I wanted to write this review in a helpful manor, so hopefully it work for you:
Flight: 31/2 hours from Toronto. Sunwing however it is often known for delays during the Christmas season, just a heads up.
Arrival: Once you land at the airport you are bused to Cayo Santa Maria. The bus ride is 1hr 45mins so grab your drinks ahead of time. However, the view is beautiful and unlike some Carribean Islands I have been to the drive is not too bad through the cities.
Bank: The bank is located at the market, I suggest using it because we found the lobby charged way too much, since when is $100 CAD $69 CP? The market is close by.
The Hotel: This is NOTa hotel for families (with young children), teens, or early 20s either. It is a calm relaxing place that does not offer anything too crazy.If you want to travel to Memories, which you have access too, you can find the nightlife there. In-between the two resorts is a Market that you can purchase all your needed trinkets. The hotel caters to roughly 240 rooms. I suggest the Oceanview if you can get one or a Balcony room...you can't go wrong with either. The Terrace room would be my last choice, since you lack the view, which is beautiful.
Hotel Staff: Really great group of people. Always smiling and willing to lend a hand. We did not encounter any issues.They work ridiculously long shifts and some individuals there are highly educated, but find being a part of the hotel staff pays more.
Food: A la carte, no buffet. This is Cuba and resources are very limited due to many factors. The presentation of the food is fantastic, but you either like it or you don't, you cannot really blame the Hotel since they can only work with what they have. If you want the buffet again Memories has two that you can eat at, but it is a walk to anything at Memories Resort, but you can also call a golf cart (taxi) to drive you over. We found the biggest issue was over cooking meat and seafood.
Beach: Amazing! White sands and clear blue waters. Some say they had issue with sand flies, but we did not encounter them. We travelled from Dec.22-26th.
Pool: One located close to the lobby (very quiet) and the other closer to the beach entrance which has a few more people. It is never busy and you can always find somewhere to lay down.
Dress: It is an Island so you will always have wind during the night, I suggest bring something to cover your arms with. Unlike other 18+ I found the dress code far more relaxed, a simple dress and sandles is deemed appropriate or for men simply a pair of nice pants and a woven is okay. We usually bring dressy clothes and fancy shoes, but found we didn't need them.
Tip/items left: Tips help staff to make ends meet, but be logical about it. Tip when service is good. Items they need: medications (allergy pills, tylenol, etc.), clothes, fishing lures, etc. Keep in mind Cubans make 10 dollars a month if they are lucky and rely on tips. Also, keep in mind that they must be granted permission to take the items you leave from the manager. Their bags are checked regularly and often they can take a few and the rest are given to the elderly, since their pensions are very small. Cuba does not produce enough food to feed Cubans, which is heartbreaking given they are such warm and lovely people. I find tips go along way if you do not want to carry an extra suitcase worth of items.
All-in-all we met some really great people from all over and always found a group that wanted to meet for night-caps. If you want a resort that comes with your own butler and everything at your finger tips this is a wonderful resort. Thank you to all those who made are Christmas so great! :-)