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“Not a 4 star resort”

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Memories Paraiso Beach Resort
Ranked #12 of 15 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Bradford West Gwillimbury, Canada
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Not a 4 star resort”
Reviewed April 3, 2014

My wife and I were at the Memories Paraiso Azul Resort in Villa Clara from March 23 to March 31, 2014.
This is a long review and yet does not cover the whole story of our visit to this resort. Too many things wrong here.
We have been to over 15 resorts in Cuba combined and this was by far the worse resort we have ever been to. We felt we had to let you hear about our experience as we found it very concerning.
We never go to any less than 4 star resorts in Cuba and would suggest that this resort is far less than 4 stars -- more like at most 3.
We have never been concerned about reading reviews of people not liking the food until now. We will have to start taking these reviews more seriously.
Understand that this review is based on our personal experience at this resort. We are comparing the service we received at Memories to the service we received at other Cuban resorts only.
You also have to understand that it is the Cuban people who are poor -- not the huge multi-million dollar resorts that you visit. Memories is part of a chain of Memories resorts.

The Room:
We asked for a top floor room with a king bed and a pool view and that is exactly what we received. We even had a good view of the ocean.
The room was neat when we entered and the air conditioner was one of the best we have ever had (quiet and efficient). The only concern here was the foul smell coming from the air conditioner when it was on fan only. Very bad smell -- like septic.
We contacted the service desk because our room would not lock and we had no deadbolt. Apparently someone looked at it -- we could lock the door but no deadbolt lock. Plus no hanging sign to indicate ‘Do Not Disturb” or ‘Please Clean Room’. The resort never heard of such a sign and suggest we write our own. So we had several entries into our room by staff that could have been very embarrassing(and probably were). We talked to other people and they had no deadbolts either. In fact, it looked like our room was kicked in at some time because screws were used to hold the door frame together.
Towels were not cleaned very well and had marks and stains still in them. Quite ugly.
Fridge was not totally stocked but adequate -- no complaint there.

The Beach:
The beach is gorgeous!! Has nothing to do with the resort though, eight other resorts share the same beach.
Beach huts are at a premium because there is just not enough shade for the people who come to this resort especially for the great beach. Twice as many huts would be adequate. There is lots of beach to easily add another row of huts(Palapas). Because the huts are so few, we had to get up between 6am-7am to reserve a hut with our towels. We do not like doing this but were forced to do it in order to get some shade. Some people reserve the huts and never show up or reserve both pool and ocean huts and just move between the two. We often gave up our hut to new people just to give them some shade.
There is a long boardwalk to the beach. It consists of a mixture of 1x3”,1x4”,1x6” boards nailed to a framed support structure - yes nailed not screwed so they moved up and down when walked on. One piece of 1x4 was missing for most of the eight days we were there - very dangerous since the gap was at least 6" wide. 100's of people walk on the boardwalk everyday to the beach - extremely dangerous. The gaps between the boards are large enough to be dangerous if you are not careful, especially for young children and older people. An example of this resort’s lack of caring for guest safety.
A great beach to go on for a LONG walk once you get there.

The Pools:
Never used the two pools. We came for the beach. The pools always looked cloudy. The shallow end of one pool had a yellow looking bottom. It looked like it had tried to be cleaned from the side of the pool but they could not reach all of it without going into the pool. Having been around pools for a long time I know that pools should be crystal clear or there is a problem.

The Food:
We only go to the Buffet at most resorts because we like to pick and choose our food visually and the service is slow at a-la-cartes on the whole. We have rarely liked the food at a-la-carts. So I suggest reading other reviews on the a-la-carte carefully.
As in other reviews, if we sat at a table with four place settings, they did not remove the other two settings that were not needed. This is a huge problem. I saw a person drop a knife on the floor and replace it with one from the extra settings and put the knife from the floor in its place. We also sat down and some glasses looked like they had already been used or never washed. This was the norm.
Breakfast was the worse we had at any Cuban resort. We never thought a resort could ruin breakfast until now. Bacon was hard to come by and when it was - it was under cooked and yet gone in a matter of minutes -- took 10-20 minutes to replenish the tray. The line-ups for bacon were huge because there was only one tray for bacon. Why not two trays or more? Can’t understand. Breakfast took at least an hour by the time you got an omelette, bacon, toast, coffee/tea.
We went to the main buffet for breakfast and supper. Food was never hot - warm at best. Everyday the food was the same. The sheer size of this resort would suggest a larger variety of food.
We constantly ran out of toast bread, in fact the first three days I had no idea there was toast available. Butter was slow at being replenished and was in a huge bowl in chunks and some people just stood there buttering their bread/toast with the available knife. Just does not seem very sanitary.
Most hot food items were duplicated in two locations in the buffet except items that went quickly had only one location--eg bacon(who manages this???). There was a station making egg omelets and eggs any style -- this was very good and hot but the lineups were long and could average as many as 10-15 people in line at any one time. Understand that this is a huge resort, probably over 3000 people. The Buffet was not setup to handle this number of people.
Coffee was NEVER hot and it was difficult to get a 2nd cup of coffee. We appeared to be ignored because it took so long to get the 2nd cup. Forget about getting a 3rd cup in an hour. I have always got great fruit at Cuban resorts -- not so here. We had bananas for 3 days, then never again. Pineapple was very ‘woody’ all the time. There were slices of oranges, watermelons and guava fruit and these were average at best.
Lunch and supper had exactly the same issues. We ate lunch at the Pool Buffet everyday. The same food every single day. At least you could say you know what you are getting, no surprises. Ice Cream was available but usually no bowls and if you found a bowl for the ice cream, try to find a spoon. People requested bowls and they never came, at least while we were sitting there.
We came also to the conclusion that chickens in Cuba only have legs. Never once saw a chicken breast or wing. I guess those are sold to the other resorts we have visited in Cuba.
One night supper was great - served lobster and the resort passed out a questionnaire -- surprise surprise - and only those who had lobster seemed to get a questionnaire. There were many other good dishes other than lobster and we never saw them again on another evening. I guess put your best food out on the survey night.(makes the manger look good)
I could go on forever here but won’t. Basically, no care was given here to possibly prevent one sickness from being passed on from one person to the next.
Beach had a fast food BBQ (hamburgers, hotdogs, grilled cheese). It was never busy. I don’t know how well it was received and I only had a hotdog once and it was average.
My wife and I have never been sick at any resorts we have been to in Cuba, but we have been here. We talked to a lot of people who also were sick. One of the big culprits were the cappuccinos at the lobby bar.

The Bars:
The bars we used were at the beach, pools and main lobby.
The beach bar typically had long lineups waiting to get drinks. Drinks were so so and in the smallest cups were have seen at any resort. Looked like about 8-10oz. We were glad that we brought our own travel mugs.
We have never seen bars without blenders for mixing some drinks. No blenders anywhere at this resort. The beach bar had some nice workers but were under staffed most the time and hence the long line-ups.
We never went to the pool bar so we cannot comment on that.
The lobby bar we used mainly to get cappuccinos and these we concluded were one of the reasons we were sick (and so did several other people). The lobby bar also gave us the handle of a broken plastic spoon (or could have been a fork) to stir our drinks. My handle already had some dried up coffee stains on it (at least it looked like coffee). A multi-million resort, with beautiful grounds, inground sprinklers, expensive pools giving us broken plastic handles to stir our drinks. Does this seem right?

The Employees:
We have found at other resorts that Cuban people are generally hard workers and always do their best at the job they were given.
Employees at the Memories were pleasant on the whole but a lot seem to work hard only for those who kept giving tips. I believe if you work hard you deserve a tip - not the reverse - you were given a tip so now give me preferential treatment. One of the exceptions was a little blonde worker at the pool Buffet. Her work location in the restaurant was near the ice cream. She worked hard, enjoyed her work and did her best for everyone. She treated everyone the same. She also had the foresight to ask if you needed more to drink or if there was anything else she could do. She saw I needed a spoon and brought one over immediately. This was not the norm. Too bad we didn’t sit in her area until near the end of our trip.

