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Hotel Villa El Salton

Opened some three decades ago as a health resort for the Cuban Communist Party elite, today this mountain resort on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Maestra, does double duty as an eco-resort and spa. The setting is lovely. Montane rainforest surrounds the hotel, which overlooks a river canyon, and birdsong abounds. Hence, it's popular with birding groups. Trails lead deep into the mountains, and a main draw here is the chance to hike a little explored part of the country with modest comforts to return to at the end of each day. The hotel offers guided hikes, horseback rides, and birding trips.

The spa services are a tad utilitarian. Definitely no romantic candles and incense here. Still, the massage service and whirlpool spa (water is usually tepid rather than hot) help soothe weary muscles after invigorating hikes or horseback rides. A thatched open-air restaurant overhangs a cascade and we enjoyed a delicious garlic sea bass during our most recent visit. There's even a small swimming pool.

El Saltón has 22 air-conditioned rooms in four buildings overlooking lawns sweeping down to the river. We like these simply appointed rooms, with their wood-paneled walls, terrazo tile floors, and picture windows. Utilitarian furniture is limited to twin beds, dresser, and side-table, and each room has a small satellite TV, phones, plus refrigerator. Bathrooms have been upgraded with modern fixtures.

Facilities

  • Bar
  • Barbecue
  • Cafe / snack bar
  • Ecological excursions programme
  • Entertainment programs
  • Games room
  • Massage
  • Medical services
  • Money exchange
  • Nightclub / disco
  • Restaurant
  • Sauna
  • Shop(s) with basic supplies, souvenirs & gifts
  • Swimming pool
  • Taxis desk
  • Telephone - National & international calls

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