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“nice but hot”

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Sol Rio de Luna y Mares
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Guardalavaca
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 23, 2012

we liked the hotel and the staff were friendly, we had a bad experience with the flight on the way out but it was no fault of the hotel.
food was fantastic, weather was amazing but very hot for two old bodys like us, cant complain about anything .
we were here for a wedding , normally we caravan in holland and france, but realy enjoyed it

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with family
    • Location
5  Thank george H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
FrancisRopero, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this reviewResponded November 1, 2012

Dear george H. Thank you for your visit and your very good review, now it is not so hot as September, maybe next time November would like you better. Take care. Manuel Vazquez

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Reviewed October 22, 2012

My girlfriend and I stayed here mid October 2012. We booked through First Choice and were not sure what to expect as neither of us had been to Cuba before so only booked to stay for 7 nights.

This hotel is the best hotel I have ever stayed in. The service is the first thing you notice as well as the attitude of all the staff. I have never stayed anywhere where the staff are so happy and so attentive to you all the time.

You are issued with a wrist-band when you get on the coach at the airport to say you are an all inclusive guest. Some other guests had different coloured wrist bands (I'm unsure of the significance, I meant to ask the management before we left but I didn't have time).

We were met at the airport by our holiday adviser Waldemar who gave us a great introduction to Cuba and Guardalavaca. During the presentation to guests the following morning he also introduced some of the key members of staff including the hotel manager Manuel and the Head Chef.

Waldemar was constantly present in the hotel near the lobby and kindly helped us book our 3 trips out, along with greeting us in the mornings when we went for breakfast.

The hotel is very clean (I've never seen so many maintenance/grounds people in a resort!). The pool is cleaned almost daily if not every day and was lovely, as was the swim up bar and bar staff. The Luna pool was closed when we stayed there which we knew would be the case before we went so spent our time at the Mares pool. I've no doubt when the work on the Luna pool is completed it will be just as great if not better than the Mares pool.

The grounds are very lush and colourful, the gardeners do a great job ensuring everything is kept nice. There are a lot of small lizards in the grounds which are nothing to be concerned about, they add character to the hotel and should be expected given the location.

The rooms are very good. We stayed on the Luna side so we can't vouch for the rooms in Mares but they were cleaned and prepared daily by our maid. They always left some form of towel art on the beds which was a lovely touch. The only problem is you end up not wanting to use your towels and destroy it!
The beds are very comfortable, the balcony overlooking the beach was nice.
You get a fresh bottle of mineral water in the room every day which went straight in the fridge! Very nice when you get in from a day in the sun!

We had no water in our side of the hotel for a single day due to improvements being done. We were told in advance of this by management which was very good. This is obviously not a usual occurrence and it didn't pose any problems at all. Our shower did take a while to get going in the evening but after a few minutes it kicked into life with no need to ask for help from the staff. Not a problem. Quality of the bathroom is good. His & hers sinks, nice clean toilet on arrival, clean bath/shower combo, shaver socket & hairdryer included.

The lobby bar is 24hrs and is very popular. There is usually between 3-4 staff on hand but don't be surprised if you have to wait a little while to be served as it is often busy. The bar staff always do their best to serve you as quickly as possible and are always very pleasant.

The beaches are cleaned daily of seaweed so they are always in excellent condition. The sand is soft and white, the sea is clear and blue. No litter or debris. There are no sellers on the beach. Security are on hand to ensure that the beach is enjoyed only by the hotel guests which is fantastic. You can hire pedalos & sailing boats etc from the clubhouse on the beach, which were included in our package. These need to be pre-booked and they do stop for lunch.

Evening entertainment included various bands by the pool in Mares. They were amazing, I think local singers. Definitely worth watching. Also there was water ballet. We only caught the end of this but it looked amazing.

Food: The volume of food in the buffet restaurant is phenomenal. Lots of various meats, fish, vegetables, pasta, pizza, fruit. It is all cooked to a high standard, and is delicious. We reserved dinner at the french restaurant one evening and at the mexican for another. Both were great and the service was miles better than any restaurants in the UK & Europe that I have eaten in. The food was again, EXCELLENT. You only get 2 reservations a week which is fair enough, if you want to experience more of them (there are 4 reservable restaurants in total including Italian & Romantic) then stay for 2 weeks.

We booked trips to the Dolphin Swim in Guardalavaca, the Holguin Tour and Island Paradise.

We would recommend them all. The Dolphin Swim offers some amazing extras for a little extra money, it is definitely worth taking the extra 40-50CUC for these. The trainers are fantastic and the Dolphin & Sea lion show after the swim is great.
Holguin Tour was a tour including a visit to a cigar factory and a nice meal in Holguin for lunch. Very interesting.
On our last day we did the Island Paradise tour to Cayo Saetia. Our guide for this trip was Ernest or 'Ernie.' He made sure this trip was amazing & kept us entertained throughout the coach trip, on the catamaran and on the island. We both agreed we'd left the best until last. This would be our most recommended trip during our stay in Cuba.

