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Cuba – Resort Reviews

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Sol Club Cayo Guillermo Hotel Atlantico Villa Covarrubias Superclubs Puntarena Riu Las Morlas Riu Turquesa

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Sol Club Cayo Guillermo – Cayo Guillermo Alison Ontario, Canada
August 2001

Debbie, First off I just wanted to say thanks for the great website; I have used it extensively when trying to narrow down where my next vacation will be. It was a big help! (We ended up choosing Barcelo Bavaro Beach & Garden Resort in the D.R. Highly recommended.

My boyfriend and I stayed at Sol Club Cayo Guillermo (formerly RIU Villa Vigia) in Cuba in March 1999. We were very happy with our stay and have recommended it to many friends and family and have had 2 couples go down to stay as well, and they were equally pleased.

Resort: The resort is beautifully landscaped and well-kept with picture-perfect spots of flamingos and wishing wells scattered throughout the resort. It is situated beside a few other hotels along the same stretch of beach, but aside from the hotels, there is nothing there. Keep this in mind if you are looking for lots of nightlife outside the resort.

Beach: The beach…WOW! Talk about perfect powder white sand. I still have yet to see such amazing sand and I have been to a few different places (Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Varadero and Puerto La Cruz). It is incredibly shallow so you can walk out forever until it finally deepens off. We walked along the beach in both directions of the resort the first day we were there and Oops! – Forgot just how strong that sun is (forgot to put sunscreen on the tops of my feet) and needless to say, my feet got fried and I could barely wear shoes for the rest of the week. Ouch! I think we walked for a good 3 hours so the stretch of beach is fairly long. It was nice to see what other nearby hotels looked like. When we were there in March 1999 we found that Sol Club Cayo Guillermo had the nicest beach in front of the resort. We walked down to this pier where Venta Club was located and found that in front of the hotels down this way the beach was not cleaned of the seaweed / kelp that washes on shore every day and the water here has lots of seaweed / kelp in it as well. Much nicer and very clean beach in front of our hotel. One other thing to mention about the beach is that they have a few hammocks strung between the palm trees near the beach grill. Very relaxing to lay in these and take an afternoon "siesta" and listen to the water and the leaves rustling in the breeze.

Pool & Activities: We spent most of our time on the beach (since we came this far for the ocean, we figured if we wanted a pool we could have stayed at home). One thing to add about the beach, the palapas fill up very quickly. If you are not an early riser (like us) you may find that by the time you get to the beach there are none left. It seemed that most people dropped a towel on the chairs and then went to have breakfast so they could "save" themselves a chair. Not something that I really agreed with or liked but what can you do. My grandparents have been there since then and have found that they have erected a few more of these palapas so they didn’t have much trouble getting some later on in the morning. If I recall correctly, the pool was filled with fresh water. Lots of chairs around there too, but again, you have to go early (I think like at any resort). Lots of activities if you want to get involved; salsa & merengue dancing lessons, aerobics, volleyball, etc.

Food: One buffet restaurant with all the varieties of food that you can imagine. No problems with the food. Pastas, meats, fruits, eggs, cakes, everything you would want to eat was there and tasted good too. They had a 4 person band in there at dinner time going around to tables and playing some songs. They came to the table and my boyfriend requested Bomboleo (hope that is spelled right) and they did an excellent job much to both our pleasure. During the day there is a beachside/poolside grill open with sausages, pizzas, french fries and other munchies. This food was good here as well.

Rooms: We had no problem with the facilities at all. Very clean rooms, sheets changed daily. Ours faced the ocean, a lovely sight to see (considering the snow was flying back home in Ontario!)

People: The people working at the resort were extremely friendly and we found that we seen the same couple of gardeners each morning on our way to breakfast. The one day the one gardener climbed up a palm tree and brought us down a coconut and sliced it open for us – for a real Carribbean treat. (Not as good as a pina colada), but was a nice gesture the same! 😉 We found that a lot of the vacationers at the resort spoke either French or German, it seemed very little English.

Nightlife & Entertainment: As I mentioned before, there is no nightlife outside the resort as the resort area is rather secluded from any type of city or village. The nightly entertainment was enjoyable, hardly Vegas-style, but still good. If you wanted to get involved from the audience you could. There is a disco at the resort, however we never made it there.

Excursions: We went on two excursions, one was an hour snorkeling trip out to a nearby reef, the other was a full day catamaran trip to two reefs and an unhabited island for lunch. The snorkeling was really not that great in comparison to other places I have been to. Very small fish and very few at that. Not bad for $5 p.p. though.

The catamaran trip was good, I would recommend it. I don’t recall how much it cost us but it seemed reasonable. We left in the morning around 8 am with the first stop being to snorkel at a coral reef somewhere. This reef was better than the other one we snorkeled at but nothing in comparison to the one we went to after lunch!!!! From there we went and anchored just off the shore of this small unhabited "island". Lunch was included, pretty good too. From there we headed back to the mainland but stopped at another coral reef. This one was amazing! The best one that I have seen so far. The water was about 20-25 feet deep and the coral was about the same height. Amazing schools of fish here, and a good variety too! Seen a few pipefishes, something a little different and not so noticeable to the eye.

All in all, I would highly recommend Sol Club Cayo Guillermo to anyone, as my future in-laws and my grandparents have already taken our advice and gone themselves and agreed 100% with us. I think it was rated a 4 star at the time we went and I would definitely rate it a 4 star, if not a 4½ star.
Great beach, amazing sand, fantastic food, lots of sun; that is all you need for a great trip!

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Hotel Atlantico – Guardalavaca (Holguin) Shari and Garnet Toronto
April 2002

This was our first trip to Cuba on March 22 to 29, 2002 from Toronto, We were on a later flight and arrived in Holguin airport at around 8:30 pm, cleared customs with no problems and quicker than I thought we would, everyone at the airport were friendly and courtious. We were briskly taken to our airconditioned bus, loaded our luggage and shuttled off to our Hotel about an hour away. Unfortunatley it was pitch black so we saw little in route other than what the electric lighting revealed, the roads seamed to be very busy with people on foot, bicycle, motor car, motorcycle, horse and wagon anything that would roll or could be pulled , the Cuban people are a very resourceful when it comes to transportation, you must admire them when you see their fleet of 1950 to 1920 cars. One man I talked to later, was still driving a 1929 Ford model A roadster that his father had purchased new in 1929, it hade been the family transportation for 73 years and still running ( no rust either ). We arrived safe at our hotel and were greeted by the friendly staff who efficiently registered us then wisked our bags to our rooms with us in tow. The rooms were bright and super clean with ceramic flooring, two very comfortable 3/4 beds ( push them together for one huge kingsize ) a modern updated bathroom ( shower only, if you want a tub, use the pool ) plenty of soap, clean towels and toilet paper. The rooms are all air conditioned of course the only consideration you may want to make is to request a fist floor room if you find stairs intimidating ( we were on the fourth floor ) as the elevators seemed to be shut down every day for long periods, in practice this kept us from any weight gain and really didn’t bother us very much. We were also treated to a light snack of cold cuts, buns and cheese ( did I tell you that they make the best tasting cheese we ever had, it is served every day at the buffet and we are still trying to find it in Canada to no avail unfortunatly. After eating we went to check out the pools and outdoor bars and lounges, no drinks are served after 11 pm so we had time for one as a night cap, we did wander down to the beach where ther is a 24 hour small open air beach bar where you can get most drinks for $1.50 us. This bar is open to all people, hotel guests and Cubans as are the beaches in Guadalavaca, the local people were a pleasure to be around, all the men were courtious the women were ladies and the teenagers were polite ( I wish this were so in Canada ) I saw not a single act of disobediance anywhere in Cuba on our trip, Guadalavaca is more rural so things are slower paced, however the waiters and bus people are right on it, so we never had to wait for service as I have experienced in other countries. The morning brought a vision of paradise from our fourth floor balcony, the ocean view was of cristal clear turquoise water with pure white mile long beach ( the sand in Cuba is not hot to the touch, so your feet do not get burned no matter what the temp. is, I think because it consists of powdered coral not granite like in Canada ) We ate mainly in the main dinning room for breakfast and dinners with our lunches at the outdoor covered patio where you could get toasted cheese, ham sandwhich, hamburgers, hotdogs ,fries and the best pizza ( because of the worlds best cheese)

The food I found to be very , very good, not gourmet but good wholesome meals of fish, chicken, beef, pork, many vegetables and stir fries, great desserts and always icecream of various flavours. We never tired of the type of food as it was very close to what we are used to at home, not like a cruise we once took where we ate fine dinning gourmet food every night and after a week were crying for something simple without a rich sauce or gravy. You can go to dinner at some of the other hotels but you must make a reservation. Getting back to the beach, it is so clean and clear, like tap water, never crowded and no shortage of beach chairs. An employee will rush over any number of lounges that you require and you have choice of sun or shade. A man with a donkey ( 25 years old an named Tow Tow ) patrols the beach selling rum, beer, fruit and coconuts for a real unique drink. Every thing is reasonable, price wise with rum at $3.00 a liter, cigarettes at $1.00 a pack and did I mention NO TAX, it seemed strange to buy something for $5.00 and pay only $5.00 for it. There is a local craft market next door where you can buy great art and hand made knited clothing, leather work, carvings and anything hand made at reasonable prices. We even made a few trades for items as I took over some carving tools and swiss army knives, the craftsmen loved them they also love stainless steel insulated mugs, Bluejay shirts and hats. Please remember to clean out your closets of any unneeded summer clothes and shoes and take them as gifts, the Cuban people are so grateful when you give them even something little, like toothbrushes and tooth paste, perfume, nail polish , any grooming aids and even aspirin. We noted how clean and well groomed the people were, even away from the tourist area, we took a horse back ride into the mountain area to visit some caves and a local farm, I noted what the people had hanging on their clothes lines and how clean they kept their simple homes, it amazed me how white they got their clothes without a washing machine or modern Tide with secret ingredient ag#435. Just personal pride and hard work is needed. We were amazed at the fact that there were no bad smells anywhere even in the country and farm areas even beside farm animals, perhaps due to the salt air and ocean breezes, it was a mystery to us, we smelt no B.O. or bad breath on anyone in fact we never even had to use under arm deoderant while there. There is lots to keep you busy as the staff has a program of events from morning to night , the beach has sailing , paddle boats, kayak, snorkeling geer all at no charge. There is even an ultralight plane available for rides over the beach with a former Cuban airforce fighter plane pilot at the helm, what a rush, well worth the $25.00 each, the plane holds two passengers.With out a doubt this was the best vacation my fiance’ and I have ever been on better than any of the seven other island vacations we have had. HINTS : Take your own coffee cup as the hotels are small, take a large insulated drinking mug to fill up with drinks for the beach, give it to someone when you leave, take a few wash clothes as you get none in the bathroom, if you like a late night snack you must make one at dinner time and take it to your room for later, aspirin etc. is available but not late at night so bring your own. These are small inconveniences for the time of your life so go and enjoy yourself, you will have a well trained staff, friendly and helpful, a country that has 300 sunny days a year, a nice safe area where you can walk the streets at night and have no fear . This is truly a Paradise on earth, so enjoy.Shari and Garnet

