More about Club Amigo Carisol Los Corales
Los Corales vacation great
Three women from our family (myself, my mother and my youngest daughter) have just returned from a week long vacation at Los Corales. We arrived at our hotel late in the evening and found that we were one of two families not on the hotel's list of guests. The hotel was apparently full so they offered us one of the units in a bungalow they keep unreserved. The problem was that the unit was beside a parking lot, with two narrow beds (not three as I reserved with my travel agent)and a flooded bathroom to top it off. I went back and complained and we were send "next door" to hotel Carisol. With no transportation available, the 15 min. walk at midnight (there is a large strip of empty land between the two hotels)was no fun for any of us, especially my elderly mother. PLEASE NOTE: If this happens to you, insist on a different unit in one of the other bungalows at Los Corales.
Here is why:
CARISOL: We had a quiet room but found that all the guests were either Cuban or French. The food wasn't as good as in Los Corales although you can eat at either hotel (the wrist bands are different colour but nobody bothered us when we did). The beach was farther. Since my mother has trouble walking long distances and we all communicated better with the English speaking guests at Los Corales, I asked to be moved again. After two nights at Carisol and some negotiating, they moved us back to Los Corales into a different bungalow with two beds and another bed added the next day.
We liked our new bungalow unit a lot. Close to the beach, quiet, clean with warm showers and English TV programing (including the Disney channel, CNN, movies). The pool was great, about 5 ft. deep with a waterfall, swim up bar and a shallower children's area. In January the water in the pool is cooler than in the ocean and on one rather windy evening they even had a "synchronized swiming" show there. The beach was terrific with lots of chairs (some broken), shady coverage from palm trees, etc. and plenty of room for everyone. For fun there are two volleyball courts, non-motorized boats (catamaran rides need to be reserved) and best of all snorkeling!!! For me and my 9 year old daughter this was amateur snorkeling haven. We saw some 30 different kinds of fish, as well as urchins in the sea grass and around the coral reef. Bring water shoes (!!) and snorkeling equipment (although the later can be borrowed). You can borrow hotel beach towels but beware that if you misplace one it will cost you 25 cpesos. The food at Los Corales was OK but keeping it warm was a problem and the popular fare disappeared early. Some people brought peanut butter and ketchup packages for their kids or olive oil and garlic for the pasta chef to use as ingredients in their own pasta dishes. Breakfast buffet was best with fresh orange juice, fresh fruit, sausages, bacon, fresh omelettes and bread. Lunch was served both at the buffet restaurant and as simplier fare on the beach (mostly hot dogs). Drinks and coffee were great. The dinner started at 6:30pm as opposed to Carisol's 7:30pm and always had something special. Some of the foods could be repeated more often like the coconut ice cream they had only one night. The entertainment was fabulous, especially the dancers. Their talent rivals that found in the famous Santiago Club. There is an events schedule on the wall in the main loby in four languages that describes what is going on around the hotel every day of the week. There are many opportunities to take trips outside of the hotel. You can do a whole day trip (we went to Santiago by boat; back by bus) or just something for a few hours (like horseback riding). Our trip was one of the more expensive at 62 cpesos per adult and half that for my daughter. For me it was interesting to see the coastline between the hotel and Santiago, stop for snorkeling (clear water with beautiful coral and few fish but 20 feet was a bit scary for my daughter), see Castillo el Morro at the entrance to Santiago bay, Fishermen's Island and then a bit of Santiago city. With beggars following you around the streets of the main square, it can be an emotionally mixed experience.The lack of certain goods is obvious and any money and small gifts like soaps and pencils are much appreciated. Another trip was one to the Baconao Park reserve (right next to the hotel) which visits an aquarium with a dolphin show (swiming with them was 39 cpesos), old car museum and a park with dinosaur statues. The aquarium is only 1 km from Los Corales and some guests have used the hotel's free bikes to get there for a lot less money.
Overall if it wasn't for our initial hotel mix up, this vacation would have been almost perfect. Also my running shoes disappeared from my room (another rare commodity for Cubans). The surroundings, the people and the great weather made this vacation an excellent choice.
