Fights for the Food Mark New Year’s in Cuban Hotels

A group of customers reaching for grapes at the Grand Memories Hotel in Cayo Santa María, Cuba. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 January 2022 — “Scammed.” That’s how Giselle Muñoz feels after spending the end of the year at the Hotel Grand Memories in Cayo Santa María, north of the province of Villa Clara. The Cuban woman tried to break out of the routine on December 31st and only found shortcomings and disappointments at every step in the state-owned hotel, as reported on Facebook in a text accompanied by a video.

Organizational problems were added to the supply problems of the five-star and all-inclusive hotel, as it describes itself on promotional pages. After waiting hours for the room to be available, Muñoz says on her Facebook profile that when she entered she found that it was occupied. “Luckily no one coming out of the bathroom naked or in another more embarrassing situation.”

“I quickly left and went back to the desk,” continues Muñoz, adding that she was able to settle in with her family at 7 pm in another room. “The air conditioning did not cool, the refrigerator did not cool, the shower did not have hot water, the television did not have a remote control nor was it watchable because it had a split screen, and the bedding smelled like a mouse nest,” she describes.

The young woman, a resident of Sancti Spíritus, went back down to the reception and asked to speak to the hotel managers: “So that they would give me my money back because it was December 31st and I had not yet settled in the hotel. They told me they couldn’t do it, the most they could do was give me a few more hours to stay on the day of my departure.”

Even with much disgust, Muñoz had no choice but to go to the end of the year dinner that the hotel had prepared, but if she thought for a second that the stumbling blocks were over, she quickly fell into a rage. The shortages that are spreading through the island’s markets has also reached the hotels.

“No pork, no food, practically, no staff to serve and supply the number of customers,” describes the young woman speaking about what she experienced in the restaurant. She also remembers that “people were anxiously waiting for apples and grapes,” because, she insists, customers paid for “a nutritional supplement that included fruits, fruits that I never saw.”

“Several people had to go into the kitchen to demand the food and fruits and then a cook came out to distribute a sad box of grapes for so many customers,” as can be seen in a video that Muñoz shared on her social networks, which she did, she said, “so that no one dares to say that it is a lie.”

“There were blows, shoves and everything never seen before over a handful of grapes, which in the end all fell to the ground because the same people broke the box trying to take them away.”

“It is unnecessary to remember that money is very hard to get to throw it away like that, it is not five pesos, it is a lot of money,” insists Muñoz.

On December 24 , another customer who identified herself as Rachel Cruz on the Tripadvisor platform, also complained about the poor quality of the food and the organization at the Grand Memories in Cayo Santa María. According to her account, her visit on Christmas Eve turned into a “nightmare,” into “complete madness.”

“My girls were knocked down to get an apple from the buffet. For my little boy there was nothing suitable for his food. We tried to go to eat and we spent three long hours in the endless lines. You asked for something and it had run out. The food was cold and poorly prepared,” she describes. “Terrible, I do not recommend it to anyone.”

Something similar happened to Gina, who worked hard all year in 2021 in her position in a Miami pharmacy with the illusion of saving for the end of the year with her family in Cuba. The plan seemed perfect: sun and sand on the most famous beach in Cuba, Varadero. Along with her brother, two nieces and her mother, the emigrant arrived in the last week of December at the Roc Arenas Doradas hotel in the Matanzas peninsula.

“I spent the four days lining up, lining up for the buffet, lining up for breakfast and lining up at the reception to leave my complaints,” Gina laments. The hotel, managed in a mixed way by the Cuban State and the Spanish chain Roc Hotels, has four stars that some clients question. “It gave me the impression that they had accepted more guests than the amount of food they had available.”

“The very limited food options and the very poor preparation, but the worst thing for me was to see that as soon as they noticed that I was a Cuban living in Miami, they treated me very differently from how they spoke to my mother, my brother and my nephews.” For Gina, “it was frustrating that I was going to get a rest and give my family a fun time but we ended up fighting for the food and stressed by the lines.”


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