|Superclubs Breezes Jibacoa||TravelChick2010||Ontario Canada|
SUPERCLUBS BREEZES JIBACAOA, Cuba June 4-11, 2010 Travelchick and DH
We are seasoned travellers to the Caribbean. In fact, this was our fourth trip to Breezes Jibacoa. It was particularly interesting for us this time because we went during the low season instead of the winter. The difference in quantity and quality of food and beverages, in addition to less service being offered by the employees, was noticeable. This certainly will be worth remembering for future trips. However, there were no lineups at the buffet (esp. on Lobster Night!), and palapas were easily obtained without having to get up at the crack of dawn to "reserve" one. lol So, one set of drawbacks is counterbalanced by some definite advantages!
We flew Sunwing out of Toronto to Varadero. On our trip to Holguin in November using Elite Plus, we were able to load up our suitcases with many gifts for Cubans. It was a surprise this time how much I was actually able to bring down just flying the regular service. A damp, hot towel and thimble-ful of champagne (lol) began the trip. Even having to wait about twenty minutes for Toronto to wake up, our flight was only 3 hours and 1 minute long--a passenger actually had set his watch. This is certainly a bonus of the Cuban destinations! Breakfast was served and the movie "Crazy Heart" passed the time nicely. Customs was extremely easy. All the scare about tourists having to produce confirmation of having Health Insurance was unfounded. The only thing extra we had to do was fill out a very simple form, much like the one at the time of the H1N1: cough? fever? visited a farm?, etc. I must add that these forms were haphazardly picked up a nurse after we had cleared the x-ray machines for the carry-ons.
The "air-conditioned" bus left the airport after about 40 minutes as we had to wait for three people. The ride was picturesque and the guide informative. As per usual, we stopped at the long bridge (can't remember the name; starts with a "B") where there is the best vantage point for photos of the Valley of Palms and towards the ocean on the other side. One can purchase souvenirs and the "best Pina Colada in Cuba". (How many people have heard this phrase on their travels throughout Cuba? lol) We arrived at BJ almost at noon. As our room was not ready (and wasn't until around 2:30), we had a drink in the lobby and walked around. It is wonderful to see how smoking areas have been quite restricted. Once, people were allowed to smoke in the lobby bar, on the buffet verandah and in the open area around the fountain. This is no longer the case. After the buffet lunch (we immediately noted a lack of variety in the food), we were taken to our room. Unfortunately, although it is considered an upgrade by Sunwing, we did not want a Pool View room. So back to the lobby I went and eventually was told we could move to an upstairs room in Building Two the next day. We noticed several buildings were shut down, one of which was #5 which we had been hoping to be assigned. It was disappointing to us that as repeat guests, we were not offered an upgrade to an oceanview room. The resort was less than 1/2 full, I should think, so it would have been no problem for them to do so. It makes one wonder how much they really want our business....
The Friday night we arrived, there was a "Returning Guests Cocktail Party" upstairs in La Pelicano, the piano bar. We got to see Alphonso and Vivian (two management employees) there and we recognized a few faces from former trips. The drinks and appetizers were delightful. Dinner that night in the buffet was good but even on the verandah, it was very hot. The humidity was a killer and would continue the next day. My dh had a delicious seafood soup and we both had what was one of the best Roast Beef dinners we'd ever eaten there. (Mashed potatoes, however, were watery all week.) After dinner, as was our custom, we adjourned to the piano bar for a Bailey's before returning to our room for an early night. However, I must say that our room was in Bldg 13 across the pool from the entertainment stage. How my husband was able to sleep through the unbelieveably loud music was a true feat of nature. lol All I could do was listen and occasionally look out from our sliding glass door (I would've no doubt been bitten by mozzies had I sat out.) The next morning we moved to Room 2110 in Bldg Two. Although there was a large palm tree in front of us blocking an otherwise great view of the mountain, we were happy with the Garden view room.
