More about Villa Jibacoa Loma
Pretty good for your money
First thing, remember that it's a 3 star.
- very basic. The bed is pretty hard but liveable.
- safe in the room (you pay extra) and you use your room key to open it. This leads me to believe that staff could theoretically have access to it but we had no issues.
- the maids were very good and cleaned up everything. Leave tips/gifts on the pillows so they know it's for them.
- there is a mini fridge. I suggest putting any food or drink inthere as the ants show up mighty fast if you leave it laying about.
- long beach and very private feeling. Tons of space.
- also alot of crab on the beach so watch where you are walking
- jelly fish are common. I recommend bringing a small bottle of vinegar just in case.
- the other guests seemed to be 35+. We are in our twenties so there were very few people our age but it didn't bother us.
- the staff were fine. Not great, not bad, just fine.
- food in Cuba is bad anywhere you go and this place was no different.
- I highly recommend you bring snacks. (ie granola bars)
Overall when you pay very little for a week long trip this is what you get. So, go in with an open mind, make the best of it and you will enjoy it.
Excellent time at Cameleon Villas Jibacoa
Cameleon Villas Jibacoa
Mar 31 – Apr 7, 2007
This resort was chosen because it was small, quiet and has great snorkeling. We are a couple in our early 40’s, avid snorkelers and are beach people. This is our second trip to Cuba; we were in Holguin last year. Overall, we had a fabulous week that was relaxing & quiet. We will definitely be returning.
Flight & transfer
We flew the afternoon flight out of Toronto, on Westjet. It was a great flight…Westjet is on of the best! The seats are comfy and the staff helpful. “Lunch” was a turkey deli sandwich, cheese & crackers and a butter tart. No complaints, except the butter tart was stale.
Arrived at Varadero a few minutes early…no problems at immigration and getting our luggage. Changed $150 CDN to CUC at the airport, again no problems. Hubby bought a couple of beers and pops for $8 CUC, $2 each. Great to have the refreshments for the 50 – 60 min. bus ride to the resort. The transfer bus was good and included a rep from Cubanatours. The rep was informative and tried hard to be entertaining (he was).
Check-in / Front Desk
On arrival, had DH get the luggage and I went to check-in. Staff was friendly and efficient. All the rooms are already assigned, so check-in was quick. Inquired about a safe and was instructed to come back the next day. Bellhop was quick and again informative. When we asked if dinner was still available as it as already 8:45pm, he said he would call ahead to the buffet to keep it open an extra ½ hour to 10pm to feed us newbies. Great service.
As noted in other review, the rooms are in groups of 4 or 6, in bungalows. Each room has its own patio with 2 chairs and small side table. This was great for sitting at for reading or just relaxing. We met many people at the resort this way. The rooms themselves are fairly basic but were comfortable and clean. We did not have any ants in our room. Any food we had was put in to the fridge for safekeeping (from ants). There were two bugs over course of the week…but we are in the tropics! Our room had 2 doubles, which we pushed together…felt like a huge king sized bed! If you like your pillow high…bring yourself an extra one. We brought our memory contoured pillows with us…can’t seem to sleep well w/o them! No problemos… our maid, Yanet, was great! Watch out for the floors when wet…they can get pretty slick!
We spent most of our time here…while the sand is not white…it is just fine. Snorkeling is great…the reef is very close by and the amount of marine life is quite varied. We brought our own snorkel equipment, as did many of the other guests. We tried to snorkel everyday, however there was dependant on the weather and how windy it was…no point going if you can’t see anything! The hobie cat rides were awesome. We got in some good waves and got really wet…boy it was FUN! Would advise you to stay on the part of the beach closest to the lobby/beach bar. This part is quieter and you don’t hear the noise/music from the pool.
We did not spend a great deal of time here. A couple of afternoons at most. We did catch one of the afternoon dance shows and the Band. Both were good, but by the end of the week…a little repetitive (they play at the shows and during dinner at the buffet. There were always loungers available, as well as shade if desired.
