From January 17, 2018 to January 24, 2018, we vacationed at Memories Holguin Beach Resort in Cuba. This was my sixth time to an all-inclusive resort in Cuba and my second time at a Memories Resort. Considering the budget, we were pleased with Memories Holguin. Compared with their resort in Cayo Santa Maria, some things were better and some were not as good with the decision coming out a draw as to which was better.
Some of the reviews from TripAdvisor led to believe that this hotel might not be so great. Although some of the major complaints were founded, most weren’t as severe as made out to be and many issues just weren’t evident on our visit. We’ve learned over the years that you shouldn’t take these reviews too seriously. Some people come in angry about outside reasons (possibly a fight with a spouse or other family member). Some have something go wrong at the start of the stay and see everything for the rest of the week in a negative light. Some people are just dicks.
We had reason to be in a negative state of mind with notification of a death in the family just minutes before getting on our Sunwing Boeing 737-800, a suitcase left on the bus from the airport to the resort and a missing cell phone that never returned. Even in this state, we do recommend this resort. The fact that two kids under 12 stay free and there is no single supplement for an single adult travelling with a child, makes it one of the most budget friendly places to visit in the Caribbean.
Memories Holguin Beach Resort Image Gallery
For full-sized, high resolution versions of any of the photos in the image gallery, simply click on the individual pictures. The photos and much of the footage in the video below were taken with a Canon Rebel T6i (other video was taken with the GoPro Hero 5 Black). If can’t afford the $$$ to get a pro range camera, the T6i is pretty darn close to the quality for a much more reasonable price.
Memories Holguin Beach Resort Overview
Memories Holguin Beach Resort is located at the northeast end of the island of Cuba. The property is 67 kilometres north of Frank Pais International Airport (HOG) in Holguin and the bus ride will take a bit over an hour. The busier resort area of Guardalavaca is about 10 KM to the east.
The hotel is a bit isolated with no other hotels within sight. The view from the two story observation tower near the beach shows that you are centered in a lush, dense tropical forest. This hotel was formerly known as Occidental Grand Playa Turquesa, Sirenis Playa Turquesa and Riu Playa Turquesa. Originally, it was built to be a Club Med but never opened as such. The beach is known as Playa Yuraguanal.
Although a Memories Resort, as per Cuban law, the resort is 51% owned by Gaviota. The hotel is administered by Blue Diamond (Sunwing) of Canada.
For families, the kid’s club is the largest in Cuba. The fenced in area has a two story building with various play rooms, along with a playground and two pools. Babysitting is offered at a rate of 5CUC per hour, per child.
The main common area stretches from the front entrance to the beach. Rooms are scattered on either side of the main area in a well-spaced pattern. The resort is built into a hill and the result is a lot of stairs from the front lobby to the beach area. However, shuttles area available to take guests where they need to go, if need be.
The steep incline does present an opportunity to build a beautiful set of cascading swimming pools. The first is at the same level as the buffet and main common area. This drops, via waterfall, to the next level pool that features a bridge and shallow section for viewing the rest of the pools below. The swim-up bar pool (aka the urinal) is next, followed by the beach style pool that allows entry at ground level.
For those of us from Canada and the United States, you do need a converter for your 110V items. There is wi-fi available in the lounge area. The cost is 1CUC per hour and the service is horrendous. Unless you need to get on the internet for emergency reasons, don’t waste your time. Another tidbit – the tap water is stated as not drinkable. At most Cuban resorts this is not the case but apparently here it is. I drank from the tap before I noticed the sign and it didn’t make me sick.
There are 531 rooms at Memories Holguin Beach Resort. You’ve got your standard rooms, economy rooms, suites and Diamond Club rooms. As for size, the standard, economy and Diamond Club are the same. The economy are located further from the main area and the Diamond Club rooms come with extra amenities. The suites come with two bathrooms, a living area and a sofa. Suite buildings have just two rooms while all others come in bungalows of four rooms.
In a standard or economy room, a new bottle of water will arrive daily in your mini-bar. Diamond Club rooms will get beer, soft drinks and water daily. We were in a standard room, however, and did get beer and pop one day. This differs from Memories Paraiso Azul in Cayo Santa Maria, a hotel we stayed at in 2016. There, we stayed in a standard room and received pop and beer each day.
Restaurants and Bars
On site, there are six restaurants and six bars. Besides the main buffet restaurant, there are four a la cartes with Cuban, Italian, Romantic and Seafood themes. The 24 hour snack bar is the hidden gem with food and drink available whenever you need. The snack bar seems to overlooked by most patrons and is the quickest spot to fill you drinks or grab a bite to eat.
