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Sol Rio de Luna y Mares
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Guardalavaca
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 16, 2013

Second time to this resort (Went four yrs ago). Things are much the same as previous trip (did not seem as full).
Pros: Beach is beautiful (best we have been to at a resort) Tropical paradise.
Staff attitude is second to none ,Customer service took care of problems quickly.
Good variety of drinks, A la cartes were good, restaurants were clean. Buffets were efficient,,line ups short.

Cons: Resort is aging ,Rooms are dated. Hot water,plumbing and electrical issues for us.


Notes : Bring your favorite condiments(ketchup etc) in packet form to eat with your meals.
Let customer service know if you are a returnee (benefits).
Lots of loungers (on beach a peso will get you them moved setup and wiped down .
Bring tissues in small packets for excursions.

In Cuba : We talked to the staff ,guides etc and some goods are expensive ,hard too get.
Clothing ,shoes, shampoo and toothpaste, gum and pringles are good to tip with and much appreciated .


Had a great vacation because of 1/ friends and family 2 / weather 3/ resort

Room Tip: mares noisy/luna quiet
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank warmupcanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manuel V, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this reviewResponded March 23, 2013

Dear warmupcanada. Thank you for your visit and you great feedback specially your compliments to my team. We hope you come back soon. Kind regards. Manuel Vazquez

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 16, 2013

Dear Manuel,

What a truly wonderful holiday we had, mainly due to the warm, friendly staff, scrumptious food in the a la.carte restaurants and the fantastic location of your hotel. We stayed in the Luna side of the hotel (7319) which was lovely with a gorgeous view. Better to be on a higher floor to get the sea view, but the gardens are so pretty that it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Waking up to the sound of the sea and the bird song was idyllic. I could overlook that the decor was a little tired over the fact that everything was kept spotless and our cleaners were charming.. On the constructive side, I would suggest employing more bank tellers as the queue to get cash in the little kiosk in the Mares side was at times irritating and a little warm. This could definitely be improved. Booking a table in the a la carte restaurants could also be a bit of a task. I do suggest that you have bankIng facilities in the Luna side too.

We took the trip to Havana which was great fun. Just be careful where you get to stay as we did not stay in Old Havana which we were expecting, but in fairness Thomson did refund £100 each as we complained about that! I absolutely adored Havana. What a fabulous place and wouldn't have missed it. The excursion was good value for money and included good choice of restaurants and The Tropicana club which we loved ... Great rum and inclusive with a complimentary cigar! I wouldn't have missed Havana, steeped in its history and wonderful Cuban culture.

Being a sea lover and adoring sailing we had such fun on the hobbie cats, but a shame we were not allowed to take them out without an instructor. Yordy was our man and we even caught a tuna! Great guy so ask for him on the beach and send him Susie's love! The beach was absolutely stunning and lunch in the beach bar, serving fresh fish every day was consistently good with attentive, friendly serving staff.

Suggest visiting Guardalavaca for a visit as good for presses and cigars to take home.

In summary, we are delighted with our choice of holiday and thoroughly impressed with Cuba, the gorgeous people, the hospitality and would unhesitatingly recommend it!

Thank you, Manuel ... You certainly run a good ship!

Susie ;o) x

Room Tip: Higher, the better for a sea view. Definitely preferred the Luna side.
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank SusieBirkett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 15, 2013

I'd looked in to this hotel in minute detail as some of the reviews were not great. We decided to go for it as we are pretty adaptable in most circumstances. Being honest, the food was not up to much, the Mexican was a nod to Mexico, the food was locally sourced and therefore not great. Really the same for all of the a la carte. The buffet was ok. The drinks were not good, flat mixers, local drinks which were not great and long waits at the bars. A faded resort which was over priced for what it was. I went with pretty low expectations as it was Cuba, however even then, and I have travelled to third world countries, it was below my expectations. They are trying hard though to upgrade the hotel with a new manager. Thomsons should remove this hotel from their brochure until it is up to standard again. Very disappointed in both the hotel and Thomsons who in my opinion over priced and over sold this hotel. and there were lots of others there at the same time who felt the same. Sorry to have to say this Sol Mares

