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“Best Hotel Ever !!”

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Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria
Ranked #4 of 16 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 24, 2012

I stay there for 2 nights and return for 3 more after a beautiful experience with my partner .Everything was good from the Staff to Furniture , The beach spectacular white sand, delicious margaritas...................................................

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank noraimy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 15, 2012

We were in this hotel the 1st week of september, it was a very relaxing stay. We had a lot of fun.There was around 6 pools in the hotel and they were all gorgeous pools, the beach was amazing, a little piece of paradise, the rooms were the nicest i've been in cuba, very clean and modern. The only weak point at this hotel was the food, they really need to work on the taste of the food. My favourite place to eat where the food tasted ok was the snack bar where there were paninis, pizzas, hamburgers, etc... .If you are picky on your food, this is not the place for you. But if you want goergeous beach,white sand,gorgeous resort, then this is the place for you!

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank cuty c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2012

My family and I (17, 21 & 47 years old) were at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria from Aug. 31 to Sept 7. Quick review, resort is very nice, clean, Cubans are very nice, polite. A la Carte restaurants were OK. Buffet was good. 24hr snack bar was also OK (ham & cheese are good). Ranchon at the beach was not good at all, seem to be the leftover from the buffet the night before. This was our 4th time in Cuba and the first time to be so sick with food. On our family of 4, 2 were sick during the week! I think it has to be the food manipulation. We were about 200 guests that week, so if you needed a palapas at the beach you didn’t have to get up at 6:00am. The beach was just amazing.

Now, on a not so good note. Animation crew sucked! They are not organized, no scheduled activities whatsoever. No board indicating activities. No volleyball net at the beach or the pool. There are posts in the pool but no net! We actually had to argue with them to organize activities in the pool! Would we go back? NO because of lack of the animation crew. We were there as an active family who need to waste energy playing whatever. We would probably go somewhere else at Santa Maria because the beach is so beautiful.

Room Tip: Block 5 is a good place - close to beach.
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank LaMama0665
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 9, 2012

Hello there!
We were at the Playa Cayo Santa Maria from September 1st to 8th. Overall, we had a lovely and relaxing week.

The hotel is quite beautiful, new, modern and keep very clean. The check-in was very smooth, we were only 4 couples. The guy at the Reception was quick, efficient, had a nice smile and spoke 4 languages. He gave us a map and off you go.
We had room 648 in Bungalow 6, the further east. Nice Miguel took us to our Bungalow, and show us our room, how the air con works and all. Again, a person with a nice smile, that speak as perfectly in English or in French (was a bit ashame of my basic Spanish!).

ROOM : The room was airy, spacious, with an interesting layout. Big bathroom in neutral color, massive bath (only thing, the shower head was a bit to light for the pressure of the water, so it would not stay on place lol, but lovely to have so much pressure, good to try to remove the sand from hair). Also, there is no fan in the bathroom, so it can become a bit of a sauna if there is a couple of you taking a shower. Our "chamber-man" Jorge knocked on the door to present himself (he noticed my tattoos and wanted a closer look). He was a sweety, had such a nice smile and did a very good job of keeping the room clean (very pretty towel art as well!). The only shame, they don't seem to use bleach, so you do get stain on white sheet and towel. They are not dirty, just stained. Some people complain, we did not mind.
We noticed there was not a binder in the room, like in some hotel. We had no clue about the opening hours of the restaurants, where to reserve a la carte, and so long. We did not mind, its nice to go for a walk, to explore, and you can always ask those question. That will be a recommendation, to provide a binder with all the info, the hours of operations of the different restaurants, spa (price) and other information.