The Summary:
We blame management for the state of this resort. Management really needs to get their act together or be replaced. Good management will help the workers to do their job better and provide them with the proper tools. They will help the employees be proud of their job, no matter what it is. If this is not done this resort will start to deteriorate quickly. I have seen many managers walking around the resort and looking right at things that need to be fixed/corrected or changed and appear not to see it. How can the boardwalk be in such bad shape, used by so many people everyday and nothing done to make it better. The flowers, grass and plants are all carefully manicured and nurtured. Surely the safety of the visitors is worth more -- at least you would think.
We conclude that this resort does not appear to care about the health and well being of the guests. Again this is a management issue. Please beware if choosing this resort, you have been warned.
Again, this is just a story of what happened to us. Don’t make your decision on this resort from just one review. Read them all and come to your own conclusion.
We would NOT recommend this resort to anyone. My wife and I are still sick and this is four days after we have returned home. We have been to over 30 resorts in the past (15 in Cuba) and NEVER sick.
If you need to go to this beach try one of the other resorts reviewed on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is our bible for resorts but you have to read the reviews carefully and read between the lines.

Room Tip: Pick a 2nd or 3rd floor with pool view and you will probably also get a ocean view too.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
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10 Thank Peckmeister
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Fredericton, Canada
Level Contributor
15 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
Reviewed April 3, 2014

This was my first time to Cuba and was leary about the comparison to other islands in the Caribean. Mistake on my part to have missed out on this oasis because of rumors.
Flew in with Sunwing from the Maritimes and was impressed with the service and plane compared to Transat. Had upgraded mainly for the extra luggage weight but the increase in seat space was an added big benifit too.
Landed at Santa Clara Airport in Cuba and the processing went very smooth. The Airport was small but well laid out for gathering your luggage and starting your vacation.
We had scouted out the benifits ahead of time of upgrading to Diamond Club at the resort and chose to do it. We did this threw our travel agent at home and paid the full amount but if you shop around and wait, real bargain prices do come up for this upgrade. Saying this, we found that the upgrade was worth every penny. It started right at the Airport, where you get on a smaller bus that leaves right away for the resort and has evrything prepared for your arrival. An envolpe is given to you before you even get on the bus, with information about the resort, your room key, and a list of things you are entitled to with your diamond club upgrade. Beer was 2 pesos on the bus to the resort, but I got mine at the airport by the bus for $1.50 (got to love the prices) The Trip from the Airport to the Resort takes an hour and a half, but it goes fast taking in the sites and views along the way.This resort is located on an island that is accessed to by a long causeway. The only people on this island is tourists and people that work on the resort. It is the safest reort or place, that I ever been to.
We had wrote the Manager of the resort, Jaime Capo, prior to going, requesting certain things that we wanted in a room and location. I was shocked to find that we were given everything that we had requested, right down to the building number. I want to thank them so much for that.
We stayed here for 2 weeks, had 13.5 days of sun and not once did we feel regrets for chosing this location and resort.
The room was big and although it was dated, it was clean and in good repair. The maid did a great job everyday cleaning and leaving little things around making our room feel special.I had worried about the size of the resort but found that from where we were, everything was just a short walk (or gulfcart ride). The path to the beach was right outside our door.
The beach was the whitest and nicest I have ever been to. No sea weed on the beach and sand going out in the water as far as you could walk.The water was such a beautiful turquoise color. every mornming I went early to the beach , not to get a shaded umbrella or spot but to locate our loungers close to the water, lol, I was the only one I saw doing that. Diamon club perk to is they have a person on the beach to get you a lounger and to take it and place it and clean it off, anywhere that you want it. I want to thank Marlan Brandow for getting me ours every morning. Another thing I loved about this beach is there was not any motor boats roaring by or taking up the beach. Another perk about this resort, they have a guy going up and down the beach during the day, with ice cream cones and bars. They sure hit the spot.
We were apprehensive about the food in Cuba due to all the talk and reviews you see. We found the foodgood. Some of the food was excellant, some good and some I didn't try because I was leary. There was always something good to eat, you just have to do the chosing. We did not have any stomach problems except for them expanding.The service at the buffets and restraunts was exceptional. The line cooks were hard working and great at their jobs. We would like to thank one of the lady waitress's, Yamni, at the Azul buffet. She always greeted us with a hug and made us feel so much like part of her family. These people work so hard, we could take a lesson.
The market to the side of Paraiso was nice. During the day different peddlers had things to buy. There were some restraunts here, some included with the resort inclusive, some not. The Outdoor Party on Monday night in the Market is well worth paying the extra to get into.
There is another market on the island that you can get to by double decker bus or by Taxi. Take a Taxi, ($5) if you don't want to be bored silly going around in circles and not getting anywhere. I found this market had better deals on Souveniors.
Went on the Romantic Sunset Catamaran Tour ($65). This was well worth the money. It included boating on a Catamaran and seeing a beautiful sunset, lobster supper and a Doilphin show.
There are multiple pools, kids and grown ups, but we didn't spend any time at these as we were down for the beach and ocean. For the family with small children, they have a daycare there that we heard parents raving about how good they looked after the kids and had them doing things.
The shows at night were OK. I am not into things like this but, the dancers were pretty good.
There are so many stops where you can get drinks around this resort. Some are great, some aren't. One drink to try is the Spanish coffee from the Lobby bar..morning or night.
This resort seems to cater to Canadians. I found approx. 95% of the people there Canadians and the other 5% Europeans (Italians).
We met many people down there that we chummed with.
Sorry for the length of this, but I will conclude with, "We will go back, Great Place for Memories"
K

