Our room was on the 7th floor with 2 twin (very comfortable) beds, I shared a room with my daughter. The décor was bright but the hotel is in need of upgrading in lots of ways, I would rate it a 3 star. Despite the lovely photo of the huge pool in the brochure, we only had use of ½ of it as the other side was closed off and completely drained. The resort next door, that was split from our side to be renamed the Caleta, was under renovation whilst we were there and was shut down to guests and empty. We heard lots of banging, etc, but it didn’t really bother us, we were far enough away. So here is my personal opinion of the resort.
Location: At the end of the ‘strip’, to the left is the canal entrance so you can only really go one way. A double decker bus runs from one end of the strip to the other, about a 45 minute ride. We took advantage of it, 5 pesos for unlimited hop on and offs, we took it right to the end and got off at various markets on the way back.
Beach: Very wide, lots of loungers and shade, we were the only ones on it on many occasions. My daughter got stung or bit by something in the shallow water, (think it was a crab) so do a shoe shuffle when going into the ocean or wear water sandals. Great view of the sunset, to the left of us was a small pier which always had people on it, presumably locals going fishing.
Food: Oh dear, yes, I know I never went to Cuba for the food, but it was a challenge to find something to eat that didn’t have a load of flies on it, whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Breakfast was o.k., even though we went for it at varying times throughout the week, the bacon pan was always empty, I asked on two occasions if it could be filled up and both times it wasn’t after a ½ hour wait, so I gave up asking. Lunch was at the beach hut, every day was the same, fish (with the head still on), chicken, pork, hamburger and French fries. There were a few salad variations, only saw lettuce once the whole week, always with flies all over them, and baked desserts, again, fly fodder. Personally I have trouble with flies crawling all over something I intend to eat, so my choice daily was French fries, I presumed they would be safe to eat.
Dinner was almost identical every night, some shrimp, chicken, fish and other dishes I couldn’t quite identify. There were also bread rolls and soup. The coffee machine ran out of dehydrated milk constantly, we had to ask almost daily for that to be refilled so we could pour a cup. We visited the Italian restaurant and the International one, not bad, nothing memorable though. Service in both places was rather surly, and despite tons of empty tables, the reservation desk wouldn’t let people do same day bookings, saying it was full! Occupancy was at 10%, so I heard, so we never got the all day snack bar at all, the indoor buffet restaurant was always closed for lunch, forcing people to the beach hut to eat, and there was nowhere to get a snack between 10.30 and 11.45 p.m. so after the shows you were out of luck if you wanted something to eat before you went to bed.
Pool: be warned, the smooth tiles surrounding the pool area are extremely slippery when wet, you have to walk like a penguin. No swim-up bar, no problem, the bar was close by. Lots of comfy loungers, beautiful area and kept very clean. Hardly any shade though, they need more umbrellas or canopies.
Staff: On the whole, friendly and pleasant except for the a-la-carte restaurants, not sure why.
Entertainment: We only caught one show as being in the sun and water all day is very tiring, it was well done and worth staying up for. We never made it to the disco, but heard it was good music.
Trips: We went on the jeep Safari, great value for money, it was 4 people to a Jeep and we took turns driving, you have to be able to drive a Standard. We took a tour through the country, stopped for beer, drove a speedboat up the river, had a typical Cuban lunch, rode a horse, and ended up swimming in a cave waterhole with lots of bats flying around. All in all, a great day, cost us 74 pesos each, if you pay by credit card, you will be charged an 11% commission and it will be coverted to US dollars, something to do with using the new tourist peso that the banks can’t process by credit card yet.
Arriving at the airport to come home was much better that the last time we came to Cuba, (to Holguin), the airport in Varadero seems much more organized, and we only had to wait about ½ hour in line to check-in, that’s very good.
Overall, I would not return to this hotel, although I met several people who had stayed several times before. I went here because of timing, etc and got a good price, so for a cheap holiday it’s fine, but I’m usually a 4 star visitor so perhaps I’m a bit spoiled, Cuban people are very friendly though, and much appreciative of anything you give them. They welcome tourists with open arms and I’m glad I took my dollar stores items with me to give out.