Pool and Ocean We are definitely ocean people and were disappointed that the ocean was tepid; it was the same at the pool. While it was so hot in Cuba, one had at least hoped to cool off in the ocean. However, it only gave a slight refreshing change. We found the sand to have cig butts and tiny shells, the latter of which could be uncomfortable to walk on. What a difference from the pristine Cayo Beaches. I wore watershoes into the ocean because of rocks and coral, even close to shore. A very unfortunate thing that happened was that on about the second day there, oil was found on the beach. I had gotten some oil on my feet the previous day from walking in the sand! Then I started wearing water shoes--lol. It was noted that it was not from Florida but rather from a passing boat that had been cleaning itself (huh?) and spilled some. The long and the short of it was that we were able to get our feet cleaned over at the dive center by a young man with mechanics' soap. Let me tell you, it was quite unpleasant and I hope never to experience that again! We snorkelled a few days and it was enjoyable. Several times we went out with Manuel on the catamaran and it was such a treat! He took bread to summon fish from around the coral reef (I know this is not ecologically correct but the employees do it), and it was a thrill to see a variety of fish come scurrying over beside the Cat. The colours of the sea changed dramatically and stunningly as we maneuvered out and around the reef. This is one of my favourite activities while at a resort. As the resort was not fully booked, there was no trouble getting a palapa everyday; besides, there are many low-hanging trees under which some people preferred to position their loungers. A word to the wise: bring some sort of blow-up raft (there is a machine to inflate them in the dive center) or mat to conquer the hardness of these sun-loungers. They are brutal on one's back after laying on them for hours. The pool has two new hot tubs (which are actually hot) and cloth covers over the top of the "gazebos", for lack of a better term. So, one can be totally out of the sun whereas before, the slats for the roofs did not provide this. That is a good improvement. One change, and not for the better, is that now there is begging on the beach. True, the Cubans cannot come up to the palapas, but they sit for hours in front down by the ocean's edge, trying to sell things or hoping you will just give them "things". Children seem to be used as bait. One woman actually gave a list of things she'd like: toothpaste, shampoo, etc. to one tourist! My husband was even propositioned on his way back from having walked around the point. This young woman had lain in the water in front of our palapa and then leisurely followed him to the point to wait for him. This all is disturbng and has turned us off. It reminded us of two other places in Cuba where we have seen this sort of activity: Guardalavaca and St. Lucia. We are saddened to add Jibacoa to that list.
Bars and Restaurants As noted earlier, the low season meant a general lack of services and quantity/quality of food. My dh was very disappointed to have had not one taste of shrimp in the buffet. Usually, at resorts, there is seafood at most of the dinners in the buffet, which is a delight to us. The salads were repetitive and we did not want to eat pasta. One night we had a remarkable turkey dinner. Breakfast was usually good. Of course, the freshly-squeezed orange juice was delicious, as were the fruits on offer. Nelson, the lovely omelette chef, was at his best yet again. Only once did we eat at the Ranchon, where I had a good piece of fish and some fries. Please note: the hot dogs and chicken received rave reviews. The renovations to the Ranchon were certainly worth the wait. It looks and feels much roomier. Service for "snacks" (read that lunch) was very slow, but in that heat, who could blame the cooks and servers? ;-) There was a Caribbean Day/Evening, and so pork was served from a roasted pig down at the beach. Whatever sauce was made to accompany the pork was truly delicious. At lunch we normally went to the buffet and had found a table under a ceiling fan, so we were comfortable even though the heat continued. I had a ham and cheese panini once and found it very good; my dh made an egg salad sandwich out of a roll and enjoyed it. Chicken was a good guarantee for lunch there. The ice cream, served only at lunch, had a hard time keeping solid. However, it was de-vine! The cakes and sweets were repetitive at both lunch and dinner. We were fortunate to dine at Martino's twice. The last night we were there, we sat in the front corner window table with a view of the garden/gazebo. Had it not been a cloudy evening, we would have roasted there while we waited for the sun to set. We lucked out! Both meals at this Italian restaurant were impeccably served and delightful to the palate. Bruschetta to begin, seafood cocktail, tomatoes with mozzarella and cheese salad, and Filet Mignon (just a tiny bit tough) with broccoli and mashed potatoes (watery). The tiramatsu was absolutely great. The first evening there we had prawns as the main course and they were fabulous.
