The Starfish Hotel lines up six restaurants and a shed-load of activities. Plus, it’s right next to a long, white beach.
The Starfish Cayo Santa Maria is wrapped in neatly-preened gardens. A long white beach is less than a minute’s walk away – a wooden boardwalk leads you straight to the sand.
Within a 10-minute stroll, there’s a centre called Pueblo La Estrella, which is modelled on a colonial village. Here, you’ve got restaurants and craft shops, as well as regular live music performances in the plaza.
TripAdvisor Traveller Rating
Based On 4059 reviews
- Official Rating
Facilities ► View all
2 outdoor pools
Both complete with a terrace dotted with loungers. There's a whirlpool bath, too.
For ages 5-12 years.
Grill La Vigia Cuban à la carte restaurant
Included in your All Inclusive package, Grill La Vigia serves up a range of local dishes.
Rooms ► View all
double room with limited sea view and balcony or terrace
Double rooms with a balcony or terrace feature a king-size bed, tea and coffee facilities, shower in the bath and a minibar. These rooms also offer a limited sea view.
suite with limited sea view and balcony or terrace
Suites with a balcony or terrace feature a double bedroom with king-size bed and an extra bed, separate lounge area, tea and coffee facilities, shower in the bath and a minibar. These suites also offer a limited sea view.
TripAdvisor Reviews Show more reviews »
Enjoyable - but could be so much better
Attractive resort, with two large pools and situated on a beautiful white sandy beach. Friendly staff. Sounds idyllic? It could be - but we also experienced many of the problems others have written about, which makes you seriously question what the management of the hotel are doing. In particular: - check-in was fast and efficient, or would have been if my room key had worked. We stayed for 5 nights, during which time we had several visits from the engineer, and changed the key numerous times - but it never worked! - you could not make up a more farcical booking system for booking restaurants in the evening. Total shambles. And if you are lucky enough to actually book somewhere (having wasted half the morning in a queue, only to be told that the restaurant you want to visit is closed) you find that the "fully booked" restaurant you managed to book is half empty!. - on check-in, we had no water, lights not working, an unstocked fridge, non-operational safe and aircon which was either room or igloo temperature. We never got the aircon working properly. - sitting by the pool should be very relaxing, and would be if the "entertainment team" didn't play music deafeningly loud (and thereby clear most of the people away). More positive, the barbecue lunch place was very good, the beach attendants friendly and helpful, the beach itself (a very short walk away) is beautiful, the evening entertainment wasn't bad, and the buffet breakfast is good.More
The hotel was beautiful, ocean/beach excellent. Customer Service plus, food was good - never went hungry. We stayed in bungalow 713 and once the boardwalk is finished, quick access to the beach. We were close to pools and restaurants. Would go back in a heart beat.More
Lacks Room Essentials and More
Feb2-9th 20th- Check in fast and efficient, staff is what saves this resort.They really try hard to please. I will say bar staff and entertainment were very good. This place is about 15 years old and shows it wear and tear in parts of the resort. Food- Buffet food and service is a hit and a miss,very disorganized at times, hard to get coffee,food repetitive,no sliced bread, very limited vegetables,cold food except for pasta and grilled meats. A la cartes a nightmare to book, could only have two a week but had to wait in long lines each morning to book one and had to come back second day to book another and then you may not get another.They never had all 4 open each night. The best place for food was the pool grill and beach grill because you could order from menu. In fact the hamburger at pool grill was best meal all week. Now to the amenities, no hot water in rooms 5 out of 7 days,no kleenex,toilet paper a an issue for them, took all day to replace one day... that was with going to the desk twice and finally getting manager to make it happen. This to me is unacceptable, Especially when my daughter is sick in the room with cold and no toilet paper or kleenex.Beach towels only got clean ones once for the week.Sheets only changed one day and of course no face cloths all week. Air conditioning was so cold and hard to control that you slept with 2 wool blankets. When one cannot have the basics in their room there is a problem. I have travelled to many Caribbean destinations and this resort ranks pretty close to the bottom. Can I recommend this resort or go back.No.More
No hot water, unexceptabe food quality, diarea, stomach cramping & poor customer relations.