BEACH : The beach was beautiful. I like the "rough" and natural look of it, and even the fact it is on two levels. By the way, they were building some cabanas/beach huts on the lower level, on the proper beach. So later one, you will be able to sit directly on the beach. More cabanas were also build on the levee. We found a quiet spot close to the Nautical Center and we spend most of our days there. There was always a nice refreshing wind. The water was so calm and clear, it was like swimming in a pool.
I got stung by a Medusa, right on the first 5 minutes we were in the water. Kinda minute, you are there, amazed by the beauty of it all, and then AHHHH IT BURNS! (Indeed, it burn, specially when you don't notice the thing right away and it come back to you a couple of time). Bref, Francesco the lifeguard took care of you (rub talc on it, then ice, the burning feeling and the swelling were gone, and all was good). We did not encounter another medusa. So yesh, there can be jelly fishes, but don't let that keep you out of the water.
The beach is beautiful, with the white sandy beach, the crystal clear water. Yesh, its not really large, but there was guys playing football and such on the beach. And as I said, they are building cabana directly on the beach, as for the moment there is no shade on the first level. But plenty on the second, and more to come.

BUFFET : The opening hours are not indicate anywhere (they should put sign outside). Breakfeast from 7 h to 10 h, and supper from 19 h to 22 h. Lunch Buffert is provided at the Rancheon de la Playa.
The food was not that bad, there was often very delicious things. For breakfast, there is stations to get pancakes, omelettes and waffles made to order, there is fruits, bread for toasts. Some people complain that it was not proper toasts bread, but those little square bread where very tasty. One morning tho, I took some ham, and it smelled like fish. I am allergic to fish, so didn't eat it. It seems that the ham were keep close to the fish in the fridge. Seems silly to mention, but it did mention it, as people that are allergic could get bad reactions.
The lunch were soso, there was no salad anywhere, but always fresh peppers and cucumber, so you could had veggies. We preferred to have lunch at the Snack Bar/Beer Garden, made to order pizza, burger and other thing. They had a nice selection of beers.
For the super, there was pasta station, pizza station, kebab and meat station, fish station, all made to order. The ready made food was a bit repetitive, but they do what they can with what they have. We always found something to eat. But by the end of the week, I was craving like mad for salad.

A la carte : The first we tried was the romantico. You have to respect they imagination and ressource, we took the cesar salad, as they were none, they did something very interesting with broccoli, roast peppers and such, that was good. Think they had run out of cream as well as the cream of chicken taste of rice water (not very good). And the pork tenderloin... ich. Instead of little chunky bits of pork, it was a thin escallop like bit of meat a bit too done. The veggies and the presentation were nice. The only available pudding was the ice cream. Our waiter Jorgel was such an amazing guy, he made that evening a lovely experience. (Asked for a Vodka Martini, and was brought a Martini Rosso, which was fine, lol)

Second a la carte was the Italian. The entree were soso (there again they had run out of the salami thing that was suppose to be and replace it by some raw fish, i should have mention my allergy, but just didnt touch it). The chicken broth was amazing and home made. Delicious, the pasta and pizza were very tasty and the main meal : veal escallop was good. They seems to have the same problem then in Russia, no proper butcher, so you have weird cut of meat. But it was good, and oh my, those mash potatoes, want the recipe! They have all the dessert, but we were so full we thought we would need to roll to our room. (They dont seem to be able to do any other drink than wine tho... so we took some red wine, some table wine, noting to write home about but wasnt disgusting).

The last one we tried as the Asian, Panda Rojo. The decor is lovely, the service was excellent and the food delicious. It was the best for the food, in our eyes. That roast terriaky chicken, you can tell the chicken is natural and haven't got full of antibiotics and dodgy food.

We didnt go to any of the show. We quite enjoy having a drink at the lobby : they do martini! And they have real scotch! You can sip a Glenlivet, which is awesome. And the cappuccinos con amaretto are delish!

For, the beach is amazing, all the staff are so nice (gardeners giving you roses or coconuts), the room are spacious, all is clean.

Cons : Lack a bit of informations (but then maybe that gonna be taking care of, as there was always people with board walking around and checking stuff for the banner Playa). They have to be more careful with the food, no cross contamination. Some of the food could be better, but then, we were only 200 or so, so hard to judge.

And... lastly, i need to comment on something. Some of the reviews complain about the Cuban guest. I really don't see why. They were nice persons, wanting to have nice holidays. I was more annoyed by some low-class Canadians complaining about the state of their intestines loudly in the restaurant (we are eating and we don't want to know) or being very loud and noxious. The Cuban were very nice and it was pleasant to speak with them.

I would recommend this hotel to friend. I don't think I would go back, nothing wrong with the hotel, there is too many place to go and discover (and prefer backpacking to AI!)

