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family with 3 year old

Toronto, Canada
5 posts
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family with 3 year old

After reading all the positive reviews here, we booked for Hotel Playa Blanca for end of March. Tried to up read as much as possible and there's a few things I've been wondering about...

a) we have going with our 3 year old;

is there any kids club or kids activities at Hotel Playa blanca?

is there a kid's pools with kids toys and is it clean?

(the one negative review mentioned green stuff in the pools? any truth to this?)

b) is the water and juices, ice cubes, etc. safe to drink in terms not getting diarrhea or worse? (or should we stick with bottled drinks etc). We are not planning on taking any shots...

c) one reviewer mentioned bringing his own ketchup and maple syrup... so...um... there's no sauces served with meals?

d) I gather that the "train" that goes around the beaches is not a good option for getting around? how bad (bumpy?) is it and is it safe for a 3 year old to ride in?

e) are the taxi's metered, or do you need to negotiate the price of the fare with the driver? should I learn some spanish? :)

e) is it difficult to get chairs and umbrellas? should we be bringing our own inflatable things to sit on and own beach umbrellas for shade?

and finally,

e) may I ask where is the best place to exchange money at Cayo Largo (where to get the best rates, or is it the same everywhere?)

Any other advice for family with small child would be great...

sorry for all the questions...

thanks everyone!

Toronto, Canada
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1,052 posts
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1. Re: family with 3 year old

I can answer a few questions you have.

b) no need to bring anything to drink....it's all safe. They provide bottled water. I would recommend you bring some of your little one's favorite snacks.

c) Yes there are sauces with meals. No concerns. Ketchup is not heinz but there is ketchup.

d) He'll love the train. It's safe and great fun.

e) Great ideal to bring your own inflatable's... it will be more convenient when going to the other beaches off the resort.

Any other advice you ask? Besides bringing meds along in case ... enjoy. Have a great trip.

Toronto, Canada
5 posts
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2. Re: family with 3 year old

Thanks for the reply; much appreciated...

Good to know there's ketchup ;-)

Did have ~one~ last thing I was sortof wondering about but not sure if anyone would know...

From what I gather, there is some basic medical services available at Cayo Largo but no hospital. If hospital care is needed, looks like a flight to Havana is required. Does anyone know how this works, ie. is there a medical plane/chopper on the island for this purpose or does it use chartered/commercial flight or something? How does payment work?

Will they deal directly with my insurance for all of this, or will they require payment up front for either the flight or hospital care? Will they accept Visa/MC or require something like cash for the flight/hospital care? If cash, much cash should we be bringing to plan for this unlikely but possible scenario where a child or one of us requires hospital care but we all will need to go/fly with them to the hospital. Not worried, just wanting to be prepared...

Thanks again !

Victoria, BC
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3. Re: family with 3 year old

Gosh, I don't have a clue about the medical services / hospital stuff regarding Cayo Largo. I know you like to be prepared but why prepare for the worst?

I do know there is a medical office / doctor at the Sol Cayo Largo but I'm not sure if he solely works out of the Sol or if he travels to the other resorts.

Hopefully others may be able to help you with the medical questions.

As for the ketchup - the stuff they have down there is not Heinze ketchup. But it is red. They also have Worchestershire sauce and hot sauce and mustard.

The review you are talking about regarding the green pool water? I read it. I have read only that one review about that.

Read all the reviews you can and then take out the info you want. If only one review mentions something that catches your eye, good or bad, think about what else the reviewer is saying and reporting on. Why hasn't anyone else mentioned the green pool water?

The train ride to the beaches is bumpy. Not necessarily a bad thing. it just is bumpy. Will that bother you? Lots of folks take their children on the train. It is quite safe. You just may not want to be bothered with taking it because there are some great beaches at your resort and you may not want to take your time away from the resort.

No need to learn much Spanish but it's always a nice idea. You can negotiate the price before you get in the cab. But this is not Mexico where bartering is sort of expected.

You can exchange your money at the airport but it's a small airport and once your luggage is off the carousel you may just want to make a bee-line to waiting buses to take you to the resort (and not make the other passengers on the bus wait for you) and just exchange your money at the Front Desk of your hotel.

You may save a couple of pesos but ....

Take in the Turtle Farm. Your 3 year old might find it interesting and it's something to do. There isn't much to do in Cayo Largo.

Ontario
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15 reviews
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4. Re: family with 3 year old

"From what I gather, there is some basic medical services available at Cayo Largo but no hospital. If hospital care is needed, looks like a flight to Havana is required. Does anyone know how this works, ie. is there a medical plane/chopper on the island for this purpose or does it use chartered/commercial flight or something? How does payment work?"

