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Cuba has always been the beach destination of choice for our family. The Cuban people are a warm, welcoming bunch that make you feel instantly at home. What a great feeling! We were there for our honeymoon 14 years ago and then went back again for the second time two years ago. Since then it has become a tradition for us. Part of the lure is definitely the price, but the beaches are rated among the best in the world (and they are!)
We started our trip with flying Air Cubana (definitely NOT something we were planning to do), and were very pleasantly surprised. The planes were state of the art (apparently purchased from Air Canada) and service was a lot better than we had hoped it would be. The breakfast they served was excellent and they had bar service as well. They didnít play any movies, but were still entertained by the map on the monitor that pinpointed exactly where we were at all times. The pilot may have been a tad suicidal but we made it in one piece!
When we arrived in Cayo Guillermo, we passed through customs very quickly. They donít smile and are very intimidating, but it seems to be all for show. The luggage came down off the ramp almost as soon as we made it to the other side of immigration (it made Dorval Airport seem like it belonged in a third world country!) The only thing that bothered us was the time it took to finally get on the bus that took us to the hotel. We waited over an hour and a half in the hot sun to finally figure out which bus we were on just to drive for another hour and a half. Long, but comfortable. The bus had reclining seats, was air conditioned, had a toilet on board and our representative kept us entertained by describing the scenery and selling cold beer and other beverages to make the drive seem shorter.
At the hotel, we checked in and went for lunch immediately. It was 3:30 p.m. but they kept lunch warm for our bus load. We got to our room which was equipped with all the basic amenities. We had a shower only, but the room was very clean, had two ĺ beds, satellite television, a phone, a refrigerator, and state of the art air-conditioning (with remote control!) which sounded like the ocean lapping against the shore when it was running. The room had a card safe (no extra charge) and a blow dryer as well. After pre-tipping our room maid, she kept everything in order to the point of turning our clean towels into swans, leaving fresh flowers everyday and even folding the nightgown and peignoir which I had carelessly strewn across the other bed!
The hotel had a superb entertainment group. In all the hotels weíve been to, this one was the best. They were professional, most trained in ballet. On stage they were graceful ≠ they made it look so easy. They started at 11 a.m. and kept the tourists busy with games and Spanish lessons. At night, they did the show. Every night a different show, some involving the audience. It was so much fun.
The beach was unbelievable. Blue, blue water, white sand, palm and coconut trees all over the place. The water was shallow for hundreds of feet ≠ no danger. Sand bars kept the water low. At mid day the water was very warm - inhabited only by wind surfers, swimmers and little baby fish.
The food, to be honest, was fine the first week, but after that it grew a little boring. Mostly chicken and fish. The pasta bar, however, was wonderful. They also had a special paella chef. There was always a fresh pan cooking. The was a very well-equipped salad bar, the desserts were to die for and there was always fresh fruit available. All in all, if youíre not picky with food, this is the place for you. The grounds were absolutely beautiful with all the foliage and flowers, the dining room was stunning, the service that of a gourmet restaurant, and food and drinks were available 24 hours.
I only advise one thing. If you can book such a trip at the last minute, the savings can be astronomical. I recommend this to all beach lovers with a budget!
Thanks to Toni for this trip report ...