. The bell boys sort of hung around looking for a tip, but we hadn’t been to exchange our money yet, so it was a bit of an awkward moment.
The room was quite basic and in a bit of disrepair, but overall it was clean. There was some peeling paint, missing light bulbs, and broken tiles in the bath leading to exposed wood. There was a bit of a musty smell, but it was so humid it was to be expected. The two beds were very small (maybe a few inches wider than your standard North American twin bed) so they came by with a roll-a-way bed for us. We asked if they had mistakenly brought us only the box spring and not the mattress. This bed was AWFUL. Might as well have slept on the floor. We were short a pillow all week and unable to get another.
The maids came every day and spent a few minutes in the room. They swept, wiped the toilet and straightened out the bed linens. We had two changes of towels (4 bath towels, 2 face clothes and 2 robes each times) and one change of bed linens during our stay. We were not able to change our beach towels until the afternoon before we left, so we didn’t bother. We did bring towels of our own so it was not a big deal.
We requested a ground floor so we could sit and watch the kids run around – which was great, but also meant there were a lot of ants. They seemed pretty harmless (they were very small), but they did like to make their way to the bathroom counter in great numbers. Keep your toiletries zipped up if you can!
Mosquitos at night were not too bad. I would certainly recommend bringing bug spray for the evenings.
My husband ended up getting bitten a lot by what we think must have been sand fleas on the beach. I stopped counting his bites when I got to 104. The kids and I escaped with only about a dozen each. Might be a good idea to bring some AfterBite (helped with his itching).
The pool area is good. We had no trouble finding a place to sit, especially in the morning. The pool was a bit chilly for my liking, but did feel refreshing after being in the hot sun all day. There were few broken and missing tiles, but otherwise the water seemed pretty clean and we saw staff vacuum it out every day in the early morning.
This was my favorite thing about the resort and the reason we booked it in the first place. The sand is very fine and soft, the water is calm and warm and very shallow. During high tide, the kids could still stand with the water just up to their hips, but during low tide (9-2ish seemed to be prime time), they could walk out pretty far just up to their ankles. We saw a few jelly fish after a heavy morning rain, but they were pretty easy to spot and avoid. The beach gets busy during the first half of the day. To have your pick of chairs you would want to arrive prior to 9:00/9:30. If you have little kids you don’t need to worry about them being knocked over by big waves – they’ll love this beach!
I cannot stress enough that you NEED to bring a travel mug or beverage container of some type with you. The bigger the better. We didn’t and I regretted it very much. Beverages are served in tiny plastic cups. The taste of drinks was mediocre – you won’t get fancy frozen, blended drinks, but what they served sufficed. My husband was not a huge fan of the beer, but you can buy Becks or Corona for $1.00 each at the store. Drinks for the kids were hit or miss. No real fruit juice, and sometimes the juice tasted funny, or they would run out. We drank a lot of water. Not water from taps of course, but they delivered 1.5 L of bottles to the room every day.
I did not find the food to be great, but we were able to fill up our bellies every meal. Not much variety in the meals, but we did like the omelette station in the mornings. I did enjoy the selection of desserts after lunch and dinner. The 24 hour snack bar is a very good idea. The hot dogs, burgers and pizza were good. The kids enjoyed eating here. I would recommend getting to the buffet meals during the first half of the time slot as a lot of stuff would run out and not be replaced. What was left would show up again at the next meal , but a lot of what was “wrong” with the food and supply could be explained by Cuban economy and agriculture, and isn’t necessarily an issue with this specific resort.
My kids loved the ladies who ran the kids club activities. They were very friendly and encouraging and I think my kids had a better vacation for it. The mini disco was also a lot of fun! We enjoyed doing the dance lessons. Always something going on to keep little one occupied. We also took my 7 year old horseback riding on the beach twice. $10 for adults, $5 for kids for a one hour trip up and down the beach. She loved it and we got to see some beautiful scenery.
This is a pretty resort to walk through. Nice variety in tropical plants and flowers. The staff keep the grounds pretty clean, but the guests aren’t much help here. There are a lot of garbage cans, so it would have been nice to see everyone using them. Many guests would just toss their cups/napkins/cigarette butts etc. on the ground. It’s kind of awful to be surrounded by all of this natural beauty and have plastic cups float up beside you.
