More about Barcelo Cayo Santa Maria
So much beach to explore.....ok I'll be honest... for me this means short walks.....and lounge chairs..."short walks"...this means getting off my backside and walking or stumbling deleriously sometimes form heat exhaustion into the ocean...
Seriously though this is the main reason that I choose Cayo Santa Maria over many other destinations of sun and sand...the beach here is about 11 kms long and consists of mostly soft white sand...
If you're interested in notching another of the World's nicest beaches onto your belt that please take my advice....check out this beach!!!
We loved the cleanliness. The staff are so nice and very helpful. The restaurants are superb. I loved the food. The beach is one of the best.The hotel lobby is so big and very pretty.The pool is beautiful. We had only 2 days of good weather...sadly :(
I would recommend this resort to ppl BUT if there are rainy days there is nothing to do.We paid the 80 pesos to go to the nearest town on one of the cold days but that gets to be a bit expensive. It cost $10 peso each to eat at a wonderful hostel that was spotless.The hostess was sweet and her food was delicious.We considered taking the Havana trip ...it would have cost us $600 canadian for both of us.But there just weren't enough ppl willing to sign up for the trip to Havana. My husband decided we would pay that price just to get off of the island and do something.
We paid 10 pesos,cab fare, for a round trip to the neighbouring resort but they would not let us in.So 10 pesos for a 5 min drive.The neighbouring resort had shopping apparently.
Cayo Santa Maria is just so isolated that if you experience bad weather like we did then there is not much to do.No fault of the hotel .Just cool temps and rain.We ended up mostly holed up in our room reading and waiting until the next meal time.The drinks were flowing freely and the pina coladas were delicious.
Once this hotel is in the final stages I am sure they will come up with ways to entertain the guests if the weather is cool and rainy. Maybe add a shop or two? We were just bored because of the weather.
An honest Review
I stayed at the Barcelo from Jan 21st -28th. This was my 5th time to Cuba my 3rd time to Cayo Santa Maria (we stayed at the Melia twice before the new Barcelo).
The Barcelo is a beautiful hotel, the Lobby is gorgeous and bright. The grounds were nice and will get prettier once the trees and flowers have a chance to grow as there was lots of areas of just dirt.
Rooms: The rooms are very nice, the beds were extremely comfortable and since it is a new hotel we did not have that Musty smell in our room. We always had hot water and there was no back ups in the toilet at all. The bar fridge was only missed to be filled on one day and our room was always cleaned daily with no issues.
Food: The hotel just opened on Dec 25th so full ammenities are not available. There are 2 A la Carte restaurants(seafood and Italian--enjoyed both), 1 buffet and a grill for food. The buffet was way too busy so we ate breakfast and lunch at the grill.
**** I also want to point out that we did not see one Mosquito or really any bugs other than flies. Probably cause its so new and it was quite windy and a bit chilly.
Hotel Shop: Like another review said, the hotel shop really has nothing in it including a very poor selection of Cigars(who woulda thought since we are in Cuba). Once the hotel is more than 1/4 built I am sure the shop will get better. We luckily had some connections so we ended up being allowd to pop over to Melia and buy the cigars needed there(FYI, its about 8km away so its a hike on the beach). (Melia Las Dunas has no humidor for cigars either, just the Melia Cayo Santa Maria).
Beach: It looked gorgeous but it was so windy when we were there it was too cold on the beach. When we arrived it was only 18 degrees as a storm came down from the north. So we only had about 3 out of the 7 days of sun. I do not think I would go in Jan again.
Pool: The first few days we had no issues getting a lounger by the pool when we showed up by 9am, after the 3rd day a few bus loads came in and we were told the hotel was over booked. Well that changed things for the chance of getting a lounger, I was told by another vacationer she went out to get a lounger at 7am and there were few left already at that time. My BIGGEST frustration was you would see a stack of like 8 loungers being held with one towel. Also you would see towels on longers all day that did not even get used! GRRRR!!!!! If you hold a lounger use it or give it to someone else!!!!!!
