Ok, first off just a few things about the hotel in general. It's the last in a series of 5 hotels on the same beach and is just 10 mins from the airport. (Flights are so infrequent so you won't be bothered by aircraft noise at all.)
At check in you are given a safe key/lock for the safe in the bathroom wardrobe - there is no charge for this at this hotel so that's a bonus point.
For some reason in Cuba, the door handles need to be lifted up in order for the door to open – don’t ask because I have no idea why.
The air conditioning in the rooms is excellent although seems to be hard to find the right temperature meaning that we had to ask for extra blankets to keep warm at night - not a problem and a nice change being able to be tucked up in bed in such a warm country. (Gives you added protection against mosquitoes too!)
The rooms are fine, clean and well appointed with fridge which is restocked daily. The bathrooms are quite smart with marble tiles and decent fittings. Maid service changed beds and towels each day. All in all, the rooms are pretty good. No major complaints there.
The hotel gardens are pretty well kept, trees, bushes & plants neatly trimmed.
The outside of the apartments do admittedly look shabby, but this is just a lick of paint to sort out so I don't know why they don't do it. While we were there we did see a small amount of painting, but this appeared to be limited to around the lobby bar area.
We were on the ground floor, and after looking at the condition of some of the wooden stairs I was thankful that we were. Steps and handrails looked ready for replacing in areas due to rot.
There are two pools - a fresh water pool that was closed for repainting after we were there 2 days and a salt water pool that had just been refurbished and opened when the other was closed. No problem there.
Kids entertainment was nil. Another family we had met had paid extra for a kids club but arrived to find that there was no staff to run the club - maybe because it isn't yet the school holidays they don't think it warrants opening the club for just a couple of kids. After a complaint a kids club was run, but was limited to playing in one of the converted apartments with a babysitter - not really what the kids were wanting - they wanted to be in the pool/sun playing games.
At this point, I just want to mention the staff at the hotel, they were superb – always happy and smiling and all said hello and made a big fuss over my 5 year old daughter.
The location of all hotels as far as I can make out in the Cayos is such that they are all on the beach and the Blau Colonial is no exception. The beach is staggeringly beautiful and I would say that the this hotel sits on the best part of the beach too. Not only is the beach wonderful, it's quiet too! I mean almost deserted. I cannot understand why people will fly 9 hours to sit by the pool when you have a beach like this on your door step.
The beach is fairly shallow, so is ideal for kids. You have to go quite a way out before it gets deep. The plus side of this is that the water is very warm. There are no rocks or stones in the water so is easy on the feet. The downside of this means that if you're keen on snorkling, you can forget it unless you like looking at sand. You have 1 hours use per day of pedalos, catamarans, kayaks etc in the boat house.
Music is played from the lifeguards' shelter and is usually a mix of Cuban and rap music and beach volleyball games are arranged daily if they can rustle up enough participants.
The beach bar is pretty good and has a nice waitress fetching you drinks - it's only decent and reasonable to give her a tip for getting your drinks for you. Drinks are obviously included in the holiday price. Just a quick work on the drinks, the local beer is Crystal and is pretty good. Local spirits are just like any local spirits found anywhere in the word. Cocktails are fine and the house red/white wine is Spanish and good.
Beach towels are provided by the hotel, although there is a 15 peso deposit that will be returned at the end of your holiday.
The entertainment at this hotel is almost non-existent during the day and limited to a show each night in the disco. The show started at 9.45pm so was too late for us with our child.
Mosquitoes are a big problem. I've never been to a country were the mosquitoes don't wait until dark to start devouring you - these blighters will get you in the afternoon! Not a problem on the beach but be wary if you stay by the pool. Get yourself the strongest repellent you can - I got some 97% DEET spray (Repel 100) that I had some success with but still had around 10 bites after about 3 days. The hotel sprays smoke (supposed to kill the mosquitoes) all around the grounds twice a day (quite funny when you first see it really) from a tractor and later on from a hand held smoke machine - I don't know if it actually has any benefit or not but it seems to give them something to do and doesn't seem to kill many guests that I could see.
Ok, not so bad up until now huh? This is were things take a turn for the worst. It's just one thing really but it's probably the most important of all.... the food. Now before you say "well you can't expect to get gourmet food in Cuba can you?" I went fully prepared to be presented with more basic food - chicken, rice etc... but what I wasn't prepared for was being poisoned. You heard me, poisoned. 3 hours after lunch one particular day and I was vomiting and suffering with diarrhoea for the next 12 hours. After 12 hours I could finally drink water without throwing up. It was not the most pleasant of experiences and one I certainly did not wish to repeat. I spent the next day in bed feeling sorry for myself and the following day I admitted defeat and went to the doctor. A shot in the bum, some antibiotics and some rehydrate sachets and I was almost human again.
Now, back to the food. Ok, the food itself isn't too bad, it's the people putting it together that are the problem - they just haven't got a clue about cooking and basic food hygiene. The food was generally undercooked which means for tough stewed beef or burgers that were pink in the middle. Not too much of a problem until you start coming across the same problem with chicken and pork - that's when things start getting dangerous. We saw staff using the same utensils for vegetables as they did for raw chicken which is just asking for trouble.
Because the hotel was so quiet, I'm convinced that the food was being reheated from meal to meal which would be an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. It wasn't just us complaining about the food either - most other guests had had one or both of their party go down with the vomiting/diarrhoea thing - one guy had to be taken to hospital and put on a drip!
Anyway, we endured a week of picking at poorly produced dangerous food before we finally said enough was enough and requested that we be moved to another hotel. (Funnily enough, at the time we asked to be moved, there were four other parties that had arrived the day before that were refusing to stay there and demanding to be moved also.) The rep was brilliant and understood completely. She moved us to another hotel, the Iberostar Daiquiri (40 mins from airport) which actually had pretty good food but was very busy. However, even at this hotel, my daughter was served raw chicken. So just be careful with the food you eat wherever you chose to go in Cuba.
It's a shame that the food situation at the Blau Colonial is in the state that it is because it's such a simple thing to put right - if they get that right and give the place a lick of paint it wouldn't be too bad. As it stands, I'd have to be plain crazy to go back there.
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
The service is no better and the staff now exoect you to tip before you recieve adequate service.
The hotel is right on the beach and if they got the building work sorted it would be an outstanding retreat.
Any chance the resort got to exploit you they would...
An example is exchange
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
Cleanliness is not good the whole place is jaded and needs help.
The only member of staff of note was Luber behind the Lounge bar he deserves 5 Stars for his alround performance, the remander of the staff do not deserve a mention execpt to say that are rude and dont give a hoot.
The entertainment was a joke, the magician got realy ratty because his tricks would not work, in fairness this weas quite ammusing, the rest was awful.
The beach in fairness was absolutly beautiful, one of the best I have ever been on.
Mainland Cuba is 18 miles away on a causeway joining Cayo Coco to the mainland of Cuba. There are only hotels and an Airport on Cayo Coco nothing else, no local people (other than hotel workers who the majority get taken back to the mainland every night and returned the next day), shops (other than the hotel ones) bars or restraunts.
I would not visit this hotel again even if it were for free.
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
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