Entertainment We are not night people so we missed all but one of the shows. (Well, as I mentioned earlier, I couldn't help but hear--and somewhat see--the first night's show. lol ) The fashion show poolside followed by the ballet in the pool one evening was good. A major drawback was that the area where the "runway" was set out was far too dark so it prevented us from seeing the girls and their outfits well. My dh and I had seen a water ballet last November at the Sol Luna Mares, so we knew what to expect. It was worth watching but not as awe-inspiring as the first one. However, those who had never seen one before said it was fantastic. So, there you go!
Miscellaneous Towels are easily exchanged beside the beach restaurant. Locks for the room safe are given out free of charge at check-in. The maids keep the rooms clean and towels/sheets are changed at your discretion. We never had a worry about theft. The lobby bar makes great coffee in the morning before breakfast (and it is open 24-7). As at any resort, there are good and bad employees. But we did notice that there seemed to be too many employees who seemed less than thrilled to be working. Tennis is available but it was too hot for it. There is much more I could write but this is all I can put forth right now. Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions you have about Breezes Jibacoa. Will we go back? Yes. Our next trip will be our fifth visit and after that, we receive a free week's accomodation at the resort. However, it is unclear at this point if we will continue with BJ anymore. There are many other places we would like to see and BJ has lost some of its luster for us, sad to say....
|Brezes Jibacoa||TravelChick||Ontario, Canada|
Superclubs Breezes Jibacoa, Cuba December 2007 by Travelchick
My husband and I returned to this gem of a resort for the third time in early December. We enjoy the intimacy of the place and its relative isolation. There is a small mountain in the back and the gorgeous ocean to the front. Beside it is a quiet 3-star resort. However, it is only an hour bus ride to Havana from Jibacoa, a definite plus.
Rooms: We stayed in a gardenview room in Building 5. This room was particularly nice because it overlooked the wedding gazebo (we saw a small ceremony while there) with the backdrop of the mountain and was very close to the beach. The rooms are getting tired but are by no means unpleasant. There is even a cd player in the room, which we didn't use. The tv carries CNN in English, which kept us apprised of world news while there. The bathroom is large and very clean, with a working hair-dryer. If needed, there is an ironing board with iron in the closet. As well, we appreciated the use of the in-room safe, at no extra charge.
Layout: What is particularly enjoyable about this resort is its small size. With under 400 rooms, one can easily walk the premises of the property in under 5 minutes. Can't find your partner? No problem, just take a saunter! The pool is large with many sunbeds surrounding it. There are about five open-air "cabanas" (with slats for the roofs) which can offer some shade; in addition, a few palm trees also provide shade. At the ocean (our preference) are many palapas and trees under which to lie. The ocean is wonderful, despite some weeds and rocks. Do wear water shoes! Snorkelling is great when there is not a red flag day--the latter of which happens often.
Restaurants: The buffet is quite adequate for one week. After that, it would certainly begin to pale. There were moments of great dining--the lobster evening (Thursdays) was fabulous. However, the long lineups were daunting. This is one thing that definitely could improve because, unfortunately, we found the lineups were common every night. There was always a pasta bar on those nights for when the main entree did not appeal. As seems to be case in many resorts, the breakfasts were terrific. The omelette chef was the absolute best: efficient and expert at his job. The Italian ala carte, Martino's, did not disappoint. A delicious dinner continues to be served elegantly there. The filet mignon was so tender it practically needed no knife! :-) We didn't bother with the Cuban restaurant this time. A benefit at this resort is the long verandah off the buffet restaurant. This was the place we gravitated to for most of our meals. At dinner, sitting outside with the stars above was truly heavenly. (Pun intended!) The only drawback was the presence of cats, but we just shooed them away. The beach restaurant did make delicious hamburgers, fries, and grilled fish at lunchtime.
Bars: The lobby bar is the meeting place for cocktails pre-dinner and becomes loud with conversation. We preferred to enjoy the quieter ambiance upstairs in the piano bar. I think "piano" bar is quite a misnomer. Although there is a grand piano there, not once did we hear anyone play it as we have in the past. Instead, there is small keyboard type thing on it which a man used in order to play tunes. And, he was only there infrequently. Quite disappointing! However, good listening music (like Andreas Bocelli) was played from a cd player followed by more lively music later in the evening. We were disappointed that top-shelf liquors were not available. A fair substitute for Baileys was, however, a brand called Disco...Cappuchinos and other fancy coffees could be had in the lobby bar, even in the mornings. Don't forget your thermal mug for fill-ups at the beach or pool bars!
