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Reviewed 5 December 2017 via mobile

Visited Brisas Nov.14 to 28 of this year, first trip to Cuba and for a great price so gave it a go. On arrival at Brisas check in went smoothly, mimosa on arrival, as renovations were still ongoing in the main hotel check in was done in the villas lobby, not a problem, then a cart to our room in the main hotel,shown to our room and shown around. I will give a few impressions of our room before I get into the real review, on arrival one of the first things that I look for is cleanliness and I immediately spotted pubes in the bath, other than that not bad but that's the worst thing that can happen. Also the fridge in the room gave off such a stench that it was unusable as it tainted everything that was placed in it.
The Good
The bars were great, top shelf liquor in some, great service in most al offered something different as far as product and service, the only one I didn't care for was the Havana club bar stand offish bartender and generally poor service
Entertainment team, they were always doing something, as well took the train tour that they provided to the fishing village and farmhouse was fantastic. The person sorry I don't recall his name was a fantastic tour guide.
The bad.
I don't want to sound mean but children should not be in bars even swim up bars unsupervised. Also I have no problem with anyone who pays there way using any facilities, however around the anniversary there were far to many people without wrist bands using the main pool and bar
The Ugly.
Food, the food at Brisas is deplorable, for two weeks we ate nothing more than soup and ice cream. Please don't give me the standard they can only work with what they have, balls, take a tour there are fresh fruit and veg stands everywhere. Not knowing exactly the politics either hire a head chef from Europe, NA, or send someone from Cuba abroad to learn how to cook food that appeals to Europeans or n Americans.
We left Cuba a week ago and I am still getting stomach cramps, vomited for three days and still haven't had a solid bowel movement
To some things up I am glad I experienced Cuba but if you were to offer me a free trip back tomorrow I would not take it.

Date of stay: November 2017
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
9  Thank davehni
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 December 2017 via mobile

Brisas All Inclusive Resort Guardalavaca Cuba

By: Don France
Canadian Trip Advisor Contributer
Don_France530@Hotmail.Com

Impressions: Nov 19-Dec 03-2017

We Deplaned our flight with Sun Wing at Houlguin Cuba Airport, down a ramp onto the tarmac. A good walk of about four to five hundred yards to their terminal building. We cleared Cuban immigration, went through a security check that was exactly the same as what we went through at Pearson Airport in Toronto. The Sun Wing Tour Representative was there to direct us to a waiting Bus. It was quite comfortable, for our bus ride that took about an hour and a half to the Breezes Guardalvaca Resort. The bus captain sold cans of beer, two for five dollars Canadian, very welcome to thirsty tired travellers. Arriving at the Resort, First impressions where of a typical laid out resort lobby and main five story building backed by a large central pool that later came to be, the center hub of activities. Just beyond the pool was a very nice sandy beach that was perfect for sun bathing. The sand extended into the shallow waters that where just right for floating, wading and swimming.
Our room was an early 80s vintage with modest, not elaborate furnishings, a mini fridge, and a safe that was two pasos a day to use. The room had been recently renovated, most amenities worked and those that didn’t where addressed by the maintenance staff promptly. Though the room was not North America standards it was quite adequate, with a mini fridge and a small flat screen TV, air Conditioning and a working smoke detector. The hiccup was that every electrical outlet was marked 220v. After some conversation with fellow travellers it was found that the TV outlet was 110v. Without a voltage testers we where taking a chance plunging North American Electronic devices in here. We did however and all was good for us. Internet service can be purchased. The service seemed adequate for emails and some web sites at home, but not all. The time purchased seemed to deplete rapidly. Cell service was obtainable and a cell tower was observed in close proximity to the resort. Rogers my Canadian mobile provider informed me by text of a one hundred dollar roaming charge that was in my account from Cuba even though my phone had been on Airplane Mode no roaming all but one day in Cuba. ( Just another annoyance at the end of a trip).
The Resort has a variety of restaurants and specialty restaurants to choose from for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A favourite was the 24 hour pool bar, the pizza, chips and burger stand, Cheros stand and the ever popular ice cream stand. There are lots of bars located all over the Resort. My favourite is Coffee Lacie, Cuban Coffee with steamed milk.

