We had a two-night stay in all-inclusive land during our visit to Cuba, namely to Sol Cayo Largo.
First of all - if you're thinking of going to Cuba, don't just stay in Cayo Largo or Varadero. Visit at least Havana or Trinidad on a (two-)day-trip. Otherwise, what you're going to get will be pretty much indistinguishable from what similar resorts elsewhere offer. Except you get a Cuban band playing at dinner, and the local souvenir shops sell Che Guevara t-shirts, cigars and rum.
Now, regarding Sol Cayo Largo itself.
We thought the room was nice, bright and clean - in that context, the missing toilet seat/lid was a bit weird, although nothing we weren't used to from other places in Cuba. We probably could've complained and got a replacement, but we didn't bother because we weren't really bothered (but can see that it might irritate others).
Our room was ready way before check-in time, which was a pleasant surprise after a pretty short night.
That said, though, service at the reception was so-so. They seemed really focused on Italian tourists in particular, so chances of the reception staff understanding you were significantly better if you spoke Italian. English works but will take longer.
It was pretty pointless to ask for assistance regarding airport transfers for example - we had checked the official schedules at the usual blackboards, but our flight was missing from it. So we asked at reception, who simply refered us back to the schedules. Nobody offered to make any calls or check for us. (It should be pointed out that we had booked the flights ourselves, not as part of a flight/hotel package.)
Other staff friendliness varied - waiters and chefs at the buffet dinner were much better than the staff at lunchtime. Overall, staff seemed to have got very used to extremely generous tipping (generous not just by Cuban standards), and there was a perception that better-tipping patrons got preferential treatment. I always thought that this should work the other way round - if the service is good, you get a tip.
We rented bicycles to get around the place a bit (which was free). We found them to be way too small for us, with their brakes being less than reliable. Not great.
Breakfast buffet was plenty, although I found it a bit hard to find something resembling a well-rounded meal. Sausages, tortillas, sprouts and danishes?
The lunch buffet was pretty drab. Definitely had a feel of cattle being hoarded towards the trough.
Dinner was a lot better, mostly because there were some "live cooking" options, with fresh pasta and pizza made to order. Regarding the pasta - if you're vegetarian, you shouldn't be squeamish, as your sauce (with ingredients you get to choose) will be cooked up in the same pan as the sauce for the guy before you, who might have gone for meatlover's delight, so a little dice of ham may find its way into your sauce as well. Other than that, it's a standard-fare buffet with the usual problems that come with it. Less-popular options end up being very dry indeed thanks to being kept hot for hours, and while there's a lot of choice, there aren't any real dishes with the sauce really matching the meat etc.
There's also an à la carte restaurant, but that requires reservation and we were too late for that both days.
Pretty much every drink (with the exception of some top-shelf whiskies and gins) was included. The mojito was decent, the daiquiri much less so. There are also marked differences in drink quality between the different bars at Sol Cayo Largo, so there's no harm trying around a bit.
Very fine sand, although there was also a good amount of seeweed. Towards the West, there's Cuba's only official nudist beach (although we saw nudists at other beaches further East as well), and a bit further even, the beach gets really empty and also a bit rockier. Don't expect any natural shades.
All-in-all okay, but I have to admit I'm not one for roasting in the sun for hours.
We did a half-day catamaran excursion, which was decent. It visits exactly the same places as the full-day excursion, but doesn't include the lobster dinner (although we got a nice lunchtime lobster on the boat for an extra 10CUC). The catamaran was small, which was nice given the crowds we usually encountered in the restaurants or on the main beaches. The iguana colony was funny to visit in a twisted sense, as it was basically crowded with tourists trying to take snaps of the animals. Definitely felt like a really touristy place to visit, rather than - as purported - a kind of iguana breeding station.
Snorkeling was okay, although I was fighting with the one-size-fits-all goggles. If you have your own, it probably won't hurt bringing them.
Overall, it's a decent all-inclusive place I guess. Having said that - we were happy to return to the "real" Cuba afterwards, unfriendly public toilet staff, old Ladas, and all.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in Cayo Largo del Sur, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. All Inclusive Four-Star resort with 296 rooms. Ideal for enjoying its pristine environment and for exploring its idyllic landscape and crystal-clear ocean bottom. The resort faces 600 meters of beach renowned for its perennially cool white-sand. Recommended for couples, weddings, honeymoons and groups.Guest Rooms296 rooms: 244 Standard, 34 Standard Ocean View, 10 Standard Superior Ocean View, 8 Junior SuiteDining3 Restaurants (A la Carta, Buffet, A la carte and mini-buffet), 1 Cafeterias, 3 Bars ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Melia, TravelUp, Travel Republic (UK) and Odigeo so you can book your Sol Cayo Largo reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Sol Cayo Largo Hotel Cayo Largo
- Sol Hotel Cayo Largo
- Cayo Largo Cuba
- Cayo Largo Sol Hotel
- Sol Club Cayo Largo