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Reviewed January 29, 2012

This was the fourth time my husband and I stayed at Ensenachos. The first three times was when the hotel was managed by Occidental. There were a few changes that were difficult for those of us who became accustomed to the previous experience. I have read some responses from the new manager and I hope he is right in that the hotel will strive to make both families with children as well as those of us seeking peace and solitude feel they have come to the right place.

One surprise for us was the arm bands. I know other resorts employ these bands but I for one, do not like them. We never had these bands at Occidental. None of the staff could explain why they are required especially if you have no reason to leave the resort area.

I felt the service at the a la carte restaurants was lacking this year. We never knew who our server was because as many as five people served us. In previous years, the service was more intimate. The menu selections were also severely curtailed. There were very few options to choose from however as always the food was very good.

The grounds and rooms were as always, beautifully maintained but the professional and friendly staff you have come to expect.

Also, there were no washrooms at the beach. I know they are undergoing construction but a washroom at the beach where you are serving drinks via the bar should have put in place.

I also overheard several guests who were horrified at the twice daily fogging for insects. The fogging truck would come along at 7 a.m and again at 7 p.m. when guests are walking about. The fumes were sickening and many guests were concerned about toxicity.

My husband and I visit this beautiful resort to reconnect. We travel from Thunder Bay Ontario and have fewer options regarding airline carriers. This year we once again flew with Air Canada which previously was situated in the Spa Section. Now, Air Canada is situated in the "family section". We had our travel agent email the hotel and request a bungalow in the adults only section. Thankfully, they granted our request.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize some of the hotel staff that we have come to know over the last four years. Firstly, Yaniel of the Megano Snack Bar restaurant is clearly the best server this resort has. He is always friendly. He makes sure you have the best service possible. He is truly a credit to the hotel. Also, Randy and Reno, are wonderful staff. Each always take time to talk with guests making their experience even more fun. Dubier, the banker was also a favourite of ours. He is always very helpful. I did notice that the staff seemed more comfortable interacting with guests where I believe in the past it was greatly monitored. This was one aspect of the Occidental Hotel I did not appreciate. Part of the reason I love Cuba is the people and they should feel relaxed when talking with guests.

I am sure my husband and I will return again next year but only if the hotel will accommodate our request and allow us to stay in the adults only section regardless of the airline we choose.

My best regards to Stefano. It is my sincerest hope that this hotel will continue to be the gem we have always enjoyed. You have some of the best staff, treat them well.

Laura

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank Laura B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stefano B, General Manager at Iberostar Ensenachos, responded to this reviewResponded January 30, 2012

Greetings from Iberostar Ensenachos,

Thank you for taking the time review our hotel. To clarify some details about your comments, the wrist bands aren't as much for going in and out of the hotel, but for dividing the sections between the Suites and Villas and especially for adults and children. Now that more families with teenagers will be coming to the hotel, we have to be able to monitor minors in areas such as the bars and Jazz Club.
As for the mosquito fogging, this must be done daily but I can assure you that there are no toxic chemicals in the spray that would be harmful to humans.
As you have noticed, we are still in transition to become the hotel that we strive to be, but once all of the construction and final touches have been put in place, we hope to be able to exceed the expectations of guests time and time again.
We look forward to seeing you again in the future, and please do not hesitate to contact us regarding the room sections for your next stay.

Regards,

Stefano Baratelli

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 29, 2012

New Year. We hit it lucky with dry weather throughout our stay, the only slight drawback being a “cold” front for a couple of days. By Canadian standards 18C by day and down to 12-14C by night is not cold, but we did feel it to be nippy after regular temperatures in the high 20s. You might wish to bring a sweater if you are visiting in the winter months.

The setting is marvellous – it is the only resort on the island (Cayo Ensenachos) and has two beautiful beaches (Megano and Ensenachos) of soft white sand. In combination with the blue sky and turquoise ocean, you have a picture postcard before your eyes. The water was shallow and calm – ideal for gentle swimming and snorkelling, especially around the rocks at the Ensenachos Beach. There is an eating area at the Ensenachos Beach and a new one under construction at Megano. This meant that there was no washroom at the Megano beach, which is presumably temporary while the construction is under way.

