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Villa Cuba Hotel

24 of 25 hotels in Varadero

2 out of 5 from 1 review
4 stars
E, Varadero, Cuba

1 Review

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Review Overview

  • Cleanliness
  • Entertainment
  • Food
  • Service
  • Location
SMa
9 years 3 months ago
Best to come clean right off - this was the first time I've ever stayed in an AI beach resort hotel and I realised within 24 hrs that the whole concept wasn't for me. By the end of my 4 night stay I had 'cabin fever' because there's not a lot to see and do in Varadero away from the hotel. Also, a lot of what I saw as problems wouldn't necessarily have been seen that way by others.

The food was plentiful in the main buffet restaurant but pretty basic - and a little strange at times. For example I was flummoxed by the Brussel sprouts at breakfast - fresh cooked and not re-cycled from the previous evenings dinner buffet - I would have had them if they'd been served then! There is an 'international' a la carte restaurant as well as an 'oriental' one and a Cuban one - they have to be booked before 8.00am. I didn't try these because I decided that I would feel a bit self conscious on my own - it was mainly couples that appeared to be using them.

I have to admit that my feelings were affected by the behaviour of other guests. I was shocked to witness the amount of food that was wasted at every meal. I couldn't understand why people would pile their plates high and then leave most of it. If you are not sure whether you will like something then why not just a take a spoonful and if you like it go back for more? I'm sure that having to throw away so much food was partly responsible for the surly attitude of nearly all the waiting on staff. Most Cubans do have enough to eat - but not enough to waste it on the sort of scale that I witnessed.

The bedroom was kept clean enough but service was slow - most days it wasn't done until well into the afternoon - and this was the only hotle that took more than 24 hrs to return laundry and only after I asked for it. What was more of a problem though was the fact that the public areas would start of very clean but would get progressively untidier and grubbier as the day wore on. I think that this was in no small measure due to the behaviour of guests rather than the staff - the pool area would end up littered with half finished drinks and snacks etc and staff were clearly unsure about which ones needed clearing away and which ones were going to be returned to by a guest taking a dip.

Most guests seemed to really enjoy the entertainment which consisted of a cabaret type dancing and singing performance most nights on an outdoor stage by the pool. However, to my eyes it was a bit amateurish and under-rehearsed but then this was probably because I know that the hotel cabarets are staffed by those performers who have been assessed as literally 4th rate by the State-regulated system for performers in Cuba. The hotel disco wasn't open during my stay but a bus was laid on to take those who wanted it into a disco in the town.

The beach is beautiful and accessed by a short walk through the hotel grounds. I never spent any time on it because, though there were planty of sun loungers, there is very little shade to be had with less than 30 straw coverd sunshades for a hotel with over 400 rooms. No matter how early I arrived in the morning there were never any vacant sun loungers under the parasols. I suspect that judging by the general staff attitude to tipping that despite the fact that there were notices saying that beds couldn't be reserved, that the beach staff were allowing people to do this in return for hefty advance tips. Similarly, there were plenty of loungers around the pool but not a lot of sunshades here either. On the other hand most guests didn't seem to mind as they seemed to be happy to toast themselves in full sun. I tended to make use of what natural shade there was under the trees set back from the pool (and the relentless reggaeton played over the PA every afternoon!).

Which brings me to my biggest gripe about this hotel - I am used to tipping AFTER receiving service and in Cuba this usually means leaving just leave the small coins after each round or adding 1 CUC when settling bar a bill at the end of the evening. I was, therefore, unprepared for what seemed to be a general expectation to tip before receiving any service at all. I'm not sure whether this is what happens at all AI hotels or just this one. Either way it made me feel quite bolshy and I made a point on my last day of giving very generous tips to the few staff who had given good, cheerful service without soliciting tips and of not tipping at all the surliest staff. I don't know if it would make any difference but it made me feel better!

The hotel itself is a very interesting building, built on a number of different levels with airy walkways connecting different parts of it. I was pleased to be on one of the lower floors to the back of the hotel. This meant that I had a lovely view of the gardens, with a largish verandah with a couple of reclining chairs and a small table and I was well away from the at times noisy 'animation' around the pool. There are also a number of bungalows spread out over the grounds. This is the only hotel on my tour that I wouldn't want to return to but I think that this is as much about not liking the AI experience as anything else. It is a budget hotel and if all you are wanting is a beachside AI hotel and an economic price then the Villa Cuba might suit.
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Travel operator: Escape/Havanatour

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