A decent resort with lots of potential
We stayed Feb 20-27, 2020.
The resort didn't live up to it's 5-star billing.
That said, we paid several hundred dollars less (per person) than it would have cost for our favourite resort.
And we all agreed that we had a great time for the week.
Our room was fine.
Clean and modern.
We didn't get the single large bed we requested, and had to settle for 2 double beds.
But the beds were very comfortable.
The room had a large chair with a round cushion, that we didn't find comfortable.
It looked like a cat bed for a very large cat.
We used it as a place to put a suitcase.
The toilet didn't work when we got there, but they sent someone to look after it right away.
It still took 1/2 hour to refill the tank between flushes, but at least it worked.
The safe is included with the price of the room.
Our safe "froze" closed once, but the technician and his magic machine came promptly to reset it.
It worked fine after that.
Many people have complained about the leaking showers.
It appears there are two problems here.
In one of our group's rooms, the shower drained so slowly that it overflowed into the bathroom.
And there is no floor drain outside the shower stall.
In our room, the glass door had been installed poorly, leaving a large gap.
We used the hand-held shower head and avoided directing water near the door.
We kept leaks to a minimum.
We had good pressure and lots of hot water throughout our stay.
There seems to be a real issue with the laundry service.
Most (if not all) of the resorts contract laundry cleaning to the same company.
It appears that the company doesn't have the capacity to service all the resorts.
There are a lot of new resorts on Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo.
You will probably have to use the same beach towel for your stay.
Room towels didn't get replaced during our week.
It would have been nice to have fresh towels at least once during our stay.
Sheets were not changed while we were there (which was fine with us).
A note on beach towels:
There have been reviews complaining about not being able to check out without returning all beach towels.
Maybe they were reviewing the wrong resort?
Our beach towels were in our room when we arrived.
We simply left them in the room when we checked out.
There was a "room inventory" inspection of our room one day.
Three people, one with a clipboard, came in and checked over our room.
Not sure what they were looking for.
Wouldn't it be better to do this between guests?
There are many trip hazards throughout the resort.
The transitions between different floor levels are not gradual.
There is often a 1-inch sharp lip that is marked with yellow paint.
We tripped on these lips an many occasions, and we weren't alone.
The buffet restaurant was a bit strange.
There were often long lines to get to the cooking stations.
And it was necessary to cut into the lines to get at the buffet food.
Most guests were very accommodating, but some got huffy.
In the buffet restaurant, the hot food was not hot.
Even the selections that appeared to be hot on the buffet were cold before you could get to your table.
Part of this was due to the A/C, which was of course a necessity.
This has been a problem at every resort we've been to.
There was always something good to eat, but not a lot of variety, especially for cooked vegetables.
The bread and cheese were excellent.
The bread stations were beside the toasters.
Seems reasonable, except that those waiting for their toast to cook blocked the area.
Even if you just wanted to get a slice of bread, you had to deal with the toast crowd.
Not a very efficient system.
Table service at the buffet restaurant was excellent.
Glasses were kept topped up.
Empty plates were taken away promptly.
But hang on to your silverware, or you'll quickly find yourself without a fork or spoon.
The juice station was a bit hard to find, but there was good fruit juice.
There is a beer tap by the juice station where you can pour your own beer.
(We only used this for lunch and supper).
I'd love to see self-serve beer taps in the lobby and snack-bar.
Then no standing in a long line for a beer while bartenders make cappuccino and fancy drinks for those ahead.
We didn't eat at the a la cartes, so can't comment on them.
The lobby is just plain weird.
The furniture in the lobby is not designed to accommodate groups of people who want to sit together.
Much of the furniture is huge, sprawling, and uncomfortable.
The few tables where you could sit with friends were taken quickly.
The table service was so slow that there was always a line of a dozen or more people at the bar.
For non-smokers, the lobby is a poor place to spend time.
There is a non-smoking section, but it's right beside the smoking section.
The 24-hour snack-bar is a much nicer place to sit for a drink.