I believe they would medivac to Havana. They do a lot of scuba diving from Cayo Largo, and I understand if necessary they take a stricken diver to the nearest place with a Hyperbaric chamber, which is in Havana. Presumably they would do the same with a tourist needing hospital care. I have no idea how payment would work.

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: family with 3 year old

So just replying to myself now we've been and back :)

"The train"

From Playa Blanca to Playa Sirena / Playa Pariso:

i) if you take the free "train" it takes a good 30 minutes minimum.

This is because the train stops at each hotel and goes through the back roads, and the back roads are very bumpy.

Everything travelling on those back roads are bumpy cause of the roads, it's just that the train is bumpy AND a long ride :-)

But yes the train is fun to go the beach in the morning with - reminds me of the Toronto Zoomobile if you've been on that.

It leaves Hotel playa blanca in 3 times in the morning (i think 8:30am, 9:30am, 10:30am) and 3 times it comes back in afternoon.

ii) coming back we usually took a "taxi" for convienence. The taxi is 2 CUC per person. Our 3 year old was 1 CUC - not sure if this was the standard, I just asked "Cinco?" and pointed to the 3 of us whenever we got on and the drivers always made a guesture like "ok, alright.." hee hee...

It takes from 10 to 15 minutes with a taxi to get back depending if they taxi needs to stop at other hotels to drop off other passengers,

if no other passengers, it zooms along mosty the smooth main road back to the hotel in 10 minutes.

A "taxi" can be: a minivan (fits up to 7 people) or a full tour bus (can fit alot of people).

You can have the hotel call a taxi to go somewhere, coming back there is usually one waiting around beach entrances,

or they "beep" when they pass the beach areas so you can flag them down.

Quite convienient and cheap.

--

"Money"

1CUC was about $CAD 0.87 when we exchanged money at the hotel.

Although 1 CUC is supposed to be pegged to the US dollar and Canadian dollar is on par with US :-)

Not sure how that all worked, maybe hotel making the 10%+ cut, I dunno.

When leaving, I paid with VISA at the hotel hoping to not go through the bad exchange rate,

but they charged me a 10% premium for using VISA for some reason, which then got charged as US dollars. (I was so sad to be leaving, I didn't ask/care about why the premium etc). So paying by VISA ended up basically the same with the exchange rate..

The airport money exchange was closed when we got there, cause it was 1:30am, so I don't know if the rates were better at the airport.

--

"Hospital"

Well, after getting there totally forgot about this one ;-)

Did talk to one family from Italy; apparently they knew of someone close that had something serious happen somewhere else in Cuba.

Hospitalized was 1 month; the bill came out to $17,000 USD. Ouch.

I didn't ask furtherif they had insurance and if they ever recouped it from the insurance...

I be interested in the thread started on this forum about insurance companies and if they covered Cuba for when we go back.

--

"Drinks"

Loved all the juices and slushies; experience no probs with the drinks or food at all. Didn't need any of the immoduim I packed :)

Getting a cold large bottle of water everyday was very nice to have as well :)

---

"Condiments"

The food was very good like what I mention in my tripadvisor review.

I'm glad I did bring my own ketchup for the omlettes and maple syrup for the pancakes and that made my breakfasts PERRRFFECT! hee hee.

Ya the ketchup there is sorta runny watery red stuff.

They had fruit and chocolate flavoured syrups for the pancakes, but nothin like real Canadian maple syrup on homemade pancakes, eh!!

I left my bottle of canadian President's Choice ketchup with Juan the waiter (cause there is no other kinds).

It took a prominent place in his condiments cabinet next to Kraft peanut butter jar someone else left - enjoy! ;-)

PeteyMC

Calgary, Canada
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19,661 posts
2 reviews
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6. Re: family with 3 year old

Thanks for the feedback, Petey.

Your questions regarding money exchange are answered here:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g147270-c109329/Cuba:…

As you'll see 1 CUC = $1.08 USD + buy/sell commission so the exchange rate you received makes sense. It also explains how there isn't a 10% commission on credit cards, it's simply the card being charged in USD then converted to CAD.

Cuba usually demands cash up front for medical services then you get reimbursed by your insurer when you get home. Yet another reason to always have a credit card for emergency back-up.

Glad you had a nice time.

Toronto, Canada
5 posts
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7. Re: family with 3 year old

Ah, ok the conversions makes sense now, an excellent article, thanks.

Alberta
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4,628 posts
28 reviews
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8. Re: family with 3 year old

Thank-you Petey for taking the time to post like this.

Too many people come here, ask questions, then you never hear from them and there are times you wonder if the vacation was good or, not.

9. Re: family with 3 year old

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