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“Probably one of the better ones..?”

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Sol Rio de Luna y Mares
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Guardalavaca
Certificate of Excellence
Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Probably one of the better ones..?”
Reviewed March 19, 2013

Just got back to cold, wet England today - 19th March 2013 after 2 weeks all inclusive at the Sol Rio de Luna & Mares. First off, this is a large complex, 2 separate pool areas, half-a-dozen bars, 4 a-la-carte restaurants, semi-private beach, etc. If you are in some of the further out apartments, it can be quite a trek to the buffet restaurant, although you do have a choice of the 24hr snack bar which is much closer (and does a fantastic burger and chips). Be very careful on the stairs and many of the pathways - these are beautiful shiny marble, looks great but extremely slippery in your heels / shoes.
Food was a mixed bag. The buffet had a huge selection of food with lots of choice of freshly cooked meats, pastas and fish - chefs will cook your food while you wait with your choice of accompaniment and seasoning. The only issue with the buffet was it got repetitive, lots of choice yes - but the exact same choices every day. The a-la-carte restaurants are very good indeed, we loved the French, Italian and Mexican ones, the Mediterranean was a little disappointing though but to be fair they had to relocate it due to a wedding party and the food turned up cold and very bland. Hats off to the staff though, we complained (not loudly or anything - just expressed our disappointment), and the manager couldn't do enough for us to make it up - we were personally invited to a complimentary lobster dinner which was fantastic.
Day-trips are ok if you like 'real-life'. Firstly, don't expect a day trip to Havana the capital, it is 500 miles away, an overnight stay, internal flights and the best part of £600. We were gutted as we didn't realise it was so far out. Having said that we did the Cuban Life tour - farm visit, market visit, museum tour - and we really liked it. remember this is a very poor, communist country so everything is fairly basic as soon as you leave the complex.
The People. Unlike some other Caribbean and north African countries, you don't get the feeling the locals are just out for your cash. Of course they love small tips and any little gifts you choose to give but we at no time felt hastled or pressured.
The rooms are comfortable but a little dated compared to Western standards - again remember 'this is a communist, poor country' but they are perfectly acceptable and cleaned to a high standard.
Drinks are very strong unlike some all inclusive resorts we have been to. Enjoy it but remember to drink water too - it is very hot and dry and we did see people get quite sick (to the point of hospitalisation) from dehydration.
We spoke to a lot of people from other hotels in the area when we were on trips and the feedback we got was that Sol Rio is by far the best in the area. Some may look a bit more modern but we heard a lot of complaints about food and facilities from elsewhere, so we considered ourselves pretty lucky.
We highly recommend this one, go for it and have a great time.

Room Tip: Rooms beginning with 6, 7 or 8 are away from the nightlife, peaceful but a trek to the entertainment...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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13 Thank VernonParker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Sheffield, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2013

great hotel great people very friendly. We are going again this year it will be the 4th time in a row. We love everything about it the food is lovely the staff are brill nothing is to much trouble they have become our friends. The beach is to die for i have never felt more relaxed . It is a great place and great value for money even the locals are fab we have been differant places in the last 4 years we have not met anyone that would rip you off they are more give than take. Cant wait go again in september it cant come quick enough from L&S

Room Tip: + luna side very quiet mares side more going off but still not noisey but sea view room...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
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3 Thank lily1947
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 review, March 23, 2013
Dear lily1947. Thank you for your visit once again and you great recommendation. We hope to meet you again soon. Kind regards. Manuel Vazquez
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Kentville, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed March 18, 2013

We just got back from visiting our Cuban Family at Sol Luna de Mares. This year 10 friends and family from N.S. accompanied us on holiday. When we arrived at Frank Pas Airport our Air Canada Rep informed one couple in our group the hotel was over booked and they would be sent to another hotel for the first night. I tried to convince the rep this was my 10th trip to Luna Mares and just let us all on the bus and the staff at Luna Mares would find a way to keep us together. No way, he insisted they go to the other hotel. Within 3 minutes of arriving at Mares check in the Duty Manager (Sena?) and desk staff had contacted our friends at the other hotel and a cab would bring them to us shortly. Thanks to Arnoldo for finding a cab at 1:30 am! Within a half hour we were all together again. We knew our Cuban friends at the hotel would not let us down.
Thanks also go to all the bell boys who we leave our luggage with knowing that after we unwind and visit any of our friends working that first night, when we finally get to our rooms the bags will be there. Never has there been anything misplaced. Although Williams and Foncy were the first to assure us "everything will be looked after" all of their co workers have also gone out of their way to help us settle in when we arrive. Being a group of ten offers some challenges but Juan Carlos and Edder managed to keep us all in the same neighborhood and on the same floor overlooking pool and ocean. The buffett is overwhelming with variety of food but if you want the best of the best see Roger at the grill. While cooking for hundreds he still finds time on occassion to prepare a special fish or chop served to your table with a kiss and hug for your wife too. It's just that special something that makes you know your amongst friends. Ronald Toledo managed some how to keep us all together for our a-la-cartes too. The French being our favourite was special for all because of the skill of Franco who's professionalism makes dining an experience always remembered. From the time he greets us at the door, pours our champagne, prepares my wifes special request (not on the menue), and surprises us with his choice of dessert, a cake decorated with the words "welcome home" we all felt so fortunate to be here amongst our Cuban friends. The outstanding bar staff , Ivan, Ghocamo and Vlladmire to name only a few work so hard but still find time to add that something special to your favourite drink. We did all miss the Vendors who would quietly display and sell their art in the Lobby. We found it very inconvenient to make our purchases on the beach.We hope there presence in the lobby which allowed us to shop at our convenience and added a Cuban flare will be restored soon.
The building is not Caesars Palace but you will never find a white sand beach, gorgeous ocean, and such hard working, genuine, friendly people in that desert either. We have visited two other resorts in Cuba but will never stop making this resort our first stop each year. In fact several of the staff have offered to wheel us around when we can no longer walk. We hope this leaves you with an understanding of what we think of Sol Luna Mares and more importantly the people who will make your visit unforgetable. Be warned, you also may become one the many repeats who consider this their Cuban Home after just one visit. Enjoy!!! Garry Randall Kentville N.S.

