Old Reviews – Paradisus Princesa del Mar

A friend and I vacationed at the Princesa del Mar for 1 week from April 11-18, 2008. This was our 15th trip south, our 4th to Cuba and our 3rd  to Varadero. Although we did not book this resort directly but were ‘bumped’ upon arrival at the Varadero Airport, we felt very lucky to end up at this fine resort. We went from a 3.5 star resort to one of the top 5 star resorts in Varadero. Overall rating 8.5/10

Note: We were a little concerned about the weather before we went cause we heard reports it was bad this spring. Well the week we were there it was great.

Check-in was a little busy as there were quite a few of us from our flight who ended up at this resort but overall it really did not take too long before we were in our room. Check-out was a breeze. Walked up handed over the room key cards, booked the Hospitality room and that was it.

Room- We were given room 1116, a ground floor Jr Suite in Building 1 which was close enough to everything but still far away as not to be bothered by noise. Oceanview would probably be available on the 3rd floor. The room was a good size with nice dark wood furniture. The Balcony had a nice patio table/chair set and overlooked a quiet park like area. A nice quiet spot for morning coffee. There were 4 bath towels in our room everyday and 2 bathrobes in the closet for our use. Beach towels are in the room upon arrival as well as an umbrella. (Which we never had to use) We had hot water with good pressure no matter when we showered. There was lots of closet and drawer space for us and there was a included programmable safe. The maid did a good job keeping our room clean. The only things we had  problems with was that we had to get after them for the minibar to be replenished the first couple of days and there was no fan in the room and the A/C only worked so-so.  Room – 8.5/10

Layout- The Princesa resort is a newer smaller resort close to the end tip of Varadero. Nothing was far away with no more then a 5 min walk from the beach to the lobby. Off one side of the lobby down a set of stairs was the courtyard area with a Cigar Bar, Piano Bar, bank, shop, game room, and 4 a la carte restaurants. Straight ahead from the lobby also down a set of stairs was the grand pool area with a swim-up bar and plenty of loungers with nice pads. To one side of the pool is the buffet and the other is the spa. There is also a 24 hour snack/bar, the Racket Club, (where I’d go for morning coffee) just down the walkway on the buffet side from the pool and a 5th a la carte down the walkway behind the spa. Down the center of the resort is the walkway leading to the beach and the Port Royal Bar restaurant. The only draw back for us was the fact that the pool area is near the lobby and not the beach. This meant  we only made it to the beach a couple of times, and never to stay for any length of time. Layout 9/10

Staff – Since this is a smaller resort one gets to know the staff and they get to know you. Most of the staff were very efficient and pleasant. Empty glasses were constantly being picked up and the bar areas were kept very clean and tidy. There was no language problems here at all but they really do appreciate you trying to speak to them in Spanish. Most of the staff were very friendly and even as you passed them on the pathways would greet you with an ‘Hola’. A lot of the staff even took the time to ask you how you were.  We would have to say this was some of the best overall service we have received from a resort vacation. Staff 9.5/10

Buffet– We only did breakfast and lunch at the buffet and for these two meals we found the selection at the buffet very good even though it was basically the same every day. They had the best selection of veggies and desserts I’ve ever seen at a resort. At lunch they had several grilling stations for fish, beef, hamburgers, and hotdogs. All done the way you like them. I did walk through a couple nights and the dinner buffet looked good as well. Service here for us was great – the servers got to know us and would even have a table for us when they saw us walk in. Liuba was very good. She took great care of us, even bringing us a glass of ice for our water and always checking to see if we needed anything else. Dishes were always cleared away and our glasses were never empty. There was Champagne and Orange Juice as you entered the buffet for every meal.  The buffet had linen napkins and table cloths and its own bar. Buffet – 8.5/10

A La Cartes – There are 5 dinner a la cartes here. I went right over the first morning there and made reservations for all 5. I had to wait in line for about 15-20 mins but no problem.  I also went back later in the week to make another 2 bookings with no problem. We ended up doing all 7 of our evening meals at the a la cartes.  The menus at the a la cartes were somewhat limited but we could have visited each one more then once and still been ok.

