Located just 45 km east of Santiago-de-Cuba within the perimeters of Baconao National Park, Hotel Bucanero is perched on a coral reef about 60’ above sea level and is sandwiched between the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and the Caribbean Ocean. The only way into the hotel is on a one-way road. Considered to be countryside, the land is poor, the grass hard and yet the locals seem to survive. The scenery over the ocean is absolutely breathtaking.
Our first impressions are positive. Aesthetically, the hotel is very modest and yet provides all the amenities to guarantee an enjoyable, well-earned and/or deserved vacation. The beach is quiet and quaint, the food is plentiful and the staff are second to none - they can’t do enough for you.
This was our first time to Bucanero in 1990 and except for the aesthetic modifications made as a result of the hurricanes, nothing has changed -- a reason we keep going back year-after-year!
After suffering major damage from a mini-Tsunami back in 2004, the Hotel bounced back and made some major changes. Then, in September, 2004, a devastating hurricane, nicknamed Ivan the Terrible landed and caused a massive amount of destruction. The staff rebuilt Bucanero once more; only to have it demolished again with Hurricane Dennis on July 8, 2005.
Following Hurricane Dennis, the jury was still out as to whether the owners would once again clean-up and rebuild. We were pleasantly surprised and personally relieved to know that yes, they would rebuild Bucanero!
With a major reconstruction underway and regardless of our loyalty to Bucanero, our trip in April of 2006 would not allow us to stay there, so we ventured to Brisas Sierra Mar, just west of Santiago-de-Cuba. We were pleasantly surprised to see some of the staff from Bucanero - they had been dispatched to this hotel and others while renovations were underway. Las Brisas was a beautiful hotel; however, while it excelled in amenities, we couldn't help but miss the familiar camaraderie we had come to enjoy at Bucanero, so we decided to rent a car and took one of the animacion staff with us; along with two tourists. In hindsight, not only did we want to see for ourselves how the renovations were coming along, we personally, wanted the staff to know that we fully supported their efforts to get Bucanero back on its feet and to show them that we really appreciated their loyalty, integrity and dedication to do so.
When we approached the property, things seemed to be quite normal, nothing untoward was out of place and then we saw the new road into the grounds. Apparently the original road (nestling on the natural coral base) had been completely destroyed. The front of the buildings facing north that we came across had already been cleaned-up and repaired. The south side of the buildings facing the ocean, while presentable, still had debris just feet away leaving eerie reminders of what had been. The closer we got to the hub of the resort, we could begin to see where the most damage and much needed repair was evident. The trucks, debris, concrete, wires, and everything in-between were quite overwhelming.
The rebuilding has been nothing short of miraculous given the damage the resort suffered as a result of mini-Tsunami's and the numerous hurricanes that have swept across this area. To build from nothing is proof that the Cubans are totally dedicated to ensuring the tourists come back year after year. All damage is sad and comes with its challenges to not only repair the buildings to their somewhat original state, it also is seen as progress. As a result, Bucanero has definitely changed over the years. I remember when we first started going to Cuba, Canadians here would say we were selfish - we were taking advantage of the Cubans by living high on the hogs at their expense. For the life of me, it’s for the very opposite we continue to visit. Ever since the embargo, Tourism has become Cuba’s #1 industry and if Canadians, or anybody for that matter, wouldn’t go to third world countries, spending the money to stay in hotels, going on tours, sight-seeing, etc., the Cubans wouldn’t have any work. Without work, there is no money - without money, you don’t eat.
Although Bucanero has changed, cosmetically speaking, the staff are still as friendly as ever, the food nutritious. The beach is still tiny and there are still a lot of rocks; but far beyond that goes the phenomenal pride the staff have to keep the facility running.
The picture which graces the top of this page is what Bucanero looked like back in 2008 - while a far cry from the original, it is still as beautiful as ever.
Click here for pictures of Bucanero 2004-2006.
Click here for pictures of Bucanero 2007-2010.
Click on one of the pictures below to see what Bucanero looked like back in 1990.