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Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria
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Reviewed October 7, 2013

we have been to santa maria cuba 5 times, and playa is by far the best we have been to, rooms are excellent, cleaned daily, food is superb, cooked to perfection. The site is very clean and is well maintained,Tthe staff are absolutely wonderful and very friendly, they really wait on you hand and foot. for anyone wanting a very chilled holiday this is definately the place to go. Thomas theThomas cook rep, is excellent, he will help you with anything. To finish our holiday they held a gala night for us, the food was yet again fantastic, wine was flowing, then to top the perfect night off we were all given a present, the ladies a beautiful red rose, the men a large cigar, and also not forgetting the bottle of 7yr old havana club rum.
Really wish we had booked 3 weeks instead of two. will definately be going back to playa. so a massive thank you to Thomas the rep for all the help and hard work he puts in to help make everyones holiday perfect. Also to all the wonderful staff for looking after all our needs. love jane and cliff

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank JRICH8684
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 reviewResponded October 8, 2013

Dear Guest, thank you very much for your encourage review. We wish you a return soon. Best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2013

THE GOOD:
- We were 3 adults in a room Sept 21-28. The rooms were very clean and new. We had 2 super singles and a roll-away bed for the week. Plenty of space for the three of us, always hot water, great rainwater shower, and towels available.
- We stayed in building 5 on the 3rd floor which had a view of the ocean. Very quiet- we couldn’t hear our neighbours or people outside.
- Only slight annoyance is whoever designed the room put the fire alarm above the beds so you can see it flashing green all night.
- We left a note for the beverage guys asking them to stock the mini-fridge with enough for 3 people and they continued to do so for the rest of the week. It would have been nice to have 2 large bottles of water instead of 1, but we didn’t have any trouble getting out travel mugs filled with water at the bar.
- Satellite TV in the room so there were lots of Canadian and US English channels available and 2-3 Montreal stations.
- Air conditioning was GREAT! It is a digital thermostat you control in your room. It was so powerful that we were actually cold on our first night. I've never had such good temperature control and A/C in other all-inclusives. Also had a ceiling fan in the room.
- The housekeeping staff was men, so if you like to bring small gifts from home, keep that in mind.

Food:
- The food was good. Yes, it’s Cuba and doesn’t really compare to Mexico, etc., but we certainly didn’t have any complaints from the buffet, specialty restaurants or snack bar. And no stomach issues.
- Always a wide variety to choose from and it varied every day while still maintaining the staples (always omelet station, pasta bar, fruit, veggies, pizza, waffles, etc.). Breakfast buffet was really good. Not cure what the “lack of variety” reviews are complaining about. Definitely did not go hungry.
- The 24 hours snack bar is fantastic. It is all a la carte off menu ordering with table service which is nice. Great pizzas, hamburgers, and calamari. Also had sandwiches, fried shrimp, etc. We opted to eat most meals here since we liked the food better than the lunch buffet by the beach.
- We ate at the Asian and romantic specialty restaurants. Both were good, I preferred the romantic while my friends preferred the Asian. Lots of variety to choose from.
- Drinks were good. Wide variety of alcoholic, coffee, etc. Staff were happy to fill up your own travel mugs. Had some very stiff drinks courtesy of the snack bar.
- Ice cream shop is a nice touch, but it quite popular so things like ice cream bars and sandwiches would run out early in the day.

Entertainment:
- The entertainment in the evening as okay. The shows don’t have the production values and aren’t a spectacle compared to what you find in Mexico or the Dominican, but it was entertaining enough.
- There were water activities like volleyball and aerobics and Spanish lessons, but they never seemed to be too busy given that the resort was less than half full.
- The live piano in the lobby was very enjoyable.

Resort & beach:
- The pools were very nice, fresh water. Never a problem finding a lounge chair or cabana.
- We knew the beach was somewhat small and on top of a hill so there were no surprises there. Gorgeous white sand and crystal clear water. If you have mobility issues it would be difficult to get to the water since there was really only one non-rocky path to the water but it is still an incline.
- Tried to rent kayaks but the water activities place was always closed when we went in the afternoon.
- There are a number of jellyfish so you have to keep an eye out. We ended up spending most time between the many pools.
- There’s only 1 pool bar that’s actually in the pool but the snack bar is right at the main pool and the 2 other pools had bars right on the pool deck (1 was closed when we were there).
- There are probably two dozen cats and kittens around the resort which all seemed healthy. People were feeding them from the buffet. Quite friendly so they might jump in your lap purring if you sit in the lobby bar.
- Also lots of giant crabs roaming the resort and living in fountains.
- This is very much a resort for relaxing and having a quiet night. It’s not a party resort and there’s not much to do off the resort but it is great if you just want to hang out, have some good drinks.
- Beer garden on site as well. Cuban beer is included but if you wanted Heineken or Corona it was $2 CUC.
- It did feel that it was at least a 4 star hotel.
- The stuff in the shop was way overpriced (other than the rum). Take a taxi to Puebla Estrella which is about 5 mins away and shop from vendors there. The taxi costs the same as the bus $1 CUC per person each way. We also got a better exchange rate at the airport than at the hotel.

