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All in all, it was a great vacation, and I would recommend it to anyone.
The morning and afternoon walks are great, the staff is friendly, and the grounds are very safe. Yes, the pillows are incredibly flat, and the plastic cups are rather small... but the pool is awesome, and the beach is beautiful! The hot tub though, was only big enough for four people at a time, and it wasnít very hot.
The first few days, we snorkeled every day, taking advantage of the breathtaking reefs just off the shoreline. We took bread from the buffet with us to feed the fishes. Bring it in a plastic bag and tear some pieces off once you reach the reef.
Pointers: sign up for the scuba diving lessons early so that you have time to do an actual dive. They only have lessons on Mon, Wed and Fri, and if the wind is too strong, they will not go out. This occurred during the last four days of our stay, which made snorkeling unsafe as well. It is true that if the current is too strong, then swimming in the ocean is not an option. The best part, is that it is all included!
Sign up for the Italian restaurant early, as well as the Cuban restaurant. There is another grill on the beach that you can sign up for, but if it is too windy, they usually close down. Donít sign up for Wednesday though, as this is Lobster night, and the buffet has enormous grilled lobsters, all you can eat!
If taking tours, be warned that there is a shorter Havana tour other than the all day excursion. I would advise on taking the shorter, cheaper tour, as the longer one includes a stop in a cemetery, which I found entirely unnecessary. I would definitely recommend seeing Havana ≠ itís a beautiful city with tons of history. Also, the resort sometimes plans smaller trips to neighboring areas for around $10.
In the evening, there is a disco that usually livens up after the entertainment, and I always had a blast! In terms of insects, I personally got eaten alive by mysterious bugs once nightfall came. Bring bug repellent if you too are susceptible to bug bites.
We did visit Varadero, but found it to be busy, and crowded, and very commercial. We preferred the isolation and countryside of Jibacoa, where we felt safe enough to leave our belongings on the beach while we snorkeled in the ocean.
If you buy cigars, whatever you do, donít wait until the airport to buy them! Also, it is best to arrive during the day, and to leave in the morning. We had a 9:30pm flight, which was delayed, but we got to the airport at 6:30, and the whole waiting area was a huge smoking section! Hence, having lost our room at noon, we basically lost an entire day, waiting to get to the airport.
One last pointer ≠ donít buy cigars off the market. The Cuban police are everywhere, and it is usually the tourist who gets charged with possession of stolen materials.
Make sure to bring business cards, as you tend to meet lots of great people during your stay.
Thanks to Melinda for this trip report ...