Club Amigo Caracol
Travel Blogs from Playa Santa Lucia
... us fourteen days, with seven days of driving between these two cities.
The countryside varies between lush green mountains to vast level plains with varied agriculture. We drive on four-lane expressways to narrow winding two-lane country roads. Traffic is sparse.
You’ll see scenery, beaches, villages and rural homes as seen from through the windows of our motor coach.
Enjoy your journey through ...
Camagüey is the third largest city in Cuba. It mainly relies of agriculture; sugar and cattle. It's a quiet town but we spend three days here visiting artists, ballet companies, the local produce market and a cattle farm.
It is unusual in that the old city layout resembles a real maze, ...
... have run out long ago, so you give them a CUC (convertible peso).
Cuba is the only country in the world with an official double currency (China abolished their dual currency in the 1990s). The regular peso (CUP), used by Cubans, is valued at around 24 to the US$ (worth about four cents US). The convertible peso (CUC) used principally by tourists and wealthier Cubans, is valued at around US$ ...
... explore the Melia, it's not as nice as the Havana one but streets better than Trinidad or Camaguey. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city in Cuba and was at one time the capital. It has a population of over 1 million (Havana is 3 million). From the roof top bar we can hear the sounds of music coming from a sound system near the bus station. We are too tired to walk out there. Maybe tomorrow. We have dinner and retire. I have a very bad neck ache from all this bus ...
... good English, better than Ely's, who is translating what he says into Russian. He says he loves Australian music and plays us Men at Work and INXS on his phone. It is incredibly hot, well into the 30s and humid so feels hotter. After an hour or so we go to find our hotel, it is only accessible by pedestrian street so the bicyclists take our suitcases from the bus to just outside the hotel. We are in the Gran Hotel, which us apparently the best in Camaguey. It ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
- Continental Breakfast
- Swimming pool
- Wheelchair accessibility
- Fitness/Health center
Historical Traveler Reviews Club Amigo Caracol Playa Santa Lucia
Great for the price we paid
January 2005 -
My husband and I spent the week of January 21-28 2005 at Club Amigo Caracol, in Santa Lucia (Camaguey), Cuba. We flew from Montreal with "Signature Vacations" on the airline "Skyservice."
IMPORTANT ADVICE REGARDING LUGGAGE
As per many reviews that I had read online I brought used clothing, school supplies, running shoes, and a myriad of other items in an extra suitcase I had purchased for $5.00 at Goodwill. Unfortunately I did not read the fine print on our tickets and you were only allowed 2 bags totally 20kg per person. Skyservice charges $7.00 extra for each kg that you are over. So needless to say the extra items cost us $70.00 in extra luggage. So keep this in mind when bringing extra items for the Cubans.
When we were there one Cuban convertible peso (pegged to the US$) was equal to one Cuban peso. As per other reviews if you bring cash Canadian or US dollars, make sure you bring brand new bills, without tears or pen writing on them. I tried to exchange a $20.00 at reception with a tiny, tiny rip (1mm) in it and they would not exchange it for me. Also make sure that you do not have to change your currency in a hurry. On the last day before we left we wanted to purchase some souvenirs and we needed to exchange some funds at around 4:00pm. They told us to come back at 6:30pm as they were running off something on their one and only computer at reception. The stores were closing at 6:30pm.
We were greeted by the staff when we arrived and a Cuban band was playing. The bell boys are excellent are great and are very great full for whatever tip you give them. The average Cuban makes $15 per month. Thus a $1 tip (1 Cuban convertible peso) was even appreciated.
The meat on the small buffet was very tasty (fish, pork, beef, turkey, chicken) and the deserts were like you would find in a bakery. However the salad bar was not up to Canadian standards. However, considering everything that was on the salad bar was grown in Cuba and they had a drought when we were there, we ate like kings and queens compared to what you average Cuban eats. The service was excellent. Maria was our waitress and she cleared our plates as soon as we put our fork down. It probably didn't hurt that we gave her a gift bag full of goodies a few times. I just wish I had brushed up on some simple Spanish phrases as you can't really talk about much else than food in English with the restaurant staff.
The pasta bar was great and had a lot of variety and they usually had a special meat freshly cooking on the grill. However be prepared to wait on average 5 or 10 minutes for you pasta to be cooked as we always stood in a line of about 6 or 7 people until it was our turn to order.
