|PLAYA COSTE VERDE||Garin and SWMBO||Lancs, UK|
Flight First Choice Flight left the UK on time there was a 2 hour delay leaving Cuba, flight time out was just over 91/2 hours coming back was just under 81/2 hours.The extra legroom as standard and seat back TV is a vast improvement, it took about 2 hours to get through Holquin airport and transfer to the hotel.
On arrival at the hotel we were greeted with a welcome drink, check in was hassle free and we received a welcome pack with safe and room key, towel vouchers and resort information, our room was on the second floor near the beach area which we had requested in advance via e-mail, the rooms are are quite large and very clean and tidy an equipped with a TV, coffee maker, CD player, hairdryer and iron and ironing board. The hotel grounds are kept very clean and tidy and the blocks are we spaced out.
There was a good range of food available in the buffet, fresh grilled fish and meat as well as omelets and pizzas were available, the snack bar near the pool served burgers, hot dogs fried chicken and a range of sandwiches, the lobby bar also serves snacks in the afternoon and there is a burger bar at night next to the disco.The three Ala carte's are excellent the Japanese really kicks in when the cooking starts, the chef in the Italian knows how to cook steak rare, we enjoyed the turkey and pork at the Cuban.
The animation team are always on hand there are the usual activities through out the day volleyball water polo etc, there are nightly shows followed by live music in the disco for around a hour before the disco starts, one night a week there is a beach party weather permitting.
The standard of service in the bars and restaurants is excellent, the managers are always knocking about to make sure things run smoothly, we did have a problem with the safe key, a technician sorted this problem within 15 minuets.
Getting out and about we did our own thing we took a taxi to Gibara and Bannes, the only official trip we booked was the the overnight to Santiago through the First Choice (siganurture vacations) rep. This trip was excellent value for money it included lunch on both days with the first drink included and one night at the Sol Melia Santiago with evening meal and breakfast alcoholic drinks were not included. We visited several places of interest including Santiago castle and Saturday night was rounded off with a trip to the Tropicana show.
Photos can viewed at http://www.7daysinparadise.com/gallery/v/Cuba/album13/Playa+Costa+Verde+07/top
|PLAYA COSTE VERDE||Kimber and Family||Oshawa, ON|
Flight: Sunwing - Pearson to Holguin/Cief. Overall - no complaints in this category - except for the arrival time in TO on the return flight. Flight was actually early, just really late.
Airport: Although the flight time on the return was not ideal, the arrival Tuesday evening in Holguin was terrific. We were the only flight arriving. Almost first off the plane so first through customs. No problems. I went to exchange money for some CUCs while hubby and son waited for our luggage. Short wait, for luggage and for exhanging money. On our way out the door for some cold Cristal and load luggage and board the bus. So far, very smooth. Guess it can only get better from here.
Bus: We landed at 8:30 ish but 9:30 Cuba time, so it is dark, and very warm I might add. The bus ride was about 45 minutes, but went by very quickly chatting with my fellow resort bound neighbour. Off the bus, again, hubby and son get the luggage while I head to the check in at reception. One of the first in line again, and very quick and smooth check-in process. From all the previous boards, threads etc. I picked up valuable pointers in the line up routines etc. Worked well. Now it's off to find our room with welcome drink in hand.
Room: We were in room 2124 - second floor, orange block, directly across from the Italian A'la Carte. A short walk from the main lobby, past the main buffet and you are there. Room was clean, spacious, two doubles pushed together and a day bed. Second floor balcony provided a nice view which we could actually catch a glimpse of the ocean. Dresser in the closet - small but large enough for three of us along with plenty of hangers. Also small shelf for shoes. Safe in closet as well, operates with room key. Our maid kept our room very clean and tidy, replenished our water daily and as others have stated, left us with many sculptured towels. We left various gifts and $ for her daily. Water always hot, never any problems.
