TRINIDAD, CUBA: CLUB AMIGO COSTASUR
Corinne & Family (Baby 2yrs)
We stayed at Club Amigo Costasur the week after Christmas. Though the drive from Cienfuegos airport was twice as long as we bargained for (90 minutes as opposed to 45) once we were there we loved being so close to Trinidad as well as not being isolated from the mainland like on Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria.
We paid extra for a Bungalow, and feel it was well worth the money. Apparently you can book and pay for a regular room via your tour operator and then upgrade on your own for considerably less via email or once you check in. The Bungalows are on the beach, and we had a double bed put in our sitting room and gave the kids the main room with two beds. I also saw single cots as an extra bed option but when I emailed to see if they had cribs they said they did not, so if you need an infant bed I suggest bringing your own playpen from home. It was cozy sleeping on a double when we have a King bed at home, but usually one of us ended up with a kid at some point throughout the night, and the beds were actually pretty comfortable compared to some Cuban resorts we’ve stayed at.
The bathroom has a shower only, but we never had any issue with a lack of hot water. There was a dearth of counter space, but I rigged up a system in the closet next to the bathroom so we made out ok.
The pool is a good size, and the baby pool was fun for the kids to splash in as well. We found the resort and pool areas pretty clean, and everyone seemed to be making good use of the pool tables, ping pong tables, and bikes that you could sign out.
The beach was good and bad. I liked the fact it was protected from the sea so I never had to worry about a rogue wave coming and sweeping away my kids. The calm water actually encouraged them to swim as opposed to just splash around. But there is a lot of coral and sharp rocks and shells, so I couldn’t just let them run around freely without me constantly nagging to “watch your step” or “be careful”. Water shoes would be a good idea but my kids hate wearing them, and so do I, frankly. One day we took a cab (3-4 pesos) to Playa Ancon and it was lovely. The Ranchon Ancon rented palapas for 2 pesos/day, and the food was pretty reasonable and pretty good. There was a guy walking around with these awesome looking sandwiches for $1 Convertible, and we wish we’d seen him sooner. When we needed to, we nipped to the Club Amigo Ancon next door to use the loo. Though the beach was much nicer at the Amigo Ancon, I would have hated to stay in a high rise hotel. I loved our bungalow at Costasur.
The food was fine for us. The beans and rice is really good, and the soups were quite delicious. We never had any issues with finding something to eat. The food reminded us of Cameleon Jibacoa, which is not a bad thing. The coconut ice cream is to die for, and the fries at the pool bar were great. I will concede that the desserts looked good, but were pretty gross. I only saw one high chair in the dining room.
The resort grounds are not that stroller friendly – the paths are quite bumpy – but you can walk off resort on the sidewalk for quite a ways. If taking a stroller into Trinidad, I recommend taking one that can handle rugged terrain. The cobblestones near Plaza Mayor are more like rocks jutting out of the road.
We went on a hike to the mountain which, in hindsight, was too much for our son. We went with Carlos, a friendly and enterprising waiter from the dining room, and paid 35 convertible pesos each and the kids were free. The regular tour is 55 pesos and kids half price. Carlos said the van would have seat belts so I could install my car seat, but they were torn out. You can nominate me for mother of the year now, as for the first time in our travels, the kids were unbuckled. I appeased my guilt soon enough as we passed a baby on a motorbike. One day we did find a cab that had rear belts, but he didn’t speak much English. FYI, the mountain trip is best for kids aged 6 and up. I had to carry my 40lb son for the last 40 minutes of the hike. Lunch at the paladar Miramar was excellent, though. Awesome mojitos, and a beautiful organic garden the kids had fun exploring. There was a pig on a spit, which my son thought was a dog.
One reason we keep returning to Cuba is the wonderful spirit of the people. My father passed away in New Year’s Day, and while I’m still amazed we were able to get a phone call to our room, we lost mobile service for about three days – possibly due to an overloaded system during the holidays. There is a blonde woman who works reception – I so wish I had asked her name- she went above and beyond in arranging transportation for me to go into Trinidad to use the Internet at the Grand Hotel, as well as come to get me afterwards. She even offered me the use of her own cel phone when she saw how upset I was. Our local Sunwing rep, Levis, really did his best to see if we could home early. As we traveled via a charter as part of a package, the cost to change our flights was exhorbitant. I tried to make the best of the last few days there for the sake of my kids, and everyone at the resort who knew what I was dealing with was incredibly kind and patient with me.
In spite of everything, we loved this little resort, and would love to return.