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Hotel Atlantico – Guardalavaca (Holguin) Zagorac’s Ontario, Canada
September 2001

This is a 3 – 3 1/2 star hotel in Guardalavaca Cuba. It is about an hour from the airport in Holguin. It is a 4 storey building. The rooms are small, quite clean, bathroom with shower only, airconditioned, satelite Tv. The beds were comfortable. Overall a clean,comfortable room. The hotel has 1 large pool, with swim up bar, and a small pool for kids. It is easy to find shade if you want it. The food was okay…not great, but okay.We never went hungry..there was always something good. There are a few steps from the pool area to the beach, which is lovely. White sand, calm shallow water…we really liked it. There is not much in the area to do…some tours, but we didn’t go on them…we just wanted to sit back and relax. I would reccommend this hotel if you want a moderate hotel that’s clean and comfortable, but don’t expect luxury and world class food.

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Villa Covarrubias – Holguin Stephanie Delaurie
April 2002

Covarrubias was Paradise. Set in an almost virgin setting, the resort offers peace, quiet…and fun if your looking for it.

Departure on Feb. 22/02, flight delayed, Air transat…big surprise. Made the 2 hour drive in the dark and didn’t see much on the way. We pulled into the hotel at 2am and the staff had all waited up to meet and greet our bus! Very cool.

The Accomodations were great, the rooms were spotless and the showers were unbelievable. Three single bed even fit with ease into the room and almost all had an ocean view.

The food was good, lots of fruit and fresh vegetables. The hot dogs were a favorite, the new beach bar was the spot for lunch while the more formal dining room for dinner.

The beach is the most beautiful I have ever seen, deserted, there is room for everyone, and snorkeling off the reef (10 USD) was beautiful, lots of fish and coral to see…

The entertainment staff is definitely what makes this resort. They are on the clock 24/7 always with a smile. They take pride in their work and put on a good show. Thank you to Kiko, Omar, Yonis, Arletis, Janet, Salvadore, AmilCarl, Tania (their newest member) for making the trip unforgettable.

PS: If you tip the housekeeper well she’ll make some pretty CRAZY designs with towels and flowers….it was amazing.

We met good people and had good times, can’t wait to do it next year. See you next year Burnie, Sharon, Cliff, Lorraine, Chantelle, Amanda, Chris, Marc, Brad Sandy and Dave…

Any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me.
s_delaurier@hotmail.co

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Villa Covarrubias – Holguin Amanda Toronto, Ontario
March 2002

Hi Debbie, First off since I found out about your site, I have been there almost everyday researching all different resorts. Hoping to go to Dominican this April so you’ve been an incredible help. Thanks so much.

I was looking on your caribbeanresortreviews page and noticed you had none for "Villa Covarrubias" I was there twice last year. And will be returning again in August. So here goes the review…

I have been to Villa twice last year. April/ 01, and August/01. I am planning another trip in August.

Regardless of the other trip reports that you have seen here. The resort is fantastic. Yes it is a 40 minute drive to the nearest town, but sometimes it takes me 40 minutes to get to work. NO big deal. It’s also a 1 1/2 hour ride to Las Tunas, which is a much bigger city. On our last night 8 of us rented a bus for 120.00 and it took us into Las Tunas to the disco and drove us back. 15.00 each really isn’t much. And diffinitely worth it. Puerto Padre (40 minutes away) is a beautiful small city. At the sea wall there is a beautiful statue of dophins. Lot’s of history in this town.

Arriving in Holguin, we got our bags and were on the bus in no time. The drive is 1 1/2 – 2 hours to the resort. The ride can be alittle bumpy. But the bus is comfortable and air conditioned. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. The time flys. Upon arriving it was late and the restaurant was suppose to be closed but they stayed up for us and provided us with what was available. As well as stashing some sandwiches and a couple cans of coke in our mini fridges for later.

The Rooms
The rooms are fantastic, I have stayed in both second floor and first floor rooms. The beds are great. The room size is huge, which we had a few parties in. The voltage is 220 so if you are planning on curling your hair, watch out cause it will melt in your hands.. lol.. Another experience. The Sink is not behind doors, how ever the rest of the bathroom is. The shower is nice and roomy. Towels, toilet paper, shampoo and shoap are provided. And refreshed daily. T.V some english movie stations, of coarse spanish channels. The view is breath taking. Most bungalows have a view because of the way the buildings are situated.

The beach
The beach is GORGEOUS!! It is very well kept and the white sand is breath taking. The water is a few shades of green and blue that you wont forget. There aren’t alot of beach chairs but if you take a minute to look along the beach I’m sure you’ll find one. Yes the towels do cost 20USD if you loose one. Just don’t lose your towel. Never heard of any towel theifs though. The sunset is unforgettable. I have pictures if you would like to see for yourself.

The Pool
The Pool area is never very busy. Which is nice, you don’t have to worry about a huge crowd around the pool. One thing I was shocked of was that the pool was salt water. However very nice along with a small slide for the kids.

The food
The food I found was good. If your normally a picky person well then you may have some problems. There is a pasta table, two types of pasta, two types of sauce, and toppings etc. Rice, potatoes, fish, pork, (fried chicken.. was very good) desserts, salad bar, ice cream !! And always fresh fruits. The restaurant is buffet however the waitresses, and waitors will serve drinks and are very professional and friendly. The are currently building a beach restaurant directly on the beach this should be done by the new year. Only means more selection!!!Update: (Good news the restuarant is open and has been since January) At the pool bar there is fries, burgers, hot dogs, and these fantastic, cheese and/or ham sandwiches. I love them and tend to crave them occasionally. : )

The Disco
The disco is great, it’s set in a lagoon. It is open so that the breeze hits you while you dance the night away. The music is mixed. So there is plenty of chances to show what you got on the dance floor.

The Entertainment
The entertainment is great, the shows are all very will organized by Kiko, (supervisor) And the entertainment staff is one of a kind, Yonis, Salvador, Ginette, Maikel. Do an amazing job on skits etc. Dance lessons everyday at 5:30pm. Is great. But guys if your not into that there is archery. Beach volleyball. Aqua fit, Aerobics, and so much more.

Conclusion I LOVE THIS HOTEL!!! It’s my most favorite place. It’s not all fancy but it’s a GREAT!! get away. The crowd was of all ages. There were alot of Italiens when I went however, I heard from friends that there will be more Canadians traveling there in the near future and fewer Italians. But don’t you worry all the entertainment staff speak, French, English, Italian, and Spanish. !!!! Because of my reviews on this hotel on a few other pages, I have gotten alot of questions from possible travellers to this hotel. And 3 people that have gone have told me that they absolutely fell in love. Yes there are bigger more flashier hotels but everyone agrees with me when I say there is just something about the hotel and especially the staff that you CANNOT find anywhere else. I would diffinitely recommend this resort. If you have ANY questions or would like to see pictures, let me know.

amanda.parker@ctai.ca

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Superclubs Puntarena – Varadero Sandy Toronto
April 2002

My three teenagers and I (their mother) spent a week at this resort, March 30-Apr. 6/2002.

First of all I must say, reviews can be very deceiving. I almost made myself ill last year when we went to Dominican after I read reviews of the resort we had booked. The resort turned out to be the complete opposite of what people had written. It was absolutely beautiful and had a wonderful time. So have an open mind. Some people who are looking for 5 star accommodations, food and service should book a 5 star resort, NOT A 3-1/2 star resort as the Superclubs Puntarena is rated as. So here goes!!

The staff at the reception have a tendency to let you know that you are NOT #1. There could be no one at the front desk, yet you could stand there (with 4 people behind the desk) for up to 3 min. before they even lift their eyes. And at that all they say is "yes", not good morning, how can I help you. Anyways I won’t say anything more on the front desk personnel.

The pool was very large, very clean, always cleaned in the morning, and a very comfortable temp. You have to leave a $10.00 deposit for your towel, which you will get back a the end of the week when you return it prior to your departure. You may at anytime have these towels changed for clean ones. Don’t loose it, or you are out $10. You keep it with you all week. There is a pool bar, alot of the time you had to look for the bartender, though. There are no grass huts around the pool, so not a lot of shade. The huts are on the beach. Plenty of chairs.

The beach is lovely, white sand,, lots of chairs and grass huts. There is a lot of watersports for kids, though our last two days there was no watersports for safety reasons. The ocean was very rough. They have everything from paddle boats to a water trampoline, banana boat rides (great fun), the list goes on and on.

