This is my most recent review of Club Amigo Marea del Portillo. It's now posted on TripAdvisor.com, along with a few photos from my latest trip, Oct. 31-Nov. 21, 2013. Here's a link: "Diamond" review with photos.
For information on upcoming trips, please visit my new site, JennicaCuba. It has been set up specifically for booking group trips, so it won't have poetry, short stories and such stuff – just necessary data. I hope you will check it out! Meanwhile, here's my review....
Even if you’re not a fan of Paul Simon’s music, you’ve probably heard the song
“Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,” a catchy pop tune from his iconic 1986 release,
Graceland. It’s an engaging song!
When I describe the location of Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, I often tell people, “If you
think of Cuba as a leg with a foot, then it’s located on the sole, near the heel.” Situated
on the southern rim of the island, this little resort is a perfect gem of a place. Therefore,
I think it’s apt to describe Marea del Portillo as a diamond on the sole of Cuba. And, it’s
an engaging place!
For many people, Club Amigo Marea del Portillo could also be described as a diamond of
the soul in Cuba. I can safely state that because this humble Sunwing-run resort has
one of the highest rates of returnees in the entire tourist-infested country. This is
particularly remarkable since it’s in a relatively remote region, far from popular urban
hubs like Havana, Varadero and Santiago de Cuba. But, there’s something special about
the place and, before I realized what was happening, I too had become one of the
WHY IS THIS LITTLE RESORT SO POPULAR?
First, for most folks, the exceptional natural beauty of the area is captivating. The
majestic Sierra Maestra Mountains rise behind the resort, encircling it in a protective
way, like arms around you on a stormy night. In front of the hotel and cabaña complex,
the ocean rolls and lolls in a horseshoe bay, punctuated on one side by a dramatic
scenic vista and, on the other, by a tranquil mangrove. The beach itself is beige sand,
sprinkled with interesting multi-colored pebbles at one end and populated with palapas.
Another thing that many visitors notice and appreciate is the friendly and professional
service; the staff at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo is second to none. They work hard to
address any concerns guests may have and to ensure the best possible experience for
everyone – from toddlers to seniors and all ages in between.
During my most recent visit (November 2012), the 40 people I traveled with ranged in
age from 6 months to 85 years, and they all had a wonderful time. Several members of
the group had been to this resort in the past – with previous trips I’d organized or on
their own. For the majority, though, this was their inaugural visit, but it won’t likely be
their last. In fact, some of us are already planning trips in April and October of 2013.
IT’S A LOVELY, PEACEFUL PLACE TO RELAX!
It’s easy to become hooked on Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, as the many repeat
visitors will verify. Why? I’ve mentioned the top-notch staff and beautiful scenery but,
beyond that, the atmosphere itself is a big factor in the magic of Marea, in my opinion.
The place has a very peaceful, laid-back feeling and is not a pumping party zone – at
least not when I’ve been there (typically at the beginning or end of the high season for
Of course, you can always find or create a party if you want – the bar is now open all
night! In general, though, I’d say this resort is more geared to families and people who
are not inclined to get stupidly drunk and stumble into the pool. It’s perfect for relaxing,
in just about any way that suits you!
During the day, there are activities for children of all ages, including yoga – ask for
Maya, who leads classes whenever possible. There are also dance lessons and pool-side
games, as well as entertaining stage shows every evening that feature a bevy of
wonderful dancers, awesome musicians, an excellent magician and some very amusing
comedic performers. If you’re interested in more athletic activities, there are many
options. For instance, you can go horseback riding with Chichi, kayaking or sailing on
the bay, hiking or biking at your own pace.
A FEW NOTES ON FOOD AND FACILITIES...
Before I conclude this review, I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on two other
things: food and facilities. Regarding food, I’ve often heard people complain about
Cuba’s cuisine but I think the important thing to remember is that they work with what
is available and the food is generally fresh and organic. Some people I spoke with in
November mentioned they felt the food at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo was completely
on par with the quality of what was offered at a five-star in Varadero where they’d
stayed not long ago.
One thing I particularly like is that there’s always some yummy food being prepared at
the grill in the Marea hotel dining room, such as custom-made omelets every morning.
Even for people with multiple food sensitivities like me, there are plenty of tasty options
on the buffet, including several types of meat, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to the facilities, I’ve noticed over the years that Club Amigo Marea del
Portillo is consistently clean and well maintained. The grounds are groomed perpetually,
the beach is raked at dawn, the sidewalks are swept and washed daily, and the
buildings themselves are regularly painted and upgraded. This year, the impetus seems
to be to replace doors, particularly in the cabaña section. I observed that each newly
installed solid wooden door was equipped with a modern electronic key-card lock – a
I’ve also heard about other improvements that are in the works, so I’ll be very curious to
see what’s been accomplished by the time I return in April. And, I’ll be sure to let you
know about how this Cuban diamond is being further polished!