Iberostar Ensenachos, Cayo Santa Maria (Isla).
Cayo Ensenachos Santa María Clara, Cuba
Well, I am overdue on my articles but, I am still unsure of what to say about this resort, this area and this Country. It is almost a question of writing about the country to understand the resort.
One one hand, I want to compare this resort to other Caribbean resorts I have stayed at, that were of a comparable price but then on the other hand, I have to look at this and say, ”This is Cuba!”. Read on to understand.
If I were to say all things are equal and I am comparing the rooms, service, restaurant quality, beaches etc. from other resorts to this one I would come up with a different chat to the one I have today. It is almost each area need to be rated. For example, the beaches in this area are among the best in the world. I’m not just saying this, it is a fact in the Cayo Santa Maria area. Much better than the other areas where resorts are allowed in this country and yes, even better than Bavaro or Negril.
On the other hand, we have all the problems of the Cuban Management System to contend with. Up to this point, I really don’t understand this part fully. I know that multiple resorts have pulled the on site upper management and replaced it with experts in the field. However, they were not experts in the local government and improvements did not happen as planned. This seems to be a consistent theme among the resorts.
You may not know what I am referring to here so just as a point or two for reference and there are many. Let’s see; from time to time, you may not have beach towels available. the official excuse for this is that all towels need to be laundered and serviced by a local Cuban company, employing people in the nearby towns and even building these towns to a larger size. At first, this sounds great. As Canadians, we tend to say, it is okay to go multiple days without a clean towel, as long as we know we are sacrificing to save the local economy.
This is a very real problem and will happen to you at some point on a trip to this country. What I do not understand is why the management, knowing that from time to time, this is going to happen, do not stock an extra week’s worth, or even two weeks worth of towels at the resort so they have a supply to draw on as needed? Seems like an easy solution that would be paid for with the saving of one bad review, not to mention 20-30 about this problem.
Another example would be repairs to pool areas, walkways, lighting I.e. Maintenance problems; Honestly, this one happened to me personally. I had a maintenance issue in my room and they were sending someone over as soon as “he” was free. this seemed odd to me so after a few minutes, I used my property management background experience to solve the issue and called and cancelled the request. When i did, I asked how many were on call for issues and i was told that there was one person for this.
I went out and headed for the main lobby and as i was walking along the path, I noticed one person working on the wiring to the path lights. I stopped and chatted to him and between broken Spanish and broken English, it soon became apparent that he was that one person looking after everything. Now, since the resort is supposed to be employing local Cubans for this work, wouldn’t it make sense to hire four or five people to make sure that no one on the resort who has a problem has to wait an excessive amount of time?
Again, I don’t profess to understand the problems with the Cuban government, but I do understand good Hotel Management and from what I could see, many of the problems I have encountered in four trips to this country are never what they seem to be. There just can’t be that many bad managers.
We Canadians are a very mild-mannered people. You can step on our toes as long as it does not hurt too much. I do think that so many of the positive reviews are Canadians defending this cherished little island that we have had as our private playground for far too many years. This is going to change for all of this country over the next several years if relations with the US start to allow tourists from that country to come to Cuba.
Americans are not Canadians or people from the EU. I can just about guarantee that they will 100% not put up with the poor management that takes place at these resorts currently. I am not just talking about Cayo Santa Maria Resorts, but also Varadero and Cayo Coco as well.
In the past, we Canadians have enjoyed trips to Cuba at one half the cost of Jamaica and about a third less than the Dominican Republic. but, this year, it is changing. I think mainly because of the demand, costs are climbing closer and closer to other Island nations and with that, they will have to compete with some of the best resorts.
Even with a hands down best beach area, they can’t continue to offer terrible service, terrible food, terrible mold filled accommodations. The sad thing about this is that it seems that it is the Cuban Government, according to the resort staff, that have caused this problem. What seems to be missing is the damage it is doing to the reputation of the nation on whole. If there are government regulations that are to be followed, then at the same time the government should have regulations on Minimum standards. resorts should face fines or penalties if they are found to be damaging the image of the Cuban Nation.
Can the Cuban tourist industry be saved? Of course it can, but not by this article. I doubt I will find a buyer for this rant so it will go largely unnoticed short of Social Media. No the solution to all of this will come from an unexpected area. I truly believe that people from the USA will be allowed to visit and spend their money in Cuba in a few years. When this happens, the reviews and hostile response that they will have for problems will force the Cuban government and the Resort Owners to come to a quick solution. Let’s see what happens.
Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=503
The Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta
Posted by Laura Snow on March 7, 2015 1
Nestled in the Puerto Vallarta Marina beach strip, the Casa Magna Marriott is a beautiful beachfront resort, with a full conference center, five restaurants, three pools and a fantastic fitness centre. The tropical grounds of the resort are covered in cacti, palm trees, flowering vines and lush gardens. The moment we walked through the front entrance, I immediately felt like I was in a tropical paradise. When you walk up the front steps you can see straight through the other side of the building to the pool and beach!