Staff:
- The majority of our interactions with staff were excellent. Very friendly.
- Everyone we passed said hello to us- from maids, gardeners, waiters, kitchen help, etc.
- Fantastic staff at the snack bar all day and night and really nice and friendly servers in the lobby bar.
- Our housekeeping staff noticed that one of the lights in the bathroom went out and had it fixed within 24 hours before we could even ask for it to be repaired.
- Everyone spoke English and were patient with our Spanish.

THE BAD:
- The washrooms by the pool, lobby, restaurants were ALWAYS out of toilet paper. It was never replaced during the week so by the end of the stay there was only one stall with toilet paper by the snack bar. I mentioned it to the maid one day but nothing was ever done about it.
- The maids would hang out in the bathrooms, especially by the snack bar. Went in once and 2 were sitting on the sink counter and 2 were sitting in the stalls on the toilet lids chatting. Of course, they were sitting in the only stall with toilet paper too. They then watched as we went from stall to stall looking for toilet paper. We saw another maid cutting her fingernails in the bathroom.
- Saw more than 1 maid use the bathroom and then leave without washing her hands
- The pools didn’t seem to be kept very clean. They main pool which was the busiest definitely got dirtier as the week went on. We saw a dead crab in the pool one day. Never noticed anyone cleaning the pools. The less-busy pools seemed cleaner.
- On Thursday (9/26) one of the animation team staff members approached my friend at the activities pool and asked her if she wanted to buy a burned CD of Cuban music for $10 CUC. She said no and he asked if she instead would like “the services of a Cuban boyfriend for the night” and then proceeded to tell her what that would include and what he would “like to do to her.” The offer was good for any one of the three of us travelling together and told her to “discuss it” and see if any of us would like “Cuban boyfriends tonight.” The offer and the guy himself seemed harmless, but it made us uncomfortable enough not to go back to that pool. I might expect that at a nightclub, but not at 3pm at a resort pool by a staff member.
- We must have had bad luck on 9/26 because that night at the dinner buffet the crepe guy REFUSED to make crepes unless you “tipped” him at least $1 CUC. All the specialty station chefs had tip jars- sushi, pizza, pasta as well as crepe and waffle makers at breakfast- and they graciously accepted tips but it was at your own discretion. The dinner crepe guy was just plain rude. He flat out was charging for crepes before he would even start to make one. I would have tipped him for making a crepe anyway! He was the only one to do this and the only specialty chef who wasn’t friendly so it’s a shame that this guy would ruin the experience and I am glad it was at the end of our trip or I would have avoided the others.


The “bad” stuff isn’t that terrible with each incident on it's own, but added up it is the only thing keeping me from giving this place 5 stars, but I would still recommend Playa Cayo Santa Maria. Management can certainly talk to staff and fix the "bad" experiences we had quite easily and make this a 5 star experience.

(Stayed as part of Air Canada Vacations/Air Canada Rouge. Were very happy with the AC rep at the hotel and the flights to/from Toronto. Definitely upgrade to the VIP airport lounge for $20 CUC in Santa Clara - all you can drink and eat including sandwiches, chips, water, wine, beer and a much more comfortable place to hang out).

Room Tip: Room 0561 had a view of the ocean and faced away from the pool. Was very quiet.
  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank Filmgal
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 reviewResponded October 8, 2013

Dear Guest, thank you for your positive review, they always help to improve our service. Also, we very sorry for the inconvenience you had during your stay in our hotel, whish ones we are working of getting better. Please, do not miss the opportunity to return and do not forget to contact us, I am sure you will enjoy a memorable holiday. Best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director

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Reviewed October 7, 2013

We stayed here as a couple from 22nd September to 6th October. I want to first mention the staff all around the hotel. They are all pleasant and say Hola eery time you pass them. No matter whether they are gardeners or maids. Although sometimes their English is not very good they try very hard to understand and get you what you would like.

Special thanks to Lissett and Odaly's work in the rooms as everytime we returned in the evening it was spotless and the towel art is always a nice surprise. The only thing is there seems to be a shortage of toilet roll throughout the hotel. A couple of times I had to get toilet roll from the communal wash rooms for our room. We did not like the round pillows BUT on our second week we found normal pillows in the wardrobe!