Please remember to bring enough cash for tips both during day trips & for the hotel staff. Although it is not customary to tip, and the staff do not pressure you for tips, you will want to tip them as the service they provide is absolutely brilliant and well worth it.

In summary, this is a fantastic hotel. It should be rated 5*. Manuel & his team do a fantastic job to ensure all the guests who stay with them are happy and will do anything to make you feel welcome. If you are travelling to eastern Cuba, then please stay at this hotel.

As soon as we got home, we were already making arrangements to return again the following year. We hope we'll see the same great staff again.

We will be back next year at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares and we will definitely be staying for 2 weeks. We cannot wait to go back!!

Room Tip: We emailed the hotel prior to travelling to advise we'd like a sea view room. This was arranged...
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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13  Thank Paulrichiardi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 21, 2012

This is the 4rth year running my husband and myself have gone to Cuba and must admit the best. The hotel is only 4* but you get 5* treatment. We were on the Mares side as the Luna pool was being worked on but every evening we went to the Luna side for the night time entertainment which suited us. The entertainment in the Mares was very good as well. Only fault the theatre was never open but I believe that was due to the improvements going on. There are 2 beaches one for each hotel but you use either. There is always plenty of sunbeds no mater what time you go down to the beach. We found the Luna beach was very quiet,where you could sunbathe under the beautiful trees ,also you have the beach bar where we ate every lunch time. They served the most delious fish dishes,Ronald and the rest of the staff there were friendly.The food in the dining hall overall was very good, there was always plenty to choose from, again waitresses very pleasant. Also there is the French, Mexican and Italian restaurants to choose from. Our favourite was the French. It has a more romantic feel than the Italian.The rooms are clean and comfortable with excellent room service. Any problem, you went to customer service and whatever it was it was dealt with immediately. When you have had enough of lounging by the pool or lazing on the beach you can hire an old American car to take you to the market, also the horse and carriage, or go on the open top bus. If you use the horse and carriage I advise you to use Alex as his is more "surry with the fringe on top". Manuel, the manager is always at you disposal as well of course your travel courier. My husband and myself were there to celebrate our 51st wedding anniversary and hopefully we will be there next your to celebrate our 52nd.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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12  Thank Margaret B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
FrancisRopero, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this reviewResponded November 1, 2012

Dear Margaret B. Thank you for your confidence, it has been a pleasure to help you with my team and we hope you come back for next anniversary. Best regards. Manuel Vazquez

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Reviewed October 20, 2012

We stayed here in April for two weeks. It's possibly one of the best hotels I have stayed in throughout the Caribbean. We stayed on the Luna side all inclusive.
Food - the food here is excellent. The buffet restuarant is always consistent with a variety of fresh food - spoilt for choice. The a la carte restaurants are also just as good, our favourite was the Cuban.
Staff - the staff here are so friendly and welcoming. Nothing is too much trouble - especially Jenny who works in the bar, such a lovely lady.
Beach - the beach is what made this hotel for me. It's literally faultless with miles of pure white sand! Absolute paradise.
Cuba will always be my favourite Caribbean island - there is so much to do and see and the people are the friendliest I have ever met.
Can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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10  Thank Blondie067
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 19, 2012

Service staff unfriendly, where as front desk staff very friendly.
Booked months in advance, and confirmed to main building, upon arrival find we are in the furthest building from the lobby and have to climb 6 flights of stairs, try that when you need a ground floor room because of a handicap, and they were informed of said. No elevators in the back buildings folks ... just a ton of stairs ... in its defense the view was breathtaking .. finally got moved when another tour left the hotel ...
Wait staff in restaurant generally efficient by not customer oriented.
i.e.: Will knock you over in the door ways, or barge in front of you

Rooms overall not clean, appear rundown.
Unclean bed sheets, one person in our party had spiders in their bed ...
Air conditioning not functioning in many rooms.
Electrical not working in many rooms ..
Many electrical outlets have no covers, generally ones behind items ...
Many rooms filthy paint, and unclean floors.
Hallways dimly lit if at all, and during a storm water pours from 220 volt ceiling fixtures.
Renovations to second pool exposed visitors to safety issues. Boards with nails in them
piled by the pool, chipboard used as ramps over broken stairs.
Room staff haphazard service, rooms IF cleaned were done late afternoon.
Very LARGE Cockroaches in rooms in the daytime ...
Fire ants found in many rooms ...and the bites sting ...
Dead bugs just swept on the stairs in piles not to be cleaned up but to be blown away by the wind

Not a resort I would recommend to friends and family

Room Tip: Go to another resort.
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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6  Thank Geoff B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2012

