A Cuban Escape with Memories Jibacoa
“All-inclusive” – kind of has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Accommodation, food, drinks, entertainment… not having to worry about anything but remembering to stay hydrated and reapply your sunscreen…
Well, despite having done a fair amount of travel in my short 27 years, I had never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before – until now, that is of course. Some of you reading this may very well be seasoned resort-vacationers… others may be looking for the right place to stay for their first experience, and others might just be looking to switch things up. Any which way you are coming into this, my goal for this blog post is to provide you with an overview of what you can expect from Memories Jibacoa Resort & Spa.
Let’s start with the location…
The resort itself is located in a small fishing village called, “Jibacoa”. It is approximately halfway between the bustling, resort-heavy city of Varadero and the country’s colourful and historical capital, Havana. Jibacoa is nestled in the beautiful Cuban countryside, surrounded by lush rolling hills and farmland. With this, it is an ideal location for nature-loving resort-seekers. With the mountain-like hills surrounding the resort, it is easy to feel as though you are in your own little oasis; at one point, a couple of us even felt the area looked as though it could have been a setting for one of the new Jurassic Park films… #truth. Though the resort is well secured (I felt incredibly safe the whole time), you can easily venture a little ways off the resort and take in some beautiful views of the quiet countryside — views I found to be particularly romantic come sunrise. While you cannot venture off the resort and stroll right into town, per se, the resort does offer tours and rentals for you to be able to reach Varadero or Havana within an hour.
Tip: If you take one of the tours to Havana, you will likely make this pit stop, but if you happen to rent a vehicle or a private driver – try to stop at “Peñón del Fraile”: a service station at the side of the road with the best piña coladas in Cuba! You can stretch your legs, grab a bite, shop for some souvenirs, or use the bathroom, but make sure you get one of their delicious piña coladas (served alcoholic or virgin)!
The resort is host to 250 guest rooms, including 10 suites, spread across 18 two-storey buildings (be aware that second-floor rooms have staircase access only). All rooms feature either 1 king-sized bed or 2 twin beds. Each room is equipped with air conditioning, a telephone, a private bathroom, and a safe deposit box for your valuables. Other amenities include cable TV, a coffee & tea maker, an iron and ironing board, hairdryer, and balcony/back porch. Rooms can vary in price depending on the view, i.e. ocean-view rooms, pool-view rooms, standard, etc. Although not overly modern or luxurious, I found the rooms were quite clean and well-kept. And let’s be fair… if I’m vacationing at a resort in Cuba, I’m not looking to spend much time in my room!
Should you so desire, you can also upgrade to “Diamond Club”, in which case your package will include additional services and amenities including, but not limited to, early check-in and late check-out, exclusive beach area and waiter service, concierge service in the lobby, a daily stocked mini-fridge in the room (water, beer and soft drinks), and 20% discounts on spa, beauty and laundry services.
I stayed in an ocean-view room as a Diamond Club guest and, I have to say, the service was fantastic. The view from the porch was amazing and everything was within a 10-minute walking distance!
Resort & Amenities
In terms of activities (excluding food and drink), the resort is home to a decent variety of amenities. Outside of hanging out on the beach and swimming in the ocean, Memories Jibacoa also has a large swimming pool, surrounded by cabanas and chairs for lounging, a giant chessboard, mini volleyball net, and 2 hot tubs. On-site, there is also a gym and fitness centre, as well as basketball and tennis courts. On the beach, you will also find a beach volleyball court. Something amazing about the ocean area of Memories Jibacoa is the coral reef that is only a few meters from the shoreline. This has been said to be one of the highlights of the resort for people who enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving. During our first day there, everyone was out enjoying the calm, crystal-clear waters!
The resort does have WiFi access, though it can be spotty in different areas throughout the property. WiFi works through the purchasing of key cards from the concierge at the cost of 1 Cuban peso per hour. You can purchase 1, 2, or 5-hour cards. The cards do not work based on the amount of data you are using, but rather they are timed, so you’ll need to remember to turn your WiFi off when you are not using it. Each time you would like to access the internet, you will need to re-enter the key code and password. This all being said, I found it incredibly relaxing and freeing to put my phone down and not worry constantly about keeping up with emails or social media. It was truly a deterrent and forced me to be present and truly disconnect. But, again, it was nice to have WiFi access when I needed or really wanted it! It was very reliable in the lobby of the hotel and by the pool.
