Our impressions are mixed. All the Cubans we met were pleasant, friendly and helpful.
However the holiday got off to a bad start. The plane left Toronto an hour and a quarter late, and then after landing we had an hour and a half boring bus drive in the dark, some of it along narrow cyclist and pedestrian strewn roads, and much of it along the causeway, with with water on both sides, but nothing to see.
When we arrived it was cold and very windy, and it was difficult to find our room in the fairly dark grounds. We did not get the upper storey room overlooking the pool, as requested, but a ground floor room at the back of the lot. We made a half hearted attempt to change to what we had expected, but the hotel was apparently overbooked and we didn't push the issue as it wasn't that important to us. The room was clean and comfortable, however.
Because of the low temperature, and the very strong wind, the beach was red-flagged and unusable (except by brave young souls) for the first four days, and only warmed up enough for comfortable swimming, sailing, walking, or sunbathing on the fifth day. It actually rained one day.
Also as a consequence of the cold strong wind, and nobody but a few hardy souls using the beach, most of the guests congregated around the pools for whatever sun happened to be revealed that day. Unfortunately, since there were nowhere near enough sunbeds for everyone, this meant that the non-drinking Old Farts, who rose at sunrise for breakfast at the ungodly hour of 7AM, first occupied all the sunbeds with their towels. This felony was compounded, for the times that we were able to find a place to lie in the sun, by the fact that the people to whom we were then forced to lie in close proximity, were almost exclusively surly, Anglophobic, mostly older, Quebecois.
The bars were convenient and well staffed, and the drinks were fine, albeit the whisky tastes like rum and the vin is very ordinaire. The food was perfectly acceptable, except that some of the tastier or healthier items in the buffet restaurant would have been consumed by the early birds as soon as it opened.
We didn't think much of the a-la-carte restaurants that we used, and for which you have to book and wear long trousers. There wasn't enough light, and the cooking was no better, or even worse, than the buffet.
We found the evening entertainment - mostly colourful song and dance "espectaculares" - to be enjoyable and of a very high quality. The disco also was also a fun place to work off a few pounds.
Because it is an adults only resort, the guests were mostly a mixture of 20-30 year olds, and over 60s (like us). Since Cuba relies heavily on visitors from Canada, the staff at this, and probably at other resorts, provides service in English and French, as well as Spanish, hence is very popular with French speaking Canadians, who were in the overall majority. The younger guests were a mixture, mostly from Ontario and Quebec, but the older ones were mostly from Quebec.
The cool windy weather may just have been a freak occurrence - but overall, we wouldn't go back to this particular resort. This is partly a consequence of the isolation from the mainland, but mostly, frankly, because of the older unfriendly Quebecois.
- 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
- 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