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“The best romantic resting spot you could ask for”

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Sol Rio de Luna y Mares
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Guardalavaca
Certificate of Excellence
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Level Contributor
28 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“The best romantic resting spot you could ask for”
Reviewed May 14, 2009

Anyone looking for a perfect beach vacation - don't think twice about going to this resort! This place is the most restful, relaxing, romantic place I have ever been.

My husband and I are in our late twenties. We were looking for a place to have a restful and peaceful honeymoon after the chaos of 3 years of law and grad school. This resort provided us with a perfect retreat - great service, great rooms, good food, wonderful views and a very friendly staff. Not to mention a fantastic beach, great snorkeling, beautiful balconies, clean pools, the non-stop best pina colodas I've ever tasted (by the Luna pool), refreshing cool beer, and pure iced cream.

A special message to all you type-A personalities out there convinced, as I was and as every law student I discussed my trip was, that you will get bored at an all-inclusive --- YOU WILL NOT. Not at this resort. It's like giving permission to yourself to relax in a way us types just don't do at home or on cultural/sightseeing vacations. We swam, snorkled, sunbathed, read - and did nothing else (no excursions, no hiking, nothing) - and I could have stayed another week before I started to get that "must do something" itch. It does not, in any way shape or form, feel like a waste of time, but rather a recapture of your time.

You could probably stop reading now and have a fair sense of how good our trip was, but just for those A-types like me, here's some details:

REEF: We settled on Sol Luna Mares for the reef so we could snorkle on our own time, without having to take a boat anywhere. I was in the water less than 10 seconds on my first day before I saw a school of fish. The variety of the fish and the length of the reef make this an excellent place to start snorkeling.

ROOMS: clean, comfortable, and well-maintained. Yes there were a few small things that you will find in any older building or less developed country - a few cracks in the walls, a little bit of colouring around the toilet - but nothing I don't have in my downtown Halfax apartment. Balconies with spectacular views.

BEACH: amazing, perfect palm trees, great sand. We didn't find it overly windy - just a perfect breeze to keep you from burning up under Cuba's sun.

POOLS: we prefer quiet, so we never tried the Mares pool or the swim up bar. The Luna pool was clean and quiet, perfect for sunbathing, reading, or a quick dip.

FOOD: lots of variety at the buffet - we tend to eat organically at home, and found very little processed food at the buffet - most of it was local and fresh, and simply prepared, which we love. The french a-la-carte was AMAZING. We also did the Italian one, but we would pick something else next time (Romantic and International looked really good).

STAFF: competant and friendly, but not intrusive. They chat with you as much or as little as you want, and seem to have a sixth sense to know when you want to talk and when you want to be left alone. Our maid was wonderful, we found a favourite bartender by the Luna pool, and our communications with the hotel manager before and after the trip were polite, friendly and accomodating. It's my view that tipping for solid service is common courtesy, so we did tip - but not over the top, we went through maybe 12-15 pesos a day in tips, and we were treated equally well to those who tipped more, and those who didn't tip at all, which I think is just how it should be. We left small gifts for the maid and brought guitar strings for the musicians, but otherwise just tipped with pesos.

Three small caveates about interacting with the staff:
1. I was asked by a staff member once to get them drinks at the bar, which I don't believe in doing so I just said no politely. There was no problem with this. It was the only request any staff member made of me over the course of the entire week.
2.BEWARE IN THE RESORT STORES - the culture is different from North America - you will be charged what you are willing to pay. For example, we were charged $18.75 pesos for sunscreen that I later saw had a tag of $11.75 on it, and $9 pesos for three cigars that I later found out were not $3pesos each, but rather $3pesos for the pack. Do not be shy, as I was, about confirming the price prior to purchase, and inisisting on a receipt, and be willing to walk out if the price is not what you expect. If you simply point at something and say you want it and pull out your money, you will be overcharged - and you are the sucker for letting it happen, just as you would be if it happened on the streets of Miami, New York or Toronto.
3. The banker was always honest, and was happy to patiently wait while we counted out our money and compared it to the receipt. Feel free to do this even if there is a lineup.

Overall, this vacation was the perfect honeymoon, the perfect rest, and the perfect beach vacation. And - the value was excellent. Our entire week there cost us less than $2000. I would go back tomorrow if I could. Maybe next year...

