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“Quality control issues”

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Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria
Ranked #4 of 15 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Certificate of Excellence
Ottawa, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Quality control issues”
Reviewed May 26, 2012

Spent a week at the Gaviota the third week of May 2012. It was less than expected, even for a Cuban hotel.

There were three main complaints dealing with food, the ala carte restaurants and the bars. I will expand on this much more below.

The locations is beautiful. This gives the resort promise, if it is managed and maintained better.

The beach is two tier, all of the shade huts are on the top level. Unfortunately you can not easily see the beach from this level. There are a number of shades huts and we never had a problem getting one but it was low season with 250- 300 people in the resort. I suspect that it may be a challenge during the peak season. The resort has plenty of chairs that can be placed on either level of the beach. They are kept on the edge of the top level. They should move these spare chairs to the back of the back of the top level. They currently block the limited view of the ocean. This is something the resort could easily address.

The pools have beautiful sight lines and architecture. The water is warm and clean. There is almost no shade around the pools. The palm trees and other trees have not yet matured. If you love the sun you will be alright. If you need to be in shade, bring your own umbrella otherwise you will fry around the pool

Buffet
The selection was small every night. We have been to a number of all-inclusive resort in Cuba and Mexico. At these resorts, we have always found multiple foods at the buffets which we had a hard time choosing from. Most nights we had a hard time finding ONE thing that looked appetizing. It speaks volumes when the best choice for dinner is to go to the snack bar for hamburgers and hot dogs. Those who feel that the food is excellent must really be happy because if you enjoyed the buffet at dinner time, you can enjoy it again the next day at the beach buffet because the following days lunch buffet has the main course repeated for lunch.

The food was inconsistent. The scrambled eggs were different each day.
• Day 1 – scrambled eggs were floating in a sea of oil.
• Day 2 – scrambled eggs were pretty good North American style eggs that are nice and fluffy.
• Day 3 – scrambled eggs were floating in a sea of milk. This should not be confused with the European style scrambled eggs that do have more liquid with them.
• Day 4 – scrambled eggs were closer to the European style eggs.
• Day 5 – Eggs are floating in milk again and they obviously were not stirred because there are brown or scalded chunks of eggs in the mix.
• Day 6 – See day 5

This can be applied to the fish at the Beach Buffet, Each fish is done differently. Eating at the Gaviota is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get..

The Ala carte restaurants were not open during our stay. UNBELIEVABLE!! Our rep told us that there were only 72 people at the resort the week before (our week had ~300 people) so they have theme nights at the buffet where you could have the same food from an ala carte menu. Guess what, many nights at the buffet it was hard to identify the theme and the waiters told us that the we could get the food ourselves from buffet.

We were part of a wedding group that did have a wedding reception dinner in one of the ala carte restaurants. The food was really good. It makes the rest of the meals that more frustrating when you see that it can be done but the consistency or effort or care is just not there.

The front desk is awful. As an example, when asked about the store and restaurant hours at the pueblo (town), we were told yes they were open. When we got there guess what?

I asked for a wake up call one morning, of course no wake up call. I was told that some one did call. ???

The wait staff and the bar staff are really nice and they work hard to make your stay nice.

It would be good if the bars had a menu of drinks that are suggested. People see different coloured drinks flying by them but do not know what to ask for. Also, the bar staff needs to agree on the ingredients for the drinks. I had multiple versions of Kamikazes which might have rum or vodka, might have juice or sprite or both.

Most of the complaints are directed to management. They are the ones responsible for the training and the quality control. Hotel Gaviota could be nice but the quality control is not there.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
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6 Thank World_isa_Beavertail
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Toronto
Level 4 Contributor
21 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed May 25, 2012

We just came today from our trip. I found most of the positive reviews of this hotel to be true. If there were things that I believed can be improved, I gave feedback to the customer service representative located in the main lobby. She is interested in guests' opinions in order to make the resort better, so keep this in mind and share your findings with her.

