We just returned from the Sirenis la Salina Varadero Beach Resort on Saturday, August 14th after staying there for one week. There were nine people in our group, including two seniors, four adults, one teenager and two kids (age 6 and 4). I booked this resort on the recommendation of a friend who stayed there recently and had positive things to say about it. I have to say after reading some of the reviews, I was really scared of what I would find. This is our third trip to Cuba. We have stayed in two other big resorts, former El Senador in Cayo Coco and Occidental Grand Playa Turquesa in Hoguin.
I have to start off this review by saying the people who have only bad things to say about this resort are either in the minority (had an isolated bad time) or have some alternate reason to say bad things about a relatively good place. We all had a great time, this is a wonderful resort.
Someone in their review made mention about having to stand out in the humid – hot weather while they waited to be checked in. It appears the Hotel has read this review as we were ushered into an Air Conditioned convention room where were seated and then one of the staff explained the forms we need to complete for check in. We then lined up and received our room assignments. As requested, we received a room with a King Bed (a real King Bed, not one of those typical Cuban King beds consisting of two double beds pushed together) and a separate twin bed. We were also next to our relatives as requested.
Rooms: Each room had its own A/C unit that was controllable from a unit on the wall. The electricity in the room was controlled by a slot near the door where you place one of your two key cards. One day, we didn’t leave the key card in the slot while we were out, so the maid placed a make shift version in the slot that kept the electricity and AC running 24/7 for us. The rooms were generally clean. I cannot say I saw any mould on the walls. I check the bed for bed bugs, I didn’t see any evidence of them, nor did I get any bites. The towels were not changed every day, sometimes they were delivered later in the day, sometimes not changed at all. We managed. Sometimes we used the beach towels (if we changed them before returning to the room) or the towels from the day before if they were dry. Can’t say it was a major hindrance. You are supposed to get one bottle of water, 2 cans of beer and two cans of pop in your fridge every day. We received the water every day, we didn’t drink the pop, so I don’t know if it would have been replaced, and the beers were replaced half the time. The maid replied that they didn’t have enough when I asked her about it, said some people drink it and some do not. I just adjusted my tip for her depending on what was in the fridge. You should be aware they charge 2 peso’s for use of the safe. So if you use for the entire stay, expect to pay 14 pesos when you leave.
Restaurants and Bars: Dinner I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the food. The buffet had a lot of selections. Most was repeated each night, but who can come up with a 100 new items each night. They always had a fresh pasta bar, great stuff, add the garlic at the end, it tastes great. They also prepared crepes each night. They had a hot table where they would carve that evening’s special, one night it was Turkey, chicken, Beef, Fish, pork, etc. Great stuff. They also cook fresh beef, chicken, pork, fish the way you want it. One night they made fajita’s, amazing. We ate at two of the Al-carte restaurants. We had the Mexican restaurant on Tuesday night, amazing Chicken lime soup and rice pudding, the entrees were also acceptable, and the fish was likely the best. On Friday night we ate at the Dragon Japanese, all the food here is cooked in front of you, what a great show. The food was wonderful, try it all. Lunch I don’t think we ever ate lunch at the main buffet, I don’t even know if it was open. The two pool bars serve a lunch snack menu, the burgers and hot dogs were alright. I really liked the tuna on a baguette, reminded me of my time in London, England. Great stuff The best place for lunch in the Beach Buffet, here in addition to a small buffet, they have charcoal grill when they grill fresh whole fish. Don’t be afraid, if you have not eaten whole fish before, it is cut down one end and comes apart really easy, then just lift the bones out of the middle. Eat it with the fresh garlic sauce. Yum yum, every fisherman’s dream. In addition to the fish, they grill boneless and quarter chicken pieces. Great place to eat, we eat fish and chicken every day. Breakfast There were two places to eat breakfast, the main buffet, with lots of selection, omelettes, eggs, pan cakes, breads, cereal, meat, milkshakes, etc. Everything you could want was there, but I still got tired of it, I am not much of breakfast eater. You can also have access to a smaller buffet at the beach if you are so inclined. I never tried it. Drinks I have to say I was very pleased with the drinks. The pours were always generous and I appreciated the use a blender to make daiquiri’s and pina colada’s, something I have not seen in Cuba before. I do recommend a Bubba mug or something similar as those small plastic cups are not big enough. There are a number of bars in the resort. The main bar in the lobby makes amazing Mojito’s with real Mint!
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The quiet pool has a great swim up bar, where Oscar works, he is great with the kids and everyone in general, stop buy and say hello. Tell him you read about him on the internet. The quite pool is huge. It is a great place to just lounge around and relax and is great for kids as it is not that deep. The other pool, the activity pool or so called loud pool has a great waterslide, always a line up for it, the swim up cave bar and all the activities. Enough said. It is not rowdy, loud drunkfest as others have described it. My little ones actually really liked it. Beach The beach is nice, not the best in Varadero, but nice. You should note it is not very deep, so if you prefer a deep beach, choose another resort.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We went to Havana on a day trip. We booked a private coach with tour guide for 405 Cuban Peso’s. That took all 9 of us. Lunch was not included. It was a great tour and well worth the money.
We also rode the Vardero double decker bus in to town, that was nice, but not much to do. It cost 5 Cuban Peso per person and the kids were free.
Other Comments: Health We all got a little sick, but hey that is what Pepto is for. Bugs There were a lot of mosquitos. Bug spray is essential. Service Was great. Cigars The Hotel sells a good selection of Cuban cigars, unfortunately, they mark up the price by about 25%.