The hotel is very close to the airport, which is amazing when you just want to get to your hotel and put on cooler clothes on your arrival. It’s set outside of the downtown area, but still only a 10-15 minute bus or taxi ride to the city center or hotel zone. We had no trouble getting around Puerto Vallarta during our stay, and greatly enjoyed the quiet atmosphere of the area. The Casa Magna is not an all-inclusive hotel so has fewer people who just came to drink and party. Even though we left our kids at home we appreciated the family atmosphere. There are three golf courses near-by, the hotel has a five star spa and you can do many water activities right from the beach in front of the hotel.
The marina is only a five-minute walk from the hotel, and has many shops, services, restaurants, boat charters and dive shops. We spent a lot of time there since we took a scuba diving trip from PV Scuba in the marina. The marina has a totally different feel at night with many open air restaurants and boats all lit up.
The grounds, pool areas, and guest areas at the hotel were kept very clean. Our bed was extremely comfortable and the room had everything we needed. You have to pay for internet in the room but wifi is free and very fast in the lobby and pool area.
All of the staff at the hotel were very friendly, and helpful especially the bellhops at the front door of the hotel. They helped us get taxis, let us know where we could walk to and remembered us when we came back.
There are many locals selling their hats, jewellery, blankets and souvenirs on the beach in front of the hotel every day. They are very nice people. Talk to them. If you don’t want to buy anything just tell them no a few times and then start a conversation. They love to talk and often have questions about where you’re from!
We ate at three of the restaurants on site and I would highly recommend any of the Mexican dishes from any of them. The buffet was excellent with many, made to order, items including a local specialty: Chicadiles. This breakfast plate is made with taco chips, eggs, shredded chicken, ranchero sauce and cheese. My husband highly recommends it! There were also made to order omelettes and breakfast fajitas! My favourite drink at the Casa Magna was a fresh juice made from cactus, celery, orange juice and some other veggies/fruits I can’t remember. It was delicious and I had it almost every day. I would not recommend getting the american style food at the resort – the “american” cheese isn’t what we’re used to. It’s a much better idea to order the local food, and try new things!
The hotel has a fantastic view of the ocean, and city, especially at night. I was also lucky enough to see a humpback whale, in the ocean, from the hotel on my last day. The rooms all seem to have a wonderful view, but we really liked ours, with the sun setting over the ocean, directly in front of the balcony.
The beach was a little rough, at times, to swim in, but clean and warm. My husband did not hesitate to play in the waves, more than once! I stuck to the pool, which was warm and had a pool bar!
While we were at the Casa Magna, Marriott Hotels had a program going on with Go Pro where you could test drive a Go Pro Hero 4 camera. This was such a fun opportunity! We took the Go Pro with us on our scuba dive to Los Arcos and are so happy we have a video to remember it by!
Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=494
Is Cancellation Insurance worth the cost?
Before today, I would have questioned on how to answer this question. Being in Canada, the inexpensive flyer to the islands is Sunwing. I have had great and not so great, vacations in the past, but the price being so far below the commercial carriers, it is hard to complain too much.
This time around, I was booking a trip to Cuba. Now I wanted the great prices of Sunwing, but I also wanted the 24 equal interest free payments from Sears Travel offered there. This meant I has to book through Signature Travel, owned by Sunwing, Through Sears Travel. Isn’t booking fun here in Canada.
To make matters worse, Cancellation Insurance from Sears was over $200, but I was able to get the same from Sunwing for $50.00. Go figure that one out. I decided to take it at that price and also ordered the Privilege upgrade for extra leg room and pre-boarding etc. on the flight. Not giving this part a second thought.
I went ahead with the booking at my hotel, a new one in that was just opening and I thought that it would make for a nice series of articles to be at a resort that very few had been at. This might have been great except, two months after the grand opening, the bad reviews started coming in. To make matters worse, others, that stayed earlier, started writing in stating that they also had a bad trip but did not want to write about it since it was so soon after the opening.
They hoped that things would get better as staff training progressed, however, people reporting later showed things were getting worse and not better. This led them to the more reviews of what they experienced.
Now I wanted to have an experience where I could write about it, but I did want it to be positive so for the first time I decided to change hotels. Here is where I was surprised by Sunwing. Because I bought the privilege upgrade package, it turns out there was an undisclosed benefit where they would allow me to change my plans once and only pay the difference between my current hotel’s rate and the hotel of my choice’s posted rated. This did not affect my cancellation insurance so it was a great deal for me and saved my vacation.
For those following my posts, I am now booked into the Iberostar Ensenachos. Still flying into Santa Maria on the same flight but, at a resort that has almost 1,400 5 out of 5 star reviews. Not to shabby.
More on this resort soon….
Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=479
Planning a trip can be a stressful experience and most will be counting every penny to leave as much as possible in the discretionary fund while on the journey. However, insurance is a must-have and the expense of it absolutely needs to be built into…
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