Room Tip: Choose the quieter rooms in block 8
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Tracey Jayne P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manuel V, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this reviewResponded March 15, 2013

Dear Lovestravelling1964. I am sorry we could not get your expectations, there are always areas to improve and we are working on it. Kind regards. Manuel Vazquez

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

I must start by saying this was one of the most enjoyable and fun holidays we have ever had, anywhere. Due in part to the wonderful staff that went above and beyond and it was a pleasure to talk to them each day. We also enjoyed most of our fellow vacationers and we had a great bunch during our stay, the week of March 2-9th. Great weather too. And some of the entertainment was outstanding. >Fifo
We enjoyed much laughter and good company and music throughout our stay.
The resort itself is situated in such beautiful surroundings and we walked the grounds and down the road every day and loved the peacefulness of the lagoon. There is also horseback riding right outside the hotel on the road along the way to the lagoon. You can still see some evidence of Hurricane Sandy (and Ike too), with the leaning palm trees and some of the higher elevations still show some upper tree damage. I also love the size of this resort and the ease with which one could get around. Some have mentioned the stairs, but there are alternative ramps to the beach if this is a problem. The last resort we stayed at was fancy and massive and impersonal and the SLYM had been on my radar for years and we are so happy we picked this place for our vacation this year.

The Sol Rio de Luna y Mares is an older resort and a little worn around the edges here and there as one would expect. Given the damage 6 months ago everything was in remarkable shape. It is a beautiful hotel with charming buildings and a warm and welcoming atmosphere with beautiful sea views on the Mares side and beautiful gardens on the Luna side. We booked an o/v and requested the Luna side and had a wonderful ocean view room that was situated perfectly for peace and quiet and a quick walk to the Mares lobby. Always had hot water and great pressure, clean towels,clean room and bottled water. Our package (Sunwing) did not include the usual pop and beer in fridge, but there was a vending machine in the Mares lobby by the bank with $1 beer and .50 pop. We were just steps away from the Luna bar and the 24 hour snack bar, but sometimes you just want to chill for a bit in the room after the beach. Plenty of storage and our room had everything we needed, all though the beds were a little hard. But then there is nothing like your own. When we messed up the safe someone was there within a few minutes…and again when I did it the second time….lol

I cannot say enough about the staff who work at this wonderful resort. From Elvis in security who always had a sunny smile for me on my very early morning walks and I enjoyed meeting him. Our maid Yaquilin was wonderful and her smile brightened our stay along with her towel art. We would also like to thank Orfelina in the Mares lobby bar and Yumora C at the La Pinta where we ate our lunch most days for their fantastic service. And to the front desk, and this includes the very wonderful security staff that stood on or near the stairs, bar none the best reception staff anywhere that we have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Quick service, knowledgeable answers and some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Food. No problems here. Ate just about everywhere and always found something we liked. Did the Mediterranean ala carte which was to be at the La Pinta and was moved to under the stars by the Italian. Who is going to deny a bride her private dinner? Lobster was well worth it. The buffets were on par with anything we have had in DR or Mexico, but I have to say the best food we have ever had was during our stays in Cayo Santa Maria.

THE BEACH. I am all about the beach and had the opportunity to see three very beautiful beaches on this trip (and several from a distance). Lovely Esmeralda Beach has wonderful, white, powdery sand, great for walking. The snorkeling down by the Paradisus was absolutely gorgeous with the most beautiful rock formations, plentiful fish and even some coral. The sand at this end is more of a shell base and harder. Regret only being able to go once. Water was too choppy the first two full beach days we had with one being a red flag day and we were off the next three. Finally the last day we got to go and wish we had spent every morning there. You should try going before 11am when it’s nice and calm. Found the waves pick up after noon hour with the incoming tide.

And the Beach chair stacking: ingenious!! So clever I do not know why every resort does not do this? Not once did we have a problem obtaining chairs or a palapa and that we did not have to search, drag and dive was heaven. Tip these guys too, will ya, you know what it’s like to do it for two people, so imagine doing it all day long. We never spent time at the pools, but did not notice any towel games early in the morning.

