I have traveled around the world and if I could travel more often I would, but this trip that I took with my best friend (who is my daughter’s God mother as well) and my daughter joined us as well this time, and it will be a trip that we will cherish and always remember.
From the airlines, sunquest to the hotel, we couldn’t have been taken better care of. I wrote to sunquest and let them know that my daughter is autistic and only 3 and I was so nervous and anxious as this was her first trip but with everyone’s help, it ended up being an amazing trip. Sunquest, was so kind and generous and put the 3 of us up in front and let us board first and asked us many times during the flight if everything was ok, and it was, it was more than ok, it was great. Mind you, I was totally prepared, I had snacks and drinks and toys and a laptop with her favourite shows and earphones as not to bother other passengers and I had even made about 20 bags of assorted candies and chocolates with a little note attached asking everyone to understand that my daughter is autistic and if she was to act up or act out to not get upset and hopefully to understand the stress of taking an autistic child on a trip. To my surprise, my daughter Elizabeth was perfect, all the way there, didn’t make a peep, never had a problem, and helped me feel so much more at ease than I had the night before getting everything ready for this trip. I didn’t even have to give out the candy bags, and ended up giving them to the daycare in Cuba.
Elizabeth only had 2 melt downs that whole week away, and both had to do with the airport. Once we got to Cuba, I did not get her stroller until after customs and I think that tiny little space that they make you walk through and talk to them about why you came to Cuba freaked her out. She did not want to go in there, and here I am with bags and her bag and I had to lift her, and she’s not light and then had to explain to the customs officer about her disability and then we had to take pictures, but they were very nice and understanding and once they opened up that other door to let us through, Elizabeth calmed down and then I saw our stroller and got her in there a.s.a.p. and the rest of travelling went smoothly after that. The bus trip to the hotel was great too. Once we got to the hotel, we were struck but the beauty and the grand entrance of the reception, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. I made sure to contact a hotel rep before our travels and starting talking with a wonderful and such a helpful woman by the name of Lisbet. I told her all my concerns and she took care of each and every one of them. From giving us a great room on the first floor, both near the pool and beach and then booking all our reservations with the restaurants for us as knew this was going to be hard for us since Elizabeth won’t stand in any line for anything, so this took away a lot of stress, as well as easing my worries about the daycare there, she assured me that they were very capable of taking care of my little girl if we wished to use this service. We met up with Lisbet and she showed us around a bit and explained things and she was such a wonderful person and it was so great meeting her and having her help us, and she is one of the biggest reasons why we had such a wonderful time at this resort.
Only half the resort was open, but even still it was huge, and they were still in the process of fixing things and so there were a few issues, small ones, like needing more lights at night to see, and spaces between the squares on the floor and my stroller would bump its way along, thankfully Elizabeth didn’t complain so it wasn’t much of a problem, but it was a bit of a way to walk while she kept bumping up and down,lol.
Our room was beautiful and we had a great view of the ocean but there was a field of dry mud between our building and the beach and only one way to get to the beach, so you would have to walk around to get there, which we did the first day. Since it was our first day, we had no idea that we should have got up early to get chairs at the beach and so when we saw one palapa been occupied on one side, we decided to sit on the other side, only because the stroller would not go any farther, so we were stuck and I didn’t want Elizabeth getting burned, so I had to find shade for her. Wouldn’t you know it, I had some french canadian couple, move our things while we were in the water, and when I got out to ask them, they told me that they had to get up at 6am to get the palapa and that the WHOLE palapa was theirs. I argued with them and told them that this was not allowed and they should be ashamed of themselves to take away the only shade my daughter who was autistic had, they didn’t care. They were rude and selfish and I told them that as we packed up and left. That was the only bad thing that happened the whole week though, and it was not the resort’s fault so I didn’t hold it against them. Plus, they were in the midst of building more palapa’s everyday so I knew eventually this most likely wouldn’t be a problem in the future. We then went and checked out the daycare and we fell in love with the ladies there, right away they loved Elizabeth and you could tell they would take good care of her and so we told them we would have them watch her for a couple of hours the next day.
The restaurants in this resort were AMAZING!! Each one had fantastic food and since I had been to Cuba before and knew what to expect, I was blown out of the water. Even at the buffet there was a large selection and you never left hungry. They could change things up a bit and offer different foods on different days but other than that, we couldn’t complain. The waiters were all great, big smiles on their faces, very friendly and we were well taken care of every time.
The stage and auditorium was huge, and the shows were fun, and entertaining. We met lots of wonderful people and we had such a wonderful week there, we really couldn’t have asked for a better time.
I know that this resort will only get better as they open up the other half and fix a few things and build more palapas and at least a couple of more pathways to the beach. We did get up early the rest of the week to make sure we got a palapa on the beach but it was worth it. I wish we didn’t have to do that and hopefully future guests won’t have to resort to this as long as they build lots more palapas.
We left Elizabeth with the daycare everyday for a couple of hours until lunch, and they would even take her around the resort in the stroller and by the end everyone knew who she was, and because it was her birthday while we were there, they had a huge cake for her and sang to her and it was really so sweet and the peace I had knowing that she was well taken care of was like no other. In the afternoon we would pick her up and then go to the pool and spend the rest of the day there. The pools are big and amazing too and love the beds as this was perfect for Elizabeth, she could sit and watch her laptop and then go for a swim and back to watching her movies. This was the best first trip for my little girl and I’m so grateful for all that helped make this trip so special and wonderful for her and all of us.
The only other time we had a problem was getting off the plane back in Canada, Elizabeth didn’t want to get off the plane, and had a melt down, a long one, which is unusual so we waited while they brought the stroller up to us and it took about 20 mins for her to calm down in total even after putting her in the stroller, but again everyone on board was understanding and the flight attendants helped us so much and then getting through customs so easily and quickly helped tremendously.
I will always recommend this resort. The Melia Des Jardines Del Rey, will always be one of my most favourite resorts and I hope that we can go back there again soon. Much thanks to everyone, especially Lisbet and Amarilys and Lisyen who worked in the daycare and Eliover by the beach and Randy who kept us safe in general as he was the security guard, and to everyone else who helped make our trip so special, MUCHOS GRACIAS!! Hope to see you all again real soon. Besos
Here are some pics from my point and shoot camera, I have nice images from my pro camera but this was faster,lol.
On our way to the airport in style, Elizabeth’s first limo ride.