Food: Plenty to choose from at the main buffet for breakfast. Staff here are great as well. We always put ourselves in the same section each time we visit, that way we get to the know the staff and they us. Works well. Wine glass is usually never empty if you know what I mean, not for breakfast lol, just lunches and dinners. There is also the Beach Grill which is the Carribbean a'la carte that you can enjoy lunch at during the day as a break from the main buffet. I had a chicken ceasar salad one day for lunch and it was pretty good. There a various pizzas served here as well, along with a good burger. Don't forget it is Seafood night in the main buffet on Thursday so try not to book an a'la carte then.
There is also a Beer Garden - serving various different beers other than Cuban beer. On our arrival night it was "Becks" all around. The Ice-Cream Hut was another spot frequented by some...you could enjoy a sugar cone or a glass of ice cream, including sprinkles, nuts, fudge, strawberry etc. sauces. I heard someone say they were going to take a banana over and make a split.
Late evening grill close to the disco and just outside the lobby area that serves hotdogs, hamburgers and usually spring rolls.
A'la Cartes: During our stay we enjoyed three of four of the a'la cartes. The Cuban - Lobster dinner, it was good, however, having relatives in NS my preference is for Atlantic lobster vs. Carribbean. Two completely different tastes IMO. Still I enjoyed it, and if you order it, ask for the garlic butter on the side - very yummy.
Italian is very elegant with very good spanish wine (different than the main buffet wine). The Cigar lounge also serves the spanish wine, at least they did when I was there. Food was ok - however being married to an Italian I am pretty picky. The antipasta (olives, paragiana cheese etc.) was excellent.
The Japanese as others have stated previously was terrific. We had Leo who was great. The entire evening and dinner was excellent. If you go, perhaps you'll be able to catch a shrimp when it is tossed from the grill!!!
Lobby Bar: Lots of action here at night, super spanish coffee. Grab a seat and you will get served quicker - we did.
Cigar Lounge: From my understanding this is a newer addition to the resort. My hubby enjoys his cigars and spent a few evenings here, as did I. I didn't find it smokey at all. There is also a great piano player (we say three different players during our stay - all wonderful). The bartenders here were wonderful too.
Beach: Without a doubt, awesome! Having walked both directions from our resort towards the Playa Pes. and the Blau, my opinion is the PCV has the best beach. What we really enjoyed were the trees on the beach as well, unlike Varadero and Cayo Coco. Beautiful clear water, some rocky areas, but you can see where they are to watch for them. Never a problem finding a spot, chair or some shade if you needed it. Strange the first visit to the beach when you see the pile of chairs and go to take a couple, if you do, you'll probably here one of the "guys" yelling, can I help you? This is what they do, bring your chairs to your spot and wipe them down. The clear them up afterwards as well. There is a walkway to get to the beach - maybe 10 minute walk from various parts of the hotel, but we can use the exercise and reward with a nice cold cristal! The protected area on the way to beach is filled with birds - makes for some nice photo ops.
Snorkelling: See many people with their snorkel gear in hand in all three resort areas. However we preferred walking down towards the Blau Costa Verde and the dive shop. Took some underwater pics, hope they turn out. Saw quite an array of different species.
Pool: Although we have only been to two other resorts in Cuba, by far the PCV pool takes the prize. Huge, and we were there over March break where the hotel was pretty much to capacity yet there were always chairs to be found at the pool. There is a swim up bar, nice in the afternoon and they make a mean mohito. Take your travel mugs, you will be thankful. Lots of activities here as well. I enjoyed the pool aerobics as well as the beach aerobics daily.
Animation team: What a great group of individuals that make up and run the daily activiites and shows in the evenings. We had our son along on this trip (16) and he along with anywhere from 6 to 10 teens had a fantastic time, particularly the Bingo and Crazy games in the afternoon. The animation booth is also where you get your clean beach towel daily, snorkel gear, tennis rackets, volley ball, etc. My son and all his friends commented on what a great group of staff and how much fun they had spending time with them. We didn't go to all the shows, although our son watched many. Enjoyed the fashion show, the team does a fantastic job as already stated.
Disco: Definitely the place for the younger ones...another mother and I found ourselves here one evening dancing to the likes of AC/DC and Deep Purple. It was always packed with kids and a variety of other ages.