Here are my opinions:

The beach is great, and the sand is unbelievably fine! It does not really matter that the beach is narrow. I found it to be actually an advantage. Less hot sand to cross on your way to the water. And the breeze is handy. Some people were mentioning like "oops, there is a breeze!"... First of all, this is a natural phenomenon occuring at shore everywhere, by laws of physics. This is a pleasant warm breeze. We were playing frisbee on the beach late in the afternoon and it was lots of fun. Secondly, you need that breeze for cooling when the sun is up, and it is good for you health-wise.

The sea is turquoise and clear, there are no rocks on the ocean floor. There were days with very calm water when we swam - not that many people seemed to be in the water at that time. The best days were the one with a stronger surf. Everybody was in the water jumping the waves and having fun. Some had water mattresses.

During off season there is no problem with lack of shady spots. There is an umbrella in every room that can be used, if needed.

You can walk along the beach for kilometers in both directions. There is resort after resort and the beach is public. We've earned our meals and burned some calories that way.
They also have a double decker-bus to take you between the resorts, or if you do not want to wait for it (despite it runs quite frequently), you can take a taxi for 3-5 CUC.

Clothing: pack up light, but take some gear for rain or for tours.
Check out the tours they offer.
There is a trip to Trinidad and the top of the highest Cuban mountain (800m), where you hike around in a national park. We had booked it but it was cancelled because of the weather. On the mountain we would have needed sneakers and rain coats.

Sports and activities: the tennis courts were empty, the nicely furnished gym too. The ping-pong table was not used, either. Bring your own rackets if you want to play, though - the local ones are worn out. They have smaller pool tables there. Two balls are missing but that would do if you are in a good mood.

Accomodations: rooms are spacious and nicely furnished. We did not feel we are in a Caribbean country. I doubt I can find something similar again in Cuba or anywhere else.
The beds and pillows are hard. I had neck and hip pain at the beginning, but I have chronic problems with my spine.
There is a design flaw in the bathrooms indeed, as many people mention. The water from the shower splashes onto the floor, but it is not a major problem for us as visitors - we can just put a towel on the floor - they have a dedicated one.
If you find little ants in your room after checking in, don't panic (by the way, this is a tropical country :), the maid will spray the floor right away (they have a Raid-like insect spray) and they won't show up anymore.
Speaking of insects, pack plenty of mosquito spray, you'll need it - like anywhere else.

It is a pity that the overall workmanship / construction/ finishings are shabby. The wall tiles are not laid straight, the grout is uneven. Same on the floor. On the common hallways the water is pooling.
The workers do not know any better, as this is Cuba and they do not have incentives to try their best or get trained. Apparently H10 (hotel chain from Spain) is interested in the resort. That would be nice if they buy it and start maintaining it.
For example after two days of heavy rain the water started dripping from around the ceiling light fixture in the ladies washroom located next to the main lobby. I was personally concerned about a short circuit.

Food was OK, plentiful, lots of variety (which was a pleasant surprise), I do not think you can really complain unless you are extremely fussy and want to sabotage your own vacation. I am wondering in fact if I would be able to find something similar in Cuba in the future. The a la carte were closed, but a few times a week you could order certain items at the buffet.

They would never run out of anything at the buffet, unlike in other Cuban resorts. There was always something tasty and we kept going back and sampling. Stay away from beef, as it is hard to chew. The meat would tend to be overdone. The pasta seems to be under-cooked. Tell your cook to season the poultry and fish when grilling it. Talk to the Mexican chef, tell him to school the cooks a bit more, give him suggestions to your liking. Don't stay in line, but tell the cooks to take more than one order at once to expedite things.
Try the stews and soups. The soups were really good. Some days the food would not taste great and some days it would taste delicious. Try everything.

They had brought this chef from Mexico, but I suggested to the customer service rep to put him on a flight back and find a better chef (local). For example they have garlic in Cuba, but we found no trace of it in any meal.
The snack bar items are good in between the main meals or instead of.

The cocktails were well prepared, and not light on the alcohol like in Varadero.

Entertainment: rather good, comparing to what I have seen elsewhere. The girls (dancers) are obviously very well trained, the choreographer has an interesting vision. We enjoyed the shows, and they all ended with everybody dancing on the stage - true party atmosphere. Sometimes there was dancing in the main lobby. Do not miss the water show at the pool - they have sychronized swimming and it is nice.

