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“awesome with a twist”
Review of Melia Las Dunas

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Melia Las Dunas
Ranked #8 of 16 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Reviewed January 26, 2009

Great place for people not heavy into sports. We went for the wedding of a good friend as a group and it was perfect on so many points. We loved the food, the people, the beach was very nice and clean, the drinks were spiked just how we like it. Even though we went in the high season (the hotel was full or just about), the place is so huge that it didn't feel overcrowded. There was always room at the beach, at the pools and at the reception for the evening activities.

If you are hoping to do sports on your trip (tennis, volley ball, etc), make sure you bring your own equipment if possible. The equipment is sparse, old and often not available. The possible sports on the resort are:

* tennis (plenty of courts, at least 6) -- bring your own, really.
* wall climbing
* gym (with cardio and weights -- my wife used the cardio equipment and she found more quite good)
* water polo (in the west pool)
* water volley ball (in the pool too)

* ping pong -- not necessary to bring your own
* archery (although it was rarely opened and they had one arrow in total)
* fussball (what the French call Baby Foot) -- bring a ball or two just in case
* Boche ball, aka pétanque.
* volley ball court (but barely enough sand, so you wouldn't want to dive to save a ball)
* air hockey (was working great)
* pool tables (they have all you need)

* volley ball (bring your ball and a pump)
* catamaran (free but you can tip) -- it's great fun, try it
* snorkeling - arrive first to get the equipment, otherwise it will be gone in no time
* windsurfing

I think that covers the sport section. Let's talk about food

The food was delicious, almost none of our group got sick from it. My wife is a bit sensitive and she had no problem whatsoever. We drank water from bottle and from the tap, enjoyed our ice cubes in our drinks etc - no problem. There are many à-la-carte restaurants, I don't think we tried them all. The wine is free is you opt for house wine, otherwise you pay between 9 and 40 CUC. There is some spanish bubbly (sorry, can't call it Champagne as it is TM) for 8 CUC and it is excellent (but it takes a bit of arm twisting from the waiter to get a bottle). As far as I can remember here is a list of restaurants:
* grill house Maria Cejane or something like that -- didn't try it
* steak house Los Siboneyes - nice
* romantico Isabel & Fernando - too dark and so-so food, also the piano is a bit loud although the person playing was good
* italian (forgot the name) -- excellent food
* seafood -- also very good, but bring a sweater as it is a huge hut with no walls, so if there is wind, you will be cold
* oriental -- very good
There may be others but I can't remember.
For lunch and if you are out of dinner reservations, there are a few buffets:
* the main large one toward the west of the reception
* a smaller, more cute buffet attached to it, still at the west but not as much
* the seafood restaurant converts into a buffer for lunch and they also offer a à-la-carte menu, try it!
* both pools (one of each side of the resort) have eatery/bars. We were mostly hanging around the west side (the family pool) and there was another eatery on the way to that pool. Their calzone is amazing. Try it with a glass of "Santa Maria".
* the beer garden is open 24h and serves good calamari and others burgers and stuff. Nice
* the ice cream parlour is not too far from the shops and the beer garden. We haven't tried it but some of our friends did and they loved it.
* the beach also has a little eatery there but it's quite meagre.

As far as booze is concerned, there are so many places to get it. The main lobby bar is always packed with people, but they also have the widest selection. Both pools have a pool bar, with nice choices too. All 3 accesses to the beach (through a walkway) have a bar on the way, fairly close to the beach, Then there is the beer garden, and most eateries. Some rare drinks are NOT included even though it is all inclusive. Mostly brandies and expensive brands of whiskey and champagne. The rest is no problem.

The animations and activities were somewhat disappointing. The evening show is the most fancy and while some shows are excellent, some are also quite lame. The daytime animation is virtually non-existent, so bring your novels, sudokus, scrabble board and cards. The disco is okay but if you are non-smoker, beware, as it is not ventilated. Smoking is permitted virtually everywhere and it was quite a shock as we weren't used to smell cigarettes with dinner since the smoking ban in canadian restaurants.