As they say…you don’t go to Cuba for the food. I am a very picky eater. Generally Breakfast is good, lunch okay, dinner, not so good. Breakfast always had made to order eggs, a veggie, hotdogs and bacon. There was also an assortment of cold cuts & cheese if you wanted a sandwich. The fruit / cereal bar was always fresh. Lunch always featured a grilled protein, pasta, fish and fries. While the variety was limited, everything appeared fresh and was replenish regularly. On one day, there was fresh shrimp on the grill. Very good, but the heads were still attached (I’m okay with this) and on another there was liver. Needless to say, it was not very popular! There were other meat dishes to choose from on that day though. Dinner, I found it to have slimmer pickings…there was usually a roast of some kind (Turkey (twice that week), pork and grouper), the same pasta, boiled potatoes and veggies. There are a large number of mixed salads (didn’t try any) and a small salad bar (cabbage, some lettuce, cucumbers and carrots) with oil & vinegar for dressing. As I said, I’m picky…I know others enjoyed the food, I just like more taste! Definitely bring your own condiments…ketchup, parm. Cheese (for pasta) and hot sauce. They had Tabasco available if that’s good for you. If you are still hungry after these meals…you could get a grilled hot dog or ham & cheese sandwich from the pool bar. I enjoyed the hot dog, and the ham & cheese were not bad.
Ala Carte – Thought this was excellent. The appetizers were good, included chicken salad, shrimp & crab and green salad. This was already very filling. Entrée, we had the fish, which was Mahi Mahi. Beautifully grilled, with lobster on top and rice with beans. Dessert was a choice of flan or fresh fruit. All was excellent.
There are two bars at this resort. Would say that the best one is the Lobby/Beach bar. The bartenders were excellent (Alberto is very good) and pour good and yummy drinks. Try the chocolate monkey…it’s like dessert and YUM YUM! The mojitos here were definitely better than the Pool bar. We found the staff at the Pool bar to be a little stand offish and not as friendly as the Lobby bar. Here too, we did not find the drinks poured as good as the Lobby bar.
Service at the Lobby bar was always prompt.
We went to Havana for the day…our guide was good and very informative. Would recommend that to anyone that has not been to Havana. This is an amazing city, very old and full of cool places to explore. We did not go on any other excursions, however we spoke to others that did the Catamaran & Matanzas River tours…and they highly recommended this as well.
The resort is a little tired, however while we were there, there was always ongoing maintenance. This is the first 3* resort we have been to and thought it was excellent value for what we received. This is a very laid back resort…there is nothing fancy schmancy here! This resort would not be suitable to anyone looking to party & dance, but, if you are interested in some R & R, meeting great people and just doing nothing…this is the right place to be. We will be back!
We stayed at the Cameleon from April 14th to April 21st. We are a couple in our 20s. Had a wonderful time. This is the place to stay for a quiet, relaxing time. Definitely not for people who need a lot of action. If you need more of a nightlife stay in Varadero. Or if you require something a little higher end - Stay at the Breezes next door for an extra $500. It's the same beach but the facilities (and guests) are a little fussier. One couple came to look at our resort because they were staying at Breezes and the people there were so snobby they were having a hard time enjoying their vacation. They said it seemed like the division between guest and staff made everything a little tense.
Tips: The lobby bar makes the best drinks by far, they are never in a hurry, always take the time and go the extra mile. Pool bar was a little more casual with slightly poorer service.
- Be sure to make the buffet when it's open as getting food at the snack bar is not always an option. Buffet hours are: 7:30-9:30 for breakfast, 1:00-2:30 for lunch, and 7:00-9:30 for dinner. Snack bar is only open sporadically. Buffet food is always great, especially the homemade ice cream, and fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast.
- Be sure to bring a travel mug or a water bottle, you can refill with water (or pop) at either of the bars.
- No adaptors necessary - You can bring your charger, the plugs will work.
- Do not leave any trace of food in your room. The ants will appear instantaneously, keep everything in the fridge or eat on your villa patio if possible. Other than that, rooms are diligently kept clean.
- When we arrived there was a bottle of rum in the room, so there's no need to bring any with you from home. You can grab mix at the bar and enjoy some drinks in your room (better to have on the patio due to the ant situation - they like sugar too).
- You may not be able to swim every day, while we were there we had a few red flag days (no swimming), a few yellow flag (caution), and a few green flag days as well. Bring your own snorkel gear if you can.
Excursions: 1. Definitely recommend going into Havana if you have the chance. We did not go with a group, we simply hired a taxi driver
who took us to all the attractions and played tour guide, and then let us roam old Havana by the street market for a few hours. Cost about 90 CUC (round-trip). You can do it cheaper by hitching a ride with the tour group but skipping the official tour.
2. Rambo Tour - It's a full 2-day excursion but be warned - You spend copious amounts of time on a bus! In the process you do get to visit several UNESCO towns, stay in a mountain-top villa, go for a hike (or waterfall dash) in the jungle, visit the Che monument, visit a cigar factory...I recommend doing it early on in the trip as by the time we got back we were pretty tired. Price was $125 CUC. Overall it was worth it. (Note: if not enough people from the resort are going on this trip, you will have to pay for a cab to Varadero and back, about $50 CUC each way, we ended up splitting it with another couple. The tour bus actually leaves from Varadero, not Jibacoa).
