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Villa Covarrubias - Cuba - All-inclusive
Regent Holidays - Air Transat from Toronto, Canada
2 adults + 2 teenage boys 15 & 17
120kms NE of Holguin airport. 2 hour bus ride via modern bus
with AC. Thru parts of Holguin & rurally thru cane fields &
small towns. Both of our trips were in the dark, so we did not
see much. Several seemingly random police checkpoints -
the driver stopped, turned on the inner lights & we were waved
thru. After bypassing Puerto Padre (the closest town), the road
flattens & the last 45 minutes is monotonous flat cane fields.
The road is bad - maximum 60km/hr. Discourages auto
rentals and/or taxis. The resort is in a gov't protected
mangrove swamp, fronted by beach. A tidal river runs under
the disco into the mangroves - you can kayak up this in the
morning but beware the jellyfish hatchery in the first 'pond' -
no one we talked to was stung.
Only 14 months old everything is in very good shape. Main
lobby with bar, dining room, pool with bar & entertainment
area, 5 - 8 room villas, beach disco at one end of the beach.
122 rooms in a deserted part of Cuba. You cannot drink the
water but bottled water is supplied.
The beach is a 4-5km white sand beach with the amazing
blue/green multi-hued sea that is the Caribbean. The hotel has
groomed a 1/2km stretch and they keep it immaculate. Approx
15m - 100m wide. Shade is provided by the traditional palm
thatched islands - but beware - they disappear by 6:30 AM -
reclining beach chairs by 7:30 AM. You have to get up early
and reserve with your beach towels. The water is very
shallow, you can walk out 1/2km at low tide - 1:00 PM approx.
Some rock & coral in the water. The water is cool to cold, not
very comfortable for long swims. Topless was OK but very
This beach is certainly one of the best that we have seen
(numerous people said the same) & it was never crowded.
Due to the remote location there were no beach hawkers. At
the end of the hotel beach, a few Cubans camped daily in the
underbrush selling cigars & girls (or so we heard but did not
experience) but they were quite unobtrusive.
Hot, 30 - 35 C dropping to mid 20s at night. Very windy
(crosswind from the east) for 4 days. This was a pain but did
not stop any activity. We heard that the week before was very
At dawn & dusk mosquitoes can attack hungrily. Especially
when there is no wind. The resort fogs for bugs at 7:00 PM &
solves the problem. This could be much worse in the rainy
season May - Oct but unconfirmed.
Large rooms with overgrown twin beds large enough for two
medium people. Sink area with no door but out of view around
the corner & a shower, toilet, bidet area with door. No
Kleenex, but toilet paper, soap, shampoo supplied. Phone $
TV with satellite CNN, movie channel, TV1 rock channel &
some Spanish programs - the Smurfs in Spanish! Beach view
on many but not all. The locks don't work on many units but
we never felt threatened. The hotel attitude was - This is
Cuba, you are very safe. They were right.
Typical fair to bad all-inclusive buffet - fish, calamari, pork,
turkey, beef, cannelloni were revolved for dinner with pasta
(they add sauce & heat to order - this was a staple for many)
- 2 rice's (also a staple) & little eaten veggies - cold salad
stuff (no lettuce) - omnipresent fruit table with limited
selection. We had French Fries twice & pizza twice & the
people mobbed the trays. Cakes & ice creams for dessert.
Wine & Tropicola, orange drink.
Lunch was similar (often disguised leftovers).
Breakfast was bacon, scrambled eggs, strange pancakes,
French toast (no syrup), Fruit Loops, buns, bread and/or toast.
Coffee, fruit juices (not necessarily real).
The pool bar had burgers, hotdogs and ham & cheese cooked
& flattened on a sandwich grill from 10:30 AM- 10 PM approx.
Pretty boring stuff after a couple of days, but as I said above,
Rum drinks, local crème de menthe & beer only. One cash
bar had vodkas etc. 3 bars including disco which was open
during the day.
An entertainment staff of young Cubans lived on site (they get
free room & board with 1 day off per week). They were
excellent. They were genuinely friendly & around all day and
night (even in the disco til 2 AM etc). Most speak multiple
languages & supervised volleyball, dancing, aerobics &
provided most of the well-staged shows at night. A salsa band
played randomly at lunch, dinner & at night. The disco kicks in
at 11:00 PM til 2:00.
45% from Quebec, 35% from Ontario 20% from Italy. Some
20s-30s but mostly 40 thru 60. Not many singles, some
families with kids (maybe 10%).
Trip to Puerto Padre $ 35, Holguin $ 45, dolphin swim (all day)
$ 89. No one we talked to did any of these. A dive boat is
available for scuba diving. We did not do but an enthusiastic
couple did rave about the divemaster & his dives - lots of
fish and coral & the proximity to the Bahamas channel.
Available for rent or $ 45 - 3 hour excursion. We did the
excursion (as did others we talked to & it was a highlight)
Ralph (the German operator) takes you to a fishing village
Playa La Jibara (a sobering experience) for & thru the shallow
Bahia de Malogueta. He stops for snorkeling on the reef on
the way back. High winds & military maneuvers cancelled this
excursion for two days.
Albeit our exposure to the Cuban people was limited to resort
staff, airport & the fishing village, they are the friendliest
people we have met in the Caribbean. Everyone we talked to
(including some 4 time Cuban visitors) echoed the same
A Heath Note
Our son developed an invisible itch on his legs, torso that
prompted a visit to the on-site doctor. Over 48 hours, the
doctor gave him 2 allergy shots & (when that didn't work) 5
allergy tablets. As far as we could understand it is an affliction
from the sea that affects some people - they called it Caribe
(pronounced Careebay). It eased on the third day of
treatment. Total medical costs - $ 5.95.
Limited to on-site gift shop with very limited selection (but, they
have cigars at good prices). Duty free at airport has very
sparse selection of souvenirs (better cigars though - Trinidads
at $ 336 for 24 - a steal but I had to resist).
An hour delay at Toronto (Co-pilot was a no-show & we had to
wait for a replacement). Our departure from the resort was
delayed from 4:00 PM until 9:30 PM which meant a 3:30 AM
Holguin departure with 6:30 AM Toronto arrival (Plane was a
no-show & they needed a replacement). At least we got to
wait at the resort & not the airport.
Our Regent rep Celine lived on-site & was excellent with all
info & communications.
I would highly recommend Covarrubias for a quiet peaceful
vacation for couples looking to escape the crowds. The resort
is very friendly & is aiming for repeat business with people
that appreciate what it has to offer. Certainly not for the
party crowd or those that want intensive kids programs etc.
Beach, People, Rooms
Wind, Food, Getting There
Thanks to Ian for this trip report ...