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“Relaxing vacation”

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Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria
Ranked #4 of 16 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 20 December 2013

I've been to Cuba about 10 times and this was my 3rd time to the Cayo Santa Maria area. I've stayed at Memories twice and loved it, but I'm one to try different resorts. So when I saw the price and the look of the resort, the clean lines and all I said why not try it, and I have to say I wasn't disappointed. From the Hotel, the grounds, the rooms everything was clean, fresh and decorated in beautiful colors and had a truly relaxing atmosphere.

The food was very good, lots of choices, the drinks were very good.

The pools were nice and clean.

The rooms spacious, cleaned daily. My room on the third floor was facing the activity pool and had a beautiful ocean view and was steps away from the beach and pretty much in the center of everything.

The beach wasn't the best as it's on two levels and quite small, but the sand is beautiful and all that didn't ruin my vacation.

I took a day trip to Trinidad and it was worth it. It's far from the resort but worth it, that City is so beautiful and we had an awesome tour guide who made us discover some new fruits on our way back to the resorts.

The weather was good hot and sunny considering the time of year, I went in July.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled solo
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5  Thank seasandsun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jorge C, Director General at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 22 December 2013

Dear Guest, thank you for your review. We always work to provide a better service to our clients. We hope to return soon. Best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director

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Reviewed 18 December 2013

December 7-14, 2013

Overall, I would give this a true 4 star...not a Cuban 4 star...but a true 4 star

Since the resort was not filled to capacity, we found that there were plenty of chairs. Lots of pools, full service bars and lots of food

The Food: Pretty good if you go to the fresh stations. Everything else on the buffet was cold. If the resort gets full, I can see getting food would be an issue. The snack bar was excellent. Their menu was fabulous. Lobster dinner was really good. Shrimps were good too at the snack bar or the beach bar. Best bet is to order off the menu. Everything on the buffet is always cold.

The Drinks: Good enough variety.

The Service: 5 star

Cleaning Staff - good - although our shower floor was disgusting. THey really need to clean their showers. The bed were okay...their sheets need an upgrade

Pools: Lots to choose from

The beach: the water is 5 star...the beach is at best 2. It's very difficult and dangerous to get to the beach. There are rocks everywhere and there are no stairs.

Activities: Barely none because of the beach. I would suggest clearning out an area where their "volley-ball" court if you want to call it that is. That would be a good area to have games.

Entertainment: 2 star - we went one night to the magic show and it was extremely poor.

Staff in general: 5 star - Some of the best staff I have encountered.

Disco..shame there is none on site. We turned the cigar club into a dance club sort of one night and that was fun...they should consider adding a disco.

Fashion show: Super cool idea...they had them by the main pool during the day and you can buy dresses, wraps, clothes for men and women...then at night, they had the same show at the lobby bar.

The lobby bar: Fantastic. It's huge

Checkin - Very Very slow

Bus ride in: Long - 1.5 hours

Shopping....none. I wish they had shops

Bugs: Worst resort ever for bugs...bring your bug spray....really!!!!

Would I go back...yes...during this time I would. I don't know if I would receive the same service if the resort was full though.

Room Tip: We were in bungalow 5 which was perfect
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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6  Thank danandnicole
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jorge C, Director General at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 22 December 2013

Dear Guest, we appreciate your comments and we hope you visit us again soon. Thank you very much and best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director

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Reviewed 17 December 2013

This was our second visit as a family of 5 to Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria and with Air Canada vacations. Our stay was for two weeks from November 30, 2013 to December 14, 2013.
This is the best value in Cayo Santa Maria and perhaps in all of Cuba.
The staff consistently impressed as very courteous, professionals and openly willing to cater to our needs and desires.
Food is prepared well and a lot of variety in the buffet restaurant. The a la carte restaurants were a real treat with comfortable settings and great meal service.
Various bars provided domestic liquor as well as international. The beer garden had bottled Cuban beer as well as bottled imported beer from Germany and this was inclusive. Furthermore, natural fruit juices such as orange, mango, pear, apple provided at the bars.
Entertainment staff were always available with activities and eager to engage our children aged 9, 7 and 5.
Rooms were spacious, very clean, very up to date and cleaned on a daily basis by attendants which were courteous and respectful. Room fridges were stocked daily with beer, water and pop.
Again, overall proves as very impressive and probably the best value in Cuba.