Because the resort is so small you get to know just about everyone during your stay. Resort has a very relaxed feel, employees even have
their families come by and visit. The gardener brought us and our neighbor flowers as he was passing by. There are many stray dogs and cats at the resort - None of the dogs are taller than your knees, and they are not in the least bit threatening. Someone even brought them flea collars while we were there.
Recommend a trip to a dollar store before you go to pick up gifts for the Cubans you meet. If you go into any of the towns, try to bring some pens/pencils for the schools (many people asked us for them), they are much appreciated. Any children you see will probably ask for candy.
Overall would highly recommend this resort to people who want to take it easy, and relax. This is not for those with very high expectations of a 5 star resort - because this is not it. This place has all the amenities (on which they do an excellent job), but less so the little extras. Would definitely go again for some quality R&R.
Wonderful Vacation for a low price!
Trip Date: April 7-14, 2007
Travelers: All adults (47-74 yo)
We recently spent a week at this low-key resort. I went with my parents and the three of us enjoyed a relaxing time among beautiful people.
Location: This resort, surrounded by hills and nature, is about 45 minutes to Havana and not far from Varadero. The nearest town is Matanzas, which is a colonial city with a few interesting sites. The gardens were well-looked after with colourful flowers and palm trees. We also saw beautiful birds, butterflies, and rare spiders.
Weather: It was very good, hot and sunny almost every day (30 C). We had a rainy day and a rainy afternoon that helped us catch up with our reading.
Room: We shared a triple room; comfortable & very clean; mini-fridge, AC w/remote control; Cable TV; great closet & storage; pretty large bathroom (shower only); clean towels every day; and extra blankets (we didn't need any).
Beach: We were only steps from a nice and private beach; no waves; clear waters and soft sand. We did snorkling and suntanned under beach umbrellas. They had long plastic chairs available. We also had access to snorkling gear; peddal boats, sea kayaks, and a guided catamaran ride. Scuba diving had to be booked and it cost $30 for about 3 Hrs. We didn't go this time.
Food/Restaurant: We loved the food, it reminded us of home cooking. It was tasty and fresh. Cuba doesn't have access to exotic or foreign spices so they use mainly salt, pepper and some local spices. We enjoyed the fresh fish everyday, which they cooked in various ways: steamed, grilled, fried, breaded, etc. We really liked the home-made breads, sweet yogurts and freshly squeezed orange juice every day. Yummy!
Service: The servers were very polite, always offering to help with anything we needed. They even made a little cake for dad's birthday. All of them were polite and friendly; they never asked us for anything (tips or goods) and they showed a beautiful smile. We brought some presents to give away, things we bought at a dollar store, and they were very grateful. Cubans appreciate anything people give them: soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair things, pens, pencils, note pads, T-shirts, etc. We were happy to give them everything we had because they treated us like royalty.
Pool: It was a lovely pool, very clean, not fancy, but just perfect to relax and cool down from the heat. There was a bar and hot "panini" sandwiches were available all day. There was a DJ and one day a week they had live music and dancers. We spent little time by the pool since we preferred the beach.
Drinks: Light beer, great Margaritas & Daikiris, and sweet Spanish coffees. Mmm... The Pina Colada and Chocolate Monkey were creamy and tasted like smoothies. Very yummy. The bar tenders were polite and extra careful to prepare your drinks. We did not hesitate to give some tips.
Entertainment: This was kind of poor. They had good dancers, and one good comedian, but in general the shows were amateur. However, we went on good spirits and laughed a lot and clapped their efforts. The disco played a little bit of everything, but mostly music approriate for a younger or single crowd.
Dad went on a biking tour one morning and said his bicycle didn't have good brakes and it didn't have a switch to change gears. He still enjoyed it, but it was tiring for him and a bit unsafe.
Tours: We highly recommend the catamaran tour to Cayos Blancos. That beach is unbelivable.
Overall, we had an excellent time and would love to go back to Villas Jibacoa. We highly recommend this resort to families with children, couples, older folks, or people who want to have fun and save a lot of money.
Solymar Toronto, Apr. 2007
We chose the Jibacoa area for its great snorkeling. At first we saw Superclub Breezes, but suddenly in the brochure, the page across from Breezes revealed Cameleon. For $800 cheaper per person for our 2 week stay. We have a tendency to like smaller hotels, which Cameleon is. So we went and were not disappointed in the slightest.
