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“Hotel Gaviota now Cayo Santa Maria”

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Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria
Ranked #3 of 15 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Montreal, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Hotel Gaviota now Cayo Santa Maria”
Reviewed July 17, 2012

Very nice place, nice beach, nice room, nice pools. Huge area, plenty of things to do. Windsurfing, Tennis, etc.
A place that needs more marketing to get known better.
All the family enjoyed and we would go back right away.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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11 Thank Marc L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Quebec City, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed July 17, 2012

I loved it. It was great. The room was clean and spacious. I advise you to go. I believe you should not go to Las Dunas Melias. The buffet was good but ordinary. The beach is clean and blue. The pools are clean and large. When it is low season there are palapas free. I strongly advise you to go to Asian restaurant (the menu). I will certainly return. Also, go to Pueblo Estrella (memories)

Room Tip: The bungalow 5,6,7 are good
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
6 Thank cuba12_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
14 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 155 helpful votes
Reviewed June 3, 2012

Forget Varado, it's old hat. Us Zoomers who really do enjoy R-n-R, we go to the Cayos (Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Clara).

As travel veterans to Cuba (more than 30 times), Carol and I (Derek) were absolutely astounded by this resort. By the way, thanx for taking the time to read this review (see also, Dr Dee @ Melia Cayo Guillermo).

You are about to experience the next gem of the Cayo's in Cuba. The moment you enter the glistening marbled lobby floors of the Gaviolta resort, it will be an experience you will never forget. The spacious lobby (see photos)
introduces you to this diamond in the rough, 14 acres, 769 room resort that few people know about. Get here before it's too late!

This state-of-the-art resort raises the standard to quite possibly 5 stars.Check out the sophisticated european styled bathroom and it's fixtures (see photo). Quite dramatic along with the unique room designs.

The spacious Lobby Bar area (see photo) comfotably seats over 250 people with a suprising sense of privacy. The Lobby Bar staff (see photo) are the consumate professionals with Lienesev (Lia), and his side kicks Yoan, Pasqual and Brady make absolutely perfect Mojitos.

When you walk from the Lobby Bar to your room or pool along the fountained laden walkway you really appreciate the architecture of the entire resort (see photo). It is quite stunning.

The 24 hour snack bar,( a social focul point) make great breakfast omletes and is staffed by staffed by the effervescent Yanaily, along with Abel, Berto and Yudy, another sweetheart (see photo) provide smiling professional service.

The property has 7 separtae pools, each with it's own bar along with al-a-carte restaurants (Chinese, Italian, Cuban/Creole) with the recommended dress code requirements, along with a huge Buffet Reestaurant.

The beach is superb. It is somewhat of a step-down effect with the palapas on the upper level and the beach on the lower level. Quite literally the water , on most occasions is glass. Antonio, Franko and Roberto are there to set up your cahisse lounges at your desired location.

You can exchange Cdn for Convertable prsos at the front desk (providing 24hr exchange).

One more thing. Remember those 50's Chevie Bel Airs, if you want to trip over to the other resorts, ask for Huberto (see photos). His English is Ace! His service is immaculate (say Ola from Carol and Derek, we get commissions, eh?)

Sit back and indulge in R and R.

Room Tip: Get a room facing east for the morning sunrise, it's easier to read when the sun is on the west...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
24 Thank DrDee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed June 2, 2012

we stayed from the week of may 19th, was our second time in cuba, first time in cayo santa maria.
We prepared so much for this, and were excited more than anything.
Until the second day, was sunny and from the evening it started raining so bad, this ended up casually everday until friday.. We did not have any sunshine at all the entire day, and everyone we met in the resort started to complain about the weather, resort, food, etc...and so did we..
Imagine.. everyone was there to see sunshine, stay at the beach tanning, some water attractions, and literally everything got cancelled because of the weather.
All we can do was stay at the resort, eat, sleep, drink, etc..
We tried to swim in the pool with rain one day, but it was too cold in the water, i got sick that night.
So i might sound a little more negative on my review because of that..