Service: very good. People are trying to please you as much as they can and are friendly. The customer representative is doing her best to solve any problem.
Warning: if you need a wake-up call, request it half an hour before you need it, just in case. They called us 25 minutes after the scheduled time (of course they apologized :). That morning there was something interesting to watch on TV and the men at the desk were intensely focused on it.

I regret that I did not tip more the "little people" who get forgotten. The round chubby gardner with the big worn-out hat looked so very poor - and I did not have money with me when I saw him. He was smiling and showing me the way in such a courteous manner, I felt like a godess. When I returned he was gone. Can somebody locate him and give him a peso perhaps?

To sum it up: your vacation is what you make of it. If you insist in finding fault in everything, you may succeed, but are at a loss. Enjoy your trip!

Room Tip: All rooms are good, in my opinion. I did not mind my garden view and very quiet location by one of t...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank asorescu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Halifax, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed May 15, 2012 via mobile

Ok, I am writing this off the top of my head so let's see how this goes! Overall, I would definitely recommend this resort and would return tomorrow. I will definitely be returning to Cayo (Island) Santa Maria but perhaps another resort, but only because i like to experience different resorts.

First of all, I am a 33 y.o male who travelled solo and wasn't sure how that was going to go, especially being more of an introvert. Well I made the best decision ever and met some of the best people ever! I met various couples from home (Nova Scotia) and we were all unique in our own way but our crazy and fun sense of humor was like the glue that bonded us together. I can say I made new friends and this was the highlight of my trip, so if u are reading this and are thinking about going solo, do it!!!

The beach would be the other highlight, words or pictures cannot do it justice. It looked man made, that perfect turquoise color with white sand and nothing else (maybe the occasional school of fish swimming by or rare barracuda far off in the distance) Yes, beach is narrow but there were only about 200 guests at the resort when I went (May 5-12), so never a problem finding shade or any spot you wanted (this would obviously be different at full capacity).

Service and Staff.......this varied! I can't say anyone was rude or even close to it but others presented much more pleasant than others, regardless of tips. We spent much time at the lobby bar and got to know a couple of the bar staff on a somewhat personal level; they were so attentive and had no problems answering our many questions, which were often about their culture, etc. I did notice however that those who seemed quiet were most likely shy because they spoke such little English and if I initiated conversation, attempting some Spanish, it brought them out of that 'shell' and it brought out smiles. Overall, I found the staff to be very friendly and there for your needs. Remember, if you need something, be kind in your approach and never demanding, it's degrading and disrespectful! We are all humans and should be treated as such.

The Rooms: ok ok, the beds were on the hard side but that would be my only complaint! The rooms are spacious, modern and comfortable. You can put one of your keys in the slot next to the door way to turn the main power to the room on and run your air conditioning/dehumidification, whichever mode u choose at whatever speed and temperature you choose! Somedays I would leave the extra card in all day but others I'd be more conscious of my power use, etc! The bathroom was great, I didn't have a bathtub but a nice big rain shower, which I loved! You either have one or the other. There were a few ants and other identifiable bugs (and I do mean a few) but come on, I was in Cuba and on the ground floor. By the way, they are great at accommodating room changes if the availability is there.

Tipping: I left my room attendants 1-3 dollars a day plus a few things, usually representing the Canadian logo. The attendants showed great appreciation with beautiful towel art and extra towels, etc. They sometimes left poems and handwritten notes. I didn't tip but gave things like gardening gloves to the many gardeners and ground guys (money would have been appreciated too). They are usually 'forgotten' amidst all the room attendants and bar staffed getting tipped (which was about 1 cuc every 2-3 drinks). In regards to room service, friends I met waited until the last day before they gave money or any gifts and they still had GREAT room service!

Excursions: I didn't go on any but there were several to sign up for. I did rent a 'scooter' with four of the friends I met....fun fun fun, only about 12 cuc (=about $12) for a couple of hours. We also took advantage of the free (I would recommend tipping a couple CUCs afterward) hobby cat rides, great fun and relaxing....guide does all the work.

Food: Not much to say other than it was (in my non fussy opinion) much better than people had prepared me for (about Cuban food in general). I never went hungry and always cleaned my plate! Fries at 24 hr snack bar were usually cold but the hot dogs, burgers and pizza made up for it, great place for late night snack.