Loved the Hotel Los Corales
The Two Hotels
The Club Amigo Carisol Los Corales that you see advertised by travel agents actually consists of two hotels – The Club Amigo Carisol and the Hotel Los Corales. The Carisol caters mainly to French-speaking Canadians whereas the Los Corales mainly to English-speaking Canadians with a sprinkling of Italians and Cubans. When you make your bookings, if, like us, you do not specify a hotel, your travel agent will make the choice for you. If you book from French-speaking Canada, you are usually allocated to the Carisol, and the rest to the Corales.
These two hotels are a few minutes apart and guests of both hotels wonder in and out of them at will. Having been to both, I highly recommend that Corales because both the facilities and the food are better and the staff are definitely friendlier and more helpful. English is spoken by a large percentage of the staff. Because we were booked into the Corales from Dec 27, 2005 to Jan 3, 2006, the following comments are specific to the Corales.
Even though the hotel has a rating of 3 ½ stars, the standard is very different from our concept of a 3 ½ star-North-American hotel. We were in a bungalow where the room facilities were very basic and many things do not work. But what is important is that the essentials do work. For example, the air conditioner always works, the beds are comfortable, the sheets and towels are clean, and the maid keeps the room very clean including the balcony area. Beach towels, however, are a different story, they are not changed very often and you’ll be charged $25 for losing yours. You can rent a safe for $2 (all prices stated are in convertible pesos) a day that I highly recommend. You can also rent a bar fridge. I’m afraid I can’t tell you the price because we weren’t charged for ours).
The food is buffet style and there is plentiful though repetitive. It is also bland. Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, Tabasco sauce, etc are available but these are watered down many times and are flavorless. If you like your food spicy, you should consider bring little sachets of condiments that are available from your local takeout. If you are traveling with children or finicky eaters, a jar of peanut butter is a must. We found that if nothing on the buffet table appeals to us, there is always bread which is so good that for some meals, we ate only bread and butter. However, for breakfast, the bread served is left over from the day before. Fortunately, the cook can fry eggs or make an omelet for you. Both hard and soft boiled eggs are available everyday. The rest of the breakfast fare was too greasy for us. There are plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits everyday. The papayas are really good as they are tree ripened – very different from those you find in Toronto. I didn’t care much for the pineapples but loved the oranges and grapefruits.
I am a tea and milk drinker and had to give up the habit for the duration of my stay, the tea tasted different and the powdered milk is used. Fortunately, the coffee is excellent so is the hot chocolate. If you cannot do without your daily cuppa, consider bringing your own supply of tea and little plastic containers of UHT milk. An insulated mug is also a good idea to keep your coffee/tea/chocolate hot and your pina coladas cold!!! I got mine from a dollar store and on departure, left it with the maid. If you don’t use sugar, bring your own sweetener.
The show that the staff put on for New Year was amazing. The dancers were incredible, the magician was very entertaining, and the flame thrower was really a sight to behold.
On some evenings, the entertainment staff, comprising a handful of man, put on a show from 9.30 to 10.30 pm. Most of it was cheesy but still entertaining. They try very hard to keep everyone entertained and happy and I really appreciated their efforts. Some guests prefer of course to be liquored up all the time. At 11pm, the entertainment and the young people move to the beach where the liquor and music (mainly Cuban) continued till 2am. If you like disco-type dancing, the disco at the Carisol is an alternative.
There are lots of things to do on the resort during the day – swimming in the ocean (bring beach shoes) or in the pool, snorkeling, beach volleyball, catamaran rides, learning to dance (the salsa instructor is a consummate professional while the others are very lax), water aerobics, etc. When all else fails, we availed ourselves to activities at the Carisol, read, or just laid in the sun which was almost perfect every day.
The only non-resort thing we did was to go to a Cuban nightclub – Casa de la Trova (the home of Cuban ballards), a place visited by some of the greatest in music including the Beatles. The place was packed to capacity with mostly Cubans and some tourists. The music was excellent and the dancing breathtaking. I highly recommend it to everyone. Bathroom facilities outside the resort are almost non-existent so bring Baby Wipes.
Cubans are poor but very resourceful. They are very appreciative of us visiting them and spending money there. Anything you can bring with you is appreciated because many things are difficult to come by. I left most of the clothes and toiletries I brought, and it is very humbling to see how much they were appreciated. The men (like bartenders, waiters, entertainers) like t-shirts especially if there is an American company name on it (Nike, Coca Cola, Pepsi, etc). Our salsa instructor proudly sports a “Montreal Police” t-shirt!!! Some of the female staff also braid hair for extra income. There is a woman waiting just outside the main hotel gates to braid hair for hotel guests. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have rubber bands, in fact not many of them do. To help these women earn extra income, consider bringing a big bag of little elastic bands as tips or gifts.