* My overall impression of Brezes Guadalvaca Cuba is that of a resort worth visiting that offers a very good experience for the cost of you trip. The Resort is split into two major areas, the Hotel and the Villas. The Hotel offers Hotel type rooms, with balconies. lots of noisy entertainment day and night, that gets to be annoying quickly. The Villas are larger units that offer a more tranquil area. Both are interconnected by a beach walk and Lobby to Lobby golf cart service. Their are Lots of things to do in the water, ocean or pool including Cyac, paddle boats and catamarans. Their are a myriad of off resort excursions that are available at a cost. Taxis and house drawn buggies are available right at the hotel entrance.
*
The people that frequented the Resort where made up of all ages from parents with new borns to geriatrics. The age group was predominantly retirees, on extended vacation. Lots and lots of food, drinks and almost to much music day and night was played at a very high volume, into the we hours of the morning. The villas are larger units and the area is more tranquil around their pool. The Ocean View Hotel rooms have a spectacular view of the pool and the beach area but tends to be in the center of the noise day and night. The non ocean view hotel rooms have a street view but allow for a more tranquil vacation when rest is needed. Five floors of rooms serviced by two banks of elevators. In general the staff are curtious and well trained and help make your vacation enjoyable. To sum things up I ask myself if I’d come back here as many of my friends do annually. I can say the answer is yes.

Date of stay: November 2017
Trip type: Travelled with family
7  Thank DonF123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 December 2017

Hello readers, I would like to start by saying, my wife and I booked this vacation through Air Canada. We had not traveled via Air Canada for a long time and were wondering how they would be to travel with. To our pleasure Air Canada was great! They were fast efficient and very friendly. Check in was easy and fast. That was just the start to our wonderful vacation.When we arrived at the hotel we found it very beautiful, clean and well organized. Check in was a breeze.The room was very clean and we had a beautiful view overlooking the pool and the ocean. Our chamber maid (Ino) was a pleasant lady with a smile that came easy and a very happy personality. We loved the towel "animals" she made for us and looked forward to see what she designed next.Ino went out of her way to be sure that we were comfortable. When you go to visit Brisas Guardalavaca, and we do highly recommend it, be sure to visit the specialty bars and restaurants. We were not able to visit all the bars and restaurants but the ones we were able to visit were a great experience. There are so many wonderful things that I could tell you about this hotel but I urge you to go and experience them for yourself. You will not be disappointed.

Room tip: Ocean and pool view rooms in the main building give awesome views. We had room 560
Date of stay: November 2017
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
5  Thank Ken K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brisas H, Quality Manager at Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 11 December 2017

Dear Ken K,
Thank you very much for your amazing review. We appreciate your comments about our resort; we will extend your suggestions to all the staff. We love that you enjoyed your holiday in our resort!!!
Brisas Guardalavaca really hopes you come back soon.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 December 2017 via mobile

2nd time to Cuba what a beautiful country this time we stayed at Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel food was better than I have read on here good selection bars had friendly staff,very polite, maids very good and polite hotel was having Work done we did get moved to the Villers which were lovely reception staff very helpful, Thomas Cook rep excellent he was Alsmel helped us out with anything we needed the beach was excellent clean sandy safe,pools clean,best off all Horse riding right out side villa reception well worth a try and the 4x4 trip is a must to see the real Cuba by the end of this holiday the Work in the main reception was finished very nice

Date of stay: July 2017
Trip type: Travelled with family
2  Thank Antonywhite123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brisas H, Quality Manager at Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 11 December 2017

Dear Antonywhite123,
We will extend your suggestions to all the staff. We appreciate your comments about our resort; we will share it with all the staff. We are very happy that you enjoyed your holidays with us!!!
Brisas Guardalavaca really hopes you come back soon.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 December 2017

We are frequent guests of Brisas since 2000, and we returned there from Nov 13-20/17 before the anniversary celebration. We have seen a few noticeable changes and improvements since our last visit early in 2016. The downstairs lobby has been renovated. They finished renovating the main hotel reception lobby which reopened when we were there. There is a lovely new lobby bar on the reception level of the hotel now as well. They started construction on the beach in front of the hotel buffet area of a large, covered "gazebo" where they can have private functions or the romantic dinners (from what I've been told anyway). It is now finished as I've seen recent pics and looks lovely. The wedding gazebo was in the process of getting rebuilt since the hurricane as we were leaving, and I'm guessing it is done; however, I have not seen up to date pics showing that it is finished. There are lovely new white, plastic tables and chairs in the villa section. Just take care with drinks on the edges of the tables as they are slightly sloped. We saw many drinks including a hot coffee go over the edge as you need to push your drink in from the edge.