They have an entertainment team who work extremely hard to get different day activities going by the pool. Everything from bingo, to dance lessons, water arobics, you name it, they do it. The entertainment team puts on nightly shows, on the stage by the pool which were quite funny and entertaining. Different one every night around 9:00 p.m. Definitely check it out.

I should also mention that when I booked this resort, I was NOT told that one of the towers was completely closed for renovations. As a result this resort is VERY quiet right not. I learned that the renovated tower is opening in May after which they will close the tower we were in for renovations. The two towers will not be in operation AT THE SAME TIME until December of this year. So for those of you who are looking for a very happening place, this is not the place until 2003. It was also a disappointment as the fantastic pizza parlour I heard so much about and the other ala carte restaurant were in the renovated tower, as a result did not exist at this time.

The rooms are very basic. Two 3/4 beds, desk, tv, night table, bathroom. Hairdryer in bathroom. We had the same maid the whole week, she cleaned our room spotless everyday. We left her little gifts as well as a tip every day. She did out towels in the shape of swans, hearts, etc. You treat them good, they treat you good.

Food: OK, this is a tough one. If you are looking for gourmet food, lobster, shrimp etc, this is NOT the place for you. Breakfast consists of fresh fruit, toast, muffins, cereal, potatoes, other hot side dishes, not sure what they were. They make wonderful "made to order" omlettes. Definitely try one! 3-4 fruit juices. They make a wonderful Cappicino coffee.

Lunch was a choice of different cold cuts, salad makings, buns, chicken (lots of chicken at this resort as well as fish). Didn’t eat too much at the buffet. We generally ate at the grill beside the pool. They offer a choice of chicken, hamburgers or fish. All served with french fries and rice. They had a small salad bar to choose from also. You are served at the grill at a table. You may NOT take a plate of food from here, just so you know. It is sit down only.

Dinner buffet was nice. Choice of chicken, pork (lots of pork) with gravy. Salads, soups, very good. Lots of pasta, choice of tomatoe sauce or a creamy white sauce, very good. 3-4 desserts, quite good. They serve wine or beer with dinner if you wish. Waiters very friendly. Service is great.

The Casablanca restaurant (make reservations, we ate there twice). The atmosphere is lovely, very elegant for a 3 star resort. Piano is being played during dinner, very nice. The food portions aren’t large, but very very good. The steak was amazing, as was the lobster soup and the canneloni. The wait staff is wonderful. I definitely recommend this restaurant.

There is a large games room with pool tables and pingpong tables. My teens used this quite often. There is a large bar on the 2nd floor. Can’t really comment on the mixed drinks. I usually stuck with rum punch or beer. The beer is very drinkable.

The guests were generally Canadians and Europeans, lots of SPEEDOs walking around.

Generally speaking I would not hesitate to recommend this resort. Is quite quiet at this time, but after both towers are fully renovated and both opened, (Dec 2002) I think this resort may have the potential to become a 4 – 41/s star. Lots of work to do where the food and accommodations are concerned to reach a higher star level. All in all we made the most of the week, we never starved and as I said, the staff work hard at trying to get everyone involved. The weather was amazing, 32-36 degrees each day.

Forgot to mention, if you are a light sleeper, be prepared. Everytime someone comes and goes, their door slams very hard. Also can hear people in the next room. If you are not a light sleeper, forget this comment.

If you like rum, this is definitely the place, rum, rum and more rum.

Lots to do if you have kids. Have an open mine. For the $ we paid, we got what we paid for and had a great time. Don’t forget about the maids. They work hard.

I would defrinitely come back after all renovations complete. Go and have a great time!! If you are looking for a 5 star, then for heaven sakes, book a 5 star!!

Sandy

And yes, I am a Canadian, from Toronto

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Superclubs Puntarena – Varadero Heather
March 2002

We are a family of 3 (husband, wife, 13 year-old son) who spent March Break at this hotel. Overall, we had a wonderful time and certainly hope to revisit Cuba.

We were unsure what to expect after reading many reviews about this hotel, some of them bad, but we enjoyed it. It’s not the Ritz but a real 3 1/2 star, clean, laid-back place.

Our room was small and basic (double bed and a cot), but we had an ocean view which was a real plus. The bathroom was basic but did have a dryer and outlets in both 220 and 110. There were no faceclothes and no tissues like kleenex so take your own. The room was spotless and kept that way every day. There were soap, shampoo and shower caps, plus an insulated jug and two glasses in the bathroom. The towels were changed every day and you had a card to leave when you wanted the sheets changed.

We found the food to be satisfying, variable and good. Our son is on a gluten-free lactose-free diet so were worried, but there was loads he could eat. We also happen to like chicken and fish and were pleased to see them at each lunch and supper buffet. The breakfast buffet had break for toasting, baquettes (wonderful), cereals, yogourt, boiled eggs (soft and hard-boiled), scrambled eggs, omlettes made to your specs, potatoes, bacon, French toast, pancakes, a section of fish, cheese slices and meat (I think for the Europeans) and lots of lovely fresh fruit and juices. The fruit choices were grapefruit, oranges, watermelon, pineapple, guava and more. I had fruit and part of a baquette and juice for breakfast. My son would always have eggs, bacon, potatoes and chick peas (which he loved). My husband varied what he had. On Sunday the baquettes seemed a bit stale but other days they were delicious! The bread is not like ours (I don’t think it has all the preservatives our bread has), so appears a bit coarser than ours.

The lunch buffet always consisted of a large salad section, soup, usually rice (great for us!), fish, chicken, some kind of pasta and a meat dish on the grill, 3 or 4 desserts and the large fruit section. Again, the desserts all appear to be made right there without preservatives so look like homemade cake as opposed to a supermarket cake. I tried to be good but broke down and started eating more than just fruit for dessert! Wine is offered at the lunch and supper buffets. We found the waiters usually kept refilling your glass so you had to be careful! Also, we found that if we smiled and said "Hola" to the waiters they would smile back. We gave several of them tips over the week because they worked so hard and were attentive. The last evening we ate at the buffet and one of the waiters gave me a beautiful flower. One night our son was sleeping and there was no problem with us taking some supper up for when he woke up. Also, the last night we were able to take some of the pineapple for him to eat at the airport. One evening they allowed my husband into the buffet early so he could videotape it before people arrived.

The supper buffet was more or less like the lunch buffet. We found the buffet completely satisfactory. We never ate at the lunch or supper grill by the pool, but it smelled good. Not as much choice though.

We ate at the Casablanca Restaurant 3 times and loved it. It is so elegant in a 3 1/2 start hotel. There is a white grand piano and the lady will play anything you request (within reason I guess). One evening when she noticed our son paying attention to what she was playing she came over and asked him if he’d like to play. We loved the food there and the service was very attentive. As in all more formal restaurants, the portions are smaller so we had a sandwich later that evening.

As for the free drinks, I stuck to my usual white wine and my husband usually had their beer. I did ask for a mixed drink once at the 24-hour bar but they didn’t have all the stuff to make it, but that didn’t upset me.

We did overhear some people saying different people were sick and the food sucked (their quote not mine); however, in our opinion, if you go to a place like that and drink all their mixed drinks, eat too much and spend too much time in the sun and then get sick it’s not the hotel’s fault. Just my humble opinion. One especially warm day I did drink about 4-5 of their pina coladas WITHOUT rum and my stomach was a bit upset, so if someone drank that many with rum I can see they could get really sick. Our tour rep. warned our group about the 3 excesses – drink, food and sun.

We had no problem with the water, although we didn’t drink that much. We were told the water within the Varadero area was okay to drink, but elsewhere to drink bottled which we did.

One of the towers was closed due to damage from a hurricane last fall, so some of the bars weren’t open, but a drink was never far away if you wanted one. There was a bar close to the beach if you were down at that particular part of it, but we usually walked to the pool bar and then took them back to the beach. Some people had insulated cups they were getting filled.

The gym was well-equipped and the trainer we got to know (the older fellow) was extremely nice. My son enjoyed going in there as well as the games room to play pool.

There were aquatic toys at the beach – kayaks, hobiecats, padel boats, water trampoline. Some days were quite gusty so you couldn’t always use them. We had kayaks out several times, our son loved the water trampoline and we used the pedal boats once and went on the hobiecat once. We got the impression that most people seemed to go for the pool and the beach was never very busy. We saw the beach being raked with a little tractor every day but one. There were garbage cans around the beach, but some people still insisted on throwing their cups and plates in the sand – not the hotel’s fault.

Each day we left a little package and $1 for the room maid and every day the "sculptures" she made with our towels and blankets got more and more extravagent. On Friday she made fancy things on the bed and in the bathroom had made a heart out of a towel and that the base had left a rose in the cup of water. By it she left a note thanking us for the presents we had given her. I noticed her wearing a broach on her uniform we had put in one package. Things we put in these packages were soap, toothbrushes, combs, brushes, costume jewellery, makeup samples, etc.

We also took a bag of school supplies which our tour rep. took for us, some gum and candy we gave to a school class of special needs children and gum to give out if we saw kids on our different tours.

The only things I would have liked better would be a more up-to-date room and maybe a cafeteria that had more variety than sandwiches and hot dogs. Even chips or peanuts would be nice to get.

All in all we had a good time, found people hard-working and friendly and were not disappointed. We got the impression you could be busy all the time with activities or just relax.

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Superclubs Puntarena – Varadero Lisa & Dave Canada
March 2002

Well as much as it pains me, it is necessary to relive our past week once again through the eyes of an objective tourist.

We recently purchased a "SuperClubs Surprise" package from selloffvacations. com, saving ourselves over fifteen hundred dollars over the brochure price.

Signature should not sell this as a Superclubs and Superclubs shouldn’t have their name on the resort.

