Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Brisas Covarrubias, Puedro Padre, Cuba

We traveled to Brisas Covarrubias in December 2010, over the Christmas Holidays. Found an awesome deal, from Montreal, at just $600 CAD including tax. The tour operator was HolaSun, and it was our first experience with them. The flight left with about an hour delay, in the afternoon.

The flight was pretty bumpy due to strong winds, and we arrived in Holguin airport at around 8PM, later than expected. The checks at Holguin airport went by quickly, but once loaded on the bus to the hotel, we had to wait quite a while for all passengers to get on the bus. We finally left the airport for a long ride, just under 2.5 hours, to Brisas Covarrubias. The way was really dark so we didn't really see much - but the road was extremely bumpy at times, but bearable.

When we got to the hotel at about 11:30PM, nothing was going on to welcome the new guests. In the lobby there were only a few hotel workers and there was only one worker in the front desk to check everyone in. Our bus was full, so check-in took over an hour. Once we got the keys to our room, we were walked there (in the dark, no real lighting at some areas of the hotel) by a worker. Once we arrived at our room, which was at the back end of the hotel, we realized that the magnetic keys did not work. The worker said he cannot do anything, and told us to take the keys back to the reception. We went back and asked them to fix our keys, but they said the keys were fine, and that the problem was in the door lock itself. They promised to send someone to fix it. We waited in the lobby, it looked like nobody was coming. After arguing with the guy at the front desk for about an hour, he finally asked a worker to fix our door. We were finally let into our room, and the lock was fixed. Now, it was almost 1AM, and since the restaurant closes there at 9PM, only the snack bar was open. They served some pineapple and oranges, and small sandwiches. Nothing impressive, nobody really ate anything, just took a few drinks and went to bed.

All the rooms of the hotel are situated in 2-storey buildings. To our surprise, we got an ocean-view room on the second floor, at the back end of the hotel. The room was very spacious, and seemed in pretty good condition. There was a large balcony with an ocean-view. You could actually hear the waves at night.

The room also had a mini-fridge, which was equipped only with a 1.5L water bottle upon arrival, which was never restocked. Our room also had 2 double beds instead of a king bed, and every time we requested the change, the front desk worker told us that many excuses about why he cannot change our room, each time a different excuse, so we didn't bother. The only downside in the room was that it was not cleaned well (upon our arrival), stains and dust everywhere, especially on the bathroom and sink. The rest of the week the room didn't seem to get any cleaner (despite tips/gifts).

Another important point about this hotel is that because it is isolated, the water containers are transported by trucks to the hotel. The hotel is not connected to a water system. So, at some times, the water either runs out or the hotel turns it off in order to save the water, and you are left with no water whatsoever in the room/lobby. So many complaints were reported to the management regarding the water, but nobody seemed to care - not sure if they had any control over it.

The food at the main restaurant was pretty good. Sometimes they ran out of some fruits (guava and papaya mostly) but there was always something to eat. Breakfast consisted of a made-to-order eggs (with toppings), fresh bread, a narrow selection of cereal, yogurt, juice, fruit, and desserts. A simple salad bar (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, spinach) with a variety of dressings, a few choices for a meat/fish (chicken/pork/lamb/swordfish/etc.), rice, etc. There was usually pizza (one sort) for lunch, and there was always pasta for dinner (make-to-order with your choice of toppings) and usually one kind of soup too. The food was generally very filling and pretty delicious for Cuba. It got a bit repetitive though. One downside about the restaurant is that it isn't large enough to accommodate all the people at the hotel at the same time, so even though the hotel was not full when we were there, they locked the restaurant when it got full during dinner, and people had to form a lineup outside, by the locked restaurant door, waiting for tables to get free to get in.

The snack bar which is open 24 hours serves hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and fries. It was really good. The pool bar right beside it is open 24 hours as well. The only down side to the bar is that they do not make pina colada from scratch - they use the pre-made slushie instead and just add the rum and liquor to it. The espressos and cappuccinos at the pool bar were great as well! There's also a swim-up bar in the pool, which was not crowded at all, nobody really swam in the pool - everyone preferred the ocean.

The beach bar is open for lunch from noon to 3, and has a small a-la-carte lunch menu, which includes soup, hotdogs, hamburgers, fries, salad, and fruit. It's open-air, practically on the beach, and really is a pleasant place to eat if the weather's nice. The drinks at the beach bar are the same as at the lobby/pool bar, except they do not serve espressos or cappuccinos there.

The a-la-carte restaurant is located by the beach bar. Most people get 1 dinner per stay, but you could reserve another dinner if there is availability. Each night there's a different theme (alternates between italian and seafood). We went for the seafood dinner which was pretty good, a 3-course meal, but most of the food at the a-la-carte is exactly the same as in the main restaurant, but with a smaller selection. Anyhow it's a nice change!

The hotel has a beautiful, white sand beach. On one side of the beach there's a lagoon with mangroves. You could go on adventures there too (by foot or by boat, we did both).

The hotel offers non-motorized water sports: kayaks and pedal boats. Also catamaran in included in the all-inclusive stay, just ask one of the lifeguards and they'll take you on a short trip.

You could basically go walking either way from the hotel, it's really secluded, there's nothing surrounding it, just one road that runs parallel to the beach, and you could just walk on the white sandy beaches that get rocky in times, for however long you like.