A note on our airport arrival - they did not keep half of the Cuban visa paper this time. They gave us the whole visa paper back to turn in when we left Cuba. Also, the upstairs departures bathroom in Holguin has been nicely renovated. If you have CUC with you, it’s cheaper to buy your beverages for the bus ride at the little “store” outside and slightly to your right when you leave the airport. Cristal was only 1CUC there, and it was 2/$5 CAD on the bus.

Josè checked us in when we got to Brisas. He is always a pleasant, smiling face in reception and has a great sense of humour :) We arrived at Brisas quite early in the day, so we had to wait until later afternoon for our room to be ready - which we expected, so no big deal. The time passed quickly in the villa pool bar :)

Our room was in villa 8, 2nd floor. Our maid was Angelina, and she was great :)

For our breakfasts, we enjoyed the Cuban restaurant by the 24 hour grill/bar. We had bacon and eggs and omelet and toast most days. Aray and Yasmin looked after us every day with their cheery smiles. Mimosas here were quite good too with the sparkling cider. We ate most of our lunches at the villa restaurant El Zaguan beside the villa pool - they had food to order- sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, chicken and fish. We still miss this restaurant being a buffet. I always feel it is unfair that villa guests have to go to the hotel buffet or the other restaurants for most of their meals. The villa area was very busy the whole week we were there, so there were lots of guests. My dear friend Nailet, Julaidis (or something like this lol), Leidis Maria and Josè Miguel were the great servers there all week. Just a note that they now have a soft serve ice cream machine in the villa pool bar - It’s nice getting a little cone there during the daytime.

For our dinners, we ate at Bucanero, International, Italian and Cuban - and the buffet one evening. We always enjoy the shrimp and cheese balls at the Cuban. I like the pork and hubby likes the beef. At the International, I did not care for the lamb at all, but the fresh fish I had the 2nd evening was delicious. Friends had the Hunter Brisas and the lobster which were all good. They have smoked salmon in the appetizer area that is delicious! One meal here we got a real potato as well which is always a treat in this part of Cuba. Rice is served with most meals and is usually very good. At the Italian, we enjoyed the pastas and beef and chicken. The pasta was a nice variation from the other restaurants as I find the meals are all similar otherwise. At the Cuban, our group had pork, beef and chicken and it was all good. On our last evening, we tried the hotel buffet. There were lots of things to choose from. The fresh fish and rice was delicious - they had lovely fresh turkey, beef, pork, and lots more. I also had a small serving of pasta which was good as well. They had the fried rice/stirfry section at the end, and it looked good as well. This time of year and due to the hurricane, there was a shortage of a lot of fresh produce like pineapple, tomatoes, etc, so salad veggies were lacking. But keep in mind that in Cuba, if it is not in season, you don't usually get it. Normally, there are loads of fresh tomatoes, cucumber and pineapple. Overall, I have seen an improvement in the food from past years. However in saying that, I'd like to add a little section for the management to hopefully read - and I don't write this trying to scare anyone off: I still can't stress enough that the staff need to still improve in their attentiveness to hygiene (hand washing) and in their food handling skills for the safety of everyone. I know Cuba is different than our countries where everything is overkill in food handling for the public, but I think they still need to be more conscientious. It's a shame when Brisas has been doing so many awesome improvements around the resort, etc, but they still have been reduced to 3.5 star rating from many tour companies in Canada now. I firmly believe it is due to the food ratings. In all other areas, I've seen great improvement over the years. Another issue that should be addressed is the refilling of people's water bottles at the bars with the common spout that is used to make everyone's drinks every day. (for all the sodas, water, etc) I never thought about it until this visit, but how many people drink directly from their water bottle in their room and then take it to be filled at the bar where the spout is put right inside the bottle where they've just had their mouth? And if that person ever was sick???..... It wouldn't take long for a virus to spread that's for sure. They do advertise now that you can buy a large bottle of water for your room for 2CUC which is reasonable. (If you need more than the maid leaves you). I urge everyone to NOT take down your used bottle to be filled if it could be contaminated. This is a surefire way for illness to spread otherwise.

