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Reviewed 5 September 2008

My wife and I headed off the the Sol Melia Cayo Santa Maria for our Honeymoon on August 25 - September 1. I've read most of the reviews on the site and will have to put in a positive review of the resort.

FLIGHT THERE
We flew out of Toronto's Pearson Airport on Skyservice. I've never flown Skyservice before and I've heard that it wasn't the best airline out there but I was pleasantly surprised by the flight. It wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible either. You get what you pay for. I'm 5'10" and I found the seats to be alright. It would be nice to have a little more leg room...but what can you do? It's only a 3 1/2 hr flight so you just suck it up and enjoy the flight. Going down they charged for a headset which we didn’t buy. They supplied us with a hot lunch (turkey on a baguette and other typical airplane food). We landed in Veradero to drop off passengers and to pick some up going back to Toronto. We all had to vacate the airplane and we hung out at the gate of the Airport. After about 30 minutes we all re-boarded and headed off to Santa Clara.

BUS RIDE
After we got all of our luggage we were directed to our respective busses, and headed off to the resort. It was dark out so the ride was pretty uneventful, although we had a tour guide who tried to point out some of the landmarks in the dark. The trip was about 1 ½ hrs. We finally got to the resort and were prompted to check-in and the bell-hops took our luggage to our rooms for us.

ROOM
We were in a junior suite. I’m thinking it’s the biggest room they have unless you want to shell out 200 CUC for a private villa with lots of amenities. There are about 20+ bungalows (or villas) where all the rooms are located. Depending on the size of your room there will be about 8-16 rooms per villa (4-8 per floor). Our room had a King sized bed, a sink area, and then the bathroom complete with a bidet! There is was an electronic safe in closet (which we used to store our e-ticket, rings, wallet, passports, etc), along with an ironing board and iron. It was a nice room…the tv was a little small…but I have a 60inch at home so I shouldn’t complain.

POOL
There are 3 pools. Two large ones and a little kiddie pool by the activity center. I didn’t see anyone use the kiddie pool. The one pool has a swim up bar and the other is much larger and a little deeper. There are pools chairs all around the pools with a blue mat the doubles as a floaty thing for the pool. If you want some shade you’ll need to get to the pool early to ‘save’ your spot. There are some umbrellas but not enough for everyone. I recommend that you put your towels on the chairs before you go for breakfast. The pools are very clean and clear. I believe they clean them out every night or when the pools get less busy. You may find some leaves and stuff from the palm trees in the pools because of the wind. We spent a lot of time by the pool. Be sure to tip the bartender or the waiter who comes around to take your order. They will remember you and get you what you want and how you want it in a timely manner. Also we brought large keg type mugs down with us to put our drinks in. They will fill those up with what ever you want. Travel coffee mugs work as well.

BEACH
We only really went to the beach once. The sand is really nice, very white and soft. There is a 3 foot drop off and then the beach continues to the water. So there isn’t much room to setup volleyball nets, or play some beach soccer. But there are a lot of pool chairs in which to relax on and take in the sun. Again, there are umbrellas to sit under but you’ll need to claim those early. The ocean was a little rough the week we were there (Hurricane Gustav was just about to hit). But I’m guessing it’s pretty rough regardless because there aren’t any reefs around the resort and no rocks to shelter you. But riding the waves in the ocean is pretty fun. Try not to swallow any ocean water…it’s very very salty. If you want you can walk along the coast line for miles and miles. There are a few other resorts around which you can check out.

FOOD
The food was alright…not great. Remember its Cuba…they aren’t known for their fine cuisine. If you want 5 star dining…pick a Sandals resort or hit up a cruise. You won’t go hungry, but you won’t eat like a king. The less picky you are the better you’ll eat. If you are a vegetarian, you’ll have a hard time here. The wait staff doesn’t really understand ‘no meat’. My wife doesn’t eat red meat and poultry was rare that week. At the dinner buffet there are cook stations where they will cook you up a custom pasta dish, or something on the grill. There is also a fried rice station along with a roast of something to eat. There salad’s are different that you would be accustomed too. It’s basically a bunch of vegetables placed separately on a plate for you. You use oil and some balsamic vinegar to flavour it. Also they use cabbage more than lettuce. There was one day that they had sushi at the buffet. It wasn’t the best I’ve had but it certainly wasn’t the worst.

Because it was the low season, the lunch buffet was closed so there were two other places you could eat lunch: the Snack Bar by the pool, and the Beach dinner…by the beach. We ended up eating at the Beach dinner at lunch mostly. The Snack Bar was open 24 hours…so if you had a craving for a burger at 4 am…you could go get it.

There are also 2 a la carte restaurants that you will need to make reservations with when you get there. You are entitled to eating at each one once a week. There’s an Italian and a Mediterranean. With only about 13 items on the menu you are limited but you will probably find something that you’ll want to eat.