The hotel room (ocean view) and employees were exceptional. Unfortunately we did not have any hot water for 6 days out of 7. Front desk was of no help as the issue was never responded to truthfully until day 5 and a room move was offered. Just a little too late. On days 1 - 4 we were advised the problem would be corrected within next 2-4 hours..... I feel they just Told us what they felt we wanted to hear. On day 5 after being sick since day 2, I confronted the front desk when new guests were arriving to voice my dismay at the no hot water situation, and would not move to a quiet area to discuss this issue as per their insistence (front desk rep). Within 10 mins my wife and I were taken to another block of rooms to see if hot water was available and if we wanted to relocate later that day. Hot water was available as we knew from speaking with many other visitors staying in lots of other rooms who had no issues. The other issue we had was the very poor quality and selection of food. This was our 5th trip to Cuba but first time here. The buffet had virtually NO fresh vegetables or fruit (except for 2 bowels of bananas, a soup bowel of sliced oranges and mushy mangoes) ....not impressed! They also prepared most meats fried in some type of oil on the griddles ... raw chicken, beef, and pork together. There was no wonder that every single couple or group we met during our stay had atleast one person sick with diarea and stomach pains. We also met 4 couples that were there for the 4th consecutive year and each of them were upset with issues they had this year with water problems, poor buffet selections, uncooked food issues, sicknesses, and biting ants in their rooms and beds. At this point I have had a stomach issue for 9 days (since our day 2 at the resort) and my wife is now in day 5. I will never return to this resort and will give a 100% negative reference should anyone ask my feeling of this resort.More
We Keep Coming Back
Just be warned.....it's a long review.... My wife and I stayed at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria for 1 week from Jan 30 â Feb 6. We have been coming to this area many times over the past 10 years, and have stayed in this hotel +/- 25 times. Many people ask why we keep returningâ¦ Hereâs what we knew going in: â¢ Cayo Santa Maria is not close to the airport. Bus transfer is +/- 1.5 hours â and that is after you wait until everyone is on the bus. We knew this going in â and made previous arrangements with a driver for a private transfer so we could do a few stops along the way. Typical cost for cab 60 â 65 CUC (CUC rate is based on US $. Sucks compared to the Canadian $) â¢ Reception staff is friendly and efficient, and have no problems communicating in English. It is easy to have one of the many bell-boys take you and your luggage to your room, and give you an introductory tour around the hotel in one of their carts. During your stay, they will happily transfer you around the hotel if requested, or even take you over to the small Pueblo (Las Dunas) next door â although most will enjoy the short stroll on their own. We knew this going in. â¢ Resort is smaller than most of the newer hotels in the area, with 358 rooms located in 2 storey (walk-up) bungalows. Rooms, although dated, are quite large and include a fairly large sitting area, flat screen TV, coffee maker. Room fridge is stocked daily with 1 (1.5 litre) bottle of water, 2 cans of beer, and 2 cans of soft drinks â often when you are not in the room. The in-room safe (included) is of a decent size and located in the closet, where you will also find an iron and ironing board. Only 3 drawers for clothes, and a few shelves. Bathroom has hair dryer, magnifying make-up/shaving mirror, sink, toilet, bidet, bathtub with telephone shower. Toiletry bag is generous, and includes 2 bars of soap, shower gel, shampoo, body lotion, and shower cap. Tub is quite high, so take care stepping in or out. Also bathroom is dated and itâs not unusual to find some chips and dings here and there. But we knew this going in. â¢ Air conditioning in the room can be extremely inadequate. But we knew this going in. One of the reasons we went in January is because AC isnât often required at this time of year, and it is really nice to be able to have the patio door open to take advantage of the lovely ocean breeze during the night. â¢ Big problem with no hot water in the room during our stay. As well as water pressure. OK â we kind of expected this going in (as weâve experienced this many times before), but to be able to have a hot shower for only 2 or 3 days out of 7 was inconvenient and disappointing. To many others, it was unacceptable. â¢ Beach towels are provided in the room on arrival (can be changed at the building by the pathway leading to the beach restaurant). We had no problems with clean towels in the bathroom, t.p. was stocked as needed, sheets were clean, and room was always cleaned by the time we returned after our day at the beach. We expected this going in. â¢ Food/dining options include the buffet (open for breakfast (7-10), lunch (1-3), and dinner (7-10)), the 24 hour snack-bar (located by the pool), the beach restaurant/grill (open for lunch only (12-4), and the Mediterranean, Japanese, French, and Italian restaurants are the a la carte options. The French restaurant is the only one to have lobster on the menu. Iâd say the Mediterranean is probably the least popular, and IMHO a change in the menu could make a huge improvement. Sometimes the food selection and quality is better than others (including from one trip to the next) â at all the dining spots. But we knew this going in. â¢ Reservations for the a la carte restaurants can be made/changed every day between 9-12, and later between 1-3 with âLeticiaâ. Line-ups can be long for this, and it seems