Room standards seem to vary depending which part of the hotel you're staying and reception was full each morning with people asking to move. The more modern rooms are on the 4th floor. We were initally allocated a bungalow room but had to move due to mould and dampness. Cleanliness of the rooms in general was pretty poor.
Communal areas were pleasant but again not very clean. We were unfortunate enough to be there during the Canadian spring break and the hotel was over run with 18-30's drinking all day and night which resulted in constant noise/swearing by the pools and at the beach and waking up to piles of vomit practically every morning. Staff turned a blind eye to it because they were being generously tipped.
The hotel is not all bad. On the positive side it is in an excellent location close to the downtown area and on a really nice stretch of beach. The food was better than expected and plenty to choose from and the same applied to the drinks. Mini-bar, safety box, watersports etc.. were included in the AI package.
Overall a very disappointing holiday and not a place (either the hotel or Varadero) that I would ever consider returning to.
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
The hotel has no discotheque. Just the seafood restaurant transform into it after 11 PM. The room service is inexistent. Staff never answer. In a week, my girlfriend was never able to call the room service.
Not only the open bar closes a midnight (!!!), but drinks are fully loaded with lemon juice, and very little rum, vodka, etc. The tendance of the staff to give as less as possible is accented on the bar, contrary of most other all inclusive hotels, which are generous in this respect. If you want to drink a whisky, you have to pay for it as well as other valuable beverage. And almost any cocktail, have at least 75% of lemon juice (not natural and very disgusting), 15% of alcohol and 10% of all other ingredients.
The rooms are not very clean, sometimes the waiters even forget to clean it.
The staff is quite rude, the service is not good at all. Despite of its five-star, don't expect luxury at all.
And finally, smoking is allowed EVERYWHERE, except the buffet. In spite of the Cuban law issued on 2004 about smoke interdiction which is applicable to *any* closed public space, in the Barcelo Solymar, smoking is actually permitted.
Conclusion: too many people, the organization is null, the service and the food are very poor, all the included services are cut as much as possible.
I really wonder how a serious chain such as Barcelo could make a 5-star hotel and transform it into a 2-3 stars quality at most. It's really incredible. I had another concept about Barcelo and I surely will never return in any of their hotels, everywhere in the world.
Or, maybe the hotel belongs now to Gran Caribe only (a Cuban chain). In this case, I wonder as well, because they cannot use the name of Barcelo to maintain such as incredibly poor hotel. Barcelo should bring a suit against Grand Caribe to use their name and ruin their reputation, if this is the case.
Anyways, don't go at Barcelo Solymar Hotel. It doesn't worth the price in any case. If you are looking for a nice hotel in Varadero, go instead at Melia Las Americas hotel or any other Melia. It's really superior, even if it's a bit more expensive, but it really worth each extra dollar you may spend.
Travel operator: Online Tours
Hotel location very near to the town centre.
The beach was the best ever been too. pure white sand and no shells, and lots of sun beds to go round.
Entertainment good for all the family young and old alike. The adult dancing shows were better than the Tropicania in Havana.
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
The food at the buffet resturants were warm but it was always cooked, there were plenty of other choices of piping hot freshly cooked food as well as the a la carte resturants.
Even when we were hit by Hurricane Ike, the staff were absolutly brilliant(our safety was paramount), everything carried on as normal(resturants,bars,theatre all open)even though we were confined to the hotel for 24hrs while Ike continued to blow.
We would visit Solymar again
Travel operator: airtours
Food was good, there was always something to eat even if you were a faddy eater. There are three different al la carte restaurants that you can eat in per week which you have to book (seafood, italian and Cuban), we found the Italian the best. Staff were always pleasant and you didn't have to tip if you chose not to.
Entertainment was not too good same nearly every night.
There are lovely big swimming pools which didn't get busy, and the beach is just beautiful very picture postcard.
They were very quick at service at the snack bars, never waited long for drinks or snacks. Charlie and Geoff sampled every drink, cocktails included, one evening. They will serve while ever someone is willing to stay up "in the lobby bar".
We went to Havana for the day and chose to go by taxi. It worked out cheaper than going with the reps with the four of us. It's a real eye opener; poverty everywhere but people friendly.
And lastly if you go it's a must to swim with the dolphins if you have never done it before that was the highlight of my holiday.....
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
However, I was pleasantly surprised, our room in the main hotel was huge & was cleaned daily, we never had any trouble with noise.