Bars: We found the lobby bar extremely slow to get a drink, I am a very patient person and I know they are busy but we waited for an hour and then I went up to the bar and was ingored still( I am a cute girl too, HAHAHA). So we did not go there again, we spoke to others and they loved it, maybe it was just a bad day when we went. The Pool bar was always easy to get a drink at and we spent all of our evenings at the Theatre bar as Humberto and Lizebacy kept the drinks coming!!!!!
Entertainment: There was some good shows, the fire dance show was awesome! Other nights were just so so. The shows will get better once the hotel is open longer, more practice and ideas.
I agree that the hotel is isolated and coming from Vancouver it is a long trip to get there but it is so beautiful and the staff are amazing! I go to Cuba to relax and enjoy the tropical sun and beach not to spend my days filled with tours!
All in all it was a great hotel, there are some kinks to iron out but I would go back.
This Hotel is going to be HUGE once it is completed. They say it will have its own town on the hotel grounds set up for shopping.
On a side note the exchange rate was awful it was 1.42 when we were there by the end of the week it went to 1.38 compared to the Canadian dollar.
Beach and resort all there is!
I stayed here Jan. 10 - 24, 2009. First of all I would like to make it clear that my rating is not so much of the resort itself but of the location -- isolated.
I liked the resort in general. I would say the it is a 4 star facility.
Most of the staff were friendly and would say hola to you.
The room was nice and included a min-bar, digital safe, portable stereo w/ CD player, iron and board, and coffee maker. The washroom had a hair dryer and built into the dryer cradle was a 110 volt plug that could be used for electric shavers. The balconey even had a screen door.
Food was pretty good. Breakfast is the usual bacon, eggs, cold cuts, fruit etc. with long waits at the waffle making station. For dinner, the food available in the buffet was not the greatest but there is a grilling station with cuts of chicken breast and beef, pork chops, shrimp and salmon/tuna skewers of which the chefs will cook to your desire. One day there was nice big chunks of lobster that they would grill for you. There was always a beef roast, or pork roast or cooked red snapper that they would cut slices for you. There are also pasta and rice stations where chefs will prepare and cook it the way you like.
I dined at the seafood restaurant once and had the warm lobster salad and the red snapper cooked in a thin paper -- both of which were excellent. I dined at the Italian restaurant twice and both times had the Toscan soup -- very good -- and the beefsteak florentine, which was a thick tender cut of beef like that you would encounter in a good Canadian restaurant. It was delicious. Make sure you specify to the waiter how you like it cooked.
The lobby bar has a wide array of cocktails and wines available as well as cappucino and expresso. They also make Spanish and Irish coffee of which people were raving about. On a sunny hot day the beach bar was usually very busy. I would walk 200 feet or so to pool bar where it wasn't so long a wait to get served.
The beach was nice with white sand and crystal clear tourquoise coloured water like in Varadero. The water was shallow for a long way out. One thing to note is that if you were lying down on the beach facing the sea the sun was always behind you.
The shows in the ampitheater featured dancers. One night it was Spanish dancing, another night Cuban dancing and another night it was volunteers from the audience pairing with the resort's dancers in a contest.
There were few problems:
-a couple of times the mini-bar in my room was not re-stocked with beer, pop and water. The first time I asked the room service fellow -- who happened to be in my complex at the time -- to re-stock it. The second time I reported it to the concierge and 15 minutes later room service arrived. They offered beer, pop and water as well as champagne. I thought he was joking about the champagne but he said they do offer it.
-when I arrived at the beach on a hot sunny day after 11:00am all of the lounge chairs were taken. Some tourists would put one on it's side to act as a wind barrier while using a second one to lounge in. There were a lot of empty palapas though, just no chairs. You could usually find a lounge chair by the pool.
A few other things to note:
-the resort store does not carry basic tourist goods such as pepto bismal, imodium, aspirin, toothpaste and suntan lotion, so bring enough of these items to last you.