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank MichelleNSam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Moncton, NB
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed May 11, 2009

I would rate this resort as they do in the book, this is our 12th time to cuba, first time to Guardalavaca and this resort. Would absolutely go back to this resort. The rooms are par for the course for cuba, the maid service was very good, no complaints, the rooms on the Luna side could use some updateing. The best spot on the resort with the exception of the beach of course was the El Dorada bar with Luis the bartender serving, He is the best bartender there with his great smile and awesome personality. The food was very good, the a la carte"s were exceptional. The beach is one of the best that I have seen with the beautiful white sand and lots of trees for shade, lots of chairs and lots of room, not on top of each other. Good location if you want to do things or just R & R.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank cubanofthenorth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newfoundland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed May 10, 2009

It is with absolute pleasure that I recommend the Sol Rio de Luna y Mares as a traveller’s next vacation destination, be they young or old. Not only is this extraordinary resort located on the most beautiful beach I have ever visited, it boasts accommodating facilities, and incredible nightlife. Mr. Ferran Corbella possesses truly exceptional ability in ensuring each and every aspect of his hotel is expertly run. Moreover, he and his staff are among the warmest and most personable individuals I have encountered when travelling. My one week stay at the Sol Rio de Luna y Mares was simply not long enough, but has forever touched my heart. I am left with fond memories and eagerly anticipate returning next year! Viva Cuba.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank melissahoskins6789
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canada
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed May 10, 2009

We already went to many "high rated" resorts and we never thought that this resort would exceed our expectations. We read many reviews before making our final decision and we don't regret it.

Food
In general, food was good and there was enough choices to satisty every needs. Like in every resort, after a couple of days, you will notice that the same choices are offered but don't forget that you get to choose two restaurants "a la carte". You can even book for more than what is offered in your package if you go and wait at the reservation desk. We tried the French Restaurant and it was excellent, I highly recommend it. The service was also perfect. The hotel splits in two sections : Mares, Lunas. ( we were at the Mares)

Beach
!!! OMG !!! My girlfriend and I have gone to many places (Dom Rep, Mexico...) and I've never seen such a nice beach. The beach is very large and there is a lot of palm trees. It was the first time that there was always enough chairs for everybody. The hotel staff was even bringing the chairs where ever you wanted to and would clean it for you. even thought, we had a windy week, it was perfect considering the excessive heat of the sun. Without the wind, I don't know if we could of make it !

Snorkeling
In front of the hotel, you could go snorkeling and find a few fishes but the most popular spot is at 5 mins walk from the Sol Luna y Mares. It is actually in front of the Paradisius (Facing the beach, far right). Over there, there was a large variety of tropical fishes going all around the beautiful coral reef.

Bedrooms
We had the room 2040, with a view on the ocean and a huge terrase. If you like action and to be next to everything, I suggest you pick in the Mares side since the main pool and the entertainment team is there all the time. You will also probably hear the music until late (6:00 pm) from your room. Beds were a bit hard but don't forget, you're not there to sleep ! The room was clean and the maid was super nice*.

NightLife
The disco on the beach at the bar " La Nina" was AWESOME. Of course, I suggest you don't miss Fridays & Saturdays since the DJ is better. To dance barefoot in the sand is priceless. But for the rest, there is mastercard !

Service
Once again, the staff is awesome and always ready to help in case of need. I'm also allergic to nuts (all kinds) and they made all the effort to garantee me there was no nuts in their food. Ferran, the food manager, was always there (when I say always I mean it cause he was there from 7h00 am to 10h00pm 6 days a week) to make sure we enjoyed the food. From all the resorts we've been to, this is the best services we ever had.

Thumbs up for the staff ! Don't forget to tip, they really need it. We've brought many clothes and creams to give away and it was really appreciated. They work hard and don't earn much. Try not to change all your currency the first day since they always change the rates.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Qovak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Shropshire
Level Contributor
133 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
Reviewed May 9, 2009

