We visited the hotel end of Nov / early Dec 2012 for 7 nights of our 12 night visit to Cuba.
We were welcomed with a drink and then taken to breakfast. Our butler, Joel, showed us the facilities and our room and was very accommodating and helpful. Butlers alternate each day. Our other butler was Alien who was also really nice. There were a lot of Canadians and a few British people at the resort so most staff there spoke English and other languages as well.
We used the butler service to book meals and to report a lamp the was out outside our room (which was quickly fixed) but not for anything else. We'd have been happy to book our meals ourselves if we didn't have to use the butlers and, in all, found the whole butler thing a bit gimmicky but maybe that's just us.
We were aware we could visit the other Melia hotels in the vicinity and were going to do so for their water sports but as the sea was rough 6 out of the 7 days we were there and another couple said the place had been overrun with children (who were probably understandably stir crazy if they couldn't go in the sea) we didn't bother.
Our room was nicely decorated and the bed was large and comfortable. The fridge could be stocked with whatever drinks you wanted. We asked for beer and diet coke but only drank a couple of cans during our stay. There was a coffee machine rather than a kettle and filter rather than instant coffee. We had to request milk and were given a litre carton of uht which was better than those tiny sachets. The teas were herbal types rather than English I believe but as neither of us drink it we didn't pay too much attention.
Toiletries were provided - soap, shampoo & conditioner in one, moisturiser, shower caps, shoe shine. As I like separate shampoo & conditioner I used my own. We also used our own shower gels although the soaps were nice. There's a hair dryer, iron & ironing board plus robes and slippers. What was really puzzling was the lack of rubbish bin in the large living area. We had to move the one from next to the toilet (provided for sanitary waste) in to the bedroom.
The wardrobe only accommodated short items of clothing. I wanted to hang some long dresses but they were too long to fit. I suspect they were designed by a man ;-)
We got a few American channels and BBC World News on the TV. There was no iPod dock or speakers but we brought our own portable speaker. The plug sockets were 220v and took either US or European adapters.
The outside shower sometimes had no hot water but was good when it worked. It would have been nice if there was a shelf of some kind for toiletries. The bath was great but a bit difficult to get in and out of as the tiled space at the side was quite wide. The tiles are lethal if you have wet feet - I walked in from the shower and slipped, crashing to the floor. Thankfully I landed in a way that didn't cause me injury.
The cleaner did a really great job and both her and the people doing the turn-down service made you feel special with the way they presented the room. On our last evening Joel prepared us a lovely bath with flowers and petals etc.
The food was ok. I read mixed reviews and as I'm generally positive about hotel food, I had high hopes, thinking those who'd said negative things were just being picky. I wasn't disappointed but I wouldn't rave about the food.
At breakfast you could order eggs and there were hash browns, crispy bacon and some type of sausage to go with it. There were also pancakes with syrup or chocolate sauce. These were great at the start of the week but I think the chef changed as after a couple of days they were smaller and rubbery.
There was a wide choice of meats, cheese, breads, cereals etc. The staff were friendly and this was generally a good meal.
Lunch could be taken at the same restaurant as breakfast or Los Caribes (or the BBQ by the pool). There was a daily buffet with hot and cold choices plus items that could be ordered from the menu. It was all quite nice. Los Caribes served Italian and snacks. The pizza I had was ok. Again, the quality varied which I think depended on the chef. One day I ordered bolognese pasta. This tasted fine but the meat was really fatty and poor quality so I'd avoid anything with mince.
I had steak twice and both times it was cooked perfectly but tough as old boots. To me this indicates that the meat is not hung, not great quality and the chef is doing what he can but he can't work miracles. We had fantastic steak at the Parque Central in Havana so I know good quality meat can be purchased in Cuba - the steak, chicken and mince I had here though really wasn't anywhere near as good quality. Los Navigantes has the nicest ambience of the restaurants but the menu gets repetitive, even with the daily specials.
I'm not a fussy eater but I don't like squid and overly fishy flavours despite eating fish, lobster & shrimp. I found they seemed to add other seafood (like squid) to dishes that only mentioned lobster or shrimp and Chinese soup (which I thought might be wonton) was really fishy. I therefore left quite a few things which I wouldn't have ordered if the description had been clearer about what they were and/or contained.
If you are on a set menu at Los Caribes (as I was on the oriental night) and you don't like the courses you can find by the end of the night you've not eaten a great deal! My first night all I had was some pretty tough chicken but I was so hungry I put up with it.
The choice of spirits I thought was a bit limited but I'm not an expert so others may disagree. Certainly there was a much bigger choice and more mainstream brands at Parque Central. The drink I was served that was supposed to be Malibu and Coke was definitely not that and generally the spirit measures could be so big that I personally found the drinks to be overpowering and not all that enjoyable. As a result I avoided cocktails and spirits and resorted to wine if I wanted something alcoholic. The rose and white were good but the red was hit and miss.
If we'd have stayed longer than a week we'd have been bored of the food and gone to the other Melia resorts for some variety.
There were various bands in the restaurants and bar all of which were really good. A guitar group, in particular, really impressed us.
There were daily dance classes by the pool, Spanish classes and water polo, which was good fun. The entertainment staff worked really hard to make sure people had a good time.
The bar staff, gardeners, maintenance men, waiters etc could not be faulted - all had a friendly smile, all worked incredibly hard to make sure you felt welcome and had a good time. We left a lot of tips over the course of the week, probably spending about 100CUC in all, by the time we tipped the butlers and cleaner. Given the poverty in general and the poor wages in Cuba (ask Cuban people what they earn and you'll be shocked) we thought they deserved it.
I didn't use the spa but used the gym. The machines were good and multi-language. The touch screen on one was temperamental but was fixed within 24hrs when I reported it.
There's a shop that sells souvenirs etc. The choice of postcards is poor and neither the shop nor reception sell stamps so you need to leave the resort if you intend sending any.
If you need the Internet, forget it! There is no wifi, the computers in the reception area have ancient operating systems and are powered by hamsters on a wheel. We attempted to use one then gave up. Another couple told us it took them an hour to receive and send one email. There's also no 3G signal.
I enjoyed our week at Melia BV. The manager took the time to introduce himself and ask how our week was going. I had nothing negative to report to him as my gripes (lack of food variety on an evening and mediocre quality meat aren't things he could fix really.)
If I was set on coming to Cuba, on the whole I'd recommend this resort and would probably go back. That said I've had equally nice stays at hotels closer to home (eg Turkey) which were cheaper and I'm not sure I could justify returning to Cuba in the same way many of the Canadians could, for whom it's only a short flight away.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located west of Cayo Santa Maria in a privileged ecological environment, and surrounded by beaches and coves. All-Inclusive five-star resort with 105 junior suites and suites, and the Villa "Zaida del Rio." Designed for adults over 18 years. An entire hotel featuring Royal Service. Recommended for couples, weddings, honeymoons and wellness/spa. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Melia Buenavista Hotel Cayo Santa Maria