Room Tip: Blocks 7 and 15 are somewhat central to the beach and main pool/snack bar. Block 6 is a quieter set...
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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10  Thank Michael P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mareyi G, Public Relations Manager at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 18 December 2013

Dear Guest:
Greetings from Playa Cayo Santa Maria.
Once again I would like to thank you for choosing Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria for your recent stay in Cayo Santa Maria.
Your beautiful review means a lot for us. It is the best way to say thank you for all our staff as well as our commitment to work so hard and prepare new facilities in order to impress you on your next stay.
Thanks again, and we hope you'll choose Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria the next time you're in Cayo Santa Maria.
Sincerely,
Ms. Mareyi Gómez Montano. Customer Service Manager.

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Reviewed 16 December 2013

We just returned from a wonderful stay at the Playa Cayo Santa Maria (Dec7-14). 2 adults and no kids this time. After so many bad reviews, I was really curious to see the reality. First, I work in the travel industry and we travel a lot.

As you probably know, the drive is 1:30hr to get to the hotel. The guide was great. We waited 5 min. in line and we were already given our room upon arrival (at 1:00pm)!!! That was a fantastic way to start our vacation.

Staff: Best staff I have ever seen in Cuba. Always there to help, always smiling and please ignore the bad reviews about tipping. We tipped everyday, not at every drink and we always had a great service. Please keep in mind that your tips help them live a better life (26 pesos per month is not a huge income!). An ENORMEOUS thank you to the best coffee maker in the Lobby (lienesev) and also to the barman Serguey (if I remember correctly) at the beer bar.

Property: Hotel has 2 years. Very clean. Maids everywhere to clean the floors, bathrooms. Grounds are very clean and lots of beautiful trees and flowers.

Rooms: We were in building 6, 3rd floor. Great ocean front view. Very quiet building which we wanted. Rooms are clean and spacious.

Restaurants: Great buffet and great food for Cuba. Once again, remember that this is Cuba and that they don't have international chef as we have seen in other resorts. They make what they can and it tasted ok. The pizza was delicious, there is pasta if you are a picky eater. Fresh salads and fruits everyday. I heard so many Quebec residents complaining about the hotel not having peanut butter and maple syrup....well if you can't live without it for a week, please bring some from home. The coffee is VERY VERY weak and taste like water. Order a Cappucino from the lobby. The a la carte were ok. Our favorite were the italian and the asian. We didn't like the international but once again, it all depends on your taste. The only complaint I can make is that sometimes, the food was not warm enough. Easy to make a la carte reservations. No lines and lots of times available.

Drinks: The wine was really bad for us but we found out from other clients that you can actually bring a few bottles from Canada, which we will do next time. Beer and drinks are great

Beach: I don't know why some people are still posting bad reviews about the beach. With so many pictures that have been posted, you know what to expect. It is a beautiful beach and yes, there is a big drop to access the beach but so what. (unless you have kids or are disabled). Soft sand, crystal blue water!!!! Walking on the right side is easier as the sand is harder and you can walk for about 35 min. one way. We enjoyed daily walk.

Entertainment: First the hotel was not at max capacity. During the day, there was not much. Starting at 3:30 at the activity pool, there was music, games, salsa,etc. (if this is what you want). We wanted a relax vacation and avoid all kind of entertainement. At night (9:30), there was shows that were to us just OK. We only watched 2. The magician in the lobby was great and the signers also. The piano lady was a little repetitive. We prefer live bands.

Pools and chairs: Beautiful pools. temperature was a little cold to my taste. Plenty of chairs EVERYWHERE. Never had to get up early to get a chair. We loved it! Many pools and great chairs...super comfy!

If you are looking for a place to relax, this is a great place for you. I would recommend this hotel. Please remember that this place is very good quality for the price you pay. Please be nice to the staff, we have seen so many customers being rude or thinking that they were queen and king and not able to say a simple THANK YOU!!!!! Thanks again to the wonderful staff!

Room Tip: Building 6 is secluded and close to the beach. 3rd floor.
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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10  Thank MEL T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jorge C, Director General at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 18 December 2013

Dear Guest, thank you very much for your encourage review. We wish you a return soon. Best regards, Jorge Calderín, Director

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 December 2013

As frequent travelers to Cuba in general, and Cayo Santa Maria in particular (16 x Melia Cayo Santa Maria & 3 x Iberostar Ensenachos), this was our first visit to the Playa Cayo Santa Maria. My wife and I stayed at this resort for one week (Nov 30-Dec 7), and were greatly impressed with our vacation here.