Gaurdalavaca was a fun morning trip; all though one could spend the day there if planning some beach, swim time. We took the double decker bus in and browsed the market and made our way to the beach. Walked some of the cliff side by the Amigo and then back the other way. Beautiful calm aqua waters and that same soft sand and wanted to go swimming. Ended up at a beach side bar and sat and enjoyed our drinks. We made it back up to the market which had thinned a bit by then and made a few purchases we are still happy with and where able to talk to the vendors for a while. Must buy the peanuts. Lost my other half only to have him return loaded down. Then I remember reading about them and they are good. Mate took off to get some more before our bus came. You can also hire taxi or horse and buggy. Deep Sea Fishing. $79 Husband did this and had fun even though they never got a bite.
Bay Adventure Catamaran to Cayo Saetia: $79 Snorkel before you get to the island and WOW. One of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. After our safari and lunch we opted to swim in the little cove by the restaurant and the water was so warm and wonderful I did not want to get out. Also horseback riding available. Fantastic day, great crew and a wild bunch on the catamaran…go Holland, Nova Scotia, and Ottawa.

We absolutely love this area of Cuba and hope to return. Things are starting to change ever so slightly and noticed a thing or two.
One thing that has not changed: DUMB tourists.
In this information age there is no excuse for such ignorance of the place you are visiting.
Do some research.
Have some RESPECT.
But thank you to everyone who made our stay so much fun and we have many happy memories to enjoy.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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15  Thank deblovesabeach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

Got this stay on a last minute deal, amazing value! Everything was fantastic- only complaint was the rooms were dated. Clean but dated! Everything else was amazing!! The beach was beautiful- not rocky like some of the ones close by. Food was fantastic- always something good to eat! Entertainment was great- what I saw anyway- I was exhausted by 8pm every night!

  • Stayed: May 2012
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2  Thank capergirl36
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manuel V, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this reviewResponded March 15, 2013

Dear capergirl36. Thank you for your visit and your compliments. Kind regards. Manuel Vazquez

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

We traveled to the Sol on Feb. 20 with Sunwing with two other couples. Our experience with Sunwing was fine. Our flight was 3 hours late going, (they gave us $10pp meal voucher) and 1 hour late returning. Luckily, we always book the VIP lounge, so it was a comfortable wait.
Rooms
We had booked king sized beds, and had requested upper floor rooms. They gave us rooms in the Mares section. Upon arriving, we found ourselves on the 2nd floor, with 2 cots pushed together. We immediately went down to the front desk, and they told us to return the next morning, and they'd see what they could do. The beds were extremely uncomfortable, we could feel the springs, and I could only sleep with 2 folded blankets under the sheet. The furnishings were tired, and the view was of the roof of the theater and a dumpster.
The next day, the front desk gave us a list of rooms and a key to look at them. The rooms were 1000x better. We found ourselves with a king size bed and an ocean view on the Luna side. The bed was a little better for comfort, but not much. I ended up having poor sleep and sore hips all week. The room was slightly better, still could have used a little TLC, but hey, it's Cuba. I got electrical shocks from the iron and the bathroom light switch. Hubby told me to wear my shoes in the room to prevent this; I just didn't touch the switch again...lol. Our maid was always cheerful and friendly, and left us plenty of water every day. We had towel art on our bed 2x the whole week.
Resort
The resort itself is lovely. The view cannot be beat. Be sure to go to the rooftop terrace above the main building; the view is spectacular. The buildings are a little tired and need some exterior work, but again, it is Cuba. We never used the Luna pool, which looked clean enough, but the one time I got into the Mares pool to go to the pool bar (needs updating), there was a slick of some brown colored sludge floating on the top (sunscreen???) I did see the pool being cleaned several times. Maybe the skimmer needs work. There are lots of cats on the resort, which we don't touch, but they are cute to watch when they stalk the plentiful birds (lovely to wake up to, not like our angry crows).
The bars were great. Only problem I had was leftover mojito mint in my gin and tonic on several occasions from unclean glasses. The staff were quick to mix me a new drink. Staff was as expected in Cuba; friendly and cheerful to a fault. We LOVE the Cuban people!
For the most part, the groundskeepers do an exceptional job at keeping the resort clean.
We hit the ice cream bar several times, where you could get yummy coconut ice cream.
Buffet
We mostly ate at the buffet. It was busy, and routinely had to claim a dirty table and wait for it to be cleaned. The wait staff are worked off their feet, but are always eager to please. The food was ok, not the best we’ve had in Cuba, and not the worst. The fish/meat station at lunch/dinner was great, but the wait could be a little long. The buffet could be better organized, so the folks trying to get ‘sides’ don’t have to fight their way through station line-ups. Breakfast was great, with fresh squeezed o.j. every morning.
We went to the French and Italian a la cartes. They were ok. The French was better.
Animation Team
Never took part, but heard the call go out for beach volleyball on several occasions, and the AT had games/dance lessons up at the Mares pool daily in the late afternoon. The water ballet was lovely, and the other shows we attended were good.
Beach
The best we have seen in Cuba so far. The bottom is all sand, and the water deepens quickly. There are plenty of trees and palapas for shade, and there are 2 bars, one on each end of the beach. One of them becomes the Disco at 11pm. If you like snorkeling, a leisurely stroll up the sand to the beach in front of the Paradisius takes you to coral reefs with lots of fish. Fabulous. There are a few vendors on the beach, but they are set back and not at all troublesome.
Excursions
We took the Bay Adventure, which included catamaran, snorkeling, a trip to Cayo Saetia where we got in a truck for a ‘safari’ (are camels and ostrich native to Cuba? And if you can actually sit on the ostrich to get a pic taken, is it really ‘wild’?) We make fun wherever we go, so it was all good. We came back to the little restaurant to have a buffet lunch, which was fine. The beach on Cayo Saetia was amazing, and we had an hour to frolic in the water. We got a professional photo per person included (8x10) which we picked up at the hotel front desk the next day. We made some great new friends, and danced all the way back to the mainland on the catamaran. Worth the $. We also rented some scooters in front of the resort, and went into Guardalavaca and to Boca de Sama. A fabulous way to see the countryside!!

