CAYO COCO: BLAU COLONIAL HOTEL
Corinne & family (baby 8mos.)
We flew to Cayo Coco via WestJet Vacations the first week of 2010. We paid about 10% more to book with them, but the civilized flight times were well worth the expense. Our flight left Toronto at 10am, getting us there in time for a late lunch. We flew home at around 2:30pm – home in time for dinner. When traveling with little ones those super early/really late flights can really wreak havoc, so I felt the bit of extra money was worth our sanity.
The Blau Colonial is a fairly large resort. Our room was dated and a bit rag-tag, but it was spotlessly clean with an updated bathroom. It was also large enough to fit the two double beds (pushed together to form one massive bed), a crib for the baby and a cot for my 4-year-old daughter. The crib was not new but it was in decent shape so we didn’t need to use the playpen we brought from home (previous experience w/Cuban cribs has taught us to be prepared!) The floor was tile and it had a strange half-step toward the terrace door that we nicknamed “the head cracker” because if you tripped on it and fell, you’d surely crack your head. Luckily this nickname never came to fruition.
The food was decent – a bit repetitive perhaps – but we always found something to eat. The fresh-baked bread was amazing. I found myself wishing for peanut butter or at least some jam, but in hindsight, it’s probably for the best that they didn’t have any. We usually ate at the main buffet for breakfast and dinner (doors open at 6:30pm – not bad) and at the pool-side grill for lunch. Since we had the kids we always took our meals early so we never really had to wait for a table or in a big line at the buffet. I realize that perhaps they don’t have enough facilities to accommodate all their guests, since at a couple of the dinners the line-ups at the buffet went almost out the door. Had we not been there early and avoided the line, I’d have been pretty grumpy (not to mention the kids). They had high chairs available and always managed to find one when we needed one. The a-la-carte restaurants seemed ok – we ate at the Caribbean one and it was quite lovely. A nice touch is that their earlier seating starts at 6pm – which is nice with the little ones. At past resorts we’ve not tried the other restaurants since the seatings are usually much later. After our dinner, the waiter said we could eat there any night we wanted – that we didn’t have to make a reservation. Not sure if it was because we tipped, but we thought that was nice of him.
I was a little surprised at how narrow the beach was, but the Blau’s beach was much better than the resort next door. The sand was lovely – soft and white – and the water was clear and warm. Our weather wasn’t the greatest, so we couldn’t enjoy the beach as much as we would have liked (too windy). We saw two jellyfish, but both times it was when it was too rough to go in the water anyway.
The pools were great – well maintained and clean. A little on the cool side – not heated. We enjoyed watching the lifeguards stand around gossiping about the guests.
If you booked the Blau hoping for children’s programs, you would have been pretty disappointed. They did have a room dedicated to a kids’ club, that was open for a few hours each morning and afternoon. The women working there were lovely, but it was essentially drop-off babysitting that we didn’t end up using. We used the swings and played at the small playground, but I was surprised that the children’s amenities were so few considering the size of the resort and the amount of children there.
We didn’t do any of the packaged excursions, but we did take the bus to Playa Pilar (beautiful beach and felt good to leave the resort). We also hired a cab and did a half day trip to Morón. Unlike Varadero, it was a challenge finding a cab with rear seat belts to install our car seats. Our WestJet rep Guillermo went above and beyond in finding us one. The trip to Morón was a real highlight for us, as there are almost no tourists there. The only restaurant that acceps Convertible Pesos is El Rápido, which my daughter loved because she thought it was McDonalds. The washrooms were clean but no toilet paper. We’re ok since we have the baby with us (always have wipes on hand) but you might want to keep that in mind.
We had a great week in Cuba and the Blau was decent value for the money. I’m not sure I’ll return to Cayo Coco since I didn’t realize that it’s just a hotel strip with nothing else nearby. We like to wander off the resort and explore things on our own and it was more a challenge to do that here than in other parts of Cuba.