We went once to the À la carte restaurant on the beach. It was a very nice setting, a few tables and again outstanding service. My husband had shish kabob, which was free and I had shrimp, which was $6.00 CCP. It was great.
Our room was 1085 and was overlooking the beach. We had a king size bed with a small living room with a patio door. I was surprised that we could get as many channels on the television as we could. There must have been 7 channels in English, including CNN and a few movie channels.
One day we decided to take the bicycles into the nearest town, I think it was called Tararacos (anyway the opposite end of the resorts from the town of Santa Lucia). We ended up walking the bicycles as the peddles were bent and they were difficult to ride. However it was well worth the trip. You saw how the real Cuban's lived and we ended up talking to a few Cuban people in English who explained about their living conditions, salary, education and how most businesses are owned by the government.
We took a horse and buggy ride to Playa Coco which is about 8 km away from the resort. Most days there is a little train that will take you there (at 10) and back (at 3) for 2 pesos. Gustavo our driver stopped whenever we wanted and also explained things to us such as the hotels which are half built, to be built and the flamingo sanctuary. They sell coral on the beach. We exchanged a pair of running shoes I bought at Giant Tiger for $6.00 for a coral necklace. We also gave some clothes to the kids in the fishing village as they don't have as much access to clothes as the hotel workers. We also gave a beer to Gustavo and he stopped half way back to share it with a fellow buggy driver. We felt a little guilty drinking one pop and one beer each.
We took an organized tour to Camaguey. It included a visit to the rum factory, cigar factory, lunch at a Cuban restaurant a tour of the city including a marriage house and important squares and churches in the city. Even the trip to Camaguey was well worth it. On the way we were given a talk by our tour guide on: the history of Cuba, the culture, the resulting complications on Cuba due to the lack of water and gasoline (ie 30 Cubans riding in the back of a truck, standing up), the vegetation, housing and education were explained as well.
We took the organized tour to Rancho King. We rode on the buggy as opposed to the offered horse back rides. We watched the rodeo, ate a meal (roasted pork) and several snacks. The highlight of the excursion for me was stopping in at the local school. I handed out pencils, erasers, plastic scissors, stickers. All of the children were very appreciative as shown by their beautiful smiles. I also handed out candy to the children on the way to the school. (Things I purchased at the dollar store in Canada were like gold to them)
My husband did a reef dive with Sharks and Friends. He really enjoyed it. (Some people actually went on the dive tour to feed the sharks) The dive shop is located beside Brisas hotel, a short walk down the beach from Caracol.
We would definitely recommend staying at Club Amigo Caracol. It was an excellent value for the price we paid.
While the resort, food and drink were great. It was the Entertainment Staff that were outstanding and made the trip most memorable.. Yudelkis, Leo, Douglas, Yuessef (?? spelling) Selhma and lets not forget Omar the dj were some of the nicest people I've met anywhere in the world.... I highly recommend this resort and the area in general...
Loved the hotel hate cuba
I loved the hotel the people are very friendly the food isn't to bad made lots of friends bring your own mug for the drinks and bring an alarm clock that takes batteries i would love to go back to this hotel but there was a few major problems at the airport I,m a 25 year old male feel free to contact me with your questions i will get back to you. Cheersemail@example.com
Club Amigo Caracol - Worth its weight in gold....
I've travelled extensively in the Carribean, usually shelling out the money for the best, why not? Five star all the way, and never the same place twice. This year (2004) my friends booked the trip. Cuba. I wasn't keen. The Club Amigo Caracol, 3.5 star, some reviews only 3 star, I wasn't expecting much, but willing to go along with the majority. It was the most amazing vacation I've ever had in my life. I fell in love with the Cuban people and the culture. The resort isn't anything to rave about. The beach is awesome, the rooms are a little 70's, but clean. There's only one bar, one pool, one hot tub, one restaurant. The food isn't anything special, but enough to get by. It didn't matter. The staff, especially the Anamacion (entertainment) staff, were beyond description. They poured their hearts and emotions into the shows every night with results worthy of a broadway stage. The dancing was incredible. They took us out every night, off the resort, on the resort. Played games with us all day long. There wasn't a dry eye on that bus the day we left. We've booked already for March 2005, two weeks this time. We have to travel all the way to Montreal this year to catch a flight, I'd travel further if I had to. I can't wait to see my friends. We've been corresponding since the spring. Yes, it's a communist country, but the lack of Western influence has somehow left behind a people without material tendencies and an inate sense of honesty, genuineness and love of the basics of life that you cannot help but love them for. If you get the chance to visit any of the resorts in Santa Lucia, go, it's worth it. I am happy to discuss my experience further with anyone wishing to know more.
