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Reviewed 3 April 2018

Had a first awful experiences getting sick. ask for water for mini bar took two days to get any resort should be 3 stars, not a four. had paid for collect calls to insurance they wouldn't even let use phone. food wasn't good. and la carnet restaurant. waiting in line. and some of la carnet restaurant wasn't good either. snack bar having crows eating food and flying all around wasn't great either. not going Cuba every again.Couldn'twait to come home to Canada. room was nice on the first floor. housing keeping was good. Resort needs more organizing.

Room Tip: the floor on the lower level had good air conditioning. room was close to pool for adults and beach.
  • Stayed: March 2018, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank valentinee63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanCustomerService, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Ocean Casa del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded 4 April 2018

Dear: valentinee63

We sincerely appreciate your comments about our hotel, they will be very useful to improve our hotel operation, we would be very grateful to be your next choice again, we would win your trust and your vacations would be excellent.
Best regards.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 April 2018 via mobile

I’d give it 3.5 if I could. We went from March 21-28 as a couple. Upon arrival the bus was easy to find and didn’t take long. We had a great tour guide on our way who told us all about what we were seeing on the trip. He was animated and made the ride very enjoyable.

We arrived to the resort around 4:00PM so check in wasn’t an issue. Only took about 15 minutes. We had requested a king bed and shower several days prior to departure by emailing the resort directly and our request was fulfilled.

The room was clean and view was good (building 18, top floor pool view). We had no issues with house keeping and realized after the 2nd day that you have to exchange your beach towels at the hut by the pool rather then them being replaced in your room, so it wasn’t an issue there. Bed wasn’t very comfortable but I didn’t expect it to be. Phones in room didn’t work. We had a lady next door to us that got locked out and she tried to call the front desk from our phone and couldn’t get a dial tone. Wasn’t an issue for me but wouldn’t have wanted to be in her walking all the way back to the lobby to get her door serviced.

Beach was amazing. No shortage of chairs and the little boat trips they offer are nice.

Pool chairs run out quick but if you ask the staff they’ll go down and get you a chair from the beach.

My biggest complaint was they ran out of a lot of stuff the week we were there. No burgers. No fries. No champagne. No bacon. I just felt like we heard a lot of “oh sorry we’re all out of that”. And it wasn’t for just a day it was several. I’m sure it’s a little bit of a challenge for their deliveries but it was a nuisance. And the a la cartes are a disaster to book. We only did the 1 and it really wasn’t fantastic so we felt it was a waste of our day to line up at 4:30 for an hour to hope to get a reservation.

For the most part the staff are super friendly. There are a few who made you feel welcomed and went above and beyond (Daniel at the buffet, a lady in the snack bar (I’m sorry I can’t remember her name). Pepe at the pool bar. Some others felt like they didn’t really want to be there but just find your favourites and they’ll take care of you.

Entertainment was so-so. Got boring. Michael Jackson show was amazing and a must see.

We walked up to the market which is only a short walk along the beach for a change of scenery. The spa has a secret waiting pool if you get any services done. It overlooks the beach and is amazing.

We also did the Catamaran day trip which was great.

Overall it was a good experience. Don’t go in with extremely high expectations and you won’t be disappointed. Definitely worth the price we paid and I would absolutely go back for a relaxing week by the beach.

Stayed: March 2018, traveled as a couple
1  Thank Rachel D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanCustomerService, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Ocean Casa del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded 4 April 2018

Dear :

We sincerely appreciate your comments about our hotel, they will be very useful to improve our hotel operation, we would be very grateful to be your next choice again, we would win your trust and your vacations would be excellent.
Best regards.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 April 2018

To be fair, I wanted to rate this resort a 2.5. I'm not sure that it warrants a 2, but equally, it doesn't warrant a 3.

The not so good things:

This resort is poorly managed in general. The hours of restaurants and events are inaccurate, causing you to wait around and then find out the printed hours are inaccurate. This was true for activities, restaurants, and other services. I think I only saw the towel exchange open 2X during the whole week! Other errors include the "no need to line up for restaurants" - simply not true. Every day at 5 pm, you must line up for 1 of 3 restaurants available for that day, or you will not get in when the "beepers" are given, starting at 5:30. The hours of the buffet are rather short and also not aligning to the information pamphlet given by the hotel. There were usually lineups to get in, even at the buffet.

