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“Caribbean seas”

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Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Guardalavaca
Certificate of Excellence
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
23 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Caribbean seas”
Reviewed November 18, 2013

Just returned from 2 weeks in Cuba first visit to Cuba, its a fascinating place given its isolation from the world , The Brisas hotel proved a good introduction to Cuba, it was a very good stay for 2 weeks ,direct onto the beach nice short walk along the beach to the small local market, staff at the hotel are first class. The rooms are rather dated but clean spacious and comfortable . The food was limited and got a bit boring after 14 days, however the range of drinks at the bar was exceptional for a all inclusive hotel with many international brands, however if you are a beer drinker like me its more like American light beer, but you can always drink the nice Cuban rum instead.

Booked through Thomas Cook good flights plenty leg room on planes ( better than BA to New York ) transfers worked well and good support from the Thomas Cook rep will go back .

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled solo
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11 Thank Arthur340
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Montreal
Level Contributor
16 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed November 18, 2013

Hotel: Super clean and well maintained. Rooms clean and in good condition. The rooms facing the ocean are also facing the pool and entertainment area and are probably more noisy a night. We were on the other side and it was very quiet. Still, the noise from the entertainment ended at 11pm every night if not earlier, so i would not say it is a problem unless you go to bed early;-)

Beach: Clean, quiet, safe, lots of shade available, no waves to small waves (depending on weather), aquatic activities (pedalo, windsurfing, canoes), snorkeling from the beach(see more details further)

Food: 24h, Buffet and à la carte resto, all good, great variety (we had lobster!), great quality.(pork, lamb, beef, turkey, chicken, quails, fish, etc)

Note to snorkeling adepts: At first the best way to find your spots is to go with a pedal boat. Some of the best spots are right in front of the marina (50-100 meters)straight from the rocks and east of there. The depth averages 5m maybe? Another option is to WALK from the beach into the water right in line from the stairs from the swimming pool. It gets deep to maybe 2m, but suddenly the floor raises again and you are standing in 30cm of water in algae. WARNING: We saw a lot of sea urchins with spiky needles(we read stories of people getting hurt by stepping on them at this beach and spending the day in the hospital). If you walk i would suggest to wear rubber shoes, fins or just swim. After 20m or so you will start reaching areas that we liked to call pools, a deeper area (1m-3m)with sandy bottom, and that is where you will start seeing corals and fish. The further you go the better, but a snorkeling vest and fins may be a good idea and the deeper areas(we had both). We spent the biggest part of our vacation doing that. Of course, there will be days when the water is not clear, but keep going or searching for the perfect spot and you will find it.

Room Tip: Rooms on the street side are quieter.
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
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4 Thank AcVl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
36 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 109 helpful votes
Reviewed November 15, 2013

My girlfriend and i recently returned home from two weeks at Brisas, Guardalavaca. We have been coming to this area approximately thirty times in the past ten years, staying at the Atlantico, Brisas and Sol Lunas del mar. Of the three, Brisas had to be our favourite. Of all the times i've visited Brisas, it was the first time staying in the hotel section. Previously, I stayed in the Villas (which was under construction). The room on the third floor had a lovely view of the pool area and beach. The room consisted of two double beds, small flat screen tv, bar fridge. The bathroom had a dated tub, sink and hair drier. The voltage was 220 and I had forgot to bring my converter for my phone. The bathroom did not have a exhaust fan. Food was much better than all the hotels we stayed at. There were a lot of choices and service was excellent. For lunch and dinner they served a lovely Spanish red house wine. I spoke to the food manager a few times, once in regards to a "blue cheese" which they ran out of . Within a couple of days it was available. Sometimes they even had smoked salmon. Activities at this hotel never quit. I participated in a few fun things, such as target shooting, which i seldom do at other hotels. Often they had "beer drinking contests", and other fun afternoon activites.Drinks were always and easily available. One of the entertainment staff members, especially "Michael" even used his phone to send a text to holguin regarding a business transaction. The internet is available for $3 for half hour. The beach was a short walk away (wheelchair accessible). Although the weather could have been better, (couple days of rain) there was always Global TV Toronto, CNN and a good movie channel. The local crafts market was a ten minute walk, beside the Atlantico hotel. The local beach bars on the beach, (Beer still only $1.folks,) now close at 7PM. I will be looking forward to many more return visits to this hotel.

