This Hotel covers all the bases, Great Rooms, Good Buffets, Above Average a La Cartes, Great Beach, Beautiful Pools, Wonderful Drinks, and best of all Perfect Staff 🙂 Is the Resort Perfect yet? No, but it will get there. They need to look at a few areas like more pool towels. We got towels the first day and only exchanged them every 3 days, so it wasn’t an issue with us,but if you need 3 fresh towels every day, then you are going to be disappointed. The Hotel should also look at labeling the food better at the Buffets; sometimes it is hard to know which is White Rice and which is Brown Rice. Seriously folks, If it looks good, give it a try, if not pass it by.
I’ll go into more detail in each section below.
Your Arrival: Flight with Sunwing was typical charter flight if not a bit above average. We flew from Moncton to Varadaro direct, with 1/2 of the passengers having already boarded in Gander NL then picked up the rest of us. Customs was a breeze, and I had heard how stern and scary Cuba Customs could be. this trip we were confronted with young girls laughing and joking with eachother as they inspected our carry on luggage if the X-Rays showed anything they wanted to take a closer look at and we were off to the baggage claim and off to the Busses. I have a comment about the Drivers in Cuba…much calmer and more respectful than my encounters in Dominican Republic….nuff said.
Check in at the hotel was fast and efficient and we were almost ready to head off to our rooms, but having been given a heads up, We went to Guest Services immediately and booked our A La Carte’s before we missed out, and we are glad we did, as there were 20 people waiting in the line at 9:00 the next morning.
Rooms: These Rooms are large, bright and well appointed, with a decent sized closet and storage spaces. The bathroom is large and roomy with a large corner tub and shower. They even include scales in the bathroom so you can weigh your luggage for the return flight, because I see no other reason to have scales on vacation 🙂 We were on the second floor of building 19 and we faced the smaller pool area to the Northwest side of the resort. Our room had 2 3/4 sized beds, do not kid yourselves, they are designed for one person and not 2 for sleeping. This was not a major issue with us, and we never went to the front desk to request a room change as we were very close to the rest of our group. The large umbrellas supplied to each were a very nice touch and even though we never had cause to use them, we did appreciate them being so handy. The electronic safe is in the closet, and is angled a bit, so just remember to access it through the centre sliding door. One thing to be aware, in previous reviews it was stated there was a 110V plug in the bathroom for shavers that was incorporated into the hair dryer. Our room did not have this type hair dryer with plug, so there was absolutely no place that I found all week to use an electric shaver, but there are many 240V outlets in the main room you can use if you have universal voltage appliances or use a travel adapter.
We left daily gifts for the maids and received a nice thank you note from them, towel art included. On every day but our last day, our room was made up and cleaned with fresh towels if we requested them by 2 PM.
Restaurants and Bars: We ate at the following restaurants, Beach Snack Bar, Beach Buffet, and Main Buffet, also at the Steakhouse, Romantico, and the Japanese a la cartes. let me start with the A la Cartes first. When we booked the a la cartes, we had 1 goal in mind, we needed a place to celebrate a Birthday on Friday. The only thing available was the Steakhouse at 9:00 so we booked. The next day or so the wife of the birthday boy went to guest services and arrang4ed for a cake and a bottle of Champagne in the room for him. That evening we arrived to be told there was no tenderloin left… those hungry early diners, you know who you are… So most of us ordered the Strip Loin, a couple ordered Chicken and 1 ordered Red Snapper. None of us were impredded with the steak, but we are on vacation…not a problem. The chicken was good and the lady really enjoyed her fish. Desert was nothing to write home about but that is no biggie either, Monday we went to the Romantico for 8;30 and had a wonderful meal, 9 ordered the tenderloin whuch was very good, and my wife had a shrimp stew like dish that she thouroughly enjoyed. Desert was pretty and not too bad at all, but those who ordered the sherbet all got brain freeze… a minor problem. Tuesday, our last evening we went to the Japanese restaurant, and had a wonderful dining experience. the meal started with sushi then a soup followed with the cooking presentation, you all know how this goes if you have been to one. This was our first experience at one and we really enjoyed it the meal was cooked in front of us and consisted of rice and veggies with beef chicken and shrimp all done in style. This is a shot not to be missed.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The main pool is divided into 2 parts with a stand up and a swim up bar, a waterfall and hot tub. This was the most crowded of all the pools and has limited shade byt no shortage of loungers. The 2 side pools are much quieter and the one on the left side where we hung out had a decent amount of shaded areas. you can always get a lounger, but if you want a specific place, be prepared to play the towel game.