Room Tip: Recommend ocean view. Must have 2nd or 3rd floor to really enjoy. Building 55 was great, square on t...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank KevinW52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2014

The beach in Cayo Santa Maria is one of the most breath taking beaches I have ever seen, the Memories Paraiso Azul Resort was way to spread out , bring walking shoes you'll need them!!!!! My only beef with this resort was the food it was so bland and really no variety, same thing day after day, if you like pork it was amazing!!!!! I was really suprised the fruits and veggies were'nt better. If your going for food go to Mexico!!!! The staff were great !!! The rooms were basic but comfortable it definately was not a 4 star maybe a 2-3 star at best. I probably wont go back to this resort but Cuba I will go again the beaches are to die for!!!!!

Room Tip: We paid for diamond club but as far as I could tell all the room are the same so save your money.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
6 Thank Amanda M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2014

Just got back from a week here yesterday and can honestly say that we were not impressed. The room we had booked was not given to us when we checked in and it was only after repeated and prolonged visits to the lobby that we got moved. We then had a porter show up at our door with the next couple to arrive 2 days before we were due to check out. The bar staff, food staff and housekeeping staff all worked hard to please, but the lobby staff are just down right rude. This place is what we would consider a 2.5 star - we have stayed in backpacker hostels that are nicer!! The food on the day you arrive is good, but it goes downhill fast from there. Don't eat at the Cuban or Mexican a la cartes - the food is just leftovers from the lunch buffet that has been reheated. The fridge in our room wasn't stocked until later in the afternoons, by which stage you are getting dehydrated. The only water they would give us at the bars was in the small plastic cups - they won't put it in your own cup, plus they fill the cup up with ice so you only get a couple of mouthfuls of water anyway. The 24hr snack bar is a joke. For starters, it is nowhere near where it says it is on the map and when you do find it, all they have is leftovers from the dinner buffet. The night time entertainment in the theater was good, but it's a long time to wait between shows. If you don't have any excursions planned off the resort, you will have done everything there is to do in about 4 days. There are 2 markets on the island and the hop on hop off bus is great. The dolphinarium can be accessed this way and saves you the cost of having to pay to go there on a tour bus. The excursions offered however were disappointing and lacked creativity and were not advertised other than in your first day orientation. Not once did we see or hear mention of many of the so called water sports that they are meant to offer, with the exception of peddle boats and hobie-cats. At best this place is 2.5 stars and we will never go back there again.

