> Destinations > Cuba > Trip Reports > Trip Report
My wife and I, along with 18 friends, visited the Superclubs Breezes Costa Verde from Febuary 19th to 26th. The group included couples and singles ranging in age from early twenties to late forties. We, along with 3 other couples, booked our vacation from Richard at the Halifax branch of Sun Holidays from the Signature brochure. The cost was $1274 plus $66 taxes for a total of $1340 per person. The others in our group booked through various other agencies at various prices. This is our second trip to Cuba (Melia Rio de Oro), having been to the DR three times as well (Riu Mambo, Gran Ventana, Sunscape Bavaro Grande)
Transportation to Cuba
The vacation got off to a bad start with an unexpected snowstorm the morning of our departure, making the drive to the Halifax International Airport very treacherous. Once we arrived at the airport, it appeared we would be leaving on time as they airport was mostly cleared and weather-incurred flight delays were not occurring. Unfortunately, the Air Transit plane had a mechanical problem, and they were forced to bring a replacement plane from Montreal. I won't go into all of the frustrating details, but our 9:15 AM departure time turned into a 4:45PM departure. I have since written a letter to Signature Vacations and Air Transat outlining my concerns about the delay. They recently responded with a $100 travel voucher, which I think is fair considering our lost time and inconvenience.
Once in the air, the flight was very smooth and we arrived in Holguin at about 8PM. As we were the only flight at the airport, customs was not busy and within about one hour we had passed immigration, collected our luggage, found the Signature bus (there were also World of Vacations and Air Transat Holidays busses going to the same resorts), and were enjoying a beer as we departed for the Guardalavaca area. The trip to the Playa Pescero resort area took about 30 minutes, as there was very little traffic at this hour, and we arrived at the BCV at about 9:30PM.
There were roughly 100 people on the flight from Halifax going to the BCV that evening, but only 6 couples from this group were on the Signature bus and our bus got to the resort first, so we "beat the rush", so to speak. Check in was very quick and efficient, only taking about five minutes. The bellmen take the luggage from the bus drop at the curb to the exit from the lobby area and wait for the guest with a golf cart. Once you have checked in, you show them your room assignments and your luggage and they will take you and your bags to your room (thanks for the champagne and chocolates, Armando!).
The BCV is a fairly large property with thirty-one two story buildings each containing 16 rooms. We were assigned a second story room in building 14. Our building, along with four others, formed pentagon shaped courtyard; in the center of this courtyard was a gazebo containing a small Jacuzzi. Although the water could have been a little warmer, this was excellent spot for a relaxing soak with prior to heading to bed each night.
The room was a similar layout to others we have seen in our travels, but larger than most. We had a king-size bed while others in our group had two double beds that could be pushed together. There was a small table with two chairs, a cabinet with a mini-fridge in it (soda, beer, water) and a TV set on it, and another table that was great for a suitcase. There were lots of lamps around the room and a small radio/CD player combo on one of the nightstands. The balcony is spacious and the corner rooms have wrap-around balconies and a large window in the side of the room.
The bathroom is divided into a tub/shower, toilet, and bidet area and a mirror/sink area, separated by a door. There is a large closet area with lots of hangers and a chest of drawers. The safe, available at no extra cost, can be programmed onto you key card, which opens the room and controls the air conditioning unit.
We had no problems with our room; the A/C worked very well and was quiet, there was always lots of water pressure and hot water (we showered at various times of the day throughout our stay), and the rooms seemed to be well insulated for sound, as I never heard anything from the rooms on either side of us. We left the maid a few dollars and a small gift everyday. The rooms were well cleaned and the towel creations she would leave were a very nice touch.
Some of our friends were in ground floor rooms and saw some insects (a few ants, a cricket) in their rooms on the first night but after calling to the front desk their rooms were sprayed and the problems seemed to diminish. Others found their rooms musty, which I think is related to the A/C units. You are given two key cards; the wife and I decided to travel together and share one, thus leaving the second card in the A/C unit on at the low setting at all times. We never had any musty smell in the room and it kept it a pleasant 20 degrees. (If you do this, make sure the card you have programmed for the safe is the one you are carrying around!) The resort was also only at about 70per cent capacity, so I suspect some of those rooms had not been opened in some time, which may have contributed to the musty smell.
