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Reviewed 28 January 2016 via mobile

Beach was awesome. Rooms were not well kept, sheets were washed when we got there but didn't get blood stains out. Food lines for omelet or eggs in morning was a joke, and in the evening lines for fresh cooked steak or chicken was even worse. Please train staff. Old bed outside our door was there for 3 days.

Date of stay: January 2016
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
3  Thank Wally H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nabil2016, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Be Live Collection Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 2 February 2016

Dear customers.

First of all, we apologize and offer you our excuses for not having completely fulfilled your expectations in this occasion. We continuously strive to meet our client’s expectations and our main goal is your satisfaction; therefore, your opinion is very important and really significant for us. You can rest assured that your remarks will be taken into consideration and we will do our best to improve in the points by you indicated.

Regarding their comments about your vacation in our hotel, we're deeply sorry about they didn't received what you had expected to receive.
Dear customers.I would like you to know that in Cayo Santa María, our guests are the most important aspect, the pivot point of our activity and towards whom we address our constant efforts, aiming at providing our guests a fully enjoyable stay. Therefore, we sincerely regret that this unfortunate event had actually damaged your global appreciation of our Hotel.

We have checked with our Chefs and they have already taken the necessary steps to avoid any reoccurrence of such incidents in the future.

We have checked with our Housekeeping Managers about your troubles with the cleaning in the room; please, understand this, we have a supervisor in every building monitoring the cleaning of every room day by day. Such kinds of things barely happen. However, we offer our sincere apologizes for everything.

Finally, it would be an honor for us if you give us a new opportunity to demonstrate you the quality of the services and staff of our hotel.

Once again we offer you our apologies and we hope that you continue on trusting our Hotel and our Company.

Sincerely

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 January 2016

My husband & I were in Cuba for the first time last year and stayed at the Blau Varadero in Varadero. Because the weather was a bit cooler then we'd hoped we decided to go a bit further and settled on Cayo Santa Maria so were there from January 14-21. For the first time ever we flew with AirTransat rather then Sunwing and personally, I think you get better bang for your buck with Sunwing, but the flight in itself was fine. The weather was cool when we arrived in Santa Clara so we still needed our jackets when we got off the plane. Check-in at the airport was rather smooth and seamless and we were on our bus heading to resort in good time. The bus ride to the resort is about 90 minutes, and unfortunately our AirTransat rep decided it was a good idea to stop in the middle of nowhere on the causeway heading to the island for a "pee pee break", which translated meant a smoke break for all those who just rode three hours on a plane and then smoked their brains out an hour ago at the airport. Annoying? Yes, but hey, you're on holidays and hopefully you didn't really have to have a pee pee because there was nowhere for a lady to do that! ;)

Our bus arrived at the resort and it was a bit confusing as to what was happening with where we were to go but it was soon apparent that we should go directly to check-in and retrieve our luggage afterwards. So if you go, when you get off the bus go directly to check-in and don't worry about your luggage until afterwards. It's perfectly safe and in plain view, but waiting rather then checking in will be a mistake. Others claimed check-in was painfully slow, and it is. The reason it's so slow is because they are also doing the currency exchange at the same time so it makes for a long process, but the bonus is once checked in you don't have to go to another location to exchange your currency. Because the Cuban peso trades using the value of the American dollar the exchange is very high right now. I purchased $200 Cuban pesos and it cost me $340 Canadian dollars.

We easily found our room, which was at the very end of the resort in building 16. It was very quiet as it was completely out of the hub of the main lobby and the pools. It was a good walk to the buffet, etc. but my husband & I were thankful for the opportunity to walk so that was a bonus. It was seconds from the beach though so that was another bonus. The room was on the third floor, which if you want to see the ocean is where you'll have to be. The view was stunning and well appreciated. We had a patio to sit on but there was no privacy as the "walls" that separated you from your neighbour were only made of fabric. You could see through them and hear everything. There was also only a pergola style roof over our heads so if it rained you would not be able to sit outside.

