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Reviewed December 6, 2011

My husband and I just got back after spending a week at this resort (Nov 27 - Dec 4) and I just had to write a comment. From the smooth 3hrs flight down on Air Transat, to a very smooth registration, where you are handed your envelope with your room key and map of the resort, done before you go on the bus was a very good start. Room was ready when we got there and the cases delivered within 15mins of us arriving. We enjoyed a nice buffet lunch before going to the beach for the afternoon. Hotel in the middle of some renovations and was only at 200+ capacity so only the spa suite area and royal suites were filled at this time. Beach boardwalk being re-done so not the greatest walk to the beach but you can enter by bungalow 40/41 for a better boardwalk. Massive children's centre being built in the Park Suites area, they were hoping it would be completed by end of year (but I don't think so) Every single staff member that we spoke with were eager to please and always smiling from morning to night, despite their extra long hour shifts of 12hrs and 6days week! These people are so friendly and always made us very welcome, we had so many laughs with each and every one of them. Resort is beautiful, gardens are being lovingly tended and despite only having one buffet bar, which looks rather small for the amount of people - it gave us plenty of choice every day. 3 a la carte restaurants are well worth the visit and you can visit more than once, which we did with the Italian restaurant. The Japanese restaurant is classed as a show dinner but lacks the show. Food good though. Snack bar by the pool is also very good for a nice lunch. Our building was 22 and it was so central for everything, beach a little bit of a walk but who doesn't want to enjoy a nice stroll to the beach every day and what a beach! Soft white sand, lovely blue water and plenty of shade and beds to pick from. You can also go to the Ensenachos beach but probably you would want to take the little kub cars that go around as it is a bit of a walk. We spent a lot of time by the pool as the loungers there had pads and made it very comfortable for lying reading. Fun games both by the pool and the beach daily. Piano music in the lobby bar each evening , shows were terrible but hey you are in Cuba you will not get a "stage show" like you would at home but everyone goes out of their way to make them as much fun as they can. Tipping is not necessary but the smiles are well worth it and these people work for next to nothing so really really appreciate them. Our only negative remark on this resort is it is so quiet, so if you are looking for party times, this is NOT the resort. Majority age group was 30 and up and couples.

Room Tip: ask for a room near the main lobby
  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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15  Thank BurlingtonBankie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 5, 2011

We stayed at the Iberostar Ensenachos for a week starting on Nov 12th which we booked with Air Canada Vacations travelling from Toronto. We paid extra to upgrade to the Grand Village Suites (Formerly Royal Suites) area, we had room 7201 which has an ocean view. The only issue we had with Air Canada was with our rep in Cuba who gave us the shuttle departure time as 1-hour later than it actually left. Check the binder the day before you leave to ensure the time hasn't changed - we're glad we did.

Layout - the main building is located near the Park and Spa suites, there are two main pool areas - only one was open when we visited. There is a Megano beach boardwalk that is accessible from the back of the main building. It was under construction while we were visiting but this didn't stop people from sneaking around the blockage for access. There is a smaller pool area near the spa and a small gym. Bring water if you decide to workout, on our second visit to the gym the water machine was empty - and there were never towels.

To get from the main buildings to the Grand Village Suites is about 8 minutes via golf cart (roughly 2 kilometers); you can also take the golf cart to the first entrance of Ensenachos - which is accessible to all guests. Lower level of the lobby has a bank, the travel reps, customer service and a games room with library. There are books in English, Spanish, German, French and a few in Dutch. I left 'The Last Single Woman in America' there - it'd make a fun beach read.

Beaches - the beaches are beautiful here - white sand and turquoise water, with lots of shells and various fish - lots of fun for snorkelers of all levels. Part of Ensenachos beach is blocked off just for guests in the Grand Village Suites. Megano is more shallow and calm - but also busier than Ensenachos.

Grand Village Suites - the upgrade is worth the extra money. The villas are lovely and spacious - two bathrooms, a living and dining area, and walk in closet. The rooms are made up in the morning, and again in the evening when the towels are changed. It's great not having to get towels from a hut - but it can be a bit of a pain carrying them with you - bring a large size beach bag.

Food / Restaurants
The Gourmet restaurant (Grand Village Suites only) is great - we found the vegetables repetitive (green peppers, onion, and eggplant), however you can have lobster for lunch and dinner, the desserts at the Gourmet are in my opinion much better than those found at the buffet - though we still did eat at the buffet for variety.

Italian - We ate here once, the food was good, skip the tiramisu - it's more like birthday cake (think rainbow sprinkles).