The resort is set in a mangrove, and you can enjoy interesting walks on the hedged pathways with the ocean on one side and the mangrove on the other. The vegetation is rich and the gardens are well-tended. We enjoyed walking and jogging around the resort and also found the gym to be well-equipped, with machines always available. The two main pools are nicely-designed, allowing you to choose shade or sun. We particularly liked the dining area at the (adult) Spa pool, where you could enjoy a nice lunch with friendly service. A similar dining area is under construction at the Park Suites pool, where children are welcome. Also under construction is a children’s water park. There are also various exercise activities at the Park pool, whereas the Spa section is quieter. The third (Villa) section of the resort is more removed, but ideal if you wish total peace and quiet.

The various construction projects that were underway during our stay are the result of the resort becoming an Iberostar, a company that we like from experiences elsewhere. We found that all service providers – including managers, tour rep., animators, waiters and bartenders, bell boys, beach and pool attendants, maids, and gardeners – were friendly and accommodating. We had a problem with the fan in our room and the lady at human resources (who also books the specialty restaurants) had a new one installed in one day. By the way, the rooms are spacious, well-appointed and very comfortable. Every day our room was well and efficiently cleaned, and decorated differently with towels converted into various ornaments (e.g., hearts, elephant, lobster). Clever!

It has been said that the food and some of the wine at resorts in Cuba is not as good as in other countries. We found that there was probably less choice than what we have seen outside Cuba. Although we are not connoisseurs, sometimes the basic house wine was, well, basic. However, we could always find food that we liked and most of the wines were fine. And there was particularly friendly service at the egg station in the mornings. Another nice touch is that restaurant staff were usually stationed at the door of the buffet to welcome guests. We also are at the specialty restaurant, our favourite being the Italian.

Each evening there was a singing/dancing show in the resort theatre, and sometimes there was a more light-hearted activity with audience participation. There was also live Cuban music every evening in the lobby, where you can relax, chat and be served with a drink.

Overall, the atmosphere at this resort was “quiet”, compared to other places where it is “action-packed”. However, special mention must be given to the meals and festivities around Christmas and New Year. On December 24 and 31, a veritable banquet was laid on. The chefs outdid themselves. Prior to each meal, there was also champagne, and live entertainment in the large open hotel lobby area.

As for New Year itself, a stage was set up outside at the main door of the hotel, where we were entertained with dancing and music right up to and past midnight. Everyone received party hats and other coloured streamers and noisemakers. A special dias was also set up with a beautiful brightly-lit backdrop that allowed some very interesting photography. At 6 p.m., when it was New Year in Spain, there was a live television feed to a Spanish network, allowing Europeans to enjoy a special celebration. Everyone agreed that we brought in the New Year in Grand Style.

We also had the opportunity to travel to Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad, two colonial towns, and to Havana. This historical dimension to our trip complemented the resort and gave us some appreciation of the “real” Cuba.

If vacations are meant to provide a break, we certainly had a most enjoyable break in Cayo Ensenachos.

Room Tip: We were in the Spa section, which is meant for adults, so that area, including the pool is fairly quiet. If you are a family with children or like to be around families and want more activities at the pool, you would go to the Park Suites section. If you are adults wanting complete peace and quiet and a more remote location, the Villas are for you. If you go there you will have to taken in a golf cart to the main hotel lobby. It is about 3K away,
  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank stuartmckelvie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stefano B, General Manager at Iberostar Ensenachos, responded to this reviewResponded February 3, 2012

Greetings from Iberostar Ensenachos,

Thank you for your review. We appreciate your comments regarding our customer service and ongoing upgrades to the property. I enjoyed being able to speak with you personally during your stay and am glad that you enjoyed everything that we had to offer. Thank you again for your positive comments and we look forward to seeing you again very soon.