Miscellaneous: There is a small hot tub and two tennis courts. We didn't attend any of the nightly entertainment so I cannot comment on the quality of the shows. Someone asked me if we received any special perks because we were returning guests. A resounding "No" is our answer. And the reason seems to be that there are just too many of us--they simply cannot keep up with us. In fact, we found out about a cocktail party for returnees first from a fellow guest and we didn't receive our written invitation until the morning of it. This party was the only recognition we received. I must say, it was lovely: drinks and intricate appetizers (caviar, even!) served in the piano bar. However, compared to other resorts, their lack of effort to "welcome" us back was quite disappointing. I apologize for the brevity of this review. There is much I have left out. So, if you have any questions about Breezes Jibacoa, please feel free to p.m. me here at 7Days. -Travelchick
|Brezes Jibacoa||Crestfield||Halifax, Nova Scotia|
Trip Report: Superclubs Breezes Jibacoa
Our vacation at Superclubs Breezes Jibacoa took place March 24th to April 7th 2006. We flew with Skyservice and had no problems. Our flight got into Varadero around 11pm and the airport was pretty quiet at that time. We were transported to the resort in a small van and were there within an hour. Check in went smoothly. The only thing I thought was odd was that you got to take your own bags to your room and did not have to wait for a bellboy as we have done at other resorts. The resort is small so no problem finding the room and it made getting settled in a lot faster without the wait.
Rooms: I had emailed a small room request before arrival (2nd floor end unit) and were pleased to have it granted. The rooms are clean and spacious. There is a safe, iron and board,decent closet space, coffee maker,cd player,TV, but no fridge as we had a garden view room. The ocean view suites have a fridge. You are provided with a thermal carafe that you can have filled with ice water at any of the bars. We would have ours filled at the end of the evening and it would still be icy in the am. Lots of towels and face cloths were provided and the ac and hairdrier worked fine. We had a vaulted ceiling as all 2nd floor rooms do. It is true what they say about there being no "bad" rooms at Jibacoa. Our garden view room was wonderfull with a nice view of the gazebo and the mountains behind the resort. The balconies are not very private, however, having an end unit afforded us only one balcony beside us.
Pool: The pool was beautiful. The water was cool and refreshing and it never seemed crowded. The pool is open 24 hours as well. We didn't spend a lot of time there as we prefer the beach.
Beach: The beach is very nice. Not the white powdery Varadero sand, but a little moe brown in color. There are a few small areas where the coral is close to the shore and can be a little hard on the feet, but these spots are easy to see. The best thing about the beach was the snorkelling. Absolutely fantastic! We spent hours in the water and the fish are amazing . We saw octupus,starfish, eels, stingray, squid, lobster, grouper and even a barracuda and hundreds of other colorful and entertaining fish. The coral is beautiful, but please, make an effort not to touch or stand on it as it is a fragile living thing, that cannot withstand the abuse. There were lots of loungers and shade in the form of palapas and trees. Catamarans,peddle boats and kayaks were available for use. There were always plenty of towels available for exchange at the towel hut which has a nice shower right beside it for rinsing off. You can get lifejackets and snorkel gear from the dive hut, butif you have your our own you will not have to worry about when you have to have it returned. The beach is open to the public and it was nice to see some of the locals and their families out enjoying themselves too.
Food: Well, we thought the food was great. So did our waistlines! The main buffet open for breakfast, lunch and supper was excellent and each evening had a different theme from Cuban, Chinese, Mexican to International and also seafood. The thing I liked most of all was that the food was always piping hot. Beautiful omelettes in the am and pizza made to order at lunch was great too. The beach grill served up some great snacks too. You could wait for "take out" or sit and be waited on in the shade with a selection of grilled chicken, fih or hamburgers. There are two alacartes: Martino's the Italian is a quiet and relaxed atmospherewith some great food too. The Cuban La Taberna, is a little more relaxed. I am not very tall, so found the large wooden chais there fairly uncomfortable. We enjoyed the food there as well, but found that it was pretty much the same as the buffet on Cuban theme night, so I would recommend a reservation there on a night you don't care for the theme at the buffet. There is a cooler to the right of the lobby bar with snacks available 24hours and late afternoon and evenings there is a small area just past the lobby set up with a few hot snacks for a few hours too when you wander home from the disco! One day a week they have "Big Cuban Day" on the beach where they bar-b-cue large slabs of pork and make the most wonderful Cuban sandwiches and you can sample a drink of rum with freshly pressed sugarcane juice.