The food is excellent with a decent choice at the buffet every day. All four restaurants are excellent but our favourites were panda roja - the chinease and the longina - The romantic restaurant. If you are a seafood lover the beach restaurant is amazing. Lunch at the beach and snack bar was also of good quality.

The Hotel grounds are very clean and tidy. Maintenance work and the building of more shelters was going on whilst we was there but we barely noticed it.

We did not get involved with the daytime entertainment. The aqua ballet show on a Saturday afternoon is definitely worth watching. At night time The dancers and singers are great but each night seems to be similar.

This is a special hotel I would go back tomorrow.

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank katiestaniland
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 reviewResponded October 8, 2013

Dear Guest: Thank you for your compliments and recommendations of our hotel in general. We hope you are coming soon. Best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2013

We stayed there from Sept 20 2013 to Sept 27th.

The hotel was nice and clean and the grounds crew worked hard to keep it that way. Please remember them with your tips, the waiters etc get tips but these people work even harder for little recognition and are very appreciative of any tips. The waiters are paid 16 pesos a week so they rely on tips....the entertainment staff get 25 pesos.

The shows are just 'okay' and nothing special.

There is a disco a short ride away but it costs to get into it and the price is not worth it.

The food is somewhat bland but all hotels in Cuba are like that.

The two hour bus ride from the airport seemed much shorter as there was a 'guide' aboard who told us what we were seeing.

Make sure you do the catamaran trip which includes the dolphin experience and lobster lunch...very much worth the cost and much better dolphin experience than we have had elsewhere and we have done it on several other islands.

I would also recommend the deep sea fishing if you like that kind of thing....we hooked a tarpon that was close to 60 pounds but lost it trying to pull it onto the boat, they did not have a gaff big enough for the monster we were lucky enough to hook......ask for the Barracuda with Rolly and Julio...they are the best! Excellent price and a good trip.

We were there to attend a wedding and the staff did a great job organizing it. The gazebo by the water was perfect and the photographer they provided did a spectacular job!

The beach right out front is a bit rocky but just walk a little to your left or right to find beautiful beaches....left is better.

Try the Spanish coffee in the lobby in the evening, the chap puts on quite a show.

All in all if I were to return to Cuba I would probably go here again.

There are lots of pools to choose from but we tended to avoid the ones with a bar in the pool as they are generally noisier and people sit at the bar all day and never seem to use a washroom, so guess where they must be peeing!!

They do not supply washcloths but will provide them if asked.

Bar fridge in room is not always restocked daily but with the number of bars, some open 24 hours it was not an issue.

The food was at times undercooked in the Buffet so check your meat before taking it. The bacon is not what we would call bacon and usually was close to raw but if you search through the pan could usually find well done pieces, the eggs cooked to order and the potatoes are a good bet, the waiters are very attentive and friendly, try to sit in the same area every morning and they quickly learn what you want, coffee, orange juice etc.

I was surprised (happily) that the TV got many Cdn stations and was able to watch CTV news.

No wireless and the Internet cafe is VERY slow so do not expect to check email etc but since you are there on vacation this shouldn't be a problem.

We were in building six and it was very quiet at night.

I would also suggest you take a small flashlight with you as it will be helpful at night and until you find your way around.

They do not resupply shampoo etc so take your own.....there is a hairdryer in the room but if you want to plug in anything else you will need a converter as they operate on 220 volts in Cuba.

In summary I do not think you will be disappointed if you choose this hotel.

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Brian G
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 reviewResponded October 5, 2013

Dear Guest, thank you for your positive opinion of the hotel. Your comments always help us to improve our work. Best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director General

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 3, 2013

I am not sure I stayed at the same resort as others whose reviews I have read! this was our second time in Cayo Santa Maria and 10th in Cuba. We were really happy with this hotel. Clean everywhere, lots of extremely friendly and helpful staff who appreciated but did not demand tips. Food in the buffet was tasty with a huge variety, including stations daily for cooking to order, like sushi, waffles, crepes, pasta, eggs. Great selection of pastries and edible bread at both breakfast and lunch. Ice cream bar near the pool had a terrific selection.
Sure, beach access is down over rocks, but it is specatcular and long! If the beach is too narrow , walk left or right 50 feet and it opens up. Towels were clean but some stained, and occasionally a toilet stall had no paper, but you will find that in Canada too. If you just have to complain, stay home!

Room Tip: bungalow 6 and 14 will be quietest but are furthest from main lobby area etc. Pizza in the pool snack bar is delicious!
  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank jmski
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 reviewResponded October 4, 2013

Dear Guest, it´s been pleased that you have passed an enjoyable stay with us and you are also thinking of returning. On behalf of management and staff, thank you very much for this positive review and we are very satisfied to give you our best service. Best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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