Should you be looking to plan a wedding or other event, the resort also has conference halls and rooms available for the use of up to 120 guests.
At additional costs, the resort offers tours, spa services, international calling, and car rentals. The resort will accept MasterCard and Visa credit cards, as well as American and Canadian cash. Should you need to purchase Cuban pesos (for a trip into Havana or Varadero, or otherwise), you can exchange your money at the concierge. Cuban pesos (the tourist currency) are not available outside of Cuba, so you will need to obtain it within the country anyways.
There are several mini-shops on site which sell souvenirs and any emergency items you may have forgotten to pack.
Throughout the property, you can find three restaurants (a la carte) and 1 international buffet (Selections). Each of these dining areas is only open at certain times of the day and so you should be aware of this when planning your meals. That being said, there is also a Pool Grill snack shack, where you can order burgers, skewers, and some seafood, during the afternoon, if you are hungry or missed the dining options! If you would like to eat at one of the a la carte venues, you will need to book your reservation in advance. There is no extra cost to dine in these areas, but they fill up quickly so you will want to save your place ahead of time.
Unfortunately, as our schedule was quite tight and our time was limited, we were not able to dine in any of the a la carte restaurants, but I was told by some women who were enjoying the resort that the food was great, particularly the lobster. For a la carte options, there is an open-air beach restaurant (El Ranchon), an Italian restaurant (Bella Cucina), and a general fine dining restaurant (La Gourmet).
When dining at the international buffet, I recommend ordering the food that is prepared by a chef in front of you. In the morning, there is an omelette station, and in the evening, there is a pasta station – both of these options were very tasty and fresh!
Should you wish for something a little different, there is a small local restaurant outside of the resort down the road. Of course, this will cost extra as it is not affiliated with the resort, but the staff will be happy to help you make a reservation, should you desire!
As Memories Jibacoa is all-inclusive, there is an unlimited 24-hour beverage service, which features a wide selection of domestic and international brands. I recommend the mojitos as this is the national drink of Cuba and they know how to make them well! Regarding drinks, you will also find a coffee bar in the lobby, a cocktail bar on the beach, and another bar by the pool.
As the resort is not very big in size (as mentioned earlier, you can reach anything in approximately 10 minutes of walking), you do not have to travel far to reach entertainment.
The resort has its own disco, which is open later in the evening, for dancing, as well as a piano bar — a fun place to sing along with other vacationers, share some drinks, and get a little lively, before heading to the disco. There are also nightly shows that take place around 9 pm which display amazing acts of singing, dancing, and live music. The shows performed in the evenings were some of my favourite moments from my time at Memories Jibacoa! The performers are all very talented. Some of the performances are complimented with a themed dinner earlier in the evening at the international buffet.
For mini beach competitions, games, and lessons offered by the resort, be sure to pay attention to announcements from staff on the beach and in the lobby.
While I wouldn’t say that Memories Jibacoa is a very lively and party-centered resort, it is important to keep in mind that it is for adults only (16+). The resort is more focused on providing a rejuvenating home away from home, targeting individuals who are looking to relax and unwind. Many of the guests that we spoke to had been going to the resort annually for anywhere from 8-13 years. They knew the staff by name and it was clear that memorable relationships had been built, and a high level of comfort had been obtained.
My favourite parts about the resort were definitely its location, the friendly and hospitable staff, and the accessibility of the amenities. Overall, I would say the girls and I had a lovely experience at Memories Jibacoa. If you’re looking for a more secluded getaway in Cuba, with diversely beautiful topography, and a cozier atmosphere to relax in with excellent service, I would absolutely recommend the Memories Resort & Spa in Jibacoa.
Click here to check out packages and availability to book your own experience at Memories Jibacoa.
Disclaimer: All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Although I was hosted by Memories Jibacoa Resort & Spa, all opinions are my own.