The Seafood - We ate here twice, the tuna carpacio and shrimp salad appetizers are good, steak was great. The garlic shrimp appetizer here is whole unshelled shrimp - skip it. The first time the bisque here was great - the second time it was gravy - worth the gamble though in my opinion.

The Asian - we sat at the Tepanyaki table - we should have skipped this one. Pass on the tempura fruit here and get dessert at the buffet if you do go.

The pumpkin soup - you'll see it at the Gourmet, the Italian and if you're lucky the buffet, definitely try it - they do it very well. I wish I had tried to get the recipe before I left - favourite food of the whole week.

Cocolocos - one of the reasons I like Iberostar - and the biggest disappointment on this trip - one of the bartenders in the lobby makes these with too much rum and simply shakes them, he'll argue with you if you mention it. Get them at the pool where they are blended with ice and a little sweet - the way they should be.

Shopping
We didn't leave the resort as we planned to just relax on the beach. There is a small bank in the lower level of the lobby or you can change your money at the airport - I found both rates comparable. The small shop in the lobby is ok - for alcohol you will find only slightly better deals at the airport - and only a slightly better selection.

Things to Bring:
Aside from a large beach bag for the towels, bring a flashlight with - a small keychain type one is good, I was happy to have it several times. If you have room bring any old clothes - the Cubans desperately need them and are most appreciative.

The People
This is our second trip to Cuba and Canadians are very welcome here - the resort is full of friendly, welcoming people. Our butlers Marishall and Diego were great, as were our drivers Michel and Alex. Our maids were lovely, hard working ladies, and the wait staff in the Gourmet made dining fun - and we never felt pressured to tip. We only tipped during the last half of our trip - and never felt there was a change in service level.

Entertainment
Two years ago we stayed at the Iberostar Laguna Azul in Veradero and the entertainment there was amazing, they had synchronized swimmers with hours of entertainment every night, the Ensenachos is about the exact opposite. They seem to be working on it - and since we were here mostly to relax and unwind we didn't care. The auditorium where they have their entertainment is indoors and blasted with a/c which I know a lot of people will appreciate.

Overall
While we were here it was still an adults only resort and was quiet and peaceful. I'm sure things will change as Iberostar becomes a family resort, what won't change is the beach - it's beautiful and definitely worth seeing.

Room Tip: Villas are worth the extra $$
  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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18  Thank Doubleberry
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 30, 2011

This resort was recommended to us by friends who had stayed here a few years ago. We knew before we booked that it had recently been taken over by Iberostar, and this was, if anything, a positive, in that we thought they would be trying to impress their newly acquired clients and our previous experience of the company was very good.

On the whole, we were favourably impressed with the package as it currently stands. We flew in about one hour from Havana to Caya Maria (the next island) on a small plane seating about 50 people, and were whisked to the resort very quickly. On checking in, we were handed an envelope containing very little information, but including a letter of apology for any inconvenience caused by the (unspecified) changes taking place. Other than that there was a map of the resort, which turned out to be an enormous area, our keys and a schedule of "activities".

We knew from when we booked that there were about 3 restaurants in addition to the main buffet, but no mention was made of these when we arrived, nor was any mention made of transport around the resort. We were taken by "golf-buggy" to our room in one of the (misnamed) bungalows in the "spa" area, with a nice balcony with a view through the trees to the pool. The room was excellent and was kept that way throughout our stay by a very pleasant chambermaid. It was only after we had settled in and started exploring that we discovered that things weren't quite what they seemed. The accommodation on the site is in 3 areas (as shown on the map), the Spa area, the Park area and the Village area. We wandered over to the Park area on the first afternoon, only to find it totally deserted, the pool empty, and effectively a big building site. We never got to the Village area, which was way beyond the Park area, but believe that some of the villas there were occupied, but by no means all. It thus appears that well over half of the resort is out of action (the occupied part being mainly inhabited by Canadians) while changes are being made. When it came to having dinner on the farst evening, we decided to try the Italian, we went along at an appropriate time and found it half empty - the waiter asked whether we had a reservation, and when we said "no" he said that did not matter and showed us a table. The food was reasonable but not exceptional and our waitress was apparently a complete novice, very nervous and knocked over the salt on the next table, smashing it on the floor, and then spent the next 15 minutes clearing it up - it was quite entertaining in a sad sort of way. On the third day we discovered that there was a system for booking restaurants, only two of the three seemingly open on any one night, but still they were at least half empty throughout. We heard a rumour before we left that you were supposed to have no more than 4 dinners in the "restaurants" during a week, but we had 5 in 6 days! The seafood restaurant was particularly good, but somewhat lacking in atmosphere, being nearly empty. Also by the end of the stay we discovered that you could ask for a golf buggy to take you around the resort, but such things would be much better notified up front.