The staff are excellent, a peso tip (about 58p)was received gratefully & they looked after us extremely well during our stay. I don't begrudge tipping as they earn less than
Travel operator: First Choice
This hotel and its staff were a total disappointment from start to finish. So much so that despite the fact that we'd shelled out nearly three grand for our holiday, we couldn't wait to get home.
The facilities are very basic, the rooms are drab and smell mouldy, the bars close at funny times and the 24hr availability of food is a joke.
We waited for twenty minutes to be served with drinks on more than one occaision and the servixce only seemed to improve when I started waving a 5 CUC note in the air.
The staff never smile and all they are interested in doing is extorting money out of you in tips (or bribes, as we came to call them) or foisting banana leaf cigars on you.
A real let down which has put us off returning to Cuba.
Don't do it. Go to The Riviera Maya in Mexico instead. It costs the same, the facilities are miles better, the people friendlier and you will have a better time.
Travel operator: Airtours
1st visit to Varedero having previously stopped in the Holguin area. On the plus side the food was quite good, the beach and sea beautiful and the pools although not very deep were well maintained and we always managed to get a sun lounger.
The weather could not be faulted and it was very hot. The negatives were more to do with the staff, our room maid left the cleaning of our room until after 5pm on more than 3 occasions and left us a note to say she would not be there when it was her day off (presumably so we wouldn't leave a gift or tip for her on that day).
Stocked mini fridge from which 2 cans of beer disappeared each day even though we hadn't drunk them.
Waiters/bartenders very offhand even when we tipped them. There were only 2 lifts in working order and during the 2nd week 1 of these broke down so found it very frustrating on the day of our departure waiting more than half an hour just to get the cases to the ground floor.
24 hour bar in the lobby very hot with no air conditioning, pool bar where we usually spent our evenings closed at 11pm and the piano bar which supposedly closed at 1pm shut well before this. O
verall a disappointing holiday and a part of Cuba I would not return to.
Travel operator: Eclipse Direct
The major problem we had was with the noise. I have never experience anything like it. There was a disco on site which finished at 2am. Every night we were woken up to the whole disco leaving and moving into the 24 hour bar, which was in the main lobby of the hotel!
Due to the design of the hotel the lobby bar was in the middle so anyone that was based in the actual hotel was kept awake by screaming drunken idiots.
We complained to the management who shrugged their shoulders saying that they were aware there was a problem and that security knew.
We decided to give it one more night, but as this was our 6th night of no sleep we had had enough and asked to be moved hotels.
Our biggest gripe was not once did we get any form of apology from the management, and even when we checked out they still didn't acknowledge there was a problem.
You would think as two other couples moved at the same time as us and a further 4 couples had moved the week before that they would think about doing something.
The only good thing about the hotel were the staff (although not the management!), who were very friendly and we received excellent service from them.
The best thing we did all holiday was move hotels. Its all very well people saying it is a deprived country but when we changed hotel we realised this is not an excuse.
We moved to the Blau Varadero which was of the same star rating and it was superb. How the Solymar dares to class itself as the same rating I will never know.
So if you like being awake all night, unhelpful management staff and under cooked pork, the Solymar is for you. If not and like us you would a honeymoon you remember because of the good parts avoid it like the plague!
Travel operator: Airtours
The rooms were roomy and clean but could do with painting the rooms were a bit damp our clothes never seemed to be dry. The maid Ismary was excellent, she always left towels shaped like swans flowers etc which we thought was lovely.
The food was excellent and loads of choice the waiter Marcell and waitress Iyola always met us with a smile and looked after us admirably. The chef Ernesto cooked really delicous omelettes ans was really chatty, you had ample choice of food so can't understand people winging about it.
The hotel staff were very helpful.
The only gripe we had were the noisy Canadians early hours of the morning shouting and bawling at the top of there voices keeping other guests awake was like this most of the holiday we were situated on the second floor just above the lobby. We complained and were promptly offered one of the bungalows, which we declined cause couldn't be bothered to haul all our baggage again.
Felix in the pool bar was excellent always a smile and prompt with his service always tip and you'll get looked after we did the overnight stay in Havanah which was excellent especially the Tropicana show. It opens yours eyes a bit though with the poverty and constant begging while your there from the locals you've just got to have a stiff upper lip and a firm no gracious.
The cattamaran trip is a must plenty of laughs drinks and excellent food when you get to Cayo Blanco beautiful beach.
I loved the Solymar and Cuba will go back one day but not in a rush to once you've seen Havanah etc think you've seen Cuba.
Travel operator: first choice
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