The resort has been open about 13 months so the foliage is filling in nicely. The property is nicely decorated with colorful flowers and shrubs everywhere. The main walkways are concrete and there are also a number of smaller stone walkways that often serve as shortcuts between the main routes. The lawns are in fairly good shape and they water the grass in the evenings and in the early morning. The wetlands area between the resort and beach is a great place to watch for different types of birds if you are a fan of our feathered friends.
There is a well-equipped gymnasium with free weights, weight machines, and some electronic fitness equipment. There are three tennis courts, a badminton court and a small soccer field. There are three table tennis boards, three pool tables and a shuffleboard area by the lobby bar. There is also a giant chessboard by the pool. The pool is subdivided for water polo and volleyball. The beach has sea kayaks, paddleboats, windsurfers, water bikes, and three Hobbie-cats that one of the animation team (Jose was a nice guy) will take you out into deeper water for a memorable sail.
The beach is similar to the one found at the Melia properties.it is a crescent of sand in a cove with lava rock on either end. The beach is nice and clean, no seaweed anywhere in sight. There are some areas with a little coral/rock at waters edge, but if you look closely there are areas where there is only sand. The water was always nice and calm with very little in the way of wave action.
To the left of the hotel is about 1km of beach where the new Melia hotel is being built. To the right is about 500m of beach where the LTI is located. The best snorkeling is in front of the LTI, nice and shallow.see the review by Gregg, he explains it very well. About 150m directly in front of the BCV there is a deeper water reef if you are brave and a good swimmer. Didn't see any sharks or barracuda. In my opinion, the snorkeling is very good here, but not as good as what I saw in front of the Melia Rio de Oro a few years ago.
The food at the BCV is very good, some of the best I have ever had in our five Caribbean vacations. The main buffet is open for all three meals, Lucy's is open for lunch and snacks, and the three a la carte restaurants are open every evening. In general, the food is more "North America" than I am used to seeing at all-inclusives, which was great! Although I did miss all of the interesting cured meats and different cheeses that usually finds at the more "European" all-inclusive buffets. I tried everything from fresh salads to burgers to rare beef tenderloin and never once felt the least bit sick during my seven days there.
Jimmy's buffet had an excellent breakfast with custom-made omelets (Nelson and Yolenes), waffles, and awesome squeezed orange juice. At lunch they have a variety of dishes, fresh meat/fish/chicken grilling stations, a taco station, and a pasta bar. In the evening there were themes every night with the pasta station again running, lots of grill and carving stations, and many different dishes catering to every taste. Save some room, though, as Armando's desserts are to die for and the presentation of the dessert buffet with its various chocolate and marzipan sculptures are a both visual and gastronomic delight.
I myself never went to Lucy's, but most of our group had lunch there every day and said the burgers, fries, pizza, chicken, etc were all very good.
Martino's Italian restaurant was very good. We ate there twice, once with the wedding party of 20 and once later in the week with three other couples. The service is very elegant, there are multiple choices of good wines, and the menu is excellent, in fact as good as some very expensive Italian restaurant here in Halifax. Everything, from the appetizers to the pasta and the beef and pork main courses, was delicious. I would highly recommend Armando's strawberry flambé for desert, although the marzipan-coated cheesecake may have been the richest thing I have ever eaten!
The Munahana Japanese restaurant is by far the best a la carte restaurant I have ever been to at a resort. No contest. It is best if you can go here with some friends, as each of the five grill/tables seats up to eight. Again the various wines are available and you will start with a salad, followed by a Meso soup and then on to some Tempura. While you are eating these main courses, your chef will prepare the main meal on the grill in front of you. He will start with a fried rice and then move on to chicken, beef, or shrimp.
Our friend at the resort advised us to go hungry and order everything (beef, shrimp, chicken), which we did. An 8:45 reservation also helped to build an appetite. Our chef, Juan-Carlos though we were crazy, and that the food would be wasted, but the six of us finished the whole meal. One of the members of our group was from Vancouver Island and regularly dines on West coast Asian food.he commented that this was some of the best food he has eaten. Everyone in our group was raving about Munahana for the rest of the trip.
We also tried Conuco's Cuban grill and were mostly disappointed with the quality of the food, although the open-air ambiance near the beach was very nice. I think after being to the other two restaurants, we had been spoiled. Also, being from Nova Scotia and having fresh lobster available all the time, the Cuban lobster just wasn't anything to rave about. I would personally not return to this restaurant, but others I spoke to had a great time so I wouldn't dissuade anyone from trying it.