Regards,

Stefano Baratelli

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Reviewed January 29, 2012

January 20 to 27, 2012
This was our first opportunity to visit Cuba and we chose the Iberostar Ensenachos Resort (formerly managed by Occidental Resorts). Prior to this Cuba experience our expectations were not that high, particularly in the area of Food and Beverage, but we wanted to see for ourselves. I had read things like food not up to par, the beds were to hard, or to soft, and a myriad of other comments from a few Trip Advisor contributors. Human nature what it is we tend to remember and often give more validity to the negatives rather than the positive comments. In any event the following are my personal experiences and observations of the Iberostar Ensenachos and are based on over 35 years in the International Meeting and Convention business.

The new senior management team is dynamic, young, and clearly the new breed of hotelier who manage by hands on encouragement rather than intimidation. This new style brings out the best in staff. The new GM is highly visible and “walks the lobby” on a regular basis. Not one to hide away on the bowels of the hotel! He is extremely approachable and professional. In addition the Executive Chef can be seen cruising around ensuring his F&B standards are being met.

The hotel staff are beyond amazing! Where else would you be driven in an electric cart or served by a Chemical or Mechanical Engineer? Or a Math and Physics Teacher for gifted students? Or a Masters in modern languages, or an Architect? I could go on however you get the picture. The Tourism Industry employees, relatively speaking, receive higher remuneration than they would in their academic vocations, mainly due to gratuities. Never once did we experience any staff at any time encouraging gratuities.

Their education is reflected in the maturity and high standards of Cuban customer service guests enjoy? We found the Cuban people to be very proud of their country and all have a friendly attitude to guests regardless of their status at the hotel. A great example of this, we chatted with a grounds keeper who was pruning a coconut tree. He asked if we would like one and we accepted. He asked us our villa number and every morning after there was trimmed coconut and a rose at our front door. A story of Customer Service above and beyond, which at this property is the norm. To best express the employees I think of the old term “Attitude Determines Your Altitude” and if this is true these folks are Astronauts! We found that once an employee is hired at the hotel they do not leave thus turnover is extremely low. Customer Service is clearly not an Oxymoron!

We did not find language to be a problem. Any staff that are in regular contact with the guests are able to communicate and determine the guests needs. Being that 80% of the guests are from Canada, English and French widely spoken.

This property is approximately 8 years old and has been well maintained. It is very spread out but electric carts run a regular basis. We were in the Villa section which is approx. 2 kilometres from the main building. We travelled to and from the main buildings on a regular basis and I think the longest wait was less than five minutes. The guest rooms are well appointed and a good size. With the exception of the Villas, the main units are the same, other than location. Each unit has 15 guest rooms and 4 two story suites. The way the property is laid out you get the impression that there is hardly anyone else there.
The villa section is somewhat separate from the main resort and consists of one and two story duplex units. These villa suites are well appointed, each having it’s own patio/balcony, kitchen, dining area, and hot tub. The Villa section also has a private beach and fine dining restaurant for villa guests only. As a bonus there is Concierge service 24-7 to help the villa guests with bookings, reservations, and any other concierge type services. The concierge staff were extremely helpful, professional and helped us many times during our stay.

This brings me to what seemed to be the most criticized item the – Food. I can’t imagine where those that were disappointed with the food ate. We ate at all the F&B outlets, Buffet, A La Carte, Room Service, and the dining room and found the food in each to be more than just acceptable. That along with the great service made each meal a positive and memorable event. OK-OK lets find something. Here goes: at one breakfast buffet there were only three choices of jams (the next morning there was a wide election of Swiss HERO jams)!! In all seriousness we delighted with the food quality, variety, and presentation.

Those of you reading this who are in the Meeting or Incentive Businesses this property would work extremely well. The physical layout allows for programs of 40 to 300 delegates with private dining, meeting facilities, and dedicated areas for your people. My impression is that the team here would be very flexible in meeting your group needs. There is a 460 person theatre with full AV facilities available for meetings and product presentations.