The hotel is relatively new (2 years) particularly when compared to some of the other hotels in the immediate area – and is 100% Cuban owned and operated. The design and layout of the hotel is well thought out – for while the size of the hotel is fairly large based on the number of rooms here, the 3 storey buildings are spaced out in such a way that there is not a lot of walking required between the lobby, the eating areas, the rooms, the spa, the gym, the tennis courts, or the ocean. There are many comfortable outdoor seating areas set up around the resort providing nice spots to enjoy quiet conversations away from the more congested areas – and there are many public restrooms spaced around the resort, cleaned frequently, and properly stocked with all of the required necessities – so no need to “rush back to your room” so to speak…Pathways were all well lit at night – so the flashlights we brought with us (just in case), stayed in the room.

The lobby/reception area is large and airy – with a large bar, and many seating options available to relax and enjoy your favorite beverage, or listen to some music, or just to hang out. If this area becomes a little too busy for your taste, the cigar bar close by is open in the evening hours. There is a large walk-in humidor here, and the bar tender will be happy to help you make a cigar selection, which can be charged to your room, then pour you a nice drink to help enhance your smoking experience. The cigar bar is beautifully decorated with lots of comfortable sofas & chairs for seating, and is well ventilated and air conditioned, so that even non-smokers (like my wife) won’t mind keeping you company – lol!! Just off the lobby is also a gift store (including a walk-in humidor), the “Ciber Café” for computer use (that has coffee and pastries available on a table in the corner), and the bank – which is open until at least 8:00 pm for your money exchange. The Italian and Romantico a la carte restaurants are located in this area, as is the buffet.

If you are a “pool person”, you will find many pools located between the room blocks – with lots of loungers available with shade or in the sun. You are not restricted to use the pool closest to your room – and each pool has a bar, as well as some kind of food options close by – such as the 24 hour snack bar, the beer garden, the ice cream parlour (that also serves ice cream sandwiches and Nestle ice cream bars), or even spots providing pastries and fresh fruit snacks.

We stayed in an ocean view suite that was quite impressive. Two bathrooms, two TV’s, large sized safe in closet, double sinks in the ensuite, and two separate his/her closets in the bedroom meant no fighting for space!! There is a jetted tub and a separate large walk-in shower with “rain head” and there was never a problem with lack of hot water or water pressure. The bedroom is huge, and there is a sliding patio door (with bug screens) in both the bedroom and the living room, that leads out to the balcony and spans the width of both rooms. Both rooms have their own air conditioning controls that cooled the rooms very well, and very quickly and quietly. A small complaint would be that the phone was not working in the room (or the building) the week we were there, and they were a little stingy with the towels – meaning the 2nd bath should have had a towel by the sink, and a towel for the floor next to the shower stall would have been good to wipe up the small leakages from beneath the glass stall.

The food at this hotel was good – and I don’t mean just good for Cuba! We had very good dinners at the Italian, the Romantico and Asian restaurants, as well as the Ranchon Playa (beach restaurant) for lunch – offering both buffet and a la carte selections. The 24 hour snack bar was good – and I particularly enjoyed the smaller size of the orders – meaning if I was hungrier I could order extra, and if I wasn’t, there was no waste. I made sure to drink several icy bottles of Cristal beer from the beer garden (great job Osvanny) - and the selections offered also included Becks, Bucanero, and Mayabe.

The service was very good at all venues. The selection of food at the buffet was surprisingly large, and I was not disappointed by the quality. There are separate stations for bread, salads, cheeses, and desserts. Many parts of the buffet have food that is made to order – like grilled meats, pasta, fried rice, and sushi. While I did enjoy these foods prepared in this manner, if it is busy, it means you can end up waiting for quite a while, and you might find you are eating on your own if your choices end up being different from that of your dining partner.

The beach here is very beautiful and shallow – although you need to take care because there is a current – and fortunately the lifeguards are very attentive to this. We did see two of the lifeguards go out to pull two women back closer to shore that experienced difficulties – so please, don’t let the shallow depth of the water deceive you into believing your swimming abilities are greater than what they really are.

As I am a “beach person”, I believe my only disappointment is that the beach here has probably the narrowest strip of sand along any of the hotels and space on the sand before it becomes water is very limited. Many loungers are set up under large expanses of shaded areas higher up the rocks away from the sand that meets the ocean. While it is possible to have loungers set up at the base of the rocks closer to the waters’ edge, there are no umbrellas and depending on the tidal action at the time, beach walkers can be maneuvering quite closely around your chairs – based on necessity – and that proximity is not ideal for me – but obviously that is my opinion. There are a few places where you can find a way to walk down the rocks and sand to the beach – which is usually not a big deal – but can be an issue for those with mobility challenges.