CAYO COCO: BLAU COLONIAL HOTEL
Robin & family
Traveled with Sunwing from April 7 – 14th with my husband and two young boys (ages 5 and 3). We booked 3 weeks before departure and paid $3352 for the 4 of us during the Easter holiday. We’ve been to several resorts on many islands ranging from 3 star to 5 star (Mayan Riviera 2x, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Antigua, St. Martin, Aruba, Bahamas, Anguilla) so we can provide an informed opinion. Beach: It was crystal clear and calm during the mornings while we were there. There was a light wind but by early afternoon the wind was strong and the waves were bigger. We basically spent from 8am-11am at the beach and then the pool for the rest of the day. The sand is deep and fine. The beach is VERY long with lots of shade – but I had to be out there by 6:45am to get a shade with 4 sun loungers – if you tip the beach attendant the first day he’ll take care of you the entire week and you can pick where you’d like to sit each day – good idea if you want to sleep in. Note: There are several lifeguards on the beach and one at the pool. Food We thought the food was good, we weren’t expecting much and Cuba has really improved since we last traveled in 1992. The bread is amazing. For breakfast we enjoyed hardboiled eggs, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, pancakes, omelets, chopped up hotdogs were a favorite each morning with the kids, bacon, French toast – their strawberry sauce was delicious; fresh fruit (pineapple, papaya, banana, watermelon), smoothies (add the fruit you want, very good), yogurt, cereal, toast. Lunch was either at the pool area (Yarey) and was off the menu or at the buffet. You will want to get to Yarey a few minutes before they open (12 noon) as it may be difficult to get a seat. The menu consisted of hamburgers, cheese burgers, tex mex burgers (comes with bacon), salad bar, pizza, fish etc., ice cream for the dessert. The buffet was also good, with more selection, and opened at 1pm. Dinner was a choice of 3 a la cartes (Italian, Cuban and seafood) or buffet. We were given vouchers to eat once at each of the a la cartes restaurants (3 vouchers). The menus are posted in customer service and book when you arrive – you can also have them restock your mini-bar daily by just telling them. We liked the Cuban restaurant the best…..Creole and pumpkin soup, hot and cold appetizers, beef, pork, chicken, lamb, red snapper, ice cream for dessert – delicious. Italian was ok, we’re not big seafood eaters, so we ate at the Cuban 2x. Their choices for ice cream during our week were vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, orange-pineapple, chocolate chip – all very good. They also have baked bananas in rum sauce beside the ice cream area…..worth a try with ice cream, it’s very good. Stores on site: There was a snack store (cookies, chips, pop, juice, beer), moped rental, car rental, cigar shop, several gift stores and money exchange. There are vendors on site located outside behind the lobby. They seem to rotate so, different ones would show up each day. You could get better prices at the vendors for some of the same items in the stores. The vendors do not solicit their business, they remain in their section and will not disturb you. Just some side points
- The churros are fantastic (fried pastry with either sugar, cinnamon or chocolate) – located outside the buffet restaurant.
- Pool is nice with many levels, need to get there early for shady area, it’s open from 9am – 6pm.
- Kids club was ok, the staff are very nice, they have activities, soccer table, swings etc. Nobody used it the week we were there.
- You can get sandwiches at the 24 hour bar – took me 3 days to figure that out – the grilled ham and cheese are yummy
- Internet service is very slow, you pay by either 1/2 hour (3 peso’s) or an hour (5 pesos)
- There are NO vendors on this beach – BONUS!
- Put your card key in the slot at the front door to turn on power to room
- I brought a bottle of antibacterial febreeze with us and sprayed all mats, bed covers, chair covers and it just felt cleaner – not sure if actually does anything, but I did feel better.
- TV has several channels but one is Toon for kids – they didn’t care that it was spanish – they love Tom and Jerry and Woody Woodpecker.
- Never used the room service, it was limited for breakfast and for lunch you could order burger with fries, ham/cheese or tuna sandwiches etc.
- They have an activity area by the pool that featured ping pong, soccer table, and billiard table.
- Beach Grill was actually just a bar, no food in site.
