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“Wonderful location - poorly run”
Review of Hotel Guama

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Hotel Guama
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Playa Larga
Antwerp, Belgium
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Wonderful location - poorly run”
Reviewed 30 July 2014

We stayed three nights with our kids in hotel Guama. The hotel is located in the treasure lake, a huge nature reserve with lots of birds. You need to get in via a speedboat for 10 CUC/person, and lift with other boats (when space available) for free to get on and off after the first payment. It is in 'hut' style with thatched roofs and the huts are interconnected via wooden paths above the water and swamps. The setting is absolutely fabulous, and worth at least one night stay. However the hotel seems poorly run, and there are lots of nuisances that undermine the great potential this place has.

First of all and importantly the restaurant is of poor quality and over-priced: the menu is basically meat, shellfish or fish with rice for 10-12 CUC and a 'special menu' of combined meats for 20 (!) CUC. We've been all very ill from the food, which is not unsurprising if you had a glimpse in the kitchen. There are no snacks or other alternatives, and clients are forced to eat at the hotel because after 3:30 there is a 10 CUC/person charge for going back to the shore, where there is a very good restaurant!

Secondly the rooms are dark and not really clean, and could use refreshment in general.

Thirdly the nice swimming pool has only two umbrellas, so you need to be quick if you don't want to be fried in the cuban sun. At the time we visited workers and family of the personnel took these and we we forced to sit in the bar. Our swimming goggles disappeared and only after insisting suddenly re-appeared in the evening (claimed to be found in the swimming pool tubing).

Finally nobody just seemed to care about all the things going wrong and waited for the day to go by. I think there are good people working there, but they just seemed to have given up on the situation. A positive mention is however the man at the front desk that was really nice and arranged us a wonderful bird watching trip in the swamps early in the morning. A must-do if you visit Guama hotel.

One extra word of caution: never book this through the Cubanacan website! I found it not to be secured, so you'd put your credit card details at risk. We used Servicios Global which provides a secure prepaid link and a voucher that was readily accepted. Interestingly when I alerted Cubanacan about this they didn't see the problem. It may be worth reminding them again.

We left Guama with mixed feelings (and bowels). What a wonderful hotel this could be if more attention would be paid to overall quality!

Room Tip: Bring a musquito net or killer tablets
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Geitendorpenaar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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124 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 July 2014

The hotel is made up of lots of wooden huts on stilts around the lake, very scenic and a beautiful setting. Be warned though that you need to take a boat from the car park, which for us wasn't clear from the booking and wasn't included in the hotel price. This meant we had to wait for one to be available. The rooms look lovely on arrival but take plenty of insect repellent, as despite a fan the Mosquitos and other insects get into the rooms at night, the rooms are above the water and aren't completely sealed.

We did the sunrise boat tour which was a great way to see the birds and wildlife. The swimming pool is a great location but take your own towels as no loungers. Food in the restaurant ok but not the best in Cuba, overall we felt a hotel worth going to for the setting and views but not somewhere to relax or spend a long time.

Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank nix26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Geneva, Switzerland
Level Contributor
83 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 March 2013

This hotel has a lot of potential but don’t be fooled by the scenic photos – it needs a lot of work to make it suitable for foreign tourists. My wife and I spent two nights here as part of a 2 week tour of Cuba.

The hotel is made up of a series of wooden buildings on stilts on the edge of a beautiful lake. They are connected by a system of boardwalks across the water and small patches of land.

It is a beautiful, peaceful and scenic location. There are numerous waterbirds around. From the pool bar or restaurant terrace, or better still from a row boat ride at sunset, you can watch the cormorants, anhingas, kingfishers and herons, and out on the lake you’ll see pelicans and ospreys. Reception staff were very friendly; the restaurant staff can be quite surly but were efficient.

Sadly, though, the problems with the hotel outweigh the benefits. Key points to note include:

- Our room (number 30) had an awful bathroom, with a filthy toilet that had no seat; drainage was bad, often making the floor wet and the bathroom smelly
- The bedroom and lounge area were dusty and several windows were broken meaning it got very chilly at night; I recorded temperatures below 12C in the bedroom which meant that, even with pyjamas and two blankets, we had real trouble sleeping.
- There was nowhere to sit outside the room to appreciate the views and the birds – surely a simple bench would be possible
- The pool area had no loungers, only old plastic chairs, and the pool bar was never open (though one time they did come and open it for us on request)
- Bring bug spray because the mosquitoes are numerous
- The food options are very limited; breakfast is simply omelette and bread (though it was good); dinner is from a short menu but basically rice, potatoes and salad with a choice of meat. I had reasonable beans and my wife some nice fish but if you stay more than a day or two you’ll get bored
- Access is limited and badly organized. You have to use a boat. The man who sells tickets at the lake’s harbour is unfriendly and keen to make you pay even when you are on a hotel transfer. Getting out of the hotel can be problematic too: once we had to ask for a lift from a French tour group visiting the Indian village, another time we hitched a lift with the laundry boat.

We used the hotel as a base to explore the Bay of Pigs and the Zapata National Park. I dived with the Octopus dive shop in Playa Larga. We went to the Cueva de los Peces, a 15 minute drive down the bay. It was a good dive site with colourful coral and fish; the kit was good though the divemaster a little slack. We wanted to eat at the restaurant across the road from the beach but when we saw the cruel hotel owner had tied a dog to a tree on a leash too short he couldn’t even lie down we complained with no result so boycotted the place.

The Zapata park is a beautiful wetland and worth a morning visit to see the flamingos, pelicans and other birds. Guides can be picked up at the park HQ at the entrance to Playa Larga.