Room Tip: Upper floors are better and quieter. Do not take Parking Lot side..Extremely hot in the afternoons
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank holguincuba2002
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oldham, South Dakota
Level Contributor
15 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed November 8, 2013 via mobile

Just returned from this great hotel, visited last April 2013 for the 1st times itch my husband & son, really enjoyed it so much we had to return only this time with my nephew & mother & father in law, i just knew they would love it & they did really relaxing. The villa section is closed, we where offered by travel agents to change hotel prior to departure, this didn't spoil our holiday. Beach beautiful, pool refreshing, bar well stocked, restaurant great, rooms okay but who goes on holiday to stay in your room, Cuban hotel staff from the maid to the waiters, really friendly and couldn't do enough for us, even had bar waiter on the beach & around the pool. Will I visit again defiantly that would be a BIG YES

Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
Helpful?
9 Thank Daviesbuckley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
86 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
Reviewed October 30, 2013

There was a major bump on the road but overall we had a great time at Brisas Guardalavaca. For the price we paid ($550 pp), the week was a heck of a deal!

ARRIVAL

This was the bad part. I hadn’t realized until we boarded but we were flying with the new Air Canada Rouge fleet, a discount line they started apparently to compete with Sunwing. Apart from AirBaltic, it was the most bare-boned flight I’ve ever been on. They crammed the seats closer together so you have even less leg room, so they could fit in a couple more rows than their traditional planes, which are the same Airbus model as was this. No in-flight entertainment at all, unless you used a credit card to buy an app for your cell phone. I definitely prefer Sunwing for the flight – with more space, a meal, and champagne.

Arrival was pretty smooth, although the Holguin airport’s quite poor for signage. The currency exchange is in the departure area, not arrival – I found this out too late.

The bus ride was about 70 minutes. We saw nothing because it was so late at night – we got to the resort after midnight. Checkin was painfully slow and the porters tried to grab your bags as soon as you were checked in so they could roll your suitcase to the elevator and your room, and demand a tip. I saw them actually take the room key from the front desk staff for another guest so they had no choice but to use their service. I made sure to nab my room key from the front desk staff. Unless you’re in the villas, which are currently closed, it’s extremely easy to find your room, and there are elevators. No need for an escort.

ROOM

Our room was smaller than most we’ve had in Cuba, but who cares really? You’re on vacation. We asked for a king and they gave us two doubles, but again, who cares? You get a mini-fridge with a bottle of water, soap and shampoo in the washroom, the usual. There were drawers and clothes hangers, and the rooms had patios.

If you value your sleep, as other reviewers say, do NOT get an oceanview room. You’ll be facing the stage, which blasts music from early morning to late at night.

FOOD

It was my seventh time in Cuba, and I’ve never had problems with the food. People say it’s a lot better than the food in Mexico but as I’ve never been there, I can’t compare. The food was quite good here! The fish has bones, yes, but they also have lots of chicken, pork, veggies and tons of fruit. The trip is so cheap too! I think I ate my own weight in guava, mmm. There was an omelette station at breakfast and pasta at lunch. Grills were going for all three meals. Tons of options. I have celiac disease, so 75% of the foods were off-limits to me anyway, so if I can find plenty to eat, I think anyone can.

Despite what some other reviewers say, the food at the à la cartes is not at all the same as the buffet – you can get lobster at the à la cartes! We tried the Cuban, International and Seafood and loved them all. Big lobsters at both the International and Seafood, and the waiters doubled as entertainers at the Seafood and Cuban restaurants .They were a hoot – singers, jugglers, magicians. We highly recommend going to the à la cartes! They also had better wine than the buffet, including a Riesling at the International restaurant.

BEACH/POOL

The beach was amazing. Despite the spot-savers, we never had problem finding a spot with shade. I think the resort was only half full at most. The pool was overbearingly hot due to the high humidity (50 degree humidex) so we stuck to the beach. The Cubans tended to take over the pool, and lots of loud kids were there. The beach was quieter, cooler, and more relaxing. The only downside was that there are no washrooms or bar near the beach; you have to walk back to the pool area for that. It’s only a couple minutes though so no biggie.

The beach towel exchange was right by the beach, and I never saw them run out of towels. The lady there also operates a “take a book, leave a book” so we took advantage of that too. Lovely. There’s also security on the beach to keep away the non-guests.

BARS

Again, due to the resort not being full, there was rarely a lineup at the bars. The El Cappucino bar and Havana Club bar both had amazing drinks but hardly anyone went there. Don’t miss out on trying them! The Cuban coffee is soo good – don’t even need to add milk or sugar! The tea selection is pretty poor, though, and the “Tea Garden” they advertised we never saw happen.

CLIENTELE

The people there were mostly older couples, or younger ones with kids. A LOT of kids at this resort. Really no one our age (late 20s) except those with kids. Tons of cigarette smokers.

