The Shangri-La of Cuba!
On the week of April 1 to the 8, we decided to try out this new resort called “Melia Buenavista” in Cayo Santa Maria that was built in December of last year (2010).Since it’s been our 9th time to Cuba and we had already stayed in this region (Cayo Santa Maria) at the Melia Las Dunas resort in the past. I was not looking forward to the excruciating 1 and a half hour plus bus ride from Santa Clara airport to Cayo Santa Maria. True, there is the man made crossway that was built to help the sea environment of the region that leads to area of all the resorts. But first it’s when the bus has to pass so close to the homes of not one but two small very poor towns on its route. You’re so close to their homes that you get to see what’s inside and how they have to live day in and day out. So honestly, it does make the beginning of your happy vacation pretty sad as this is your first bus tour of Cuba. The worst part of it all is that you have to do it again …..Going back home that is. Believe me this is the right time to take a snooze and get your batteries charged for you have arrive in the most beautiful island in the world…CUBA of course!
As the bus starts approaching the resort, you notice that it’s a small resort and with lots of 2 story bungalows. Once passed the Melia Buenavista entrance with its beautiful beige marble floor and glass sensor sliding doors you are escorted to sit down and fill out some info. In no means time a gentleman from the resort offers you a well-chilled glass of champagne with an extremely well-deserved cold rolled up face cloth. He then says the sweetest words “Hola! And welcome to the Melia Buenavista! So relax for your vacation starts Now!” Just those few words that he said (and of course the champagne with the face cloth) made me forget the bus ride altogether.
After the introduction, we were asked to be escorted to our room by our butler. But the feeling in the air that we felt once we entered the compound was mystical. Everything around us was so relaxing just the soft spa music or New Age music like Enya type of music coming from the little speakers around the pool was heard. The pool chairs with its foam cushions begging for us to try them. Parked on the sides of the pool were these rubber pillow pool mats floating so gently. No kids, teenagers or people jumping in and out of the pool or even loud music could be found or heard. This was like we were isolated from the outside world……. Yes indeed, we stepped into a paradise of total relaxation!
But the best was yet to come…..our room….and what a room. From the entrance to the living room, king size bed with LCD flat screen T.V. facing it, a walk in closet, separate bathroom from the Jacuzzi and the best one of it all was the “outside shower”. If you haven’t experienced the feeling of an outside shower…. coming back from a hot but I mean hot day at the beach than you’ll never know what you’re missing. Totally Awesome is the felling! Why other resorts haven’t thought of this is unexplainable…. so more to you Melia Buenavista for having thought of it!
Our backyard (if you may call it) was the most picturistic view anyone could ever ask for. Turquoise crystal clear ocean water sprinkled with a white sandy beach would make every morning breath taking . We had the ground level with a veranda consisting of a stone bench with a small table and two chairs facing the beach.
Almost every morning we would have our butler bring these fabulous breakfasts (many kinds to choose from) to our room and prepare it on our balcony at 8:00am precisely. They (Edel or Javier who were our butlers) were never late and made sure that there would be fresh orange juice accompanying it with a small bottle of champagne. He would make the start of our morning perfect with his complementary smile and always reminding us if we needed anything he would be at our disposal. What closure could anyone ask for more in a vacation!
We had a mini bar with top quality liquors, Our fridge was filled every day without ever asking with bottled water, soft drinks, imported beers and a prechilled bottle of champagne. It was taken care of from a very polite gentleman whose only task was to make sure that we would have refreshments in our fridge every day.
One of our butlers on evening after supper surprised us with the utmost romantic surprise a couple could dream of. It was a candle light champagne bubble bath equipped with rose peddles. That surrounding the tub with an arrow shape towel on the floor covered with also rose peddles pointing the tubs direction. This of course was not expected but surly it was the cheery on top I have to say. This indeed is was a special way that the staff can make you feel real cozy at this resort.
