Where do I start?! It's a shame that most of my review will highlight all the negative aspects of our trip, mainly because there were barely any positives. I've provided a summary of our experience below:
- you do NOT get what you paid for: as a couple and avid travelers, we've been to many 5 star resorts/hotels, most notably the Royal Suites of Yucatan in Mexico (which is what I would suggest anyone reading this to spend their money towards instead of here)
- Room service: the food was different everytime, we love breakfast in bed and getting a little spoiled on our vacation so room service was a huge bonus for us however, having read many reviews from last year and meeting folks that visited Buenavista last year, the room service menu is no longer the same (NO seafood menu) and you are very restricted as to what you'd like to order according to certain timings (i.e. only snacks after 9:30pm and so on) I'm not sure if it was the language barrier or if the reception and chef don't even talk because our orders were like gambling, you never knew what you'd get!! For example, we ordered 3 sprites and 2 slices of cake, we got 5 slices of cake and no sprites, or when I ordered the vegetarian pizza (which is NOTHING like it describes on the menu, you get different ingredients every single time you order) where I asked for green olives on my pizza, instead I got nothing on the pizza and two plates of grey and black olives?! Most of the food on this room service menu could be better prepared by yourselves at home, regardless of your level of culinary skills
- Traveling to the other Melia hotels from your resort: As Buenavista is the top resort amongst Santa Maria and Las Dunas, you're allowed to travel to these two resorts whereas they cannot come to yours. Despite reading this review, if you still decide to go to Buenavista (best of luck!) DO NOT GO TO LAS DUNAS! It is the absolute worst, on one of the nights we went to Las Dunas (during the storm as there really was nothing else to do besides being trapped in your room and not being allowed to drink alcohol, more on that later) the bus company is supposed to pick you up from the resort to take you back every 30 minutes, we waited for 3.5 hours with no bus service!! Everytime we asked the reception at Las Dunas, they just didn't care whether we got back or not, all they kept telling us was that the bus should be there in 10 minutes. Completely frustrated, they told me to use the "telefonos" (it's a separate room where people make phone calls) to call Buenavista if I really wanted to. Imagine how shocked I was when the lady working there told me I had to PAY to call Buenavista?!!? It's a local call first of all and secondly, I am a guest at that hotel and you work for Melia, the same chain of hotels, I am sitting here stranded with no way home and they had no compassion, they were asking me to PAY to call the hotel?! I was so taken aback that I left without paying, we waited another hour with no bus and my boyfriend went in, incredibly angry this time, and asked to speak to Ernesto (luckily I had read enough reviews to remember that you should find Ernesto if you have a complaint). I think my boyfriend seemed enraged enough that the lady did not make him pay to use the phone but tried paging Ernesto several times. After no luck getting in touch, my boyfriend got in touch with the Director/General Manager for all three hotels, even he told us the bus should be there in 15 minutes at the latest. ANOTHER 45 MINUTES WENT BY AND NO BUS! At this point it was nearly 11pm. My boyfriend called the director again and let him know there was no bus at which point the director came and picked us up in his own personal car, luckily there was another couple in the same situation as us so all 4 of us got dropped back. This honestly left such a bad taste in our mouths that not a single person, with the exception of the director, cared about us as hotel guests to arrange transportation or to even check what happened to the bus company (who we later found out, decided to stop all bus services due to the rain without telling anyone). Our second absolutely miserable experience at Las Dunas was on our last night, we went to Columbus for dinner with dinner reservations at 9pm. After placing our orders, it took them about 15 - 20 minutes to get our drinks, then appetizers. At 10pm, we were told that they ran out of Lobster Bisque soup but dinner was still on it's way. At 10:30pm, we had just had it!! Besides bread and a small shrimp salad, we hadn't had a morsel of food or dinner in an hour and a half!! Finally our server came around just to tell me that the KITCHEN HAD RUN OUT OF SHRIMP so they didn't have dinner for us?!?! Are you kidding me? This was the absolute, by far, the WORST dining experience I've had in my life. There were other guests who had their food served to them, even though they arrived at the restaurant 30 minutes after we did, solely because they didn't order a shrimp dish. The worst part of it was the Restaurant Manager, a rude man named Nemu, was having the time of his life drinking with TWO OTHER SERVERS at another table. All three of them ignored the entire restaurant, while guests were going hungry, so they could get drunk?! I have never seen this in my life - it was utterly disrespectful. When we went to complain to Nemu, he blamed it on the chef and the server (who, despite being unable to serve us, was the only person doing any work!!), the onus is always on the MANAGER, by definition you MANAGE the restaurant, so he should know that he is responsible for the dining experience guests have, he simply didn't care.
