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Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria
Ranked #4 of 15 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Certificate of Excellence
Charlottetown, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Loved it!”
Reviewed April 15, 2013

My husband and I travelled with a group of friends from March 16-23. Overall, we were very pleased with our stay and would return, especially for a good price.

Arrival and Check In: The airport went smoothly and it was easy to locate our bus outside. The cold drinks in the parling lot was an added bonus. While I purchased drinks, other people in our party converted money at the bank. The drive to the resort went by quickly and we enjoyed the scenery of the Cuban towns and country side. Upon arrival to the resort we were directed into a room to receive our bracelets and keys. The lady who waited on us was not the friendliest. She snapped at us for not having papers ready, which we were unaware of since we were at the back of the line.

Rooms: The rooms are lovely and we had a king size bed as requested. We were in Building 2, third floor and although we requested building 7 or 15, we were quite happy with the location. As for cleanliness, it was ok. Our bed was made up every day and our maid left a note each time. We made a point of leaving small gifts or money each day.

Pools: Our first day, our group stayed at the quiet pool. It was beautiful and relaxing. We then moved to the central pool as we probably a little more loud than what others would have liked at the small pool. Now we are not party animals, but enjoyed our conversation and laughter. The central pool was perfect for us! Unfortunately, on the fourth day, three families traveling together located at the pool. The age range of the 6 children was from 1-7. The noise and activity that accompany a group that size made us re-locate. Our reason for going on vacation is to relax and get away. Listening to that commotion was to say the least, annoyong. Especially when there is a pool designed specifically for play and children. So we moved back to the quiet pool and thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes, we reserved our spots early in the morning as we had a group of 8 and wanted to sit together. And we used those loungers for the entire day, except when some of us walked to the beach for a quick dip in the ocean and promptly returned.

Beach: Spectacular!!! And as for difficulty getting there, we did not have a problem as there are so many paths to get there.

Food: Its Cuba and I believe we faired off better here than any other resort we have stayed at in Cuba. There is always something you will like, and if all else fails, the snack bar has a nice selection of sandwiches, fries, and pizza. Never had to wait long in lines and if the waiters/waitresses were busy, we took care of ourselves. Remember, these workers are putting in long hours every day. To be honest, we were rather taken aback at how some guests treated them.

Bars: The Lounge Bar is always busy but accomodates a large number of people. The piano players in the evening gave very pleasant performances. The travelling coffee cart was really cool and he made some specialty coffee drinks for us and gave a very good show doing it.

Other Guests: The majority of visitors at this resort are French. I am not bilingual, but do try to speak French for simple questions/statements. However, I was dumbfounded at how some people would not acknowledge an english speaking person or how they made you feel inferior because you could not speak French. I do not want to paint a brush across a whole group because I met some lovely people who made small talk and told stories. However, some were rude, ignored you, cut in line, and treated staff poorly. We met some lovely people from Ontario and Nova Scotia and really enjoyed their company.

Overall: I do recommend this resort however you must not go there expecting the 5 star treatment you get in Canada or US. If you go for the relaxation, sun/beach, and a few drinks, this is a very good location!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank LovePEIsummers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jorge C, Director General at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this review, April 16, 2013
Dear Guest: Thank you for your compliments and recommendations of our hotel in general. Best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Bolton, Ontario
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed April 15, 2013

This was our fourth trip to Cuba and first to Santa Maria area. I have to say that Playa Cayo Santa Maria is the best that we have been to in Cuba so far. The Playa hotel is a large modern looking resort but well planned. The décor is simple and contemporary. It has a nice flow starting from the main lobby through fountain area into main pools, beer bar, ice cream booth, restaurants and sitting areas around the pools. The main pool has an island in the middle of it and a swim-up bar. The other three pools each have a bar close by with wash rooms next to them. As far as the rooms, they are simple but have everything you need to be comfortable. The rooms have a tv, iron, hair dryer, safe at no extra charge and a bathroom with a nice shower. The beach is simply beautiful with nice white sands and a crystal blue-green waters. The beach offer a bar close by and a restaurant for lunch time with wash rooms. There is always a lot of chairs at the beach, however if you want a shaded area by the beach you will need to be there early to reserve a spot. When it comes to food I have to say that it was repetitive but a lot of choices. The food was tasty and always found something nice to eat. Restaurants were clean and well organized and also carried a large variety of fruits.

