Review of Barcelo Solymar Cuba Staff All of the staff were very friendly helpful and courteous.
Very early in the morning. staff were pleasant and friendly.
Rooms: Rooms We had room(s) in the hotel. It is an older complex and the rooms are kept very clean (remember to tip the maid). The reason I mentioned rooms is that we started out in a room 1114. We were told that we were very lucky as this was a room people paid extra for as it had an ocean view. When we got there we found that the room was very clean but the hotel has not been maintained very well. My wife could not open the sliding door to the balcony as the rollers had not been maintained and they were now down to metal on metal. The blackout curtains were too short for the width of the window so no blackout. We next found that the towel hangers were almost falling off the wall. The hose for the shower was damaged and the soap dish was falling off of the wall. As I mentioned this is an older complex so we figured we could just call in the morning and get the maintenance person to tighten some screws and that would be fine. Unfortunately that night we found out that the room is situated right above the show lounge and dancing area. You got it, we didn’t get much sleep. The next morning we contacted the Signature representative and he assisted us in getting another room. We were given a key to another room, and looked at it to find out that there were similar problems there and asked for another. This room was 1246 in the elbow of the (L) just above the desk area. This time the Representative came with me and we found similar problems to the other rooms. Since this seemed far enough away from the entertainment room the Representative contacted maintenance and cleaning so that all problems were fixed before we moved into the room. That night we found out that this room is situated just above the one bar that stays open until midnight so we didn’t get much rest there either but we put up with it. If I were going there again I would go into a Bungalow or into the right section of the (L) after I had inspected the room. This probably was a four or five star complex at one time but it is now older and Barcelo has not kept up the maintenance so I would classify it as a three star maximum because of the maintenance. Talking with others that booked different locations seemed to agree that the star system was a bit off a bit high for most Varadero all inclusive Hotels.
Restaurants and Bars: Food Depending on what you booked for your vacation you eat at a buffet style dining room for all of your meals or for the evening meals you may reserve at one of the a la carte dining areas. The food was plentiful and you had many choices. We found out that you have to be careful as some of the food was not consistently cooked well enough. We found at different times the beef was very rare (Not wanted that way in Cuba) as were turkey legs and some fish. If you watch for these you will do ok as they do have some nice dishes. In the buffet style there was always a good variety so you will not go hungry. If you have the opportunity to reserve at the a la carte areas prepare to do so almost immediately upon arrival between 900 and 1200 or you may not get what you want. We chose the Seafood one because the wife likes lobster and thought that nothing could go wrong. I chose Filet Mignon and was very pleased as it was cooked just right, although they forgot the Broccoli. My wife had the lobster. Unfortunately it was grilled and it was partly uncooked and partly overcooked. A real disappointment! Since we could not reserve another we talked to other guests about the other venues. We found out that the best of the three was the Italian one. We also found out that most of the lobster in the complex was not cooked well. Bars
The complex consists of an older large L shaped hotel and a number of newer Bungalows situated right next to the beach. The grounds are well treed and landscaping is very nicely kept. There are two pools and a spa (although it was not heated while we were there). The whole area is kept very neat and clean.
Other Comments: Other We were told that the currency exchange CADECA charges the same as the bank in town so we waited and got our money exchanged there. I had looked the rate up on the internet before leaving and it fluctuated in the vicinity of 92 cents for a Canadian dollar. When we arrived in the hotel we were charged and received 82 cents on the dollar at the CADECA. Big difference from what we were told. If you can I would exchange my money at a Canadian bank before going to Cuba. Visa is accepted at a rate of 11 percent extra, Mastercard is not accepted. You can not use your debit card. I would advise taking $200 for tips and getting out of the country per couple. If you are doing any touring outside of Varadero I would take extra cash. Which comes to another point. It cost you 25 Cuba Convertible Pesos per person to leave Cuba at the airport. This is not covered in the price that you paid for your ticket. If you plan to take things down for the orphanages try to get a contact so you can provide the outside of your complex. This will ensure that the people that really need it get it. I went to The Thrift shop and bought an inexpensive bag that I left there with the gifts. It was used as a school bag as I heard later. The people in and around the Varadero area that work for the hotels get quite a bit so I made sure that I gave them personal gifts outside of went to the orphanages . The people outside of those areas are very poor and get little in the way of niceties like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shoes for kids, clothes for children. Things like chalk, extra pencils and notebooks are a treat that very few see.
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