Room Tip: Mares side is busy later than Luna as the Lobby Bar is open later. Not to worry as most people are o...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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9 Thank GarryRandall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
156 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 102 helpful votes
Reviewed March 18, 2013

Stayed here for March break with my family (12 year old son and 14 year old daughter) nice resort & the best beach I have ever seen. Rooms are a bit dated and could use a bit of maintenance/upkeep but are nice overall and the staff are all fantastic people. Not a huge choice of meal locations for the week and I would likely avoid the buffet near the pool snack bar on the Luna side as it wasn't very good in my opinion. The main buffet is fantastic on the Mares side (service as well as quality for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as the restaurant at both of the beach locations. The pool snack bar is great and one night the chef went out of his way to make us a special pollo dinner although it wasn’t on the menu. It was fantastic and he went above and beyond to serve us. You are allowed two reservations (should be three like other resorts for some variety) for the restaurants, and we chose the French and the Mexican. Due to other reviews on trip advisor, we avoided the Italian and the Mediterranean. The Mexican was fantastico and we wished we could have eaten there again! The French was also good, but was a bit slower service and was outdone by the experience we had at the Mexican. Although some people we had met had good things to say about the Italian. We were in rooms 5305 & 5306 and our housekeeper (Arelis?) was very, very good - very professional, courteous and friendly! There is a park beside the resort with a walking trail though the jungle that is a nature reserve to protect a type of tree. It is 3 pesos per person and a nice break from the beach. We tried to take the Catamaran snorkelling excursion but it was cancelled due to high winds two days in a row. We were quite looking forward to it, but siempre hay el próximo año. :) We did take the Jeep Adventour and it is well worth the $$. We drove around the Cuban countryside in a caravan (I drove my own Suzuki Jimny (sidekick) with my family). First stop was the Marina where we all got into 2 person speedboats and went around the Marina area and then briefly into the ocean. Second stop was horseback riding and then lunch at a restaurant overlooking Cayo Bariay where Columbus is said to have first landed in Cuba. We then drove to the spot of the native village he landed at and were given a native presentation/play that was quite interesting to watch. Our guide Eidel was very informative and the guide Johnny at Christobal park was an awesome young man. You are however reminded that you are in a communist country as there is a gentleman from the "government" that leads our caravan. He is only doing his job however and is not involved in the tour. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone wanting to see the real Cuba. This is our second trip to Cuba and I would say it was safe to assume we will be back again next year. Cuba is fantastico and the people are amazing. It is I feel the safest Caribbean country I have been in and the people although they may be perceived to be very poor, they are very proud and not like other countries where they beg you mercilessly. Viva Cuba!!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
5 Thank CanadianFlatlander
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 review, March 23, 2013
Dear CanadianFlatlander. Thank you for coming with your family. We are very happy you had so great time with us and you will come back. See you soon. Manuel Vazquez
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Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed March 18, 2013

We stayed at this resort in June 2012 as a family with 3 y.o. child. The vacation was great, the beach is awesome with silky white sand, great for children to swim. Food was above expectations as for Cuba, we had a lot of varieties of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, sushi, lobsters and good desserts. Receptionists, bartenders and mates are friendly helpful; however, you better tip them to get what you want. A-la-carte were average, so we ate at the buffet as the food there was very good.
The big plus of the resort-they have doctor on site, was very helpful when my daughter had fever for a few days (she overate the delish ice cream)
Overall vacation was great and we probably will return one day.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank Lenusja
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
115 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed March 18, 2013

We stayed at the hotel from 17th February to 14th March and had a wonderful holiday with friendly staff who went out of their way to look after us.