Now For the Negatives
While we were there, there was an unhappy episode between an entertainer and a teenage female guest. Hopefully this is few and far between. Apart from this, I cannot think of anything negative to say. Having an open mind and a generous spirit will make your vacation a memorable one. Will I go back? In a heartbeat…
Loved this place
We have just returned back from our trip to Los Corales. Let me tell you I have been to alot of places and nothing beats this resort. The staff is excellent the disco rocks!!!!!! and the resort is just so relaxing. Our Sung Wing rep Gabrielle was excellent he helped us from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. I will surely miss him. The kitchen staff was also very friendly, Rayzeer was number 1. The food well not bad at all since I am a vegetarian, there is lots to choose from, well breakfast all three of us always missed it but the cappicinoes at the bar were spectacular. We did the excursion swim with the dolphines that was worth it but not the remaing of the excursion, the excursion in which you must do is the trip to Santiago, I would never give this up, it is well worth seeing. Us three girls will be going back to Los Corales in November!!!!!! Can't wait to see all the guys!!!!!!!!
We will return again!
My Wife and I just returned from Los Corales. This was by far our best vacation together as a couple. We are in our early 30's and found the resort and people grew on us to the point that we were almost crying when we left for our plane.
It was VERY hard to say good-bye to the staff when we left.
YOU MUST HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS when going to the Los Corales. It is not glamourous as other resorts in Mexico and elsewhere that enjoy large US investments. It is charming, clean, fun but not overly loud, and the pool was huge and refreshing (not too much chlorine). Raul gave us salsa lessons and danced with us on the beach in the evenings. He is the nicest guy on the planet and was sure to help us find our way around. Leo took us on an incredible 2 hour bike ride down the highway along the ocean and into a little village. George was entertaing through the evening shows and while hosting Bingo (Which I never thought I'd play - we won a bottle of Cuban Rum which WAS really good). Tony makes Dick Clark seem like an amateur. He's was an incredibly witty show host and spoke at least 6-7 languages fluently.
On Christmas eve, members of the Santiago Ballet performed and they were fantastic. For most other nights the regular dancers performed to various styles of music and took part in variety shows, and they were always quite entertaining. At least three of their dancers could be extremely busy/famous by NY standards. The performers are all from Santiago. Don't expect special effects and incredible staging. If you're up for local Cuban entertainment you'll always have fun.
The beach was perfect for volleyball and the ocean was adaquate. There were stones in parts and lots of seaweed. We would sit in the ocean to enjoy the beautiful weather, but for swimming we would use the pool. The weather was perfect 80-86, no rain and pretty humid although it never bothred us. Most guests used their air conditioners and our room came with a free safe. The beds were okay.
Unfortunately there were a few rude guests that would complain endlessly. I guess this may happpen anywhere, but I was ashamed that they were also Canadian. The staff worked tirelessly to be sure we enjoyed our stay and we will always remember their kind hospitality.
Also, we paid $50 each for a full day all-inc guided tour of Santiago, $30 each for a snorkeling trip, and $14 each for a 2 hr horsback ride through the mountains. All very enjoyable and well worth the money.
Beware, THE FOOD ISN'T great but I always found something to eat as did my wife who is vegitarian. However, the coffee was very good and there were wonderful omlettes, fresh Pineapple and Papaya each morning.
We hope to return!
March 2nd 2006 just returned from Los Corales. Arrived at the resort and was booked into Bungalow E1 it is rustic but we loved it as it was away from the main area also close to the beach. Beach is golden sand with some shell/stoney parts so water shoes recommended, lots of loungers and shade trees also hammocks hanging in the trees were wonderful. Snorkeling is great just off the beach and I recommend the snorkel trip. The coral reef that runs the lenght of the shore provides a break wall so that the waters are calm on the beach side however the ocean side of that reef has strong under currents at times so ask at the snorkel hut for tidal info if you intend swimming/snorkeling on that side. I don't dive but saw lots of trips going out to dive sites. Note, there were no small child size life jackets so bring your own if you intend taking your smaller kids out. Staff very friendly and helpful and Miriam the room cleaner was very attentive giving little bunches of flowers and towel decor. Swimming pool is large but not too deep and clean with a cool pool bar. Food was good with lots of fresh salads and veggys, pork,chicken and fish,the pig roast was very good. Desserts mostly shortbreads and sponge cakes with lots of fresh fruit. The resort is kept clean as are the gardens. Buggy rides into the village were popular also horse rides into the hills both situated outside the gates. We had a great vacation here and I do recommend it.
