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Playa Coco LauraT Toronto

My room was ready by the time I arrived just after 12:00 noon. I had requested a room next door to a friend who was travelling with another tour company and would be arriving later that same day. My request was granted and I was extremely pleased. The check-in went very smoothly and the staff at the front desk were friendly and efficient.

The lobby makes a great first impression with its lovely furnishings and fountain. It houses a 24-hour lobby bar with piano, a games room, an internet café and a gift shop. The lobby has high beamed ceilings leading to a skylight and spectacular stained glass windows.

If you can afford to do so, book an oceanview room - preferably in building number 5. The view from the balcony is amazing. The rooms are large, clean and nicely furnished. I had two beds in my room and my friend had a king-sized bed in hers. Both were nice, although the room with the king-sized bed seemed a lot bigger due to furniture placement. The bathroom was large and beautiful, done in white tile, with colourful accents, a large marble vanity, and a deep tub. There is a powerful built-in hairdryer and the hotel provides shampoo and bath gel. We found that our rooms were cleaned early in the day and had no problems with the maid service.

Each room is equipped with a mini-fridge, bottled water, juice and pop, which are replenished during the week. The television gets ESPN, CNN, TBS, HBO, Much Music and some Spanish language stations. There is a radio/CD player on the night stand. The balcony door is screened so that you can hear the ocean in your room without worrying about bugs getting in. A word of caution – make sure your balcony door is closed at 6:30 each morning and at around 7:00 each evening when they spray for mosquitos – that stuff is wicked, but dissipates quickly.

I had no problems with water pressure nor with water temperature in the room and the air conditioner worked wonderfully. The room is equipped with a safe, which requires a 4-digit code of your choice to be operational.

The staff were amazing – they couldn’t do enough for you. I never saw a non-smiling face during the whole of my stay at Playa Coco. As our chef at the Japanese restaurant said, they would have no work if it weren’t for Canadian tourists, so they do everything in their power to ensure our happiness and continued patronage.

Food and Beverage
The resort has a number of bars, all serving top-shelf liquor. The bartenders might not have heard of some of the drinks we asked for, but were willing to learn how to make them. The only thing I would recommend is that they keep one or two other bars open after 4:00 p.m. in addition to the 24-hour lobby bar.

The food was quite amazing for a Cuban resort. We ate breakfast at the buffet each day – pancakes, french toast, fruit, pastries, etc. were plentiful. There was a station at which the chef would make eggs to order. We did not have lunch at the buffet, preferring the beach grill instead. They had a buffet there including hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, pasta, fish, chicken, salads, fruit and the ever-present pastries. One day we noticed that the burgers were kind of pink, so didn’t eat them. Other than that, the food was good.

For dinner, you can go to each of the three specialty restaurants once per week. We did not try the seafood restaurant, and had heard that it was not all that great. The Italian restaurant was wonderful - we tried the lasagna and the cannelloni and found them to be very good. The Japanese restaurant, complete with cooking right at your table of 8 was absolutely amazing and very entertaining. Except for one night in the buffet, we were very pleased with the selection of food. We highly recommend the bananas foster at the buffet, have it with ice cream – you won’t be disappointed!

The beach and pools
What can I say about the beach other than it’s really beautiful! On our last couple of days, there were thousands of baby jellyfish in the ocean, but they didn’t bother anyone. The sand feels like baby powder and they have these little plastic chairs that you can sit in right in the water – heaven! There are plenty of beach chairs available, but for some reason they have the hard plastic ones at the beach and the mesh chairs at the pools – opposite to the arrangement at any other resort I’ve visited. They were building more huts on the beach as we left. That’s good because the huts were all reserved by about 8:00 each morning so they sure could use more.

The pools were surprisingly cold. I swear I saw ice cubes floating around in them, along with a few penguins and if the water was a few degrees colder we could have played hockey on the surface! However, once your heart started up again after jumping in, they were quite comfortable. The main pool is quite large and has an amazing swim-up bar, which feels quite decadent. The quiet pool is also very nice, but much smaller.

Overall impression
This is a wonderful resort which should be exceedingly popular in the future. They are doing their best to plant trees, flowers and grass to mask the barren look of the place. By next year, the resort will look a lot more welcoming. I found no fault with anything of consequence and had a wonderful week there. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation in a stunning hotel, I would recommend Playa Coco to you.

