First time here. Notwithstanding the food (see below), we really liked this hotel. Very impressed with the decor and layout, something totally new to Varadero, very international with a nautical theme throughout. Beautiful site, vegetation not yet fully mature but well designed. Nice pool layout, fountains, kiddies’ club, swim up bar. This hotel complex has a fully operational Pueblo for hotel clients and soon-to-open condos (including grocery store, souvenir and high-end clothing shops, coffee bar, disco, cigar bar, several ice cream outlets, and of course the marina, with a long promenade). Golf cart service is available to and from the beach, a few minutes by foot but don’t worry, there are bathrooms and a bar at the beach lol. The evening shows are OUTSIDE facing the marina, an interesting concept. I applaud the designers, there are several nice water-related touches here and there (water wall in lobby, ultra modern weather-resistant wicker furniture outside, to name a few. And the views are to die for, from the lobby deck, to the buffet terrace and the Level restaurant on the top floor.
Muchas gracias to Alberto at the Reception and bellboy Adriel, to Sonia our room lady, to Kissnaidy at the Alacarte reservation desk, to Yovanny and Neidy at the morning Buffet, to Cyndia, Yodiana and Jamil at the Lobby bar, to Yeney at the beach restaurant, to Alexander W of the animation team, to Jefe Carlos of the Bana restaurant and the many smiling staff.
East block facing pool
SWG flight out of Quebec City. Late checkin, 11 p.m., smooth as silk, smiling receptionist Alberto, spoke French and English, as did bellboy Adriel. Warm welcome.
Rooms: Room 1219, same floor as lobby, east wing, large quiet room facing pool, as requested. Two beds, glorious Italian shower, quiet A/C, although mostly used ceiling fan and HELLO, AT LAST screened patio door, wonderful! Clean room, no bugs or ants, lots of hot water, nice bathroom, free safe in closet, nice balcony overlooking large site, pool, and sea beyond. Our room lady was Sonia.
Note: As our return flight was late evening, we paid the 8CUC/hour to keep our room until one hour before checkout, which was no problem as the hotel was not full. Complementary rooms are available for late checkout showers and changing.
Restaurants and Bars: Buffet El PILAR: Same fare each day, with some exceptions (smoked salmon, shrimp, spinach salad, roast pork, fresh figs). Food could have been hotter… Excellent service by smiling Yovanny each morning, and Welcome lady Neidy at the Buffet door. ALACARTES are located under the lobby, ground floor, facing the marina. Reservations start at 9 a.m., the counter is located same area, under lobby. BANA: Oriental restaurant, our favourite alacarte. Chef Carlos offered a tasting menu including tempura shrimp, sushi, tender pork and beef nibbles, flambeed bananas/pineapple. Delightful and delicious, an easy 5/5! DON ERNESTO: Latino restaurant, beautiful decor, Hemmingway memorabilia. Although the fish ceviche cocktail was delicious, the pork, lamb & beef were tough. Why do they cook their meat to death?? 2/5 CASA BURGUETE: French cuisine, langoust and shrimp were good but overcooked. 3/5 There is a grill bar next to the playa bar (no mojitos) and a Ranchon restaurant overlooking the playa, with salad/dessert bar and fish (if you’re lucky) SNACK BAR Habana: burgers, fries, quesadillas, etc. shaded patio over pool, sweet! The LEVEL: penthouse restaurant, if you can get in…
Lobby Bar: good service, good Cava, no Coco locos or tasty Sangria. Other drinks good.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Glorious playa!!! I’d give it a 9.5/10. A couple of Km long, clean, no coral or rocks, beach chairs WITH cushions if you please, senors to set up chairs, no lack of chairs or palapas all week. Golf cart service to and from if need be. Pool is lovely, the site being new there is not much mature vegetation, but getting there! Lots of chairs, cushions, new blue chairs, music, nice wading area around one side for children (and adults), pool beds.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Not much animation at the playa… 🙁 Evening shows were ok, the White Parade in the lobby was awesome, as were the Magic statues. All shows are outdoors on cement deck facing marina, unless bad weather then presented in… the lobby. Only a small troupe of dancers. Michael Jackson showed up Thursday nite with his posse 😀 Live music every nite in the lobby; some fantastic, some very loud, overall good, a couple of violins and the piano need serious tuning (trust me). Too bad no latino music in lobby bar after after evening show. They should have live music AFTER the show outside for 30 minutes so clients can dance together without being dragged up by the dancers. Just sayin’…
We partook in no excursions during our week but did meet with some Cuban friends in town. Many patrons did the half-day Havana excursion and loved it.
Other Comments: Strong points: screened patio doors and ceiling fans, Italian shower, cushions for both pool and playa chairs, glorious beach, no beach vendors, excellent service with a smile, friendly employees, many of whom spoke French
Things to improve: DUH, how they cook their meat/fish… Improve their beach PR and animation on the beach (intentional?) We saw no aquagym, workout or yoga. They could really learn from neighbour hotels who manage to gather over 20 people each time (ex. Ibero Playa Alameda and Laguna Azul). Connecting with people is muy importante in this competitive market. Real sangrias and coco locos at the lobby bar would be sweet! Spa amenities/services could be more visible, such as a poster in the lobby or outside the Spa with price list. The Spa counter in lobby was often without staff.