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Just returned from a week in Cayo Coco and stayed at the El Senador. All in all it was a great stay with a few surprises. Here's my review.
Air Cubana direct to Jardines del Rey Airport. With a DC-10 great flight no turbulence, nice friendly service and even the food was pretty good. The return flight was on an Airbus 320 and it was just as good if not better than the departing flight.
Arrival at Jardines del Rey Airport and Cuban Customs:
The larger terminal is not ready yet and we were bussed (we could of gotten there faster if we walked) to the other terminal where customs was a breeze; in and out.
No problemo but it took a while for us to get our luggage.
We stayed on the Laguna side and our room was quite large and roomy but had very little closet space and the air conditioner has 3 settings; slow, slower and nothing at all. But by leaving it on all day we had a nice cool room by night-time; the only time we were in the room.
I read in an other forum a review on all the restaurants at the El Senador and I've come to the conclusion to not take other reviews to heart. For the most part, we didn't like the a la carte restaurants. Our breakfasts were taken at the Los Portales; a buffet with a great selection and variety. Lunch was at La Sirena; a grill by the pool with a great choice, excellent service and the best expresso in the resort. After several mediocre suppers at the other restaurants, we had our suppers at Los Portales as well with themes changing every night. On Italian night, they had an excellent Osso Buco. Here follows a brief breakdown on the a la carte retaurants we did eat in.
El Malecon (Seafood):
The Surf 'N Turf was not up to par with little surf and not enough turf. The rolls were hard but they had a great lobster bisque.
La Piazza (Italian):
The pizza was a bit dry with what looked like bottled tomato sauce. The antipasto consisted of canned tuna, black olives and pesto on crusty bread. The minestrone was decent.
El Pincho (Steak House):
Had problems findig the steak! And when I did find it, it sure didn't look like beef.
I also read in that same forum that the VIP restaurant was an excellent choice with supper where the reviewer had supper for 4 at $40! I did not eat in that restaurant but I did look at the menu and how this person ate a full course meal for $40 is remarkable. There was a special offered by managment at 40% off but even at that, this party would have to forgo wine and entrees to eat for that price!
The bars were great with the Colibri being our favourite just watching Jean-Luiz doing his magic and Freddy O'Reilly the Irish Cuban! And I finally know what a mojito is!
Before we left for Cuba we got the impression that leaving a waiter/bartender/chambermaid..etc...a $1 tip would make them your friends for life. I believe that this idea is some what overstated. The great service and smiles are there regardless of the tips but the bartenders and waiters make a killing in tips.
I've read in many places that the entertainment at the El Senador was amateur and unprofessional with regular staff filling in as performers. I'm not sure what resort they were talking about but it sure wasn't the El Senador. True the entertainment staff at the El Senador are not professional but if you want Broadway, I suggest you go to New York! The young men and women putting on these shows or "chiows" sole responsibility at the resort is to entertain and these kids work their assess off! Every night was a different theme and the dancers were fantastic. And unlike the waiters and bartenders, these performers do not get tips!
All in all it was a great trip. The ocean was beautiful, the muchachas lovely. All smiles and holas all around. One suggestion. If you want to travel to a specific resort, ask someone who's been there already but make the quetions general or else you may have too high expectations and can get disappointed. As a last note; we brought a hair dryer and an iron. Both were dual voltage with adaptors. As it was mentionned and somewhat insisted in other posts, you DO NOT need a transformer. That's it! I'll try and post some pics when they're ready!! A footnote. The restaurant reviews are based on our personal experiences. There are probably others who loved these restaurants and we are all entitled to our own opinions!
Thanks to Luigi for this trip report ...