Upon arriving in Varadero, we were informed that we would be staying at the SuperClubs Puntarena. It seemed as though everyone who had purchased the surprise ended up at Puntarena. At the hotel the staff was basically null and void of all service related skills and this became glaringly apparent during check-in. The front desk staff was rude, yes it was around midnight, but is that an excuse?

The vast majority of rooms had two twin beds, hardly accommodating for what is supposed to be an adult tower in a 31/2 star resort. The walls were paper hin occassionally leading us to watch the same TV program as our neighbours. We discovered the next morning that we were not alone with the constant water dripping from the in house air conditioning evolving into some kind of ancient water torture as we tried to doze off squished into the mini twin. They promised to have it fixed the next day. It never was.

Breakfast the following morning was more of the same. The toaster barely browned the bread after three times through, and the staff promised to have it fixed the next day. Yeah right. Four types of eggs, french toast, pancakes, greasy bacon, a few questionable indescribable items, and luckily freshly squeezed OJ saving us from an otherwise small bland selection of fruit. And dairy? Forget milk. Upon asking for fresh sliced tomatoes my wife was met with attitude questioning her breakfast food choice. I guess the sardines and the poor excuse for luncheon meat was OK though.

Lunch buffet was more of the same. Generally poor quality with questionable items with maybe an item or two to stop from starving. Wait staff had the same rude attitude although we noticed a change in tune with a dollar bill in our hands. The grill bar offered up burgers fries and chicken legs and we found all the beef mostly disgusting. The Ice Cream Cafe had limited quantities and flavours of ice cream but all were good. They also offered up grill pressed sandwiches, consisting mostly of leftover chicken, cheese and luncheon meat from breakfast. The hot dogs were good. The vegetable salad consisted of cabbage and green tomatoes.

The specialty restaurants left alot to be desired. My wife ordered the filet mignon, which consisted of two half inch thick pieces, roughly the size of a coke can bottom, of the toughest and nastiest meat I’ve ever tasted. Speaking of Coke.. all cuban cola is partially carbonated.. so it always tastes flat. The beer was always cold but forget anything that would resemble a tropical drink. Various slushy machines gushed out watery Pina Colada mix doused with the cheapest rum you can buy.

The beach was un-manicured and garbage could routinely be found at every step. Of the days we were there, there was only a few were the ocean was suitable for swimming. Those days when a red flag would be present would surely result in an onslaught of jellyfish washed in from the depths. The water sports were non existent, probably based on the high tides and active surf. There is no ocean side service so forget a drink in your beach chair. When my wife approached the bartender for a tray to carry a few drinks back for ourselves and friends she was met a rude and assertive "no" at which point he turned his back and walked away. I guess she should have had a dollar in her hands.

The pool was nice, large and refreshing, although the activity staff had a nasty habit of whistle blowing while the majority of us casually drifted during our sunbathing. My wife practically had a coronary and she’s only 29. The windows in the restaurant were never washed or cleaned and the games room wss under heavy construction, and with a new floor being installed made for a glue sniffers paradise while playing pool or gift shopping in the level below. When my wife asked as to what the smell was we were encouraged with a rude gesture and lack of acknowledgement.

In Summary…. this was the largest disappointment we have had in some time. The Superclubs name has been slapped on this resort and its rating as explained by a fellow tourist should be two stars less than advertised. The majority of staff was rude and condescending, with apparently everything being a huge ordeal and the ultimate hassle for them. The food was poor the service worse. The beach was dirty, never maintained, and lacked staff.

I would never return to this club and probably not even Cuba as we found the US dollar the only motivater. Our wedding in Mexico at a two and half star resort(El Dorado) was unbelievable and has now spoilt us for future vacations.

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Superclubs Puntarena – Varadero Telanne and Ken Regina, Saskatchewan
March 2002

We just got back from Superclubs Puntarena on February 25th. We went for one week. We are a couple ages 21 and 22. It was a fantastic resort. It is a 3 1/2 hotel, but don’t be fooled by that, I think that the only reason that it isn’t a 5* is for the simple fact that the hotel rooms were a little small but BASIC. I will talk more about that later on. In a nutshell, we had a blast!!

The Hotel/Resort grounds – A huge free form pool that was very well taken care of. There was also a swim up bar attached to the pool as well. It comes in handy! The beaches were beautiful, white sand and crystal blue water. There was a large selection of non-motorized water sports that were available (weather permitting). There was always chairs around the pool and the beach, there was never a problem getting one. There is also an Entertainment Team which keeps you busy all day and evening if you wish. In the afternoons they have language lessons (Spanish), dance lessons, bingo, and all different sorts of games. At night they put on a different theme shows that started at about 9:30 and after everyone usually went to the Disco bar which was in the Paradiso Hotel (Puntarena’s twin). Everyone stayed (slept) in the Puntarena because Paradiso was under construction and renovation. There is also a beauty parlor and a souvenir/gift shop on site as well. There are no bank machines on site, but there is a train that is free that takes you into Varadero and it stops at the mall with a bank. However, you cannot withdraw from debit cards, just credit cards (canadian issued, min. $100). And when the bank is not open (sundays) the atm cash advance ONLY accepts VISA not MasterCard. Our room was kept very clean, everyday we left the maid little soaps, lotion, shampoo, gum, etc., and she kept our room extra clean. There is also a lady who hand makes cigars and sells them right in the hotel.

The Food – This is a rough one. The food in the Main Buffet was good, BUT they served the same things practically everyday that I got quite sick of the food. For lunch and dinner they had a salad bar, then served rice, pasta (same sauce EVERY day, potatoes, meat (chicken, pork, beef, fish, rabbit!). The dessert was usually different kinds of cakes but they were so dry we couldn’t even swallow a bite!! They always had a wide selection of fruit which was nice, the pineapple was especially good. I loved breakfast though, they had excellent French toast and pancakes, bacon and made to order omelettes or eggs of your choice. Very good! I never got sick of breakfast because they were my favorite foods. And they also had fresh squeezed orange juice everyday. We went to the a la carte restaurants. They were not as good as we expected. At Casablanca (very fancy restaurant), the appetizers were good but not really the entrees. The mashed potatoes tasted like dirt and the chicken just plain wasn’t good. At the grill, the couple sitting next to us told us not to order the chicken because it was burnt to a crisp, then a couple walking past said not to order the pork because it was very dry. The only thing left to choose from on the menu was fish, which we hate, so we took our chances and ordered the chicken. Yep, it was burnt to a crisp, couldn’t even get my knife through it! Oh yeah one more thing, they served the chicken with things that LOOKED like french fry/hashbrown things. Nope! They were deep-fried pieces of fat! I was really disgusted with that. There is a 24 hr cafeteria that is quite good. They served mostly sandwiches which were great, hotdogs, orange juice, beer and excellent ice cream.

The Bars – The bars were excellent!! Not really much more then A LOT of rum. Lots of daiquiris, pina colada’s, and rum punches that were very good. The beer is quite good. There is a bar open 24 hours.

Tips – bring lots of little sample type shampoo’s, lotion, hair clips, gum, etc. Cubans love all that kind of stuff. Only buy cigars from your hotel or cigar shops in the city. Lots of locals try to sell you them on the beach. Once again, your debit card is of no use. Bring your credit card if you plan on withdrawing any money. The flea markets in town are quite cheap, I actually came home with money which is odd for me!! Go on as many tours as you can with your travel agency. We went through Signature Vacations and they were excellent. We did two tours, but I wanted to do at least 3 more but the weather wasn’t exactly cooperating. We did go on the Jungle Tour. We went for two hour on an "aqua ray" and in the middle stopped at a zoo. I hear the Jolly Roger Catamaran is a must, it looked like a lot of fun. Go into Varadero. The tour is free, they take you to a mall, then a flea market and then to a cigar house. The only place I have to compare to is Cancun, Mexico, but the souvenirs were a lot cheaper in Cuba. We went 3 or 4 times, but got dropped off at different places so we just took a taxi home. Phoning home is VERY VERY expensive. I can’t stress that enough. They tell you that you are buying a 10 minute phone card, but really it is just a 10 dollar phone card. You only get like 3 minutes or something like that. And once your minutes are up (because sometimes they give you a card with more minutes) they just rip the phone card out of the slot for you, even if you don’t even get to say good bye!! I don’t know who said email was expensive but no, it was our method of communication. Email is only 3 dollars an hour which was way cheaper then using the phone. And also the rooms don’t have alarm clocks in them. So everyday we had to call front desk for a wake up call. So if you have a watch with a timer/beeper that will come in handy.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this hotel. We look forward to coming back soon in the future!!

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Superclubs Puntarena – Varadero Lorne & Terrye Lichtman Toronto, Canada
January 2002

Hotel: Superclubs Puntarena-Varadero Reviewers: Lorne & Terrye Lichtman E-mail address for more information on hotel:

dlichtman@sprint.ca

City of Origin for Vacation: Toronto, CANADA

Date of Vacation: Dec. 22nd-29th/01

Let me preface this review with two statements. First of all, this was our first vacation to Cuba, although we have tried similar all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Replublic(Juan Dolio region-Best Western Metro Hotel-a real gem-also in an all hotel economic zone, separated from the "real" Dominican Republic), and numerous all-inclusive resorts in Mexico(Acapulco specifically). My second point, is that both my wife and I have recently passed fifty years of age, so many hotel activities, geared for a much "younger age group" we did not participate in, but we can comment on them, both from a an "observer" point of view, and from comments made by other resort guests we spoke to, that did particpate in many hotel activites(mostly sports) and tournaments(sports again), where "medals" could be won for finishing first to third, in an organized hotel tournament.