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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21  Thank Luthien_Tinuvielle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 8, 2012

Let me start off by saying that I travelled with my husband and two children (7 and 4). This was our second time to Cayo Santa Maria. Last year we went to Melia Cayo Santa Maria and really enjoyed it but decided to try something new.
We travelled from Aug 31 -Sept 7 which is during the first week of school...yes I know some parents will thing we are crazy for making our kids miss school but oh well. Anyways, it was low season and not very busy at all. We were told that there were only about 200 guests at the resort when we were there. I will give this review as a parent in hopes that it will help other parents to make a decision about this hotel. Some of the issues that I mention may seem petty for those without kids but those with kids will understand.

The hotel is beautiful and very well kept. The rooms are the nicest I've stayed in for all-inclusive. Every inch of the the hotel was very clean. Never saw any garbage lying around. The staff were wonderful, friendly and were always willing to help out.

There are beautiful pools everywhere. Since it was low season, we never had a problem with finding lounge chairs...actually there were times that we were the only ones at one of the quiet pools. There are so many pools and lounge chairs that even in high season, I can't see that you would have a problem. The only problem is that there is not very much shade. Being that it is a new hotel, the trees are quite small and do not provide any shade. I think it would be smart to provide sun umbrellas for the time being until the trees provide more shade. There are just a few gazeebo-type structures at the main pool that provide some shade. I can imagine that during high season, those would be next to impossible to get. Again, being a parent, it would have been nice to have a little more shade.

The beach is beautiful but there are some problems to mention. The beach is two levels. The lounge chairs and palapas are on the top level. This makes things a little difficult when you have children because you can't lie in your chair and watch your kids play in the water. You can't see your kids from the top level so you have to be down at the bottom with them. You can have the workers bring down loungers when the tide is out but you will not have any shade. When we were there, the tide was out in the afternoon but in the morning when the tide was in, there was no beach on the bottom level. Therefor, we decided to go to the pool in the morning and the beach in the afternoon. That was until, we noticed that many people were getting stung by jelly fish. I actually saw about 6 people get stung within a one hour period. The lifeguard Frank was wonderful and treated everyone that got stung with some cream. When we talked to Frank, he told us that the afternoon is the worst for jelly fish. So, as beautiful as the beach and water is, it is a bit of a lose lose situation. If you go in the morning, there is no beach at all on the bottom as the water goes right to the edge. So kids cannot play in the sand and make sand castles. If you go in the afternoon, you risk getting stung by jelly fish. As much as I loved the beach and the ocean, we did not spend very much time there. That was the biggest draw back of this hotel and would probably cause me not to go back. It may be hard to understand what I mean about the beach, so go and look at some pictures to get a better idea. The other hotels have a bit of the same problem but not to the extent of this hotel. This hotel has a much narrower lower level which makes it worse.
The food was good for cuban standards. We always found something that we enjoyed. Because it was low season, the main buffet was closed for lunch therefor you had to get food at either the beer garden which is by the main pool or at the beach restaurant. That was not a problem as that is usually where most people would be during lunchtime anyways. Because it was low season, we were able to go to any of the a la cartes for dinner so we only did the dinner buffet twice. It was quite good though. They have different cooking stations like pasta, meat, fish and pizza so you could always find something delicious to eat. The a la cartes are great. I never ate so much lobster in my life. I don't know why people complain about the food. Of course there are going to be things that you don't like, but who cares...leave it and get something else. The beef is not good at all...very tough. No big deal, we just didn't order it any more.

There were a lot of mosquitos at night and actually some in the morning too which I found odd. We ended up spending our evenings in the pool lounge because it was indoors and airconditioned. We met some great people in the pool lounge and hung out with them every night. My son had a blast playing pool in there. If you are the type of parent that is very careful about not exposing your kids to second hand smoke, then you might have a problem with it. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad when we were there. Only a few people smoked and those that did, seemed to try and keep it away from the kids so it was fine for us. I guess we just figured we would rather deal with a little bit of smoke than a lot of mosquito bites.