I do apologise now for the length of this review, in short we did enjoy it, we would go again and Cuba is a fantastic place with friendly people, but having read hundreds of reviews myself when making a decision about the hotel, you need decent information, this says it all, and it’s what I hope most people want to know.
My boyfriend and I stayed on the Mares side of the hotel in dec of last year shortly after the hurricane had hit. Although half of the hotel was shut and building work was going on we were unaware of it, I admit we did go and have a peek and in the two weeks we were there a lot was going on and it all looked very nice. I’m sure that all the work would be completed by now and anyone reading reviews will have the use of both sides of the complex. Although half of the restaurants ect were shut for renovation are needs were fully met by the services on offer and tbh we were happy with the complex as it was.
We travelled with Thomas cook and our rep, Dan, on arrival and throughout our holiday was nice and very helpful. Day trips and activities are booked via your rep. The transfer to our hotel was not what we expected. People joked and told us to expect a rundown bus with no windows! We experienced the exact opposite; the coaches are very new and modern with air conditioning. If you have a steady hand there are photo opportunities on the way, light permitting obviously!
On arrival at the hotel we were greeted by friendly staff handing out cocktails, much appreciated, and check in was quick. Our luggage was taken to our room for us. The rooms were spacious, the beds were comfy and the room was clean all thanks to the fab maids who did some lovely towel art on our beds! Although the rooms could do with updating in the near future, if you don’t go with expectations which are high then you won’t be disappointed. We booked a sea view room, which included coffee making facilities, free use of the safe and the fridge was restocked with water daily.
The next morning we were able to have a good look round the hotel and went on the scheduled tour, which is recommended, and we realised just how beautiful our surroundings were. Then we went down to the beach to redeem our towel coupons. You can have clean towels whenever you want, just exchange them. Don’t lose your towel otherwise you will have to pay a fee at the end of your stay. At the same place where you get towels, flippers and masks were also available. Although we did not use these we noticed that there was a high demand for them and they ran out quickly, if you are a keen snorkeler then best to bring your own. Although we did not use them there are also boat trips ect available on the beach.
The beach was nice and we found that it was the coolest place to sunbath as there was a slight breeze. There are two bars on the beach making it easy to cool down with a drink, saves walking back up to the hotel! The gym was very simple with older machinery, a few weights, bikes ect, but it was adequate. This was located in the hotels spa along with a small yoga area, jacuzzi (we did find that some people would sit in it for hours and every time we tried it was full, on some occasions we sat and waited around to use it and persistence seemed to work and was worth it), separate sauna and steam room for men and women and a small plunge pool. There was also a hairdressers and beauty treatments here.
When we stayed here we obviously only had the use of the one pool, with swim up bar, which was cold but refreshing. There were plenty of sun loungers and seating available, although we did not go away during peak time. The whole putting towels on sun loungers to save them before breakfast didn’t happen, and the hotel staff are instructed to remove towels that have been there a while, which was good.
The buffet restaurant met all of our needs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It didn’t get samey and the staff did a great job of varying the meals with the ingredients they had on offer. The set up was good with lots of fresh salads, rice dishes, soups even freshly made pizza’s were available. We were also able to pick which fish or meats we wanted, and then have them grilled in front of us to our taste. The deserts were to die for, especially the rum flambéed pancakes!! The omelettes station was also a favourite of mine! One thing we did do on a few night was to take some of the smaller bite size deserts out to the lobby/bar area to enjoy with cocktails, I don’t think the staff minded as we took our plates back after!
We tried the Cuban and Romantic a la carte and would recommend them both. The romantic restaurant was especially nice, set in the beach bar all decorated and candle lit, and the food was amazing! There were chips, burgers and hot dogs ect available in the snack bar, and we ate here on a couple of occasions as we missed the buffet due to excursions. Cakes were served in the afternoon at the lobby bar, with tea and coffee. The bar staff were great and each had their own way of making the cocktails, if you’re not up for a strong drink, ask for a small measure (include hand gesture!!) as they are very generous with their measures, more like rum with a splash of coke! But you get used to it, trust us! My favourite drink was a daiquiri, natural orange or strawberry, looks more like a slush puppy with rum but does the job to cool you down.
Look out for Amaguey, at the lobby bar, he may smell of Hugo boss! (My boyfriend gave him his aftershave at the end of our stay, as Amaguey had been really nice to us, and kept us topped up with drinks every night) We found that a smile and hello, goodbye, good evening, thank you ect in Spanish went a long way. You don’t have to tip, but we did on occasions, not every night. As we had read in previous reviews that it was recommended to take things for staff we also did this. With us we took toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, pens, pencils, notebooks, tights, tampons ect to give to the staff at the end of our stay. We had extra space in our luggage so we filled it! We made up bags of stuff and went looking for people ‘behind the scenes’ who don’t receive many tips, the gardeners, sewers ect, they were very grateful for our offerings, we even left a load of our clothes, like cheap strappy tops from Primark, I could get more when I was back home. If you take any magazines with you on the plane then don’t throw them away the staff love to catch up on cleb gossip and were grateful of my tatty drawn over heat magazine!
There was entertainment in the evenings and sometimes during the day, including dances, water ballet ect. The entertainment was good, but on some nights was not to our tastes.
We did do some excursion including swimming with dolphins (lobster dinner), trip to Santiago de Cuba, Trip to Holguin, and drive your own speed boat. All were well worth it and really enjoyable. My boyfriend relished the chance to drive a mini speedboat, I wonder why! We also took a taxi into Guardalavaca to visit the local market, we picked up some nice gifts here. On the way back we decided to have a horse and cart ride, which, on reflection, was so nice we should have done on the way there to! There were also stalls in the hotel lobby daily which provided a range of gifts.
The only problem we did have with the holiday was that on the way home we were delayed. This turned out to be less of a problem and more of an extra day! Due to snow in Las Vegas our plane (bound for England to pick up people going to Cuba, then to take us home to England) was delayed for 23 hours! This then meant that we couldn’t go anywhere till the next day, but the staff were great and we had full use of the hotel till we left. Don’t expect much from Holguin airport, although there is a small shop selling alcohol, food, gifts ect there is not much else to do. There is a charge when leaving the airport which everyone has to pay so make sure at the beginning of your holiday you put the money aside in the safe with your passport!
I hope I covered the majority of things, if not, I’m not familiar with this site as a reviewer yet but I will answer any questions if there is an option for people to ask me!! We hope to go back in a few years time and we think that anyone going will have a great time!