This is where I think the resort needs to improve for longevity’s sake. I asked my husband how old he thought the resort was. He guessed that it was built in 1990. When I told him it was actually constructed in 2008 he was shocked. There are simple things, like actually bolting down the light posts properly so they don’t blow over and smash in the wind, and more serious things, like the effect mould and mildew will have on the structural integrity over time (ie. Water was trickling from my shower through a hole in the wall onto the wooden beams framing the bathroom). If they don’t invest some serious time and money into this place, I can’t see it still being operational in ten years – which is a real shame as it has tons of potential and is in a great location.
The only thing I was severely disappointed with were the bathrooms in the public areas of the resort. Only once did I find any soap (lobby bathroom), and it almost became an exciting thing to find toilet paper well stocked. A messy bathroom would remain in that condition for an entire day, sometimes into the next day. The bathrooms by the pool and restaurant were not well kept. If the washroom facilities for the guests are like that, I worry about the washrooms for the staff – which may explain why my kids and I became violently ill on our last day. We unfortunately had to spend our trip home suffering from severe gastrointestinal distress and dehydration. Better the end of the trip than the start I guess! I would recommend being well stocked with pepto bismol and immodium for your trip. Carry some t.p. and hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse while you’re out and about.
MISC. TRAVEL TIPS
Money is the Cuban Convertible Peso. You unfortunately cannot change your money prior to arriving in Cuba. There is a bank at the airport, but you can also change your money at the hotel desk (I would recommend waiting until arriving at the hotel as some of the passengers on the bus going to the hotel grew a little impatient waiting for a few people to exchange their money) . You won’t get the posted exchange rate at either though. Google listed the exchange at 96.49 Canadian to 1 CUC the day we left but we were offered 88 CUC for 100 Canadian. Don’t bring American money – they will exchange it, but you’ll take an even bigger hit with surcharges. There is also plenty of opportunity to change your money back while waiting for your return plane at the airport.
Immigration was pretty straight forward both in and out. A little bit of a line, but it moved fairly quickly and this area is air conditioned. Cuba requests that you approach their customs officers one at a time (kids excluded) and you will need to fill out a visa form on the flight to Cuba (they take half, you must keep the other half safe for your departure).
You also need to pay $25 CUC per person in order to leave the country. This is done right after bag checking and before customs.
If you’re traveling from Canada, your electrical appliances should work. You may need a voltage converter if it’s not a dual voltage appliance (check on the label to see if it says something similar to 110v-220v, most things do). The voltage in the bathroom is 110, which will suffice for electric shavers. The 220v plugs in the room will accommodate flat 2 or 3 prong plugs – even if polarized. It looks like they are made to also accommodate the round (European?) style plugs.
In 2010 Cuba started requiring that visitors show proof of travel insurance (or buy it upon arriving). When I called my insurance company to obtain travel cards with our names they told me this was no longer the case. We took them anyway, just in case but were not asked to show proof.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Memories Caribe Beach Resort offers 328 rooms in different categories, including 280 rooms in deluxe category, 48 junior suites and 56 connecting rooms (deluxe category, 4 of them handicapped accessible). For your convenience, our facilities also have rooms for smokers and non-smokers. RESTAURANTS: International buffet "Las Arcadas" (air conditioned), Breakfast, lunch and dinner service; Italian restaurant "Arenas Blancas" (fan aired), Dinner service; Seafood restaurant "El Coral"Dinner service; International restaurant "El Coral" Dinner service. BARS: Lobby bar "Oceano Atlantico" (9:00 to 23:00 hrs)Selection of national and international drinks included Premium beverages offered at an additional cost; Snack bar "La Estrella" (24-hour service) Selection of national and international drinks included; Aqua bar "Los Delfines" (9:00 to 17:00 hrs) Selection of national and international drinks included; Beach bar "Uva Caleta" (9:00 to 17:00 hrs) Specialized in Cuban cocktails. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Memories Caribe Beach Resort 4* Hotel Cayo Coco