There were activities at the pool and the beach but unfortunately, it is not posted like at many other hotels I have been to in the past. So if you want to know what activities will be going on, you have to go and talk to someone on the activity team. Not a big deal for us as we are not much into activities but thought I would mention it as some people might want to know.

We did one excursion which was the Catamaran and dolphin encounter. It was really fun and the kids loved it. I think it was definitely worth the money. Adults are $89, kids 6 and up are $49 and kids 5 and under are free. It includes interaction with a dolphin, a lobster or chicken lunch, a catamaran trip with all drinks included. The catamaran makes two stops. The first is a stop at a little island where you can explore the shallow waters. Lots of marine life to see. My kids loved finding starfish and being able to touch them. The next stop was for snorkeling at a coral reef. My son loved it. We saw a lot of fish! It was a great day for the whole family!

All in all, we had a great week. The only real issues we had were the lack of shade and the beach. We still had a fabulous time but unfortunately those issues would probably cause us to choose a different hotel next time. It is unfortunate because I loved everything else about the hotel.

If you have any questions, fell free to PM me.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with family
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19  Thank yummymummy30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2012

Hotel Gaviota Cayo Santa Maria. Travelled May 26 - June 2, 2012 - two adults. (sorry my review is so late) We were lucky to be able to do two trips this year - this was our 2nd trip. We booked a few weeks before departure - got a good deal with Cubana Air, Holasun, through selloffvacations, and had absolutely no problems whatsoever. Would not hesitate to use them again. Weather was great, we only had rain one day for about 1 hour, other than that it drizzled rain once or twice for a few minutes. Apparently the week before it rained a lot - so we picked a good week. We did have to use bug spray for mosquitoes in the evenings.
Here is a link to a video I made of the resort:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-HYASMzYG0&feature=relmfu

