My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of visiting the Melia Cayo Santa Maria (MCSM) from 21-28 Sep 12 and it was the best Cuban resort we have yet to visit. This was our 6th time to Cuba, our 2nd time to Cayo Santa Maria, and our 1st to MCSM.
From the start, CanJet took excellent care of us flying out of Toronto on time, a great meal and excellent on-board service!
The airport bus in Cuba was awaiting our arrival; air conditioned, cold beers, a pleasant Nolitours guide, and a 90 minute breathtaking ride! Be aware it's a long ride and please don't complain; it's a tour most people pay extra for. This ride was better than the last visit because the bus stopped in one of the 3 towns you'll pass through. We visited a local bar for additional refreshments and chatted with some locals.
We were greeted warmly at the Melia and checked in within seconds. Our bags were quickly picked up, loaded into an electric cart and we were whisked directly to our lovely room, lights on and already air conditioned.
The room was spacious, clean, well laid out and appointed, we immediately felt like we were home!
We had an ocean view room, second floor, building 19, but there are beautiful floral reserves between the hotel and beach so the view is only over the treetops. We just loved it for the privacy. There's also a new boardwalk running between our building and the next, directly to the beach, so this was very handy for us. On the resort side of the boardwalk there's also a refreshing el fresco shower :)
The resort bars were all well stocked and lively with guests. Wait time for service was seconds. It is obvious that everyone working this resort are all focused on giving total customer satisfaction. The lobby bar spills out into the outdoor patio area, plenty of comfortable seating for everyone. The bar area overlooks the covered entertainment area. There's also a pool table, piano lounge, several shops and a bank close by.
Entertainment each evening was a breathtaking "Las Vegas" style, and each day you could watch the young entertainers as they practiced and perfected their craft and their new shows.
I have been craving for a self-service coffee area at a Cuban resort and the MCSM has it! An area set up every morning with fresh juice, sparkling wines, coffee decanters, warmed milk, tea and pastries! I couldn't believe this and took the opportunity every day to enjoy this pleasure.
The buffet is very large and extremely clean. Staff are totally attentive and waiting for you to enter. Breakfast buffet also had a table at the front door with juice and sparkling wine. Lunch buffet was plenty of light foods awaiting you. Dinner buffet was romantic, low lighted, live music playing and there was 4 different chefs in various locations just waiting to cook you any food you wish. During every meal these young chefs are waiting to cook any combination of buffet foods fresh for you, usually with a good story and lots of smiles. PS. If you're unsure of what to order, ask the chef to create HIS favourite dish for you, you can't go wrong, try it! It's easy to see these guys love their jobs.
Another first was that our three a la carte meals were pre-booked for us and reservation slips delivered to our hotel door, WOW! Do you think I was impressed? Oh ya! First restaurant was Japanese; we were enthralled by the chef's show as he prepared and cooked our meal before our eyes, solid 10! Next was Mediteranian; European decor, low lights, acoustic guitars, Spanish wine and delectable food. And our 3rd was Italian; a small quaint restaurant that actually served real Italian-prepared pasta, it was all as good as any Canadian experience, promise!
The pool grill is 24 hours and they'll prepare just about anything you can imagine. Be sure and have a hand-made pizza baked for you.
The pools themselves are the best pools I have experienced in Cuba. Two pools side-by-side as they curve and weave around the property, totally surrounded by large palm trees. One pool has the swim-up bar and the other has the hot tub. There is pool-side bar service which we used several times, but part of the fun is wading over for the next round eh?
The gardens are stunning, amazingly colourful and trimmed to perfection. Please do remember to stop and compliment the hard working gardeners on their magnificent creations.
There is a beach side bar that can make almost any drink you wish, and there's also a beach side restaurant that deep fries fish, caught fresh that morning! They have a limited menu, a salad bar, beer on tap and a BBQ pit if you prefer anything right off-the-grill.
For souvenirs we went to both local shopping areas, one within walking distance to the MCSM and the other at the far end of the beach. To get to the far Pueblo we jumped on the open air double-decker bus that runs on the half hour. It's only 1 pesos and a lot of fun! It's a great way to see other resorts as it stops to pick up more customers, and a great photo-op too so bring your camera. We hailed a cab back to MCSM and it only cost us 4 pesos for the trip.
This resort was very magical for us each and every day, we met many wonderful guests and many amazing Cubans. They are such hard working, gentle, considerate people, I am humbled by their kindness and feel it my honour to respect them and their families with generous tips. But don't think for a moment they expect tips nor work only for tips. Their service is freely given and they enjoy the company of Canadians. Do get to know them, do ask their names, do ask about their families. There are dozens of people we meet on vacation, but always several who really stand out...
First, the general manager, Paco, is a man-driven; he is constantly on the move throughout the resort, meeting with staff, chatting up the workers, checking on quality, greeting the guests. Do take the time to meet him because he IS the reason for such high "camaraderie" and customer satisfaction.
Some other names of note for their excellence:
Teresa, our buffet server, always a smile and warm greeting and a clean table.
Xiomara, our lovely smiling waitress at the beach restaurant, quick with a cold drink.
Waldemar, the friendly bartender who always greeted me every morning with "strong" coffee!
Yulier, my other lobby bar buddy, always quick with a pint and a warm hand-shake.
Gallo, a kind gentleman who makes the best Spanish Coffee I've ever enjoyed.
Osbiel is the good looking guy who walks around the pool dispensing cold drinks and smiles.
Ruben, my best friend because he showed up every day at my room to stock the fridge!
Ruben, a hard working waiter at the 24 hour grill who will get you a delicious meal in minutes.
All-in-all you can see that the "team" at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria is totally dedicated, the grounds are immaculate, rooms are beautifully appointed, food is THE best I've experienced in Cuba and I would strongly recommend you DO vacation there.
Leave your troubles behind, don't go on holiday to count mosquitoes or photograph room deficiencies or complain about food you've never tried before...INSTEAD, go with an open-mind, an open-heart, a willingness to immerse yourself in another culture, another's food, another type of music and entertainment, and remember, you are a guest in this paradise they call CUBA,
(Email if you want more info or pics)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In an island paradise off the northern coast of Cuba stands the 5- star All-Inclusive Meliá Cayo Santa María hotel, especially designed for families, surrounded by beautiful beaches and lush tropical vegetation. This property (358 rooms) offers facilities for incentives groups and a special wedding and honeymoon program. A perfect complement for an unforgettable holiday. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Melia Cayo Santa Maria Hotel Cayo Santa Maria
- Cayo Santa Maria Melia
- Cayo Santa Maria Cuba
- Santa Maria Cuba
- Melia Cayo Santa Maria Cuba