Grounds: might seem disorienting at first but well laid out and plenty of bars and pools.

Money: Bring Canadian and exchange it at bank or resort (resort can run out early afternoon, so act fast) You'll be exchanging to Cuban Convertable Currency, which is what you will use for everything, including tipping.

Discos: No discos on any of the Santa Maria resorts anymore but there are two between 1-2 km on each side of the resort (part of the two little fake towns on the islands) really they are just little shopping places for tourists to take advantage of while they're on the island. There is a bus that runs back and forth between the little towns and taxis as well, 1CUC each way for bus, no more than a few CUC for taxis. I didn't go to the discos, I was too wore out from partying with my fellow Nova Scotians and dancing on stage every night!

Hmmmm, anything else? Random tips or FYIs: pack light, bring munchies like Pringles, do use sunscreen and especially on that forehead and those shoulders, toilet paper is not overly abundant and feels like sandpaper so may want to bring own roll or two, BBQ lighters can be handy for the staff, personal a-la-carte favorites = Cuban and Asian, do bring mosquito repellent for that dusk to dawn/dawn to dusk switchover..they do spray but it smells nasty and seems to push them into lobby area where they feed on you!, underwater camera would be great to have, plan to free yourself of Internet for the week (it's available but VERY slow and expensive, so i was told, people say you can bring back 2x750ml of liquor but it's actually 1.14L total.....it's up to each individual Canadian customs' agent whether or not to let it go through, limit wood products...they will inspect and may confiscate, not sure if power converter is necessary but bring one aanyway (I never had to charge anything), leave 25 CUC for departure tax with passport and Tourist Card in room safe, pace yourself with the alcohol, you do not want to spend the majority of a day in your room hugging the toilet bowl,,,lesson learned!!!

Last but not least, remember that you are a welcomed guest in their country! It is a privaledge for you to be there. Leave any sense of entitlement at home!!

PS: Does anyone know the name of that theme song they played every night and danced to with the audience????????

  • Stayed May 2012
    • Value
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Helpful?
24 Thank Imbizo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed May 11, 2012

When we went to this resort in April 2012 it was only about four months old. The good thing about that is that everything was new and worked well. The downside is that they hadn't worked out all the glitches yet. But overall I'd say it was a pretty good experience. The food was fairly typical for Cuba, probably a little worse than usual (I've been to two other similar resorts in Cuba where the food was a tiny bit better). Good enough but not great.

According to one of the staff this resort had already changed hands once and was likely to do so again, at least once, in the near future. So I'm not sure how that will affect things.

The biggest downside was that there were not nearly enough of those structures they have on the beach to provide shade, so that even at 6 am it was very hard to find a chair that would be in the shade. A staff person told me that they were working on changing that but that it was a matter of getting permission from the government and that that was in the works. I also personally found it annoying that they had loud music at the beach (I'm used to resorts where they only do that at the pools and the beach is left more natural-feeling).

A great thing about the place was that our room was extremely soundproofed. I never once heard any neighbours and I noticed that I could be outside in the hall and hear the nightly entertainment pumping out but couldn't hear a peep once I was in the room.

They sprayed for mosquitos but even so we got quite a few bites and sometimes came home earlier in the evenings because we didn't want to get any more bites. But it wasn't bad enough to spoil our vacation and that's coming from someone who can be quite be easily overwhelmed by too many bites.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank ferngrace
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kitchener, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed May 11, 2012

Stayed from 04/30 - 05/04. This was our first time in Cuba ever; however had lots of feedback from other travelers. We booked this hotel because it had great reviews the week we booked. I'll start with all the positives:

Arrival at the airport: I thought the arrival wasn’t a problem. 30 minute wait for the passport line is normal. Our luggage made it fine too. The airport doesn’t look like an airport, more like a resort. But you then have to take a 1,5 hour long bus ride to Cayo Santa Maria. Make sure you go to the bathroom before landing or in the airport. The bus though was VERY comfortable and was AC’ed, and the tour guide was funny.