As far as outdoor activities, you can pick up a bike for free (close to the entrance of the hotel) and go for a ride. It's okay. The land is very flat so that's easy. If you go toward the west, after about a 15-20 minute ride, you reach a small creek with a rocky mass standing like an island. Stop there and go for snorkeling. There are LOT of fish and it's impressive. I was in the middle of a large school swimming around me and I couldn't believe the quantity of fish there.
We also went for scuba dive, which I highly recommend. While we saw a few spectacular fish, we mostly clocked several hours of diving in a shark-free environment (for those afraid of sharks, there is only one kind around and that specie is harmless - the nurse shark - and it would take you extensive search to find one).
Some friends went on a jeep safari and they thoroughly enjoyed it, and also on a deep sea fishing. It seemed the deep sea fishing wasn't as exciting as they thought it would be.

A couple final points on this lengthy review:
* the resort is PERFECT for disabled people. Everything is wheelchair accessible. The adult pool (on the east side) even has a lift to get in and out for disabled people.
* the CUC is brutal for Canadians. Change your money at the airport, it is a better rate than the hotel. Forget Euros or USD, as they imposed a very odd conversion for euros (felt like 1 EURO could buy as much CUC than 1 CAD) and the USD is penalized with a 10% surcharge. Scuba diving was around 65 CUC, deep sea fishing about 250 CUC for 4 people, jeep safari was 120 for 4 people if I remember right, booze is cheap to buy at the airport or at the hotel, 3 CUC for a bottle of white rum. All in all, including tips, scuba dives and booze we purchased, we spent about 270 CUC for 2 weeks.
* gifts are welcomed by the staff. We brought crayons for their kids and gum for the adults. You can leave money too, but some will refuse it. If you can, leave them some articles of clothing that are in good shape and that you don't need anymore. They will appreciate that.
* internet access is possible but OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive. 6 CUC for 30 minutes. Don't bother unless you really have to. The speed was not that bad in my opinion.
* learn a few words of spanish if you can. There were a lot of the staff that spoke either only spanish, or spanish with a little bit of english or french. Plus they appreciate your trying to speak in their home language (remember, YOU are the tourist, so YOU should make the effort to learn).

I think it covers it all. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

  • Stayed: January 2009
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
19  Thank artaxerxes2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 22, 2009

Stayed at Melia Las Dunas January 8 to 16, 2009, with my wife (26 y/o and 21 y/o).

Have some travel experience at both high-end five stars, and lowly discount-vacation three star resorts, here are my thoughts on MLD.


Flights from Alberta to Cuba are almost always through Toronto, which means lots of air time and long layovers. Air Canada is not my favorite airline, but all worth it once we touched-down in Cuba.

Bus ride to resort:

Airport transition was smooth, met Air Canada Vacations rep, and got on new, air-conditionted bus. It was dark at this time, but the AC rep was talking continuosly about the towns we were going through, and the busride went quick. Certainly did not feel like 90 minutes.


Smooth and quick, received drinks, room keys, and bracelets within 10 minutes. Were driven to our room and our baggage met us there within half an hour of arriving at our resort.


We stayed in a Superior Room (building 44), and would recommend this $100 CAD per person upgrade. Buildings are closer to the pools and lobby, and rooms are larger and better serviced (often the mini-fridge was restocked twice a day). We were also given a different color wristband, but were unsure as to what advantage that was. Room was modern and clean, smelled fresh, and was well-equipped, including mini-fridge, safe, and sitting area, as well as patio overlooking the adult pool.
The building itself was a 20 second walk to the pool, 45 seconds to the swim-up bar, and 1 minute away from the pool snack shack. Also, from our room, it took us about 2 minutes to get to the beach. Read reviews about Cuban toilets being unable to accept toilet paper, however, our toilet handled small amounts well (never tried any large amounts), and the bedet was a nice touch. My only complaint was that the air-conditionning unit was fairly loud, but did make for nice white noise for quick afternoon naps.


