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“Gay Friendly and Fun”
Review of Melia Las Dunas

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Melia Las Dunas
Ranked #8 of 15 Hotels in Cayo Santa Maria
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Gay Friendly and Fun”
Reviewed 12 September 2009

I recently stayed at MLD with my boyfriend. I am 30 and my common-law partner is 28. We are typical Torontonians and we were looking to relax by the beach, be ourselves and have a safe, jolly old time. One of our priorities was to have a gorgeous beach, and I must say we were not disappointed. The sand was fine and white and the water was clear and turquoise... there was plenty of room to find a spot in the shade and have up to 4 lawn chairs or more per person. I guess September and October are supposed to be the low season do to it being the "cyclone season" but honestly the hotel was at about 35% capacity and it was easy to meet all types of people. It only rained 3X during our stay and the rain was nothing more than an evening or late afternoon shower...lasting no more than 1 or 2 hours. There was a little bit of lightning off in the distance but nothing to be afraid of.

As per Restaurants:

The food is not bad, you just have to know where to go and what to choose. We recommend :

At the buffet:
1. Omelettes for breakfast and their bread is very fresh. For coffee go to the lobby, they make AMAZING cappuccinos, lattes, iced lattes and cappuccinos! The buffet specialty coffees are crap...since they come out if an instant coffee machine.
2. There isn't much fruit but the guavas and mangoes are some of the best I've ever had.
4. For supper, stick with the pasta stations (pretty good) and fish options.

At per the pool:

1. If you miss breakfast hit up the snack bars at either the adult pool or children's pool. It is open from 10am-6pm and serves amazing baguette sandwiches, pizzas and calzones~!

2. The snack bars also serve a great continental breakfast if you miss the breakfast buffet.


By the beach:

1. Amazing paninis are served and the pina coladas at the bar are the best on the resort.

A la carte restaurants:

Trust me on this, go for the calzones at the Italian"El Conuco" restaurant. We ended up going there 3 times. They also have specialty pizzas and great wine! The seafood restaurant, like others have said was meafer proportions and pretty depressing and disappointing taste wise. But the service was amazing.

Swimming Pools: If you don't want to be around children the "adults only" pool is the way to go. Also, the adult pool is more spacious and you can definitely get a spot under a cabana or in the shade. Besides, there were rumors of ear infections in the "Children's" pool do to fecal matter from kids who didn't wipe when they went to the bathroom and who didn't wash before entering the pool.

The Gym:

The gym was near the spa area and there was about 1-3 people at a time working out there. The equipment was modern, clean and new. The room has a full blasting AC and had many windows facing the the garden and courtyard all the way around. There was a rowing machine, some X-trainers, treadmills and stairmasters. The weight room was limited on equipment but would give you an overall body work out. It was also very clean an there was plenty of cold, iced water provided.
There were a lot of families ( who seemed to be having a great time). Also, there were many gay couples both gay men (3 young couples and an older couple) and lesbian women too (a single young woman and 2 older coupes). It was a pretty romantic place to be when swimming in the ocean near the beach or when dining in the a La Carte restaurants but as for the buffet and the pool it was a bit more PG.

The disco was fun as was the animation team that did the shows and got everyone dancing in the disco but nights ended pretty early... usually around 2:30AM-4AM the party died off. But the late night snack bar "The Beer Garden" was a good place to congregate while drunk and to sober up on calamari, french fries and hamburgers. This place can be recommended for all ages and also note that it is a gay-friendly resort we had no problems showing affection with one another and no problems telling people we were partners. Both the Cubans and the tourists were very tolerant, accepting, inclusive and friendly. We were lucky to be in such a peaceful, loving atmosphere. Also, most of the male dancers (animation team), servers (waiters) and some of the musicians were gay and tried hitting on us thinking we were open. But we didn't mind the flirting and once we told them we were committed they respected us and backed off and we all became friends. Also, we met many gay singles who did day trips with us and we had also made many straight friends as well.

If you feel completely isolated and start to get bored by day 4, 5 or 6 of your trip we recommend getting a couple of people to go in on renting a car and visiting some of the local towns on you own. Screw the tours. They are a rip. You can easily rent a car for the day for 50 CUC and gas (1/4 of a tank 15 CUC) and a 2 CUC (2X paid each way) toll for the bridge and drive 45 minutes to Remdios or 1 hr 15 minutes to Santa Clara. You can see the real Cuba and meet some Cubans. Better than any excursion the hotel has to offer. We split a car 3 ways with another gay single guy we met and it ended up being 22.50 CUC each for the rental, gas and tolls. It was totally worth it. Rented it for 24 hours and used it the next day for a morning trip to La Playa Perla Blanca which is 7 kms from the hotel beaches and the beaches are flawless, empty and romantic.

Bring bug spray and lots of sunscreen and don't forget to continuously reapply every hour or 2. Since you will be sweating it off under the intense sun.

