My husband and I just returned from a week in Cayo Santa Maria with Nolitours and Air Transat. This was our 16th trip to Cuba, however our first time to Cayo Santa Maria. Probably the only area in Cuba we have not visited. We booked a standard room at the Melia Las Dunas. From reading reviews we took a chance, hoping that we could upgrade to an ocean view room upon arriving at the resort. I am glad we did......had we booked an ocean view with Nolitours it would have cost an extra $400 per person for the week. The resort charged us $35 per night for the two of us for the whole week and it only cost us $250 instead of $800. We were given a room in the adult section in building 46, right by the walkway to the beach. The room was nice and spacious with a big balcony on the second floor. The buildings are set a way back from the beach so by no means are they ocean front, but we did have a view of the ocean. The rooms are furnished fairly basic and could use a bit of an overhaul, however everything was clean, the air conditioning worked well and we even had a screen door. The resort is huge and a fair bit of walking is required. We didn’t mind but it is something to keep in mind for people with mobility issues. The resort has over 900 rooms and this was our first time going to a resort this size. We did not like it and found everything to be quite crowded. It was hard to find seating in the lobby bar and we found the buffet restaurants to be very noisy and super busy. We tended to go to the buffet Remedios, which seemed a bit less busy and smaller in size. The beer garden was great and we enjoyed the bottled Coronas.
Before booking our trip to Las Dunas we were also interested in booking the Melia Buenavista. However, by the time we booked our trip it was no longer available. After two days at Las Dunas we inquired at the front desk it was possible to upgrade to the Buenavista. We spoke with the Manager, Yulied. He was extremely accommodating and professional and managed to get us to into the Melia Buenavista. He promised us three nights there with the possibility of having to come back to Las Dunas for our last night, due to lack of availability for that night. We jumped at the offer and didn’t mind packing up and enjoying a much quieter resort. Wow, is all I can say , when we arrived at the Buenavista. It is worth every penny! The rooms are amazing, all with outdoor shower, huge Jacuzzi tub, and butler service. We thought we were in heaven!!! The grounds are amazing , with 3 separate beaches, two pools. We loved the atmosphere and the fact that it was an adults only resort with only 100 rooms. Unfortunately, the luxury was short lived. Later that afternoon the manager approached us and informed us that they had no availability as they received some last minute confirmed guests. At this point Las Dunas was also fully booked and we were offered the Melia Cayo Santa Maria. A much smaller resort with just over 300 rooms. As disappointed as we were, how could we be upset. After all, we did not book the Buenavista and being able to upgrade was just a nice bonus. We were also happy not to have to go back to Las Dunas and were content with the Melia Cayo Santa Maria. Our room was also ocean view and well equipped. Both managers felt extremely bad over the fact that things did not work out as planned and were extremely apologetic and offered us whatever services we needed.
In the end, we both loved the fact that we got to try out three resorts in one week. The Melia Cayo Santa Maria was a little more intimate and quieter then Las Dunas. The a la carte restaurants were all excellent, in particular the Japanese and French restaurant. The service was amazing at the resort. The staff was super friendly and had a great sense of humour. We also found the beach less busy, although more palapas would be great on the beach. We ended up having the priviledge of eating and drinking at both the Las Dunas and Melia Cayo Santa Maria and enjoyed the variety of all the bars and restaurants, taking full advantage of it. The grounds are well maintained and full of greenery everywhere you go.
My husband and I took advantage of the spa and enjoyed the couple’s massage, followed by sauna, steam room etc. The massage we received was a Chinese technique and quite different from what we are used to at home, but very enjoyable. We were the only ones there and we enjoyed the piece and quiet.
We would return to Cayo Santa Maria in a heartbeat, but the only resort we would chose would be the Melia Buenavista! Nothing against the other two Melia resorts, but we just enjoy a smaller resort atmosphere without millions of people on the beach. I guess that was a lesson learned for us!
I would also like to add, that from all the resorts we have been to in Cuba, this one was probably best in terms of quality of food and drinks. One has to keep in mind the limitations that Cuba has when it comes to choice and availability. The resort had no butter for example for the first four days. Some people were quite upset, seriously?? Think about what the Cubans go home to and we complain when we don’t have butter for a few days???!!!
One thing that really bothered us was the attitude, rudeness and disrespect from some French Canadians! Butting in line, being ignorant to staff and what’s with the smoking everywhere??? All I can say is that a little respect goes a long way!!
With this I want to conclude my review. Special thanks to Yudiel (Manager Las Dunas) and Yuri (Manager Melia Cayo Santa Maria and Melia Buenavista) for making our holiday special and ensuring that we had a great time, despite our frequent moves. We had a great holiday!!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Magic and Legend unveils an ancient story that goes back in time to 1492, with the discovery of America. Melia Las Dunas, a 5 star resort, All Inclusive, ideal for your vacation with your Family, Reunion & Incentives, Weddings, Honeymoon Distinguished by the variety of services, the inviting atmosphere and the confort of its facilities, Melia Las Dunas offers the vacations of your dreams. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Melia Las Dunas Hotel Cayo Santa Maria
- Melia Cayo Santa Maria
- Melia Hotel Las Dunas
- Melia Las Dunas Cuba