Jibacoa sits almost halfway between Varadero and Havana. About an hour drive to each, making touring Havana a much less grueling bus ride. The area is more rural than Varadero, with more natural forest and native areas. There are only two resorts at the site, with a few Cuban camps/resorts further west along the beach from Cameleon.
The hotel consists of several villas, containing 4-6 rooms each, spread through a very large garden. Villas are older, yet well maintained and private. Each room has a patio door, and ours opened up to a wonderful ocean view. Outside our room was a hibiscus tree that was loaded with hummingbirds to watch each morning.
The beach was very nice, very long and never crowded. Palapas were spread along the beach and not bunched up like the ones at Breezes, next door.
The hotel provided very good food - nothing fancy, but good quality for Cuba. A favourite with our group was the homemade ice cream, the fresh squeezed orange juice, the roast pork and the breakfast buffet. At the pool is an a la carte which provided beach and pool fare at noon - hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches. Again nothing fancy, but certainly edible, especially if you didn't like leaving the water to walk up to the restaurant.
Ocean is not a good swimming ocean. Sea bed is covered with coral and sea grass - perfect for us snorkelers, but someone just wanting to swim may not be happy. Snorkeling was VERY good with loads of area to snorkel in. We found snorkeling in front of the Cameleon better than that in front of Breezes although certainly both areas were available to swim in. We appreciated the large snorkeling area where motor boats were kept out - only occasionally the dive boat would head out the channel. So we were never faced with dodging jet skis.
The staff at the hotel were phenomenal. Extremely friendly and very accommodating.
The gardens were beautiful and well maintained as was the beach. Security are posted throughout the resort, including on the beach, so we never felt afraid to leave our things on the beach chairs while we were in snorkeling for hours at a time.
Entertainment was available each night, but was pretty standard and nothing exciting or new.
The hotel has road train tours available for 15 pesos that were well worth it. The road train lived at the Cameleon resort as did the Jeep rentals, however both were available for people from both the Cameleon and Breezes resorts. Motorbike/scooter rentals were available at Breezes for people from both resorts. And each resort had it's own fleet of rental bicycles.
Cameleon had 2 peddle boats available for free to guests. Guests of Breezes could use these for a nominal $. Both resorts had kayaks and small sail kayaks for use.
The two resorts at Jibacoa both offer a wonderful experience. If you prefer fancier fair, newer, larger volume of rooms and people, then Cameleon is not for you. Cameleon is for those who don't mind a smaller resort, in more of a garden setting. But note that the food, beach, snorkeling and accessibility to tours, etc are exactly the same at each resort.
return to a favourite
Had a great 2nd time around at the Jibacoa all inclusive resort in mid November 2007. Temperatures hovered around a perfect 22-27 degrees, which was quite a bit cooler than in February. This time, the resort had just opened up for the season and the few, primarily Canadian tourists readily connected with each other as if they had always been part of the same family. The staff was pleasant and the grounds were spacious with plenty of room to mill around.
Although the weather was mixed, we enjoyed few excellent days for snorkeling and other water activities once the winds eased. With a couple of pesos as a tip, the life guards eagerly took guests for a catamaran ride or helped peddle the paddle-wheeler out to the reef's edge for snorkeling or diving adventures. Unfortunately my run-in with a portugese-man-of-war jelly fish was quite an unpleasant experience, reminding me to heed the red flag warnings posted on the beach. Wisely, I had come prepared with plenty of Antihistamine pills and Benydryl topical gel which took the sting out.
The usually bland Cuban food had improved somewhat from last time, with some tasty meals, but less variety, probably due to the low number of guest at the season's start. Nightly entertainment was mostly a repeat from the February shows, but with exceptionally good and lively performances by the local "Senora Jibacoa" band. Lunch & dinnertime music would have been better without repeatedly playing Aerosmith, but then the DJ's really do have limited resources. A much appreciated gift for the entertainment staff would be some nice background music, although they would arguably prefer to play the newer techno/dance type 24-7.
If you are considering a holiday at the Cameleon Jibacoa, you may want to take a few spices along, herbal teas & salad dressings, as well as an alarm clock, facecloth, shampoo, conditioner and soap etc., since those are either not supplied or of poor quality. As for gifts/tips for the staff and locals, any toiletries, children's clothing or school supplies are always much appreciated. Oh, and expect that at least one staff member will beg you for your travel mug!
In conclusion, it was the perfect place for a chill-down, relaxed, non-crowded holiday at an economical price which left me looking forward to another one.