BAR
There are a total of 5 bars around the resort. The Piano/Main Bar, Swim up bar, Snack Bar, Beach Dinner bar and the Beach Bar. The Piano/Main bar is open until 4am everyday and they are the most fully stocked. Swim up bar and Beach Bar is open until about dinner time. The Beach Dinner bar was only open until 4 and the Snack Bar is open 24 hours a day. Remember that it’s an all-inclusive so keep the drinks flowing. The Cuban beer (Cristal) is ok, it tastes like Corona. The bartenders are really good at making any type of drink that you’d like. A big drink down there is the rum and coke. Although it’s more rum than coke. Their coke isn’t Coca-Cola…it’s the Cuban cola which doesn’t taste very good. Their Pina Colada’s from the Swim up bar is the best on the resort. He makes a very good Mojito as well.

ENTERTAINMENT
In the evening there is a piano player at the Piano Bar, sometimes accompanied with a bassist and a drummer. She’s really good, but tends to play the same songs night to night. There are also musicians when you eat at the dinner buffet and sometimes two guys that will serenade you at the Beach Dinner. Around 10pm every night there is a show at the theatre where it’s mainly singing and dancing. The best shows were the Music Dream show on the Tuesday which featured the ‘Cuban’ Michael Jackson. The Cuban show on the Wednesday was good as well. There are also other things that go on around the pools at around 4pm everyday.

ANIMALS
There are cats all around the resort, mainly around to get rid of mice and other pests. They usually hang out around the Beach Dinner at lunch time looking for handouts. You’ll see others around during the week. There are also many geckos around the pool area. They are small and really cute. You’ll see some larger ones around the resort from time to time. The colours on them are incredible. If you go watch a show at the theatre and sit near the back you may encounter a crab or two. They are pretty harmless and like to pose for pictures. We found a hummingbird once on our way to the spa and a couple frogs here and there.

EXCURSIONS
There are many excursions that you can go on. Such as a Catamaran tour where you get to snorkel and have a lobster or chicken dinner. You can swim with the dolphins (although it’s a 3hr bus ride both ways), take a tour of the city of Santa Clara, the place where the revolution started), and others. We were supposed to go on the sunset catamaran tour (no snorkelling) but it was cancelled due to weather. All of these cost extra money.

SOUVINEERS
If you are from Canada you are allowed to bring back $750 worth of stuff back. But you’ll never spend that there. You can bring back 140ml’s of alcohol (get the Havana Club No.7. It’s the best), and 50 cigars each. There is a small shop there where you can buy alcohol and cigars. It’s a little more expensive than the airport, but if you want to pay with a credit card, it’s guaranteed to work there. Alcohol is sickly cheap there and the cigars are a great price too. Also there’s a small craft hut by the activity center where they will sell handcrafted things like necklaces, paintings and other fun stuff. You can barter with them to get the best deal.

WEATHER
Overall the weather that week was great! It rained twice and it was hot and sunny the other days. Hurricane Gustav hit Havana on Saturday and all we got was some heavy rain. We stayed in our room and watched a movie on the tv.

TRIP BACK
If you want you can pay 20 CUC each to get the VIP treatment at the airport. You get an express check-in line and after you’ve cleared security you get to hang out in the VIP lounge complete with your own bartender, something to eat, and private washrooms. It was nice that we paid for that because our flight was delayed for 8 hours and we could relax in the lounge. We also got to board first, cutting the line because of that. If your flight is delayed they will keep you on the resort rather than making you hang out at the airport. That was very nice since you got your room so you can nap, shower, watch tv before you checked out.

CONCLUSION
Overall I’d recommend this resort. Would I go back? Probably not…because I’d like to do something else next time. Its quiet (no kids), and relaxing. The staff is nice and appreciate any tips that you will give them. Remember to tip in CUC (convertible Peso’s) and not in any other currency (especially USD). Also bring some gifts from Canada like Dollar Store items, toys for the staff’s kids, toiletries, shoes, clothes. Cuba is a poor country that relies a lot from the tourism industry.

There are other things to be done at the resort such as water sports in the ocean, there are really nice tennis courts (bring your rackets and tennis balls if you want to play), there is a basketball court (again bring a ball), and an archery range. There is a gym to work out in and a fabulous Spa.

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
16  Thank tlam19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melia S M, General Manager at Melia Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 4 May 2016

Dear Client,
Greetings from Melia Cayo Santa Maria!
Thank you for choosing our hotel for your vacations.
We are pleased to know that overall you have enjoyed our services.
We hope you can visit us again soon.

Our best regards from sunny island of Cayo Santa Maria,
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 September 2008

To start an amazing birthday and vacation, the West Jet flight and attendants were incredible, the aircraft is much more roomy and the flight attendants are so friendly and professional.

