> Destinations > Cuba > Trip Reports > Trip Report
My husband and I spent the first week of March at this resort. We booked with Go Travel Direct from Ottawa and have nothing but praise for the company and any of the reps we dealt with. Everything went smoothly (except for the delay because the plane had a problem with the weather radar, but hey, those things happen). We have traveled to Cuba and other islands before, and stayed at 4&5 star resorts such as Sandals, Breezes and Club Med. This was our first experience at a 3 star, and frankly, we were not disappointed.
The bus ride from the airport is approx 80 minutes. You can enjoy a cold Cristal for $1.50 on the bus, or some cold water for $1.00 and it does have a washroom. You'll see a lot of farms and small villages on the way.
I had requested a 2nd floor room overlooking the ocean, and we got exactly that. We were a few steps from the beach!
The staff is helpful and friendly, and they remember you after their first dealing with you. The service in the restaurant was fabulous, and our maid kept our room spotless. She left us nice notes to thank us for the gifts we left her, and of course decorated our bed with swans/hearts etc. The animation staff will spend as much time with you as you want. If you want to be involved in activities with them, they'll welcome you. You can play darts, volleyball, take dance or Spanish lessons, aerobics in the pool, stretching etc..
The front desk staff are fast and efficient at check in, and willing to help if you have a problem during your stay. When we arrived, the animation staff was in the lobby singing and dancing to welcome us. A nice touch. If brining gifts for them, please remember that paper products are difficult to find in Cuba, so if you can bring coloring books and crayons, or reading materiel for children, as well as some candy, the staff with kids will be very grateful. Also, feminine hygiene products are difficult to get, so please leave behind anything you don't use.
While we were there, we had incredible winds everyday, therefore water sports weren't available. Although this area usually has a steady breeze, this was unbelievable. The locals kept commenting that this was very rare. It was the first time in all our travels that we never swam in the ocean! We did sit on the beach for a couple of hours on our first day, but finally had to leave because the wind was blowing sand everywhere, and if the sun went down, it got chilly! There appeared to be a lot of beach chairs, and a number of palaps for shade. We always take a catamaran cruise, and we were canceled both times that we booked.
We did take a horse and buggy to Coco beach (12.00 US return). This beach is a must see. A beautiful restaurant serving lobster, chicken, fish and cold beer, and of course that wonderful Cuban ice cream awaits you, as well as a beach that resembles a postcard. Our driver was from Coco beach, and gave us a tour of his house, where we met his wife and children. They will offer to cook you lunch, usually lobster or chicken if you are so inclined, for about 12.00 US.
We also took the organized tour of Camaguey, which included a visit to the rum factory, cigar factory, pottery studio, lunch and also a visit to a music house where a wonderful band entertained us. You can never tire of Cuban music. We enjoyed Camaguey, and definitely recommend this trip, however, we did see some begging, with young men and older ladies following the tour bus to all our locations and asking for clothes or money.
So, would I go back? In a heartbeat. This resort is quiet, and the food was quite good, although I did hear some folks grumbling about the lack of selection. We never went hungry. Breakfast included eggs, ham, cheese, fresh juice, croissants. Lunch and diner always included lots of fruit, chicken and pork dishes, fish, rice and a great chef who prepares pasta while you wait everyday for both lunch and diner. Always fresh vegetables for salads, including lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes. The desert table is always full, and there is usually ice cream for desert.
You can also dine at the beach bar restaurant in the evening, and you can request lobster (extra cost). It is quite nice to sit there at night and it's much more intimate.
You should remember however that you are in Cuba, and that they run out of things sometimes. It wasn't unusual to ask for a drink after 6pm and find that they had run out of pina colada mix, or some other liqueur. Never ran out of beer so if you're a beer drinker, you're ok! We didn't see any international drinks while there.
The rooms were recently renovated, and have new sparkling tiles in the bedroom, washroom and sitting area, as well as on the balcony. The furniture is old, and the bed is very soft, however, everything is very clean. We did have a couple of days with only lukewarm water, however, as soon as I mentioned it at the front desk, someone fixed it within a couple of hours.
The hotel doesn't supply a clock, shampoo or a hairdryer, and you only get 2 little bars of soap, so I suggest you bring your own. ( you'll need an adapter or a hair dryer that converts from 110 to 220, both available quite cheap at Walmart by the way). Also, no face cloths, so if that's important to you, bring one from home. We also brought a traveling clothes line which came in handy to dry swimsuits and shorts etc. I didn't see any mosquitoes, and neither of us were bit while there. The sun is extremely hot, and even with sunscreen, you might get a bit of a burn. The pool is great, and usually, we never spend time at the pool, but because of the wind, we spent most of our week there. Always something going on, and music playing, but you can still sit and read quietly.
We walked into the town of Santa Lucia, and felt quite safe. Not much to see, other than everyday Cuban life. We observed a man painting his roof, and another fixing his very old American car. We walked into the local store.not much to buy. Most people in Santa Lucia either travel by horse and buggy or on the local bus or bicycle. The people are friendly and wave when you walk by.
The clientele here seems to be mostly Italian (both Italian Canadian as well as European), with a few Canadians from Ottawa, Toronto and the Halifax area. There only seemed to be 4 or 5 children while we were there.
Santa Lucia is not Varadero. There are only 4 small hotels, and not much night life. Lots to do during the day, and frankly, the beaches are beautiful here. It is truly a beach lovers paradise. Our advice to anyone going here, is give the hotel a day or 2 to grow on you. At first it seems small and bare, but after a few days, you really appreciate the beautiful gardens and the people. They work so hard and such long hours. The man who brings your suitcase to your room, could be the gardener, and the bartender at the beach bar could be the server at the restaurant the next day.
So, if you're looking for a nice quiet and relaxing spot, where you can veg on the beach with a book, just steps away from the beach bar, with good food, excellent service at a good price, you won't be disappointed. It's affordable, clean and you are steps from a gorgeous beach. What more could you wish for?
Thanks to Christine for this trip report ...