The guests when we were there were 50% French-Canadian, 25% British, 15% Ontarian-Canadian, 5% Cuban, 2.5% Spanish, 2.5% Venezuelan. And of them about 5-10% Gay tourists and 20% gay Cuban workers.

We would definitely return. And we hope to do so in about 6 months~!

I hope this helps.

  • Stayed September 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
13 Thank hot4kookie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Montreal
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 September 2009

We stayed at the Melia Las Dunas from August 29 to September 4. The landscaping is wonderful and deserve a 5 stars We enjoyed to walk around even though is still quite hot at this time of the year. At this time of the year, the hotel was not full so we felt at ease everywhere.

The beach is amazing, quite a lot better than the ones in Mexico! There are enough chairs but there are not enough palapas; I heard about it on many forums so I brought with me an old white sheet and we managed to be under a shade nevertheless. One negative point that we did not know concerns the jelly fish. At this time of the year, they appear suddenly. The last 3 days, we could not go into the ocean because it was like a jelly fish soup. I was very disappointed to have to go into a swimming pool, although the water was at a good temperature and very big, never crowded (on the adult side anyway).

I sent an email the day before our departure, reminding the clerck that we have paid for a room with an ocean view (mucho importante para mi). We have had one of the largest room, with a spacious walk-in. The ocean is far away from the buildings but all the new hotels are built that way nowadays; apparently, for ecological reason. They should build three-store buildings though to have more rooms with an ocean view because at this hotel, these are rare. The room cleaning was OK but not outstanding.

The food was OK also but in my opinion it's not more than a 4 stars. They have excellent cold and warm soups, and the morning orange juice is a winner (plus others). Fish is an excellent choice and you must try the parmesan and mushrooms rizotto. The desserts are too good for my sake. The regular wine is quite allright, better than in the Dominican Republic. For example, we bought a Jacob's Creek for 14 CUC which is a reasonable price considering that we pay 14$CDN in Montreal. The restaurants à la carte are allright but not to be remembered. Be aware that all the buffet and à la carte restaurants are in open areas with ceiling fans but no air conditioning (except for The Romantico). At night, you have to fight with the mosquitoes. Early in the morning, the hotel people spray some kind of chemicals to reduce the mosquitoes population, but don't forget your mosquito repellent product.

Finally, we find the Cuban people very nice and very helpful. It's not true that you don't get any service if you don't tip all the time. If you have a nice attitude towards people, they usually react positively (except, as always, a few unsociable individuals). We did not go out at night since their animation is of no interest to us. We didn't even have a look at their night club.

We have appreciated our stay in this hotel but we will never fly with Canjet again since they are less than professionals. They have changed our return flight twice even before we left Montreal. We were supposed to leave Montreal at 14h00 and we left around 22h00.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank SealoverMontreal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto
1 review
Reviewed 9 September 2009

We stayed at the hotel from 31 of August to Sep 5, 2009. First impressions were excellent. Our rooms were clean and spacious and the beds big and extremely comfortable. The food was good. Both on the beach and by the pool we never found it a problem getting sunbeds with shade. Both the beach and the pool were lovely. 2 days were jellyfish in the ocean. All the staff were very polite and helpful and we never felt pressured to tip to get good service! I would recommend this hotel if you are looking for a relaxing pool/beach

  • Stayed September 2009, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank obroun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
England
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 September 2009

My partner and I stayed at the Melia Las Dunas, with 4 of our friends (2 other couples) from the 14th-28th August 09. We had a fantastic time, so much so, we may be going back next year with our family! It really annoys me to see other people's negative reviews and makes me think these must be very fussy people!

The hotel was lovely, it had a great range of resturants (Buffets, snack bars, Italian, Pizzaria, Grill, Seafood, Romantic and Oriental). I personally think that 3 visits a week to the a la carte resturants is pretty good (and standard across most all inclusive). We recommend Pizzeria, Romantic and Italian. A little tip.....the place that is a seafood place by night is a buffet area during lunchtime (12-3) and this is really good. Not only is there the buffet food, there is also a small menu that you can order from if you don't fancy the buffet food. Secondly you can also walk up to the a la carte resturants at night, if you don't have a reservation and ask if they can fit you in/have any cancellations. We managed to get into the grill outside our 6 other bookings.Melia also has a number of bars, including 2 swim up bars for the daytime. They even serve becks/corona in 24 hour beer garden bar. There is evening entertainment and one night there was a beach party, which was a real good laugh!

Nobody within my party had any issues with the food or stomach upsets. You may have the odd rumble in the jungle, but nothing that you wouldn't expect from a change in your normal eating habits e.g. over indulging, drinking more etc. We didn't even find mosquitos to be an issue. We all used insect repellant and probably had a couple of bites each. But what else can you expect, you're in a hot climate. There were quite a few jellyfish in the sea, but this can't be helped. It's not the hotels fault and again nobody in my party got stung. Apparently its just this time of year, a few tropical storms out at sea were bringing them in.