We stayed at SRLM for a fortnight from 1st Oct. Despite requesting a room via email before we left on the Luna side we were given Mares initially- I have to say these rooms really do need a good refurb, dodgy electric plugs, lights and sockets, room was not very clean and the matresses were awful (2 single beds despite asking for a double)- so much that we asked for these to be changed, which they were immediately but without much improvement. The hotel are in the process of upgrading all of the rooms, which is only managed by Melia hotels but owned by the Cuban government (army) as are almost all hotels in Cuba- so upgrades only occur when both agree these are necessary. Whilst these rooms on the Mares side are in the main hotel and nearer all the ammenities, therefore more lively and noisy aswell they are definately not 4* by anyones standards- suffice to say we were not best impressed by the firt impressions and felt that First Choice were selling us 2 star as a 4 star. We changed rooms on day 3. The newly refurbished ones on the Luna side were a vast improvement- modern fittings, a new king size bed with a matress that you could sleep on peacefully, electrics all in good order. We got sea views in both rooms without paying extra for the privilege, and in Luna it's only about a 7 min walk to the main lobby, but closer to the beach via a back route. This was more like it- AC very quiet and efficient which was a great relief from the heat.

The hotel has a great location on the beach, almost private and great views of the shoreline of the 5* paradiso next door, which really is very plush and swanky. My partner regularly swam out to lie in their hammocks over the water even though these didn't really belong to our hotel! The best snorkelling is down that end of the beach as well, if you take some bread the fish will come to you ! The swell and waves can move you around in the water a bit so best to snorkell at high tide to avoid grazes to the knees, and wear footwear to protect your toes from the coral, rocks and the sea urchins, obviously we tried not to touch these but they are only about 0.5m under water so at times you just got moved into them by the sea. Seawater was generally great to swim in although after a thunderstorm it did get churned up a bit with some more algae and seaweed - still very warm and welcoming though. We used the catamaran (with captain) and the pedalos on our own which were both free and good fun for an hour.

Food was ok, we generally avoided the pasta, pizza and chips, so mostly had salad and fresh fish or meat- cooked to order, plus the cuban local food. It did get a bit similar for 2 weeks lunch and dinner. Be aware though that not all veg is easily available in Cuba so be prepared to have some slightly unusual combinations for salads. Cooks seemed to be more helpful if you tipped them, but the head chef was great at meeting requests without the need for this- he managed to get me some guava paste- delicious on toast and with cheese, which wasn't usually available at the hotel and even gave me some as we left! We did go to the French, Italian and Romantica a la cartes, to be honest I wasn't majorly impressed with any given the star rating. It's the same food as lunch just in much smaller portions and presented differently. Of all of them the French was best, and had the best wine with very attentive service and most formal atmosphere.

Drinks- after sampling a variety of cocktails we elected to mostly drink Cuba libres or pina coladas as these were the best mix for us- we were a bit dissapointed in the mojitos, not enough sugar or mint. The luna bar opened at 3pm until around 11pm and was quieter and a good stop off for a lemon slush puppy (granita de limon) which were thirst quenching and tastsy, and good with a slug of rum too.

Although SRLM has the infrastructure of a 4* in reality a lot of this was not functioning properly, especially with regard to balls! we wanted to play tennis- two rackets (one broken and taped together) and no balls! we asked them to find some and let us know- 1 hour later they found 1 ball which was so dead it hardly bounced and was also pretty frustrating having to chase after it each time we finished a point! Table tennis -Bats with patchy foam but useable, lack of balls at times (late evening) although the animation team never seemed to have any issues. Beach volley ball- Had to use a guests volleyball as none available at the hotel- so if the people who brought it didn't turn up there was no game. My advice- bring some balls with you and leave them behind when you leave. Table football at luna side- Well the balls didn't return when they went in the goal so had to lift up an retrieve- not a big thing really although after seeing the size of some of the spiders that were around (and like to live in holes) I did wonder if i was likely to get a bite at times! Also the spa jacuzzi was broken throughout our entire stay and you need to arrive 20 mins before you want a steam or sauna to put in you room key in order to heat them up - not what you expect from a 4*. We were also under the impression that use of bicycles were included free in the holiday but you have to pay 3 or 5 CuC per day depending how long you hire them for. We did cycle all the way to the indian village about 9Km away but on a bike with only one gear going uphill was hard work, and whilst it was great fun I did get very hot! You can do it on the tourist bus for the same price and a lot more comfort- although you don't get to meet the locals as much!