Grounds: Found the vegetation lush and beautiful. Plenty of palms surrounding the pool area for shade other than the umbrellas. Banana trees, beautiful flowering shrubs and bushes as well. The grounds were kept impecabably clean.
Staff: All in our opinion were great! Friendly, no matter who you walked past there was always a smile and Hola, from the maids, to the gardeners to the security guys at the resort edge to the beach walkway.
Excursions: We did Guardalavaca by cab to check out the market and pick up some souvenirs. Worth the 10 CUC's each way. You are mixing with the locals, beach is public and a few bars to grab a cold cervaca or what ever is your fancy, rest. to enjoy local cuban fair etc.
We also did the Jeep Safari Tour for $79 CUC each person. This included driving a jeep if you prefer so the three of us were in one jeep. Follow a tour guide leaving your resort, off roading to a local farmer's home to see how they live. This tour was a perfect opportunity to take some of the gifts brought along. You tour their home and farm and enjoy freshly ground coffee. Leaving the farm, more off roading to a local cigar factory for a tour. Another interesting bit of the tour package. From the cigar factory it was more off roading to another area for horseback riding and some beautiful scenery. Great photos. From the horseback riding we then found our way to the marina for jet skiing, snorkeling and lunch. We didn't get to snorkel as it was windy and jellyfish were a problem although we didn't see any when we were jet skiing. We did get to jet ski longer as the snorkeling portion was cancelled. Then lunch at the marina - cuban fair - quite good. Thought that this was very reasonably priced considering the many different facets.
We have done other tours on past trips, catamaran, jungle tour, jet ski etc.
Overall: We loved the PCV and would definitely go back, but will probably try out some other resorts before we do. We like to visit different areas, but can see ourselves sporting a different colour wristband at the PCV - repeat visitors get a different colour bracelet than the first-timers! I didn't think I could write this much as so much has already been stated by others, but it really is a terrific resort and caters to young adults as well as families. I will say this as maybe the only negative in my opinion - no washrooms that are located at the beach - you have to walk back through the protected zone to the Cuban rest. Being a person that drinks quite a bit of water I do appreciate a handy washroom. Again, minor and wouldn't prevent me from booking another trip, like tomorrow for instance!! I always finish with the same thought, your vacation is what you make of it - and we make ours good!top
|PLAYA COSTE VERDE||WENDY & KRISTEN||TORONTO, ON|
PLAYA COSTE VERDE, MAY 2005 WENDY & KRISTEN, TORONTO, ON
We recently came back from a one week stay and this resort and cannot wait to go back!! This hotel is rated 4+ and I agree completely with the rating (remember this is Cuba).
We flew Cubana Airlines with Sunwing Vacations. No complaints at all about Cubana. I think there was more legroom than Skyservice, others seemed to agree.
Basic food ie cold cuts, cheese, juice, coffee, fruit. The really nice thing about Cuabana is you start your Cuban vacation off with Cuban bevvies, Havana Club rum, Cristal beer, even Cuban pop and water.
Stepped off the plane to 30+ degrees, it was like hitting a brick wall. Started peeling off layers of clothes (it was a cool 3:30 am when we left Toronto, had jeans, t-shirt and light jacket on) to acclimatize.
By the time we were through immigration, all of ouir luggage was already off loaded and waiting for us. I changed money at the airport (exchange rate: 1.417). Our sunwing rep was waiting for us, loaded up the bags and boarded a very comfortable airconditioned bus. It was approx. 50 minutes to the resort areas - stopped at the GPT first, we were next. Our Sunwing rep gave us a brief history lesson on the way to the resort. I was busy checking out the scenic route, Kristen slept.
Check in was a breeze. The bags were loaded onto a golf cart while I went to check in. Very quick and efficient. Reception gave us our wristbands, hotel information package and voila we were wisked away to our room. I had requested a second floor room in a certain location in the resort (and also asked for a corner unit). We arrived at the area I had requested and we received a second floor corner unit with wrap-around balcony, wonderful!!!