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank BluenoserHB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

My husband and I were at SRLM from February 28 (one day late because of snow storm in Ottawa) to March 6, 2013, for our third visit. We booked again through Sunwing and loved the ocean view room we booked. We were again on the third floor on the Mares side.

On our first morning there we met up with Ronald who takes care of the al a cart reservations. He booked us into the French and the Mediterranean (which used to be the Romantico) restaurants. We were supposed to attend a welcome back lobster dinner (which the resorts hosts for returning guests) on the day we were to leave, so Ronald contacted the Mediterranean restaurant and we were able to have our lobster dinner! Thanks Ronald - you are the best!

The weather was really hot the first two days, then a cold front came in for two days, then back to hot. It rained a little bit on one of the cold days, but not enough to damper our holiday.

We look a taxi into Guardalavaca to shop in the market and Alex took us up the mountain to two villages in his horse drawn carriage.

Once again we had absolutely no tummy issues at this resort as well as no sand flea bites!

We checked out the ice cream parlour, which was new since our visit last year. The girl running it was wonderfully funny and a pleasure to deal with. You can even get drinks there to have with the yummy ice cream.

Jenny at the Mares swim-up bar was also a favourite of ours. When things were quiet in the pool she would walk around and take drink orders from the guests sunning themselves at the pool. Great service!

We found having breakfast at the Luna side less busy than the Mares side and the snack bar was the best for lunch. We really missed the scrimp burgers we had at La Nina bar the last two years; hopefully they’ll add them back to their menu when we come back next year.

We really enjoyed the live entertainment at night at the Luna bar and at the Mares side. We did notice that there was a lot less entertainment this year with respect to the fashion shows. The only one we saw was just before the Water Ballet on Monday night. It was a bit weird as the girls were dressed in plastic.

We met up with a couple we met the first year we were there. M and B have been to this resort over 16 times and it was great seeing them again. We also met up with staff members who remembered us from previous years - it’s a wonderful welcoming feeling! Unfortunately we never did meet the new manager.

Room Tip: Third and Fourth Floors have better ocean views.
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank MissyJane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manuel V, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this reviewResponded March 15, 2013

Dear MissyJane. Thank you for your visit again and your good review specially for the team, I am very lucky with them. I hope to meet you next time, I am sorry about. Best regards. Manuel Vazquez

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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: $129 - $347 (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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