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Melia Cayo Santa Maria - just back

Travel & news discussion about Cuba

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Melia Cayo Santa Maria - just back

Postby CanuckMark » Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:04 am

Just arrived back from the MCSM yesterday (Sat 14 Jan) - was a good well rounded trip this time out. Some have been asking for info on the place so here's some info - plz post any other questions if you have any.


The Airport...ahh boy, the airport. If you are an impatient or stressy person you may want a valium or two for the Santa Clara Airport (especially on the way out). This includes the hotel transfer. It is a small terminal, and all I can suggest is be patient and things will work out fine.

On the inbound leg, you will deplane to 2 or 3 customs windows - that's it. We had a full load so it took a while to get through. One awesome thing that happened (that we'd never seen before) is the hotel check-in is essentially done on the bus ride (1.5 hours each way). You get an envelope with your room key and everything - it is great since you will likely be hungry when you get off the bus so make a B-line for the buffet and go nuts. Your luggage is marked with your room number (make sure it gets done before loading onto the bus) and the staff will get it there.

The outbound leg requires some patience. The buses leave the resort at 0715h and EVERYONE wants to be first so the bickering and pushing in line starts at the resort, then there are only 3 check-in desks at the airport (which were 30 minutes late opening) so it continues there. By contrast Canada Customs was an absolute dream! I don't mean to cast a negative on this vacation - the Cuban people do (as always)what they can with the facilities and staff they have so please don't take out any frustrations you may have on them. Just be prepared. On a positive note, the bus ride is in the light (on our YYZ Saturday trip it was anyway) that goes through a few cities and villages and you will likely have a knowledgeable chatty tour guide relaying great info during the trip - we almost felt like we had a freebie tour - very cool.


The Melia is a beautiful resort, but not "typical" of what we've seen in the past at Melia/Sol side-by-sides at Guillermo and Coco. Usually (in our experience) the Melias have had more "greenery" and fish-filled ponds than the Sol, but this role was somewhat reversed. However the major advantage goes to the Melia with the rooms - they are huge beautiful. The other good news is you have full use of the Sol facilities right next door except for food, but the Sol staff seemed perfectly happy to serve food to Melia guests. We had Grill Cheese sandwiches at the Sol Pool Bar (can't understand at all why the Melia doesn't have this essential food group) and we were freely offered lunch at the beach Restaurant, but decided since it was a bit busy to not be greedy and take up a table. It looked good too with a big grill set up with fish, chicken and burgs cooking. Either way I would recommend staying at the Melia, if not for the rooms alone but also since the Sol residents cannot use the Melia facilities.

For the first 5 days it was about 90% Canadian, with the majority french-speaking (even the travellers from Toronto). It was pretty quiet, that is until "the Italians landed". (Please, no offence intended. :-) On Thursday a full plane-load of Italian visitors arrived and the overall aura changed from the cultural change and the significant increase in numbers of guests. For example, the beach chair situation became a fair bit more "aggressive" - going to the beach lost a lot of the laid back fun. Plus they had a few "private" events happening that Canadians essentially were not welcome at. Just goes to show how easy it is to get used to the Canadian "laidback" way of life.

It also goes to show how versatile the Cubans are to adjusting to different incoming cultures and expectations. For example, the buffet was a bit limited at the Melia during the first part of the visit until the Italians arrived, at which point the types and varieties of foods changed.

We did not partake in any tours, but some new friends went on the Jungle Tour and enjoyed it. Be sure to visit the dock and lake across the road - you will see the entrance across the road from the Sol front entrance.


As mentioned, the buffet was a bit limited. Food was good, but the lineups were a bit long. The beach restaurant was good as was the pool restaurant (get there early for the pizza). I would highly recommend going the the Beach Restaurant for breakfast - they open at 0930h, are much less busy than the buffet and do table service. So instead of standing in line for 10 minutes for an omlette, you can order at the table and relax. If you love cats as we do, there are numerous ones living around the Beach Restaurant plus a pair of beautiful friendly tabbies at the pool - stunning kitties!

A La Cartes were good too. The Mediterranian was good (Filet Mignon was awesome) and the Italian was good too. You can book them one visit each for the week, but if you want to re-visit one of them go on the day of the booking and they will try to fit you in if there are openings.


The Spa and Gym are brand new. The Spa is free for the first use, then $20 per hour after that. The men and ladies are separated to each side, then you get the full circuit (dry and steam sauna, hot tub bath, pool, jacuzzi). The jacuzzi was a riot - it was more like riding an old pickup down a washboard dirt road but man it was refreshing! I highly recommend taking the free curcuit at least. Massage is available at extra cost.

That's all I can think of for now, I'll add more if I think of it. Feel free to ask questions!

Last edited by CanuckMark on Sun Jan 15, 2006 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:06 am
Location: Ontario

Postby CanuckMark » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:15 pm

Wanted to add one other thing (attn Steve YYZ): I ended up bringing my laptop after some debate. I had on a previous trip brought an old one with only a issue at Cuba entry where I had to fill out a simple customs entry form. This time though, the laptop is my main computer and I didn't want to loose it.

I have been told by the Cuban Tourist Board in Toronto that if the laptop has a DVD ROM they will not allow it, but they didn't even look for that. On entry they didn't even look at the computer, they wanted to see the hotel voucher. They want to be sure I was only there for a week and it was going back with me (that's my guess anyway).

If you want to bring it, be sure to get the Canada Customs form filled out before you go and I would suggest not bringing any DVDs (like movies for evening entertainment). I would suggest only bringing copies of your movies (in case they get confiscated), or, better yet, rip them to your harddrive so they can just be viewed that way then just delete them when you are done.

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Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:06 am
Location: Ontario

Postby luvthesun » Sun Jan 15, 2006 1:06 pm

Thanks for thr very informative report !! Do you have any pics?? thanks for sharing-this resort is on our list.
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Location: N.B.Canada

Postby CanuckMark » Sun Jan 15, 2006 5:20 pm

Believe it or not we didn't take too many pictures! We seem to take more photos when we get a bit "bored" so I guess that's a good sign. :-)

I'll dig through the ones we did take and post them later.

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Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:06 am
Location: Ontario

buffet restaurant

Postby beachgirl » Fri Feb 17, 2006 9:36 am

Silly question, I know, but just wondering if the buffet restaurant is air-conditionned.
Also, is the Melia much nicer than the sister resort,
Sol Cayo Santa Maria? Do you know if their buffet restaurant is air-conditionned.
We have stayed at resorts where their buffets were not air-conditionned (dinner time) and it was very hot!
Thanks for the info.
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Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:23 pm

Postby CanuckMark » Sat Feb 18, 2006 10:42 pm

Actually that is a very good question! I don't know - all I can say is whenever we ate at the buffet the temperature was always pleasant, day or evening. It is indoors so my guess is there is some sort of air conditioning.

As for which is nicer, that's a tough call and a personal one at that. Personally I would say some of the facilities at the Sol were nicer, but the extra cost of staying at the Melia could easily be justified in the nicer rooms.

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Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:06 am
Location: Ontario

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