Back when I was single I “travelled” some. Every day I was on vacation was filled with some new adventure, a tour, mixing with the locals, discovering some hidden gem. A friend kept trying to convince me to all inclusive resort. At first I scoffed at the idea but slowly came around to it and joined a colleague and her group of friends going to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I returned from that trip only to join my travel agent on a trip to an all inclusive in Varadero, Cuba three weeks later. Six months after that I took my first Caribbean cruise. And now I am an AI and Caribbean convert.
Our recent trip was to the Blau Costa Verde. To get to this resort one flies into Holguin and then it's about an hour's drive to the resort on the coast. This was my third time at this resort, Brian's second. I had travelled there solo in 2007 and last year we went for a belated honeymoon. We hadn't planned on heading south this winter but Air Canada Vacations came out with a deal we couldn't resist after a pretty miserable few weeks of winter.
What we love most about the resort is the beach and the excellent snorkelling. Just a short walk into the water will bring you to a large reef with lots of variety of fish & coral. The resort have snorkelling equipment to use but we prefer to bring our own. Last year I purchased a Liquid Image camera snorkelling mask which proved to be a great buy, we have hundreds of pictures from our snorkelling at the Blau. Our recent week we had perfect weather and green flags on the beach every day. We got lots of snorkelling in as well as a sail on one of the resorts Hobie Cats. There are also pedal boats and kayaks for use by the resort guests.
Throughout the day one of the animation team will be wandering around getting guests to engage in activities. On the beach they have volleyball, archery and bocce ball. Also saw exercise classes in the water (as well as in the pool) and yoga classes on the beach. Up in the main area of the resort they have salsa and Spanish Lessons, games and contests. There are lots of different activities to take part in if that's your thing or if you are like us, don't take part in any of it and do your own thing.
The staff at the resort are another reason to keep coming back. Hard working, always with a smile and they do remember you. The resort was booked up the week we were there so the staff were working full out all the time but continued to smile and put up with some of the shenanigans and complaints of some of the guests. Our room was kept clean by a nearly invisible housekeeping staff.
Another thing I like about this resort is the food. Yes, hard to believe as usually most people will tell you not to go to Cuba for the food. At the Blau they really do make an effort to provide a variety of good food. They serve yummy thin crust pizzas and calzones in the Italian restaurant for lunch, super fries in the 24 hour snack bar and fresh grilled fish, chicken, pork & beef and occasionally burgers and hot dogs in the main buffet for lunch & dinner as well as the beach buffet at lunch. My go to meal on the buffet was usually the braised chicken or pork and the rice, always tasty.
What first endeared me to the resort was that it was small, only about 230 rooms. For the last few years the resort has been going through a major expansion of 400 extra rooms. I fear the Blau will lose it's appeal for me and many other guests who return year after year. Four blocks of 16 rooms each had recently opened before our arrival this year. The main buffet had a complete renovation and a new, large restaurant had opened to replace the smaller restaurant down by the beach. A huge new pool was undergoing testing while we were there in preparation for opening.
I won't lie, the place was booked solid the week we were there and quite crowded. This did cause some issues. Occasionally they ran out of dishes and cutlery in the main buffet during peak meal times. Serving staff were trying to keep up with serving, clearing and resetting tables in a timely manner and bartenders were constantly moving trying to keep up with the endless line of thirsty guests. Getting a lounger around the pool required one to get up with the crows to save a couple chairs. Loungers and space on the beach was no problems but, again, if you wanted some of the prime real estate near the front of the beach it was hoarded by the early risers.
As the week progressed we did see some improvements in the buffet, they seemed to have some extra staff dedicated to clearing and resetting tables, still a shortage of dishes but not quite as bad as the first of the week. There are issues still to be worked out. Once the new pool opens, that should resolve the over crowding at the old pool. Rumour has it they are going to be constructing a new beach area which should help as well. But like anything, rumour, conjecture and outright myth run rampant. From the looks of the status of construction and the rate of speed with which things happen in Cuba, I see it being a few more years before everything is opened and working according to plan. We will likely return to the Blau Costa Verde at least once more if we get it a a price we feel acceptable. But if it loses the charm which attracted us in the first place, there are plenty of other places to try.
The slide show below shows some of the expansion construction, new areas and a few assorted pics from our week for those going or returning to the Blau in the near future. I 'll continue with more information in my next post.