I was very impressed with the service at all the bars. Many of the long time staff are still there: Luis, Limber, Junia, Carlos, Norliss, Danni, Oscar, William, Maria Elena, Karinia, Sergio, Diego, Alain, Norge, Jesus, Daniel, Osmani, Jose Pupo, Carlitos, Vincent, Bertha, Carmen, Roger, Yuicy(sorry not sure of the spelling)....I'm sure I've missed some, but these are the ones I can remember :) There are some faces missing, but rest assured, there are still a lot of familiar ones. In the restaurants, we saw Dani, Lisette, Mario, Luis Mario, Ronald, Yudi, Beatriz, Marlenis, Carlos, Yami, Vlady and many more I may have missed or recognize but don't know their names. These wonderful people are many of the reasons that so many of us keep returning. It is always such a joy to see them all again. I also can speak very highly of the students training in many of the areas - excellent and always smiling :) Josè Miguel, Lilliany, Leidis Maria, Miguèl, Hanley Richar, etc

A note on the villa pool - it seemed a few days, there were quite a few bugs, etc in the end of the pool towards the villa lobby. I'm not sure if something is not working properly? Just letting the management know. Normally, the pools are pristine in my experience.

Also, regarding the bird poop every evening in the 24 hour grill/bar area. Just a heads up to new guests - every evening when the birds to to “sleep” in the earlier evening, there is a pathway of bird poop under the center beams in the 24 hour grill/bar. I realize they can’t remove the birds, but it would be very nice to see a regular floor mopper there in the earlier evenings. It gets quite bad and isn’t cleaned for too long of periods of time. And I’m quite sure there is always a chambermaid there by the grill bathrooms. It is a real turn off - especially to new guests (who often get pooped on, too).

I saw several new palapa frames, so I'm assuming there will be lots of new beach palapas in the near future. The pier has been levelled out since the damage from the hurricane, but the concrete has not been fully replaced yet. You can walk out to the end though. There were lots of water sports "toys" for people to use. I saw lots of people kiteboarding (I think with their own gear?). I love watching them! The new market area is very close to Brisas - literally in behind villas 2 and 3. I walked around to the village and back one day. There are more "higher end" type shops in the village now and they have been working hard to get the ground all levelled out and cemented. It looks good.

We had a few days of spotty rain, so just a reminder to take extreme care when walking on the very slippery floors. Also, it is always a good idea to have a couple games, puzzles, etc in case there is rain during your vacation.

I did not get any bug bites or see any bugs this trip, but I like to remind people (as I've been severely bitten in the past), that there can be a noseeum bug that you never see in these countries that can leave a nasty, very itchy, red welt, oozing bite, so it's always a good idea to be prepared with your deet lotion or spray (or whatever you choose to use) early mornings and evening just in case....only 1 in a dozen people seem to get bitten, but it sucks if it's you! If you do get bitten, the loratadine pill (Claritin) helps us with the itch.

Always take lots of good quality sunscreen until you get used to the sun in Cuba. It is very expensive to buy it there. Also, take any snack type food you may wish. There is very little there to buy. Also, take any medicines you think you may need just in case. Better to be safe than sorry. Take facecloths if you wish to use them as most places in Cuba do not supply them.

Tipping - we like to tip the people who look after us day after day- not huge amounts - maybe 100 CUC per week in total. The staff certainly appreciate it. And you often see a lot of different people in the run of a week lol. Keep in mind that when you tip in an area, the people working that shift usually share the tips, so if you want to tip a specific person, you need to catch them away from their post.

Tami is still working in the hair salon - great to see her again. I got the massage in the salon by the other woman working there - she did a great job - regular price is only 25CUC for an hour and even less for returning guests with a voucher. Caesar was doing the massages at the beach I believe. Where else can you get an hour massage for this price?! :)

The internet is still very spotty depending how busy it is that time of day. If it’s raining, forget it lol. You buy the internet cards in the hotel lobby for $1.50 CUC for 1 hour. I hit “forget network” and turned off the wifi on my iPhone, and this worked to save the minutes. I didn’t have to “log out” anymore like in the past. The wifi works in and around the hotel lobby/reception areas.

All in all, we had another great visit other than my hubby's tummy getting off the last couple of days. One never knows why...There have been many, many improvements; the hotel and grounds look great; the staff are awesome; bars were well stocked; etc etc etc. I hope Brisas gets back their 4 star rating with the Canadian companies soon. Cheers!

Date of stay: November 2017
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
16  Thank tartan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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