1 week not enuff!
4 middle-aged, winter-weay gals decided to take a chance on a very cheap "All inclusive" holiday at Club Caracol, after reading several very positive reviews from Ottawa and Hfx., on Go Travel Direct's site. $728.00 total, and it was marvelous. Our rooms were ideally located, at 1051 and 1053, just yards from the beach and beach bar,and near the outside showers. Swimming was A-1, and boats and most activities daily were free, plus the excursions were reasonably priced and very well organized. Food was fine and drinks never-ending. The Animacion group was fabulous, and their floor shows each night were amazingly profession. But it was the staff who made the trip! From Wilmer who groomed our beach and cut us a cocoanut each day, to the waiters like Ivan who spoiled us rotten at every meal,to our genteel and gracious maid, Rosa, who went wayyyy beyond the norm and decorated our rooms daily with fresh flowers and artistically folded towels on our beds, to the older gardener who repaid our small gifts with a handful of fresh flowers and a kiss on the cheek. "All Inclusive" does not mean you cannot tip your waiter/bartender once a day, your maid a $ each a.m., the gardner a pk. of Canadian cigs or a BIc lighter, etc. We have so much and they have so little: do not be afraid to show them our well-known Canadian generosity and kindness.A new facecloth, a bath sponge, soap or small shampoos, tooth paste,nail clippers, gel pens and ink pens, barretts and hairclips, hacky-sacks or skipping ropes,inexpensive dolls or balls from a $$ Store, sox or new undies for toddlers,flip flops, etc. All so common for us, so precious to many of them. And leave your toileties behind when you return. Leaving gifts does not make you a target for begggers or unwanted companionship: these humble, polite and unassuming people stay in the background waiting to be beckoned forward for a small gift.
Take the boat trip to the coral reef: gorgeous. And try ro see at least a small part of a real Cuabn village: altho' staying put on the resort all week long is really tempting, do designate at least one day to see life off the manicured compound. You will feel so blessed in many ways, and appreciate all you have at home.Get on "Cuban time"... relax and smell the sea, listen to the birds and the wind in the palms, but mainly Open your hearts and your souls to Cuba. It will be a holiday so special and memorable. And you'll want to go back!
THank you Ramosito, Chonga, and Denis,who danced like demons and made us laugh everyday,to Ricardo and Jesus and Jordan the musicians who talked to us about their lives, their families and their music. They entertained at lively jam sessions on the beach, as well.A very special thanks to the artistic director, whom I called "Enchilada" becuz I could never recall his real name....he made a point of greeting us each evening and making us feel like royalty; to Liset who made wonderful regular coffees for us after our dinners, at the pool bar. She must have been foot-sore and weary but never served us without her sweet smile and happy demeanour. The desk clerks, the bustour operators, the guides at the RAncho King and on the Catamaran to the reef and PLaya Bonita. Everyone of you made our trip joyful and special. And Go Travel Direct, your plane and your staff were perfect! Can't praise you enuff!!
Great Resort - Great People
I have not seen a review for the Amigo Caracol and wonder why? We have visited each of the locations at Playa Santa Lucia and they are all very good. The cudos for each of those are well deserved but so should Caracol be applauded. The entire staff, from the gardeners to front desk and top management are excellent. All are genuinely friendly and helpful. Accomodation is good and should a problem arise it is handled well and in good time. The food is good with an adequate selection. The resort is located right on the beach and the enthusiastic entertainment staff can always keep you busy and having fun. Or, you can relax and enjoy the hospitality of the great bar staff,either at the beach or by the pool. We visited again in Jan/Feb.'04 and enjoyed every minute of the trip..One visit to Playa Santa Lucia and you will want to return.
Great Spot to go!