The food at the resort was excellent which was to no surprise since their head Chef is of Italian origin. I spoke to him and he told me that he is eager to prepare many new dishes that are directly from his home land of Italy. We tried some suppers on the different resorts (Melia Las Dunes & Melia Cayo Santa Maria) to sample out and only one was worth trying (Japanese in Melia Cayo Santa Maria) but they could not come close to the Buenavista’s a la cart restaurants. Don’t miss “The Cuban Night” on Wednesday’s for it’s the only time that they get rowdy in the restaurant with real Cuban music….it makes a change. But once the music stops …. It’s back to tranquility.
If you are the exploring type, then there’s a bus that comes every 30 to 40 minutes and drops you off to other Melia resorts. If you don’t want to wait that long for the bus, you can always take a taxi which only cost 3 peso’s for the ride regardless if you’re 2 or 4 people. You are entitled to visit or even eat and drink at the resorts without any questions asked. But the other Melia resort guests are forbidden to enter or use the facilities of the Melia Buenavista. You’ll notice once you step inside the other resorts (once you’ve stayed a few days in the Melia Buenavista) that you can’t wait to get back and appreciate the difference of peace and calm.
The bartenders at all the pools in the Melia Buenavista are all great but some do stand out more than others. I am speaking of course about Orestes (Mario Lemieux) & Norge who attend the “Caracola Bar” which is the main pool bar facing the outside lobby bar. These are wonderful bartender/waiters who do their upmost in service. But there’s this particular young Orestes. In all my travels I have never came across a gentleman that serves anyone with the most heartwarming attitude than this man. He is totally the most delightful human being that you can come across in any resort. He is a young man always ready to intrigue your taste buds with some of his original drinks. If you’re not happy….he’ll create another one while still holding his big smile from ear to ear! He is defiantly a must to see in action when he brings the drinks to the chairs by the pool or even to the beach. He’ll spot you’re your drink from afar that is low and show up with afresh one immediately. Melia Buenavista should be proud to have an individual like him working in their establishment. Others should learn from him since its people like him who make our decision to become regulars.
The beaches are crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling but do bring some water shoes for its a little rough because of the coral that’s there. There are 2 beaches to choose from and one further down which is for nudists. We once walked from the Melia Las Dunes beach (which is gorgeous) all the way to our beach. That believe me is a hell of a walk but worth every step of the way.
We walked on the side of the water and made a few pit stops at every resort (Las Dunas, Melia Santa Maria & Sol Melia) to refresh ourselves. This also gave us a reason make sneak visits on them. It kinda made us look like “Resort Crashers”!!!
The only disappointment I had in the Melia Buenavista was the internet. It was as slow as molasses…no, I think molasses is much faster! Let’s say pigeon courier would have been an improvement, LOL!
I spoke with management and they are aware of this problem and are working hard on this problem. They are trying to get wireless for this resort in the coming future…..God’s speed!
In all, this was way past my anticipation of a 5 star resort. For its quality service and perfection towards its awareness of it guests is a delight to be part of.
I would like to congratulate the wonderful cleaning staff (day & night) for their sincere work they did every time. We would come back to our room and feel the freshness in the air that they created for us. The cleanness and freshness of our rooms were as perfect as one would have expected in one’s own home. Gracias Senioritis!
The entertainment staff which consists of the charming Yaiset and aerobics teacher Navy are great at making people feel relax and have a great time at the doing water aerobics and salsa lessons. "Shine on guy’s" because you're that extra sunshine we get at the pool!
If anyone would ask me to if I would recommend this place……Hell yes in a heart's beat!
They say Shangri-La is a fictional place of tranquility and relaxation in our minds. Or it’s a harmonious, mystical, synonymous and earthly paradise. Either way you look at it ….to me this is what Melia Buenavista is all about! Can’t wait to go back and restart it all over!!!!!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located west of Cayo Santa Maria in a privileged ecological environment, and surrounded by beaches and coves. All-Inclusive five-star resort with 105 junior suites and suites, and the Villa "Zaida del Rio." Designed for adults over 18 years. An entire hotel featuring Royal Service. Recommended for couples, weddings, honeymoons and wellness/spa. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Melia Buenavista Hotel Cayo Santa Maria