Bars: There are four bars on the resort. The lobby bar is open 24 hours a day and makes the best Spanish coffee. Great for after supper relaxing before the show. The pool bar is open all day and closes after the show in the evening. The beach bar is open until around 5pm. You can sit in the shade and be waited on or go up and have your glass refilled anytime! The piano bar is above the main lobby and is air-conditioned. It has a grand piano in the centre with someone playin and is quite relaxing. There is also a balcony for those who want to enjoy a cigar. The disco has a bar, but sometimes can run short on supplies such as mint for the mojitos, but the lobby bar isn't that far away. The selection of drinks at all the bars was pretty good, and I'm sure no one would be dissappointed. The only complaint with regards to the drinks wouls be the wine. without a doubt it had to be the worst I've ever had! I read that the Spanish wine, only offered at the bar, was better, but can't say I noticed much difference. If you must have wine while on vacation, I'd recommend bringing it with you, or perhaps picking some up in Havana if you plan to go.
Entertainment/Activities: The entertainment is pretty standard stuff. Lots of eye candy and good bits of fun with some pretty good music. We did enjoy most of the shows. As far as activities around the resort you can be as busy as you want. There is absolutely no pressur from the staff to join in, which was nice. There are Spanish lessons, dance lessons, Cuban history, drink mixing as wellas volleyball and an interesting game of hockey on the beach with hockey sticks and a volleyball "puck" Be sure to participate in some of the activities to collect "funny money" that you can use at the end of the week at a fun auction where you can bid on small trinkets or bottles of rum depending on how much you've collected. There's also Sumu wrestling and boxing with giant gloves and mini golf in the sand. If you've got a good seat on the beach you're in for a few good laughs. The entertainment staff are the best and work very hard to make your stay an enjoyable one. The disco is not the most action packed place, but they play quite a variety of music, not just the techno-bop stuff you might hear at other resorts and they will play cd's you bring too. If you have a crew of people or hook up with some then you can certainly make your own party at the disco. There are mopeds for rent just outside the lobby. You can go on your own or on a couple of guided tours. The morning and afternoon hike up the mountain is a must. The first 15 min are a definite challenge, but you are rewarded with the most spectacular view, and then a walk through a local farm.
Resort: Small and quaint with such a relaxed atmosphere sums it up beautifully. As soon as you pass through the mountains you arrive at the resort lobby which then opend up onto a terraced area containing a fountain and various seating areas where you look down the ain pathway to a second fountain on the way to the beach. Within the main lobby upstairs is the internet cafe and the piano bar. To the right of the lobby is a little store to buy rum and snacks, a cigar shop and a gift shop. There is a games room with pool table, ping pong video games and a bookshelf with a variety of books left behind by other guests. Beyond this is the disco which is behind the entertainment stage which looks out onto the seating area and pool. In this area the vendors come on different days to sell art and other souveners. To the left of the lobby is the main buffet and two restaurants. The buffet overlooks the garden and gazebo ares and to the left of this is the hot tub and tennis courts. On the beach you will find housed in one building, the dive shop, masseuse and gym. The gym is small with some free weights and a few aerobic machines. The grounds are immaculate and the gardeners are out early every morning working to maintain them. There are many beautiful areas to stop for photo ops while wandering about. The staff at this resort are wonderful. From the front desk to the little guys who clean up the beach, all of them are extremely friendly and appreciate the time you take to get to know them.
Excursions: Did not take any of the excursions, but there are plenty offered. The proximity to Havana is a real plus, being only an hour away.
Hints: Bring your insulated mugs for the beach. The water is safe to drink from the taps so in the evening we each got 2 glasses of ice and put them in our carafe and topped it up from the tap for some cool drinking water. You will need bug spray. They do have face cloths there.