Old Reviews – Barcelo Marina Palace

Just got back from the Barcelo Marina Palace on Monday May 21st. After having read some negative reviews (after I booked my trip) I was relieved to come away with a different impression of this resort. Certainly, it is not perfect, but then no resort is, and lets face it people have varying expectations. We had a super time and met some very nice people. Our intentions when booking this holiday were to relax and enjoy the "Sun and the Rum" – we did just that! Here are my thoughts:

Staff: Hardworking, pleasant, and helpful.

Pools: We spent most of our time at the main pool where all of the action takes place. Throughout the day the animation staff offers dancing lessons, pool volleyball, aerobics, etc. There was always music playing and one can get a drink by swimming, or walking up to the bar. There is also a quiet pool available if you prefer.

Beach: The beach goes on forever and there are always lots of lounges available. The water was warm and a beautiful aquamarine colour. I will admit it was not my favourite beach but then I have visited lots of islands and have found none that compare to the one at the resort I stayed at in Punta Cana.

Food: This was my biggest concern when booking this trip as my husband is a very picky eater. The main buffet, "La Marina" is very big and always offers a huge selection of foods. I find it hard to believe that one could not find something they liked here. For breakfast I ate the waffles with strawberry sauce and fruit, or enjoyed a ham and cheese omelette. But there was something for everyone – toast, donuts, pastries, cereal, bacon, sausages, cheese, cold cuts etc. At dinner I loved getting pasta at the pasta bar, or rice and vegetables. My husband enjoyed both the grilled pork chops and steak. We never went hungry and I cannot imagine how anyone could.

A La Carte Restaurants: We went to the Italian and Cuban restaurants. The Italian was the best and I enjoyed my food. My husband thought it was okay. The atmosphere is pleasant and it made for a nice change to sit down and get served instead of eating at a buffet. The Cuban restaurant was average. We really enjoyed our appetizers but found the chicken we ordered a little dry. However, another couple we spoke to loved it which just goes to show how differently we all perceive things.

Bars: The only one that was very busy was the lobby bar in the evenings. However, the bartenders work very hard to serve everyone in order. For those who have complained that it is difficult to get a drink I agree at times it was difficult. Perhaps this is a reflection of how people treat each other and not how good or bad the staff is. I saw many people butt in and shout out their orders when clearly there were other people in front who had been waiting longer. I wonder if everyone behaved courteously would they get served faster?

Gym: I am an avid runner and prefer to do so outside and not on a treadmill. However, I used the gym twice to do weights. It was well equipped and there is always a fitness instructor present. He was pleasant and very helpful and always ready to offer suggestions on how to improve your workout.

Excursions: We went on the Havana day trip. I would highly recommend doing so if it is your first time in Cuba. In order to see the real Cuba you need to travel outside of the resort area. We also took the double decker bus into Varadaro to do some sightseeing and shopping. We enjoyed this very much. Lastly we took the catamaran excursion to go snorkelling and have lunch on the island of Cayo Blanco. We enjoyed this trip as we met some really nice people. However, I was somewhat unimpressed with the snorkelling. I have snorkelled in Aruba, and the Dominican, and found the snorkelling off these islands better.

Entertainment: We only saw one show and it was entertaining (singing and dancing) . However, we eat late and tended to end up chatting with people at the lobby bar after dinner. Apparently, there is a different show every night and on Sundays a magic show. (everyone gave this show rave reviews but we did not see it as we flew in and out on Sunday)

Rooms: Clean, bright, well maintained – absolutely no complaints.

Mosquitoes/Flies: Yes they showed up in the evening particularly during dusk. I took bug spray with me and made sure to put it on prior to going out in the evening. As a result I only got a couple of bites, my husband got none. Some people did have alot of bites. So I highly recommend you bring bug spray and make sure to use it in the evenings. I spoke to people from another resort further down the beach and they also said the mosquitoes were out in the evening.

Pet Peeve: Litterbugs and hotel guests who seem to think it is okay to put their cigarettes out on the beach and then leave the butts behind. All they need to do is keep a plastic drink cup with them, put a bit of sand in the bottom, and then put the cup in the garbage when they leave. As well, I recommend leaving the beach as you found it – clean. Take your garbage with you.

Overall, a very enjoyable experience. I liked Cuba and hope to return again one day. However, so many places to see, so little time….

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