We have recently returned from Sol Luna y Mares and we had a wonderful time! Go with an open mind and you will enjoy it all.
Admittedly the hotel is a little tired and some rooms are worse than others. They are OK, and liveable, but far from luxury. Never the less we had a wonderful time. If you have children I would opt for the Luna side as this is the quieter of the 2 hotels, the Mares side is quite lively until midnight at least and a lot of the noise from the bar travels up to the sea view rooms.
They have a nightly entertainment show, impersonators, magicians, cabarets and dance shows mainly. Once the show is over though, that is it for entertainment. We were a party of 10 and I’m so thankful for that because if it was just me and the hubby we would have had nothing to say to each other by day 4 as there isn’t anything to do in the evenings.
There isn’t really any daytime activities so if you like lounging around on the beach or by the pool you will be OK. There are small catamarans on the beach that you can book a time slot and someone will take 2 people out and there are pedalos but that’s it. I would say if you fancy using either of these, book them for the morning, because the afternoon slots quite often get cancelled we found out because it is too windy! I thought that was a bit ridiculous seeing as the catamaran needed wind.
The beach although short is beautiful, crystal warm water and white sand, there are lots of trees along the beach that give much needed shade, and a bar that serves drinks and food between 12 – 4pm. There is a man on the beach who will take your beds on a trailer to your chosen spot; we always gave a tip for this as they work so hard. We often got soft drinks from the beach bar and gave these to the security guard and beach staff as we never saw them taking a break. They were always happy to accept the drinks. On the left side of the beach there is a part of rock that sticks out that with a bit of beach, there isn’t much to see over there but if you do venture over definitely go in your flip flops because there are sharp coral rocks in the water over that way and I found that out the hard way.
The food is very typical of all inclusive resorts, by day 4 or 5 you’ve seen everything there is going to be on offer, however, the food is lovely and there is a lot of choice.
There are 4 a la carte restaurants to choose from and you can use 2 of these a week. There is a Romantic Restaurant on the beach (this is where we had our wedding breakfast) this serves Cuban Cuisine, there is an Italian Restaurant a Mexican Restaurant and a French Restaurant. I would book the French and Romantic Restaurants as soon as you can because they book up very quickly. The French Restaurant is definitely one to visit; you are made to feel very special.
In the afternoon between 12 and 2pm there is a snack bar at the pool in the Mares side of the hotel and they serve burgers and hotdogs if you fancy something different for lunch instead of the main all inclusive restaurant.
In the Luna side of the hotel there is a 24hour snack bar and they do everything from sandwiches, salads to pizza.
Staff: The majority of people who holiday here are English, Canadians, French Canadians and Argentineans. For a nation of non tippers (the English) I would quickly get used to tipping for priority service. Even just 1cuc will get you priority at the bar regardless of who was there first. I quickly realised that Canadian people were getting served before me nearly every time and this is because tipping for them is the norm and therefore they always had a note or coin in their hand.
There are several market style stalls that set up in the Mares bar area every day, they all sell similar things like carvings and jewellery but it’s nice to have a browse. There are a couple of stalls that are permanent near the customer services centre and there is a shop that sells, crisps, alcohol, cigarettes, sun cream all the usual stuff.
There is a bank which will change your local money into CUC but this place always has a big queue so get there as soon as you can. Don’t be tempted to change too much in one go though because you lose out when converting it back from CUC to local money.
DO NOT take a Credit or Debit Card that has anything to do with America because they will not let you access your money, even Santander which used to be Abbey National so best to check first of all if you plan on taking a card. We took cash in a money belt and then used the safe in the room.
There are 3 internet stations at Mares and you can purchase an internet card from reception for 6cuc for 1 hour.
There are 20 or more trips to choose from and they vary in price from 40cuc to 300cuc. You can choose from a jeep trip to an overnight stay in Havana. We did the Ocean Catamaran and although I was sick as a dog (sea sickness) the day was brilliant. There were 2 stops for snorkelling in the crystal waters, if you fancy this I would take some bread or banana’s to feed the fish but they will provide you with the equipment. If you don’t fancy a dip in the Ocean you can sit and dangle your legs over the side and see the fish anyway. There is an all inclusive bar whilst on the Catamaran which serves soft and alcoholic drinks and then there is a light snack about half way through. You then return to harbour and take a short coach journey (15 minutes) to a lovely fish restaurant on the beach of Guardalavaca and you can choose from Lobster, Chicken or a mixed platter of different fish and you get one drink too and all of this is for the amazing price of 68cuc per person. Very good value for money!
You can get an open top bus for 5cuc return from the Mares reception or a land train and this will take you into Guardalavaca where there is a market and a couple of beach bars. The bus goes hourly but the land train goes and returns once a day. You can also get a taxi for around 10cuc return. We took a taxi and paid 5cuc when he dropped us off and then asked him to returns at a certain time and sure enough he was there and we then paid the remainder when he dropped us off.
There is also a horse and trap outside the hotel and this can be used as a taxi. Me personally I never wanted to use these because all’s I could think of was the poor horse pulling people in the sun and heat.
If like my hubby and a couple of the guests you like to fish and take a rod there is a lake to the right of the Mares hotel with a beach and a jetty that you can fish from. I asked one of the chefs for some of the raw fish and gave him a tip and he gave me enough to fish for a week.
Some info for bride’s to-be and wedding parties:
The hairdressers were fab, they can do any style you want and they have a book of styles to choose from too. If you took a picture of how you want your hair they will do it for you, the only thing I would warn you about is they are very relaxed and don’t rush so the sooner you can get your hair done the better. There were 6 people from my wedding party having their hair done and the 1st one went in at 10.30am and it took 2 hours for her hair to be done (admittedly her hair was very long and thick and she was having a complex up doo) they had only booked in an hour for her so that made everyone else an hour late. I left the hairdressers at 1.30pm from 11.30am and our wedding was at 3pm so it was a bit of a rush for me to get back to the room, re-shower, apply make-up and get dressed. One of the guests was still in there at 2.30pm! Typically after all the rushing though our flowers were late and it put us back ½ hour so there was no need for us to rush anyway.
Surprisingly I wasn’t hot on the day at all, my dress wasn’t too big or heavy and there was a strong breeze on the day so that kept us cool. The gazebo area where you get married is in the shade and that’s where they put the guests’ chairs too. If you have some music you want as you walk down the aisle and after the ceremony you can give that to Yilena and she will play it for you. If not she will leave you her mp3 player with some music on for you to listen to after the ceremony when having your pictures and drinking champagne. The songs are English love songs.
Our wedding package only included 12 photo’s but a couple who got married the day before us told us not to buy extra photo’s when you speak with Yilena (wedding organiser) because if you ask the photographer on the day to take more photo’s and give him 10cuc he will do that for you. We ended up with 33 photos and he is really good and will suggest places to you for photos.
We never took any decorations ourselves, too be honest I didn’t think about it, but even now I don’t wish I had taken anything because it still looked beautiful.
You make a holiday yourself, so make the most of your time in the beautiful location!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC