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Sol Rio de Luna y Mares
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Guardalavaca
Certificate of Excellence
Calgary
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Sign me up, at a better rate...or get out the paint brushes and call building maintenace”
Reviewed March 8, 2010

For what its worth, I have been to Cuba twice now. My wife and I stayed in Santa Maria in Feb. of 2007 and finally got back to Hoguin in Feb of 2010. If you are looking for the most peaceful holiday you can imagine, I highly recommend the Melia Las Dunas in Santa Maria.
I did my homework on Holguin and specifically the Sol Rio and it sounded great. Reviews were great, pictures were fabulous and it seemed to fit the bil of what you usually look forward to in our holidays. We are the type that like to plant ourselves on the beach and grow roots. On the other side of the coin, we felt we had missed out on some of the local culture by being so far removed from civiliation so we decided to stay 'on' the main island this time. It was a tough call because the Sol Melia Las Dunas was exquisite and beyond our wildest expectations.
GOing into Sol Rio we were set up for failure right away because the of the glowing reviews from previous visitors. When 47% of the over 900 reviews giving it a 4 or 5 out 5 rating on almost ever topic you really can't go wrong can you? WRONG!!
I took into consideration the almost full week of bad weather on the second of our two week holiday. We had almost the exact same weather as we did the first time, at Melia Las Dunas. so it was perfect from point of view of making comparisons. WHich brings me to my first advice. I would hold off any travel to Cuba until near the end of March to the beginning of April just to make sure you get past the change of seasons which is what I attribute to the weather we experienced on both of our early February trips.
BEACHES
If you've never been to Cuba, then go. THe beaches are straight off a post card, that is, until you get a week of pounding waves on the shorelines. Unlike Melia Las Dunas which had the most fantastic natural beaches I have ever seen (and the longest, spanning several miles) Sol Rio's beaches almost disappeared after 4 or 5 days causing 3 to 4' dropoffs along the western edge of the shoreline exposing sharp rocks and coral that is capable of grinding your legs, knees and hands into hamburguesa in no time. Other than watching the sand wash out to sea there really isn't much in the way of beach activities on these days either, as we had red flags for about half of our trip, taking away the opportunities to Hobie (use Alex if you can find him), Catamaran, snorkel, play in the waves (because of the rocks), or even play volleyball, as the marked court area was also succumbing to the waves, although not nearly as bad as it gets west of the volleyball court. Use the services of the lounge chair gurus if you need a chez. Our man was so keen he would see us coming down the stairs, load up a couple of loungers on his trailer, and have a spot picked out for us before we even got to the sand. He even learned our criteria for a good spot to tan so we were always pleased with his picked locations! Best spent pesos during the entire holiday. I know we're not supposed to tip everybody all the time but when the service is that good, you can't not tip him. He never stood waiting for it and didn't cheat on service to anyone if they didn't tip him.
FACILITIES MAINTENANCE
Rooms were adequate, gardens were beautiful (don't forget to tip the gardeners or bring them new work gloves or other appropriate work wear), security is very visible and you always feel protected on and off the site. (the security guards on the beach were sure glad to get the ocassional bottle of water or glass of pop) You don't have to tip each act of kindness with cash by the way. A lot of the time they are more gracious if you get to know them and give them something more appropriate to their personal situation. We had a pregnant bartender during our visit and gave her some candy necklaces for her 7 yr old and some baby socks for her baby when its born.
Anyway, back to maintenance, the more you read on about this hotel the more you will see that there are plans to refurbish several of the units. Although the rooms are clean, and we never ran out of hot water, the comfort level wasn't even close to the airport Best Western we stayed at in Toronto during our return home trip. If that was a 2.5 star hotel, then the Sol Rio would be somewhere around a "1". Understanding that Cuba and a number of other carribean communities use a skewed scale to rate their hotels explains how this 1 could be stretched into a 4. Advice number two, read and listen to what people are saying about the resort. If they hated the trip because the beds were rock hard or the rooms were noisy, or the hot water ran out by 6 AM then there is no way it. should be getting 5 or 4 stars! Our bed was a bit short of stuffing but overall, it was quiet, hot water was ample, and we had requested to be away from the noise and were accomodated, assigned to the furthest building from the activities and gathering centres. On arrival, we learned we were placed on the ground floor. For security and privacy reasons we weren't comfortable with that and within hours we were moved without arguement, to a third floor room with a beautiful ocean view.
OVERALL IMPRESSION
The grounds were lush and beautifully kept. The buffets were exactly as everyone warns you they will be in Cuba (bland and spiceless) with the exception of the Romantika a'la carte which was the best meal of my two week experience.
The rooms were clean although workmanship would never pass inspection outside Cuba or the Dominican. Rotting wooden railings that have been painted over to provide a false sense of security; computer room had three computers, one of which would not stay connected to the internet, one was slow as molasses and the third had molasses spilled all over the keyboard, which was fine if you only wanted to type the number six!
Entertainment in the evening was worth the walk to the pool or theatre. I've never been to an all inclusive that had 'real' talent and variety. Koodo's to the program director for offering everything from honky tonk piano at the Luna Bar to Opera and diva music from the likes of Celine Dion to Mariah Carey (in absolute perfect pitch on songs like 'Power of Love', and 'I am a Lady' Do not miss Circus night. Starting off rather lame, acrobats come on stage skipping rope but quickly go double dutch and before you know it, members are being flung into the rafters by their co-performers, landing three bodies high on somebodies shoulders!
OVERALL
This is a quaint a quiet resort for couples wanting to get reaquainted, or families with very young children. Teens and young adults would have more fun in Veradero as there is little more to do then suntan which is all I'm ever looking for. Topless women are quite common on the beach so be aware. Its done respectfully and discreetly but if you have little eyes that for some unknown reason you feel should not be seeing topless women, simply stay to the east side of the beach, or at the very least, to the d'Oro side of the volleyball court.
I hope this helps you out. For the money, give me Melia Las Dunas any day, but if its unavailable, this is still a nice little resort. Out of 10, I would rate it at 6.5 to 7. To compare, my experience with Las Dunas three years ago was a 9 to 9.5 out of 10.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank escutcheme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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england
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed March 8, 2010

we visited this hotel jan 15th-29th 2010, we were a party of nine people, we had an amazing holiday here this is our second time in this hotel and will be returning, i celebrated my 40th birthday whilst on holiday i would like to say a big thankyou to wendy and nevole who made my birthday so special they arranged breakfast delivered to my room then a special meal in the evening for me and my family , i have lovely memories of my 40th i could'nt have wished for any more! we cant wait to return, a big thankyou to you all who made our holiday so special, from nicki hill room 2023 england

  • Stayed January 2010
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Helpful?
2 Thank EnglandOswestry
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MohamadFawzi, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this review, March 16, 2010
Dear EnglandOawestry:

On behalf of all the staff of Sol Rio de Luna Mares, I want to thank you for have chosen this hotel as your second home. I'm glad knowing that we did a good job on your last stay (the second one), I hope to see you on a 3rd time !!!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cambridge,ontario
Level Contributor
23 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
Reviewed March 7, 2010

Our first time in Cuba, little nervous about the trip... but lucked out by going to the Luna y Mares. Loved every minute. Rooms a little basic but clean and comfortable and if you are lucky enough to get a ocean view it will take your breath away. Food good. Romantica and French the best a la cartes. Entertainment classy. Excursions abundant and very reasonable. Lots to do and see. Beach and Ocean stunning. Take a walk up to Ecological site, five mins walk from resort, well worth 3 pesos just for photo opp. Take a horse and buggy ride into town about 20 pesos for 2 hour guided tour. Cuban people lovely. Very safe place to visit. We will ABSOLUTELY be back to Cuba and this HOTEL. Thank you STAFF and MANAGEMENT Luna y Mares. Excellent Job!!!