Very Good Vacation
My husband and I, with 3 girls, just spent 2 weeks over Christmas at the Los Corales. The bus ride to the hotel from the airport was long, about an hour. At this moment, Carisol and Los Corles are two separate hotels and do not have exchange priviliges. Merger talks are underway and a deal may be close in the near future. The Sunwing rep, Gabriel was excellent and helpful at all times.
The hotel grounds was very nice. The whole place was very clean. The rooms were renovated and the cleanest in the 4 Cuban hotels that we have stayed. Rooms are of average size and adequately furnished, although no remote for the TV. Sunwing provides free safe and fridge in every room.The caulking on the shower door was not done properly, so our bathroom floor was wet all the time. Our chambermaid was a little stingy over toilet paper although we always leave a dollar for her each day. We heard another guest in our block (200 upstairs) said the samething too. Other than that, we were very pleased with the grounds and accommodation.
Entertainment was very good too. Except for one night, when all the dancer had their day off and the replacement fashion show company did not show up. The 5 entertainers had to make up the show in 15 minutes. We knew this as the entertainers were having dinner with us when the news arrived. The group always put on a good show, especially during Christmas and New Year's eves. The dancers were amazing, the best by far of what we have seen in Cuba. However, the dancers at this resort were a little shy (probably due to the fact that they don't speak much English) and did not mingle with the guests to the level as the other resorts in Cuba. The 5 entertainers were very friendly and their interesting conversations were the sources of much joy for our trip. So thank you, George, Rauol, Ariel, Miguel and the world's best Salsa teacher, Leo. All of you are great. We shall return to this resort just to talk with you guys again.
The bar staff are great and always have a smile for everyone. Roberto, at the beach (Coco) bar is fantastic. My daughter tells me the lobby bar makes very good drinks. The staff at the pool/swim-up bar are always friendly and quick with their service. The beach grill is a good place for hotdogs and sausages, although you never know if it is open.
The front desk and office staff are all exceptional, except for the money exchange guy, who is a little grumpy all the time. In one instance, he kept on playing his computer game and ignore the 2 people waiting to exchange money. Talking about money, we are all turned off with the exchange rate. The Cuban convertible peso is supposedly at par with the US$. Everywhere, we went, our Canadian dollars were exchanged at C$1.32 - C$1.35 to one convertible peso, despite the fact that the proper exchange rate was around C$1.17 to one US$. If you bring US$, the Cubans will take another 10% off you. So whatever you do, DO NOT take US$ to Cuba.
Water sports was very good and the staff were excellent, especially Frank and Selsue (sp?). The beach was sandy and long enough for a walk. There were enough beach chairs and shady area. Swimming in the ocean was OK in a couple of places. Bring your water socks as most places were covered with rocks or pebbles. Some guest saw many fish and octopus while snokling around the (dead) coral reefs.
Excursion were well priced. Our kids went to swim with the dolphines for 28 pesos and got a t-shirt with their pictures with the dolphine printed on the t-shirt. The kids were a little disappointed with the horseback riding (14 pesos for 2 hours)as the horses did not run much.
The food, as most places in Cuba, was just barely adequate. Most items are repeated everyday. We enjoyed the freshly squeezed orange juice, available almost every morning. The freshly made cappuchino was a little too strong for our taste, but the machine made one were fine, except the machine can get jammed or runs out of powder milk from time to time. The waiters at the resorts were generally very good. Our favouite was Eno. She always serves up a big smile and joking with us all the time. The lady who prepares the omelletes each morning is just great. She serves up a great big smile every morning too.
All in all, we are very happy with the hotel and will definitely go back again in the future.
Lastly, thank you Sunwing staff for helping my husband when he had trouble walking into the terminal.
3 star "barely"
This property consists out of 2 seperate resorts that have recently been taken over by the Cubans(Amigo Hotels)
We found the staff average, food below average,line ups for "special foods like pasta etc.