Resort is 1 and ½ hour bus ride from airport. You can buy ICE COLD cans of Cristal Beer on the bus during the ride to the resort - what a way to start off your vacation, we really enjoyed that. Bus employees were great. We did not mind the bus rides at all.
Stayed in bldg #15, 2nd floor pool view room, with a bit of an ocean view as well. It was lovely - had stocked mini bar, tv, bathroom with tub/shower, nice little balcony, quiet room, no bugs at all. Had nice king bed with comfy pillows. Bed was firm, but fine for us. Air conditioning worked very well.
Resort is very pretty - once the vegetation has a chance to mature, this will be a truly beautiful spot. Not overly big, and not hard to find your way around. Although when we first arrived it was late at night, so it would have been good if someone had shown us the way to our building - it was a bit tricky finding our way and having to drag our suitcases around in the dark like that. I thought it was a bit odd that nobody offered to help us with our luggage, but we managed.
Beach – this beach is absolutely stunning! Water so turquoise and so clear it was breathtaking, hardly a rock in or out of the water, nice smooth sand, did not see any seaweed. Every now and then you would see a few fish swimming around, but not a lot - and sometimes a big school of them would come by, then they would just move on like this big cloud in the water - very cool to see. It’s great when the water is clear like that, you can actually see if there’s something swimming around you. There was no shortage of beach chairs - but when we were there occupancy was very low, only about 85-100 people at resort. So obviously, beach was not crowded. Somedays we would be at the beach for quite awhile and hardly see a soul, it was like having you’re own private resort. Beach is very long and great for walking in either direction. The beach chairs are kept on top of the hill part of the beach (where they have some shade, and also where the beach bar is), and workers will drag the chairs down for you wherever you want, but no shade down there - which did not bother us at all. We spent a lot of our time right there by the water’s edge - it was pure heaven. I wasn’t sure what to expect about that ‘hill’ section after reading some reviews, but I thought it added to the beauty of this section of the beach - I actually preferred their beach area to any of the other resorts along the strip. Although the beach really is great all along the whole area. Some days the water was as still as glass, and some days more choppy with fun waves. Santa Maria is just an incredible beach - I still think about it often, and miss it a lot. We stayed at Sandals Varadero in 2010, and loved it there as well - that beach is also incredible, but I think I liked Santa Maria even a little more. Really though, they are both amazing beaches.
They did not have a disco at the Gaviota, but had entertainment shows in the theatre. Some nights definitely better than others, but they were fine - we always enjoyed ourselves. Would have been really nice to have somewhere on the resort to go for dancing though. We had no desire to board a bus to go to the disco in the pueblo area for Santa Maria. So after the theatre entertainment, we would go to the lobby and have drinks there, or go to the 24 hour snack bar for drinks. Would have liked to hear more music played in the lobby at night - just some recorded upbeat music would have been fine. They usually played some music at the 24 hour snack bar.
None of this was a big deal to us, but I know people like to hear any complaints you may have had, so here is what we found. I‘m assuming it was due to low occupancy but, it did seem they were a bit understaffed at times, and lacking a bit in management - notably at the reception desk and at the buffet. We reported our phone as not working a few times, but it never got fixed - (that really wasn’t a big deal to us though). The young woman who worked in the office selling phone and internet time - she sure could have used a course in how to talk to people - she wasn’t very nice, and that‘s putting it mildly. And in the buffet, we found this a bit annoying - they would only have one person making omelettes or waffles at breakfast, and it could take quite awhile waiting even if there were just a few people in line-ups. Wouldn’t take long for those ’few’ to turn into a ’long’ line-up. Hopefully though if the resort was actually full, they would have more than 1 cook then. Or at least if the cook would make More than 1 or 2 omelettes at a time, that would speed up the process. We never had trouble being served drinks at our table, the servers always treated us very well.
There wasn’t a whole lot of selection at the buffet - but we were definitely satisfied, we had no complaints about food at all. We ate at the a la cartes 4 nights (each night a different one), and all meals were very enjoyable - food presentation was lovely, food was very good, service was very good - what more could you ask for. We did not have a bad meal all week. The restaurants were all beautiful inside, and the servers were very attentive. Wish I could get service like that at the restaurants here at home.
The two main pools were very nice. Saw a few other smaller pools around the resort but didn‘t use them. Near the main pools there was a 24-hour snack bar with very yummy pizzas/burgers/fries/sandwiches. We really enjoyed ourselves there. They played good music, the employees were great - it was a nice little spot. That’s one thing I really loved about this resort - that they played great Cuban/salsa type music by the main pool and snack bar, and sometimes in the buffet. It was never too loud, just very enjoyable. I miss that so much, that was really great to hear. Although they could have played more music in the lobby at night, it always seemed too quiet there. Didn’t hear music at the beach though, just peace and quiet - just the way a beach should be. Other resorts along the beach played loud music, and that I would Not have liked at all.
We did not do any excursions, just spent a very relaxing week at the resort. We met some great people and had a lot of fun. It was an awesome vacation, and we would love to return some day. We highly recommend The Hotel Gaviota Cayo Santa Maria.

Room Tip: Bldg 15 has lovely views of pool and ocean.
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  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank GH816
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 29, 2012

We visited this Gaviota hotel in August (I know - very hot) with our grown children. It is a beautiful hotel, lovely, spacious rooms and some excellent staff. Let me mention some of the outstanding staff: Pasquel in the bar - excellent Mohitos, Franco at the beach towel replacement bar - super friendly and excellent English, Omar - a gardener who does beautiful work, Duviel and Yanos who cleaned our rooms to the highest level and always brought a smile to our faces when we returned and Osyel (sp?) at the beach food bar and finally Berto - the best in the west. All excellent staff. The beach was amazing and that is where we spent most of our time. The pools usually had many Cubans in them and we wanted the quiet of the beach. As other people have mentioned, the food in the buffet is not up to par, even for Cuba. Having been to other hotels, may I suggest that you hire the chefs from Melia Cayo Santa Maria and let them go to work on your buffet! The special restaurants were all good so why can't this type of food be served all the time? Any complaint we had (toliet not working, A/C not working) was addressed immediately by front desk staff. We had concierge service but really didn't find it helpful. The day trips back onto the main island are well worth the price but I wish we could have stayed longer at the cigar factory.
All in all, a wonderful vacation and I would return to this beautiful hotel.

Room Tip: We were in unit 5 and it was farther away from the show at night and was very quiet.
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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6  Thank BrendaT57
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

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 16 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Price Range: $99 - $290 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria 4*
Number of rooms: 769

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