Hotel Positive Attributes
1. Unbelievable, massive, free-form pool that covered the entire middle of the resort, that went from shallow areas, for little kiddies, to very deep areas, running six to seven feet deep. The pool was al least a hundred feet long, twently feet wide, with a big bridge, in the middle of the pool, to cross from one side to another. The water was clean, crisp, cool and very refreshing.
2, Very helpful and friendly staff, throughout the entire hotel, from front desk personel,waiters, maids, bar staff, entertainment staff, right down to gardening and grounds keepers. They "always" smiled, and said hello, even though many of them worked an eight hour shift, seven days a week.
3. Very clean, well maintained resort, both rooms & all common areas.
4. Massive two level lobby that contained numerous pool tables, ping pong tables, the 24 hour bar, and lots of very comfy couches & chairs to play cards at, or just plain talk/rest.
5. A 24 hour bar that always seemed to be busy, but served coffee, tea, soft drinks, and liquor.(great rum, lowsy pina coladas).
6. Great convenience store on premises with everything from pop & snacks to t-shirts & hats.(long hours & good prices…in U.S. $)
7. Very creative "native crafts" shop near pool area, with most objects made skillfully, out of wood, from birds to turtles, and some simple jewelry, all starting at $1.00. The actual wood-carver was there all day making new animals/objects daily.
8. The hotel resort was more like a small village, with lots of signs and maps around the various paths on the outside of the hotel, letting you know where you were walking to and how to find various parts of the resort. We used them quite often.
9. Hotel beach a kilometer long with lots of beach chairs, lifeguard supervised swimming, and lots of motorized, and non-motorized(free) watercraft. The beach sand is very fine and white, and wide and the ocean(Caribbean Sea) is a great place to swim in. The water is not cold, and the undertow is minimal, unless a "red flag" is out, which is was for a day, while we were there, which meant swimming in the ocean, that day, was forbidden, due to high waves, and strong undertow.
10. Excellent, large, enthusiastic entertainment team(about twenty people, all in their mid twenties…all very good looking). They supervised both planned day activities, beach volleyball tournaments, morning exercise/stretching classes/Spanish lesson classes, mini-golf tournaments. and evening entertainment programmes. A schelue is posted for all day activities and evening prgrammes, for the entire week, with times and days listed, on a bulletin board, on the first level of the hotel lobby, just to the right of the elevators. Check them evey day, to see whats going on, and for any "last minute changes", which do happen(and did to us, a few times). Most evening entertainment takes place on a huge outdoor stage in the middle of the resort, with lots of seating, and an amazing sound system. On wet or windy evenings, the upper level of the lobby is utilized, and it "is" big enough for the entertainment, since it was utilized for three nights while we were there(still with a great sound system).

11. Abundant, and very lush tropical vegetation and landscaping. I "adore" palm trees…they had hundreds in the resort!

12. Excellent evening programmes, from a live pop/rock/latin/dance/reggae/hip-hop band…"Hot Sugar", a string quintet playing classical, Cuban, and even pop tunes(by the Beatles), and one night we had a "native Cuban dancing/singing troupe" that put on a dazling & spellbinding show, with numerous costume changes, great singing, and music from all of "Latin America", as well as Cuba! All shows started promptly at 9:30 P.M., at the outdoor main stage, and were all listed on the weekly hotel activities/events schedule.

13. The free rental of bicycles seemed to be very popular, but get to them early in the day, since they only have 15-20 operational bicycles, and many families & couples were interested in renting the free bikes to peddle into Varadero, just three kilometers away, to "meet the locals", do a little shopping, eat in local restaurants/bars/clubs, visit other hotels, see a dolphin show, visit a famous park, etc.

14. You are staying in a "economic hotel tourist zone" that keeps out people the government doesn’t want you to mingle with, such as prostitutes, theives, muggers, people selling their wares in the street or on the beach. etc. To get into Varadero, a thin peninsula of land, you pass through a very "intense’ security checkpoint, and only those people who have a "reason" to go to Varadero are allowed in, including tourists. In the economic hotel zone are just hotels, bars, restaurants, shops and homes for the locals. No political/Socialist banners or posters, nor "the wrong kind of people allowed". The Cuban government economically needs the "cash cow" Varadero has become, for hard American currency, so it is rated one of the safest places in the world to be…and it really is!
15. Massive free form pool vaccummed throughly each morning, so all leaves and garbage removed.
16. Great air-conditioning in rooms with individual room thermostats.
17. Electronic room safes in each room opened by elecronic room key & they’re free to use during your stay
18. Long hours for all three meals and 24 hour snack bar(more on that later!)
19. Bathrooms fully loaded with hairdryer, and full amenities such as shampoo, bath gel, shower caps & soap.
20. Wonderful Cuban music plays all day in the pool area from massive speakers on outdoor stage, in resort centre.
21. If expensive tours are your thing(tours all in U.S. funds, that cost Canadians a 60% premium), you have lots to see and do such as tours of Havana, both day & night, catamaran crusies, cave and jungle tours, etc. You even rent mopeds(no helmets) or cars to tour Cuba. Remember there is only one tour company in Cuba, the Cuban government. No competition is allowed.
22. Excellent cuban cigars are rolled and made fresh every day at a cigar stand next to the buffet restaurant. They seemed to sell as many as they made every day(seemed all of the men & many of the women smoked them). I was told they were a good price, since my wife and I don’t smoke.
23. Entire hotel common grounds disinfected & scrubbed clean each and every night so no bugs/roaches/creepycrawlers to be seen anywhere/anytime.
24. Lounge chairs all around the pool and beach area(hundreds), so no need to go out early in the day and "reserve" a chair by putting your towel on them.
25. Towel rental $10.00 per towel, for duration of vacation, exchangeable any day or time from towel shack next to pool, with money fully refunded when you leave the resort. If you want a new towel every hour, they you can.
26. Extensive child & teen programmes that many adults told me were a real "blessing", and ran all day, until 5:00 P.M. This is the only Superclubs that allows people under 18 years of age, all the others are "adult only".

27. Many took advantage of the free scuba diving lesson(for three hours) that included usage of fins, mask, & scuba tank.

28. Really enjoyed our free tour of Varadero via mini-train/tram(9:00 A.M.-11:30 A.M.-weekdays only)that took you slowly right through the city, with two stops for shopping & picture taking. We noticed that when the tram stopped at hotels, other than ours, the people boarding the train, had to pay $22.50 U.S. each, for a round trip back to the hotel. Our hotel was the furthest point the tram travelled to. To book the tram ride, since seating is limited, make your free reservation at the hotel excursion reservatiion desk, at the back of the main lobby, the day before you want to go.

29. Three very efficient elevators in each building. When you push to button for the elevator, a light goes on for the elevator that will be picking you up, and the light stars to flash, warning you the doors are about to open. They always worked 100% of the time.

30. If you like to each fish, this place will be heaven for you, and you’ll most likely leave this resort with gills!
31. Disco right on premises, but D.J. used his tiny MP3 player 90% of the time, wired to the sound system, rather than C.D.’s or cassettes. I expect most of his music came via the internet music download sites.
32.Bars all over the hotel, but only 24 hour bar serves all forms of beverages from coffee & tea to soft drinks & liquor.
33. Really enjoyed playing mini-golf(grass course & real sand traps) and bocci ball. Both not listed in hotel activities guide. Get mini-gold equipment from towel shack personel. Its free to play.
34. Very extensive & elaborate gym area with lots of machines, treadmills, weights, etc. The gym always seemed to be very busy, during the day, and surprisingly, even in the evenings. On the upper lobby level, just to left of elevators.
35. We got the use of a mini-fridge during our stay, to store drinks, and my wife’s insulin. Only a limited number available per floor(two or three), so ask for one as soon as you register, if you want/need one. There is no charge.
36. Piano bar nearly every evening 8:30 P.M.-9:30 P.M.(until evening programme began).
37. Cable TV in each room-25 channnels-half in English, plus remote.
38. Infirmary in hotel, on upper level of lobby with a nurse present during day hours. A doctor’s clinic five minutes away.
39. Closest hotel to airport, 20 minutes away, and only three kilometers to Varadero, many walked or biked, or took a cab(approximately $1.00 charge per kilometer).
40. No sales tax at all. The price you see, is the price you pay, unless your smart enough to know in the shops in town(not in the hotel), you can easily bargain for your souvenirs, by at least 50%. I got my souvenir t-shirts from $10.00 each(hotel price), to $5.00 each, at a shop in Varadero, for the exact same 100% cotton t-shirt. Beautiful towels went from $35.00 each to two for $25.00, for full-size beach towels, in full colour.
41. Gardner cleans grounds, but also pulls ripe coconuts off palm trees in resort and uses a large machete to cut the tops off to get to the coconut milk/juice. He gives them to nearby hotel guests, complete with a straw, and then cuts them open, a few minutes later, and uses a paring knife to remove all the fresh coconut flesh inside, and then gives that back to the hotel guest who had the initial coconut.
All he asks for is a smile and thank you. We also gave him a dollar, for alll his effort! We got coconuts three days in a row, the last two with no monetary renumeration at all!

Hotel Shortcomings
1. FOOD…let me explain…
A. The Buffet-Breakfast is pretty good-lots of fresh fruit-something resembling milk-cereals-fresh buns & pasteries-omlettes(ingredients varied from four some days, down to NONE on others) and eggs prepared to your liking, from scrambled to over-easy to fried, to hard boiled. Lunch was simply bland, bland, bland! There seemed to be no spices at all used during the cooking process, including salt & pepper. All the soups were a tastless broth with a few vegetables thrown in. Even the chicken soup tasted liked boiled water with pieces of chicken in it. There were totally inedible, and rarely did anyone actually take a bowl of soup. We tried them each and every day, but none of them could be eaten! Many lunch items were fish of one type or another(which we hate) and a chicken dish of some sort, with pork or ham slices available. Dinner was the same as lunch, only worse, so we ate supper in the buffet restaurant only once! There was always ample fresh fruit(papaya, oranges, grapefruit, watermelon, bananas, apples) and pastries available, as well as fresh Cuban coffee(with their milk substitute). For beer, wine and soft drinks, you(or your waiter was in a good mood) could get them from the 24 hour bar, outside the buffet restaurant.