The room was fairly clean but for a fairly new resort we were quite surprised at the wear it was already showing. When we entered the room I noticed the pole lamp beside the patio door had an usual shade tipped forward but realized it was actually broken and hanging by a thread. My husband has learned to bring a small tool kit with him to resorts so was able to fix it. He also had to fix the cabinet door where the bar fridge was as it was left hanging open all the time. And, he also had to fix the cable on our t.v. as it had somehow been damaged and the connection only allowed for a fuzzy picture. He repaired all these things and it was fine. What wasn't fine however was the shower that wasn't properly caulked and caused our bathroom to flood, and I mean flood (!!!) every single time we had a shower. There are no bathroom towels to spare, and our requests to have it fixed went unanswered, so we just knew to wear shoes into the bathroom.

Our housekeeper was well tipped and we left gifts, and it seemed to pay off as we had ample toilet tissue, etc. A gentleman showed up at our door every evening offering to restock the refrigerator and was pretty willing to give you what you wanted within reason. We even got a nice bottle of rum one evening.

The grounds were beautiful, the pools were amazing. The kids are well taken care of, plenty to do for them, and the kiddie pool is nowhere near the "adult" pool so if you didn't want to be near kids you didn't have to, but if you didn't mind the kiddie pool was actually three pools joined that were awesome, and a bar was there too for anyone wishing a cool beverage.

The food.......eek.....I'm not fussy at all. I have always been told I must have a cast iron stomach but the food here was a bit of a stumble for me. It wasn't even that it was terrible, it was that is was almost always cold. I am not sure why because the bins at the buffet seemed to be steaming, but believe me, the food was lukewarm at best which when it comes to veggies and potatoes, etc. I have a difficult time with that. There were four a la cartes but you are only able to book two of them, which I have no idea why. You aren't missing anything though as we found the food to be underwhelming and the atmosphere lacking any sort of elegance (usually the a la cartes have some pizzaz....these had no pizzaz and paper napkins.....I know, seems petty but....). That being said, we never went hungry. At the breakfast buffet you will be well served to wait the ten or fifteen minutes in line to get a fresh omelette or crepes. They were awesome!! And the coffee with milk.....to do for! The lunch buffet is outdoors so again, a lot of cold food. They roasted baby pigs twice while we were there for lunch and it was fantastic!!!! There was usually some other kind of meat being cooked on an open grill there too so something for everyone. There is a 24 hour snack bar that has pizza, burgers, hotdogs, and often open grilled chicken (yumm!!!) The evening buffet also has meat that can be cooked to order and is worth the wait for something hot. That being said, I find the meat such as steak, pork, or lamb, to be quite sinewy and they do not provide you with anything but a serrated butter knife. Makes it a bit interesting but you put enough salt and garlic on anything and it tastes great!

My husband had some stomach issues from the food that lasted a few days after the trip. It doesn't seem they handle or store their food very well, and their method of handling things is questionable. In spite of ice cream being available everywhere, spoons are not. You have to ask for a spoon. One day at lunch my husband went to a server and asked for two spoons. She pulled a clean one out of her apron and pulled another one out of the dirty dishes, wiped it with a cloth and handed it to my husband.....eeewwwww!!!!!

We didn't have any problems with bug bites of any sort but we did have a problem with the way they sprayed for bugs. We were strolling to dinner one evening when a very noisy cart drove by us but then turned around to come back and released the thickest fog of bug spray I've ever witnessed. People we running and scattering all over the place. It was so thick you could hardly see where you were going. I had a scarf with me and covered my face and my husband ran into the bushes. We couldn't believe they would do this with no warning, especially given the number of children and pregnant women there. This happened every single evening and we just got to know approximately what time and waited until after we heard him go by to walk down for dinner.

Golf carts were everywhere, being driven by the employees, as the resort is quite large. Pedestrians need to be on the look out all the time as the carts don't have horns and they drive like maniacs down the footpaths the guests are also required to use. We noticed several carts with smashed windshields and our guess is it wasn't from hitting a deer! If you have children you'd want to be sure you had a firm grip on them at all times when walking the sidewalks.

