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.
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 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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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