B. Casablanca-A very posh-looking & elaborate restaurant, in the hotel, with waiters in uniforms, and food that was simply marvelous.

It cost no extra money to dine at supper time here(no open for lunch), but reservations at the front desk were required, and many people prebooked this restaurant for supper for "the entire week". We ate there five our of the seven nights we were there. When you check in the hotel, book this restaurant at the same time. You won’t be sorry! They reached their customer capacity early in our vacation, so we were glad we booked it for so many nights. Many people tried to come in and bribe the matre ‘de, but they always got turned away…no proof of a reservation form, no dinner here. The food is a blend ot Italian. Mediterranean & Chinese, but all the food has a strong "Cuban" flavour, but the food quality, variety, and flavour, were simply outstanding. Dishes such as fillet mignon, spinach canneloni and breast of chicken in a wine sauce were as good as any top notch restaurant in Toronto. Soft drinks didn’t come from the bar, but from real bottles of pop(no crummy cola syrup here). Although the menu is quite extensive, many items were not available, on a day to day basis, and some items tried on different days, were prepared, looked and tasted totally different on other days. There were four deserts listed on the menu, but on most days, only one or two were actaully available. Also they did not serve coffee or tea(try the main bar), but at least their chinese soup had some flavour(but no relation to any chinese soup I have ever eaten before).

C. Bar-B-Que-An open restaurant next to the pool. At lunch time, many people ate here rather than the buffet. They had cheese burgers, fish("always fish")and pork chops, with rice and/or fries, and a salad. The pool bar was right next to the grill, so getting drinks was easy. At suppertime this became a "posh restaurant", requring a firm reservation, via the front desk(all dinner reservations were on forms you had to submit when being seated).The food quality was top-notch, the one supper we tried here. Beef and Vegetable Cuban soup was outstanding(we had two full bowls!)and the beef & chicken combo we had was terrific. Many raved about "the fish"! The salad of marinated vegetables tasted wonderful, and the highlight was the Cuban desert of fruit, cheese and sweet Cuban sauce. All the food was prepared on a big open grill, or a small kitchen nearby, all served by very attentive waiters. I only wish I could have eaten here more often, but because of some windy nights and a passing rainy cold front, it was only open the day we arrived and the night before we left, for supper. We had booked this restaurant for mid-week, for supper, but due to inclement weather, it didn’t open, so the hotel automatically rebooked us into the Casablanca Restaurant, for dinner, at the same time, and let a note under our door telling us what had happened, and about our new reservation. Remember, this reataurant also was "no extra charge", to dining in their lousy buffet restaurant for supper!

D. The Snack Bar-open 24 hours a day-extensive menu-but often out of most of menu items such as orange juice, sandwiches, coffee, tea, hot dogs, ice cream, etc. Every evening, after the evening entertainment, we went here for a snack, and rarely was there much more than orange juice available. Chicken sandwiches were on the menu, we ordered nearly every evening, and saw only two times.After a few days you ignored the impressive menu, and just asked for what was ledt to eat. Rarely was it more than a few items. On the morning of our flight back to Toronto, we tried the snack bar", for the heavily promoted "continental breakfast" from 1:00 A.M. to 7:30 A.M. At 7:00 A.M. all they could offer my wife & myself were tuna fish sandwiches(we hate fish). No orange juice, no coffee, no tea,… nothing! What a total joke!

2. People smoke everywhere(lobby of hotel, restaurants, elevators, airport, washrooms) and often cigars(sold right in hotel lobby).

3. To long a gap between end of supper(around 8:00 P.M). and start of evening entertainment, (around 9:30 P.M.).
4. Portions of food at Casablanca Restaurant too small and leaves you still hungry. With only the snack bar available late at night, we were not happy campers! My wife’s blood sugar level fell too low every night after dinner, and we were glad we broght with fruit juices and cookies to raise her blood sugar level(diabetic).

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Take with inexpensive gifts to give hotel staff, for good service(ie. tooth paste, coloured pens, lighters, matches, sewing kits, batteries, old blue jeans)( because these items are not available in Cuba, the staff is very poor and can’t afford these items, and they are better than money. I did tip the waiters, at supper, a couple of dollars, and they always thanked me so very much for the tip, and seemed very grateful for the consideration..
2. Remember all purchases are in U.S. dollars, or credit cards drawn on NON-american banks. American Express, credit card or travellers cheques are not accepted in Cuba, and although our hotel brochure said traveller’s cheques drawn on Canadian banks was acceptable, the front desk would not cash them, and said only Cuban banks in Varadero would cash them. With a free safe in your room, U.S. cash/non-American credit cards rule!
3. No local english newspapers, but there’s always CNN on television.
4. Postcards take 4-6 weeks to reach Canada, so why bother writing(E-mail is very expensive)
5. Telephone cards useless in Cuba(calls cost $3.00-$5.00 per minute, in U.S. funds) and collect calls can’t be made from Cuba.
Cell phones are not used at all in Cuba,,,I never a saw one single cell-phone, all week. So…don’t call either!

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Superclubs Puntarena – Varadero Bob and Sherry Galloway Canada
December 2001

Maybe Hell isn’t totally fair. There was actually some good points about the place, but the bad easily outweighed the good when it comes to recommending it, or at least our hotel the Puntarena (and it’s twin, the Paradiso) in Veradero.

First the background: My wife and I, and another couple traveled to Mexico in January 1998, and had a wonderful time. While we were there our friends got engaged, and we decided that the four of us would return the following year (again in January) and they would get married. We later decided to try somewhere else, eventually hitting on the idea of Cuba. We thought it would be fun. A communist country, unspoiled by American influence. It would be a little adventure.

Well it was certainly an adventure. It started as soon as we arrived, when we were informed that our hotel was overbooked, and some couples were going to be put up in another hotel for the first week of our two week stay. They were going to split up the four of us, till we insisted on staying together since the hotel was organizing their wedding for two days after our arrival. It was probably a blessing that we didn’t stay that first week in the other hotel, as all the couples that did, said it was much nicer.

They talked about how the fruit salad was spectacular. Our’s was terrible. How can fruit salad be bad you ask? Well, imagine yourself cutting up an orange or grapefruit. You know how you end up with some pieces that are juicy, and then there is the bad parts, that are mostly rind. It was like their hotel got the juicy parts, and our hotel got the bad parts. At first I thought it was just a bad batch, or maybe that I got there late, and the best stuff had been picked over. It soon became clear that it was bad all day, everyday. Actually all the food was, shall we say, sub par. For an All-Inclusive resort you expect to go and eat and drink like a pig, but I think we all had lost weight when we got back home.

I’m not a big egg eater, but I ate eggs just about every day for breakfast because the only other choices were hashbrowns, hotdogs, and beef livers. And no milk. At least no cow’s milk. There was goat’s milk if you can stomach that sort of thing.

As far as alcohol drinks went, if you like rum, you’re in luck, if not (like my wife) too bad. This was the Caribbean, and we couldn’t get real fruit drinks (probably at the other hotel too). Actually, we wondered if the bartenders had been the bellhops the previous week, none of them knew anything beyond the most basic drinks.

Also the service was poor. We couldn’t get over the difference between Mexico, where the staff at the hotel, as well as the shopkeepers in town, went out of their way to serve you and make you feel that they appreciated your business. In Cuba, we came to the conclusion that since it’s a communist state, and no matter how hard you work, you’re not gonna get ahead in life, most people don’t make the effort. Not all were like that, but enough.

One couple were very nice to us. She was one of the entertainment directors at our hotel, and one day we rented a jeep and she and her husband gave us a tour of Havana. We were stopped 3 times by the police, who questioned our hosts, before letting us go. Our tour guides told us later that if it was just tourists, or just Cubans, there would not have been a problem, but when the police see tourists and locals, together, they check it out.

As far as Havana goes, it was the most run down looking capital city I’ve ever seen. It’s sad Fidel Castro puts no money into restoring what otherwise could be a very scenic metropolis. Before heading back to the resort we stopped off at the young couple’s home. What an eye opener that was. Two young, healthy, working people, with no kids, and they didn’t even have a toilet seat in their bathroom. Apparently most people don’t. Both times we went out for dinner, away from the resort, the restaurants didn’t have toilet seats. And only a bucket of water beside the toilet to flush.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, the biggest adventure was the elevators. When they were working (and repairmen were always working on one of the three) you quickly learned to get on and off as quickly as possible. The doors would close fast, and did not have bumper pads to stop them (one lady had her arm broken in one, during our stay). I actually lost my wife one time, when she was too slow getting on, and the door closed without her. Funny thing was, sometimes they would just stop at a floor, the door would open, and nobody would be there, but it would sit there anyway, with the door open, for up to a minute, before going again.

You also had to watch your step getting on and off, since the floors didn’t always line up. You could always tell the new arrivals, they were the ones stumbling in and out of the elevators.

I don’t want to say it was all bad. The weather was wonderful the whole two weeks. The beaches were spectacular, white sand, and the most beautiful blue/green water. We would definitely go back to the Caribbean, but we’ll never go back to Cuba.

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Superclubs Puntarena – Varadero Shelley & Bob Manitoba Prairies, Canada
One extremely cold and stormy Saturday in January, 1999 we called up our travel agent and said "Trish, get us out of this god-forsaken country to somewhere that has a bearable climate (and good drinks!)" Three weeks later we were on a Royal Airlines Charter heading for Varadero, Cuba. Our group of winter prairie escapees had grown to ten!

Now, I must say we did have reservations about going to this resort as it was only listed as a 3 1/2 star in the travel brochures. On previous trip to Varadero we had stayed at a 5 star and were hoping to not be disappointed downgrading. Plus we had recruited 8 of our very dear friends who had never been to Cuba! Well, we weren’t disappointed and our friends continue to travel with us!