  • Stayed December 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank ShropshirePassport
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hampshire
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed May 8, 2009

From the moment we arrived the stafff could not do enough for you (whether you tipped or not) We had a room overlooking the pool on the mares side a bit noisy in the afternoons but not so bad you could`nt have a afternoon nap. We did change rooms for the 2nd week and went over to the luna side as a crowd of very loud canadians kept us awake for two nights. The reception staff had us moved within two hours.The luna side is much more peaceful and mainly the rooms are sea views. The beach is to die for. The a la carte restaurants are very good the french being the best. Apart from your two a la carte reservations you get invited to various other special evenings so the need to go into the buffet is minimal as it can get busy in their at peak times. We only had to eat in their twice in the evenings.The horse and carriage trip into guardalavaca is well worth it if you find Jose (he is the one dressed like a cowboy) he will take you to the none tourist villages and bars we were with him for 6 hours and he charged us 25 pesos (about £20) and there were 6 of us , the best day out we had. take baby clothes and kids shoes if you intend to do this trip. Overall the staff can`t do enough for you we were`nt refused anything at all we even managed to get a few extra a la carte bookings just ask the customer relations team. Entertainment is a bit samey but there are bars you can have a drink and a chat in the piano bar on the luna side was the best and it served gin and tonic the best holiday we`ve had.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank HampshireSunburnt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, ON
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed May 8, 2009

Over the last few years, we have been on many vacations to many different places. Sol Luna Mares is the only destination that we keep coming back to. We have visited many, many times and would highly recommend this hotel to anyone. Whether you are travelling alone, with your partner or your children, you will not be disappointed. THe staff is exceptionally friendly and always make our stay most pleasurable. Cuba does not have a good reputation for having the best food, but we can assure you the food here is better than any other Carabian resort. Throughout our travels, we've witnessed many island weddings. During our last stay we saw the most beuatiful and well organized Carabian wedding put on by Zulema Hernandez and her co-workers....it was a sight to see!!! Everyone was impressed by their hospitality and kindness. We also had the pleasure of meeting the new Director Mohammed Fawzi and are amazed at the changes he has made to the entire resort in such little time....it's only going to get better!!! Highly recommended by Danny B. & Melissa K.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank DannyBak
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

Property: Sol Rio de Luna y Mares
Address: Ctra. de Guardalavaca | Playa Esmeralda, Guardalavaca 84170, Cuba
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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