Check-in was no problem at all. We asked about the cost of upgrade, but after seeing our room decided not to. Very friendly staff. The room was excellent. We had emailed the hotel upon booking to get a higher floor. We stayed in bungalow 9 on 3rd floor. It's near the breakfast/dinner buffet and has a pool right in front of it, along with an ocean view. Very spacious. We tipped the cleaning staff about 1 peso/day and gave little gifts and the room was cleaned and prepared excellently every single day. AC, fridge and TV worked fine. Bathroom is good and the balcony was useful for drying clothes.

Hotel: The grounds are kept very clean and the staff is extremely friendly. It’s not a large hotel (at least I don’t consider it large) so there’s not a lot of walking involved. We wanted this vacation to be complete R&R, so we didn’t use the gym, spa etc, but from the outside they looked really nice.

Beach and pools: Beach is excellent. The sea, the sand, everything was great. I’ve travelled to Mediterranean a lot and been to Hawaii, and the beach was definitely comparable if not better. The pools -3 of them- are kept very clean and have lots of chairs to use from.

Excursions: we only took a double-decker bus to “Pueblo” for some shopping. There are 2 pueblos, one of them is called “Pueblo Las Dunas” and other is “Pueblo Estrada (I think)”. We heard that the Las Dunas one is very small. The one we went to was very nice. Lots of street vendors, there’s a bank, bowling center, food and a cigar shop. I definitely recommend the cigar shop as you see a worker rolling cigars, and you can buy very cheap rum. We didn’t find a lot of souvenirs for kids –unless you’re a cigar person or a rum person, I thought there wasn’t much to bring back. My gf did find some stuff like bags and dresses.

Now the negatives:

I believe we only had 50 people staying at the resort the week we went. Because of this, they shut down the dinner buffet to 2 nights a week, which was a problem. The A La Cartes aren’t great. We ate at the Mediterranean one and the Italian one. I’d rank them 3/5 and 5/5 respectively. We heard the Asian a la carte isn’t good, but the Cuban was ok. Italian one seems to be the best though.

When we did go to the dinner buffet, I thought the selection wasn’t rich. I strongly recommend sticking to sea food or the chicken. The beef isn’t good at all. There was a grilling station and I had chicken which was cooked excellent. The pasta and the pizza station were the other options.

As for breakfast, I stuck with omelets, but again, not a rich buffet.

My gf got sick the first 3 days from the food: First day she had a burger and fries, we thought it was the burger. 2nd day she had hot dog and fries so we thought it was the hot dog. 3rd day she had only fries, and got sick again. We found out that the oil they use to cook can cause stomach issues.

Lunches were another “issue”. They only had 1 a la carte open, turned into a “buffet”. However the food in the buffet didn’t look good at all.

I strongly recommend sticking to the 24 hour snack bar. Get the Cuban sandwich, hot dog or pizza of the day. All 3 are cooked great.

Return: We travelled with Holasun, and purchased a VIP pass for the airport for $20CUC/person. Strongly recommend it. We had priority VIP check in, but even with that, because of a Sunwing problem we waited about 2 hours before we can check in. Once we did though, we went to a VIP Salon for complimentary food and drinks. When it was time to board the plane, you don’t wait in the line either, they let you go ahead of everyone because of the VIP pass.

Overall, with food I’d rate it 3/5 (because food is such an important part of vacation), without food I’d rate it 5/5. We’ll definitely go back to Cuba, but will try a different resort.

Room Tip: We didn't book an oceanview room, but emailed the hotel upon booking asking them for a 3rd floor...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Gorkem I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed May 1, 2012