As recommended, by some previous reviewers, we requested the Luna side as it was quieter and we also asked for a ground floor room as I have difficulty with stairs following a recent operation. Both these requests were met but the only problem was that we were in the 8000 block which meant that we had a long way to walk to and from the main reception area and the Colon restaurant. However, we were happy enough with our room which looked as though it had been recently painted so decided to stay where we were rather than ask for a change.

We have visited Cuba previously but stayed in Varadero last time (13 years ago!) and noticed that there have been several improvements for tourists since that time as you would expect. Plumbing and electrics are certainly still not as advanced as those we are used to so that has to be borne in mind when visiting Cuba.

The buffet restaurant compared favourably to other all-inclusive hotels we have stayed in over recent years and although sometimes the food wasn't as hot as we would have liked (often a problem with buffets) there was always something that we were happy to eat and the option of waiting to have fresh food eg omlettes, eggs at breakfast and fish, chicken etc. in the evening. The flambe bananas and pancakes were delicious!

Of the a la carte restaurants we visited the Italian, the Mexican and the French. We weren't impressed with the Italian as we had to queue for a little while before being seated and then waited another 15 minutes before we asked for a drink but this was the only occasion we ever had to do this in the hotel. In fairness, there was a wedding on that night which might have affected the level of service. I may just have chosen the wrong dish but the lasagne wasn't very good at all. We enjoyed the Mexican meal and had great service but our favourite was definitely the French Restaurant where the service and quality and selection food was excellent.
Many thanks to Milena and the other staff for making us feel so welcome and the excellent service they provided.

We usually took lunch at one of the two beach retaurants and although there was a limited menu at the snack bar the food was always freshly cooked. The Pinto restaurant at the Luna end of the beach had more choice and the shrimps they served were delicious.

We mainly used the bar on the Luna side in the evening which was quieter and played more classical music. Most of the entertainers were of a really good standard and created a very relaxing atmosphere. The staff here were brilliant too so many thanks to Jose, Yanet and Roald for taking care of us so well.

During our stay the hotel ran out of tonic water which apparently was due to a problem with the supplier but it wasn't any hardship to change my usual gin and tonic for a White Lady or glass of champagne!

We never met one unhelpful member of staff during our stay and some of the tourists must really have stretched their patience. Most tourists we met were either from the UK or Canada and we met some lovely people but there were just one or two whose manners left a lot to be desired and seemed to be quite rude in the way they spoke to staff. A "please" or "thank you "costs nothing.

The gardens were aways very attractive and well kept.

We didn't do much outside the hotel as we just wanted to relax this holiday but we did visit Guardalavaca three times and enjoyed the craft market there. It is worth a visit just for the colour and atmosphere but the items for sale weren't particularly expensive and the sellers not at all pushy. We went in by horse and buggy on one occasion but used a taxi (old classic American cars) on the other two occasions. The fare one way was usually 6 CUCs.

We also visited Holguin and used a tourist bus (Transtur) which stops directly outside the hotel and the return journey only cost us 15 CUCs each which we thought was really good value. The bus was modern and fitted with good air conditioning so very comfortable for the journey which takes about 1 hour each way. The bus did pick up at 4 other hotels at Playa Turquese and Pesquero but quite interesting to see the other htoels and didn't take us much out of our way. The guide was knowlegeable and told us about Calixto Garcia and took us to the steps at Loma de la Cruz for splendid views of Holguin but you need to be very fit to climb them! We were then dropped off at the Catholic Church where a book festivalwas taking place in the Square.
We then had some free time to look around but it was very busy due it being a Saturday when we visited and also the book festival. This meant queues of Cuban people waiting outside restaurants, ice cream parlours etc. Interesting though to see Cuban life and pick up the atmosphere of Holguin.

As previous reviewers have said the beach at Playa Esmeralda is really pretty with fine white sand and a walk along the sea shore was really pleasant.

All in all a great holiday and we would definitely go back again sometime in the future.

Room Tip: If you want quietness then definitely choose a room on the Lunar side but blocks 5000 and 6000 are c...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Lyn132
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 review, March 23, 2013
Dear Lyn132. Thank you for your visit and all the information for future guest. We hope you come back soon. Best regards. Manuel Vazquez
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Brixham, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed March 17, 2013

good points, people very friendly, beach amazing,complex very clean,french bistro is a must.

bad points, very limited and poor entertainment not as described by thomas cook
food very poorly cooked.

twelve in our party and all twelve at one point of our two week holiday had sickness
which was so bad most had to visit the doc,s.
also a lot of other,s we talked to had the same problems.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Nigel F
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 review, March 23, 2013
Dear Nigel F. Thank you for your visit, I am sorry we could not get your full expectations specially in animation activities, we are working with the team to improve, we have new members and we are sure they will be better very soon. Kind regards. Manuel Vazquez
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Additional Information about Sol Rio de Luna y Mares

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Sol Rio de Luna y Mares 4*
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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