And the staff, well what can I say except they are absolutely wonderful!!! The Cuban people are warm, kind, polite, and lovely. I have nothing but good to say about the service as it was excellent and they were very attentive. They appreciate your tips, and as "rich" Canadians we certainly can afford this. I was talking to one of our servers in the bar at the lobby and she told me they work 6 days a week, 8 hours a day, plus two hours on a bus back & forth to the resort, and they make at best $20 pesos a month. Yes, tips are appreciated. We tipped our servers well, our housekeeper, and even one of the gentlemen tending the grounds. We're just so blessed and they are so appreciative.

There is mostly nothing in the area but there is a market down the street at a neighbouring resort (The Royalton, I believe) that was fun to visit a couple of times. We took the bus there, which comes to the door of your resort, for $2 pesos each, one way, but realized it was so close we should try walking, so I timed it and it took us 17 minutes to walk back to our resort. It's very safe to be out and about it Cuba but do be very careful of the traffic. They drive crazy!

So, would we go back? Not likely because there are other places to try. You hear often how bad the food is in Cuba so you just have to accept that fact, but our stay at the Blau Varadero proved the food could be excellent, and since food is such a big part of the resort experience, we'll keep looking or return to the Blau. All in all, not a terrible place by a long stretch and we relaxed nicely, but a few bumps along the way.

Date of stay: January 2016
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
11  Thank KathyB2963
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nabil2016, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Be Live Collection Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 28 January 2016


Dear customers.

First of all, we apologize and offer you our excuses for not having completely fulfilled your expectations in this occasion. We continuously strive to meet our client’s expectations and our main goal is your satisfaction; therefore, your opinion is very important and really significant for us. You can rest assured that your remarks will be taken into consideration and we will do our best to improve in the points by you indicated.

Regarding their comments about your vacation in our hotel, we're deeply sorry about they didn't received what you had expected to receive in some services.

Concerning the problems of maintenance and technical failures, we indeed know that kind of imperfections and we are doing a systematic restoration of every place that you mentioned, among others.
Relating the truck that we use to spray for the bugs, please, understand this, this is not pollution, is a necessary measure to eliminate the mosquitoes and others bugs, additionally, that truck only spray early in the morning and late at night, when there are few guests out of his rooms.
Relating to food and the cleaning in the Buffets, we are glad to report to you that there are many options in our Resort, 3 Restaurants "a la carte", 2 buffets and many barbecues, also we have a Snack Bar, as you can see, the customer has several options to choose, for example in our Buffet we daily serve at least 5 kinds of meats, 5 kinds of seafood, 5 kinds of pastas, 5 kinds of vegetables, 5 kinds of fruits among other options. Nevertheless, we always try to make the best food in presentation and flavors in the more frequented Restaurants, as the buffet or the Restaurants "a la carte", we always try to satisfy all the petitions of every customer regarding his nationality. Daily we do a meeting with our Chefs to improve the quality of the food, and making a review of the last day, correcting the mistakes and the complaints or the suggestions of the customers. Furthermore we follow a strict observance of the normative and the standard of quality of the food.
We have checked with our Chefs and they have already taken the necessary steps to avoid any reoccurrence of such incidents in the future.

Many thanks for your opinion.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 January 2016

The Good - One of the more modern looking Cuban resorts we've been to. Relatively newly decorated room. Our room was just a "garden view" but it did have a close view of the ocean which was unexpected and nice. The shower worked well. The toilet flushed well. Our bottled water was replaced often and we had no trouble asking for another several bottles when we wanted.

The staff were amazingly friendly, almost weirdly friendly, robotic smiles, as though they had been to a training camp for friendliness. But seriously they were very good and I would like to know how the company maintains such a high level of customer service in the face of thousands of visitors a week. The only grumpy ones were the women (not the men) on the front desk. But honestly, no resort would be complete without the grumpy front desk ladies.

Bar drinks were average to good. Just as expected.

The pools and pool area was very nice and clean, overlooking the beach. Frequent waiter service around the pool was also unexpected.

We got it super cheap, booking only 2 days in advance via Trip Central.

The Bad - Food was pretty awful as usual. A neverending array of suspicious looking fish and meat stews. The salad stuff was nice and fresh though and the bread was good. But generally the food was awful.