Other reviewers said that the resort fills up with Cubans on the weekend, but our experience was that the Cubans were there all week actually. The weekend was no different. Overall, I’d say it was about 40% Cuban or otherwise Spanish-speaking, 40% Canadian, and 20% other (British/German). Some of the parents didn’t keep an eye on their kids – I saw one urinating on a bush by the pool. Better than in the pool I guess!

To my disappointment, most people there did not respect the dress codes. Would it really kill you to wear pants and a decent shirt to an à la carte restaurant? Many walked in with shorts, and some even in bathing suits. The Cuban people are wonderful, and wish for their dinners to be a bit less casual – please show them some respect and at least wear pants, guys.

MEDICAL

Unfortunately, I got food poisoning my fourth day there. The kids’ table at the buffet had some pork that we think had been out for hours, or it may have been the chicken I had at the à la carte. Anyway, I have never been so sick. After hours of vomiting I went to the medical clinic down the road, and was on an IV for a couple of hours by virtue of being severely dehydrated, and was given antibiotics and other medicine. Although they didn’t speak much English or French, they were very good there, and inexpensive. My bill was only 130 pesos; I was shocked! I’m just glad I was in Cuba, with its advanced medical system. I’m glad I wasn’t in Mexico or the DR. Yet another reason to choose Cuba for your trip. It was my seventh time in Cuba and this was only the first time I’d gotten sick. I shouldn’t have eaten that pork. Be sure that you only eat freshly cooked meat, and fully cooked meat. Don’t make the same mistake I did! I had bad stomach cramps the rest of the trip.

To make matters worse, we had trouble paying because we’d forgotten to bring a credit card drawn on a Canadian bank – only had Capital One. However, we were able to pay using a transfer through Air Canada Vacations, and we want to say a big gracias to Pavel, the ACV rep, who was absolutely fantastic. Also fluent in English and French. Very pleased with his service.

ENTERTAINMENT

We went to most of the shows. Some were quite silly (i.e. the fashion show). The “magic show” was more like a circus show. Great talent, mind you, but there was no magic at all. Other shows were largely just dancers. I hear the aqua ballet is quite good, which I believe is Thursday nights, but I was hugging the porcelain bowl from the food poisoning at that time so I missed it.

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

The à la carte reservations need to be made outside the main buffet. Staff are there morning and afternoon (hours are posted). There was rarely a lineup apart from first thing in the morning. Make your reservations ASAP after you arrive as the restaurants do fill up quickly!

Tipping is appreciated but not expected. I actually didn’t see many people tipping at bars, although at the à la cartes and buffet it was common.

No matter how many injuries we see, there are still people who get on mopeds in the Caribbean. I saw a woman who suffered horrific road rash. Please, don’t use a moped, just pay a bit more and take an organized tour. It’s not worth losing a layer of skin!

As other reviewers have noted, this resort is very loud. They blast music from the pool for most of the day. Even at the far end of the beach, we could still hear the bass. If you want true peace and quiet, this might not be the resort for you.

This resort is very accessible to the disabled – ramps everywhere. We saw a couple of people in wheelchairs, and tons of baby strollers.

Despite a few minor gripes, we did have a great time. I just feel it’s important to make visitors aware of the pitfalls. We definitely suggest going, especially if you have kids. We likely won’t return as we like to try new places but we recommend it for sure. It’s rated four stars and that’s definitely what it is.

Room Tip: Do NOT get oceanview, unless you're a late-night partier.
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
22 Thank Mark J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed October 29, 2013

About Cuba in general for those that haven't been there (was our first time):
- when they say Internet is available: there is no Wifi in the room and you have to pay $6/hr for Internet on very slow computers; asked people from 5-star hotels and apparently it's the same.
- star ratings in Cuba are not the same as the International standards (if they advertise 4 stars, assume 3)
- tourism is a big part of GDP; there are severe punishments if locals do anything to tourists and therefore it is very safe to travel in Cuba
- service is directly related to tipping
- we supposedly went during "storm season" but it only rained once for 15 minutes and the weather was just fantastic (weather on Google just kept saying rain storm and cloudy skies for the whole week)
- they only have knock offs for soft drinks, possibly due to relationship with the U.S.
- their "filtered water" tastes like pool water; what we did was leave the empty bottle on the bed and let the cleaning lady give us a new bottle instead of asking the bar to fill it up
- when snorkeling, do not touch the sea urchins with the long spikes... they poke in your finger and break; had to pay the hotel clinic $5 to take it out