I will start with positive things about the resort:

-The resort is only 6 months, very new property, everything is modern, clean, it is absolutey a 5 star property itself.
-Theres 2 buffet, the main buffet was huge, large selection of hot food, salad, fruits, 2 seperate grills.
-One snack bar, good omelet, chicken sandwich was my favouite, several other selections, everything was hot and tasty
-1 main pool where all the activites involved, and several quiet pools (Pools were kept very clean, and there were more than enough chairs)
-The beach was beautiful like always, yes they're narrow, and yes the shade hut was on the upper level, but like i said we did not have any sun during our stay, but if you're there for tanning, just pull down some chairs from the upper level.
-very nice people at the lobby bar (especially Brady) and buffet (Katie) and they are other workers still good with or without tip
-We didnt wait in the line anywhere in the resort (didnt have that many people during that week)
-i read some reviews from the past how people say negative things about french canadians, however during our stay, i would say about 80% were from quebec, montreal, and they were extremely nice we were able to communicate, we drank togther, and exchanged facebook
Eventhough we had rain everyday, despite the weather, we met lots of good people there, had fun with people instead
-Spa: Try the couple package 100pesos for two, 50 min massage, and you can use the facility 4 hours such as steam sauna, whirlpool(cold water), shower, hot sauna, etc
-the showers in the room were excellent good water pressure, hot warm cold all good, we end up having too much spill water after shower, which we do anywhere else
-AC worked good, and they would stock 2 cans of cerveza, soft drinks,and water bottle everyday, exchanged towels everyday, and you can exchange your beach towels near the main pool as well

Negative things about the resort:

-it's about 1hr30mins from the airport, but if you're first time to cayo santa maria you'll discover very good scenic views and towns, especially 45km of causeway is beautiful as it is
-a la carte: they were not opened for us, maybe because of shot employees, or short travellers in the resort, no matter what this was big negative fact for us because they did not announced anywhere nor as westjet (we travelled through westjet)
-therefore we were only given lunch at the snack bar or the beach buffet (which sucked), dinner at the snack bar or main buffet (there's menu in the buffet with specail order, but we didnt bother because it was basically the same) there werent much of food choice
-no grill at the beach buffet with seafood or special food, where most of other resorts do
-Life guards on the beach seemed unplesant to us, because they did seemed to look around what people have and would ask if we would sell what ever they want such as snorkeling and goggles, swim suits, etc (its not like they would really buy, they're asking as a gift)
ONe day i saw this life guard searching for a sunscreen lotion in someone else's beach bag which belonged to a couple when they went to grab a drink. This is not a big deal, but only if he asked for a sunscreen lotion to use, who would say no?
-not much activities during the day because of the rain we didnt, but they could've done something longer in the lobby (all they did was about an hour of dancing lessons)
-theater show wasnt very attracting; basically dance and singing shows all the time that was the only night entertainment
-lobby didn't seemed that busy, but it took us long enough to get serviced
-phone calls: only made at the phone booth center, make sure when you call, there is a connection charge.. i ended up getting charged over 4pesos but talked about a min (make sure to tell your family to pick up the phone asap)
-maid: mostly male, therfore they don't seemed to be very clean (dust, hairs, stains exist when you check in) and i dont think they clean up the floor during your stay.. we didnt mind that because we wore slippers in the room
-Make sure you take mosquito sprays, afterbites, because they bit me crazy like zombie

Its been a week since i came back and i'm writing this right from my head now..
Gaviota still need to improve their services alot.. i think this is their management problem, not the employees..There are so many things missing still, to catch up other reosrts, they should really improve their management control..or else, this place may get shut down
I think this place could've been a better place only if we didnt get rain for that week..
Like i said only if the weather was pleasant, anything else could've been better..
BUt i still think there is no other resort like gviota in cuba.. Very mondern and new!
Would i come back? My answer is no because gaviota is such a small resort, theres only few blocks to walk to, takes not even 10 min from lobby to the beach (especially theres nothing to do when it rains) too minimal places to go within the resort
I think my review will end up the longest out of all the post! kkk

Room Tip: dosent matter which block you stay, pretty much close to everything.. recommend upper floors!
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank ashley8282
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank World_isa_Beavertail
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
17 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank asorescu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Halifax, Canada
Level 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
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
24 Thank Imbizo
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 #3 of 15 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria 4*
Number of rooms: 769
Reservation Options:
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