|Cameleon Villas Jibacoa||Brenda||Halifax NS Canada|
Girls trip, April 2010 Brenda (bmnichol)
The resort we went to was 3* Cameleon Villas Jibacoa (next door to 4* Brisas Jibacoa). Halfway between Varadero and Havana. I think the resort had about 220 rooms. We really liked the layout, buildings were all single story four or five units to a building. The one we stayed in was a four unit building, two units facing the beach and two in back facing garden view. The five unit models were all facing towards the beach similar to a mini motel (some could not see the beach because of other buildings or gardens). I've posted an album on Facebook. The first walk through the buffet and I thought we had gone to a "fat farm" you know the kind that starve the fat off you, lol. After we had selected our food we realized that there was nothing to worry about. The selections were not as numerous as a 4* or above, but there was enough choices to satisfy us. A really fussy person might have problems but we didn't. Breakfast had the usual fare, dry cereal, drinkable yogurt, boiled eggs, fruit, egg station (eggs any way you wanted them), bacon, five steam table trays with stuff in them. Sliced ham and cheese trays. Toast/bread station and breakfast sweets. Lunch had at least three choices of meat or fish, vegetables, salad ingredients and already mixed salads, two kinds of soup, rolls/bread, pizza, fruit and ice cream. Dinner was similar to lunch but different foods. Desert at dinner was usually Cuban cakes, you know the kind I mean, very simple. There was a snack bar by the pool but the only thing they served was grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. They were good, but we chose to eat at the buffet. The one restaurant was not bad, they started with soup, followed by three plates of salads (something different on each plate) and then the entre which was a choice of beef, pork, chicken or fish with rice and vegetables. Cake for desert. Wine was served at lunch and dinner.
There were two bars, one in the lobby and the other at the pool, not sure if the theatre had a bar or not but it was just around the corner from the pool. There was a really good choice of drinks. The Spanish Coffee was very yummy. The staff were very friendly.
Our room was #66 it was in a four unit building with two facing the beach and two behind facing the garden. We had two beds, two night tables, a desk that held the TV, two chairs (one was pretty shaky so we didn't sit on it, lol). There was a mirror above the desk. Sliding doors on the closet with one side having hangers and the other side had the luggage holder. Under the hangers was a four drawer cabinet. The safe was $2 CUC per day and was opened with a credit card type key as was the room. The AC started to leak about 10 minutes after we got in the room so I called the desk and someone was there to fix it within five to ten minutes. We never had a problem with it after that. Water pressure in the shower was good and the only time we had a problem with hot water was when I turned the tap towards cold, lol. The bathroom had a toilet, single sink with a nice large vanity counter. The shower was nice and large, you could shower with towels on the rack and they didn't get wet. There were two hotel size bars of soap in the bathroom, no lotions or shampoo. Bring your own toiletries, kleenex and facecloths.
The beach was beautiful. You could walk for a long way in front of the two resorts. I went snorkelling twice and was not disappointed. The first two days it was windy so I didn't snorkel. On our last two days there were some jelly fish so I didn't snorkel on those days either. The beach had enough loungers for the number of people on the resort. The beach area is quite large so the loungers were spread out and you didn't feel like you were on top of someone else. Entry into the water was better on the Cameleon beach than it was at the Brisas. From our resort if you went to the left you could keep walking for quite a distance and would end up in front of a couple of Campismo for the Cuban people. We didn't venture that way because as soon as you cleared our beach section the locals would approach you with requests. One day we walked in front of the Brisas and there were three locals sitting on the beach close to the water, the one woman who beckoned to us wanted us to go to the bar and get them drinks!! We told them we didn't stay at that resort and kept walking. This resort had two pools divided by a type of walkway down the middle. They were rectangle in shape and a pretty good size. Lots of loungers, sit up chairs and tables at the pool.
I think I would go back to this resort again if the price was right. It is a true 3* so I probably wouldn't take anyone with me that is high maintenance. It is the perfect resort for a girls trip or a get away where you just want to rest and relax. The resort is easy to navigate and the buildings are not all crowded on top of one another.
For the divers, there is a dive shop on site. I did see them taking people out in a boat to the other side of the reef. I think the dives were about an hour long, the tour rep did mention to someone that if they wanted to go for longer dives they should speak to the guys at the dive shop.
|Cameleon Villas Jibacoa||Paliser||Ontario Canada|
Cameleon Villas Jibacoa near Varadero-Matanzas Cuba.