But if you want to see these attractions I’d stay at a hotel or casa in Playa Larga. We don’t mind “rustic” hotels, but they need to be clean and comfortable enough to sleep properly, which this wasn’t. Visit the lake at Guama on a boat tour for an hour but don’t stay at this hotel until they undertake some serious renovations!

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Swiss_voyagerII
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Playa Larga hotels

Torino
Level Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 June 2012

We arrived to Hotel Guama following the recommendation from 2 different guidebooks... they were completely right! Lovely place!
First of all, you can park your car in a guarded parking just on the road. Then you take a small motorboat leading you through the Laguna del Tesoro, just on the opposite side of the lake.. and there you see the hotel: several stilt houses on lakeside, with incredible scenic views... a dream come true!

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Keldonw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 October 2011

We were staying at Hotel Guama in July 2011 during off-peak season. Almost all huts were free and we enjoyed the island almost fully left to ourselves. However, banging music in the afternoon at the swimming pool was ruining a quiet and peacful atmosphere. We did not stay at the hotel at day time so it didn't bother us a lot, but when we came back by 6 pm it was still banging which seemed ridiculous since the whole place looked so peaceful and solitary and romantic... That is why I scored the hotel as very good - not excellent.

The bungalow was quite comfortable and the views from our bungalow porch were just breathtaking. In our air conditioned bungalow we had a bathroom, a small lounge with a fridge and a bedroom. Breakfasts and dinners were quite modest, but tasty. Considering the price it is a fantastic offer. The staff were friendly (reception staff, a rowing boat man) though speaking very poor English.

What to consider staying at Guama:
- repellent cream,
- your own car to get to the beach and be mobile and able to travel to the National park (or be ready to pay 10 convertibles one way to get to the beach, excursion to the Zapata National park for two - 60 convertibles including guiding and transportation),
- visiting a crocodile nursery which is just 5 minutes walk across the road from the boat station Guama,
- asking for a rowing boat trip at sunrise,
- having an idea of what you are going to do while staying there (the reception staff cannot offer any useful advice),
- having a few bottles of water (there is no shop on the island).
- transportation limitations. A resort is located on the island where you can only get to by boat. The transportation to/from the resort from the boat station is free a few times a day according to some schedule not known to anyone. However, try and insist that you are entitled to a free boat ride if you have a booking confirmation. We paid for a boat trip (mistakingly, though showed a booking confirmation to them), however traveled free on all other three days of our stay there. It could be a problem to get to Zapata without your own transport. We hired a taxi from Havana (cost us 90 convertibles), an alternative could be going by bus and getting by taxi from a highway stop Jaguey Grande (about 2 hrs from Havana) - we saw some taxis at the highway petrol station there so may be this option is feasible. The bus which run to Zapata does not go there any longer (may be in peak season it will run again).

Overall, very good impressions, a very exotic and unique place!

Room Tip: It may be better to choose a bungalow closer to the lagoon located at a far end so that you can enjo...
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  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Anna I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
60 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 115 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 April 2011

I really like the Hotel guama, it is about 80 km from Varadero driving distance.
You can snorkelling, see the crocodile, when you get there, you have to take a boat to get to the Hotel what is about 15min riding on a canal to get to the ressort. I pay 40.00 for 2 person that include your breakfast and dinner. theres a pool and a bar as well and you can walk all around the resort..it is really nice, the room are solo. i really like it. for a night or 2 it is nice to get out of varadero and relax..

Room Tip: really nice and clean.
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  • Stayed April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Nadiapage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hampshire England
Level Contributor
60 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 March 2008

The Horizontes Villa Guama Hotel is the most special place we stayed at £32 for room breakfast and dinner for two per night. Fidel Castro had the original idea for this hotel and Indian settlement recreation and it was his favourite places to relax amongst the numerous birds, crocodiles and other wild life. The hotel is set next to a reconstructed Taino Indian village, accessed across a large lake in mangrove swamps. The wooden huts covered in palm leaves feel like ship cabins, but are air conditioned with new bathrooms and small lounges and fridges. Keep your luggage closed as there are cockroaches and use lots of mossy spray.
Until they replace the bridge later in 2008 that fell down in a storm in 2004, you are ferried back and forward to the restaurant and main island by rowing boat. Alexe, our boatman was very useful for booking bass fishing and early morning bird watching trips and just sorting out problems such as leaking bathrooms.
We must have seen over 200 varieties of birds from Ospreys and Pelicans down to humming birds. We were told that the crocodiles only visited in April and May to eat birds' eggs, but the large splash one night was repeated when we came out for dinner one evening. As we left, we noticed a well worn slide on the bank 5 metres from our cabin, which I would have liked to inspect in more detail.
The food offered was fairly simple, but included lobster and crocodile, the latter being of eel like consistency with a pleasant mild flavour. Breakfast was a predictably boring omelette each morning, with stale bread and mango jam. The main restaurant burnt down in 2005, so things might improve if that is rebuilt. The remains were fed to the shoal of large cat fish below. The setting, trees and water are beautiful but the whole construction needed more maintenance, for example simply to knock down proud nails in walkways and in broken guard rails. The pool area was a real mixture, with the pool excellently maintained by Alexy, but with a wooden surround that could not safely be used by children. This would be a good retirement project for its founder, Fidel. Book through Cubanacan's website and stay for 2-3 nights, less being a waste of time and after 3 nights you would want different food.

  • Liked — Lovely cabins set in its unique beautiful location with greta views, birds and fish
  • Disliked — food, which should be improved when they replace the restaurant.
  • Stayed February 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank John P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Guama

Property: Hotel Guama
Address: Laguna del Tesoro | Gran Parque Natural Montemar, Playa Larga 43000, Cuba
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Playa Larga
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Playa Larga
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 44
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