Okay, this hotel is the most beautiful inside and outside so far in my last 7 travels within 2 years. The hotel was always clean and newly furnishings throughout fresh tropical flowers in the main areas.

If you want quiet, relaxing, forget about work hectic life in Canada this is the place to go. It's like being in a retreat in the caribbean.

There is a spa, very nice if you want to spoil yourself, the aroma of walking in hits you with armotherapy and relaxation godd treat for a special occassion.

The gardens outside are well kept, which I really appreciate and enjoy the lush tropical surroundings, flowers, coconuts and palmis trees.

The bars are all unque in their own special way and just perfect, the piano bar serves up the best Cappuccino in all of the Central America, Caribbean and yes even most sports bars in Canada.

Another paradise, the rooms are all suites that have a king size bed, living room with couch and sitting chair. The washroom full bathroom with large sunken tub and shower with lots of mirrors throughout the powder room. Closet with the safe next to it, so everything is tucked into this gorgeously furnished setting. The rooms all have an outdoor patio overlooking the lush gardens, making it more intimate and private if just want to sit and relax outside your romm . Cleaned by the maids in the afternoon, so those of you that sleep in can rest.

Okay, the beach La Playa my favoriite place to be, pretty clean, miles of white virgin sandy beaches. The water is clear and if even you can't swim you still can go quite far out. The water is mostly calm, unless there is a storm brewing like it was for me Tropical storm Gustav, that was still not a problem because the beach has a sheltered bar where you can sit under shelter and still watch the tides and waves from a distance.

The resturaunts are very nice, 2 A la cartes and the 24 hour snack bar, then the beach grill, and a main dining room. Very well decorated, if you have allergies or special attention diets they are really good in understanding and taking care of that.

Well, I have not seen any other team of staff that should get the highest of compliments for their professionalism, hospitality and friendliness. The staff at this hotel won't just tell you I will look into your question or inquiry but they follow through. The staff will go out of their way and go to their supervisor to ensure you have been taken care of, are happy and satisfied or that the issue is resolved.

Overall this hotel and destination is certainly a treat for yourself, there were couples there, singles, sisters, friends. Most of all on;y 18 years plus, so its much more realxed, peaceful and enjoyable for all your occassions get a ways. If you want a place to hide from the rest of the world this is the place to go, best of all you are 2.5 hours away from the mainland airport. You travel on a 48km isthmus taking you into this Cayos. It's paradise in the middle of the ocean, I unbelievably forgot about everything, my kids, my parents, and most of all my chaotic work and colleagues.

P.S. if you are looking for outside communication like internet it works depending on the signal or reception which is expensive at the internet cafe along with dialing back to Canada on the telephone, so it's a good excuse to say goodbye to civilization.

For safety, security and convenience there is a room in the main area where you have the special guy with the safe to change your CANADIAN money into CUC. No Amercian money please especially when tipping. Also don't tip the locals with you Canadian coins,as you or them cannot change any foreign coins so giving them Canadian coins to them is basically a souvenir and nothing else.

You actually don' need much cash $200.00 Canadian is mnore than enough because there really are no shops or none at all flea markets. The one place where you can get away with little cash, you must keep only inCUC currency for your returm trip to the airport in Santa Clara Cuba so you can get on the airplane your departure tax. Like for example buy your rum, cigars and coffee at the airport it,'s actually cheaper than the hotel store. Also if you do go into town it's more for history of the city, Remedios, Che Guervera's moselium and the oldest church in Cuba and almost the whole caribbean. The whole trip costs 65 CUC per person, it gives a lunch the trip is all day, do take you camera and ladies a role of toilet paper. You will ride on an old open train through cane fields, nice experience. There were other trips however this trip I just wanted to relax more than anything else.

There is nothing bad to say about Santa Clara, the people and the hotel Melia Cayo Santa Clara. I do hope you try this beautiful get a way paradise.

My bottom line is rest, relaxation, serenity, beauty, and being treated like royalty and without the papparazi's. You have to trust me on this you will enjoy, as I did every momment, the best part is that I was quite reluctant in going back to Cuba because of the noisy, touristy, hussle and bussle of Varadero last year, however to give Cuba another try and end up in Paradise. I have fallen in love with this paradise destination and would go every year and will strongly reccomend it to anyone trying to relax in just paradise...

I could go on and on, but you should go see for yourself, you will not be dissappointed!

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
17  Thank Solita_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melia S M, General Manager at Melia Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 10 April 2016

Melia S M, General Manager at Melia Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this review
Dear customer,
Thank you for your review, by the sound of it you had a great time!
We are happy to read that you enjoyed the resort and our service.
We hope to see you back soon, here at your second home, Melia Cayo Santa María!