Room Tip: Go to a different hotel!!
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank felpsynz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leamington, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2014

We had a great time , clean rooms ,terrific pools ,the board walk to the ocean was excellent , the bus ride from the airport to the resort ,was 90 minutes , but didn`t seem to be that long ,we were well entertained . the food was different from ours , but good, in Cuba ,eat as the Cubans do.
Only had one pet pev , as long as you had a tip out on the table ,you got great service ,at the lounge . the minute you did not ,they for got about you. I stood at the bar for 20 minutes , before I got a drink , i had no tip sitting out . I felt very pressured .

Room Tip: We had a ground floor room ,we loved it . nature right out our door .
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Jack P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Airdrie, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2014

First time to Cuba,and before one more guenius points out this is a third world counrty...I just want to point out you don't spend thousands of dollars to go to a third world resort.
We were at Memories Azul Beach resort from March 4 to March 18th. In that time we had no water for 4 days...NO WATER!!! No shower ,NO TOILET. This was the entire resort.Then when we did have water restored there was no hot water for 2 more days. No water...no fitering pool,no filtering pool = no pool for two days until they could refill it and filter it.Also when you have no water...how are things cooked and cleaned properly in a kitchen...they are'nt.
What was sunwings response....well it was to bad,and we could write them a complaint and perhaps they would look to compansate us in some way.
Plane ride home was great...ended up with 2 very unfreidly french male flight attendants. They ran out of sandwiches half way through service...were out of all beer except bud light beer(the passangers on the way down really cleaned them out!)And for those wishing to use the washroom most times could'nt cause our little unhappy flight attendant would'nt get his cart out of the isles.And yes...by this point I was already sick and tired of French People.
Sunwing will never see another dollar from me or anyone else i can tell who will listen.
Cubans are extremely nice and proud hardworking people,the counrty seemed very safe. Staff of the resort work incredibly hard and deserve alot of credit. Beaches are some of the best in the world.
For those of you who feel your stay was the result of the resorts being in a third world country...you should be aware...every resort in Cuba is leased to other countries who run them..and Canada is not far away...so importing is not an issue.Memories azul is leased to a company in Scandinavia...so if your room was poor,the food was poor or parts of the resort were poor...don't blame the Cubans...they are'nt the ones making all the money from you!!

Room Tip: Our room was in building 57 room 5709...best ocean view on the whole resort.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank Jlhagen66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Cayo Santa Maria hotels

St. Albert, Canada
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed April 1, 2014

We stayed at Memories Feb. 11 - 18, 2014. The stay was very enjoyable. Resort is clean and the staff are very friendly and helpful. Food was OK, the pool grill and the beach grill were excellent and very convient. We were located on the Paraiso side of the resort which seemed to be much busier , more popular and a younger crowd than on the Azul side. Getting a spot on the beach or at the pool on the Paraiso was a problem unless you got up and staked your claim prior to 7:30 am. Even on certain days this was too late if you wanted shade. Beds were on the hard side but definately clean. The pools and the beach were outstanding. Minor issue with bites (mosquitos?) likely from the beach area. Bring repellent and anti-itch lotion which is helpful.
Highly recommend the catamaran sunset cruise which on Valentine's day included a fanastic lobster dinner. The value of the holiday was excellent and we would consider returning.

Room Tip: Azul side of the resort is quieter than the Paraiso side.
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Jerry T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Memories Paraiso Beach Resort

Property: Memories Paraiso Beach Resort
Address: Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Villa Clara Province > Cayo Santa Maria
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #12 of 15 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Memories Paraiso Beach Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 666
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