The “Bottom Line”. The Iberostar Ensenachos has a very high % of repeat guests, in fact we met many who have returned each year since opening. If you want to be near a city this is not the place for you. The nearest is 40K away. If you want total relaxation with first class facilities, this is it. We will be back and already looking forward to it.

No Hesitation in Recommending this Resort.

PS: The Iberostar along with other resorts and Transat offer support to the Children's Cancer Hospital in Santa Clara. Any donations of toys, games, clothing, would be well received and appreciated. We visited the hospital and saw the joy and appreciation these items bring.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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19  Thank Duffs66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stefano B, General Manager at Iberostar Ensenachos, responded to this reviewResponded January 30, 2012

Greetings from Iberostar Ensenachos,

Wow! Thank you for that lovely review. I am thrilled that you enjoyed your stay with us and that we were able to exceed your "Cuban" expectations in every aspect. It was a pleasure being able to meet you personally and get your feedback on our establishment. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like any other information on our facilities and we look forward to seeing you back here.

Regards,

Stefano Baratelli

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Reviewed January 29, 2012

We arrived yesterday from Ensenachos. We loved the place. The property, the vegetation, the cleanliness, but especially the staff. All the staff is polite, respectful and more than willing to help. There is however one exception, the reception: We found these people standoffish, and they gave us the impression that we disturbed them each of the 2 times we went for information.
We were in the spa section and were not disturbed by the children on the resort. Those that were there were all very well behaved.
We enjoyed the Azia restaurant more than the other two. Hats off to Yaniels, Allia, Joel, Yurri, Magdiel, Jesus and all the others.
We plan on going back next year and hope that the reception staff will haved learned from the other staff members the art of being warm and friendly with the clients.
Thank You to all for making our trip very enjoyable.
Sylvia

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Sylvia W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stefano B, General Manager at Iberostar Ensenachos, responded to this reviewResponded January 30, 2012

Greetings from Iberostar Ensenachos,

Thank you for your comments. I apologize for any discourtesy by any employee at our resort and we will be sure to correct this behavior. I appreciate you bringing this to our attention and please accept out apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. I am, however, thrilled to see that you will be staying with us again in the future and hope to make your next stay even more memorable than the last.

Regards,

Stefano Baratelli

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Reviewed January 28, 2012

This is our second trip to Ensenachos, last year as the Hideaway and now as the Iberostar. Iberostar is putting a lot of work into this hotel and from what we could see it is for the better.

We traveled with our 41/2 year old grandson Mark and he was treated like a star, everywhere we went the staff remembered his name and came over to talk to him. Ensenachos beach was his mini club playing in the safe, clean shallow beach all day, finding shells and starfish and feeding the fish, drinking out of fresh coconuts, chewing sugarcane, sandcastles and more sandcastles took up most of the day.

The food continues to be very good and there was never an issue with food for the children. The beach resturant at Playa Megano is currently under construction.

The new Mini Club looks great, two large buildings with an aqua park that includes a pirate ship with a water slide in one of the two pools. There is construction ongoing but it never bothered us. The mini club staff are already on site and we had a chance to meet with them. They are very nice and they are promising the best mini club in Cuba.It is still under construction and we were told it would be done in mid February 2012. Another reason to return :)

I can not say enough about how well we were treated by the staff everyone was friendly and helpful, I think it has improved but I am not sure if having a child with you brings out a more friendly attitude in Cubans. Special thanks to Mary, Juan, Zaidy and Roberto for making our beach and pool experience perfect.

We will defiantly return for another vacation next year and recommend this as the safest place in the world to bring your children or grandchildren on vacation.

Mucho Gracias,

Bruce and Sharon

Room Tip: If you want adult only book in the Spa section
  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with family
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14  Thank Bruce J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stefano B, General Manager at Iberostar Ensenachos, responded to this reviewResponded January 30, 2012

Greetings from Iberostar Ensenachos,

Thank you very much for your kind words. We like hearing that families are enjoying their stays just as much as couples as this is a new experience for us as well. We appreciate your return to this hotel as we know that you do have a choice in where you stay and we hope to see you again soon.

Regards,

Stefano Baratelli

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