Watersports: We used the kayaks, which were in good condition. You need to leave a deposit of 2 pesos, which is returned following the use of the equipment. They offered kayaks, pedal boats (4 seater), hobie cat (small catamarans), wind surfers. They provided a selection of life jackets from small to large but, beware the large is not very large and they do not offer life jackets appropriately sized for small children. Several people brought their own life jackets for the kids – very good idea. Room: We booked a VIP standard room and were given room# 2203. Right away I noticed the block number, I was hoping for a room in 16 or 17 blocks. I put in a request that could have been met the second day, but after seeing our room I knew it was great. Ground floor is great and we basically walked right out to the pool and were close to the bar. There was a patio at the back of the room which was nice and private, so when the kids were napping (ya, they did it once!!!) we would take turns going to the bar and just chill in the sunshine. The room could have used a coat of paint, but it was clean, came with a coffee maker, fridge, bench, two chairs and table. Two double beds were pushed together to make a very large bed. The bathroom was big, but we could have used a dresser for all of us. The wardrobe in the bathroom area contained the safety deposit box. The maid kept our room neat and tidy and I left 2 pesos per day and samples that I had brought from home. We always put out our “clean room please” sign and by 11am our room was always done. Departure to Airport: There was a long line-up to get your boarding passes, next time I will take a taxi before the tour buses pick up tourists at the hotel and beat the line. You have to have your boarding passes BEFORE you pay your departure taxes, they actually put a stamp on the boarding pass and then you go through customs again. The Cubans are very friendly people and you always felt safe. They especially love children. There was a VIP lane, but I’m not sure if that was offered through Sunwing or Air Canada, as both ticketing windows were open at the same time. Our departure was 11am – note that both our flight times were 3 hours and 6 minutes going there and on the way home 3 hours, 11 minutes!
CAYO COCO: BLAU COLONIAL HOTEL
Oshawa Family (baby 2yrs)
We just returned from a week’s stay at the Blau Colonial Cayo Coco with our 2 yr old and had a great week. Thought we’d post our review since we found reading other reviews really helpful in letting us know what to expect. Won’t go into major detail here but overall the hotel and grounds are very nice, the architecture is beautiful and everything is well maintained. Some useful info for those traveling with small kids. The staff are friendly and it is great for families but the mini club is not what you might expect, basically it is just a room poolside (you can sit around the pool and actually see in which is nice) that has one or two girls loosely watching the kids, there is a t.v. and very few toys. A good place to divert them for a bit of time while you catch a few moments of relaxation by the pool but I definitely wouldn’t plan on leaving a child who was very young there alone – they just can’t watch the kids closely enough if there are alot of them in there. That being said though, the staff are all friendly. Especially Yoima, we actually got her to babysit for a few hours one night so we could go to an a la carte. It’s $5CUC an hour, but I recommend asking the girls at kids club directly, we booked it through the hotel and that means they have to give the money to them – much better to help them out by paying them directly we thought. As far as other facilities for kids, we read they had no cribs but were able to get one and same thing for high chairs but a new shipment came in while we were there. Pool is great for kids – one or two good sized sections of the pool that are shallow. Rooms in the 14, 15 or 16 block are great for being really close to everything (all though everything is still quite close) but our child still naps so we requested a walk out and were able to put our chairs in the sun and be close enough to take turns strolling to the beach bar or jumping in the ocean or pool for a dip. Overall notes about the resort, the food was good with plenty of selection at the buffet. The a la cartes were fine too. Just keep in mind that it is Cuba and you’re not going to get everything you get at home. Staff were all very friendly and appreciative of any gifts you bring (we brought toiletry items, t-shirts, hats etc which they seem to like). Beach was really nice, plenty of cabanas and chairs here and at the pool. The live music was really great, there were a couple of ensembles that played at the restaurants etc. If you’re looking for a quiet family friendly resort in a beautiful setting and you don’t have huge expectations for lots to see and do then this is a really great place.
GO BACK TO CAYO COCO & CAYO GUILLERMO TRIP REPORTS