Here are a few pictures from my abbreviated trip. I will add a few more when I have time. The snorkelling ones were taken early morning when the light wasn’t good…other than that, I mostly took pictures to show the tree damage done by Hurricane Ike. I will add some I took of the rooms, etc.
I’m not planning to write a review, as I was not there long enough and under the circumstances (imminent hurricane/evacuation) my impressions might have been somewhat coloured by the stress and confusion. I will add a few comments, however.
Being “upgraded” to Paradisus Rio de Oro for a mere 12 hours does not give one a fair assessment of this property. However, a few observations: the rooms are huge. This is not necessarily a good thing. Personally I did not like the step down from the bed area to the living area, or the orientation of the television…impossible to watch from your bed. My room was ground floor, and there was a real problem with a musty odor…probably from water during Hurricane Ike, but not something that went away after running the A/C for awhile. The buffet restaurant is covered but open air. There are smoking sections in it. As the old joke goes, sort of like having peeing and non peeing sections in the pool. (I notice the pool has a swim up bar, so they are being consistent! ;D ) On the plus side, the staff are pleasant and the PR lady was very helpful when I needed to send an email and didn’t want to buy a 30 minute card when I was checking out in a couple of hours. I can’t comment on the food, as I only ate breakfast at this resort and I found it typical of most Cuban resorts I have stayed at…
Mares was as I remembered it from my last visit. I would have had a third floor room had I remained there, and there was no problem with any musty odor in it. Staff were mostly pleasant, but nobody had any info about our imminent evacuation and the tour rep was nowhere to be found most of the time.
I would like to add one more observation…not to reopen a prickly topic, but to perhaps explain the actions of some tourists re: tipping with Canadian coins. The tour rep suggested on the bus to the airport that we tip the driver. He further suggested that any tip, including Canadian money and including “Toonies & Loonies” would be most welcome. So much for the theory that such tips are “useless” to Cubans. What they are is a pain in the butt to other tourists who will be asked to change them into bills or CUCs, but please don’t feel sorry for the Cubans…they have no problem dealing with the money exchange thing, and I would suspect some are making a living changing money for others…“es Cuba”!