Bars and Liquor
The BCV had most of the top shelf booze that I was looking for. They had Canadian Club whiskey, Havana Club Rum, Amaretto, Baileys, Kalhula, etc. The main lobby bar was often busy but they had lots of staff so there was never a long wait. Good cappuccino could be had here as well. The Disco bar was a great place to find these premium drinks and it was nice and cool (AC) and usually empty until the shows were over. The swim up bar was a great place to relax in the afternoon. Maylin and Amarius were very nice and liked to chat.
The beach bar had basic booze and Eduardo was a pleasure to talk to every morning as I went for my 10AM rum and coke. My only complaint was the lack of diet soda; it was hard to build much of an appetite for dinner every night drinking hi-calorie drinks all day (booze with soda or fruit juice, or beer).
The entertainment at the BCV was somewhat lacking and a lot of guests we spoke to were complaining about it. Juney (the "I love you!" girl) was a lot of fun with her daily take on bingo at the pool bar. There were not a lot of activities at the pool and the evening shows were definitely below average when compared to the other resorts we have visited. They really need to improve in this area. We usually enjoyed sitting around and talking after dinner, so it didn't really bother us.
The Cuban band that played in the disco is very good.it is unfortunate that they were there only twice and only played for about an hour each time. These guys were good and should play longer and perform some of the different songs we heard them warming up with. The dance music in the disco was good and there were a good number of people in there every night.
In general, the staff was excellent. Very friendly and pleasant to talk with, and it seemed like everyone spoke very good English, even the maids! Superclubs apparently has a no-tipping policy but as long as you are discrete about it there doesn't seem to be a problem and the staff will really appreciate the gesture.
The most unique excursion in the area is to the Bahia de Najero Aquarium. At US$54, this is a steal, considering similar excursions in Jamaica and Cancun are well over $100. This is where you see the marine mammal shows and actually swim with the dolphins, if you like. We went as a group of 14 and all highly recommend this excursion. A speedboat will whisk you from the dock to the aquarium located in the middle of a small bay. Once there, you get your tickets and proceed to one of three pools where you assemble into small groups and swim with two dolphins for about 20 minutes. At the end of the encounter they will push you up out of the water on their snouts and surf you the length of the pool. A truly memorable experience! After that, you can walk around the aquarium and see numerous fish, eels, etc in some tanks. Then back for a sea lion show and finally to the main pool where there is a dolphin show with the trainers. If you are lucky (hint: having a video done by the staff) you may get chosen to participate in this show as well. One of the girls in our group ended up about 5ft out of the water balancing on the snouts of two of the dolphins. It made for a quite a picture to show around upon returning home!
Other excursions include the Atlantic Cruise, a snorkeling trip to nearby reefs by speedboat. One couple from our group went and said the snorkeling was excellent, although the boat ride was rough and a few people were turning a little green by then end of the trip! There are also trips to Holgiun, Havana, Santiago, catamaran, safari, etc. available.
There is a bike station outside the main entrance where you can get bicycles and mopeds to tour around the local countryside. A bunch of the guys from our group took the mopeds for four hours and went waaaayyyyy out in the countryside (all the way to Banes) and had a blast, meeting some of the locals, giving away things to the kids, etc. Well worth the $20 rental fee. There is also a bicycle excursion to the local school every morning at 9:30. Great chance to go meet some of the local children and donate items to the school.
The Breezes Costa Verde is an excellent property and a good value for the $. Having been to both this hotel and the Rio de Oro (we also went back to see how much the Oro had changed since our visit just after it opened three years ago) there are advantages to each property. The Oro is a bit more refined and tailors more towards the European clientele while the BCV seems more towards the North American crowd. The buffet at the Oro is better with smoked salmon, tiger prawns, and oysters, but the a la carte restaurants there, in my opinion, do not compare to Martino's and Munahana. Both resorts have top shelf liquor, the basic rooms (the Oro has upgrades with outside showers) are similar, the resort layouts are similar, the beaches are similar. If one has the extras money to spend, the Oro is probably a more luxurious property, but for the price (about ¾ the price of the Oro), I think the BCV is a better value. They are turning the Oro into a Paradisus sometime soon so watch for the price to go even higher.
Thanks to Dave for this trip report ...