> Destinations > Cuba > Trip Reports > Trip Report
Our family (2 adults and 2 kids aged 4 and 6) travelled to the Hotel Tryp Peninsula Varadero from January 31/04 to February 7/04. We have travelled to Cuba three times in the past three years, previously to Sol Luna Mares (Holguin) and Melia Cayo Guillermo.
Layout of the Hotel
The hotel itself is fairly new and beautifully maintained. Rooms are set up in clusters of 2 and 3 storey buildings. Gardens and water features are gorgeous.
The hotel is fairly spread-out but not unmanageable. There are carts available to pick up and drop off, but it can be hard to catch a ride when you need one. The Castle area is nearest to the kids' pools and playgrounds, but pretty far from anywhere else. To be closer to the beach and pool, you will want to ask for either the Laguna or Jardin areas.
The hotel is pretty much on one level and is ramped wherever there are stairs which makes it wheelchair and stroller friendly.
The adult pool is no more than five feet deep, and has a swim-up bar.
Our room was huge and very clean. It had a separate closet area and a couch/coffee table in addition to the usual desk and TV stand. The bathroom had a separate shower and bathtub, and the bathtub had a lovely large handshower which made bathing the kids a breeze.
They added two cots for the kids, and even with the existing two beds we still had room to move around.
Two kids' areas:
- Baby pool - very shallow with slide into the water, alligator that squirts water, jungle gym set, riding toys, etc.
- Kids pool - deeper with two slides, squiring alligator and other pool features, and a huge climbing/sliding area in the shape of a pirate ship, as well as a smaller jungle gym and swings.
Between the two areas is the Children's Corner. It does not serve alcoholic drinks (closest bar is in the lobby/reception area) but does serve cold drinks (water, pop, lemonade) as well as snacks (pizza, french fries, croquettes).
My kids loved the pool areas and really enjoyed being able to go and ask for drinks and snacks on their own.
There are two separate kids clubs - a baby club (up to age 4) and mini-club (5-12). Even though my youngest was 4, she preferred to be with the older kids and they accommodated her.
The mini-club club was a bit lacking when we first got there (Arnet who runs the mini-club was away) but improved significantly in the latter part of the week upon her return. Grace (who's 4) got to be baby Simba in the Lion King production number, as well as take part in a kids-only version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" and a fashion show. She had a blast practicing and getting dressed up. There were also trips to the dolphin show (extra cost $14) and a catamaran ride scheduled. A mini-disco with kids' songs/shows was held each night at 8:30pm.
We thought the food was very good, especially for Cuba. The buffet food was well-prepared, fresh and always being replenished - it was definitely a solid 4 star. The a la carte restaurants were even better - definitely 4 1/2, maybe even 5.
For breakfast the choices are:
- Buffet - usual omelettes, bacon, pancakes, eggs, fruit, yogourt, cereal, as well as cold cuts and cheeses. They might have varied this a bit more (e.g. french toast instead of pancakes one day) but was well-prepared and stocked. We brought our own Cheerios because that's all my daughter eats and we've never seen them in Cuba.
- La Gondola restaurant also serves breakfast. You get to order and be served, but the menu options are shorter - there are still the basic bacon & eggs, cereal, fruit, etc. It's a nice location (near the lagoon) and a lot quieter than the buffet.
- Buffet - we never had lunch here so I can't comment
- La Laguna (Ranchon) Grill - the restaurant closest to the beach. Pasta and paella bars; hot dog and hamburger station; as well as a short menu with chicken, pork, fish, etc. (all served with fries). The fried calamari were excellent and there was also a salad bar and serve yourself ice cream.
- El Saoco - poolside snack bar. Similar to beach grill but more limited menu and no salad bar.
- La Gondola - pizza and pasta. Pizza is very good as is the pasta. My son loved the macaroni bolognese and I enjoyed the seafood pasta and the canelloni with tuna.
- Buffet included: large salad bar; excellent bread; grill with chicken, pork, fish and occasional red meat; pasta bar; carvery (turkey and roast beef when we were there); a stirfry-type station (chicken once and calamari another time); as well as 2-3 types of cooked vegetables and 2-3 types of potatoes. There are also a variety of cured meats and cheeses and other types of appetizers. One night they had Spanish-style tapas with incredible potatoes and mussels. Ice cream was always available - desserts were okay but nothing special. I found the fruit here (as on our previous visits to Cuba) less than great - usually under-ripe and tasteless.
- La Laguna restaurant (requires reservations). This has a pre-set menu (no choices) so you might want to check out the menu in advance when you book (all restaurant menus are posted outside the business centre). The night we were there it was pea soup (okay); grilled lobster (fabulous) and pork tenderloin (good).
- La Gondola (requires reservations). Menu similar to lunch with a few additions. The shrimp brochette is quite wonderful as is the seafood pasta.
- El Tocororo (requires reservations). Food is beautifully presented and has wonderful flavours; great romantic atmosphere.
- El Arecife (requires reservations). This is the poolside snack bar which turns into a creperie at night. Crepes were excellent - mushroom with bacon and cheese, and for dessert - crepes with ice cream and crepes with apple and cinnamon.
Reservations for the a la carte restaurants are made through the business centre. There are two seatings (6:30 and 9:00) for all restaurants except the creperie, which has only one seating at 8pm. We managed to each at all four a la cartes, but we did hear that people had trouble booking later in the week.
Lots of palapas and chairs. Sand was a bit coarser and browner than elsewhere we've stayed in Cuba, but still wonderful. Water was beautifully turquoise and warm. It had a sandy bottom as you entered (great for kids). The shell collecting was amazing.
My husband and son did the hotel's snorkelling trip - they bring you out the island you see from the beach on a catamaran and you stop for snorkelling. We also took out the paddle boat and booked a catamaran ride (1/2 hour) which we really enjoyed.
- Never had a problem getting spots by the pool or at the beach.
- Service was professional and friendly, if less personally warm that we've experienced elsewhere. On the upside, it was also more efficient - orders were taken and food/drinks delivered promptly; and with one exception the room was always kept in great order.
- The animation team was so low-key as to be almost non-existent - which can be either an advantage or disadvantage depending on your point of view.
- Nightly shows (started at 9:30) all seemed very similar (Latin Night, Caribbean Night, Cuban Night, Farmer's Show).
A few improvements:
- "Regular" coffee (caffe americano/caffe con leche) was awful; but cappucino and espresso were great. Cappucinos were available almost everywhere except for the buffet (you'll have to go the lobby bar for it)
- TV stations did not match the ones listed in the service directory. Two days into our stay the Toon Disney changed from English to Spanish; and they had two channels each of Showtime and Discovery Channel showing the exact same thing. We didn't watch much TV so we didn't bother complaining about it.
- Internet access is in a poky room and limited to 9am-5pm. Elsewhere we've been it's been in the lobby which afforded it a nicer atmosphere and longer hours.
Overall, we had a wonderful time at this hotel and would definitely say it rates 4 1/2 stars. The facilities for kids are particularly good.
Thanks to Rosalie for this trip report ...