Activities at the hotel included stretching at the beach, bingo at around 3PM, archery (which was really fun!), dance lessons, "silly" games, Spanish lessons, and activities for kids. There weren't many participants for most activities, so that made them a bit less exciting. The entertainment team is pretty small, and not exceptional (compared to an entertainment team like the one in Brisas Santa Lucia which is just fabulous!). But they do their job!

You can get a beach towel for free (and replace it whenever you like) from a designated spot, which also provides chess, dominoes, tennis rackets (pretty bad condition), ping pong rackets, and a basketball. There are very outdated basketball and tennis courts, but they do their job.

There's also a disco with drinks included, located right by the mangroves, which opens at 10PM every night. Not many people went there during our stay.

This is a great hotel if you're looking for relaxation. There isn't much going on, but you will definitely enjoy your time there if you know what to expect. Also the service is anywhere close to 5* or even a 4* but if that's not the most important aspect for you then you will just ignore the service and focus on better things that this hotel has to offer!

Please ask if you have any questions or if you'd just like to hear more about anything about the hotel!


  1. Hi I was just wondering how much the charged for things like snorkeling,fishing,scuba diving, car rental ect?

  2. Hi, I am going there in a couple of weeks and I was wondering if you had a problem with hot water when there was water for your showers?

  3. The snorkelling is free as long as you have your own equipment. They also offer some equipment in the aqua centre which is also free I believe. If you want to do deep-sea fishing, there are tours offered through the hotel for $ of course. They also have a dive centre, not sure how much they charge for the trips. Regarding car rental you would also need to inquire with your representative at the hotel. All of the above could be arranged there, and the prices are pretty standard like at any other hotel in Cuba.

  4. Hi Anna.
    As I mentioned in my blog, yes we did have a problem with water. Sometimes there was no hot water (especially right before dinner when many guests were taking showers). Also, sometimes there was no water at all (for a few hours and also during the night - so you couldn't even flush your toilet...) That was a real problem, although no complaints achieved any improvements. This hotel is not connected through a water system, so water is transported to the hotel by trucks, and if they run out of water (or nearly run out), they just shut off the water. So, you'll find that during the night they shut off the water, and also sometimes during the day. That means there's no water anywhere: not your room and not at the lobby. I guess they only keep it running at the kitchen and bars for service.

  5. hi, i'm going here tomorrow and i was just curious what the electrical outlets were like? should i look into buying a plug adapter? all of my things (hair dryers, straighteners etc) are from Canada, so will there be a difference in voltage etc?

  6. We were thinking of going - how is the snorkelling around the hotel. Is there a reef that you can swim to or kayak to.

  7. The electrical outlets suit both 110/220 plugs. So your Canadian devices should be fine, you don't need to bring a plug adapter. Just make sure you see that the range written on the back of your devices includes 110-220V (so that your devices don't overheat and burn down).

  8. A lot of people go snorkelling around the hotel, but there isn't an actual reef right accross the beach. You could see some fish and corals, but not too much. You would need to take a snorkelling trip (I think it was 12CUC) where they take you to a coral reef (deep sea) to snorkel. I think drinks/entertainment on the boat is included during the trip as well.

  9. Hi!

    We're thinking of going here, but my husband kitesurfs, and I am curious to know if you saw any kitesurfers while there?

    Much thanks,

  10. Hi Milica,
    No, unfortunately we did not see any kitesurfers during our stay. But I heard that it is available in the area!

  11. Hi,
    We are going here April 27.Did you visit Puerto Padre?
    Are scooters available for rent at the resort?

  12. Hi,
    No, we didn't visit the city itself because the tour was fully-booked on the week we were there (there was only a tour into the city twice that week), so make sure you book your trip right away when you arrive, with your representative. The representative is supposed to be in the lobby every morning, but on some days he didn't even show up!
    For cars and scooters you can make arrangements through the resort to rent them from one of the bigger hotels which are actually near the city. This hotel is very isolated, about a 45-min drive from the city. It's on a lone isolated road in the middle of nowhere... :) which means beautiful, white-sand, nearly empty beaches around the hotel!

  13. Hello, my friend and I are planning a trip in March. I see that you have been to both Brisas covarrubias and brisas santa lucia. These are also our options. Which one do you recommend? which one has the nicer beach? thank you

  14. Hi Anonymous!
    If you're looking for a more relaxed vacation, and not concerned about taking many tours etc - I would go with Brisas Covarrubias.
    If you're looking for a more active vacation with more people and more activities going on - I would go with Brisas Santa Lucia.
    The beaches are both great, but in different ways. Brisas Covarrubias is isolated so you can walk along the shore and you will barely see any people outside the resort... whereas Brisas Santa Lucia is surrounded by other resorts.
    Enjoy your trip!

  15. what kind of excursions do they have there

    1. There are lots of excursions, to see the local towns, catamaran snorkelling, crocodile farm, etc. There's a schedule posted in the lobby for the weekly excursions.

  16. can we upgrade the room at the hotel and i much ,,,,

  17. Hi Anonymous, I'm sure you can upgrade the room at the hotel, either when booking your vacation through the travel agency, or once you arrive at the hotel. I'd recommend the first option.

  18. Thanks for amazing pictures of Cuba. I have always dreamed to visit Cuba, but due to embargo, I could never do this. Now since embargo has been removed, I will surely pay a legal Cuba travel.

    1. Great to hear, Martin! Enjoy your vacation in beautiful Cuba!

  19. Is there any stretch of beach nearby to enjoy some nude sunbathing ?