March 31--April 7, 2007.
Joe and Karen.
Our flight. We flew with Air Transat out of Pearson on March 31 at 6:20 a.m. and arrived in Varadero at about 9:45 a.m.. Our flight was on time and went very smooth. The pilot said that we were two hours and 56 minutes in the air. Not bad. Although the flight was short we found that getting through customs and immigration at Varadero was long. It took about one hour and 20 minutes to get through customs and onto our bus to the Cameleon Villas Jibacoa. Our tour rep on the bus was quite knowledgeable and his command of English was very good indeed. He was a university student at the University of Matanzas which we passed on the way to our hotel. He gave us the history of Matanzas city and province and I came away from our trip to the hotel knowing much more about Matanzas and its place in Cuba. We stopped for a moment to visit and take some photos of the highest bridge in Cuba which was on the way to our hotel. At that point the bus broke down (oh oh I thought I hope this isn't a portent of things to come on this vacation) but fortunately we had only to wait 50 to 60 minutes for a replacement bus out of Varadero. We were lucky that that was the place the bus decided to break down because there was wash rooms facilities and a place to get a cold drink there. And it was also very scenic with lots of opportunities to take photos of the beautiful valley below. And on the bright side it saved us the expense of taking a taxi there later in the week as that is what we had planned LOL.
Check-in. Arriving at the Cameleon at 1 PM we were then promptly and efficiently checked in by the front desk staff. It was a quick check in for us. Now this sure looks like a better start to the vacation than the bus breaking down. We were assigned room number 85 at the very back of the Cameleon property. At the front desk you could exchange your Canadian money for CUC. The rate this week was about 77 CUC's for 100 Canadian dollars. It wasn't any different exchanging at the hotel than it was exchanging at Varadero airport. Actually we got slightly more at the hotel! Go figure!
The Property. On walking through the property we were very impressed by the maturity of the trees and the general layout of the bungalows or cottages whichever you wanted to call them. The landscaping was absolutely beautiful with bougainvillea, oleander, hibiscus, and King Palms and very tall pines throughout the property. The marvelous sound of singing birds and the knocking sound of the redheaded woodpeckers as they searched for lunch rang throughout the property as we walked to our room. It was kind of like a mini Eco-Park at the foot of some lovely not too high mountains. Since it was spring there was several trees in bloom. I'm not sure but I believe they are called Primavera. They looked stunning with fairly large yellow blooms on leafless branches. Our first impressions of the property were so very positive and remained that way throughout the week.
The room. It was a five-minute walk from the lobby. The porter arrived with our baggage within five minutes and we were unpacked in no time. Very nice room, spacious but Spartan in its furnishings. The room was furnished with two double beds and we also had a day bed. We had quite a nice size closet with lots of hangers and a small chest of drawers in the closet also. The safety deposit box is on the wall in the closet and is opened with your room key. The safety deposit box is an extra cost of two CUC per day (well worth it). The bathroom is quite a nice size with a toilet, a good-sized vanity counter with sink and hairdryer. There is also a shower stall. The water was quite hot all week at any time of day. In the main room we also had a television,a writing desk, a fridge at no extra charge (a definite must for keeping your food in as there is an ant problem if you leave food uncovered in your room) . Two bedside tables with lamps. There was both 220 volt receptacles and 110 volt receptacles in both the bathroom and the main room. I did wonder about the day bed as I really didn't know if this is supplied in the rest of the rooms at this resort. The rooms in our block were quite spacious. On generally looking from the exterior at some of the other rooms that were closer to the beach they looked somewhat smaller but still big enough for two people. We were quite happy with our room. Housekeeping was just marvelous all week and we were treated to towel art every day and some fresh flowers (bougainvillea, oleander) almost every day. Housekeeping sure try to look after you very well and in our case succeeded beyond our expectations.
The beach. The beach length in total in front of both hotel properties that you could walk comfortably was approximately 2 km long. 1 km in front of the hotels and another kilometer in front of the Laguna Cuban holiday campsite to the west of the Cameleon property. The Cuban holiday campsite beach was actually very nice indeed with beige-off-white soft powdery sand and good swimming. The beach at waters edge in front of our hotel and the Brisas hotel next door was a little more grainy and coarse. That said the beaches were quite nice and were a light golden color (not quite white). Of course my wife Karen tells me that I am a total beach snob! After having spent so much time in Cayo Largo spoiled brat that I am I unfortunately do comparisons. Sorry I can't help it.
The pools. Two pools side-by-side. Absolutely marvelous. They are in such a wonderful place close by the beach with a fantastic view of an aqua colored ocean to the north and manicured gardens and wooded mountains to the south. This location that the pools are in is the best I've ever seen. The water is freshwater in the pools and it was just a perfect temperature all week long. We swam every day and enjoyed a certain amount of time at the pool every day. On one occasion (the first Sunday we were there) they had a band to entertain us all afternoon. Just beautiful. Mojitos flowing generously at the pool bar, beautiful dancers, Cuban music! What more could you want. It was a pinch me afternoon. There are quite a few lounges so we never did do the towel bit to reserve lounges and and we always managed to get a couple of lounges when we decided to have a swim at differing points in the day.
Dining rooms and food. We never wanted for anything all week. The buffet was where we ate all week.
Breakfast. For breakfast there was freshly squeezed orange juice which was delicious. You had a choice of cold meats, potatoes most mornings with beans or some other vegetable. There was hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, cheeses, pancakes and of course my favorite which is a freshly made omelet with your choice of several fillings. We did have the omelet most mornings. There was lots of cereal, yogurt and quite a lot of fresh fruit and some canned fruit. I thought the choice for breakfast was very good. There was two toasters working every morning. There was other breads and bread rolls available as well.
Lunch. For us lunch was just great. A nice selection of meats. Pork, chicken, fish. Some cold meats. French fries most days and other types of potatoes. Lots of salads and wonderful tomatoes. Pizza was available most days. Soup was available most days (two kinds). Three varieties of ice cream for dessert (which I took full advantage of). For dessert also you could have sliced fruit or different cakes and pastries. Since we were only at the resort for a week we had absolutely no problem with variety of food. Your lunch beverage choice was beer, white or red wine or ice water. Excellent.
Dinner. Dinner was always good. You had the same variety of meats that you had at lunch. The grill was always working with either pork or chicken freshly grilled. You had the same variety of vegetables and pastas that you had at lunch also. Two varieties of soup also. They did have pizza every night. They also had three varieties of ice cream every night and lots of fruit and cake desserts. Both Karen and I wanted for nothing any time we dined at the buffet. Beer and wine were also served at dinner if you so desired. We really liked when they put a large pitcher of iced water with lots of ice on your table. This was just great.
Restaurant staff at the buffet. I can't say enough about this group of people who made every meal a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It just amazes me that a three-star hotel would have such professional, courteous and friendly staff. Most of the staff spoke good enough English to us which we appreciated very much as even our Spanglish is very bad. My attempt at Spanish is more likely to be called manglspanglish. They all went out of their way to make every meal a pleasant experience. The staff were very friendly with the dinner chat and genuinely interested in who you are and what you do and very proud that you picked their restaurant to come and have your lunch or dinner at. They are all extremely proud to be Cuban and both Karen and I were extremely proud to be their guests.
Bars. What can I say. The service was impeccable. There are two bars at this Hotel, the lobby bar and the pool bar. Just watching these guys at both bars handle so many people and do it with a smile, yes always with a smile. They do an amazing amount of labor-intensive cocktails here. They even had martini glasses. When doing Spanish coffees they certainly put on a show for everyone. One bartender told me that he had 21 Spanish coffees on the go at one time sometime last year. Wow! I liked the lobby bar myself and frequented it more so than the pool bar. The pool bar was also very good but we really didn't hang around the pool too much. You could have mixed cocktails at either one. At the pool bar they served snacks from when they opened to when they closed. Their usual fare was ham sandwiches either plain or toasted and also hot dogs. There was no french fries available at any time here. But those snacks were just enough for Karen and I to tide us over between lunch and dinner. The staff were just amazing at both bars and their command of English was excellent. They are the friendliest and most courteous bar staff I've ever met in Cuba and that's saying something.
Tours. There was lots of coach tours available both to Varadero and Havana and other parts of Cuba. There was local scooter tours available as well. There was Rambo four-wheel-drive tours available through the surrounding countryside. We didn't avail ourselves of any of these tours. We decided to take a taxi into Havana and the Tours desk in the lobby arranged for us to get a taxi for six hours at the cost of 90 CUCs. Each additional hour if you go over the six hours is 10 CUCs. A bargain I would say. We had a great driver with a terrific knowledge of the city and a great command of English and we were thoroughly happy with all of his suggestions on places to visit. He went out of these way to show us different things about Havana than the usual. It was a great experience. He was born and raised in Havana so he knew all the ins and outs. Our Tours rep from Nolitours was Marie Claude and she was a very knowledgeable person and gave us the heads up about the pitfalls and of course many joys of visiting Cuba. A very friendly woman always with a smile and a good word.
The Hotel in General. This is a fairly small resort with about 110 lowrise bungalow motel-like rooms spread throughout the grounds. It is quite intimate and you get to know almost all of the guests and staff by the end of the week. It is quite laid-back and very comfortable. The only minor irritation was that hotel sidewalks are a little rough I would say. The walkways are a little rundown and definitely need some work to be done on them over the slow tourist period. Coming home at night after a few Mojitos under your belt could be dangerous as there are quite a few potholes. The grounds at this hotel are absolutely beautiful though. So I guess a few potholes is just small potatoes. We found everything else to be pretty good for a three-star hotel. Absolutely fabulous value for money here really. This holiday would compare more than favorably with any holiday I've ever had in Cuba at four or five-star establishments. Karen and I will definitely be back to this Hotel in the near future. Just another thing about this property is that it is in a most beautiful part of Cuba. There are lots of hikes to do if you strikeout on your own. We did every day. We actually were invited for lunch at a local farmhouse when we asked if we could pass through their property. It was a lovely experience and gave us some new ties to Cuba. I have put a few photographs of the holidays together on the Web and if interested they can be viewed at the link below.
Joe and Karen. (aka paliser)
|Cameleon Villas Jibacoa||Shine||Barrie Ontario|
Cameleon Villas Jibacoa
April 4 - 11, 2006
We got an amazing last minute deal to check out this newly renovated resort, that shares a beach with Breezes Jibacoa. Surprisingly enough, I believe that I visited here about 18 years ago, while it was Club Tropico.
The only downer with this vacation was, DH broke his big toe on day 2. How you ask? There is a cement lip surrounding the pool and when he was diving in, he jammed his foot (tripped). All suggested tours and hikes, etc. were not to be.
We spent a great deal of our time at the pool, or enjoying each other's company at our villa #1 (and yes, we are one of those couples that enjoy spending time in our room or on our patio). We loved the idea of all villas and the appeal of park like surroundings.
We didn't take One other reviewer had pointed out to try not to walk in the grass as they have sidewalks for a reason but didn't elaborate … we were told while down there, too many "critters" live in those grasses, so we stayed on the paths !many pictures as all we kept saying all week was, nothing could compare to eeeefarm's, she did an amazing jobs capturing the resort, both in pictures and in her review below !!!
Not to be repetitive, I've written some of our honest opinions below, which to some, may sound slightly negative, but in no means did any of this hinder our good times on this vacation. I just wanted to ensure that all the facts have been noted, from all angles.
Beach: The beach is shared with Breezes Jibacoa, but in our opinion, the Cameleon side was less crowded and more peaceful. For the most part, you could get chairs, but if you went down midday, all palapas were gone and come the weekend, it got very busy with new arrivals and chairs were at a premium, although we never did see them being "saved" early morning. The reef was very close and there are a lot of fish to see. There is a dive shop on site with excellent staff (ask for Frank, who also runs the Catamaran). My husband is not a certified diver, but they gave him a personalized one hour lesson at the beach at no charge, then took us out on the pedal boat. Hubby and Frank did a shallow, hour long dive while the other employee and myself snorkeled over top of them (while he pulled the pedal boat around behind) … all this for $30CUC !! We really didn't like the fact that they brought bread for the fish … although it was an amazing spectacle to see the fish swarm around, it just didn't feel natural and when it ran out, the fish would still follow us, in fact, I got nipped a few times by a rather hungry school of fish who seemed to think I had food in my hand.
Bars: There are two bars: the pool bar and the lobby bar, which also acts as a beach bar. I drank rum ... again my opinion only, but I was disappointed that there was not one Havana Club bottle to be found (and I asked every bartender), not even a Ron Varadero ... and I had a problem with what to drink said rum with, mint ran out most days (I love mojitos), all fountain pop was real sweet, no slushie machines, the bartenders did try real hard to keep up with blender drinks (which were the favourite and fantastic) but caused long lines because of the time consuming process in making them. Also asked about Millwoods, but they had never heard of it (I like that on ice after dinner) ... although the guys in the lobby bar made a mean spanish coffee
Rooms: The rooms in our villa were perfectly adequate. The bathroom and shower were large and it was a nice to have 110volts in the room, mostly for charging our batteries. Upon our arrival there was a bottle of water, a bottle of rum and a packet of coffee awaiting us, which was great as we brought our one cup coffee maker with us for those early morning coffees on the patio. All the villas are on the first floor, and with that comes bugs, ech. There is about a ½ gap at the bottom of the door which we would stuff with a towel at night, but things got in during the day. Mostly just flies and mosquitos, but we had a few frogs and heard other stories. The pillows were very flat so we asked for more and got them the next day, what a big difference an extra pillow makes … bed was tremendously comfortable from that point on.
Food: Our comments on the food mostly revolve around the dinners ... specifically, selection (in our opinion only) was minimal, and diminished quickly without being replenished. There was no pasta "station", which sometimes we live on as we're not seafood eaters. Although, there was usually a bowl or two of selected pasta, not usually with meat sauces, just alfredo noodles or marinara noodles and we really MISSED having any kind of cheese to go with those noodles, we had to beg for a slice of cheese one night, guess we're spoiled by the large parmesan bowls we seen at other numerous resorts in Cuba (previously we've been to 2 stars and we've been to 4 stars IN CUBA). We also didn't like the fact that there were no labels on any of the dishes, made it hard to recognize alot of the dishes as they were usually in some sort of gravy or stew ... a few nights we had only pasta and bread (this from someone who was on a carb diet going into this vacation ) and of course, ice cream was phenomenal for dessert. The other "restaurant" was the alacarte, reservations only, we couldn't get a reservation until our last night there, although we went down right away when we arrived, because we wanted to reserve for my birthday which was 2 days after we arrived, but couldn't. The service was great there, (only 3 others tables in use after them telling us it was fully reserved??). It was a nice change, and the appetizers were great BUT then they gave you a menu, not sure why because you had your choice, beef, chicken or seafood ... DH had beef (very thin, well done), I had chicken (very dry, well done). Breakfasts were GREAT, freshly squeezed OJ to die for !! Cuban coffee is wonderful, but we didn't really like it coming out of a "vending" machine as was the case in the buffet … we always made sure to ask for the "expresso" which was made fresh from a machine, behind the counter. We never did lunch at the buffet as hubby had a broken toe which made moving around the resort a little difficult, so we ate every lunch at the pool bar (aka alacarte) ... only choice being a cheeseburger or ham and cheese sandwich, both were great, but became monotonous by the end of our holiday ... others had stated that the lunch buffet was much better than the dinner buffet, so ... our loss on that one.
Entertainment: Well in all honesty, we only hit the show one full night, tried two other nights but ended up leaving before it was over. There was minimal if no animation to be found during the day ... there was the obligatory resort dance every day about 3pm, with one or two of the staff trying to get us bumps out of our chair, but I never really saw them "playing" during the day ... perhaps it was because we were pool-bound, and if so then others can verify this. We were glad we didn't bring our children, (boys ages 10, 12 and 15) because we KNOW that they would have been bored here, we didn't see any happenings for children, besides pool swimming or playing on the beach (which isn't a bad thing, but our kids like to be a part of the animation crew and be occupied with crafts, archery, games, etc.). Although a couple we met from Stouffville had their 3 young daughters with them and they seemed to enjoy themselves with the swimming and snorkeling, etc.
What made our holiday? The weather was great and the people we met were great - Vince and Louise from Chatham, Jeremy (Trevor) and Nicole from Ottawa, Liz and Uncle Mike from Newmarket (repeat guests and spider watchers), crazy sisters-Vicki and Dani from Newfoundland ... any many others, whose names are lost in the blur of afternoon pool delights.