Kind regards,
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 August 2008

Before a friend of mine and I left, we were in two minds as to go or cancel our vacation as some of the reviews that came before we left had mixed opinions about this resort. There were complaints about the service, insects, cleaness, food, a/c, water supply, weather, pool etc..etc..

To be honest, we had a wonderful time there and we didn't have any major problem whatsoever. The food was nice, service was spot-on, rooms were very clean with enough a/c and water supply and we hardly found any insects in the room or any of the restaurants. We were well looked after when hurricane Faye crossed Cuba.

One has to remember, that Cuba is a very poor country in western standards and we cannot expect a five star comfort there. Those who complain about silly things, should pick hotels in countries like Dubai and pay US$8,000.00 a night!

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
16  Thank TorontoDavid56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melia S M, General Manager at Melia Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 4 May 2016

Dear Client,
Greetings from Melia Cayo Santa Maria!
Thank you for choosing our hotel for your vacations.
We are pleased to know that overall you have enjoyed our services.
We hope you can visit us again soon.

Our best regards from sunny island of Cayo Santa Maria,
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 August 2008

We flew Westjet from Toronto Aug 16 to 23rd. Flight was delayed more than 1 hour due to airline scheduling. Other than that, no problems. Arrived at the hotel and received our room keys. Our airconditioning didn't work so we had the bellboy call the front desk for the maintenace man. He came by to fix it and then came back later on to see if it was still working. Even though there was a language barrier we understood what he was trying to say. Our room was actually quite cool the rest of the holiday, which was great since it was really hot. Food selection was great and we weren't bothered by the fact that the buffet restaurant wasn't opened at lunch. We tire of buffets actually and enjoyed the al a carte eating at the beach bar (calamari, burgers, fish) and at the pool bar (sandwiches, burgers, a small buffet). The hotel was 30% occupied and we never encountered line ups. Even at the front desk, someone always came out when we walked up, if others were being served. It rained 1 night and 1 day and we spent the time in the disco and then in the day time at the pool bar making up drinks with the bartenders. Lots of fun. We enjoyed the a la carte restaurants and thought all of the staff went above and beyond. I don't think any of us at home work that hard for what WE get paid for. It is humbling. We would return to the Melia. We stayed at the Royal Hideaway last year and enjoyed that as well. Didn't care too much for the skinny beach that fell away so we kept pretty close to the pool and the palapas. Met some fantastic people we hope to keep in contact with. The chambermaids kept our room clean and we were invited to the hotel's special anniversary/wedding cocktail because we were celebrating our anniversary. Our first night there when we came back from dinner there was a bottle of champagne in our room with a note. On the Wednesday there was another bottle on our bed. Our fridge was stocked regularly and I asked for a bottle of white wine and seemed to get one every day!! We were in room 626 Pacifico bungalow - had a view of the sol club rooms and the beach.

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
16  Thank islandgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melia S M, General Manager at Melia Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 4 May 2016

Dear Client,
Greetings from Melia Cayo Santa Maria!
Thank you for choosing our hotel for your vacations.
We are pleased to know that overall you have enjoyed our services.
We hope you can visit us again soon.

Our best regards from sunny island of Cayo Santa Maria,
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 August 2008

This is not my first time traveling so in a way i knew what was in store for us...
* The food is definetly better that any other resort i've been in Cuba, Beach Restaurant is the best....the Calimari...mm.mm.mm
* There are some small spiders in the room but that did not bother me, as long as there were not bugs or any other nasty things. The rooms were great, welcoming and beautiful. The fridge in the room was filled daily you could choose anything to your liking.
* The beach ...oh... the beach...the most beautiful beach i have ever seen...till today it stops my heart everytime i see the pictures.
* THE ENTERTAINMENT STAFF AND DANCERS... cannot even describe without having tears in my eyes. These people show you the greatest time of your life, no other hotel has such an amazing entertainment staff, they become your friends and do everything to make your vacation unforgettable.
*** SO FAR THIS IS THE BEST VACATION I HAVE EVER BEEN***
****ON AND ME AND MY FRIEND WILL BE BACK TO OUR ****
*****SMALL PARADISE THAT BRINGS US HAPPINESS*****
This vacation gave us new great friends that we will love forever...
We just came back 5 days ago and we already have our next vacation booked for March....Melia Cayo Santa Maria... you rocked our world.
THANK YOU

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
13  Thank jeni4ka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melia S M, General Manager at Melia Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 10 April 2016

Melia S M, General Manager at Melia Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this review
Dear customer,
Thank you for your review, by the sound of it you had a great time!
We are happy to read that you enjoyed the resort and our service.
We hope to see you back soon, here at your second home, Melia Cayo Santa María!

Kind regards,
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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