Good things about this hotel:
- good bang for the buck ($1688 for 2, 1 week including flight from Vancouver)
- always had fresh fruits in the buffet
- the seafood restaurant "El Patio" was fun to eat in
- room cleaning lady was very good, made an elephant, a pig, swans, and etc with towels; also received a hand-written note on the last day saying goodbye
- very clean beach, staff constantly cleans up the junk that people leave behind
- the beach area is a lot bigger than the Club Amigos Hotel next door
- lots of security along the beach area
- water sports gear was readily available to borrow
- sun cruise excursion (catamaran, snorkeling, dolphin trip, lobster lunch) for $110 per person was super awesome; do not have high expectations for the lobster lunch
- right next to the Guardalavaca hospital/clinic
- only 5 minutes of walk to the bank which opens from 9-12 AM (turn right on the main road outside the main entrance of the hotel, the bank is right behind a building named "Flamboyant.." on the left)
- within 15 minutes of walk to the market; apparently the things on display change everyday so buy it if you like it

Bad things about the hotel:
- impossible to exchange currency at the front desk if you don't line up at 9 AM; staff kept telling us to check an hour later for four times but never bothered to mention that the bank is only 5 minutes of walk away
- front desk staff is not particularly friendly, always looked at us with the "what is it now?" attitude
- the washroom smelled like sewage and if we turned off the AC, the sewage smell goes into the room; talked to other people, apparently not everybody gets this problem
- AC is too cold to leave on during the night because the sheets are too thin (like one sheet of fabric thin)
- lack of face towels in the washroom
- watching TV with the AC on tripped the fuse
- there was no water in the room for one afternoon
- a la carte was tough to book; we reserved seats on our 2nd day there (arrived at 12AM the night prior), and could only get 2 restaurants
- getting "Gala Dinner" for a la carte was a scam, they served the same food as they served in the normal buffet but just lit a candle in the middle of the table to be "romantic"
- buffet food all looked mushy and unidentifiable, can't tell how many times they have been reheated
- there are missing tiles at the bottom of the pool; someone got her foot cut from playing water polo and had to get 4 stitches

Room Tip: Oceanview rooms receive all the noise from the parties and shows outside
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank hehe_girl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
toronto
Level Contributor
27 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2013

I have to agree with Aquagirl at first glance the resort seems a little divey. The room was very basic, smaller than I thought it would be but the view of the ocean is unbelievable it is breathtaking, kept my curtains open all day and smiled everytime I went to my room when I saw the view. The ladies at the front desk were super nice whenever I had questions they always had a smile on their faces. The food was good. I always found something to eat, the cheese is excellent, the wait staff at the buffet were great.
The 24 hour bar area is a little run down and the drinks aren't that great the other bar by the buffet restaurant is much nicer.
There is a store onsite that sells tshirts and shampoo and rum and cigars I was surprised by what was available.
Purchased cigars at the cigar store in front of Club Amigo on the road side.
The resort is small enough that you can always find your friends, just stand on the balcony and look out you will eventually see them. I loved that the beach was steps away from the pool and the bar. There were lots of loungers and shade around the pool and the beach. The beach was very very clean. The water was warm and the ocean floor was sandy with some weeds but they were easily avoided. The market is a short walk away past Club Amigo which also looked like a fun place. Ate pizza at the restaurant by the market it was excellent and cheap.
The entertainment was ok, some nights better than others. Met some great people at the Disco which is on the premises. Beach party on Wed and Sat nights was also fun.
There were some Cuban families staying at the hotel but they were just like everyone else and I didn't think that they were getting better service than anyone else.
The pool area was fine, but very noisy.
We met so many great people! Made some new friends, and really had a nice relaxing week
I would return, but I would stay in the villa area. The hotel is just too noisy and it is noisy from 10 am til at least midnight and later if there are loud people hanging out at the 24 hour bar, you can hear the voices through the glass patio doors, not much the hotel can do about it. That's why I rate it 4/5.
Our bus left for the airport at 5 pm which is before the buffet for dinner is open so I took some ziplock bags and put some cheese and crackers in it at lunch to eat when we got to the airport just easier than eating airport food. Keep some pesos on you for the airport when going home. $2 for a bottle of water! And there are NO other options. There wasn't a great selection at the duty free but I only wanted rum so that was ok.
All in all I loved the resort and would definitely return.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank TorontoTopper1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel

Property: Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel
Address: Calle 2, Playa, Guardalavaca 84170, Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Holguin Province > Guardalavaca
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Guardalavaca
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 437
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Brisas Hotel Guardalavaca
Guardalavaca Brisas Hotel
Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel Cuba - Holguin Province

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