I'd be amazed if the blankets in the rooms were ever laundered, they smelled funny. Another reviewer said the same and I believe them.

The "snack bar" was chaos. We ordered some food and drinks from a poor overworked, pregnant waitress and were completely forgotten about. We could see our drinks had been made up and were on the bar, so after half an hour we got up and took them ourselves. The food never came. The snack bar needed more staff.

The beach. Not the best beach on the Santa Maria development, very rocky with little sand. The sand that was there was beautiful. I know some of the other hotels have better, larger stretches of beach than this one. It didn't help, though, that the ocean was so rough while we were there.

The weather. !! Booooo, it was cold and windy! Why can't we control the weather yet??

The Ugly - traveller's diarrhea strikes again. I don't know if its the food in these resorts or its just because you are sharing facilities with a thousand other people, we both got sick. I'm not sure we are going to do another all inclusive budget trip again. Being herded like cattle to a government run "resort", it's an odd, surreal experience, and probably not worth the travelling. However,it was nice to see some palm trees in January.

Date of stay: January 2016
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
4  Thank Vicki L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nabil2016, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Be Live Collection Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 28 January 2016

Dear customer.

Many thanks for your opinion. For us is very important to know how was your trip to our installation.
We continuously strive to meet our client’s expectations and our main goal is your satisfaction; therefore, your opinion is very important and really significant for us. You can rest assured that your remarks will be taken into consideration and we will do our best to improve in the points by you indicated.
Dear customers.I would like you to know that in Cayo Santa María, our guests are the most important aspect, the pivot point of our activity and towards whom we address our constant efforts, aiming at providing our guests a fully enjoyable stay. Therefore, we sincerely regret that the unfortunate event that you suffered.
Finally, it would be an honor for us if you give us a new opportunity to demonstrate you the quality of the services and staff of our hotel.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 January 2016 via mobile

What a wonderful time! This was our first time to Cuba , Cayo Santa Maria the catamaran and the jeep safari are the excursions we went on and we're both wonderful days. Would stay here again. It was worth it to stay here. Our first room had air conditioner issues but moved to a new room that had no hot water but soon was in a room that was cool and comfortable with all hot and cold water running. Beach was wonderful staff very helpful and friendly we would go to the beach in the morning and the pool for the afternoon. The food was ok the buffet was big and always something to eat even for the pickiest person.

Date of stay: January 2016
Trip type: Travelled with family
5  Thank cherylsD4690GP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 January 2016

My husband and I just returned from that resort. This is our 7th trip to Cuba. We have been to Varadero to several resorts there, Holguin, and Havana.
Let me point our point of view and why.
First of all the resort claim to be a family resort and I don't see food appropriate to any kids.No soups or hot meal based on milk what so ever. Not to mention soups for adults that were uneatable.
Meals are very cold not properly heated on trays. They only served the same menu over and over again: lunch and diner are all the same. Food is truly recycled. Any leftover from previous days are turned into new meals on the next.
No tea spoons on the table ever. You have to ask waiter or waitress to handle it to you. This resort has no basic needs available. No wonder all people has stomach problems. We were no different. We had same diarrhea during our 14 days of stay. We could not wait to come back home. I could not believe it that all the negative reviews were all true!!!!
Next, please don't leave any change in your pockets of you clothes. Out 2 of 5 Conv.. Pesos bills and some 3 or 4 1 coin of them were gone. This happened first time to us in those seven trips in the past.
Spanish built a beautiful resort with nice gardens and that is a plus for them. Beach is unique and beautiful . From the staff we would say 2% are nice and appreciative. We don't drink any alcohol and we had hard time to find any good juice except from the staff that helped us who took care of the contains of the fridges.
We are glad to be home and we have quite enough of the experiences in Cuba. Time to travel some place else. We talk to new comers especially those from Europe :-) and they were highly disappointed
I solely agree with all of the negative reviews. This part of Cuba ruin their reputation and push away many good clientele.
I reported to Management about the incident with pocket picking by staff and had no response at all.
Food is tasteless, COLD and REPETITIVE to the point of a stomach ache. .

Date of stay: January 2016
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
3  Thank Barbara K W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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