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Melia Buenavista
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Reviewed October 18, 2012

This was our 6th All-Incl vacaction in the Carb/Mexico and the second in Cuba.
We came to Cuba for the most beautiful beaches in the world with no crowds! Cuba delivered this hands down ..again! While on this trip we also got two things we really didn't expect.
- A fantastic resort that wasn't so big that we would be lost and forgotten.
- And that we are wind sport enthusiasts and were blessed with 3 epic kite boarding days at two of the best kite boarding beaches we have been to in almost 10 years of searching!.

The Butler service: We don't care to be fussed over, but having a Butler that would speak with us daily even if just to make dinner reservations made us feel we were taken care of.

Resort security: Though very transparent, we never felt our ground level ocean view room nor our expensive sporting gear were were at risk of being stolen. All the resort staff played a role in this. Maybe because the resort was small enough that all the staff personally knew the guests, or maybe it was just the caring staff or the butler, or simply a combination of all the aforementioned.

Front line staff: Won't mention names, because everyone contributed equally to making our stay very enjoyable. The smile from the grounds keepers placing a white flower in my wife's hair, to the young pool bar tending gentlemen who would trek out to the hot beach crisply dressed in black pants and white dress shirt to deliver us our expertly prepared drinks, to the pool side lunch time chef who really knows his stuff when cooking a very fine Cuban style lunch.

We came on this vacation to re-charge the mental batteries, make a few memories and have some fun. Thank you Melia Buenavista for making that all happen!

Kara & Darren

Room Tip: Don't usually care about an ocean view room, but this was well worth it!
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank darrenpara
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ernesto O, Manager at Melia Buenavista, responded to this reviewResponded October 31, 2012

Dear Valued Guest,

On behalf of Melia Buenavista Team, we want to thank you for taking the time to share your comments about your stay with us, and especially about our staff.

It is very satisfactory to know you enjoyed our beach and I am really please to read your comments about the security. Being Cuba a safe country our hotel is not an exception. I`m glad that you appreciate it.
We are also pleased to know that our butler team, whom we are very proud of, were always helpful with your requests.

We hope to welcome you back in the near future.

Sincerely,

Ernesto Osuna

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2012

We just came back from this resort which we chose on the basis of many reviews from this site as well as recommendations from friends. Our overall experience was positive, but there are a few things one should be aware of when heading to this resort.

Yes, it is true that the service is very good, the staff is very friendly and accommodating and I don’t think that it is their fault that the resort does not truly deliver what one would expect from a 5 star place. The beaches are beautiful, the place is very quiet and not crowded, small, does not require too much walking, a perfect place to rest one would think. But think twice. For this price!!!

This is your place if all you want to do is to lie down on the beach or by the pool and read a book. Otherwise the place is depressingly isolating. It is in the middle of nowhere. The first three days of our stay were very windy and there were huge waves on the main beach, the tail of the hurricane Rafael brewing in the Atlantic. Forget swimming in the sea. What’s worse is that you can’t have a decent swim in the pools either because they are simply glorified ponds!!! Small and shallow (the one by the bar especially). They are very nice to look at and have pictures by, clean and all that, but they are not for swimming, just to soak your bottom in. So, once you find yourself with a weather that does not let you use the sea or the pool (because of their design) the only thing you can do is lie down and do nothing. If that’s what you like, this place is for you. Otherwise you get very moody on day 2 or 3 and that’s where the true problems of this resort hit you.

The main one is the food. People on this site that are so enthusiastic about the food here have simply never been to a true 5-star resort. The food selection is mediocre and extremely repetitive, way too many canned items in the buffets. Not enough vegetables and fruits, or really anything. If you like eating the Spanish ham (jamón serrano) it is always there, so are nice pastries for breakfast, but there is no variety, the same staff the day in and day out. Lunches are even worse. Very repetitive bordering kingdom of boredom. To hear on day three the waiter repeat with the same angelical smile that the only dessert that can be had is a brownie or an ice cream (or sometimes rice pudding of some sort) one truly wants to smack that smile from his face but refrains oneself knowing that it is not his fault. Brownies I have in Canada and the ice cream, whatever kind, has not even been close to the real thing, strawberry ice cream has not seen strawberries or vanilla vanilla. Just a typical industrial mix. The Ensenachos next door (under the Royal Hideaway brand; we traveled there in 2009 and 2010) used to have a selection far better than this, of desserts and everything else, fish, meats etc.