The breeze off the ocean keeps the air clean and fresh.
There are tables and chairs where groups can sit together.
But the table service is awful.
I saw 5 wait-staff (including 2 bartenders) serving a whopping 13 guests.
It was necessary to go up to the bar every time you needed another drink.
Otherwise you could sit there for an hour with an empty glass.
The problem wasn't that more staff were needed.
The problem was that nobody was there to ensure they were actually doing their job.
And we tipped, but it didn't seem to make any difference.
We ordered fries there, and had to wait a while to get them (even though there was a small crowd).
When the fries arrived, they were cold and soggy, pretty much inedible.
We assumed our fries were the normal, and decided we just wouldn't get them again.
But another day we saw a table where they had great looking fries!
So we ordered some, and they were delicious, hot and crisp.
One day our cappuccino was quite cold.
The rest of the time it was nice and hot.
Management should look into why the quality is so varied.
My guess is that the staff don't bring things out in a timely manner.
The cigar bar has some nice tables just outside in the courtyard.
But if you get a beer, you'll have to ask for a real glass, or you'll get a small plastic one.
There is no draft tap at this bar.
I had to settle for canned Bucanero beer, as Cristal (my favourite) was not available at any time.
We stopped by the beach bar for a cold beer, and were told "Sorry, no beer today".
Then a cheerful "Maybe tomorrow!".
There is also a "sports bar", which we never quite made it to.
The smoke inside turned us away.
The beach was great.
About a 5 minute walk from the buffet restaurant.
Even less from our room (building #3).
Nice sand (a bit course, but not hard on the feet).
No water shoes needed if you pick your spot to enter and exit.
It stays shallow for a long way out.
With a snorkel and mask, there are fish to see right off the beach (find some coral).
For the best snorkeling, take a Hobie Cat catamaran out to the reef.
Be prepared to spend about 20 CUC for the trip.
There are not enough palapas for shade at the beach.
The spots were all taken by early morning, on a good day.
We walked over to the sister Rainbow resort.
The Rainbow caters to LGBTQ clientele, but everybody is welcome.
There were plenty of palapas available, and the attendant set us up in a good spot.
We explained we were from the Imperial resort, but that wasn't a problem.
He even suggested we could request a transfer to the Rainbow, but it was late in our stay.
The beach on this side is even better.
Once the Rainbow works up to a full complement of guests, this probably won't work so well.
The pools are set up beautifully.
But the chairs are all taken by 8 am.
And many of them are not occupied, just claimed by towels or personal possessions.
We don't feel right about doing this ourselves, so we didn't get to sit around the pool.
When the animation team starts up, the already loud area becomes VERY LOUD.
I'm sure that people in Miami were wondering what the noise was...
Does anybody really enjoy this??
In a word, disappointing.
We like to hear Cuban musicians performing Cuban music.
There was one band that performed one day at the buffet restaurant.
And again later in the courtyard.
They were great, but we only saw them the one day.
More of this kind of music would have been appreciated.
There was a group of 4 tenors singing in the lobby one evening.
But there was no good place to take in the show due to the aforementioned weird lobby arrangement.
There were shows in the theater in the evenings (9:30).
Most of these were usual song-and-dance shows that are OK, but not our cup of tea.
One show (Story of Cuba) was very well done.
Amazing sets and costumes.
But the sound system was so over-amplified that everything was just loud and muddy.
There was a rock band at the theater one night, and they were very good.
They had to contend with a few power failures, but the power came back on each time within minutes.
Again, the over-amplified sound system didn't help any.
Maybe that's what put the power out...
We had a great time.
This resort has the potential to be really good.
But in order to earn its stars, it has to address:
Strange lobby arrangement, uncomfortable furniture.
Cramped buffet restaurant, with restricted food choices.
Lack of entertainment.
Spotty service (excellent in buffet, horrible in 24-hr snack-bar).
Lack of palapas on beach or places to sit around the pool.
Laundry service needs to be improved.