I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about this property.


Playa Coco Bellagio Leicester, UK
December 2004

I spent two weeks at this resort (December 5th - December 19th) and I, like others before me, was very concerned about the many negative reports that this hotel had received. Whilst I would agree that the 4 star plus rating flatters, I have to say that I really enjoyed my stay and found it really good value for money. The hotel is in a remote spot with nothing at all within walking distance. That suited me but I can appreciate it would not be everyone's choice.

Flight and arrival:
I flew Thomas Cook Airlines from Manchester on an Airbus 330. The outbound direct flight to Jardines del Rey airport in Cayo Coco lasts the full 10 hours, however the return journey, due to the favourable wind direction, lasts only 8 hours. Headsets are charged at £2.75; to avoid this charge take your own. One small bottle of water is also provided free of charge. On arrival at Cayo Coco I would suggest that you change your currency into convertible pesos preferably in the Arrivals Hall whilst waiting for your luggage to be loaded onto the carousel. The rate is the same as at a bank and there is no commission charge whatsoever. As the airport only deals with a few flights per day it is unlikely that you will ever encounter a queue to change your money. The coach trip to the hotel took 20 minutes and check in went quite smoothly. I had previously emailed the hotel requesting a top (3rd) floor room and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had been allocated one.

Could not fault it at all. As soon as I walked in I noticed to my relief there was no damp or musty smell whatsoever. The room was very bright and cheerful and there was more than adequate lighting both in the main room and the bathroom. All rooms are equipped with coffee maker, iron and ironing board, cd player, hair dryer, small fridge/mini bar, remote control TV plus in room safe with digital touch button lock. The air conditioning was quiet and very efficient. The minbar is only stocked with one can of cola and one apple juice on arrival. As I never opened them I've no idea whether or not they are replenished daily. You also receive one large bottle of water every day. My bed was king size and quite comfortable, not hard as I had read in some previous reports. Three pillows were on the bed with an extra two in the wardrobe plus a blanket, which I found it necessary to use as I felt a little cold at times during the night, even with the air conditioning off. The room was well furnished with a large wardrobe with adequate hanging space, a dressing table with ten drawers, a large desk, a coffee table, two wicker chairs and a wicker two seater settee, with four scatter cushions. The patio door leading to the balcony also had a sliding mesh door you could pull across to keep out the bugs. On arrival I was somewhat disappointed to find that I had only been provided with one bar of soap in the bathroom. I had expected a 4 star plus hotel to provide me with shower and bath gel. Apparently some rooms had these and others did not, but after a couple of days when none appeared I mentioned it to customer services and the next day I had three bottles of each. The power supply at this hotel is 220 volts which is great for UK guests as all our appliances will work provided you have an adapter. Both the euro rounded two or three pronged and the American two pronged flat pin adapter will fit into the sockets. However I would imagine Canadian guests may need some form of voltage converter to reduce the current down from 220v to 110v to prevent damaging their appliances.

There are two pools, both with pool side bars. The larger, main pool is where the daytime activities take place and the smaller pool (where I sat) is less busy and much quieter - despite having a children's section. There is a small heated jacuzzi at this pool, but it was only working for the first few days of my visit. There is a larger jacuzzi at the main pool, but this is not heated. There is another small jacuzzi by the fitness centre, but this also was not working whilst I was there either. What the problem was with the jacuzzis I've no idea, but it appeared to me no effort was being made to repair them. There was also a lack of rubbish bins around the pool area . I'm not sure about the main pool area, but around the 'quiet' pool the only bin was beside the bar. Furthermore there were no ash trays or any means of disposing of cigarette butts other than stubbing them out on the floor. Also, as most other guests commented on at the time, the plastic 'glasses' used at the bars were far too small, holding around half the capacity you find elsewhere.

I was personally rather disappointed with the beach here, but was told it was far better at the Hotel Zone where all the other hotels are located. It is quite narrow compared to most of the resorts I have visited previously. There are a quite a lot of small rocks at the water's edge in front of the seafood restaurant but they only extend into the sea for a few yards. At this point the beach is at its widest. Further along to the right where the water sports are located there are no rocks. The water is clear and very shallow (albeit quite cold) and you can walk along the beach for miles without seeing anyone or anything. Water sports consist of Hobie cats, pedaloes and kayaks. I believe you have to be accompanied by a member of staff when taking out a Hobie cat.