My husband and I spent the first week of March at this resort. We booked with Go Travel Direct from Ottawa and have nothing but praise for the company and any of the reps we dealt with. Everything went smoothly (except for the delay because the plane had a problem with the weather radar, but hey, those things happen). We have traveled to Cuba and other islands before, and stayed at 4&5 star resorts such as Sandals, Breezes and Club Med. This was our first experience at a 3 star, and frankly, we were not disappointed. The bus ride from the airport is approx 80 minutes. You can enjoy a cold Cristal for $1.50 on the bus, or some cold water for $1.00 and it does have a washroom. Youll see a lot of farms and small villages on the way.I had requested a 2nd floor room overlooking the ocean, and we got exactly that. We were a few steps from the beach!The staff is helpful and friendly, and they remember you after their first dealing with you. The service in the restaurant was fabulous, and our maid kept our room spotless. She left us nice notes to thank us for the gifts we left her, and of course decorated our bed with swans/hearts etc. The animation staff will spend as much time with you as you want. If you want to be involved in activities with them, they'll welcome you. You can play darts, volleyball, take dance or Spanish lessons, aerobics in the pool, stretching etc.. The front desk staff are fast and efficient at check in, and willing to help if you have a problem during your stay. When we arrived, the animation staff was in the lobby singing and dancing to welcome us. A nice touch. If brining gifts for them, please remember that paper products are difficult to find in Cuba, so if you can bring coloring books and crayons, or reading materiel for children, as well as some candy, the staff with kids will be very grateful. Also, feminine hygiene products are difficult to get, so please leave behind anything you dont use.While we were there, we had incredible winds everyday, therefore water sports weren't available. Although this area usually has a steady breeze, this was unbelievable. The locals kept commenting that this was very rare. It was the first time in all our travels that we never swam in the ocean! We did sit on the beach for a couple of hours on our first day, but finally had to leave because the wind was blowing sand everywhere, and if the sun went down, it got chilly! There appeared to be a lot of beach chairs, and a number of palaps for shade. We always take a catamaran cruise, and we were canceled both times that we booked.We did take a horse and buggy to Coco beach (12.00 US return). This beach is a must see. A beautiful restaurant serving lobster, chicken, fish and cold beer, and of course that wonderful Cuban ice cream awaits you, as well as a beach that resembles a postcard. Our driver was from Coco beach, and gave us a tour of his house, where we met his wife and children. They will offer to cook you lunch, usually lobster or chicken if you are so inclined, for about 12.00 US.We also took the organized tour of Camaguey, which included a visit to the rum factory, cigar factory, pottery studio, lunch and also a visit to a music house where a wonderful band entertained us. You can never tire of Cuban music. We enjoyed Camaguey, and definitely recommend this trip, however, we did see some begging, with young men and older ladies following the tour bus to all our locations and asking for clothes or money.So, would I go back? In a heartbeat. This resort is quiet, and the food was quite good, although I did hear some folks grumbling about the lack of selection. We never went hungry. Breakfast included eggs, ham, cheese, fresh juice, croissants. Lunch and diner always included lots of fruit, chicken and pork dishes, fish, rice and a great chef who prepares pasta while you wait everyday for both lunch and diner. Always fresh vegetables for salads, including lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes. The desert table is always full, and there is usually ice cream for desert. You can also dine at the beach bar restaurant in the evening, and you can request lobster (extra cost). It is quite nice to sit there at night and it's much more intimate. You should remember however that you are in Cuba, and that they run out of things sometimes. It wasnt unusual to ask for a drink after 6pm and find that they had run out of pina colada mix, or some other liqueur. Never ran out of beer so if youre a beer drinker, youre ok! We didnt see any international drinks while there.The rooms were recently renovated, and have new sparkling tiles in the bedroom, washroom and sitting area, as well as on the balcony. The furniture is old, and the bed is very soft, however, everything is very clean. We did have a couple of days with only lukewarm water, however, as soon as I mentioned it at the front desk, someone fixed it within a couple of hours.The hotel doesnt supply a clock, shampoo or a hairdryer, and you only get 2 little bars of soap, so I suggest you bring your own. ( youll need an adapter or a hair dryer that converts from 110 to 220, both available quite cheap at Walmart by the way). Also, no face cloths, so if thats important to you, bring one