Five star hotel? What about something as simple as French fries that typically are very good in Cuba and were very good here when we were lucky enough to have them. They are in the menu as an option to rice, but each time you order them you can’t have them because the place is out of French fries. Five star hotel? What about mojitos? You can’t have them because “there is no mint in Cuba at this time of the year”!!! Excuse me? Friends of ours just came back from another resort in Cuba (with no claims to 5 star status) boasting their pictures with beautiful mint leaves in their mojitos. Where were they imported from? Canada? Spain?

So mint does not grow in Cuba in October or at least so we were told by the barman. Neither do potatoes? How about tomatoes? Why are they tasteless? Why there is no trace of garlic anywhere? Everything is served with rice and tasteless mixed fried vegetables (mostly onion and pepper). Calamares a la romana (fried squid) that were very good at Ensenachos, here were overcooked to a gummy something smelling of old frying oil. No limes or lemons in site to serve with them – this is a classic dish always served with lemon, not only in Spain!!! And yes I know, one does not go to Cuba to have a gourmet experience, but we are talking about a five star resort! Not just any place. And I know it is possible even in Cuba.

To finish off with the buffet lunches and breakfasts, it is true that there are no crowds and the atmosphere is very relaxed, but is this the reason not to change the table cloths between guests? Are you or you not a five star resort and priced as such? Even the napkins seemed like reused ones, stained all over. Does not give you the confidence and experience you
expect.

The a la carte restaurants’ selection is not much better either. You are handed a menu as you are seated, but mostly to inform you what will be served, because there is no choice or very little choice. Very odd for a 5-star place. And again those brownies! Or a fruit salad that was kind of ridiculous, the same papaya you had for breakfast and tasteless melons and something that wanted to be an orange.

Finally, the rooms. Yes, spacious, modern and clean. The idea of outdoor showers is interesting, but here is the dilemma. We were on the ground floor, and it was more than obvious that guests in the neighboring building on the upper floor could see us in the shower area, and even worse, they could also see us in the bathroom (I mean bath tub) while having their afternoon beer on their balcony. So what was the idea here? This of course clearly is a design problem and not the staff problem.

And beware, what bites you at night are not mosquitoes as some here suggest. What bit me every night (but not my spouse, interestingly) still bites me here in Toronto, so these are definitely not mosquitoes.

Finally, when the weather improved, the beaches were indeed magnificent and snorkeling excellent. And this was the only reason we came to this resort. Will we go there again? Highly unlikely. Overpriced and over glorified for what the place delivers otherwise. This is a typical one time experience. There are places where we used to be going back, Ensenachos was one of them, or where we would go back to again without hesitation (Barcelo Palace in Riviera Maya) or under some conditions (Palladium Riviera Maya. Buenavista did not cut it, unless someone invites us and we go for free, but on our own account the money will go somewhere else. No buts or ifs.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank Stefanjw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ernesto O, Manager at Melia Buenavista, responded to this reviewResponded November 13, 2012

Dear Valued Guest,

I would like to thank you for sharing with us your opinions about your stay in our Hotel, it really helps to improve our daily work.

We will check very carefully all the details you are writing in your review, concerning the problem with the lack of some ingredients you must know it was an eventual situation totally out of our will, that’s why you could not find the variety you were expecting for.

I’m offering my sincerest apologies for all the inconvenience you had during your stay with us. We will really appreciate your confidence vote in your next visit to Cayo Santa María; we assure you that you will be received with the excellence have always distinguished us.

My best regards,

Ernesto Osuna

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2012

We were there from 06 to 13 Oct 2112. This hotel was worth every penny, so stop reading other reviews and just book it. The service was excellent and the rooms were beyond expectation. Everything from the free room service menu to the free pillow menu and our own concierge answered every need. As per other reviews, food was never an issue. We utilized the free shuttle (5 minute drive) to the other resort and ate a buffet style supper three times. The food choice was amazing even thought we enjoyed our meals at resort. Our only complaint had to do with checkout. Check out is at noon. Our airport shuttle came at 3:30 pm. In order to keep our room, they wanted more money albeit minimal. My point is this, the resort is a 5 star Cuban resort that just bent over backwards to make you feel like a million bucks, then they resort to a 2 star motel by charging you more if you want to keep your room for a couple of hours. Ironically, they will give you free access to another suite to change and shower before you catch the airport shuttle. We just found it odd to drag your suitcase to a clean suite when our own suite was still empty and uncleaned. Plus, the resort was half full at best. Other than this very small point, the Melia Buenavista gave us the most relaxing vacation we ever had. Out of all our vacations, this is resort will get our first recommendation to our friends without hesitation. We own two different timeshares and we would sell both of them if this place offered it. It's value for the price is unreal.