They have a large outdoor amphitheatre where the nightly show takes place at around 9.30pm. I only watched two of the shows and they were not my scene at all. Truth to tell I'm not into this type of entertainment at all (audience participation and animation staff miming and dancing to records) and I never bother with them anywhere.

There are three specialised restaurants and one buffet restaurant. In the daytime lunch can also be taken in the seafood restaurant which is close to the beach and there is another small bar that serves fries, burgers and chicken that is open from 3pm until 7am in the morning. The main buffet restaurant 'Trinidad' is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The three specialised restaurants are the Seafood 'Jucaro', the Italian 'Venecia' and the Japanese 'Tokio'. You are allowed one visit to each of the specialised restaurants for each week of your stay. The Japanese restaurant is really excellent and the chef prepares your main course on the grill at your table where you are seated with a maximum of eight people per table. I only visited the Italian once and found it quite satisfactory, though the portions were somewhat on the small side. As I'm not a fan of seafood, I did not visit this restaurant, but other people I met who had dined there said it was OK. I found the buffet restaurant more than adequate. Breakfast was the standard fare though I would have preferred better coffee and a proper toaster (instead of a sandwich maker). Lunch and dinner were very good and the food was usually hot. I think it fair to say that the food here was generally better than most of the all inclusive resort I have visited previously.

Excellent - the waitresses in the buffet restaurant were so polite and always had a smile on their face and the bar staff in the lobby bar worked very hard and the service was always good. If you chose to sit down in the lobby area at night the drink waiters were always on hand to fetch your drinks. Maid service was excellent, my room was always serviced before lunch every day, the only issue being the lack of shampoos mentioned earlier. I thought the service was superb to all guests, whether they tipped or not - I can honestly say that everyone was treated equally and fairly and no favours were shown to the people who were tipping.

They are a big problem at this resort for many people. Do not stay out after dusk without repellent and use one that is deet based, preferably containing 50% deet as this will give you longer protection. Use a plug in repellent in your room and spray the bed before retiring at night (just to be on the safe side!). I only suffered nine bites in two weeks, my lowest EVER score and these happened around eight hours after applying the repellent when its effectiveness was wearing off. Some other people were bitten in excess of 200 times, mainly because, in my opinion, they were outside after dark without repellent. If you are travelling from the UK I would suggest you buy Boots Repel Plus - containing 50% deet - it worked well for me. Ignore this advice at your peril!!!! Suggest you also pack some antihistamine cream or tablets and calamine lotion. Canadian guests take Deep Woods Off for Sportsmen, this is 28.5% Deet.

Apart from a two minute shower it only rained once during the whole two weeks and fortunately that was in the evening and it resulted in the evening entertainment being moved indoors to the Disco. There were two days with very little sun, but otherwise the weather was very good with four exceptionally hot days that were completely wind free. However it can be very windy here.

Other facilities:
There are four tennis courts, plus a multi sports court (football, basketball, etc). Bikes are available free of charge and you can also rent a scooter or a car In rooms leading off the lobby area there is the Disco (open 10pm - 4am), an internet room, a shop and a sports hall with table tennis and pool. There is also a gym which appeared to me to be quite well equipped. The baby and mini club were also very well equipped but during the time of my visit were not much in demand. Outside the mini club there is also a small children's play area, an equally small crazy golf course and a giant outdoor chessboard. There is a Massage parlour and a further table tennis table close to the 'quiet pool'.

Overall impressions:
Having read all the reviews on this hotel before leaving, I have to admit that I was somewhat concerned by many of the negative comments this hotel has received, but speaking personally I found it to be quite satisfactory overall. However the resort is let down badly by the landscaping, which I have to say is very poor. I know it has only been open for ten months, but it is very barren. They are constantly planting new shrubs and plants, but they look half dead when they are planted. The quality of the grass is also very poor, they have underground water pipes, but do not seem to have sprinklers and what little watering is done is carried out by hose pipes that are attached to each apartment block. To be fair there were many people complaining about various aspects of the hotel and I can understand why. Bottom line the hotel is not a 4 star plus hotel (but how many other hotels are worthy of their ratings), but I believe you have to look at what you have paid for your holiday. When I booked it was the cheapest hotel on offer in the Cayos and it was fantastic value for money. I would go again if the price was right, but I rather fear that this hotel will have very few repeat guests at the moment.

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