Cuba is an incredibly safe and friendly country and I regularly went off on my own into Guadalavaca, town proper, and we organised our own trip to Santiago de Cuba at a fraction of the cost of the organised tours. Genni at the Gaviota tour desk was very helpful in sorting out tranfers for us and liasing with the casa particular Nenita (a local house that rents out rooms in the centre of Santiago) about the return leg regarding. Everything went smoothly and we had a fanatastic 2 nights in Santiago for only 50CuC between us for the room, and 40 each for the transfers. You can eat for 5 CuC each but if you want to go for lobster go to La Terraza paladar, again a family home that opens as a restaurant for lunch and dinner and share the lobster fish platter that cost 20CuC in total! Trust me it is gigantic and easily feeds two. Check out lonely planet for the details or ask Nenita at the casa as La Terraza was her recomendation! Santiago is much more Cuban and you'll have loads more interaction with the locals than in Gudalavaca, some of which could be a bit frustrating and definatley you are seen as a souce of money by the dancers and musicians in the streets and music houses- but play the game and you'll have a fab night or two!

We also did the paradise island tour with Gaviota which is the same price as the first choice one 79CuC but includes the jeep safari (9cuc ea extra), which really was great fun and I got some amazing pictures of the African wildlife there! Snorkeling would have been great if the wind hadn't blown in some jelly fish, but the food on the island rivaled our lobster dinner in terms of flavour- fresh battered fish, moist and melting buffalo, delicious wild boar, with a variety of salad and rice dishes. There was also pasta for those with less adventerous tastes. I also did the mangrove fishing 39CuC which was a great way to while away the morning and again a very delicious lunch of the fish I caught and the traditional Cuban plantain chips to accompany them!

All in all the staff at SLRM were very attentive to our needs and requests, whatever their motivation to do so, and were gerallly very friendly and postive. I'm not sure if i would go back, but only because there are other places in Cuba that I would also like to see too, and if I did I would be wiser to the need to bring some sports balls with me so that I could enjoy the full use of the facilities. I could see that the hotel mamangement were keen to meet the needs of the guests quickly and would go out of their way to try to accomodate you.

Buy your alcohol at the airport, it's cheaper than the hotel shops and doesn't count in your baggage allowance as you are already weighed in, and there is no hassle about it having to fit into your hand luggage! A 70cl bottle of 3 year old Havana Club for 4,40CuC = £3 is such a bargain! We got our cigars here too and they were also cheaper! You can change money if you want to at the cadeca in the departure lounge! We also sat together in both directions for the flights without forking out the extra for this either and there were a few spare seats on the plane, so unless you really need to spend an extra £100 each for this and use of an all inclusive bar at the airport, I'd just buy a bottle in duty free, sit at the ac bar downstairs and take a remote chance on spending 8 hours apart!

Room Tip: Mares for lively and close to ammenities, but more basic rooms Luna for modern rooms, closer to t...
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank Amy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
FrancisRopero, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this reviewResponded October 19, 2012

Dear Amy S. Thank you for your visit and all the tips for guest and for us too. Any request please send us to one of our emails at the hotel (reservations , reception, customer service) following tripadvisor rules I am not allowed to write them hear, anyway even you are with us let us know to our customer service team to help you or any other guest. I hope you can come back in the future to give you even a better service. Kind regards. Manuel Vazquez

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Reviewed October 18, 2012

The hotel is fab and its location...we went in June 2012...the staff are extremely helpful ..Nancy the thomson rep is great ....Manuel Vazquez is a great manager ...even though the first room we got was not very nice ..we just went to reception and they changed it immediately and then asked if any other problems to let them know ....attitudes are great ....I am vegetarian and the food is so varied ...I even asked for the eggs to be cooked separate from the meats and that was changed ...I went to the al a carte Mexican and Italian ...italian was the best ...The watersports are great ....take your own snorkel ....I would go back any day !!!!!!!! Floyd couple

Room Tip: I would prefer a room nearer the beach which I think was the Luna side although I had a room over th...
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  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank siobhan s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sol Rio de Luna y Mares

Address: Ctra. de Guardalavaca | Playa Esmeralda, Guardalavaca 84170, Cuba
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Holguin Province > Guardalavaca
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Guardalavaca
Price Range: $122 - $332 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Sol Rio de Luna y Mares 3.5*
Number of rooms: 464
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Four -Star All Inclusive Resort with 464 rooms. Located beachfront in Playa Esmeralda, on the northern coast of Holguin province, where visitors will be amazed by the dazzling superposition of blues and greens from the sea, sky and costal shrubbery. This hotel complex is surrounded by extensive green areas and offers a wide variety of services and attractions. Recommended for families, weddings, honeymoons and tourist groups.Guest Rooms464 rooms: 308 Standard, 108 Standard Ocean View, 30 Standard Superior Ocean View, 6 Junior Suite, 4 Suite, 8 Family Suite Ocean ViewDining7 Restaurants (A la Carta, Buffet), 6 Bars ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Hotel Guardalavaca
Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Resort
Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Guardalavaca, Cuba - Holguin Province

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