> Destinations > Cuba > Trip Reports > Trip Report
Stayed at Superclubs Puntarena for 2 weeks Jan. 20 - Feb. 3, 2003 and very much enjoyed it.
We were a little worried about the hotel after reading some of the negative reviews. I do not understand some of the bad reviews unless people were expecting a 5 star resort.
The Rooms: Paradiso tower had only the first 3 floors open as they were supposedly renovating the other floors. Rooms were basic but clean. TV had CNN, ESPN, HBO and another english channel as well as spanish and german channels. Soap seemed to be in short supply for a few days. I asked the maid for another bar and she had none. I then checked with the other maid on our floor and she had only 1 bar left which she gave me. I guess everyone else was out of luck. Next day we had only a little scrap left but after that there was always new bars in our room. We tipped the maid money, shampoo, make-up, Motrin ect. and she seemed very appreciative and left fresh flowers in our room almost daily. We had booked a canal view room but were given an ocean view, which was a nice bonus. Our biggest complaint was the beds. They were soft and the springs were starting to poke through which meant stiff and sore backs the next morning but they were far better than the hard rocks that we have experienced at 2 different resorts in Mexico.
The Hotel: The pool was huge and very clean but cool. You could always find a chair. There is a pool bar that is open until 10:30 PM. The grounds were very well groomed and had many large palms. No complaints here. There were 2 bars and the disco in the Puntarena tower and 1 bar in the paradiso tower. The bar staff for the most part, were friendly and getting a drink was quite fast compared to the lines that we have experienced in Mexico. Most times the bartenders seemed to know who was next to serve. Some nights the disco was quite fun but it never was really busy. Bring an insulated mug so your drink stays cold and the little plastic cups are such a waste.
The Food: We were very happy with the buffet. There was a good selection and most of the food was very good. Some of the items were strange, like peas and carrots in the scrambled eggs and chic peas for breakfast but it was tasty. The bacon was the best I have ever had. Many buffets get repetitive but after 2 weeks here, we were not tired of the food. Excellent shrimp and mussels and a good selection of meat except beef which was chewy and tough when they had it. The exception was the Cuban shredded beef. Very good. The deserts were excellent and they had 15 or so items to choose from. No dried out cake and jello like some places. The Chinese a la carte was all right but the portions small and was Chinese in name only. Many people liked the Casa Blanca but I ordered beef (big mistake) and was not thrilled. They opened a Cuban a la carte in the paradiso tower the second week we were there. It was different but good. Our only complaint was that the food in all restaurants and buffet was often cold and getting a knife and fork was difficult sometimes. A waiter told us that they were short of utensils. The 24-hour cafeteria was very good for sandwiches, fries etc. The cook/waiter who worked the graveyard shift was like the soup nazi from a Seinfeld episode. Was funny to watch him serve people. Also don't miss the fresh squeezed Orange juice in the ice cream parlor. Many people didn't seem to know about this.
The Beach: Very long and wide but the sand was not the nicest. Also you could not go in the water very far before it was up to your neck. Plenty of chairs and privacy if you want it. The beaches get better as you go closer to town.
Entertainment: Some of the evening shows were very good while others were rather boring. Not bad overall.
Havana: This is a must. We took the Viazul bus for $20.00 US return. If you take Viazul get off at the first stop in Havana, which is in the old city or you will have to back track to see this area. We walked all over the city and never felt unsafe. You will be approached by guys, who will ask where you are from and no matter what city you say, they will have a friend there. They will try to sell you cigars etc., will ask where you are going or if you need a place to stay and will want to show you around for a few $. You have to firmly tell them, no thank you, or they will follow you trying to chat. In the tourist areas of the old city there were police on the corners but off the beaten track we hardly saw the police. Contrary to some other reviews we never saw anyone getting arrested for talking to tourists. I believe some people have a problem with the political system and write reviews making the place sound terrible. We walked to the Vidado area, which is full of turn of the century mansions and found a Casa Particular ( like a B&B ) for the night. Huge beautiful mansion but was falling apart like so much of Havana. Family was very friendly and it was an experience staying in a Cuban household. We were suprised there was no toilet seat. We were told that most toilet seats were stamped with "American Standard" brand name and Castro ordered them all destroyed so many homes still have no seats. Not sure if this was true or not. Next day we caught the bus back to Varadero. Amazing and busy city. The wawa buses are funny to see but they get people around.
Noise: The doors slam non-stop it seems at the Puntarena. If you are a light sleeper be prepared for little sleep. If people would only quitely close the doors. The maids also yell down the halls at each other all morning.
Overall, we would return to the Puntanea if we got another cheap last minute deal (www.escapes.ca) but the noise is the major downfall at this hotel. The staff and Cuban people in general are the upside.
Any questions email me.
p.s. the refinery smell was briefly noticed a few times. We were told it was closing and sure enough one of the towers came down while we were there. Not a major problem but would be nice to see it close.
Thanks to Hudson for this trip report ...