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank luckyme60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southampton
Level Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed March 6, 2010

Excellent place for a holiday. The plus points - beach, food, staff, pools, location, manager, grounds, clean, entertainment, blar blar blar. No joking you cannot fault this hotel for an overall holiday experience. Minus points - rooms are a bit tired but I understand that 80% of the rooms will be refurbished during 2010 so I guess no worries. We had a great holiday - what are you waiting for - if you have not booked yet then you really should book this hotel.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
5 Thank June1966
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Quebec
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed March 3, 2010

One week isn't enough. Loved the authenticity, and the ambience of the Meres. The food and entertainment was great. The support staff were very helpful in planning our excursions. If going in the Cuban winter take an all weather jacket and brings lots of things to give away. That was one of the most rewarding things to do.
Hope to go to the same resort next year for a least two weeks.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank SparkplugQuebec
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MohamadFawzi, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this review, March 7, 2010
Dear sparkplugQuebec:

Thanks for posting your comment at the Trip Advisor, I agreed with you, one week is not enough.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed March 2, 2010

This was my first trip, I hadn't even been on a plane before. I don't have anything to compare it to, but my husband and our friends have been to many other resorts, and this was one of their favorites.
When we first arrived, it was about midnight. We really weren't happy with the room that we were given on the Luna side of the resort, but the next day the very helpfull staff put us in much nicer rooms on the Mares side. It did take some convincing, because they said that we paid for the Luna side, we weren't aware that there were two different sides to the resort.
I am one of the most picky eaters that exist and I was more than happy with the food, it was fantastic, there was a huge variety of food. The only thing I didn't like was their milk.....it was some type of powder that they added hot water to, then mixed it with a blender of some sort.
The staff kept the buildings and the grounds very clean, and everyone was very friendly.
We will go back one day for sure.

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank luvtotravelllllllll
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MohamadFawzi, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this review, March 7, 2010
Dear Luvtotravelll":

Thank you for your beatiful comment about the resort, I hope you come back soon.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St Catharines
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed March 1, 2010

