Trip Operator: We booked through exit.ca and our operator was Conquest. In terms of price we got a good deal. Let me mention this, our Skyservice flight was rescheduled to 7am two days prior to departure. Our friends booked through Sun Wing and had a stop-over in Caya Coco. Keep in mind the flight to Varadero is only about 3 hours so a stop-over seems an unnecessary inconvenience.
Weather: We arrived on November 4th and the first two days were a bit cool and windy but the remainder of the week was my ideal weather, mid to high 20s, not humid, nice breeze and sunny. Keep in mind that the storm season ends in October, November should be OK but next time I’ll be waiting for mid-November.
Hotel Building: This is an older building and is showing some of its age. Although management has done its best to keep it up to date. They were actually renovating the ocean view resorts while we were there and painting the outside of some of the occupied resorts. If you’re looking for a beautiful looking resort this isn’t the place to go as there are a number of modern resorts in Varadero and more currently being built. There is free internet access available at Breezes, at the time we were there 1 PC was working and internet speed is about the speed of dialup.
Recreation: chess/checkers, small library, pool table, foosball table (in decent condition), ping-pong table, paddle boats (non-functioning at the time), kayaks.
Bars: The majority of bar bin stock are no named brands, although they did have Canadian Club for those who are a fan. Most of the bartenders on the resort took their time and made their drinks well.
Staff: The staff are extremely friendly and they don’t expect a tip which makes tipping them that much easier. Some staff members that I’ll remember, Yadina and Barbero at the lobby bar. Noel at the grill. Humberto at the omelette station. Brian the entertainer.
Food: A number of reviews I have read complain about the food in Cuba but I have to say that the food was good. I would by no means say the food was excellent but it was enjoyable. The restaurants consist of 1 buffet, 1 grill, 1 a-la-carte (which is the venue for 2 different restaurants). Our friends that were staying at another resort were disappointed with their food; they were at a newer resort and paid about $100 more for the week. We had lobster our last night there which was excellent. See Humberto for awesome omelettes at breakfast and Noel at the grill for burgers, sausages and chicken.
Cleanliness of Rooms: Excellent. Our rooms were cleaned meticulously everyday. We gave our cleaners something everyday, such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, disposable razors and children’s toys.
Pool: There is 1 large pool and a hot tub within 10 feet of the pool. Unfortunately no pool bar.
Tipping and Gifts: The Cubans very much appreciate toiletries and small gifts. Things to consider bringing: soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, clothing, perfumes, makeup, children’s toys. The warm nature of Cubans makes giving gifts or tips so easy and the gratitude they show just warms your heart.
Beach: I have to say that Varadero’s beaches are the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to as of yet. I am comparing to U.K., Mexico, Philippines, Hawaii and a number of US states. The waters are crystal clear, perfect temperature and the sand is not polluted with litter.
Mopeds: Awesome. These things top out at 80km and they’re a blast. They can be rented for 24 pesos for 24 hours; other time slots are available as well. They provide 1 litre of gas and you are expected to return it with 1 litre, there are gas stations not too far from Breezes. As far as I found all the prices were the same but the condition of the mopeds does vary, the second one I rented topped out at 60 and that was due to engine condition. There isn’t too much traffic in Varadero so that’s one less thing to worry about. If you’re responsible you shouldn’t have much to worry about, keep an eye out for potholes they can shake you up a bit.
Clubs: Before I get specific what you must understand is that if you’re looking for the type of party that you experience in Cancun Mexico, Varadero will not compare. This is not to say that partyers are not around and that a good time cannot be had but you won’t see Varadero on anyone’s top 10 party cities. Unfortunately we did not have a chance to try out the clubs in Havana but we were told there a much better party in Varadero.
La Rumba – Price: 5 pesos. Beer: 1 peso. Located about 2 blocks from the Breezes resort. We somehow ended up at this club twice, although once would be more than enough. The actual venue is really nice, the club sits on a hill and faces the ocean for an amazing view. There is also a wall just outside the club where they’ll let you sit and enjoy the view and the breeze. It was probably the largest club, in terms of square footage, we went to. Unfortunately the crowd and the music don’t carry as much of an appeal as the venue. Music was mainstream hip hop, r&b and reggaeton. It was one of the few clubs that did not have a live band prior to the party starting. If you think the washroom attendants are aggressive about getting their tips in Toronto, you’re in for a shock. More than 90% of the people in the club were tourists – a large number from Toronto – so it didn’t bring the liveliness that some of the other clubs did.
Club 62 – Price: Free. Drinks: pricey. This place isn’t really a club. It is a bar with a stage and a small dance floor. There was a live band playing till about 12 which was cool. This place is open and faces a small street so the majority of people are dancing or chilling on the street. If you want to listen to live music before heading out to a club you can drop by this place. Drinks are pricier as there is no cover charge, but be forewarned there not made very well.
La Composita – Price: 10 pesos, drinks included. By far the best club we went to. This club has a live band till about 12:30 or 1 and then the stage becomes a dance floor. The music ranged from reggaeton, latin, reggae, house/techno and a few classic rock songs. This club has an open roof and has an elevated stage with tables and chairs on the lower level looking up at the stage. The crowd is a good mix of tourists and locals. A warning to the females you have to tip the washroom attendant to get toilet paper a bad tip means one square. Saturday is their busiest night.
The Cave: – Price: 10 pesos, drinks not included. Beer: 1 peso. This club is actually built within a natural cave, so it was something I think is worth checking out. Unfortunately it also meant ventilation wasn’t that good and there was a sort of mold odour. There was a live performance till about 12:30, it was probably one of the better performances we saw, the performers were in full costume and even if you didn’t like the music the show was entertaining. The music consisted of reggaeton, reggae and latin. Again a warning the washroom attendant is really aggressive about getting a tip. We were told Monday night is the best night to be there.
Havana: Havana was an interesting place with a real view of the Cuban culture and history. We rented a cab and driver for 140 pesos which seems to be the going rate. Drive took about 2 hours; we left about 9am and came back to Varadero around 6pm. You can take a tour bus for 70 pesos per person if you want to have a tour guide give you a more informed tour.