On to the food. I have been to Cuba a couple of times before and I know what to expect from the food. Don't get me wrong, the quality of the food was good. However, even in the buffet restaurant, you have to line up at one of the 3 stations at breakfast (for made-to-order eggs or crepes), lunch (fish, pasta, pizza, or chicken/beef/pork), and dinner (same as lunch). These lines are neither short nor quick. You can find things to eat outside of these 3 stations, but the selection is very limited and does not change much through the week. In fact, some days the selections didn't even change between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make sure you go early also. If you go much more than an hour after the buffet opens, dishes start disappearing and are replaced with weiners cooked every imaginable way. During one visit, there were about a dozen trays containing variations on weiners. I'm not even kidding. Not much different at the snack bars. They are constantly "out" of something - one day the snack bar was able to serve a hot dog, a burger, or a ham sandwich. There was literally nothing else. They were "out" of the dozen or so other selections on the menu. I'm not a fussy eater, so I was fine, but fussy eaters may not find much to eat here.

Be prepared to line up for: front desk, bank, to buy wifi cards (1 hour per card), make reservations for the restaurants (the longest lines), to get into any restaurant, the 3 stations within the buffet restaurant, the bars, for coffee, geez this is not what you want when you are on vacation!

As for the watersports, they were simply unavailable:
Day 1 - "It's too windy"
Day 2 - "It's not windy enough"
Day 3 - "No service today, the hotel didn't pay us."
This was upsetting as one of the things I base my hotel selection on is the availability of watersports, and I like to do these each day. When enquiring with management on day 3, after waiting a long time, I had to have long discussions with the customer service manager, who did offer an apology for the "minor inconvenience". The customer service manager, after much discussion, offered me a 35 minute massage to compensate for the "minor inconvenience". I felt this was reasonable. After the massage was over, the masseuse tried to tell me that I had fallen asleep and that he had given me a 60 minute massage. I had my watch with me and it started at 10:31 and ended at 10:46. Sigh. I gave up wasting my vacation time trying to have the lack of water sports resolved with the hotel management. Really Ocean Casa del Mar? The hotel was paid for my vacation and I expect you to have paid your end with your affiliates so that the advertised watersports are available (they are contracted out to a local company and paid by the hotel; I was further informed that this "happens every month"). This is completely unacceptable --as discussed Fidel.

On to the hotel room - the sliding door to our room did not lock. At all. Luckily there was a safe in the room, but given that we were all females, the lack of security was not appreciated. The safe worked fine and was reasonably sized. The bathroom was fine, with the typical poor drainage in the shower, and water pressure and temperature were reasonable. The beds and linens were all fine and the staff worked each day to keep the room clean.

BUGS! One person had dozens of bites on their legs - they were staying in a first floor room in building 17. These were not mosquito bites; they looked very much like bedbug bites. We were in the same building but on the 3rd floor and thankfully didn't have bedbugs. I have seen previous reviews of bedbugs. Inspect your beds and sheets thoroughly! However, one night at 1 am I was in the bathroom and went into my makeup bag. A giant bug ran out of it as I opened it. I screamed, as I was very startled. The bug was about 2 to 2.5 inches long, not including its 2 long gross antennae, and was brownish orange. I proceeded trying to smash it for a minute or more, but it was SO fast I could not for the life of me catch it. I was not happy to learn that it lived in the hole in the back of the sink, where it retreated :( I'm no cockroach expert, but not sure what else it might have been (?!?).

The resort is not close to anything; this doesn't bother me except that I didn't find a single thing to buy to take home! It was hit quite hard by the hurricane and the vegetation is in the process of being replaced. It is also very spread out - to me this is a plus, but would not be good for those who are not able bodied.

The sound-proofing of the rooms was about average; you can adjust the fan to provide white noise to help with this.


The good things:

The beach was very long, very sandy, and very beautiful. There were lots of spots in the shade, though the usual "saving chairs" occurs. There is some coral; bring your water shoes. We made do without them.
Live music - this was really a nice feature. Piano, violin/guitar, large bands, are available each day at the resort and the quality of the music is outstanding. The violin/acoustic guitar duo drew a standing ovation in the buffet restaurant, that's how incredible they were!
The bars were well-staffed and the drinks were well-made, though the exact formulation will vary.
The staff are generally very friendly and want to help.
The wifi was affordable - just over a dollar per hour. The speed wasn't consistent, especially at "peak times", but this is also not unexpected.
The Michael Jackson show is excellent and highly recommended; the rest of the shows are pretty good, better than those at other resorts for sure, but more similar to each other through the week with a general theme of scantily clad female dancers.
The coffee was excellent - though the same lineup issue as with many of the other services.