We found the staff to be very friendly and in most cases we received fast and good service. In some cases the service became better as our faces became more familiar over the week’s stay – and in some areas a few extra workers during peak times would have no doubt improved the service.

As we became more familiar with the resort over a few days, we could not help but notice so many small touches the hotel has provided for the guests’ conveniences that are not evident in many other much higher priced resorts – and with so many more hotel options now available in this area, we certainly left feeling that we received great value for the cost of our package.

Gracias to everyone at the Playa Cayo Santa Maria that made our vacation a memorable one – and have now created a big problem for us – by making the decision on where to stay for our next trip just a little bit more difficult. No question you will see us again soon.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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16  Thank rrrichar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jorge C, Director General at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 18 December 2013

Dear guest, thank you very much for your selection and comments. Our team works to get the satisfaction of our customers and we are very happy that you have found it. I hope you back soon, and please do not forget to contact us; we are enjoying so much our gala dinner for repeat guest. Regards, Jorge Calderín, Director

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Reviewed 15 December 2013

I was at this resort from Dec 6th until Dec 13th and I can't wait to go back it was an amazing vacation every one is friendly and they want you to have a great time I have only good things to say about the staff they are wonderful, the food was great the beach is gorgeous I loved Playa Cayo Santa Maria I flew with Transat airline great flights and good food and great service.

Room Tip: If you want to be close to the ocean try to go to bungalow 15 it is also close to the chrildrens are...
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled solo
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6  Thank Blanche C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mareyi G, Public Relations Manager at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 16 December 2013

Dear Guest:
Thank you so much for your great review.
We can't wait to receive you in our resort again. For your next stay you will enjoy our special attentions for the Repeat Guests.
On behalf of our Management Team and staff I wish you "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Eve".
See you next year!!!
Sincerely,

Ms. Mareyi Gómez Montano. Customer Service Manager

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Reviewed 12 December 2013

This new hotel (2 years old) is always making improvements to better serve its clientèle. I have been there 3 times(for a total of 7 weeks), most recently from Nov. 22 to Dec 6.

Management at this hotel read your reviews on trip advisor and act on them whenever possible, they want every traveller to have the best experience possible. For example, in the past, there have been complaints on Tripadvisor that there were insufficient palapas by the beach - now, there are at least 4 times more palapas than previously. As well, comments were made that there were insufficient bars at the beach - when I visited, another bar was under construction at the other end of the beach. I hear that additional bathrooms will also follow.

New improvements since last Winter also include a new hotdog/hamburger station besides the 24 hour restaurant, a wedding cupola was also erected by the beach and I had the pleasure of seeing a couple of weddings during my stay.

I was happy to see that most of the management team were still there - Jorge (general manager), Ricardo (restaurants), Mareyi and Raoul (customer service), Sandra (Spa) as well as many of the staff (including Maykel who gives the best massages ever, Yanelis at restaurant reservations and Yulier at the towels and many many more...). They all want you to have the best vacation possible and are very hard working.

One thing that I particularly enjoy at this hotel is that they organize a special evening for their repetitive guests on Wednesday nights. A special diner with the Hotel Management with repetitive guests takes place which includes a special activity (I won't spoil it by saying what it is - but we met some very nice people and had a wonderful time). It is worth going to this Hotel, time and time again!

The food is great! I don't particularly eat everything because I have food restrictions - but there are so many choices either through the "a la carte" restaurants, the 24 hour Snack bar, the Ranchon by the beach - that you will not go hungry.

People in Cuba do not make much money (between 10 and 20 pesos per month depending if they have tips) - but it is untrue that they work only for the tips - although they are very grateful if you give them some. I normally only tip with pesos at the "a la carte" restaurants. As for the rest, I prefer to give little gifts prior to my departure to the people I most interacted with. Most preferred items include: toothpaste, nylon stockings, pencils, paper, erasers and warm clothes.

I look forward to going back!!! I found my little corner of paradise - I have no need to go to another hotel in Cuba!

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled with family
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6  Thank gatineau_traveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jorge C, Director General at Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 13 December 2013

Dear Guest, it was a pleasure for us you have been here in our Hotel. Your review in this popular forum fills us with pride and encourages continuing working full, trying to satisfy our clients. Thank you very much and see you soon. Best regards, Jorge Calderín

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Additional Information about Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria

Address: Las Dunas 5 | Cayo Santa Maria, 50100, Cuba (Formerly Hotel Gaviota Cayo Santa Maria)
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Villa Clara Province > Cayo Santa Maria
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 16 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Hotel Class:5 star — Hotel Playa Cayo Santa Maria 5*
Number of rooms: 769

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