After a 40 minute drive to the hotel we had a short wait to check in.This was done quite efficiently although a welcome drink would have been nice whilst waiting!
Our room (4350 Varadero block) was on first impresssion clean and tidy.Yes it was a bit tired and dated but at least we had a remote for the TV! The room served it's purpose well so we had no real complaints here.I had emailed prior to going on holiday to request a specific room but we were told that they were full and couldn't get moved but hey-ho it was only a room!If you have a liquid insect repellant make sure that it can twist as the holes in sockets are vertical as opposed to horizontal.
With regards to the food.We always found there was something for us to eat and only the most fussy of people could complain about the choice.OK some of the food did taste a bit bland but when you have as many guests as this hotel then it is difficult to suit everyone's taste.Plenty of choice for breakfast with freshly made omelettes & fried eggs.Lovely croissants and pancakes too!
Plenty of choices for lunch & dinner.I'm not a great lover of seafood but there always seemed to be a good choice.Our only critiscism of the dining room as that we had to constantly ask for spoons.
We tried the A La Carte restaurants and found that the Mexican seemed the best choice out of the three.
The bars were always well stocked,although a couple of times they did run out of mint (for Mojito's) and at night seemed to always run out of glasses,'tho plastic cups were still vailable to use.We heard of neighbouring hotels running out of drinks, so these were just minor issues for us
We found the beach to be very nice.It was cleaned everyday along the shoreline to lift the natural waste (seaweed etc) It's just a pity that some guests didn't bother about lifting their own waste (plastic cups etc) when there was plenty of litter bins around.The beach was especially lovely when the tide was out and left little "islands" of sand surrounded by very shallow water.This is an excellent beach for letting your "little ones" run around and enjoy themselves. The water is so shallow and lovely and warm too.
The mature garden areas were always well tended by the gardeners working outside in high temperatures.Get them a drink from the bar.They deserve it!
We always found the staff to be very friendly and attentive regardless of wether you gave a tip or not. We did tip from time to time.Not because we were looking for better service or anything like that but just because we thought the staff deserved it.
The entertainment team (Star Friends) were very good.Some of the shows they put on were worth seeing but please bear in mind that this is a hotel entertainment team and not something from the West End.They work hard and do a great job from daytime activities around the pool & on the beach to night time shows in the theatre.
Please remember to take EVERYTHING you might need on holiday as the shops here do not stock a lot of holiday essentials.No rubber rings,Li-Lo's or anything like that.If you like crisps (Pringles etc) then bring your own as the choice on offer here is limited and they taste terrible.I'm just glad we had three tubes of pringles with us! Decent chocolate & peanuts or snacks are also non existent. The shops within the hotel sell a limied choice of items but if you fancy a real Cuban cigar then you are in for a treat.
This was our 5th stay in an Iberostar.It wasn't the best but was by no means the worst.We found it to be excellent value for money (
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
We don't usually like hotel entertainment but the entertainment here was surprisingly good.
The staff were all pleasant and helpful,The food was good,but not a great lot of choice.
The first time we saw the beach it was quite narrow, but what a difference when the tide went out it was absolutely gorgeous.
The only thing to remember is to bring plenty of mosquito repellant as some people who never brought any got bitten.There was a pharmacy in the hotel but it was very expensive to buy things there.
Travel operator: thomas cook
Travel operator: thomas cook
location is nice but a little isolated which is fine if you dont want to go anywhere, but not so good if you do.
staff all very nice people and allways helpful, tipping either you do or you dont it makes no difference they are happy if you do but are not bad if you dont. some times we did some times we did not, the choice is yours.
very good entertainment during the day and night, not pushy though if you dont want to be involved they leave you alone.
night entertainment mainly dancing and singing with the usually games. my wife loved it and will go again.
Travel operator: sunsave.com
Travel operator: first choice
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
Travel operator: First Choice
The food in Cuba seems to be much the same from hotel to hotel. However the food here was better than the food at the hotel we transferred from.
The hotel is on a beach front which when you walk along you can walk to several other hotels. The gardens at this hotel are plush and well maintained. A beautiful setting with established gardens and greenry.
The staff are by far the more pleasant and friendlier than the staff at our first hotel in Cayo Coco. They interact with you a lot more. We made friends with a lovely barman called Edel and the entertainment staff were fantastic.
Entertainment is much the same across the Iberostar chain. We saw the same shows in cuba that we had seen on previous visits to Dom Rep. But at least the involved the audience unlike the hotel we transferred from.
The only reason we wouldnt visit this hotel again for is because we didnt enjoy our cuban experience and decided long before we left that we wouldnt return to Cuba ever again.
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
I've stayed in a 5star hotel in Mauritius and this hotel in my opinion rated much better.
Flight- we went with First Choice and had a great flight. Didn't prebook seats but had no trouble getting seated together. Having your own personal TV is great, especially for the kids as there were games and cartoons which helped pass the long journey. The only problem were the headphones were not so good for our 4 year old's small ears!!