from home. We also brought a traveling clothes line which came in handy to dry swimsuits and shorts etc. I didnt see any mosquitoes, and neither of us were bit while there. The sun is extremely hot, and even with sunscreen, you might get a bit of a burn. The pool is great, and usually, we never spend time at the pool, but because of the wind, we spent most of our week there. Always something going on, and music playing, but you can still sit and read quietly.We walked into the town of Santa Lucia, and felt quite safe. Not much to see, other than everyday Cuban life. We observed a man painting his roof, and another fixing his very old American car. We walked into the local storenot much to buy. Most people in Santa Lucia either travel by horse and buggy or on the local bus or bicycle. The people are friendly and wave when you walk by.The clientele here seems to be mostly Italian (both Italian Canadian as well as European), with a few Canadians from Ottawa, Toronto and the Halifax area. There only seemed to be 4 or 5 children while we were there.Santa Lucia is not Varadero. There are only 4 small hotels, and not much night life. Lots to do during the day, and frankly, the beaches are beautiful here. It is truly a beach lovers paradise. Our advice to anyone going here, is give the hotel a day or 2 to grow on you. At first it seems small and bare, but after a few days, you really appreciate the beautiful gardens and the people. They work so hard and such long hours. The man who brings your suitcase to your room, could be the gardener, and the bartender at the beach bar could be the server at the restaurant the next day.So, if you're looking for a nice quiet and relaxing spot, where you can veg on the beach with a book, just steps away from the beach bar, with good food, excellent service at a good price, you won't be disappointed. It's affordable, clean and you are steps from a gorgeous beach. What more could you wish for?Christine
Great Time in Cuba
Visited Club Amigo Caracol from January 18 to January 25,2004
Located in Santa Lucia Cuba 90 minutes from Camaguey Airport.
The resort had just reopened Dec 22,2003 after being closed for remodelling. Rooms were very clean and freshly painted. Bathrooms were big and bright. All floors including the sitting area, bedroom, bathroom and even the small balcony were new ceramic. Housekeeping was excellent; floors washed daily, fresh towels. etc.
Resort is well laid out, with everthing readily accessible. The resort was not overly crowded, resulting in fast service at the bars and in the restaurant. Beach was cleaned every morning, and activity staff was excellent, both at the entertainment pavillion and at the beach. See Obert at the beach for reasonably priced cataraman tours (snorkelling,sightseeing or fishing).
All staff were super friendly and an occasional $1 tip was always appreciated. Food was very good overall. The pasta bar ,usually at dinner and sometimes at lunch was delicious. Try the grill at the beach bar for at least one dinner-more intimate and food very good-reservations required.
The pool was quite spacious and the swim up bar with about 8 seats was great for coffee or a Cuba Libre.
The beach was nice, with turquoise water. You can swim out about 1/2 kilometer from the activity shed for snorkelling and see many different fish.
We felt very safe around the resort and on our bike ride into the town of Santa Lucia.
Many things are not readily available to Cubans and they appreciate any t-shirts, sunglasses, chocolate, shampoo, soap, etc that you can give them.
Overall we enjoyed our stay at the Club Amigo Caracol very much and fell we obtained excellent value for our dollar.
We will definitely be back!
Rod & Joanne
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Club Caracol is a great place for a beach holiday. Our room was tired looking but the maid did a grand job. We had a great view of the sea.
Food in the buffet restaurant was varied and very good and likewise with the a' la carte restaurant. You won't find better entertainment staff anywhere they were dedicated and it showed, the girls even taught my husband who has 2 left feet to dance the meringue really well which amazed me. The bar area was cozy and friendly,no queues for drinks.
Learn to scuba dive with Alfred in pool and then the sea.We went into the community centre bar/niteclub the locals were great.
I have been to this resort twice and it is really good. The staff, food and accommodations are great!
It is a really lovely resort with lots to do if that is what you want, or places just to relax and read a book. The water is wonderful, beaches beautiful.
Cocoa Beach is worth the day trip for the lobster lunch and the turquoise water. It is just like a postcard.
Tiko and Leo at the resort are great staff to show you things to do if you don't want the sun.
My personal thanks to Vladimir, who made us all feel so welcome and showed us the city of Camaguey. We met his family and he took us arund the Cuban markets. It was unbelievable to experience Cuba from a Cuban's perspective.
I would highly recommend this resort to anyone who wants to relax, have fun and feast their eyes on the absolute untouched beauty of this lovely country.