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It just keeps getting better! My husband and I just returned from our 3rd visit to Arenas Blancas and we can't wait to return again!
We are in our early 50's and have travelled widely in the Caribbean, Central America and Europe, so we have lots of resorts and experiences to compare Arenas Blancas with:
Some of our criteria for a good beach resort are: relaxed atmosphere, comfort, cleanliness, amenities, friendliness of staff, safety, food and food hygiene, plus a great beach where you can walk for miles, and of course, value for money! Arenas Blancas meets every criteria listed plus some! And there are not enough adjectives to describe the wonderful people who work there. They're all so incredibly welcoming, sociable and so genuine. After three visits we've got to know many of them and they've become like close family.
From some of the reviews we've read and from some questions we've received from people wanting info' on Arenas Blancas (following our review last year) food may have been an issue in the past, however, not any more! If you don't like the food at Arenas Blancas, you won't like the food anywhere else in Cuba. (Remember, Cuba is a country under embargo, so you will not get the type of food you would get on, e.g. a cruise ship, because it simply isn't available).
The food at Arenas Blancas is extremely well presented and fresh, with a very high level of hygiene in preparation and handling. There are so many food choices, that everyone, no matter how picky, will find something good to eat. If you would like details of the types of food available, e-mail me and I will be happy to give you a list.
Along with the Buffet there are also three a la carte restaurants. They are all good, however, our favourite a la carte was the International restaurant, Sol y Arenas - you'll get a great filet mignon there!
There are a number of specialty nights, e.g. a Cuban night and a Caribbean night, when the foods are typically Cuban, Caribbean etc. and the restaurants are decorated accordingly. Also, Friday nights are "romantic" nights in the buffet restaurant, no lights, just candles - muy romantico!
And always, there's the music! A great trio play Spanish salsa type music in the buffet restaurant and another trio play classical music in Sol y Arenas. One thing I really enjoyed seeing was the waiters/waitresses or buffet staff breaking into an impromptu dance along with the band and some of the guests, and this happened often!
The pool is huge and fabulous. The pool loungers have been replaced with very colourful and really comfortable loungers. There is never a problem finding one, even in the shade.
There are ramps in the lobby; pool area and beachside bar and the lobby washrooms are handicap accessible. There are also specially equipped rooms available for handicapped people. We met a family whose son was in a wheelchair and they had nothing but praise for this resort. We also noticed a couple of elderly people on walkers.
The expression that "the best advertisement is a satisfied customer" is clearly seen at Arenas Blancas. There are so many people who return regularly, some for the 3rd-4th or more time. A high recommendation for this resort!
They have some really special touches for repeat guests. First, you receive a different colour wristband and when I asked why, I was told, "all guests at Arenas Blancas are VIP's but returning guests are 'extra special VIP's'".
There is a special dinner each Wednesday night for repeat guests. There were around 30 people at the dinner we were at, and this dinner is held every week, with, I imagine, similar numbers. The General Manager, Sales Manager and Public Relations Manager all come to this dinner to mingle with the guests.
Seated at our table were people from Canada, Germany, England and Italy. Ages ranged from low 20's to 70's. The company and food were fabulous. A lobster/shrimp/ fish platter or filet mignon. The food and presentation would be hard to beat in any good restaurant anywhere.
The following day, there was a tree planting ceremony in the Garden of Friendship, where returning guests have a tree planted for them, (the hole is dug for you, however you get to plant the tree and shovel in some soil - great photo opportunity!). Your family name and date is placed on a plaque beside the tree. We checked out the coconut tree we planted last year and it's really growing! We plan to keep coming back to Arenas Blancas and hopefully have our own little forest of trees one day! Another nice touch was the bottle of rum, which was delivered to our room.
As I said at the beginning of this review, Arenas Blancas just keeps getting better and better! I complained in my review last year that the coffee wasn't good, well this problem was addressed and this year it was excellent.better than Tim Horton's!! My only complaint this year is that we were only able to go for one week instead of two! We will definitely be there for two weeks next year!
If anyone has any questions about Arenas Blancas, I will be happy to answer them. You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Anne for this trip report ...