Immaculate, white, fine, and firm sand. Can walk out into ocean for 100-150 feet on nothing but hard sand. No weeds or rocks, absolutely spectacular, best beach I've ever been on. Weather was good, only 2 days with decent waves, which I like to play in, and one day where there were some weeds that washed-in (minor detail). Was plenty of room on beach, and loungers were abundant (I would estimate the resort was maybe at 70-80% capacity). 3 bars on or near beach means drinks are close by, and, for a healthy tip (2 pesos), you could have a server at your whim for the entire day. Only complaint with the beach is that the beach overlooks the northern ocean, which meant that you had to turn your chair around to face the sun. This was probably my biggest complaint with the resort.


Immaculate gardening and groundskeeping, spectacular and modern lobby with marble floors and granite countertop. Well layed-out. The walks were not as long or daunting as made out in other reviews (our walk from our room to our lobby only took 3 minutes, and we were maybe half the distance from the furthers rooms, so six minutes max, but the great gardening made the walk enjoyable.


A la carte restaurants were awesome, great food, and great service. We ate at the Romantica, the Carabien, the grill, and the Asian one, and thought they were all excellent. Buffet was par for the course as far as all-inclusives go, it not a little better. Salad bars were decent, and there were lots of options. We mostly ate at the snack shacks however, as we savor the quieter atmosphere.


Nightly entertainment was good as we have ever seen, and we always looked forward to going to the shows. Animation was weak, as we always saw the animation teams just sitting around. I’ve seen much better animation than at this resort.


Me and my wife left our one-month-old son in Canada, and regretted it, as we saw how easy it would have been to have had him there. The kid pool is set up really well, and all the restaurants have high chairs for them. Spoke to a few parents with their kids as well, and most seemed to find it fairly easy. Next time we are bringing the kid(s).


DO NOT FORGET YOUR INSULATED CUPS!!! I forgot to bring ours, and found myself regretting it time after time. The glasses they provide are too small, and the drinks warm-up too fast. Bring some large insulated mugs!! A good tip will go along way, tip well on the beach, and you’ll have a waiter at your beck and call. Don’t forget to tip the gardeners, they do all the hard work. Bring an alarm clock, none are provided. The gift shop does not have any medicine (immodium, Tylenol, etc…), so don’t forget all these things. Saw someone bring a small pilates mat to put on the beach loungers (they are not as comfortable as the pool loungers). What a great idea, we’re bringing some next time. Brush up on your French, the majority of people there were French Canadians from Montreal (70%+), the rest were from Ontario (we are from Alberta, and only met one other couple from Calgary). If you can speak French, some of the staff are weak in english, but stronger in french, I found myself speaking French often. Bring an extra beach towel, they only give you one each, but it’s always nice to have an extra to cover-up and sleep by the pool or on the beach. Do your research before buying any Che Guevera merchandise…and see what you will be supporting.


Although some minor flaws (beach facing north), this was a great resort, and we will return, likely in April. Considering that we pay usually $5000 CAD for a Sandals resort, and only paid $2750 CAD for this trip, it was excellent value. Very good bang for your buck, and I would have to say that this resort does approach 5-star status. Enjoy Cuba!!

Feel free to message with any questions.


  • Stayed: January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
20  Thank Nick911
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2009

Booked 4 rooms for large family anniversary celebration,3 were ocean view.Rooms were large and clean.Beach was super and very clean as well.People on resort were friendly and always right at your service..----BUT,the food was awful and they kept running out of items especially at beer gardens--menu had twelve items and by 2.00 in morning they could be down to one or two items left--this happened every night--my son said they even ran out of BECKS one night so they had to drink on tap beer.At the A La Carte restaurants we did not fare any better.No lobster at seafood restaurant and no salmon at Italian restaurant!The pizza and calzone restaurant near adult pool was good but was closed inexplicably on the saturday--much to my daughters disappointment.The quality of the food at the main International Buffet went downhill as week went on--as if supply was running low or something.We are not rookie travelers--we have been to All Inclusives in Domininican Republic,jamaica and Barbados.This was the worst for food for sure

  • Stayed: January 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 19, 2009

Flight/Bus ride
All in all was good. Travelled with family group of 20, a little baggage issues but was eventually was sorted out, santa clara airport is small, but the amenities are there if needed (dutyfree, food/drinks,souvenirs). The bus ride is a bit long and may get to the restless type, could not see much through the towns as it was after dark.

