Getting There – Pretty boring actually. I expected some adventure but it was all pretty mundane. The bus was late (broken down) so we had to stand outside the airport terminal for about 1 hour while they found a new bus. Made some friends while we waited so it worked out well (Hey Todd and Kasia) The trip to the hotel from the airport was quick. I thought we were going through the government housing but it turned out to be other hotels. Glad I did some homework before I went. The International is the first decent place I saw with an oldstyle entranceway and clean grounds.
Hotel – This must have been the Hotel in its day, Marble floors and counters with a real Grand feel to the lobby, and a quick walk through the lobby and you are on the beach. Not the worst hotel I have seen but it could use a coat of paint.
Staff – The staff were excellent. Juan (bellman) was top notch and was a great resource. Marisa (chambermaid) was very good and always left us some towel art in our room. The barmen were excellent and The line ups were tolerable but a peso in your hand sped things up a bit…which brings me to….
TIPPING – Seriously folks, be somewhat generous with your tips. A peso or 2 is nothing to you or I but it means a lot to the people who work at the resort (if they earn a tip). Take a walk into Veradero to get an appreciation for the poverty these people struggle with each day. Budget a few bucks for tipping you’ll fell better (Gets off soapbox).
Room – Clean room with a nice ocean view (ask for it nicely at check in and you will have a better chance at getting one, try to get the top floor). The hotel is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the bed I had was probably an original but my wife is gorgeous so I didn’t really care. The water pressure is a little lacking but this is Cuba (flush twice).
Beach – This is the best feature at the Hotel. This stretch of beach is right outside the hotel, you don’t have to navigate through endless bugalow buildings and brush to get to the beach. The beach was clean and it was probably the nicest maintained beach at that end of Varadero Beach. The paddle boats were fun and actually easy to use compared to others I have used. The entertainment staff were always engaging people to get involved in something (volley ball and soccer were quite popular)
Pool – Only got to the pool a couple of times and it was cold so we went back to the beach. The pool snack bar did have the best fries which brings me to….
FOOD – This is where the Hotel fell down. The food was bland and reclycled (waste not, want not I guess) but I didn’t lose any weight so I wont complain too loudly.
The a la carte restaurant was OK. I did eat at the snack bar quite a bit (good fries). You may want to bring your own Ketchup as the cuban idea of ketchup isn’t quite the same. The Ice cream is awesome.
Town – Going into town was fun, the double decker bus is a good deal but you can hire a taxi or a handsome cab (horse and buggy) for about the same money if you negotiate. The outdoor markets are fun although it seems to be the same stuff over and over again. But the crafts are of good quality and the value isnt too bad. The Americas mall is really a waste of time unless you like to spend more money than you would at home.
There were a few rooms that did get robbed but that really could happen anywhere if your careless (leaving money in open view etc)
I would recommend this Hotel to anyone and I would stay there again.