True the rooms are VERY basic – two 3/4 beds, but a nice little balcony, great closet and storage space, tiled floors and a big bathroom. There was an inroom safe that was included. The television had 6 or 7 stations. Our maid kept the room extremely clean.

The pool was wonderful – huge, meandering, lots of foliage with two swim up bars. We really liked the tiled sunbeds built right in the pool complete with a table for drinks! We did have to rise early to "save" chairs, but when in Rome………..

The beach was gorgeous – turquiose, mostly calm and a lovely sandy bottom. Lots of beach chairs, but not much shade. You can walk for miles uninterrupted! Non-motorized watersports were included and we enjoyed our daily catamaran sail with Wilfred the captain! I believe this nicest part of the beach in Varadero – just down the way are several villas that used to be owned by rich Americans prior to Castro’s rule (the Kennedys, Al Capone)and they would have chosen the best location!

The food – well, it wasn’t gourmet, but we didn’t starve. The two buffets had lots of choice and we especially enjoyed the breakfast made to order omelettes. The pizza at the 24 hour pizza restaurant was excellent – the burgers were questionable! There were two a la carte restuarants – Chinese and Italian. We especially enjoyed the Italian. The pool restaurant(open 11am-2pm) served up a different dish every day cooked on a grill right in front of us – we enjoyed most of the lunches.
But the best meal of all was the "black market" lobster we had right on the beach – $8/person for a large bbq’d lobster and banana chips! Just ask the lifeguards where to get it.

The drinks – very generous in the alcohol dept, not much top shelf, but ask for the 7 year rum – it’s very smooth. The banana mamas in the 24 hour bar are yummy! The beer was very drinkable. Water is safe to drink right from the tap. Cuba Libre is their specialty.

The staff – extremely friendly and most knew quite a bit of English. They went out of their way to make our holiday fun! Some of the evening shows were good and always concluded with dancing.
Cubans are very poor and they sure appreciate anything you can bring for them – tshirts, sox, toothpaste, soap, diposable shavers, shoes etc. Even if they had the cash, these items are just not always available to them! We don’t realize how good we have it here in Canada!

There were bicycles and a couple of times we rode to the market in downtown Varadero. I always felt very safe and never was approached. There’s not a whole lot to buy in Varadero, but the main deal is the Cuban cigars. You have to be careful who you buy from and are only guaranteed the real thing from the gov’t stores. We bought Cohibas from our bartender and the guys were quite satisfied with them. Rum is another hot ticket – 7 year is worth the extra $1 and we found the best deal at the duty free at the airport.

Tours – If you like the open waters, The Jolly Roger Catamaran is a must. The cat is huge and very stable. It’s a full day tour and once again the staff really try to entertain and take care of you. We were picked up at our hotel at 8 am and 1/2 hour later boarded the boat. We sailed out to a reef to snorkel – it was quite good. Then we had a terrific lobster and chicken lunch on board (the boat ahead of us was catching the lobster for lunch). Beer and rum served all day. Last stop was a deserted island (Cayo Blanco) with the most incredible sand I have ever seen – like icing sugar! The sail back included dancing to the ever present Latino/Salsa music. Arrived back at hotel by 5 pm. We have done this tour both trips to Varadero and was the highlight each time! I think it cost about $75 usd per person.

The tourists – we met many people from all over the world (except the USA!)Lots of Canadians, Germans, Spanish, South American. Being a large group we made our own fun, but also managed get out and meet more people!

It was a great week – the weather cooperated – 80-85 and no rain – going in January can be risky weather wise as it usually doesn’t warm up to 80 til the beginning of February. We really loved this resort and felt we certainly got our money’s worth. Our whole group had a wonderful time – lots of laughs and lots of sun! It was the first time for any of us to an all-inclusive and I think we’re hooked! So, if you’re not too concerned about a kingsize bed and the latest room decorations, I really do recommend the Puntarena in Varadero!
Shelley and Bob – March 2001

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Riu Las Morlas – Varadero Tanya Toronto, Canada
I am writing regarding my recent holiday vacation to the Riu Las Morlas Hotel in Varadero, Cuba (from Dec 26th to Jan 2nd). I have to say that I was quite disappointed with this hotel and well as the travel company (Alba’s) rating of this property and description of the hotel. First, the travel company brochure rated this property as a 4 star on the website and a 4 and half star in the travel brochure I had. I can say without doubt that this hotel did not measure up to a 4 star or greater hotel. I would say it is a 3 star hotel. In my view, there is a big difference between 3 and 4 especially when traveling to a country like Cuba especially considering the money we spent for our trip.

I booked this trip for a group of 15 of us and I don’t think there was one person who was assured this hotel measured up to our expectations.

Swimming pool – we did not see a children’s section of the pool and to be quite honest, we never went into the pool as the bottom of the pool was never cleaned. It looked as if there were insects, dry leaves etc. on the bottom. Sure they skimmed the top of the pool, but not the bottom.

Meals/Snacks – We were all very disappointed with the limited hours available at the restaurants. Breakfast stopped at 10am. (with a very limited continental breakfast open from 11-12) Lunch opened from 12:30 – 4pm and then because we had the 2nd seating for dinner, which was 8:30pm – there was no where we could get snacks to munch on between the end of lunch and the start of dinner (although our travel brochure specifically mentioned snacks were included). We ever tried going to the restaurant to get some snacks and they denied us any food.

Minibar in room – With respect to the minibar in the rooms, the Alba brochure mentioned that it is restocked regularly. Various travel agents also told us that they would restock the minibar with whatever type of alcohol we would like (as long as they had it). Well, both the regular restocking and stocking of various types of alcohol was far from the truth. The first day we arrived, there was one bottle of the poorest quality rum you could find in Cuba on the dresser in the room. Inside the minibar, there was one can of Cuban beer, one can of Cola, and one can of orange pop. That was all. There wasn’t even any bottled water. We had to go to the reception and ask for that. As for regular restocking, they only restocked every other day and only if the present contents were completely finished. One evening, we drank half the can of cola, the next morning when the cleaning staff cleaned our room, they put that same can back in the minibar – half full – didn’t even bother replacing it with a new can. As for the travel agent’s letting us know that they would restock the minibar with whatever alcohol we wanted, this was non existent. We even asked hotel management about how to get any other alcohol or drinks in the minibar, and they said that was not at all possible. I can’t tell you how disappointing it was. I know of other Riu hotels that offer this same minibar restocking service from people who has gone there, and they all said that there was all types of alcohol there.

Drinks – As for variety of alcohol at the bars in the hotel, this was very limiting aswell. The selection of alcohol was poor, there were no garnishes (eg. lemons or limes), and little ice to make cocktails (pina coladas were more a milkshake than anything else).

Accommodations – The room accommodations worked out good for 1 room, but bad for the all the others in our group was. The travel brochures we had indicated that extra bedding was available for a 3rd person in a room. This, to us, very clearly implied that an extra bed (eg. cod is brought in for a 3rd person). We decided for our room (the only one that had 3 people) – we could survive on that for a week. Well, to our surprise, because we had 3 people in the room we had a much bigger and better hotel room. It was a 2 storey loft with 2 bathrooms and 2 twin beds and one double bed. But for the others who were paired 2 to a room and saw ours, they were very disappointed as they felt the rooms for 2 were much smaller and darker and regretted not breaking the group up into 3’s instead of 2’s to benefit from this more than double sized room (and at a discount for having 3 to a room). So, my suggestion here – if you do go to this resort – is try to pair up in 3’s to benefit from this.

Workout Room – forget about this – its like a musty attic with a few barbells

Other problems – There were also a few other problems we encountered – cockroaches in the rooms, cockroaches in the bread baskets in the restaurant. This may be more attributable to the fact that this hotel is in Cuba and it was damp and rainy while we were there but let’s just say we weren’t too thrilled to see them especially on the beds in the rooms.

The only good thing was the hotel staff – who were both friendly and tried to be helpful and ensure we had a good time.

We even wrote to our travel company and then Riu chain of hotels after our experience here only to be told by the travel company that they were sorry we the resort did not measure up to our expectations. Riu has not yet even responded to our email after 3 months.

If you can get this resort at a good price or if they lower the rating, I’d say go if you are looking for a very basic vacation package but if you’re looking for 4 star accommodations and treatment, don’t bother.
Tanya – April 2001

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Riu Turquesa – Varadero Danette Canada
April 2002

I was a little worried about this resort before going, as I read very few reviews, and the price was very low…approx $1100 Cdn for one week. But let me say that my expectations were exceeded by far.

1. Rooms: Nothing fabulous, but very clean and spacious. Pillows were very flat, but I got additional ones as soon as I asked. The room has two twin beds which I pushed together, a mini fridge which is stocked with pop beer and water, there is also a bottle of rum on the desk. They had no problem with supplying me with diet pop when I asked. The bathroom is large, but simple and the supply of soap and shampoo is limited, so bring your own. Also no face cloths. The best buildings are 500 and 600. They are bungalows with 8 rooms per building and are very spread out, so you should request a room close to the pool. We had room 565, which was on the 2nd floor, and had a great view. There are no "ocean view" rooms. Maid service was excellent and the room was cleaned by at 10:00 each day, they do however; expect tips and like gifts of soap, shampoo, gel and other personal products. They always made beautiful arrangements with the towels,even when I left no tip. I was happy with the room, and it fully met the 4* quality.

2.Food: Well what can I say…"it was good for Cuba" definitely not excellent, but it was as good as I expected. There is no al a carte, only buffet. The fruit and salad was excellent, but bring your own dressing, as they only had vinegar and oil. The meat consisted of always pork, fish, and chicken. They also always have one specialty dish, such as turkey, ham etc. The lunch food at the buffet was almost exactly the same at the evening, but you can also eat at the grill at the pool bar which has hamburgers, fries, sandwiches, fish. They serve lobster once every 10 days.