My husband and I stayed at this hotel from April 15th to April 22nd. I have to say that after reading the reviews on trip advisor I was very excited to have a relaxing week off with my husband. We arrived there at around 11:30 p.m. (the airport is one hour and a half away from the airport) and checked in right away. Our room was small but ok. The problem was that the bathroom was filthy. There were hairs all over the bath/shower, the mirror was gross, the floors were filthy and the towels had stains on them. Shocked to see that a brand new 5 star hotel would have such a filthy room, my husband went to the front desk to see if we could not get a better room (we figured the cleaning lady had done a bad job just for our room). The concierge took us 2 floors up to a suite. The suite was about 3 times larger, had 2 bathrooms, a double balcony, a direct view of the beach, a separate shower and jacuzzi bathtub with a double sink in the second bathroom and a separate living room area with a large flatscreen t.v. For only 40 pesos more per night. We took the deal because it was a much better room but the bathroom was still dirty with hairs in the bathtub! There were also a lot of bugs in the room (I think we killed 3 spiders and a few other unidentifiable insects). My husband then went to the snack bar to get us some burgers to eat before we went to bed and we threw them out after one bite because they were disgusting (I am convinced they were pork and not beef). The next day we left a nice big tip to the cleaning staff and low and behold our room was very clean when we got back and even smelled like bleach. The staff seems to do a much better job when enticed with some tips. My husband would go to the snack bar in the day and tip him before we got the food, he would always give us someone else's order and give us the food in a quarter of the time if we did this. The food was flat out inedible. The worst is that I'm 5 and a half months pregnant and eating well is important to me. I am somebody who is extremely not picky and loves to eat and it got to a point where I would dread having to figure out what to eat to survive for the week. Nothing was even decent. The fast food was bad (the fries overcooked, the burgers horrible, the pizza bad etc...) and the a la carte restaurants were terrible. At the Mediterranean restaurant, my husband ordered the flan and I ordered the cheesecake, I am not even joking when I say that it was the same awful dessert that was neither cheesecake nor flan. I ordered Spanish omelette at the snack bar 1 day and instead of putting potatoes (as in the description) they put fries, and the toast was basically crackers. The buffet was also terrible. I figured since it's a buffet there would be a lot of choice and something would have to be good. No, there are 4 stations that were packed with line ups and there was not much else to choose from other than that. The pizza is terrible (they grab a piece of pita, throw some sauce on it and if you ask for olives, they put about 1 cup worth on top), the fish is the best station, the pasta is terrible and the meat is ok. The best meal to eat at the buffet was breakfast by far. The scrambled eggs were very good, the crepes were good so were the waffles. I figured since we were in Cuba we could get some good tropical fruits to eat but there was next to nothing. Most of the choices for fruit came from a can! Otherwise they had terrible melon and papaya, the pineapple was ok and the bananas and guava were the best. The salad bar was terrible. The only thing I ate were the pickles or olives. We went to tell our TMR representative that the food was bad and he said "I know, the food in Cuba is horrible, we all hate it!". I was shocked. He then offered to get us a third reservation at an a la care restaurant since we paid for a suite and said he would send the reservation to our room but we never got it, we called the next day and they said sorry we can't, everything is reserved. We had a suite and all we could get were 2 a la carte reservations. The Italian restaurant was also terrible, we had caprese salad which was an insult to all italians and pasta bolognese which had next to no tomato and lots of carrots and celery. I also went to the spa to get a pedicure and it was very obvious to me that they are not trained at all in the field. Not to mention, they kept trying to convince me to do other services either right away or later on in the week even though I kept insisting that I was not interested. The resort grounds are very nice and the beach is definitely amazing. This hotel is only about 4 months old and I could tell that in a mere 2 years, it will be a disaster. Our suite was flooding with water on the one day that it rained, most towels are stained, the electricity keeps randomly shutting off, how could the hotel already be in such bad condition after only 4 months! The best food we ate was at the sandwich bar in the beach that served pressed ham and cheese or tuna sandwich's, other than that it was ok at the very best but most often inedible (this coming from a girl who eats chicken feet, liver, hearts etc...). Trust me on this when I say this hotel is not clean and the food is horrible. If all you care about is the beach and the resort, then you will enjoy it otherwise avoid it at all costs. It was not worth my money or time!

Room Tip: Upgrade to a suite!
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Carmela B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Quebec
Level 3 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed April 30, 2012

Me & my husband booked this hotel because it looked modern and clean...and we were not disappointed! It is a gorgeous hotel on beautiful grounds. Once the vegetation is established I think it will really be breathtaking.

There are 4 great pools to choose from, 3 quieter ones and one with entertainment, dance classes, aerobics (in and out of the water) and games. The entertainment staff are super friendly, one guy gave me and my husband some nice handmade bracelets as a gift towards the end of our stay. I suggest putting your towels out in a shaded area in the morning if you want shade during the warmer hours, shade is limited but we never had trouble getting a spot if we reserved it (even around 9-10am)

The beach is narrow but gorgeous with soft white sand and crystal clear water. Again, limited shady areas though...but lots of comfortable and clean loungers.