-for long distance phone calls, the phone cards which you can buy in Varadero (six minutes for $10.00 Cuban Convertible pesos) are not available here. You can make long distance calls from a room in the lobby. The cost is $2.10 pesos a minute (or about $3.00 Canadian based on receiving $0.75 pesos for $1.00 Cad) and a 16 minute phone call set me back $48.00 Cad.
-there is a beautiful beach 8.5 kilometers to the east of the resort called Perla Blanca. There is coral there for snorkeling and the beach stretches for another 5 kilometers to the east. I paid $30.00 pesos (or $40.00 Cad) for a taxi to take me there and to pick me up at a pre-arranged time. My rep and the taxi driver told me that nudity is allowed on this beach.
And finally, the reason I only gave my experience a rating of 2 is because of the isolation of Cayo Santa Maria. The nearest town is 45 minutes away by vehicle and Santa Clara is an hour and a half away. The weather was off while I was there with only 4 sunny and hot days and on the days with lousy weather you were confined to the resort (unless you were on a tour). There is not a town nearby, like Varadero or Playa del Carmen, where you could visit and kill some time. One fellow I met who was staying there went stir crazy and took a taxi to Santa Clara and spent a couple of nights there.
The Barcelo is built to cater to mass tourists who are content with a beach/pool type holiday and enjoy staying at the resort.
Excellent for the price paid
I stayed at the resort between January 7th and 14th and had an excellent time.
The beach is the best part about the place. White sand, crystal clear water. It extends for what seems like forever. Unfortunately it can be windy this time of year.
The food in the buffet was decent but not excellent. Large selection but it didn't change much during the week. DON'T ORDER THE STEAK AT THE ITALIAN RESTAURANT. IT TASTES LIKE SHOE LEATHER. The seafood restaurant was excellent.
The drink selection at the bars was top notch. They definitely need another bar at the beach though. The one there is small with one bartender so it might take a while to get a drink.
Our room was excellent aside from the shower. Comfortable king size bed with a couch. The water pressure in the showers is terrible and the water temperature never stays constant.
The entertainment at the theatre was decent. This place is in dire need of a disco though. They tried switching the theatre into a disco after the shows but most people left and the only ones left just hugged the bar the rest of the night. I found the theatre bar
was the most fun late at night.
All my above complaints are extremely minor. I had an excellent time at the resort and would recommend any of my friends to try it out as long as it was decently priced.
My only true complaint about the Barcelo is there is not a whole lot to do there without paying extra for excursions. More activities would have made it a 5 star in my opinion. For now I will give it 4.
We just returned from a week at the Barcelo. I found the resort to be excellent. Yes, it is new and there is some improvement needed with the service., but that is to be expected. The grounds are not as beautiful due to the fact that they are new but there were still lovely hibiscus and other flowers and shrubery. They are working on the grounds and in a short time, they will be beautiful. Where do I start, The beach is one of the best beaches I have seen. White sand, clear, no rocks, no weeds and you could walk for miles. The rooms were nice. We had a king size bed, there was a coffee maker, hairdryer, mini fridge stocked daily, in room safe and we had a view of the ocean from our balcony. The water worked well, good pressure and nice and hot. Each balcony had a patio table and chairs which was nice to sit out. The food was very good especially for Cuba. The buffet was one of the biggest with so many choices. This was the case for breakfast, dinner and lunch. You could order from a menu at the grill if you did not want the buffet. There were 2 al a carte restaurants. We only ate at the seafood which was very good. We did book the Italian but had heard so many negative comments about it that we decided to stick to the buffet which was so good anyways. The pool was also great with a swim up bar. In the evenings they had small bands playing in the lobby bar where people were dancing and we really enjoyed the music and the bar. The disco was not open yet and the shows were not very good but we opted to enjoy the music at the lobby most nights which people seemed to enjoy. For what we paid for the holiday, there was nothing I could complain about. Of course there are some with complaints but then these people should have stayed at a more established resort at a much higher price. We would go back in a second and were sorry we did not stay for 2 weeks. I don't think you will be disappointed unless you are an extremely fussy traveller and do not consider the fact that the resort has only been open 3 weeks.