Having covered the small negatives, it should be added that we had a splendid week on the all-inclusive basis which everyone enjoys. We had the opportunity of a constant flow of drinks on the beach (no significant amount of seaweed when we were there), at the pool-side and in the main bars, the general standard of the food was good, excellent by Cuban standards and the service and friendliness of the staff was exceptional - everyone seemed to enjoy helping us. In particular, one of the managers was extremely helpful towards the end of our stay when (having no rep from our travel company on site), we did not have the promised message from the company to advise us when the transport would collect us to go to the airport. He confirmed that we were on the list for the aircraft at 20.25 and that the bus would collect us about 2 hours before this. We were ready in the lobby in good time, having what we thought would be a last free drink, when we discovered from one of the bell-boys that he had just heard that the flight was delayed by 2 hours - we went to reception to confirm the situation, and they immediately advised us to go and get dinner (free) in the buffet, and that drinks would continue to be available until we departed - as he put it, "this is your hotel until you leave". Quite impressive.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with friends
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16  Thank David68_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2011

Just got back from this place. stayed Nov 20-27th.

The food was excellant, great selection and the best by far between the seven other resorts in Cuba I have stayed at. the girl making omelets in the morning is very nice and entertaining while you wait. Once the beach grill is finished the place will be even better. The dining staff is quick and attentive.
The bar staff is good for what they got. At megano beach they have a temporary bar set up but no bathrooms or grill right now. the ensenachos beach has a bar/bbq (burgs/hotdogs) and washrooms. They bring drinks too you at the beach or if your sitting anywhere near the lobby.
The rooms were excellant. Probably the most spacious of any resort I have been too. The maids were great, beer/pop was restocked each day as required in the mini fridge and my safe required new batteries, the repair guy was there within ten minutes.
The grounds are very well maintained, I never checked out the spa or gym. the pools were nice and the beaches are both very nice white sand and long if you want seclusion you can find it. It is a bit of a walk over the mangrove swamp to get to the beach however so if your not too mobile this might not be your place. Snorkelling was ok..not as good as at the breezes in Jibacoa. When the tides low you can walk to the sunken barge and see a bunch of fish/starfish/crabs/conches and we seen a few stingrays. If you just walk into the water off the beach and toss in bread or a hard boiled egg you will see some fish as well. If you want to see coral you need to take the hobie cat out to the reef where it was much better. The resort location is far from anywhere so if want an excursion to see more than snorkelling/dolphins plan on being away a full day. They have a tour bus to the pueblo which is just a shopping area between two other resorts on santa maria ..1 peso each way to get on the dbl decker bus. If you can fill cab it's pretty much the same price (5 pesos) but saves you 20 minutes of driving since ensenachos is the first on last off on the bus route.
The animation staff were good, there was always something going on at the beach in the mornings and beside the pool in the afternoons. Only went to one show was typical Cuban carribean song dance. The theatre was nice though and they had shows ( live bands) in the lobby or just outside of it on other nights
Overall we all had a great time (large group of friends) I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this resort to others. feel free to ask any questions.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with friends
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20  Thank pinchy_79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 27, 2011

We just came back from a fantastic week at Iberostar Ensenachos (Nov 18-25).
All the reasons we did not want to go there in the first place, were put to rest on the very first day. We were worry about the transition, the food, if everything was going to be open, kids, etc....

Let me tell you, we will definitely be back, it was paradise for sure. The food was very good for Cuban standard, we tried every restaurant that was on site. They say Cuban food is bland, we brought our own spices, but did need to use them. The service everywhere was impeccable. You can have all the peace and quite you want, or join in all the activities they have to offer. For our evening entertainment, we enjoyed sitting back in the lobby and listening to the live musicians or in the lobby bar where there is a pianist and sometimes there is a singer, her voice is absoluting enchanting.

As for the children, there is three sections, the Spa Suite, the Park Suite, and the Villas. The children will only be allowed in the Park Suite section, they are not allowed in the other sections, but the other sections can go in to the Park Suite. If you do not want to see children in the buffet, than I suggest a later dinner.

Everybody is so friendly, staff and other hotel guests. All the staff always have a smile and greet you with a "Hola" even the gardeners. They all go out of their way to help you.

The only complaint I have is that I was bitten by these "noseeums". They are like little fruit fly, smaller, but do they bite! They spray the grounds, twice a day, but because it is in the middle of nowhere, mangroves, it is very hard to control them.

Lastly, we would like to thank Diego, the Food and Beverage Manager, for going out of his way to make our vacation extra special.

Grace & Paul

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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14  Thank gracie533
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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