Leticiaâs station changes every time we come here, so best to check on arrival. Try to remember that it is not the fault of the person making the reservation if the restaurant you want to dine at is full, or closed for that particular evening, or if the wait in the line is particularly long. But we knew this going in. Apparently Air Transat and Sunwing guests receive 2 reservations/week, while Air Canada Vacations, and Westjet guests receive 3. We knew (most of) this going in. â¢ Alcoholic beverages (and coffee/cappuccinos) are available 24 hours at the lobby bar, and at the snack bar. The beach bar and (swim-up) pool bars are open during the day. Bar tenders provide pool-side service, and beach-chair service. There is also a lovely bar located in the same building as the Japanese and French restaurants, so go a little earlier than your reservation time, and have a pre-dinner cocktail with Bladimir. We knew this going in. â¢ Lots of shade is available at both the pool and the beach. However, âtowel gamesâ, or âreserving chairsâ usually takes place for certain spots. But we knew this going in. â¢ The beach is spectacular. The shade umbrellas are spaced apart so you are not right on top of your neighbor. The beach is long and wide with lots of sand to the ocean. There is a beach volleyball net, tai chi every morning, and catamaran rides (weather permitting). Thereâs a music hut, you can find a place far enough away if you donât care too much for it. We knew this going in. â¢ This is not an area for snorkeling, but you can walk down the beach (westerly direction), for about 25 minutes, close to the Melia Buenavista hotel for snorkeling options. But we knew this going in and just enjoy the beach for what it is, and take long walks on the powdery, rock-free sand. â¢ The beach can be quite windy (and cool) with rough waters at many times of the year. We knew this going in. â¢ If it is cool and windy at the beach, it is almost always much warmer and calmer only minutes away from the beach â and by the pool. We knew this going in. â¢ There are not a lot of public bathrooms â only by the lobby bar and the snack bar. There are also washrooms inside the beach restaurant and the French/Japanese restaurant. The hotel should seriously update these public bathrooms because the condition is run-down, often in disrepair, and at times unusable. But we knew this going in. â¢ Transfer time from the hotel to the airport is 5 â 5.5 hours prior to plane departure time. But we knew this going in. Hereâs what we didnât know going in â or changes since the previous visit: â¢ Entire lobby area has been renovated. The giant tree in the centre has been removed, white marble tiles replace the old flooring in both the lobby and telephone areas, and brighten and open up the entire area giving it a more modern and welcoming appearance. â¢ Lobby bar has been opened up and there is much more seating available as it now includes a huge patio area. Also second-hand smoke is not as obvious due to these changes. We frankly used to avoid this area in the past, and were really surprised that we enjoyed spending time here every day â both in the afternoon for some liquid refreshments, as well as the evening. â¢ Regular evening entertainment in the form of musicians on the patio by the lobby bar. A much welcome change from the previous (no live music) ban. We enjoyed listening to the different groups playing as they were not the same from one day to the next. One night there was a rock-band that had the whole place hopping until around 11 pm. â¢ The lack of transportation options available from the hotel has deteriorated. Used to be you would have a good chance of at least snagging a taxi, maybe to go to the pueblo, however it appears that empty taxiâs donât even drive into the hotel on the chance that someone wants to go somewhere. You can wait for the panoramic bus, but that can be another story in itselfâ¦.you can try to have someone call a cab for you, but no one is really offering, and from previous experience, if a cab is ordered for you, the price may be higher than otherwise. I think this is a service that the hotel can try to improve on just by encouraging the taxi drivers to drive up to the entrance with some kind of frequency on the chance someone wants to hire one. So why do we continue to come here?? â¢ The small size of the resort gives it a welcoming feel â¢ The Melia treats their repeat guests to some extra âperksâ above what the first-time guests receive â including a special dinner (often a steak and lobster meal at the French restaurant) â (ok this isnât a deal-breaker for us, but I thought Iâd mention it for others) â¢ The beach (for reasons noted above) â is one of our favourites anywhere. â¢ The people. Over many years we know so many people that work here that it does feel kind of like a family resort to us. Sounds strange, I know, but I donât see most of my blood relations as often as I see some of my Cuban friends, and they always manage to put a big smile on my face that lasts from the time we arrive, till long after weâve left. Iâd love to mention many of the staff by name, but then I would be extending this report by at least another page, lol! And I would be afraid that I left someone outâ¦. â¢ The price has to be right. Otherwise, there are a lot of other hotels in the area, and letâs face it, you have to feel like you are getting value for your vacation $. Fortunately we can often take advantage if a great price comes up, but sadly, that isnât as often as it used to be. CheersMore
Things To Do View all »
There are several dolphinariums in Cuba, but you’ll find the largest in Cayo Ensenachos, which is a 15-minute drive fromCayo…View details »
People who looked at this hotel also viewed...
Items marked with * incur extra charges which are payable locally