Trips were good, we did Catamaran and Havana. The weather was good, beautiful sunshine for the most part, a few storms, which were over quickly. We only had one overcast/rainy day.

My only 3 small complaints were that occasionally some staff were not too friendly (but then again others were great). There also seemed to be a shortage of spoons, you had to ask for them! And lastly the toilets around the pool and resturants were not that clean by the end of each day, but fine again by the morning. Lobby ones were fine though and of course the room ones were too!
The rooms were nice and spacious. Mini bar stocked with beer, fizzy drinks and water. There was also a friendly gardner name Frank, who gave the girls flowers nearly everyday and my boyfriend got a hand made souvenir on the last day!

Overall fantastically enjoyable holiday, would recommend this to others!! Quick tip, its worth allocating some holiday spending money for tips and its just a nice way of saying thank-you for a good service. Also....perhaps worth booking the VIP at the airport in Cuba. Its only 20 pesco's (around £14-£15) per person but that includes drinks, snacks and air conditioned lounge with leather sofas!

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank Lauzinator
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
liverpool
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 September 2009

Would just like to say really enjoyed our stay at this hotel staff were so wonderful and helpful they are always cheerful
Happy hour

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank lastminuteLiverpool
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
liverpool england
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 September 2009

We stayed at the hotel from 14th to 28th august. when we arrived we were welcomed by the dancers in costume and a very welcome rum cocktail! Having all ready checked in on the coach we were free to explore and find our room.First impressions were excellent and this carried on through the rest of the holiday! Our rooms were clean and spacious and the beds big and extremely comfortable. The food was good both in the buffet and a la cartes and with the constant breeze we didn't find it to hot to eat in the buffet at all!! Both on the beach and by the pool we never found it a problem getting sunbeds with shade and with 2 red heads in the family this is a must!!!!! Both the beach and the pool were lovely and the dance classes and aqua aerobics given by the animation team a good laugh and a chance to get to know people! We were not troubled at all by mosquitoes and only 1 day by jellyfish and the greenflag was flying on the beach on a number of occasions! All the staff were very polite and helpful and we never felt pressured to tip to get good service! I would recommend this hotel if you are looking for a relaxing pool/beach based holiday as it was the most relaxing holiday we have ever had!!!!! Also try the spa ,the massage and body scrub and bath were excellent and well worth the money!!

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
10 Thank salsaqueen09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Montreal
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 September 2009

I recently stayed at MLD with my husband. We are 28-year old Montrealers and were looking to relax by the beach and have some down time. One of our priorities was to have a gorgeous beach, and we were not disappointed. The sand is fine and white and the water is clear and turquoise... there was plenty of room and it wasn't over- crowded when we went, so that was great.

Restaurants:
The food is not horrible, you just have to know what to choose. We recommend :

At the buffet:
1. omelettes for breakfast and their bread is very fresh. For coffee go to the lobby, they make AMAZING cappuccinos and iced cappuccinos!
2. there isn't much fruit but the mangos are some of the best I've ever had
3. For lunch, make youself a salad ( we got lettuce towards the end of the week) you will feel like you need some veggies
4. For supper, stick with the pasta stations ( pretty good), chicken I really didn't like ( chewy texture)

At the pool:
Snack bar had amazing pizzas and calzones

By the beach:
Amazing paninis

A la carte restaurants:
Trust me on this, go for the Italian ( have the carpaccio as an entree) and the Romantic ( have the pork medallions or the steak ( the only 2 restaurants with AC) and if you can book twice at one of them, go again. The Seafood restaurant is depressing an disappointing in every way and the Grill was very so-so. But if you do choose the Grill, the Tuna was pretty good.

Pools were great and there is one that is more "adults only"

Make sure to bring lots of reading material. You can't even buy a magazine or a book anywhere.

There were a lot of families ( who seemed to be having a great time) , it's not a very romantic and quiet setting, probably not the best place for th 18 to 35 crowd either since there is only one disco on the resort that looked kind of tacky ( but I didn't go in so...)

One thing we didn't like very much is that you are completely isolated and to visit the closest town it's like 45 minutes and the excursion is pretty expensive.

We took the catamaran excursion which was fun .
Bring bug spray. We only had to use it once but thank God we had it!

Guests were 70% French-Canadian and 30% Brittish, Italian and Cuban.

Not bad but i don't think I woud go back....

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Luna1980
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Melia Las Dunas

Property: Melia Las Dunas
Address: Cayo Santa Maria, Caibarien, Villa Clara | Jardines del Rey, Villa Clara, Cuba
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Villa Clara Province > Cayo Santa Maria
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Spa Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#4 Romantic Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#7 Top resorts Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
#7 Luxury Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — Melia Las Dunas 5*
Number of rooms: 925
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 
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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

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