Overall I would like to say that Playa Cayo is a great place for adults and kids as well. Kids will have a lot of fun eating fresh ice cream and beautiful pools to enjoy besides fun in the sand on a beautiful beach. I would rate this hotel as a 5 star resort especially after visiting Memories Paraiso Beach Resort at which we had family and friends stay at the same week of April 5-12. The only thing I would like to see change is the front desk staff to be more friendly and have a better knowledge of the bus schedules. Also if you want the extend your stay the charge is 30 convertible pesos until 4pm and to extend for an additional hour the charge is 50 pesos. The other thing to keep in mind is that it is a long ride from the airport to the resort. When you add up the time of flight, the bus ride and all the waiting at the airport it can be tiring especially for kids. One other thing to keep in mind is that the waves tend to be quite large at times and kids need to stay close to the shore for their safety. There are 3 or 4 life guards at all times controlling the waters but it is best not to venture out into deep waters unless the green flag is out ( the waves can be deceiving ).

I would definitely recommend Playa Cayo to anyone thinking about going to Cuba. You can find a spot to relax if you want to and party if you choose to party.

Room Tip: We stayed in building # 8 and had a nice view of the main pool and a far view of the ocean.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Piotr S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jorge C, Director General at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this review, April 16, 2013
Dear Guest: thank you for your review. We always work to provide better service to our clients. We hope you return soon. Best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bremen, Germany
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed April 15, 2013

This is a good resort for the lower and middle class family. Our experience was overall good.
1. Location: We landed on an airport 1h, 30min away from the resort. Some people complained about that, but in our case even the baby seemed to handle it without complaining, so I`d say for an adult it is not a big problem. Actually you get to see some of the Cuban countryside which might be on the plus side. The ride includes a ~30min drive right through the sea, crossing over an extremely long isthmus in order to reach the Santa Maia key. This was a very enjoyable part of the travel actually.
The resort itself is positioned perfectly on the beach.
2. Rooms: OK, new rooms. Staff was doing a great job cleaning those. Beds were confortable. Vnetilation system was new and the air coming out the AC smelled fresh (in comparison the ventilation system in some other resorts might be associated with a specific moldy scent, which indicates hazardous presence of mold spores in the air). Here this was not an issue which is a plus in a tropical and humid environment.
Only one issue here. Towels had a lot of blood stains. Yes they were washed, but yes, resistant blood stains were all over them. It left me wondering if the resort had even tried bleaching them and what kind of bleeding tourists were visiting this place. Either way I know that there are place you just bring your own towels to, so we were independent of the local towel supply.
3. Food: food is OK. This was my first all-inclusive experience (I will elaborate on that below), so our expectations were not high. We found the food was OK. It is just like the food in the hospital cafeteria, no strong and highly specific tastes, but nevertheless nutritious and might cover the entire range of the scale defined by “blunt” and “tasty” – you just need to try different thing and decide what you enjoy. We NEVER took a single line and I suggest people do the same as well. Waiting at a 20 min line for omelettes when the buffet features 2 – 3 kinds of scrambled eggs that I could grab in a second, seemed like an irrational choice to me. So not even a minute was sacrificed from our beach time in favour of the buffet. It was a choice we were really happy with. Nevertheless if you want to absolutely get food from those stations – come 30 min before the buffet closes (say 21:30). It is so calm by then that you will have a small squad of waiters just for yourself.
4. Bars: throughout our stay we visited a bar only twice. The tourists seemed to be accustomed to consuming alcohol and there was a constant demand of it, translating into small to medium lines where the most “vocal” tourists got serviced. It felt undignified so we just opted out of that portion of the experience. Another really bad impression at the bars was that tourists, likely in their desire to consume more alcohol, ignored the civilized manner of using glasses for their drinks but almost all had pre-purchased and brought from their own country these extremely large mugs that contained anything from 500ml to 1litre of volume and asked the bar tenders to fill the latter with drinks. It was not pleasant to eyes seeing that and it seemed that 80% of the crowd though it was within social norms. We attributed that to either social class or general cultural differences and tried to ignore it and stay away from the bars.
5. Pools: proper, water was warm enough for children to soak for an hour or so before the`d have to go out for warming up a bit. Central pool is very decent as well, however it might not please everyone’s taste as it is noisier. Most of the alcohol consumers carrying the jumbo mugs would be there. After having accidentally heard obscene and vulgar language coming from a couple of “ladies” sitting nearby we avoided that spot as well.
6. Entertainment:
a. 20:00 Childrens’ show: very, very good! Kids enjoyed it a lot. Mind you no one seems to tip the girl who was entertaining the kids every night and she deserves a lot! I`d like to thank her!
b. 21:45 show: we went to it only once. The entertainers were doing their best but a dance by a group of thong clad women who deliberately and often seemed to try dancing with their buttocks facing the audience was something that made us feel a part of a crowd with no so mush distinguished spiritual needs.
7. Staff: All are great! My short encounters with the pool bar tenders left me with the impression they were very busy and didn`t have the time for much courtesy, but it was abvious to me why that was. I was charmed by the Cuban people and I will definitely visit again, but next time will go to a place that is more Cuba – less Canada. By the way, shame on those tourists that behaved like colonial officers. You are in another country and you should respect its people.
8. Beach: great! Sand bank is a bit narrow, but considering the length of the beach it is not a problem.
9. SPECIAL SECTION – Long chairs and umbrellas: This was the only really downside of the resort. There aren`t enogh places in the shadow so tourists have to severely compete over those. This resulted in something really improper. Countering all social norms of decency tourists would reserve long chairs by throwing their towels on them early in the morning and then some would not show up till 13:00 – 14:00 thus leaving a long chair unused for ½ of the day, while in the same time others would not be able to find a spot. I have never seen anything like that before.

