At the very beginning of 2017 Rachel and I went on a vacation to Cuba with my sister. Rachel and I had just accepted new jobs in a new town and took advantage of the transition time to take a bit of extra time to escape the Canadian winter which was especially harsh that year. While booking this vacation we were very flexible in where we were going as we wanted to save money which also explains why we celebrated New Years 2017 on an airplane bound for Veradero (to be honest, I have spent New Years doing things far less exciting than travelling to the beach). We booked our trip through Sunwing and stayed at the Sol Sirenas Coral Resort.
Upon landing in Cuba, we boarded a bus full of excited travelers and made our way to the resort. As the trip was booked through a vacation charter company, the people on the bus were the same people we would be seeing on a daily basis for the rest of our stay. The bus ride from the airport to the resorts takes nearly an hour and because we all arrived at the same hotel in one bus, there was a reasonably long queue to check in at the resort at about 4:00 in the morning when we arrived. The line moved slowly but the staff were friendly. The lobby was large and well decorated with a vintage car to remind you where you were. Overall, the check in experience was average and within an hour the porter was bringing our bags to our room.
Rachel and I had upgraded our room and as such had an ocean view which we feel is important if we are going to stay at the beach. Our room was not too close to the water but did have a nice view. The room was clean and we left a small tip each day which we could tell was very appreciated and resulted in better service (as Cuba is a communist country, receiving a tip has a greater impact than it might in other countries and throughout our stay, we received excellent service because of our tips). Unfortunately, the bed was quite uncomfortable and sagged in the middle and the shower was usually cold and lacked pressure. While in the washroom it was also obvious that the walls were quite thin as we could often hear the conversations of staff members taking a break.
Fortunately, the hotel was able to accommodate our request to be near my sister’s room as she was located just across the hall. When we saw her room, we questioned whether the upgrade was worthwhile as the rooms were nearly the same and the view from her room was arguably as nice as ours.
The resort was quite large with all the amenities we could hope for. The grounds were nice and there were a number of pools, bars, and restaurants. Cuba is not known for their food and this hotel was no exception. The benefit of this was that we were not compelled to overindulge as we might at other resorts. The food was well cooked and we never got sick and Rachel was able to find a number of gluten and dairy free options at the buffet. The staff were friendly and after tipping the first day, our waitress always reserved a table for us and gave us prompt service. We highly recommend tipping even a dollar or two at each meal.
The grounds were generally well maintained. There was one elevator that was under maintenance when we arrived that was kept closed til near the end of our stay. Once open, we tried taking it to our floor but when it stopped at our floor the doors never opened. I managed to pry the doors open and we stepped up to our floor and avoided that elevator for the rest of our stay.
In our experience Cuba may have the nicest beaches. The sand was white and the ocean was blue and picturesque. Furthermore, Cuba felt very safe. We were not constantly saying no to vendors and felt comfortable exploring on our own. We walked and took public transit almost everywhere we went with the exception of our obligatory ride in a vintage car.
We will have to write more about what we did in Cuba in a future post.
Eventually it was time to leave but we definitely were not ready. Cuba is a beautiful and surprisingly comfortable country even when your hotel isn’t the most comfortable. I would love to go back one day and highly recommend the country. The hotel however is average. In the future, Rachel and I would stay at another hotel but Sol Sirenas Coral Resort was not too bad, it is just average.