Stay, Play, Try & Fly is a 4 part mini-series that I am writing for the second year in a row. Last year, the features first year, I posted about my trip to Panama. This year I will be posting about my trip to Cuba – Cayo Santa Maria. This year we traveled May 1st through 8th and had a friend accompany us. This features allows me tie my love of travelling into my review writing. It allows me to share some of my experiences with my readers.
The series will be broken down into four posts. Stay, Play, Try & Fly. Each post will focus on a different aspect of our vacation. This first post will focus on the hotel we stayed at. Posted later this week will be the Play post that will discuss the excursions we took.
Lets get started…
Playa Cayo Santa Maria is the only Cuban owned all-inclusive resort in Cayo Santa Maria. Rated 4.5 stars this hotel boasts beautiful beaches, lush grounds, and many pools. The spacious rooms are clean and tastefully decorated. Our room was ocean-view and the view was a mixture of beach and lush greenery. The balconies were pretty private offering a nice place to enjoy an entire bottle of champagne or get a little frisky ;). Our king sized bed was 2 doubles pushed together which was interesting, but not uncommon at resorts. Our bathroom was equipped with a walk in shower, vanity, and toilet. It was clean but the drainage was poor and the shower poured out onto the floor. We had nice hot water with gentle pressure. It was difficult to rinse my hair but oh well. Housekeeping did a great job of tidying our room each day. A new towel sculpture greeted us each day. A unique item I found was a piece of paper that you can leave on your bed if you don’t want your sheets changed. I don’t need clean sheets every single day so why waste the water? The fridges are stocked by an outside company and we always had nice cold drinks that were replenished every day.
The pools and common grounds were always well kept and although full of people there were always chairs to be found. The different pools offered different environments. The main pool was lively by the bar but quiet on the opposite side. There were two quiet side pools and another quieter pool by the snack bar. The beach was beautiful and there were always chairs available. If not close by there were always staff offering to bring you some. The only negative to the beaches was that in order to get to the water you had to climb down rocks. Better stairs need to be built to make it safer and more accessible to guests. The gardens were always nicely kept. There were a few areas of standing water however and that contributed to lots of mosquitos. They did spray for bugs once while we were there but often at night the bugs were too bad to get out and enjoy.
The bars and restaurants were fine. There was always something hot to eat. I frequented the live cooking stations for fresher meals. Breakfast was omelettes, lunch was fried rice, and dinner was usually an a la carte or grilled meat and pizza stations. I reacted badly to something one day that led me to sticking to those fresh stations. Each a la carte we found to only be okay. The seafood offered was always delicious but dominated most menus. We found the menu to be wasteful at the Italian. The appetizer was tiny, then there was a soup, then a large plate of pasta or a pizza, and then a full entree such as steak. I was so full before we even got to the entree. Drinks were always plentiful as a bar was nearby every pool. Service was always quick and friendly. We did not visit the rum & cigar bar.
The hotel staff were friendly and went above and beyond on several occasions. The host at the breakfast bar knew us and had a table for us each day, we were given an additional a la carte for our anniversary, and they always had a smile on their faces.
Overall, I can say that I had a great time but I can’t say that I would return to this hotel as my travel desires push me to try somewhere new every trip. Cuba is beautiful and the people were great but I feel that if you have seen it once you have seen it all. This works for some people and all the power to them… but I want something new and exciting for each trip.