The Racket Club also does a la carte meals through out the day with no reservations. We only did breakfast here once and it was good but it can be quite busy and therefore slow.  The menu did however have a good selection. Our server kept us supplied with Mimosas and coffees while we waited for our food. 8.5/10

The Oriental restaurant , Bamboo, was one of our favs. We ate here twice and both times were nice leisurely evenings with good food and service. The second time there we got the same server and table and he remembered us. Food wise everything we had was good, from chicken skewers, calamari, and spring rolls for appetizers, to the soup course, to the pork, salmon and our fav the Curry Shrimp Noodles for our main courses. The fried rice that comes with most main course was great! Portions were very good and in fact a little too much.  9/10

Our 1st and last nights we ate at the French Restaurant, Marseille. Both times were very nice; the food was good and the service great. Main courses even come out with covers that are removed at the table. They have French Wine included and the bottle is left at your table.  A selection of  desserts are brought around on a cart, or you can order a cheese plate. They also have a drink cart.  The last night a lady came to play the piano before we finished and it was a nice topper to end our vacation. I mean really what could be better for your last dinner then to sit in a nicely decorated restaurant with good food, wine and service listening to piano music. If we didn’t have a bus to catch we could have spent another hour there lingering over coffee and after dinner drinks.  8.5/10

The Italian Restaurant, Firenze, was another nice evening out. The food and service were both very good and there were musicians playing. There is a good selection of bread in a basket on your table and an appetizer plate is brought to the table almost as soon as you sit down. The Red wine was again brought and left at the table. The Tiramisu for dessert was very good.  8/10

The Rock House was the Cuban a la carte. This restaurant is set off by itself and is open air and small. I was a little leery of going because the night before I overheard people saying it was horrible. Well I’m glad we went. The food was a little different than what we’re used to but it was very good. I had a bowl of soup that was just as good as what I’d get at home. My friend had the Fried Chicken and I had the Fish – both were good. The desserts are a very good bite size serving and quite good. Service here once again was very good. 8/10

The Japanese restaurant, Sakura, was a different experience. You sit at a table of 8 with the Chef cooking your main course right in front of you which means it can get quite warm. It is entertaining to watch the Chef as he cooks. The one we had explained what he was cooking as he went and made a show of it. Appetizers and desserts are brought around separately. For appetizers we had the Tempura and the Sushi – both were good. Main course consisted of fried rice, fried veggies, chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, and calamari. The food here was very good but be prepared for huge portions and a leisurely paced evening. 8.5/10 Things of Note about the Princesa

  • There were no towel cards – beach towels were in our room.
  • There are no bracelets.
  • There was a good selection of international drinks at all bars. Although no true Bailey’s most of the time they do have other knockoffs that are quite good. Single Malt Scotch was usually available at the Lobby Bar.
  • In the evenings they had different singers in the courtyard area. Bar Service was available in the courtyard area during these times.
  • The Cigar Bar and Piano Bar (non-smoking) were nice spots for before or after dinner drinks. Most nights neither were very busy. The Lobby Bar area seemed busier.
  • Shade Umbrellas for around the pool were available at the towel shack and the staff would carry them over and set them up for you.
  • Pool floats were also available – and were very nice and relaxing to lay on in the pool.
  • We never had a problem finding loungers at the pool, but later in the afternoon it did get busier.
  • Activities such as Wine Tasting and Sushi Making were held daily in the courtyard area and there was a Cuban show (music, dancing and games) around the pool. All were in the late afternoon.
  • There were Hammocks throughout the property and benches along the walkways.
  • There was self serve Champagne, Orange Juice and pastries available in the lobby all day.
  • They did seem to run out of various things through out the week at various bars. Certain brand is there one day but not the next. But no big deal for us.
  • Some walkways were not well lit.

As with the Punta Cana Princess that we stayed at in January some of the best assets with the Princesa is its size, the friendly smiling staff, a la carte choices, good International brands, and the fact that it is Adults Only. We could have easily stayed for two weeks no problem. The Princesa was right up there with the 4 ½ and 5 star resorts we have vacationed at in the DR and Mexico. Overall we had a very good  week at the Princesa and it is one of the top 3 resorts we have stayed at so far. We would recommended it to anyone wanting a top resort in Varadero.

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