Hotel arrival/Check-in
Actually really smooth check in, our papers/room information was given to us at the airport prior to getting on the bus, we were greeted with drinks and music. Our bags were taken care of and brought to our rooms by staff.

Room was very clean, there was a bottle of rum in our room, mini bar was stocked, nice layout, king size bed with cot for our son, tv with approx 15 stations (ESPN, MTV, Cartoon network etc.) A/C worked VERY well.

The buffet was decent, if your very picky you may not find the food great, but you will find something you will like. various rice dishes, vegetables, cucumber etc., fresh omelets in the morning, fresh fish and chicken grilled to order for dinner. I ate frequently at the snack bar by the family pool. for lunch they had poutine which actually pretty good, grilled cheese, tuna/chicken sandwiches, panzarotti, some said was good,some said was bad, i never tried them, burgers. Breakfast there was good, i got the ham omelet, with bacon, toast, fresh fruit, croissant. The juice of choice is mainly pineapple, orange juice was only available at certain times, and if you arrive late at the buffet there may not be much juice available. Cuba Libre, Mojito, cerveza, all typical drinks. We asked for the bartender to make something for us and he made some thing called boom boom boom, very strong so beware.

The nightly entertainment shows were very colourful, animated and full of energy. The dancers were very talented and put in 110% everynight. By the end of the week the shows can possibly get repetitive in regards to dancing, but there was never a repeat in show nor in costumes. types of shows (disney, international dance, pairs dance competition w/ guests, etc.). The night Disco was ready to go right after the show. the size of the disco was a good size, chairs and tables to the back with the dance floor in the middle. The music was good, however it became repetitive towards the last night or so, suggestions- request songs, or better yet bring a mixed cd of your favorite songs and leave it with the DJ when you leave. The disco runs from 11pm-4am, most people are gone around 2:30-3:00am. It is a Closed disco and gets very hot and smokey inside, i personally dont smoke so try and leave the door open and take a walk out then back in every so often. 1 night there was a beach party instead of the indoor disco, i did not go but heard it was ok, bring a light sweater. The grounds actividades team was a really cool group, Wally, Omar, Reinier, if you run into wally tell him "Justin Timberlake" said hola "Loser"(dominoes) they had salsa lessons, archery comp., bull riding competition (empty keg riding in pool). At the activity area there was bocce, pool, ping pong, air hockey, volleyball.

The hotel had beautiful mature trees/shrubs, the grounds keepers had this place looking extremely nice, grass was always clean, walkways swept, gardens raked, these guys do a great job and are a friendly bunch yet are often gone unrecognized, if you have something to leave them do so or tip anything will be appreciated. Having the resort looking so well kept made our trip that much more enjoyable.

Amenities (Pool, Gym, Doctor etc.)
First off id like to start with the on site doctor. We travelled as a large group, our son had needed minor medical attention and we went to the doctor (inside the gym), we were met very quickly by a female doctor. She was fluent in english and had the issue sorted out within minutes, there was a fee which was fine because the service was great, this was one of those things that put this trip above the rest. The family pool was busier than the adult side, more action. the kids club was great our son made a necklace, read books the ladies in charge were great with all the kids. small wading pool perfect for the younger ones approx 6-8" deep. The grounds carts were there when needed, just give front desk a call prior to leaving room and they will come, perfect for dinner reservations, our family group managed to get 15 people on one of these, a task but a fun ride.

This resort was definately a 4.5 star, there was no major issue with the resort/management, we were taken care of. The resort is Huge so prepare to do some walking or hitch a ride on the golf carts when you feel. It is a relatively new resort and it looks it, there is always something to do and the people are great, check out the beautiful beach and you can walk either way for a good distance. Travel here you will not be disappointed, a great resort for a fair price, hard to find but Melia Las Dunas is one of them.