Extra leg room as standard was a real treat and food was lovely.
Check in - no problems, we had e-mailed the hotel and requested a top floor room with a sea view and an extra bed - all requests were met.
Rooms- we were in Varadero block room 4349. Great view, comfy and clean-maids did a super job and left towel swans which our little one loved. The rooms are right near the beach and only a short walk from pool and bars/restaurants. It was a quiet room as well. We heard that the rooms on the ground floor are not so good.
Pool - Lovely and plenty of beds spare. Some people were reserving sunbeds in the shade early on but mostly there were enough for everyone. Service a bit slow at the pool bar but there was a waiter coming round taking orders so you don't even have to get up if you don't want!!
Beach - Wow - this was perfect. Lovely shallow warm water - great for the kids as very safe. When the tide was out it was beautiful with little sand banks all around. Some small fish in the shallow water but not great for snorkeling. Unfortunately most of the sunbeds had gone by 8-8.30am. We were up really early some days as out 4 year old didn't sleep in much and sometimes the beds were gone by 7am!! This is crazy and shouldn't be allowed. It would be nice if the hotel could collect towels up to prevent this. Often we would be on the beach and the reserved beds were not even used until after lunch!! Very unfair!
Food- no complaints here. All the meals were varied and catered for all tastes. Our fussy son even managed to eat well. The pasta bar at night was my favourite but the salads, meat and fish were all lovely. Desserts were a bit repetitive but still plenty to go around. We never suffered from holiday tummy and didn't hear anyone else complaining. Both the al a carte restaurants are nice for a change but there is more choice in the main restaurant.
Bar - great cocktails a plenty here. We tipped occasionally and we always got great service, some more staff might help speed things up though. They didn't always have mint to make Mojitos which is their traditional drink and it's very nice.
Shows - The star friends are fab, fantastic shows and they work really hard. Our son loved the dancing and singing and the staff doted on him. He made loads of friends.
Kids club - a bit disappointing, very small and our little one only got to go once during our stay. It was never open and didn't cater for the smaller children very well. The girl who ran the club did her best but she struggled. I checked on my little one every half an hour and after an hour he wanted to leave as they had only been colouring in and he could do that anywhere. The one good comment I could make is that the club lent us some beach toys for the holiday which was good as they were not sold in the shops there.
Sun - it was very, very hot. There was a nice breeze on the beach but by the pool was scorching. We bought a beach tent for our little one so he could play in the shade - this was a godsend and well worth bringing. We had some rain - 2 afternoon and one night. Boy when it rains it really rains!! It nearly flooded the place! The staff did there best to clean up after it but it did get slippy in places. The thunderstorms are fantastic to watch and it didn't ruin the holiday. The staff tried to organise activities but there were geared towards the adults when really it was the kids who were bored. The adults can read and sit at the bar but there's nothing for the kids when it rains. Perhaps a playroom would have been useful.
Internet - very, very slow, I wouldn't bother unless you really had to.
Phones - used a phone card which as 10pesos and got about 60 seconds to talk to my mum!!
Mobiles did work but sometimes text messages came through immediately and sometimes too a couple of days - very hit and miss!
Trips - we didn't do Havana - disappointing but we decided it was too expensive and too long a day for our 4 year old. Gives me a reason to return to Cuba though!!
We did the Jungle Tour which was ace, a real James Bond experience. The snorkeling at the other end was great, our son enjoyed this trip.
We also went to Moron and Ciego de Avila which are good local towns to visit. Not much to do there though. Our son enjoyed the stop off at the crocodile farm.
Horse-riding - Don't do it. The horses are emaciated despite plenty of grazing. You would be sent to prison in the UK for keeping horses in that condition. I took them some grass which they wolfed down. There were tethered near some makeshift shade yet not within reach of grass or water. I complained to hotel reception but they said it was a private arrangement. I explained it didn't reflect well on the hotel.
Staff - mostly great. We occasionally tipped but got good service regardless. Some of the staff didn't make an effort but this was an exception to the rule. The live music was nice at teatime.
The hotel closes September to November for refurbishment. There are a few 'tired' area's and broken tiles around the pool but overall I thought it was lovely. I would like to return post refurbishment though to see what it's like.
Shops - some nice souvenirs and inflatables for the pool. I didn't think it was expensive in the shops but the exchange rate for the GBP was really good so we got a lot for our money. Staff in the shops are always on the phone and not all that helpful!!
I think I've covered most things here but if anyone wants to e-mail a question please do so.
Travel operator: First Choice
Overall the resort is very pleasant, clean and enjoyable. The beach is very nice although fairly narrow in places. The sand is great, fairly clean, and soft. I wish the beach was longer as no more than 2KM from the resort you run into fairly rough terrain that is farily hard to pass through.
Entertainment is OK, but far from outstanding. I would not have problems going back to the resort, however, be prepared to know that the hotel is isolated from any locals, and there is nothing outside of the resort.
Travel operator: Signature Vacations
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