3. Staff: The staff are the best I have ever seen. They made the resort what it is. Bring gifts with you. They also are always tipped, as they make only $20 per month. Not much to say but "Fabulous"!!

4. Beach: Best on the strip. Must go early to get good chairs. Also bring a thermos mug with you as the glasses at the beach bar and pool are very small, and get warm quickly.

Other Good Points: 1. no wrist band 2. good selection of drinks 3. Bar at lobby is the best, but lots of mosquitoes (sp?) 4. Massage "excellent" the best I’ve ever had, only $20 US, and the guy is a professional. 5. Entertainment: Show every night, staff work very hard, and it is good, they have 3 professional dancers. They don’t hassle you if you do not want to take part in day time activities, but they are fun. 6. Parasail, sailboats, paddleboats, catamarans, all available for use, but don’t expect any lessons. We got lessons in exchange for an old pair of sport sandals. 7. 2 shops, sell real "coca cola" and other snacks and things. 8. Trip to Havana is excellent and a must do.

9. No internet access, but they do let you use their computer for sending and receiving emails.

Things to Bring: 1. Lots of $1.00 for tips 2. Any old clothes or shoes for the staff 3. Candy for the children 4. Face Cloths 5. Thermos Mugs 6. Your favorite salad dressing

7. Snacks such as chips, as they are very very expensive, and selection limited.

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Arenas Blancas – Varadero Mike Canada
March 2002

We are returning for the third time to the Arenas Blancas in Varadero. This is a most unusual practice for us, as we normally chose a different destination for each of our vacations. However, once you have experienced the culture and the people of Cuba, you find it painful to leave. To be returning to the Arenas Blancas for a third time speaks volumes of our total satisfaction with all it has to offer. Friendships were made that we will always cherish! The Cuban people have an appreciation for life, regardless of their individual circumstances, that is enviable. We North Americans have so much-and we take so much of it for granted! I have recommended the Arenas Blancas to many people, and all who have vacationed there have nothing but praise for the warmth of staff, cleanliness, and incredible beauty of the location. Can hardly wait to board that plane in a few weeks!!!

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Arenas Blancas – Varadero Anne Canada
March 2002

My husband and I have just returned from Cuba and I am so full of my Cuban experience that I am just bursting to share it. Cuba enthralled us, it is a place of enchantment, incredible beauty, haunting contrasts, and captivating people If I sound like a tourist brochure forgive me!

We are in our late 40’s and early 50’s and have traveled extensively in North America, the Caribbean and Europe and we visited Cuba for the first time last year and LOVED it. The Cuban people are incredibly welcoming to tourists. Their warmth, intelligence, unassuming nature and wonderful charm shine through, the only “attitude” you will receive there is genuine warmth! Then there are the beaches….unbelievable! and clean – we often thought that there were little invisible elves on clean-up duty! And if you go on the beach at night, the stars seem to be so close that you feel like you can reach up and touch them!

We loved Cuba so much that we decided to return again this year. Last year we stayed at Arenas Blancas, in Varadero. and really enjoyed the facilities, cleanliness, amenities, staff, pool, beach and close proximity (walking distance) to Varadero.. So we decided to return again this year and we were welcomed like family members, many of the staff actually remembered us from last year! This hotel has a beautiful relaxed, vacation atmosphere, and the staff go out of their way to meet the needs of the guests. My husband and I were so surprised when we were invited to a dinner for “returning guests”. It was a fabulous meal, complete with a trio playing classical music. The hotel management hold this every week and it was such a beautiful touch. We were also invited to another reception, again for returning guests, where trees were planted in Arenas Blancas “Garden of Friendship”. A tree was planted for each couple/family and a name plaque with their name and date of visit on it. So now my husband and I have our own coconut tree in Cuba! What a delightful gesture. We have stayed at other hotels as “returning guests” and never received such hospitality!

The animation (entertainment) group at Arenas Blancas ensure that everyone is included in the activities, if you want to be included that is! Beach activities, pool volleyball, dance lessons etc. Then there were the musicians, a marvelous trio entertained us in the restaurant and beach bar, and the nightly entertainment had some of the best singers we’ve ever heard.

We had heard that the food in Cuba wasn’t very good, what we found was that food generally in Cuba is different to what we are used to here in North America, and if you are looking for exotic food choices, you probably won’t find them in Cuba, or in many other countries either. At Arenas Blancas we found there were lots of food choices; there was a buffet restaurant; pizza and snack bars, beach restaurant and a couple of a la carte restaurants…we never went hungry! If we didn’t like one thing, there was always something else to choose from..(the vino and cerveza were pretty good too!!).

So If you want a wonderful, relaxed, and enriching vacation experience, go to Cuba and if you go to Varadero, stay at Arenas Blancas. We are definitely going back next year, for at least two weeks!

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Arenas Blancas – Varadero Nicole Canada
June 2001

Before we left, my boyfriend and I heard terrible things about Arenas Blancas, and we were nearly frightened of going! First of all, we got a great deal and paid only $955 each including all taxes. I would not pay more than $1000 to go to this resort. We went during a very quiet time, also. Service was good, I think that with more people, the service would suffer. But, because there were so few people, some restaurants were closed and there were fewer staff and fewer selection of drinks.

The hotel: It is quite nice. We were very lucky and got an ocean view room on the 4th floor. We met some other travelers who were on the 1st and second floors and weren’t nearly as happy because trees were blocking their view of the ocean. Our room was spotless every day. We left small gifts like soaps and samples of perfume for our chambermaid and she was lovely.

The pool: Is great, it is relatively shallow all the way through so late in the afternoon is gets very hot and soupy. Tons of lawn chairs. Music is not blaring and the mix is not bad.

The beach: It is stunning, the water is clear and cool. The sand is gorgeous. Most people spent the entire day at the beach.

The food: Here is the problem. The food is quite bad. The hotel’s main buffet serves breakfast, which is not bad. There is always an abundance of pineapple, oranges, grapefruits, guava, and mango. But not all at once! Breakfast has pancakes, fresh omelettes, scrambled eggs, sausage, some toast, cereal (but no cold milk, only lukewarm). Rolls and other bread were usually quite hard and stale. There are also some tarts and other sweet things. Lunch at the buffet was awful. It is better to eat lunch at the beach grille and have a hamburger or just some fresh fruit. Pasta is over-cooked and mushy. Dinner at the buffet was much of the same from lunch, so not too exciting. They usually had a fresh pasta bar, where the chef would prepare pasta with a variety of toppings, but nothing to write home about. You can make reservations at the three A’la Carte dining rooms. The seafood restaurant was closed while we were there, so we were a bit disappointed. The Italian restaurant had pizza which was OK, pasta was not bad either. The International restaurant overlooks the beach so it is quite beautiful and the food is acceptable as well. We brought some snacks which us, like crackers, cheese, chocolate bars, and my boyfriend bought Oreos at the hotel store. So because we rarely ate lunch, we could go in for a light snack. I would suggest you do so, because the food becomes really unbearable after a couple of days. Its the same thing over and over again, and none of it is exceptionally tasty, just edible. The band that plays nightly in the restaurant is GREAT. They are really funny and sing beautifully. I wish I had bought one of their CDs.
If you want, you can walk down the main street to Parqe Josone where you can go to and International and Italian restaurant. We went to the Italian one and it was really good. The band will play until you give them mnoey, and once you do they will try to sell you their CD, they are not as good as the band at the hotel.

Drinks: Well, its rum, rum, and more rum. They did have Vodka and some others, but they made the drinks so strong that I didn’t want to drink anymore. There isn’t much selection, so if you are planning to drink a lot, be prepared for the same thing every day. Beer was Carribean Ice, my boyfriend says its not bad.

Staff: Staff were very nice, but constantly asking you to buy illegal rum or cigars from them. They will ask women if they want their hair braided. They do a good job, but its costs $30 US and they hide you in a small room because they are not allowed to do it. The activities staff were nice, but people didn’t really participate much, so most activities got canceled. Maria is a sweetheart and taught my boyfriend Spanish our first afternoon there and acquainted us with the resort. Extra Activities: We went on the Jolly Roger Catamaran Cruise. It was nice, but not really worth the $70 US it cost. If you like snorkeling, there is a tour operator that is outside the towel booth, and for $15 US a man will take you on a smaller catamaran and you can go snorkeling nearby. We liked it far better than the Jolly Roger.

All in all, we had a great, relaxing tie. But, be warned about the food and alcohol. I really feel that paying anymore than $1000 would be disappointing. If you get a good deal, and take snacks with you, you should have a great time. Just be prepared. We were surprised after all the horrible things we heard about this resort, but we ended up making the most of it and had a great time. So, if you’ve already bought your tickets, don’t let my reivew scare you away. Arenas Blancas is ok. The weather, the beach, and the pleasant Cuban atmosphere will deter you from the food! 🙂

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Arenas Blancas – Varadero G. Casavechia
Stayed one week at this 4* hotel in Varadero . The good things were the beach and the huge pool .The food was the worst I have ever eaten or tried to eat . It was like survivor every meal ! I ate mainly fruits and sandwiches . Lost 10 pounds in a week . The service was poor unless you tipped well .As for the entertainment staff I dont know what they did all day ? The girl that does the massages is very good . I had back problems down there and she corrected them for 20 $ . Jean Clude our rep was very good . The Kareoke machine was brocken so most of te guests headed into the nearby discos . The final thing I have to say is about the airport . There was hundreds of tourists waiting to get thru customs to get out . They had four booths open ! Turned off totally on Varadero . Santa Lucia and Guardallavaca much nicer . Ciao
G. Casavechia – May 2001

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