Overall, the value was okay. It is truly a shame that, with such hard-working staff that want to make your trip great, and such a beautiful setting, the poor management of this resort is such that I will not return here; I would definitely choose a different resort.

Room Tip: Avoid the first floor (bugs); choose the 2nd or 3rd floors
  • Stayed: March 2018, traveled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank honkerlee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanCustomerService, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Ocean Casa del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded 4 April 2018

Dear : honkerlee


We sincerely appreciate your comments about our hotel, they will be very useful to improve our hotel operation, we would be very grateful to be your next choice again, we would win your trust and your vacations would be excellent.
Best regards.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 April 2018

Ocean Casa del Mar
March 13 – March 20
As a reminder to any readers, this account is based on our experience at the Ocean Casa del Mar, so you should read all reviews and then decide, on balance, what resort to choose.
Regarding our experience, in a word: Excellent.
We left Halifax at 6:00 a.m. so we had to be up at Stupid-o’clock to get to the airport to meet the 3 hour departure times, clear security, etc. It’s a little bit comforting to know other people have dragged themselves out of a good, deep sleep to make their way to the airport in the middle of the night – we were all in the same dazed state of mind.
Ours was a SunWing vacation package. The flight left on time and after de-icing and we were ‘wheels-up’ at 6:13 a.m. (ADT). After 4 hrs 14 mins in the air we were ‘wheels-down’ at 10:27 a.m. (ADT) or 9:27 a.m. (Cuba Time) and the plane deposited us at the airport in Santa Clara.
After making our way through immigration, collecting our luggage and finding our bus, we settled in for, what I was concerned about, our 1.5 – 2.0 hour drive to the resort. We’ve been to Cuba several times but never to Cayo Santa Maria, largely because of the bus ride to/from the resort. Previous trips to Varadero had us at the resort after a15-20 min bus ride. As it turned out, we had no problems with the bus ride. The 2/$5 Cdn beer helped I’m sure but the tour guide provided lots of commentary and the bus was comfortable. After a 20 – 30 minute ‘comfort break’ (see: beer above) we were at the front desk of our resort, the Ocean Casa del Mar at 1:10 p.m. local time.
We were in our room at 1:24 p.m. The fastest we’ve ever been checked in at a Cuban hotel. The room was clean, safe was included in the room price, air conditioner worked well, we were on the ground floor and our sliding glass door opened up onto a small patio. The buildings are all 3 storey buildings with maybe 16 units/floor. We had a short 1 minute walk to one of the 2 pool areas and maybe 5 minutes to the beach.
The main building houses the buffet dining hall and all but one of the a la carte restaurants. It has the lobby, 24 hour coffee bar, bank, customer service, store, large bar and the entertainment theatre. The last a la carte restaurant is located in a separate building between the beach and the main building.
There are 2 pool areas with various pool sections from very shallow to deep enough. They each have swim-up bars (one-half swim-up / one-half deck-level). The pools each have a snack bar but one closes at 6:00 p.m. and the other is a 24 hour snack bar. The 24 hour is at the ‘activity pool’ – you know the deal, games and the like. We were not at the ‘activity pool’.
Our walk to the main building was less than 5 minutes so it was close enough to be convenient but far away enough to avoid late music and lots of pedestrian traffic.
Overall, I’d say our stay was without any issues with the following exception: the registration for a la carte restaurants is not at all reasonable. It is not clear why such a procedure has been adopted but I will say that, to a person, nobody liked it. The procedure is this: around 5:30 p.m. a few personnel show up in a lobby beside the main bar and set up little tables. Each table represents one or two of the a la carte restaurants. People begin to line up around 4:30 - 4:45. If you end up at the back of the line, you will not likely have a chance for an a la carte restaurant.
Again, it is not clear why this system has been adopted but there must be a better way. Just doing the arithmetic – if you hit, say - 6 a la cartes and you end up in line for 45 mins and you have had to leave the pool or beach to get in line, you are looking at close to 6 hours of your week long vacation spent booking restaurants. That’s a shoot-load of your vacation time. Other than that strange procedure, I’d say that we had no issues with anything (had to have the room key-cards re-set a couple of times).
There are lots of choices for food at the buffet but as we all know, the food becomes repetitive – it just does so a la cartes help to break the monotony but as I always say, DO NOT GO TO CUBA FOR THE FOOD – you’ll only disappoint yourself. Go for the beaches, the sun, the friendliness.
All that said, I will say that we received the best service of all our stays in Cuba. The wait-staff in the buffet were exceptional as far as we were concerned. The first day it really hit us when we had our food and a waiter came and asked if everything was fine and could they get us anything else. At home, that can be tiring in a restaurant but in Cuba, it was magic for us. We had great service from Jailen (spelling?) and Herman. These guys were very good and helpful.
And the beach……ah the beach……..there is little I can offer other than it is beautiful. And there is ample shade for practically everybody shade as there are more palapas and shade spots than you can shake a stick at. And there are 3 beach-bars set up where the beach meets the resort grounds. They have lots of beverages and the one we regularly attended had fresh BBQ chicken every day along with burgers and hot dogs.
The nearby Pueblo (Plaza) La Estrella (10 – 15 mins by bus) is worth a visit. We only saw it at night but it seems to be a tourist commercial centre offering some shopping, dining, a bowing alley and a small disco/concert venue. We were lucky when we were there to have a concert offered and it was the Afro-Cuban All Stars along with 3-4 original members of the Buena Vista Social Club. Well………nothing say but WOW!!! A wonderful 2 hour session.
In addition to that concert at La Estrella, the Ocean Casa del Mar hotel has on-site local entertainment, from piano and jazz violin to some of the hottest Cuban music you’ll hear. There were a couple of groups of maybe 5-6 musicians and singers and they will blow your socks off. The trumpets alone will make you stand up and take notice.
Despite the fairly long drives to and from the airport, there is no question that we will be looking to get back to the Ocean Casa del Mar. In fact, we are already trawling the internet looking for deals…..