OVERALL: It is great for the price. If I had any considerable remarks they were aimed at the tourists’ behaviour not the hotel management. The all-inclusive type of vacation seems in general to give advantage to tourists with louder voices and modest manners and you`d need to decide whether you can live with that.

TO THE HOTEL STAFF: Thank you all! You are amazing people! After my encounters with you I felt stimulated to return to Cuba and go beyond consuming, but to explore the culture and the people. I have been reading about Cuban society and history ever since I got home. This is a testament on how much I was impressed with you guys.

Room Tip: Bring our own beach tent or umbrella! Do tip when happy! And please, don't bring over those 1000...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Alexios K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 15, 2013

hotel its really nice,clean,and food it great,services also very good,only thing its no credit card can be used to get money ,have to go to the hotel nex door 10 minutes walk by the beach,if u want to go out of the hotel into trinidad town (very nice place and food) call this taxi cell 53295244 very good car,very nice person and will teke u anywhere ...very good service .the driver name its ismael barreto.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Juan Carlos F
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 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 14, 2013

This was my 3rd trip to Cuba but my first time to Santa Maria. I have to say that I had nothing but good experience with this resort. The staff was fantastic, the bartenders were fun especially Yassel at the Lobby bar and Yunior at the Pool Bar. The Housekeeping staff were also friendly and always made sure we had a new bottle of water in the fridge and even if we asked for two they left two. We found the food very good, although the lines were long, we still were able to get what we wanted and still be full. We also enjoyed the food at the snack bar even at the early hours. It would have been better if there were more cabanas at the beach but we made do especially with the help of the beach help/chair Leon, who always tried to assist us with getting shade when we couldn't get a cabana. The shows in the evening were fun and enjoyable. I am already planning on coming back to this resort. It was the best time ever!!!!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank foreverlovingthesun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed April 14, 2013

Service: I have been to Cuba years ago (Varadero) and I must say returning left a really bad taste in my mouth. The service in this resort was terrible. The waiters are not friendly, even if you tip. I do generally tip but I saved my money at this resort. The service at the buffet restaurant is horrible. If you would like to get some water, it is best to bring your own bottle or to self-serve. You are likely to wait for half an hour or ask a couple of times. The focus is on cleaning the tables than on serving the guests (i.e. I will first clean the 10 tables around you and then I will bring your water). The servers purposefully ignore guests and avoid any eye contact so as not to be bothered. It is the same thing at the 'a la carte' restaurants. The only place we have received service was at the Grill Restaurant and that was due to the small size of the place (servers didn't have a place to hide due to the small open space).

The buffet lineups are horrendous. If you would like an egg or pancake, minimum half an hour. Add the request for water and the time to eat, you waste about 1.5-2 hrs at each meal which cuts into the beach/pool time. That is 4.5hrs to 6 hrs a day wasted on waiting for food. The management need to better utilize their resources and reduce the wait time. I have been to many resorts down south, but this was the first to wait long time for meals. You basically give up.

