Air Canada Vacations recently hosted a mega FAM in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba, allowing travel agents to better discover a destination that's in the midst of a visitation boom, given its ability to cater to all kinds of travellers.
"Santa Maria is now addressing all clients," said David Côté, senior manager, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, Air Canada Vacations. "For example, Dhawa, Angsana and Paradisus offer stays for a more upscale clientele. The range is really there. The wifi is now available in all hotels and the food has evolved greatly."
PAX was On Location to visit some of the most upscale hotels in the destination, some of which will open very soon.
Royalton Cayo Santa Maria
5 stars, adults-only, 122 rooms
We like: the quiet elegance of the resort, the deck chairs submerged in the two pools, and the accessibility to the services of the other five hotels in the chain located nearby.
Note: this property has close proximity to Pueblo La Estrella, a shopping centre with restaurants, shops, bars and nightclubs.
Ocean Casa Del Mar
4 stars, family-friendly, 800 rooms
We like: the facilities of the three pools, the 10 restaurants and 12 bars. The beach is also superb with many palapas.
Note: the hotel is currently working to offer WiFi in all areas.
Angsana Cayo Santa Maria
One of Angsana's restaurants
5 stars, adults-only, 252 rooms
Opened since the beginning of November, the Angsana is very peaceful, and perfectly located for those wishing to snorkel.
Note: guests can enjoy a library and loan books in three languages (including French).
Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria
4.5 stars, family-friendly, 516 rooms
We like: the very quiet atmosphere, the two adult pools, the two children's pools, the two tennis courts and the five types of rooms, including junior suites, and rooms for those with accessibility requests. Plus, guests can order snacks and drinks right on the beach.
Note: This resort has facilities designed for people with reduced mobility, and it's the only hotel in the area to offer a kids club from six months old.
20% discount at Angsana Spa, located next door.
Sercotel Experience Cayo Santa Maria
4.5 stars - family / adult - 660 rooms
We like: the three-kilometre beach, accessible WiFi, the five restaurants (including a Cuban) and three swimming pools including one for children.
Note: One hour of free WiFi per room per stay (serenity featured collection of ACV).
Meliá Cayo Santa Maria
4.5 stars, Family-friendly, 358 rooms
We like: the small size of the resort complex, the two pools (including one with submerged bar) and that of the children's club, the five tennis courts and the Las Dunas Market which brings a festive touch.
Note: there's a third bed available in the room, perfect for kids!
Golden Tulip Aguas Claras
4 stars - Family - 846 rooms
Built along the beach, the hotel offers 65 per cent of its rooms facing the sea.
We like: the two connected pools with waterfall including a children's area.
Playa Cayo Santa Maria
4.5 stars - Family - 769 rooms
We like: the 11 bars (including an ice cream station) and the free WiFi which is accessible throughout the resort.
Paradisus Los Cayos
4.5 stars, family-friendly /adults-only, 802 rooms
Official opening on Dec. 8th. Open for sales with ACV on Jan. 30th
We like: the intimacy of the resort, despite the large size of this luxury eco-district; 12 restaurants, 34 swimming pools (including 30 swim-up), 14 bars (including one with smoothies and one with daiquiris) and WiFi throughout.
Note: Exclusive service is offered in the Royal Service and Family Concierge sections.
5 stars, adults-only, 105 rooms
We like: the private balcony of the rooms with an outdoor shower, the three beaches ideal for snorkeling, and the overwater bungalow, perfect for yoga or meditation.
Note: a 60-minute hydromassage at the spa is included.
Valentin Perla Blanca
4.5 stars, adults-only, 1,020 rooms
We like: the one-kilometre long beach served by five paths, all with a bar and the two pools with Balinese beds and two submerged bars.
Note: One hour massage per person per stay (ACV serenity featured collection).
Starfish Tropical Cayo Santa Maria
4 stars, family-friendly, 684 rooms
We like: the party atmosphere managed by the excellent animation team.
Note : Air Canada Vacations offers some Blue Diamond Resorts hotels, such as Royalton or Starfish. These are the only ones to offer it with Sunwing.