Take 2 Cervezas And Call Me In The Morning!
So, some say the salon wasn't open, there was no disco, you had to take a cold shower twice, your door was crooked, the restaurant was cold.
Who goes to Cuba to get their hair done and hang out in their room all week?
Get a life and get out there and make your own fun!
The beach was awesome. Everybody says it.
The staff was extremely friendly. Of course, that's with those that make an effort. You walk around with a scowl on your face, you get what you deserve. A smile given always followed by top-notch service. Crispin and Rafael at the pool bar, Wilfredo at the grill, Felix at the Italian, and those good looking girls working the seafood restaurant were some standouts.
Food was great. If you think the steak at the italian restaurant tastes like leather, get your boot out of your mouth! You didn't eat the same thing as me. It was great! Seafood had super service and stand-out food. If it's too cold for you, put on a shirt or some socks and stop complaining!
Night life..sure, not up to par yet (its a new hotel..you knew it when you booked it! - if you didn't, then wake up!). Nightlife is what you make of it. If you're counting on somebody else to make your night, change your social habits. We had a blast! Started out the the pool bar till 6, after dinner at the lobby bar with live band, then off to the theatre and bar for drinks and show. After, late night back to the lobby for some specialty coffees, then very late night off to the grill by the pool for a burger and fries.
If you want to do something off the resort, just book a taxi and go yourself into town. The beer's cheap and the food is nothing like home! (which is why, I would assume, you are on vacation in Cuba..if you wanted a McDonald's, then you made a big mistake when you chose your destination! Read a guidebook or something!)
So, in conclusion, yeah, some stuff could be better, and probably will get there. But a vacation is what YOU make of it, and for me, I made a great vacation out of my time at the Barcelo!
Could have been better
When we booked this hotel there were no reviews posted yet..therefore we were a little worried when they started coming up and we saw that they weren't that great. We convinced ourselves that we weren't going to base ourselves on them and we were going there for the beach and sun, Well all 4 of us agreed that it could have been better. We were 4 with a baby of 8 months on our 4th trip to Cuba. I will give a review point by point.
Rooms: Ordinary. One day we didn't have hot water. (and with a baby full of sand...it wasn't that nice) The cleaning ladies are too few for all the rooms that have too be cleaned therefore our room was only cleaned 3 times out of 7 days even though generous tip was left everyday. As other people said, during the night some weird stuff comes up in your toilet and even though it's true you are not there for the room it still isn't that nice to see.
Beach: Faboulous. White, no rocks not nothing. We had only 3 days of sun but all 7 were very windy therefore cold on the beach if you weren't walking.
Pool: Icy cold but very nice. Reserve chairs in the morning before eating cause they go fast.
Food: Breakfast was okay. (Waffles very good), Lunch and Dinner is same food..no change at all. You have to wait online for 20 minutes at least in order to get something decent to eat. Seafood restaurant is 5 stars. Italian is really not eatable. We tried the steakhouse (opened on the 24th january) not quite eatable either.
Service: Excellent. friendly and fast. This is how cubans are usually. They also love babies! The bellboys are very friendly
Entertainment: we didn't see many of the shows but heard they were nice. The disco apparently is also nice!
In summary I wouldn't recommend this hotel to family with children. It is not yet a 4 star that's for sure. And if they don't improve their food it won't get their either!
A GORGEOUS beach....and Tourqoise Ocean....
Cayo Santa Maria is about 13 kms long and about 2 kms wide...and is a part of a cluster of islands that offer beautiful beaches and gorgeous ocean...
There are presently about three hotels located on Cayo Santa Maria and construction is underway to create one more giant structure that will contain about 5000 rooms....so ....perhaps its too late to experience this little tropical hideout in its infancy but it is certainly a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy some beach time! The goal I was told was a total of about 12000 rooms here...