Beach (as well as the rest of the property) heavely damaged by the huricanes; tennis courts destroyed.
Watershoes essential,pillows (as in most Cuban resorts are very flat), take your own as well as a face cloth soap and shampoo
Disco on the beach nice (booze till 2 am)
Full access to property next door but only it's disco and beach restaurant for lunch worth your wile.
200 and 300 blocks by far superior, was told beach bungalows "rustic" but not de luxe.
Nolitours reps not very good, tours over priced.
Take local taxi to Santiago(arrange for PM return;30 pesos each way)walk the city , have dinner and enjoy the local music scene
The flight on West Jet very good,Cuban check in staff new,extremely slow and not well trained.
After many Cuban visits I found this property below average average and will not return
i had just came back from a trip with my mother! we had the best time ever. this was her second time to the resort and my first! i had such a good time. the food was good, so i dont see why everyone complained about how much they did not like it. i loved it! the staff was so friendly! i got along really well with the entertainment staff. Geroge looks really good dressed up like a female! anyways the disco at night was really good they played lots of interesting cuban music. we went into town with some friends and had a blast! i am going back in April and i cant wait! miss you guys! see you soon! the beach was nice and they had many interesting things to do, such as snokling, paddle boating and they played music too. they always had music playing both at the beach and the pool. the bartenders were so nice. they always had a smiel on thier face. the dancers were amazing! they always provided us with an entertaining show! we always had a fun filled meal eating with the entertainment staff. overall we had a really good vaction. we could not have asked for anything better!
Relaxing Family Vacation
My husband, our daughter and I were at Corales from Jan.1/06 to Jan.15/06. We are both in our 20s and our daughter is 4. We have enjoyed our stay very much. The hotel has beautiful landscaping, and the mountains in the background just adds to the scenary. The Hotel in itself is very well planed out everything is close and is easy to access. We had a room in the triple section ( meaning with three twin size beds)with the view of the pool and the stage. The room was nice and clean, air conditioner worked very well and we always had hot water. The safe was very useful and we did not have to carry the key around, we just entered our own password (safe was 2 Convertable Pesos a day)Caution: Always ask for corner room because the rest of the rooms have very "thin" door in between the rooms and you will hear everything your neighbours do and vise versa.
Our Maid was very nice and always left us beautiful "towel origami art" and on last day wrote us a beautiful farewell letter.
The only Complaint is that the rooms are very close to the stage and the show is from 9:30 PM to 11:00 PM,
but this just gave an excuse for my daughter to stay up late and watch the show.
The shows were cute. The dancers are very friendly. My Daughter had a lot of fun playing and dancing with them before and after the show. Alisa and Lisette were absolutely beautiful.
The Pool was clean and big, however it is not heated, but after a sunbathing is very refreshing. ( Oh, the bigger pool is only 1.2 meter deep). The kids pool is nice but again the water in it is cold.
The Beach is my biggest complaint. It was had broken glass 4 times out of 5 times we were there, most of the chairs were broken, and when you are getting into the water a lot of broken sea shells, a lot of sea weed growing (not floating, growing), sea urchins ( I think that is what is called, a black ball with needles sticking out:) right at the beach, the water is too shallow for leasurely swim. However, because of all the things listed above(Shallow and lots of sea creatures) it was perfect for snorkeling. It was our first time trying snorkeling and we enjoyed a lot more than just swimming in the ocean. The Hut with the equipment is right there and they have very knowledgeble staff.
The Food ...it was ok. Everyday the buffet food had different meat, fish and cabbage(a lot of cabbage).
Our main complaint with food would be the lack of good desserts, we've been to other resorts and they always had at least one good dessert. The wait staff were very nice and always played with our daughter and gave her little gifts.
We did not take any excursions. Instead we rented car(127 Convertible Pesos per 24 hrs) at the airport and Drove to Santiago de Cuba ( one hour away). The drive there was beautiful, on one side the mountains on the other side the wild beach and the ocean. Santiago de Cuba is very safe. The architecture is in colonial style. The people there are very friendly and curious about the tourists so they can come up and just start talking to you ( most of the time they are not asking for anything from you, at odd times they may ask you to buy the cigars or souvenirs or to give you a paid tour )
Anyways the trip was very memorable and all of it was pleasant.