- THE STORM: Unfortunately Hurricane Isaac was passing through Cuba (luckily it didn't hit Santa Clara) during our stay so we got A LOT of rain. 4 out of 7 days were pouring rain. Now to continue from our terrible night being stranded at Las Dunas for 3.5 hours, when we got back to our room, to our dismay, we saw that nobody had picked up our dishes from room service ordered 6-7 hours ago (even though we told multiple people to pick up our dishes before we left the resort), naturally there was a barrage/colony of ants ALL OVER our room and the 'living area' surrounding the food. It was absolutely disgusting! Luckily, our amazing Butler Lucas apologized profusely and carried all the dishes out mostly by himself, he also had hotel staff clean our rooms (at which point it was nearly midnight!). Another terrible thing about the storm is how ill prepared the hotel staff were. The rooms on the lower floors got flooded, the resort ran out of toilet paper, certain food ingredients/dining options were no longer available, there were several restaurants shut down, so at first, we were naturally empathetic with the staff due to the bad weather however after being holed up in our room for DAYS with absolutely nothing to do for fun (why can't they arrange activities for guests so we aren't bored out of our minds?!), we figured the least would could do is drink in our rooms so I asked the reception for champagne to our room... she told me they couldn't provide us with alcohol due to security reasons nor was the BAR serving alcohol so we just had to stay in our rooms and watch tv while enjoying each other's company, once again just ludicrous for a 5 star resort. If you can't provide guests alcohol due to security reasons, at least give them a warning when "last call" is so we can at least drink during the day? The staff didn't seem to care about the well being of the guests or whether they were having an enjoyable experience
- THE ROOM: I've never been to an ALL INCLUSIVE resort that doesn't provide guests with bottles of liquor in your room, all you get is pop, soda, water and 4 cans of beer - simply unheard of! The sinks are the worst - the faucet is so close to the sink that you can't wash your hands without touching the sink most of the time, it was so annoying! In addition to that, the outdoor showers are ridiculous, they look great however you can see through the wood paneling (they should have concrete walls like they do at the Yucatan) so we could only take showers with our bathing suits on, our shower even had a huge gap between the wall and where the paneling started and I'm not a nudist so I wasn't comfortable taking showers in public. If you're like me and you prefer showers over baths, you're going to hate this experience! The worst part was that during the storm, you had no choice but to take a bath because it was so terrible outside that you couldn't shower.
- THE BEACHES: we only got good enough weather to go snorkeling once, the visibility and seaweed was just ridiculous when we tried again so it was pretty disappointing. The Pools are pretty gross too, we found hermit crabs in the pool more than once!
- Navigantes and Los Caribes were our two favourite restaurants, Navigantes seemed pretty understaffed but Los Caribes was wonderful (ONLY FOR DINNER, not for lunch, during lunch it is exactly the same menu as room service) The live entertainment (especially the male singer who comes with a band during the Cuba Nights) was wonderful!! The Lunch Buffet restaurant was pretty disgusting, there were NO LABELS (huge pet peeve at buffets) for the food and most of the food was lukewarm/cold and just plain gross!
- SUNSET CHAMPAGNE ON THE BEACH: WHAT A JOKE! The saxaphonist was lovely but even he was getting bitten by mosquitos while playing which was terrible (pack some afterbite, it gets really bad!!) and there was not a single hotel staff on the beach with us and obviously NO CHAMPAGNE, once again, we got nothing as advertised.
- CLEANLINESS: Public washrooms either lack soap or toilet paper, and smell terrible. Most of our towels and bathrobes had stains all over them, all the other guests we spoke to had the same experience in their rooms... it was pretty disgusting! The housekeeping staff were great every day, the maid always made an effort to leave our bed with some sort of blanket oragami on the bed which was really appreciated. Once again though, the level of cleaninless is not what you expect at a 5 star resort.
-SAVING GRACE: The best part of our trip was having Lucas as our butler, who arranged for a wonderful bath with roses and flowers on our last night (we were so depressed after starving till midnight that night that we didn't even end up using it) and the bartender, he has really short hair and can recite Pablo Neruda poetry if you ask :) he was so much fun!! We had a blast in the bar one night hanging out with some wonderful people we met from Quebec (Tony and Mika, please get in touch if you are reading this, I'd love to send you some pics and videos from that night! lol)
- ERNESTO: After trying to find this guy for a week, we found out on our second last night that he was on vacation the entire week!! So incredibly ridiculous that most of the staff didn't even know he was off on vacation, we were starting to think he was a myth.
Overall, we will never be staying at this resort and will never be visiting Cuba ever again, we did not get what we paid for at all. We're headed back to the Royal Suites of Yucatan in Mexico next year and to anyone reading this , PLEASE SAVE YOUR MONEY AND DO THE SAME!
Choose a room on a higher floor if possible, the rooms on the lower floors got flooded due to rain
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC