|Melia Las Americas||Milli||Canada|
MELIA LAS AMERICAS MARCH 26-APRIL 1, 2012
Our decision to visit Melia Las Americas was last minute, I had been going over our pictures of this resort that we visited on our first trip to the Caribbean/ Cuba in April 2005 and had a yearning to return. The reviews have remained good and we were pleasantly surprised by the many changes.
We were late leaving Halifax on our Sunwing flight. We arrived at the airport three hours ahead of the listed departure of 17:30, but found the flight was delayed by 45 minutes. About half way through our wait in the departure area, we found that the flight had been further delayed and would not be leaving until 20:10. Then de-icing the plane caused a further delay. We arrived in Varadero around 12:30 AM -- 10:30 PM Cuba time. We were processed very quickly and about an hour later reached our hotel. It had been a very long day! There were only a half dozen of us to check in, so that went fairly quickly and since our room was in the hotel, we were soon ready to get settled in.
I had emailed MLA the week before and requested a King sized bed in our standard room with a balcony. Our email was promptly answered and our requests were met. We did have two beds pushed together, rather than an intact king bed, but have come to expect that. We were very happy with our room. The room had been updated and it overlooked the front of the hotel, the golf course and the inner bay. The view was wonderful and we sat out quite a bit on the balcony enjoying the weather and scenery. The maid service was excellent and we were never left with a shortage of any amenities or towels and the room was kept very clean. Our maid left towel art each day. The room seemed a bit smaller than I remembered. There were 4 large drawers and 4 medium sized drawers for storage. We could have used more hangers. The bathroom was exactly as I remembered and well maintained. We always had a good supply of hot water with good pressure.
Since we were there 7 years ago, the Melia has added a Japanese restaurant (Sakura) and I do not remember the Italian restaurant ( El Limoncello) being an option the last time. There is also a seafood restaurant Roblenza and La Arcada (gourmet). On the Meliacuba web site you can prebook the Limoncello and La Arcada which I would definitely do again to avoid the morning line up. Our friends also emailed and asked if they could prebook the other 2 restaurants for the four of us and this was done. There was a bit of a mix up on our part on booking so the first morning I had to wait in line to straighten that out. The concierge ( I believe her name was Leydis) sorted the reservations out quickly and we were good to go. She was very helpful and pleasant to deal with.
We had supper here on two nights, also ate quite a few lunches here, and of course had all our breakfasts there. We liked the food and found it to be well prepared with lots of choices for healthy eating for the week. There was less lobster and fish than we experienced on our first visit. The Buffet was much better staffed than on our previous visit and we preferred to eat in the little alcove to the right after you enter the door. The server there was so upbeat and attentive. At this time, I would like to add that many of the staff have probably been there for many years. There were several familiar faces. We found, like at any of the other resorts that if you make eye contact with a waiter when you enter the dining area and speak to them that service will be good throughout the meal. We were never without full glasses and the dirty dishes were cleared promptly.
El Limoncello: The Italian restaurant was excellent, great atmosphere, food and service. There was no choice of foods and the menu was offered only to explain what you would be served in the 8-10 courses.
La Arcada: This is the fine gourmet restaurant. It is small and intimate and there was a group of violinists playing. They would take requests from the various tables. The food again was excellent as well as the service and we really enjoyed our meal.
Sakura: We sat around the show cooking table and enjoyed the company of some guests from Quebec. The food was good. There was no choice in the foods served. The cook put on quite a fiery display! I will best remember this restaurant for the atmosphere and the wonderful company.
Roblenza: This is the seafood restaurant overlooking the water. The service was not as attentive, and the food was not my favourite. We enjoyed this evening the least. This restaurant is the beach lunch restaurant by day and we enjoyed our lunches there on two occasions. The service was excellent for lunch.
Grounds and buildings:
The resort is 17 years old and has been very well maintained. Both inside and out it is mature. There are many steps and there are ramps for the mobility impaired, but some ramps were quite steep. When you go out the back door of the lobby you go through a terrace where it is lovely to sit with a drink or cup of coffee. If you continue down the wooden steps you step right out onto the beach. The lobby is filled with big overstuffed chairs and couches in various seating arrangements. I believe some of the covers have been replaced since our last visit.
Beach: This is not a long beach but it is a wide beach. There is an ample supply of palapas, that are spaced so that you can look out at the water. We never had a problem getting a palapa, but the best availability was before 8 AM. The sand was white but coarser than I remembered it. I am not sure if it was replaced due to storm damage. Regardless, it was very nice and very hard to leave on our last day. There was wait service closer to the beach bar but we preferred the area towards Dupont mansion and the waiter did not come here very often which was fine with us. You have to get up and move sometimes!! As well, at this end some Cuban families would come and spend the day. They kept to themselves and it was nice seeing them enjoy the beach and weather. Our first 4 days were very breezy and there were lots of waves. The final three days the water was very calm and you could see to the bottom. The ocean floor here is nothing but sand and really nice for swimming.
