My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary at Melia Las Dunas from June 23 to June 30, 2012. During our stay we were already contemplating the review we would write and advice we would give to anyone thinking of staying at the MLD. Overall we rated this resort as very good and we would consider staying at this resort in the future.
Our Caribbean travel experience includes Cuba, Mayan Riviera, Bahamas, and Dominican Republic. This was our 4th trip to Cuba over the last 15 years. We typically stay at All-Inclusive resorts, 4 star or better (in Cuba in particular).
Melia Las Dunas is located on a small island off the coast about an hour and half from the airport. There is a 49 km causeway as well as some travel through little towns along the way that made the trip a little more digestible. We arrived in the evening so there wasn't much to see but the return trip in the afternoon gave us an interesting glimpse into a part of Cuba that we had never seen.
During our bus transfer to the resort we received a package that contained our resort bracelets, excursion information, and room keys. Every tour provider is different and this may have only been available through Air Canada Vacations but it was a nice touch that was welcomed at the end of a long travel day.. we simply got off the bus and headed to our room. A welcome cocktail (champagne, wine or bottled Coronas) was only a few steps off the bus in the main lobby.. also a nice touch.
I have to agree with a few of the criticisms from the reviews we read before deciding to spend our hard-earned dollars at Melia; the food takes a little getting used to and the rooms are humid and a little on the musty side.
That said, with respect to the food, if you have been to a few resorts in Cuba (including 5 star resorts) you know that its not necessarily the particular resort, or the hotel chain, or the staff's lack of trying. I don't want to discourage anyone from visiting this or any resort in Cuba. The truth is.. they do the best they can with what they have to work with. They are cooking for the masses and so things tend to be a little over-cooked for safe measure and maybe a little bland side in some cases. I am pretty picky about food anywhere I go but I should point out that my wife described the food at the Melia as "the best we've had at any resort in Cuba". Skip the Mexican restaurant. The Romantico was pretty good and Italian wasn't bad.
We requested a quite room on the second floor through our tour provider and they came through. Our room was in block 37 which was close to the Adult pool (or relaxation pool as they referred to it). If you're travelling without kids I would recommend asking for this side of the resort.
The beach (as most of the reviews suggest) is incredible. It definitely tops any of the 3 resorts we stayed at in Varadero which is known for having the nicest and longest white sand beaches in Cuba. There are two beach bars close to the many palapas as well as a beach grill for grilled sandwhiches and such (we didn't use this one so I can't comment but it seemed really popular).
The staff are very friendly and helpful. We never came across a staff member that didn't have reasonable command of English.. many of them actually were quite proficient in French as well. They never appeared to do anything with the expectation of a tip but you knew it was appreciated. I will say that some heavy tipping at the lobby bar seemed to get snappy service for some of the regulars.
Here's where the negative, critical stuff comes in..
As I eluded to at the start of the review, we had a few challenges with the room. When we first set foot in the room it was humid and musty. We assumed that it may have been vacant with the A/C off for a few days before. We weren't too concerned as we thought we could blast the humidity out by cranking the A/C. The room never did quite get as cold and the musty smell never did fully go away as we had hoped but it was comfortable. After a couple days we just let it go and put the focus on enjoying the beach and the Mojitos. We read about similar problems at a very high-end resort in Jamaica that we visited last fall. We took the reviewers advice and brought a little Febreeze.
The king-size bed we had was really bad; very thin and full of springs. So much so that neither of us slept very much the first (even with a few rum 'whatevers' in us). We called to report that although we were pretty happy with the location (quiet, close to everything), the bed was horrible. When we got back from the beach later that afternoon they had added a foam topper and for whatever reason that seemed to do the trick. Again, with only 7 days to squeeze the most out of our vacation, a few problems with the room gave way to the awesome beach and the rum 'whatevers'.
We considered the Melia and the Hotel Gaviota (adjacent to Melia). The Gaviota is brand new and very modern. I was honestly leaning toward the Gaviota initially but my wife tipped the scales in favor of the Melia and I'm glad she did. The landscaping at the Melia is established and lush whereas the Gaviota has a few sparse and tiny palms and not much else. There are plenty of huge palapas at the Melia and we really couldn't see any a few yards away at the Gaviota. Also, there was some mention in other reviews that the A La Cartes were closed at Gaviota as recently as June due to low guest capacity.. not so at Melia.
Cuba is an amazing place with beautiful beaches and fascinating history and culture. Overall there are far more positives than negatives and I would recommend the Melia to those whose expectations are in check.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Magic and Legend unveils an ancient story that goes back in time to 1492, with the discovery of America. Melia Las Dunas, a 5 star resort, All Inclusive, ideal for your vacation with your Family, Reunion & Incentives, Weddings, Honeymoon Distinguished by the variety of services, the inviting atmosphere and the confort of its facilities, Melia Las Dunas offers the vacations of your dreams. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Melia Las Dunas Hotel Cayo Santa Maria
- Melia Cayo Santa Maria
- Melia Hotel Las Dunas
- Melia Las Dunas Cuba