To access it you must travel on a causeway that took ten years to build and is about 50 kilometers long..... the causeway crosses many tiny islands and more than forty small bridges...in spite of the potential ecological threats posed by such a project the bridges allow water to pass through the roadway and sea life to move back and forth..
Cayo Santa María is the home of large colonies of flamingos, seagulls and anhingas, as well as iguanas, mollusks and the shrike bird, while its sea bottoms are inhabited by algae. The island is also a haven for amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds.Mostly though....the only animals that I've seen here include Iguanas,birds,and fish...
Approximately 248 species of flora inhabit the Cayo...Mangroves, as well as palms, fruit trees and coconuts cover the island...
"UNESCO....and MY visits to Cuba..."
The tiny iisland which was designated a "Biosphere Reserve" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is included in the The Buenavista Biosphere Reserve "which is situated on the northern coast of Cuba, in covers a total surface area of 313,502 hectares. The larger marine part includes coral reefs, rocky and sandy beaches, while the terrestrial part is composed of evergreen microphyllous coastal and subcoastal forest, mangrove forest, and matorral. The site has a high biodiversity of flora and fauna and many endemic (20) and threatened species ".....
So.....I've just returned from a week enjoying this little treat...mostly just searching for and finding some "downtime"...I found this all inclusive "deal" with a company out of Montreal...I booked it on Monday and took off the following Sunday.
My goal was simply to relax a little....enjoy the beach and look for photo ops I guess...oh yah...and drop a few extra pounds Ive accumulated over the Winter...Over the years Ive read about and experienced personally the "food" of Cuban Resort life...its generally not that great...so I use time in Cuba as a Spring time "shedding" of some extra Winter layers...
This past excursion was my third time visiting Cayo Santa Maria..The beach is amazing and the staff and some of the clientele for the most part are really friendly and accommodating..ok at least the staff are.....from what I can tell....
I have mixed feelings about being in Cuba....especially staying at a "resort"...I'm not totally comfortable with the scenario and I often feel like I likely shouldn't be there.I feel sometimes as though the people working the resorts are not too happy and when I watch how some people interact with them I understand why....I try to treat people ANYTIME with respect and dignity and I don't always see that from "Westerners' that are visiting Cuba...
I guess what I am uncomfortable with is the perception that we visitors are always the wealthy,greedy Capitalists portrayed in old propaganda and that I am there to be served and catered to...maybe in some ways I am...but I feel guilty about it....
Whenever I travel to Cuba I ALWAYS include extra luggage...mostly gently used clothing that I can pass along to new friends that are working around the resort...This trip I was able to finally finish off the last round of donations from my friends that has been waiting for me to return.My last trip down was in May of 06 and I had about fifty pounds of clothing that I was unable to bring with me because of weight "restrictions" enforced by the airlines I have flown with.
So....when I spend time in Cuba....I try to leave only a "little footprint"...I don't eat unnecessarily vast plates of food...I only take what I need...and really try to take from the sort of fabulous buffets only what I will eat.I use water sparingly and pick up after myself on the beach...
"Such a TREAT....."
So..most of my time visiting Cuba is centered on this....beautiful ocean and beach..and a good book or two...
This particular trip I managed to get myself hooked up with a "day trip"...an organized tour to the Caribbean Coastal town of Trinidad...a few hours drive from Cayo Santa Maria...this proved to be an adventure in itself but in the meantime this is what I was here for...
Cayo Santa Maria,Province Villa Clara,Cuba.
Cayo Santa Maria,Province Villa Clara,Cuba.
Cayo Santa Maria,Province Villa Clara,Cuba.
Sol Cayo Santa Maria,Province Santa Clara,Cuba.
Best ways and costs to travel from Trinidad to Cayo Las Brujas near Cayo Santa Maria
We need to travel from Trinidad to Las Brujas resort in Cayo Las Brujas in March and need to know what our travel options are. We do not want to hire a car. Are there buses? is it more than one bus? How far is it? What would a taxi cost? Are there any other ways or tips from other travellers for such travel in CUba