We were in the pool near the bungalows on our first full day there as it became quite chilly at the beach in the afternoon. The water here was warm and we enjoyed floating around on floaties. There is a pool bar. There is large pool with a central Jacuzzi near the back terrace. There is not much shade here and the padded loungers were usually filled fairly early.
We found the service at the bars to be very good and it was not dependent on tipping. Again I noticed some familiar faces from our last visit. The mixed drinks were not from mix and were very good. The coffees were also very good.
This area has seen a huge improvement. When we were last there they held the shows in La Cascada (Jazz bar) and it was often difficult to see them. They have since built a theater that seats around 180. There is a bar and wait service. The dancers were excellent in ’05 and they still are but there has been a big improvement in the costumes and sets and I would have to say that I looked forward to the evening shows as they were beautiful. The shows started at 21:30 and were about 45 minutes long followed by dancing.
In the Jazz bar after the shows we were entertained by a male and a female Jazz singers. You could also dance here, curl up on one of the comfy couches, or sit up front at the tables. It was very casual and relaxing and the wait service was good. You could also order sandwiches, burgers, fries here any time of the day.
During the week there was live Cuban music at the beach bar around noon time.
In the lobby there was a pianist playing after 4 PM or so.
We were last in Varadero in ’07 and there were many noticeable changes. The “downtown” appears more prosperous and the buildings have tidied up. Many of those old cars that are so fun to watch have been shined up and are now used as taxis by their owners. We took one downtown from Plaza Americas for 2 CUC per person. The driver was pleasant, spoke and understood English and pointed out things of interest along the way. We also took the double decker bus. I don’t believe the price has changed since we were last there. We were surprised to see workers arriving at work in decent buses on this visit.. In the past we would see them crowded into old buses or in the backs of old trucks.
Returning to a resort that you really liked can be risky. Your expectations based on past experience can lead to disappointment. I think this was definitely a possibility after the passing of 7 years. Melia Las Americas is beautiful and exceeded our expectations on all levels and definitely did not disappoint! It has improved in several areas. I would definitely recommend it to anyone wishing to visit a resort that is quiet and adult only and who is not looking for ornate or opulent surroundings. It was like going home.top
|Melia Las Americas||Bill and Janet||Canada|
Melia Las Americas Bill and Janet-Canada
My husband and I just returned from a beautiful week (April 3-10) at Melia Las Americas, Varadero. This was our first trip to the Caribbean and so we have no previous experiences to compare it to. We arrived at the hotel near noon and the check in process was quick and easy. Around 20 of us arrived at the same time. We were quickly escorted to our room on the third floor. I had emailed the resort a couple weeks earlier and requested a 2nd or 3rd floor room and had a reply within 24 hours. The room was beautiful and overlooking the ocean.. The write up had said that all rooms had either a balcony or terrace and our AI package did not include the ocean view. We found ourselves in a corner room that did not have a balcony but an expanse of windows-one or two which opened. It was a beautiful room but coming from snow and ice, we really wanted our balcony! My husband went to the desk and was told to come back the next day at 2:00 pm and they would see what they could do. . The next day, at two, we were moved to a room on the same floor and overlooking Dupont Mansion, golf course, and ocean. The room was great-the beds (2 twin) were very comfortable and there were extra pillows and blankets. The air conditioner worked well. There was lots of clothing storage-2 large drawers in the closet and 4 not quite as large drawers in the dresser and a double closet with mirror doors.. Our TV worked well and got HBO, CNN, some Spanish stations and cartoons. The bar fridge was empty and we mentioned that to the maid when we saw her. Two large bottles of water were left every day but no pop or beer. We didn't realize you had to tell them at the desk what to refill it with. . There was a steam iron and coffee maker in the room but no clock radio as advertised. I mention the clock radio, as we needed to get up for the Habana trip and for our airport departure. If you need a wake up call, go to the staff sitting at the small desk to the left of the Front desk and near to the elevator and stairs. Both wake up calls were punctual. There was a locked safe with a refundable 25 CUC deposit. The hotel held an orientation session at 4 PM the day of our arrival and we skipped it but it might have answered some of our questions.
The bathroom was large and very nice with very good lighting, two-sided make up mirror, and lots of hot water and good water pressure. There was a hair dryer that worked well, lots of big fluffy towels, Kleenex, toilet paper, and the bathroom itself was spotless with no mildew. There were no face cloths. The last thing I expected to see was a set a bathroom scales! That is not what you want to see on your first day of vacation but in the end were great for weighing our luggage.
