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...
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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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