The beach is the best in that area. long wide and a gentle slope into the water. There is over 400 shade payapas on the beach, so finding one usually isn’t an issue till about noon, but again be prepared to play the towel game if you want a specific spot. Bartenders at the beach bae are good, but pace themselves as they wait on a lot of people meny times a day, so help them a bit and walk to the beach buffet bar for a drink once in a while.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Onsite activities and Star Friends Team were good, they kept everyone active who wished to be and encouraged lounge potatoes like myself to participate but were not agressive or demanding.
Offsite 3 people hired a taxi for a trip to Havana and thouroughly enjoyed the day and we all took the double decker bus into the market in Varadero. Other than that, we soaked up the sun and rum at the resort.
Other Comments: I consider myself a very well informed traveller and somewhat experienced and I wish to be to the point of bluntness with my comments here. If you expect things to be just like home, please do the rest of us a favor and Stay Home. If you expect the hotel staff to be your personal slaves, please bring your own from home or better still Stay Home. If you can’t show the hotel staff the same courtesy you would show your spouse or children, Please Stay Home. If you can’t Check your attitude and ego in the departure lounge at the airport when you leave, then Please Stay Home. If you can’t ignore the small stuff that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans anyway, please dont ruin it for the rest of us, or if you must be that constantant pain in the butt because that is all you can do, the do every other fun loving, laid back, and relaxed traveller at the resort a favor and Please Stay Home.
The Buffets: OK now on to the more mundane food reviews.. The Beach Buffet searves breakfast and lunch and becomes the Cuban a la Carte in the evening. We never had breakfast there, but did have lunch on occasion. Here I found the food below this hotels normal standards. At one end of the restaurant closest the lobby, the hot food was barely warm, but was fine at the beach end. the selection was very limited and not to my taste, but others managed to find their fill. The Beach Grill serves burgers hot dogs and fries and all are very good and they are open 24 hrs for that after disco snack, but don’t be in a hurry, however you will be entertained by the people who work there while you wait (wink). The Main Buffet serves all three meals every day. We ate all our breakfasts there and most had and definitely enjoyed the made to order omlettes. I have heard and read several complaints about the way the bacon was cooked….I could always find enough to suit me, but I may have to go to both bacoon pans or wait for a fresh tray, but I managed and I didn’t whine about it…. The breads are excellent and the hot chocolate is wonderful, but I found the pancakes rubbery so I didn’t have them again….problem solved.. We ate lunch there a couple of times and always found a good selection. Dinners we had there were varied and always had good variety, especially fish. On 4 seperate noghts here was what was at the carving station, Beef Tenderloin, Sirloin tip roast Beef, Roast Turkey, Baked Ham and all were very good to excellent, especially the Ham and Turkey. Our group of 10 all agreed when I said this to them, " If you go hungry or can’t find something you like to eat at this Resort, that is your problem not theirs". As with any resort, the tastes vary as do peoples likes and dislikes but I am probably one of the pickiest and fussiest eaters you will run across and I ate some darn good meals and no bad ones. Yes there was food I didn’t like but with so much to chose from I had many choices.
This is my main gauge for a resorts food. I use the pasta station as a meal of last resort…If I can’t find a single thing that appeals to me at a meal, I go for a plate of pasta. How many times did I go to the Pasta Station at this resort….Not One Single Time… that is how good and varied the food selection at this resort is.