We've been to Cuba before and didn't have high hopes for food but I was actually impressed. We normally ate breakfast and lunch at the snack bar next to the main pool where you actually get a waiter. For breakfast eggs made how you want em and bacon cooked to perfection...the toast is more like a dry crouton though. For lunch we enjoyed pizza, hamburgers or ham & cheese sandwiches with yummy homemade fries. They also had a cuban sandwiches made of porc chop which was kinda weird but tasted ok. One of the waiters was real friendly & got my pizzas custom made with bacon and green peppers but another girl told me no there's just pepperoni or ham & cheese... This snack bar was open 24hrs which was great for those late night grease cravings lol.
There was a little snack hut on the beach to order sandwiches from, the rancheon on the beach opened at lunch too to my knowledge; we never at there though. The buffet was pretty good, lots of stations every meal, waffles (amazing), eggs & omelets for breakfast. At supper there was a custom pizza station, seafood station (delicious and fresh!!), meat station and pasta stations (sooo good, usually lineups here but if you get there early you can beat em') There was other meats and side dishes pre-made as well as vegetables and accompanyments. One time they even had lobster and crab legs in the pre-cooked areas so be sure to check them out every time you go there!
The a la cartes were pretty good, italian wasn't available to us that week (apparently overbooked) but the mediterannean, asian & seafood ones were good...I seemed to enjoy the appetizers more than the main courses though. Our vacation package only included 2 free a la carte meals but they let us book all 3 at no cost (we told them we were gonna pay for the 3rd but they said no)
There are bars pretty much everywhere, the 2 side pools have one, the main pool has a swim-up one, the snack bar (which is between the other pool and the main one), on the beach, the sports bar, in the theatre and there's one big one in the lobby. Drinks are delicious and not watered down, they never ran out of anything and we always got great service (especially at the pool bar, she would pour another for us even before we asked!) Only time we had to wait a little was at the lobby bar at night but they were really busy so it's understandable. Be sure to check out Sydney Crosby (cuban look-alike) at that one...he's a good guy! We got great service everywhere and only tipped 1 peso/day at each place.

You run into cleaning staff and gardeners everywhere. They work hard and are always busy, if you say hello they always stop and greet you with a friendly smile. There are always (we call them sweepers) girls in cute maid dresses in the lobby who usually just constantly sweep the middle area, we thought they were funny for that but they're really sweet. They keep all the bathrooms really clean (we see them go in numerous times/day) and there's always toilet paper available. I was real happy with these 2 things because that was not the case on our last trip to cuba.

The room was real nice, always clean, nice tub, bar fridge stocked every day with 2 beers, 3 pop cans and a big bottle of water. Twice our room cleaner poured us a nice warm bubble bath, once with lots of nice smelling flower petals...it was a really pleasant surprise.

The nightly entertainment was great, most of the time they did dancing, singing & a little bit of comedy in the theatre. One night they did a show in the water at one of the pools and one night there was a beach party (real fun and entertaining!) They should have advertised these 2 events better though because some people were confused and were waiting at the theatre instead.

So all in all an excellent resort! Only small complaints I may have is there should be a little more shaded areas and they don't have a bank yet (you can exchange money at the front desk but it's not a very good exchange rate. We walked to the barcelo to exchanged our money.)

Nothing to do with the resort itself but I was a little disappointed with the dolphinarium. It's really nice and clean, the staff is friendly and the dolphins are fun, but it was advertised that we would actually get to go in the water to swim with the dolphins, but right now you can just step on a platform, touch them, dance with them, brush their teeth and get "kissed" by them. They do cute tricks too...it's not bad I just wish we didn't have to pay full price when they're not trained to do all they're advertised to do yet. The trainer said this time next year they should be fully trained.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank sunaddict375
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria

Property: Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria
Address: Las Dunas 5 | Cayo Santa Maria, 50100, Cuba (Formerly Hotel Gaviota Cayo Santa Maria)
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Villa Clara Province > Cayo Santa Maria
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 15 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria 5*
Number of rooms: 769
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