Room Tip: Room 1722 was excellent. Second floor. Pool side. Big balcony.
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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4  Thank RU4Real_204
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ernesto O, Manager at Melia Buenavista, responded to this reviewResponded October 31, 2012

Dear Valued Guest,

I wish to thank you for the compliments that you kindly made on this Web site. I am pleased to read that you had an excellent service at Melia Buenavista.

Please do not hesitate in contacting us if you are thinking to come back in the near future for a bit more pampering. It will be our pleasure to welcome you back.

Kindest regards,

Ernesto Osuna

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 15, 2012

We were at the Buenavista from October 7th to 14th. It was a memorable week.

This was my 4th time in Cayo Santa Maria first at the Buenavista. This place is perfect for couple who want to take it easy.

STAFF:
This is the first reason we would return, the staff is simply amazing. Everyone is friendly and are willing to help you even if you don't ask. From the gardeners to the bar mans the service is way up there compared to all the other hotels we went in Cuba. Truly deserves it's 5 stars.
The main pool bar mans Orestes (call him Mario Lemieux) and Orge will make sure you will never have an empty glass, you want food? no problem they will get that for you. You're at the beach? they will come also to meet your needs. Awsome!!

FOOD:
Excellent for Cuba, all the meals we had were all very good, of course this is not Mexico or Jamaica but you will be pleasantly surprised. We mostly ate at the Los Caribes, they change the theme every night, one day was Cuban, the other Asian, the menus are constantly changing. You can also reserve in the other resorts, we went to the Japanese restaurant at the Melia Santa Maria the food was also very good.

ROOMS:
Nice and big rooms, the maid will make the room at least twice a day, taking a shower under the stars is fantastic.. We had a ocean view it is nice if you can afford it, but there are some very nice pool view rooms also if you like to do a late night dip.

BEECH:

The beach wraps around the resort and is divided in 3 sections. Heading left from the lobby there is a quiet small beach with only one palapas and maybe 12 chairs it is the quietest portion, there are a lot of algue in that area. if you want to sunbathe alone this is the spot, waves are less present because of reefs.
If you go strait from the lobby this is the spot if you like to snorkel I was told, we could not make it because of the strong winds over a few days. The barmans from the main pool will also take your orders there.
Make a right you will find the biggest stretch there with a dedicated bar. The staff will prepare a palapas for you and meet your needs. If you like to take long walks on the beech, the Las Dunas is better, flatter with a more gradual slope.

ROYAL SERVICE
you will be assigned 1 or 2 buttlers, some are more pro active than others to look for you in the resort, we were happy with them despite a slow start in the week, but the last 4 days we had breakfast, dinner in the room, special bath.. it was great.
If you want something, ask for it, you won't be disappointed.

On a side note, there are 2 computers in the lobby with free slow internet, you just have to ask for a pin card.

Overall the experience was awesome and this is a true Cuban 5 stars ! We will be back

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank discoboy1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ernesto O, Manager at Melia Buenavista, responded to this reviewResponded October 31, 2012

Dear Valued Guest,

On behalf of Melia Buenavista Team, we want to thank you for taking the time to share such gracious comments about your stay with us.

It is very satisfactory to know you enjoyed our food, rooms, beach and service in general. Specially the service of our bartenders. Oreste. I`m glad you liked it.
We are also pleased to know that our associates, whom we are very proud of, were always helpful.

Please do not hesitate in contacting us if you are thinking to come back in the near future. It will be our pleasure to welcome you back.

Best regards,

Ernesto Osuna

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 11, 2012

We just came back from the Melia Buenavista. If you wish to relax in a spa style resort this is the best you can get in Cuba. This is NOT a party resort. Average age 40-50. The service and room was beyond all expectations. Butlers always present to help. This hotel has everything to be an outstanding resort but the food at the restaurants in the evening is far from being 5*. Everywhere you look is beautiful! Beach private. This is for couples who wish to spent time in a quiete environment. The breakfast and lunch at the beach resto are amazing. Live music each day even for breakfast and each evening at the bar. Go see Oreste at the pool bar for the best drinks and outstanding service - He is the best! The staff priority is to ensure the guests are as comfortable as possible. This is a really nice resort. Will certainly go back.

Room Tip: The rooms close to the beach are quieter.
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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4  Thank Frazoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ernesto O, Manager at Melia Buenavista, responded to this reviewResponded October 31, 2012

Dear Valued Guest,

Thank you for sharing your lovely comments about your recent stay with us in Melia Buenavista.

However I’ll share your culinary impressions with Stefano, our italian chef.

Thank you for recommending us, we are looking forward to welcome you back on your next visit to the paradise of Cayo Santa María.

Regards,

Ernesto Osuna

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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