Food: I know food (meats) are not recommended to eat in Cuba but please don't cut it on the resort property, in plain view. I have seen multiple times how the meat is handled in front of guests. Please see picture below (e.g. the pork is cut in plain view on the beach trail with some dirty swords, grilled and served for lunch or chicken tray falls down from truck, picked up, put back and a pig head piled on top of the chicken).

Beach: I have traveled down south many times and this must be the ugliest beach I have seen. It is narrow and rocky. There is no shade, not many palapas. People reserve the spots at 5:30 am. I am on vacation. Please note, I do not wake up at noon, around 8/830. Beach chairs and pool chairs everyday were reserved. You have to get up at 530. I don't know about the rest of you, but I am on vacation and I do not need the aggravation. Not to mention, people fight over the chairs in the shade or that they reserve and don't show up until the late afternoon. Walking along the beach, the same problem seems to be present at all the surrounding resorts due to the narrowness of the beach. Save yourself the aggravation and choose another destination.

Drinks: All the drinks are diluted with water...they are saving on the alcohol.

Rooms: All the sheets have stains on them. Kinda disturbing and the sheets have not been changed once in the week we have stayed there.

Beach Towels: If you want fresh beach towels, go around 10am. That's when the stand opens up. There is no guarantee that fresh towels are available. And it closes at 4pm. All other resorts I have been to, they opened at 8:30/9 am and they closed at 6pm.

TMR Representative Advice ("conseils pratico-pratique"): Hide the toilet paper when almost finished and water bottles otherwise they will not be replaced. This was the most stressful vacation I have been on and I will not choose this destination again. I go on vacation to relax, not to worry about water, toilet paper, wait long time for service or food, wake up at 530am to reserve chairs...If you don't mind these lack of basic services, then you're good to go. ENJOY!

The grounds, pools, room sizes are ok, TV is a bit small for the room but who watches TV anyways.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Claudia28032013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed April 13, 2013

Our 4th trip to cuba , but first to Cayo Santa Maria!!. so I will Summarize our good and bad experience in the resort .
We start from the aeroport which seems like a small house ,packed with travelers more than it can handle , if you think you will find a seat think again...even in the VIP , ( we paid for the VIP lounge which was overbooked , no places to sit, since it was an open for everyone to come in evenhtough they did not pay for the service )
The trip to the resort was far , almost 2 hours,
The resort overall was ok, but definitaly not a 5 star, I would say 4 on a good day !!.When we checked in our room was not cleaned properly , bad smell, washroom dirty, sheets not changed , we had to complain to the reservation manager to have it clean properly .
After speaking to them , the problem was addressed and the rest of the week they were cleaning it properly.
As for the food in the buffet , not much variety, and if you are ready to wait between 30 min to 40 min for fresh chicken, meat or seafood, then YOU WILL enjoy the food ...otherwise the line up was unbearable ..a good advice if you want to avoid the line up at the dinner buffet , be there at 6.30 when the doors open.
The service very slow, we sat for 45 min at the tafble without being served , they are UNDERSTAFFEDb big time.on the other hand the staff was nice, they were trying their best after working 12 hours shift with 4 hours of drive back and forth.
As for A la carte , forget the ITALIAN restaurant which was horrible, but go for the japanese and the seafood which were ok !!.
The waterwas amazing, but the way the beach was set up was different , it looked like a 2 story beach , and if you want to have a beach hut, pack your sleeping bag and sleep at the beach to get a decent spot for the next day, the same goes for the pool.
The resort was full with french canadiens, most of them were rude, unpolite and behaving like they own the resort.!! and ready to pick a fight for everything.
The check out was at 12:00 and we had to pay $30 for late chek out , while others after making a big fuss got the late check out for FREE, ...
I recommend everyone to take your OWN beach towel, eventhough the towel exchange is open at 9:00 AM but good luck finding a clean towel, for the 7 days we were there , we were only able to get clean towels TWICE.
Overall the resort needs some improvement , and the most important MORE staff.

Room Tip: Best Buildings were 7 and 15
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Nad B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jorge C, Director General at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this review, April 14, 2013
Dear Guest, we appreciate your comments and hope you visit us again soon, so you may find that our service is a lot better. Please, do not forget to contact us. Thank you very much and best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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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