  • Stayed: January 2009
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
9  Thank justintimeToronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 18, 2009

We stayed for a week and our first night was put into a dirty room with stains all over the place; on the sheets, walls, furniture. Ofcourse we tried to change rooms that first night but was told we could not until the morning. We ended up changing rooms the next morning without much difficulty. The new room appeared visually more appealing, minimal amount of stains on sheets, appeared acceptable....so we thought....it was not until a few nights sleeping in the bed of this new room where my other half and I noticed rashes and little insect bites on our bodies...the last two nights were spent clawing and scratching ourselves to bed...ofcourse we complained, ofcourse we demanded new sheets and bedding, but that didnt make a difference. If i knew more about bed bugs at that time, i wouldve changed rooms again. So our last night was also an itchy & scratchy one, but coming home brings forth the potential problem of bringing home one of these critters in our bags/clothing.....we cleaned evertything right away, put our suitcases to freeze out in the cold in plastic bags; just trying to take precautions and kill any unwanted stowaway bugs.
This bed bug problem was our number one reason of why not to come here for a vacation, other reasons are plentiful such as the not so good food, bad customer service, flop maid service, and apparently a theft ring within the resort as two different people in our group said their cameras were stolen one from their rooms, the other said their camera was stolen on the grounds.
This experience has definitly turned us off on cheap all inclusive packages....recommend staying away from this one.

Stayed: January 2009, traveled as a couple
7  Thank upsetregulardude
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 18, 2009

An excellent hotel - by far the best we have ever stayed in when in Cuba.

Restaurant choice and ambience
Quality and range of Buffet restaurant food & food in general
Drinkable red wine!
'Free' drinks in mini bar
Pool bar
No 'beach towels at dawn' approach to getting a deckchair
Handpicked staff (very non PC probably!!!)
Unique location 30km down a manmade causeway
Handy local airport (for Canadians mostly?)
Very pleasant staff mostly
Beach bar and snack bar
Great 'superior' rooms - large and spacious (and a free upgrade for us - you lovely people!!!)

Restaurants always full/prebooked (so you get the buffet default)
No real sense of being by the sea - feels like its inland
Attitude to refunds when the internet connection fails/power goes off ($12 hour too)
Nothing to see and do outside the resort
Over tip driven service for simple basics that their salary & our 'all inclusive' payment should cover (an European perspective here ;-) )
No sea view from rooms - in fact a view of a manhole and a bush only from ours.

Excellent design with quality food and facilities. A beautiful hotel. For us I would probably be bored stiff to spend 2 weeks isolated there, but it is an excellent hotel where they get most things spot on. Ideal for a week's relaxing beach retreat with no exposure to the real Cuba with all its faults and glories. Combine with somewhere else maybe?

Loved it!


  • Stayed: January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
9  Thank BingoBrian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DirectorMLD, Director General at Melia Las Dunas, responded to this reviewResponded February 21, 2017

Dear guest,

We really thank you for your comments, and sincerly apologize to not have answered on time.

Hope to see you next time!

Best regards.

Laurent Labal
General Manager
Meliá Las Dunas

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 15, 2009

Wow, this is a really really good resort - we were actually extremely pleasantly surprised at how nice it was and how professional it was run. I know the TA reviews are consistently good for this property - but you always have a little bit of doubt being Cuba.

We travel extensively (mostly at 5 star resorts and mainly in the Mayan) but this was our first trip to Cuba and this resort is (in many ways) - better than those resorts. Beach is absolutely spectacular. The grounds of the resort, main lobby, facilities are all fantastic. The rooms are very nice and well appointed and everything worked properly. The food is actually pretty good also which was a huge surprise!!

The only thing that they could improve on is the transportation inside the resort. Because the grounds are so large - they should have a couple of extended golf carts constantly circling the two sections which would give guests a choice to catch a ride - should they choose.

Overall the place is GREAT!!! would go back 100%

  • Stayed: January 2009
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
8  Thank sunworship07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Melia Las Dunas

Address: Cayo Santa Maria, Caibarien, Villa Clara | Jardines del Rey, Villa Clara, Cuba
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Villa Clara Province > Cayo Santa Maria
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Spa Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#4 Romantic Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#7 Top resorts Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
Price Range: $136 - $415 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Melia Las Dunas 3.5*
Number of rooms: 925
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 
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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

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