This resort is beautiful and laid back and you never felt it was crowded or frantic. There were no line-ups! The landscaping is mature and lush.. The lobby is large with greenery, pools with fish and large overstuffed and comfortable couches and chairs placed in various settings. When you go out the back doors you go down the steps to the beach or you can sit in the large wicker chairs and enjoy the fresh air and the beauty of this place. You can do a lot of walking at this resort and there are many steps and levels but I did notice that there are also ramps beside many of the staircases.
We really enjoyed the food at the Buffet although I have to admit it took me a day to get used to the different food, smells, etc. The buffet service was very good. Sunday and Wednesday night they serve lobster and Tuesday and Thursday they serve large Cray fish claws. There was a pasta bar, lots of salads, cheeses, breads, roast turkey or beef, or chicken, pork chops, etc that the chef would cook for you. There were lots of sweets for desserts as well as ice cream and fresh fruit. We had no problem getting a clean and set table but were usually there early. Coffee is not served with supper but the Lobby Bar has excellent coffee and Espresso. Forgot all about Tim's!! Breakfasts were my favorite and there was live music. We had 3 tickets for reservations at the two A La Cartes but only used one at La Robleza as we left off reserving till the end of the week, not wanting to tie ourselves down to being there at a certain time. We had one free lobster meal each, which we used at La Robleza. The meal was delicious but it was here, for the second time (first time at noon of arrival) that we found the service to be frustrating. Our meal started good but we waited over half an hour for the dessert menu and in that one place, I did not really feel welcomed i.e.-no smile, drinks (water, etc) not refreshed. If you follow the walkway through the pool areas and into the bungalow area you will come to the swim up bar and another small snack area open from 12 to 5. They served paella and light lunch/snack foods. The service was quick and very friendly and the food very good. We didn't find that place till the end of the week or we would have been back!
The white, sandy beach extends from the outcropping of rock at Dupont Mansion to the outcropping at Melia Varadero. It is a nice walk but for anyone looking for long walks it might be disappointing. There were always lots of Palapas and chairs with pads, which the pool staff would bring. We would go to the beach at around 9:30 and could pick where we wanted to settle in. There are a number of large hammocks and a cabana with a bed. There is a beach bar, centrally located, which also provided pizza and pasta from noon till 5:00 PM. We ate there 3 times and really enjoyed the Mexican Pizza. Drinks are not served on the beach, which might be an issue for some. The beach bathrooms are clean with lots of tissue and liquid soap and air dryer. We had 2 red flag days due to wind but were in the water a lot the rest of our stay. The water was warm and clear and one day was even calm! We only used the pool one windy day. There were lots of chairs with pads and no need to reserve with the towels. The pool areas never appeared crowded and the pool water was not quite as warm as the ocean.
As for the bars-service was good in all of them but we enjoyed the Lobby/Piano bar the best. The bartenders provided quick service at the bar itself, and were friendly and for the most part took great pride in their creations! You could also get snack foods there. This area could get busy after supper and was the only place we could get some juice before leaving for our 6:30 AM pick up to the airport.
I cannot comment on the animation staff-we would see them at the beach in the morning. There was a schedule of daily activities posted by the steps leading to the beach. Our stay was short and daytime weather good so we opted for relaxing at the beach and swimming. If the weather had been bad, I think I could have found lots to entertain me-salsa lessons, Spanish lessons, aerobics, etc. There is a beautiful gym on site but this was my week off! The hotel has two computers for guests. I believe I paid 4 CUC for 30 min.
There were nightly shows at 10. We enjoyed the dancing, singing, costumes but found it hard to see, as we were at the back of the room. The Plaza Americas Shopping Mall is a 10 minute walk away or you can take the "train". I would suggest you do your math before you make a purchase as the numbers on the cash registers do not always add up-learned that the hard way!!
This resort is not perfect but I would definitely recommend it and would definitely go back. Some of the staff could probably benefit from more training in hospitality but most work very hard. For us it was the perfect place for rest and relaxation and my biggest complaint would be that the stay was way too short! My rating would be a 4 ˝ out of 5 with service being the weakness. Value for what we paid-Excellent.
We were only there for a week so we decided on the Bus trip to Habana through our Sunquest rep. It was interesting but as others have suggested it might be better to go in a small group with a local guide. It is hard to hear the Tour guide on the street tours with all the activity going on. Our guide was very informative and approachable.. Seeing Habana, one way or the other, I would consider a must.
The only other thing we did was taking the tour on the double decker bus around Varadero. The bus stop is on the connector road between Plaza Americas and the 4-lane highway and the bus runs hourly. For 5 CUC each we could get on and off and see what we wanted to see downtown. I preferred the Market at Calle 44 to that in Habana. We sat in the top of the bus and I have to warn you that the trip back toward the resorts is very windy. The upper deck seats can be very hot and watch for overhanging trees! This is a good way to check out the exteriors of all the other resorts.top