I visited the Sol Rio de Luna y Mares from the 20 to 28th of February 2010. I went with a friend and booked through Hola Sun. I chose this hotel primarily based on the good reviews from this site. If you are looking for an affordable resort, with a gorgeous beach, perfect for sunbathing and swimming then this is the place for you. This is a cuban 4 star hotel which will not be at the level of the 4 stars in Mexico (nor is it as expensive). It is definately value for money, the food is very good, but if you want those little extras such as hot jacuzzi tubs, marbled bathrooms, beach/pool service etc.. then pay the money and go to a 5 star. At this hotel there are primarily people from Canada, the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. The majority of people are from Canada. The hotel is 1 hr from the airport and the roads are not too bumpy. I stayed at the Luna side of the resort in the 8th block. The room was basic, the bed was comfortable, the bathroom was clean but older and a little worn looking. There was a safe in the closet. The room was air conditioned and I had a partial garden/sea view. I always had hot water and plenty of towels and the maid left a fresh bottle of water in the fridge every morning. I was glad to be on the Luna side of the hotel as it was quiet and close to the beach. I was also close to the Luna pool and the 24 hr snack bar. Ronaldo gave us 4 a la Carte reservations so we only ate at the buffet on the Mares side twice. For me their was nothing wrong with the food, they have a chef who will grill anything you like and I loved the seafood, but the buffet was small and we had to wait for about 10 minutes to get a table. We also had to queue for the grill and for the dessert. I didnt experience any pushing or shoving. The first time I was there there were some rather loud guys waving dollar bills in the air and I did notice they got lots of food from the grill but the second time this did not happen. My favourite a la carte restaurant was the International where I enjoyed the lobster and I also enjoyed the Cuban and the French. I ate lunch at the snack bar on the Luna side, they make great Pizza and down on the beach on the Luna side they make great Calamari and hamburgers, also check out the orange daquari's they are wonderful. If you like seafood, you will enjoy this hotel. It is owned by the Spanish Melia Sol chain and many things are imported in from Spain. We never ran out of things and the food was tasty, I never saw any spam or had a bad meal that made me sick. I also never met anyone there who had stomach issues. I ate lots of salad and fruit without any problems. The best thing about this hotel are the people. They work so hard for very little money and are truly wonderful, always smiling with a hug for you. Please if you go here take what you can for the people, a bar of soap or toothpaste or a colouring book and some pencils are so appreciated. They also have difficulties getting clothes for babies so if you can take some it will be so appreciated. Dont forget to tip the security guards, they work 8 hrs per day for six days for 16 dollars a week. They dont sit down on the job so are out in 30 degree plus heat. They are very friendly and helpful and a tip now and again makes all the difference to them. If you stay at this hotel you will fall in love with the people. There are lots of excursions out of the hotel, we did the catamaran snorkelling and dolphin trip. It was fantastic, we fed fish off the coral reef and met a couple of very lovely dolphins. I would highly recomend this trip and a lobster lunch is included. The hotel has a stable and horses as well as peddle boats and catamarans, all of these are included in the cost of the holiday. There is plenty of entertainment, the most lively is on the mares side, the water ballet is amazing. There is a disco from 11-12 pm every night and some fashion shows. There is a theatre between the two resorts with live entertainment. The bars on the Lunas side serve wonderful drinks, go visit the Jazz bar he makes fantastic cocktails. They also make great Spanish coffee's. What are the negatives, for me I can honestly say you get excellent value for money. The pools at this resort are older, they are not heated so if you are more a pool person then maybe this isnt the best choice for you. There is bar service at the pool on the Luna side but it isnt as consistent as some of the resorts I have been to in Mexico. Given the truly stunning beach it would really be a waste to spend your time at the pool in this resort. For me the other negative was that there were no fresh water showers on the beach. I definately missed this. There are two good restaurants/bars on the beach but be warned this is where the sand fleas hang out. I got badly bitten during the first two days of my holiday. The Canadian bug spray is ineffective against these fleas. I bought some Cuban bug spray from the shop at the hotel, I am sure it would not be legal in Canada as when I applied it to my feet it did crazy things to my nail polish. It was however very effective and I think water resistant so I just applied it once per day and got no more problems. There are mosquito's at this resort, so make sure you spray in the evenings and take some medication with you in case you get bitten. I got about 5 bites over the week but I applied my "Off" every evening and this seemed to work. The tourists that visit this hotel are a mixed friendly bunch, it is easy to meet people and I met quite a few single travellers who were having a good time. There were also families with children and older couples so a real mix. If something is wrong with your room the hotel will try to accomodate you and fix the problem as quickly as possible. It is true the hotel isnt perfect, it is older and some of the rooms are in worse shape than others. The guys who work at the front desk go out of their way to accomodate you as efficiently as possible so if you dont like your room they will swap you if they have availability. If you go here you will have a wonderful holiday. The weather at the moment is quite mixed, the beach is hot and breezy but the weather changes from hour to hour so if it looks overcast one minute it soon passes and the sun comes out. Sometimes a cloudy sky for a couple of hrs is a welcome break from the heat. We had one day where it rained all morning and was cloudy for most of the afternoon and one evening where a cold breeze blew in and it felt cold. I was told the weather is unusually unsettled at the moment and the week previous it was miserable so we were lucky. On average I think its cloudy/sunny with a light to moderate breeze and temperatures around 28 to 30 degrees. Its nice in the evening, it cools down a little so its easy to sleep without the air conditioning. The hotel is on the same stretch of beach as the 5 star paradisus next door. I met quite a few people staying here walking the beach so if you enjoy those extra's maybe you can check out the more pricey paradisus d'oro. My advice, get value for money and go visit the Luna y Mares. Enjoy the lovely beach, I wish I was there now.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
9 Thank mpilky1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MohamadFawzi, General Manager at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, responded to this review, March 7, 2010
Dear Mpilky1:

On behalf of all the staff of Sol Rio Luna Mares, I want to thank you for posting your experience at the Trip Avisor. Your cooments are very helpfull for me and my team, I'll make sure the all read your comment. Come back soon.
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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

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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