Our room had two double beds, love seat, table, two chairs, 2 night tables, desk, tv and was quite large. The tub, toilet and bidet are in one room and the sink/closet area is next to it. The room safe (operated by one room key) is in the closet along with a chest of drawers and ironing board. There's a hair dryer (not the hose type) opposite to the closet in the "sink/mirrors" area. The resort had supplied little bottles of shampoo, conditioner etc. I would presume they replace these as used, but I brought my own toiletries, so did not use them. We had a mini-bar supplied with a couple of pops and a big bottle of water. I replenished my water at the lobby bar everyday. I'm sure the maid would have replaced them if I had asked, but I didn't. There was a TV that seemed to get quite a few channels (TBS, MTV, CNN etc) but since I didn't watch it, I cannot tell you how many channels there were. There was a coffee maker with coffee/tea supplies replenished daily. I would make a pot and enjoy it on my wrap around balcony every morning. The balcony had a table and two chairs on one side and then the same thing again on the other. It was just lovely. I only saw my maid in passing a couple of times. I was never in the room when she was there, so I only had a chance to talk to her briefly. My room was always spotless when I returned. I saw one "june-bug type" critter when we first arrived (quickly squished it) and other than 2 moths, that was it!
This resort has 480 rooms all in blocks of 2 story buildings. I found that the layout of the resort was ideal, you never felt that far away from anything. The buildings are bright and colourful, we were in a yellow block of buildings, there was also green coloured and a orangey/peachy coloured (on maps they look pink). Well maintained pathways and greenery all around the rooms. There are 2 pools (plus one at the kids club), a swim up bar, buffet restaurant, 24 hr. lobby bar with games area (3 pool tables, table tennis and foosball), snack bar, Japanese restaurant, Italian restaurant and the Cuban restaurant. There's a fully equipped health centre with massage area. There's also a manicure/pedicure hut (I assume you book in advance, I never saw anyone using it though) outside the snack bar and pool areal. There are 2 jacuzzis, each enclosed in a gazebo, very nice. The nightclub (Illusions) is open until 4 am and is between the lobby bar and the animacion stage. They set up a BBQ at night for people who get late night munchies. There is also a beach bar (open until 5 pm).
A-la-cartes and watersports are booked at the Guest Relations desk beside Reception. You book water-sports between 3 and 5 pm for the next day. When we were there, the resort wasn't full so we never pre-booked any of the watersports. We went out on the Banana boat on the Monday w/o a reservation, but we never ended up waterskiing (which is included). Never got around to it I guess. I would go out on the hobie cats almost every day. There were paddle boats, kayaks and wind-surfing as well. Lot's of things to keep you busy everyday. I predominately spent my days at the beach, so I don't really know what was happening at the pool. I did see water aerobics one day, there was a game of water-polo and water volleyball going on another time. I do know that there are many activities to partake in, but I prefer the beach.
We took the in-pool scuba lesson and went on the beginners scuba dive (all included at this resort). You dive off the area of the beach near the Blau Coste Verde. You are in the water for about 20-30 minutes and around 3-6 metres depth. Take an underwater camera with you.
The Playa Coste Verde is located between the Playa Pesquero to your left (looking out to the ocean) and the Blau Coste Verde to your right. They all share a beautiful beach!!!
There are some rocky areas but they are so visible, that you don't need watershoes. I took watershoes, but didn't need them. You can snorkel off the Blau side or take one of the paddle boats out a little (and I mean very little) way and snorkel.
I booked the a-la-cartes on Sunday when we arrived. We went to the Italian on Monday, the Japanese on Thursday and the Cuban on Saturday. You could also book Sushi as a 4th a-la-carte. As much as I love Sushi, I didn't book this due to the fussy dining habits of my traveling companion. My favourite was the Japanese/Teppanyaki. We started with a salad, followed by Miso soup. The chef then prepared fried rice, beef and chicken teriyaki. This was followed by shrimp and the catch of the day, which happened to be swordfish. I was too full for dessert so I don't know what they had!
