> Destinations > Cuba > Trip Reports > Trip Report
I have just returned from a 7 day World of Vacations getaway to
Superclubs Puntarena, Varadero, Cuba.
I initially chose Puntarena for a number of reasons, not least of which
was its variety of activities and restaurants, a well-equipped gym, its
close proximity to a huge beach and fairly economical rates. I was quite
happy with my accommodation at the resort even though, it turned out,
there were some areas of grave concern with regards to safety.
On Wednesday, February 4, I returned from a daytrip to Havana to find
the hotel in darkness and very smoky. There had been an electrical fire
in the elevator – which never operated with any regularity from the day
I arrived. After I had been nearly trapped in one of the elevators on my
second day in the hotel I resigned to use the outside stairway during my
stay. Upon entering, hotel staff ushered me to my room with instructions
to pack up immediately as we were being evacuated to other
accommodations further down the strip.
The hallway was dark. The room was dark. There was no emergency power or
temporary lighting. My room was filled with smoke and I was forced to
endure these unpleasant conditions while rummaging around in the
darkness for as many belongings as I could feel. Those I did manage to
retrieve have smoke damage. Every piece of clothing, every suitcase,
every souvenir and gift…all smell of rancid smoke. Even after returning
to Canada and washing everything, they still smell foul.
Even though each room was equipped with a smoke detector – I later
discovered from friends who were in their black smoke-filled rooms, that
no alarms were activated. There were no sprinklers. There was no
emergency lighting. When they ventured into the hallway, staff actually
instructed them to return to their room and stay there. It was chaos.
Once we gathered outside, we were herded into awaiting buses and taken
to a new resort. At first this sounded acceptable. Later I was to
discover that it was far from an ideal situation.
It was the next morning when I realized that I had lost touch with many
friends I had made at Puntarena. I assumed that we would all be
evacuated to the same resort. This didn’t happen. Five friends had
instantly disappeared into tourist hell.
In the following days I was to discover that my room had no satellite TV
channels and insufficient air conditioning. In addition, Villa Cuba was
a long walk from a very small beach area and had an awful gym room with
no cardio equipment. These were some of the main reasons for initially
choosing Puntarena. For example, I enjoyed working out on a daily basis
at the gym there. I realize that the Puntarena fire was an unforeseen
event – however, four or five floors were completely uninhabitable
because of renovations. I seriously question the ability of the resort
to adequately ensure the complete safety of its guests when over 60% of
the building was closed down, and the remaining 40% had inadequate or
malfunctioning safety and fire equipment.
While the move to Villa Cuba was necessary because of the fire damage at
Puntarena, it was far from ideal.
Thanks to Anon for this trip report ...