As for the bars, the lobby bar and snack bar are open 24 hours per day. The pool bar is located between the two lower level pool and is open from 10am to 5pm. The beach bar is open the same hours. Be warned, if you’re mobile, it’s worth the walk from the beach to fill your drinks at the pool bar as the beach bar is always lined up. Food is also available at the pool bar.
There is a cigar bar, located next the buffet which is open from 7pm to 11pm. The adults only disco is found beneath the buffet and is open from 11pm to 2am.
This is your usual Cuban buffet. Food is decent, if you aren’t a vegetarian. Sure, there’s lot’s of vegetables available but Cubans have a thing for mixing bits of meat into everything that goes on the buffet.
At the Mojito bar, located beside the second level pool, it is nearly a secret that you can get a half lobster lunch. This not included but at 11CUC is very reasonable for what you get. It can even be delivered right to your poolside chair. This is also available at the beach bar but you will have to wait in line longer to order and receive.
The beach, Playa Yuraguanal, is 540 metres of waterfront. This is actually an artificial beach with the sand brought in. Because of this, seaweed and algae are always trying to reclaim their home and it is a constant struggle to keep the area clean. However, it is a nice beach and it has something that a number of other locations don’t – depth. The main beach is much wider than, say, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco or Cayo Largo.
Diamond Club guests get their own exclusive beach area. The chairs are covered and they have their own bar. The bar comes with exclusive waiter service.
Because of its isolated location with no neighbours, you are quite free to walk down the waterfront, away from the resort. Be warned, it deteriorates quickly with garbage washed ashore everywhere. You may also meet some locals that simply appear out of the bush, looking for handouts. Despite this, it is safe to journey away from the main area.
Snorkeling is not the best. If you’re looking for the best snorkeling in Cuba, take a look at nearby Playa Pesquero. A reef does surround the waterfront but it is a good distance out.
Diamond Club is an upgrade you can go for when booking. This gives you personalized check in, along with early check in and late check out. You get an exclusive area on the beach with slightly better chairs and a dedicated bar with dedicated waiter service.
In your room, you get your minibar stocked daily with beer and soft drinks. I heard through the grape vine, you also get booze with your own dispenser included. Your room is also better located in the resort, closer to the action.
At the busy buffet restaurant, you have a reserved area with a view and even table clothes. For paid services at the resort, such as the spa, beauty parlour and laundry service, you receive a 20% discount. You also get one dinner show throughout the week, something not available to the ‘regular’ guest.
Some Final Thoughts
Be careful walking at night. While we were there, street lights had a habit of getting knocked over or just burning out. One night, on the way to dinner in darkness, my two year old was nearly run over by a resort vehicle driving without headlights.
Do not take the early flight! I thought it was to our advantage to leave Toronto early so we could get to Cuba in time to enjoy the day. However, as we should have known from our April, 2017 trip to Iberostar Cayo Ensenachos, this gets you there in time to wait several hours for your room to be available. Add to this the fact that you’ve been up since the early hours of the morning (basically not sleeping for two consecutive days) so you mind becomes pretty numb pretty fast.
While walking along the beach outside the hotel property with my five year old, I was approached by a local man, claiming to be a poor electrician and son of a fisherman. He targeted me because of my son. They know that a lot of Canadians with children will leave their kids clothing at the end of the visit because, by the time summer comes the kid has grown out of them. We did, in fact, have clothes that we brought specifically to get rid of. He was thankful but, despite this, he pressed for more.
Cuba is increasingly becoming worse for this sort of begging off the resort as they grow accustomed to getting things for free from visitors. However, the worst sort of begging is on the resort or through resort sanctioned excursions. Ten years ago, tipping was seriously not expected and was in minimal denominations. Now, it is certainly expected and can severely affect the service you receive. A CUC at the bar no longer always brings the expressions of gratitude that came even just a few years ago. Craft vendors will even go so far as to ask to keep the change as a tip.
The power will go out daily. If you don’t bring your own clock/watch, you will never know the time. Hot water in the shower is a matter of patience. Start the water several minutes before you plan to step in – pretend its a North American motel in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The buffet, like all buffets in Cuba, is not set up properly. There are stations where food is prepared for guests. This is great. The food is great. You know you’ll have to wait your turn in line. However, that line blocks hot foot that has already been prepared and doesn’t need any personalized preparation. Therefore, you have to either negotiate with the other guests in line to reach in, or wait in line.
Memories Holguin Beach Resort Video
This video shows the highlights of Memories Holguin Beach Resort. We also have a walk around (strollercam) walk around video coming soon of the main area from the lobby down to the beach entrance. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos from this resort, others in Cuba and more travel locations.