> Destinations > Cuba > Trip Reports > Trip Report
January 10-17, 2003
We flew with Skyservice out of Winnipeg. The flight was on time leaving Winnipeg and on time into Varadero. Leaving Varadero our flight was 1 hr late but this was due to bad weather in Winnipeg. There is NO room on the skyservice flights, they must have packed a few extra rows of seats on the plane. Very cramped, I felt sorry for tall people.
If you wish to use the bathrooms in the airport there is no toilet paper so bring some. There is also someone sitting outside/inside the bathroom waiting for a tip,
We then took a 15-20 min bus ride to the Hotel. There were beers available on the bus for about $2.00 US, which was worth it to us at the time. However, the guy serving the drinks was just buying them at the store outside the airport, so you could probably just get them yourself and save a few bucks.
There was about 10 of us checking in here, so check-in was not too bad. The reception staff we terrible. They first lied to us telling us that the bungalow we booked was having electrical problems and would maybe be fixed by the next day (they had obviously overbooked, as everyone else we talked to were told the same story and we given a suite). So we took the suite for the night, which was quite nice, but one of the reasons we booked there was for the bungalows. We made sure we got a bungalow the next day and took a look at it first. Ours was very nice and we chose to move (since we paid extra for it anyways). Others said they looked at bungalows and found that they were awful, dirty and dingy. So my advice is to look at the bungalow first. We had bungalows 107 and 108(both very clean and nice)
We were also not told about the $10.00 deposit to use that safe and also for towels, so we made several trips back and forth between our room and reception.
Grounds were nice, lots of trees, and the gardener was probably the hardest worker at the whole resort. You could tell the age though
There is one main pool that is very large, we never actually swam in the pool as we preferred the ocean. Looks nice though.
One thing that was really dumb, is the bar right in the middle of the pool area, but it is not a swim up bar? you actually have to get out of the pool to get a drink.
We were lucky to get a nice bungalow close to the beach. There was a short walk to the hotel area, but we preferred to be a little secluded, as it was very quiet. We had our own little path to the beach, where it was very quiet and not as busy as the beach area closer to the hotel. A great experience in comparison to staying in the hotel. We had our own little patio with chairs and table. We enjoyed having a few drinks and playing cards here or just reading a book. The bungalows were decorated beautifully. We had a larger "living room" area with a couch/pullout bed, two chairs a table and tv. The entrance was a good are to leave sandy shoes and beach stuff and the fridge was here as well. The only thing we did not get was the fact that the hotel does not stock the fridges with pop/beer as were were accustomed to at other All Inclusive resorts. They gave us a only a bottle of water daily. The bedroom was larger although our bed consisted of 2 single beds pushed together (the same as we had in the suite) wasn't a big deal but would have preferred the king bed. Our friends in the next bung did get a king bed and a very cool outdoor shower that was surrounded in glass. Did notice some small ants, but they didn't bother us and do not leave things outside on your patio, we got a pair of sandals stolen. No big deal but when we went to report it everyone pretended they had no idea what we were talking about and kept passing us off to other staff which got to the same place we started out. Oh well
Catamaran Tour 70.00 US. Consisted of free drinks(beer and rum based drinks only), snorkling(ok) lobster/shrimp/chicken lunch(awesome). You also had the option to purchase your own full lobster for 10.00 US(a lot of people did this, but there was plenty of the lobster tails that you got anyways for you lunch to go around). We stopped at a very nice beach for about 1 hour and then the ride back there was better music and games. Worth the money, we had fun. Oh, we also got to watch the dolphin show before leaving, about a 15 mins show.
We did not do any other tours but we did rent mopeds on 2 occasions, a great thing to do when it is too cloudy to sit on the beach. About 15.00 for 3 hours, you can sit 2 people on one. A great way to see the towns and the other hotels.
We also went golfing at the 18 hole course. It is a beautiful course pretty straight not too difficult, we had a deal with our hotel for 55.00 CDN, otherwise it was 60.00 US if you pay at the course. Mandatory to rent a golf cart(wouldn't have don't it without it!) 30.00 US
The beach was awsome, very nice lots of room, lots of chairs. The water was crystal clear. They seemed to rake the beach every few days as well which was nice.
We did not find food bland at all, although we did bring spices just in case. We never did have to pull them out though.
They say that you have to make reservations 24 hours ahead of time for the ala carte restaurants, this is true most days, but if you ask them during the day for that night and they have room, they will fit you in. I cannot say enough about the Chinese restaurant. The BEST!! Amazing and the staff were great they even let us take a few bottles of wine with us to enjoy on the beach.
Cuban BBQ- This was ok, the only place outside you could enjoy dinner with a band playing so that was nice. There was a shrimp/lobster/fish special that was apparently very good. The pork was also good but we ate enough of that at lunch.
Italian- Pretty good restaurant, the entrees were a little off, but still tasty. The tirimasu and the bruchetta appetizers were worth it though. I had ravioli(ok), my husband had lasagna(he loved it). Too bright in there they need to turn off some lights to create a better atmosphere.
Buffet: Breakfast was good, however lunch and dinner were essentially the same for both meals everyday. You could get by eating there, but we avoided it at all costs.
The breads, pastries, coffee and desserts we amazing though.
There was another bbq type restaurant on the way to the beach. Our first day we were a little turned off by the "look" of the place, but got by that and tried the food. Not bad. Everyday they served hamburgers(which we think were pork burgers), hot dogs, french fries(greasy). Then every second day they would grill up pork chops and beans and rice. It was pretty good, but not sure how sanitary this place was.
We never did end up at the "fun club". It was kind of small and enclosed inside, so it got very smoky. It also does not open until 10. We preferred to be outside, but we soon found out that the outside bars close early! The bar right on the beach said they were open until 10:00, but they seemed to close around dinner time, and the pool bar closed a 9:00(it was a nice place to spend the night too bad they close so early though) So we sometimes ended up inside at the bar. We did not discover the small bar outside the "show" area until a few days in. This is a much nicer place to sit than the main lobby bar, not as crowded, and better service.
One nice surprise that we found was the there was no surcharge on premium drinks, like canadian club etc...
If you like Caesars don't forget to bring Clamato juice, the tomato juice isn't that great, but by the end of the trip we had one of the waitresses making a pretty good one!
The service from the bar/rest staff was good. The maid service was excellent, different arrangments daily. Our maid was Ada. We left her our shampoo etc at the end of the trip.
We did have a pair of sandals swiped from our patio though,
There was a crappy singer that started at 8:00 nightly, which we never went to, and the actual show started kind of late around 10 -10:30. We never did go though, the shows at the Melia Varadero looked good, more professional.
It gets cool in the evenings, so bring a sweater to pull on. Our weather was good for the most part, although we did have about 3 days of cloudy weather, and some rain.
We would return to Cuba, but we might try the newer resort areas next time, like cayo coco or holquin.
Overall not a bad hotel, but I would not return to this particular property. This hotel does not deserve a 4 start rating it should only be rated as a 3 star, because compared to our stay at the Barcelo Maya(definitely worth its 4/ 41/2 start rating) in the Mayan Rivera it did not compare at all.
Thanks to Candice for this trip report ...