Room Tip: West end of resort is quieter
  • Stayed: March 2018, traveled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank javaminit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanCustomerService, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Ocean Casa del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded 4 April 2018

Dear: javaminit


Thank you very much for taking your time and writing about your wonderful experience at our hotel, it is a pleasure for us to have been your choice for the enjoyment of your holidays, we hope to be back with you as soon as possible, once again all your expectations will be met , the family of Ocean Casa del Mar, awaits your return.
Sincerely:

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 April 2018 via mobile

First time visit to Ocean Casa Delmar, we are a family of four, two adults and to little ones. Our experience overall was good and we are fully aware of what CUBAN resorts can and can’t deliver.

The good- Modern design resort
Nice pool areas
Beautiful beach with turquoise water
Children’s Area - has a daycare style setting
Food- it was good with what was available. Meat, fish , chicken, pasta rice and varieties of bread, cheeses
Staff - very good people, hard working and look after us specially when we needed high chairs for the kids. Thank you Jamilet our room attendant , Both Daniels at main buffet and Snack bar, Iran, Carlos, Ismael, Bilbao and Yusef.

Thank you to all the Bar tenders for making our extra trip fun.

Also we would like to thank the nice lady at the front desk ( March 23 @ 2:00 Pm).

The bad - Owners and Management

1.When a resort is overbooked, you need to do something.
For example- the buffet.
It was so busy people where almost competing for food. This should not happen at a 5 star resort.
Solution - use one of the other restaurants as a secondary buffet
The servers could not keep up with the demand of the guests, not the servers fault.

2. Restocking mini fridge with drinking water- we had to little children and had to ask for water several times - again 5 star resort should not have this issue.

3. Cross Contamination
I witnessed this at the beach snack bar. The person making the chicken touched raw chicken and then used the same hands to make our sandwiches and salad. We obviously did not eat the sandwiches and disposed of them after.
Please educate staff on the importance of this matter.

4. A la carte- getting a reservation is like trying to buy tickets at a concert. Sold out.

As Owners and management you have to place yourself in the shoes of the clients. The above can easily be resolved. Thank you

Stayed: April 2018, traveled with family
Thank goodcompany123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanCustomerService, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Ocean Casa del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded 4 April 2018

Dear: goodcompany123

We sincerely appreciate your comments about our hotel, they will be very useful to improve our hotel operation, we would be very grateful to be your next choice again, we would win your trust and your vacations would be excellent.
Best regards.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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