My second favourite restaurant was the Cuban where I had lobster, delicious. The Italian was my least favourite only because I found it bland and the pasta over cooked. Other than that it was fine. The buffet would have some of the same items every night, but they tried to change it up a bit by adding theme nights to it. One night was Cuban. I heard they had a BBQ-d pig and other good things, but I was at the a-la-carte. Another night was "Canadian". The chef was slicing up ham, there was mashed potatoes, corn, carrots etc. The Asian night had some sushi, so I did get my sushi fix. One night was "romantic" I don't know what they had because I was at the a-la-carte, another night was German but again I was at the a-la-carte. Other themes were Spanish and Italian.
We tried to sit in the same section at the buffet each time to try and get the same waitress. She was a lovely woman with a beautiful little boy (we met on the beach one day). Breakfast was always good: eggs cooked fresh for you to your preference, pancakes, French toast, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit and the best: fresh squeezed orange juice!
I had heard "you don't go to Cuba for the food" so I was prepared, but in all honesty, I didn't find the food that bad and in many cases it was excellent. I'm not a fussy eater though. My daughter who is fussy didn't like a lot of the food, but in all honesty, she doesn't like a lot of different things back home. But believe me she didn't starve! The snack bar served burgers, pizzas, hot dogs, French fries, sandwiches etc and the buffet always had something that she would eat.
We took the dolphin/catamaran excursion on the Wednesday. It was 110 CUC/person. There's another price for children, but sorry, I don't know what it was. We left the resort around 9:00 am on and traveled about 10-15 minutes to the International Marina and boarded the cat. Our tour guide's name was Mario, the captain Ariel and his mate Luis. Drinks (alcohol and non-alcoholic) included along with a lobster or chicken lunch. I had the lobster (awesome) and Kristen had the chicken (I think that was the most she ate at a single setting the whole trip). The music was playing and Luis had me meringue dancing in the galley! We cruised out to the reefs near the Sol Luna y Mares and PRDO. This is where we snorkeled. Again, bring an underwater camera. Mario and Luis would take sea urchins and the fish would come in to feed. They would hand you the urchins to hold as well so you would be feeding the fish. Most of the excursion is spent on the Cat. We cruised to a bay where we had our lunch and swam for a while. We headed back to the international marina where we boarded a air conditioned Cuban style school bus (read all windows open and driver driving very fast here) and headed to the dolphinarium. This is a temporary pen that is in use while they enlarge the permanent one. There was a group ahead of us that was just finishing up when we arrive so we didn't have to wait too long. Thank god because it was high 40's in the sun. The area where you wait (yes there's a bar thank god) is sheltered and doesn't get a breeze, so it was unbelievably hot.
We got in the pen with the dolphins and I don't think words can describe the experience of interacting with these beautiful, intelligent creatures. The trainer will take pictures for you, but I also took my underwater camera in with me to get even more. This was an amazing experience, one I will never forget.
That was the only excursion we took. We thought about others, but Kristen didn't really care if we did, the only thing she wanted to do was swim with the dolphins. There's many other excursions to take such as the Jeep Safari, Jungle Tour, trip to Holguin, etc for those interested. The reps for the tours are in the lobby and you can book when you get there. It doesn't really matter who you book through (your tour rep or Gaviota) the prices are the same.
When I booked my trip I sent the hotel an email requesting a room in a certain area on the second floor. I had mentioned that it was a birthday trip for my daughter. When they returned my email, they said they would try to accommodate my request and that if they could do anything special for Kristen's birthday let them know. I immediately sent them another email to tell them that it wasn't her birthday while we were there, the birthday had already passed and this was just the gift. When we checked into our room, they had a card for her and a bottle of champagne. They brought out a cake at the Italian restaurant and sang Happy Birthday to her. We got the rooms we wanted and little things like this mean so much!
This was my first trip to Cuba and I researched it quite thoroughly prior to going so I had an idea of what to expect - or so I thought. I had heard about how wonderful the Cuban people are but people cannot convey this properly, you really have to experience the warmth and beauty of the Cuban people first hand to understand. They are a generous, caring, loving people and this more than any of the above is the reason I cannot wait to go back.
I left my heart in Cuba, it's an amazing country with even more amazing citizens.