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Varadero - Hotel recommendations for a newbie?

Hi everyone,

New to the forums here. :slight_smile: Looking for some recommendations for a good resort in Varadero.

My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Varadero in March and we’re finding it a bit difficult to decide where to stay. Neither of us has been to Cuba before or done the all-inclusive resort thing anywhere. I’m finding the star rating system particularly confusing. Some places are listed as 4 star, but when you click on the link to view details it changes to 3 star (I noticed this particularly with Air canada vacations). We’ve been told by some friends that you shouldn’t stay at anything less than a 4 star, but then others say that’s not true.

We’re not looking to break the bank here, but if it’s a nice, clean safe place, we’d be comfortable paying a little more for that.

Any thought or insight would be most helpful.

Thanks all!

Lolajay

I don’t know the Varadero hotels at all, so I can’t personally recommend anything. However, it will help others if they have a better idea of what you are looking for in a resort…e.g. quiet vacation, night life, want a disco…swim up bar…great beach…etc. As far as the star ratings, I’ve stayed at everything from 5 star to 2 star in Cuba. I don’t think safety is an issue…but amenities might be… :smiley:

I’ll echo what eeeefarm said above… it’ll help people to make suggestions if you tell us a little more about what you’re looking for.

How old are you? Are you the type to lie on the beach all week, or would you want to wander around town? Are you picky about what you eat? Etc.

Yes of course, more info would be useful wouldn’t it? ::slight_smile: Don’t mind me… newbie, remember? ;D

OK first of all we’re both in our mid-30’s. I’m definitely not a ‘lie-on-the-beach-for-a-week’ type. A day or two lounging with a book and a mojito will do me just fine. I want to get out and see things, (Havana in particular), roam around, explore, absorb the culture, meet the people, see the nightlife, etc. MY boyfriend is more about the beach and louging around, but is also willing to explore, etc., so we figured Varadero would be a good choice. We’ve been told the beach is amazing and it’s closer to Havana than Cayo Coco or Holguin. I really want to see Havana and the Tropicana! ;D

One thing that’s equally important for both of us would be the food. We know that you don’t go to Cuba for the food. We’re not picky eaters really, but we are planning on bringing some spices with us for sure. I think a good selection of restaurants would be good for us, so we wouldn’t have to buffet ALL the time. I’ve noticed that the resorts have varying numbers and stylesof a la carte restaurants, which is cool. Ultimately as long as the food isn’t utter swill, that would be ideal. :slight_smile:

What else… Swim up bar, pool, disco,… yeah, sure all sounds good. From what I can tell, most places have all those things don’t they? A fitness centre would be good. And maybe a spa too. We’re really sort of flexible on the other amenities.

Well I hope that was a bit more helpful. Looking forward to your insights!
Thanks again!

Lolajay

You really haven’t narrowed it down much. I’d suggest a 4* close to town - 3* places often don’t have spa’s or decent fitness centers. The larger resorts have more a la carte restaurents and you can always eat in town.
Check the resorts that are available from your location and read lots of reviews. When you’ve narrowed your selection to 2 or 3 places you’ll find that people here will be only too glad to give their opinion about which is best.

From what I have gleaned from the “experts” on this forum (I have been to Cuba 9 times but not to any other Caribbean countries), the * system in Cuba can depend on who is awarding the . The Cuban tourist industry (which I understand is run by the Cuban Air Force?) will award 4 or 5 's to a resort that probably would only rate a 3 or 4 's in other countries. The Air Canada * system may be more representative to other countries. We have stayed in one 3+, several 4’s, and one 5, and we would prefer a 4 * based on price and amenities. However, the 3 * was clean, the food was plentiful, and the pool and beach were good. Of course, the sun and temperature is the same at any resort!!

If you are looking for an underrated 4-star, one hour from Havana, better than normal food for Cuba, nice beach, snorkeling on site, disco, great pool (but no swim up bar), I would suggest SuperClubs Breezes Jibacoa. It is half way between Veradero and Havana. Was there in January…want to go back…exceeded all my expectations.

Ok folks, have done a little more research since my last post. Read many reviews and found them to be variably helpful. It seems like for every one good review there’s two mediocre reviews and one bad one. I think people’s expectations can be pretty variable when it comes to determining what makes a good resort/vacation.

Anyhoo, my boyfriend and I have it narrowed down to Barcelo Solymar or Sirena Las Salinas. They each seem to have features that we like, prices are comparable and each had the most consistently favourable reviews here and on other sites. So we’re leaning towards the Barcelo, unless anyone has anything really horrific to tell me! :o

Thanks for all the input re: the star system. Very helpful! We’re actually planning to use Air Canada Vacations anyway, so it’s good to know they’re more consistent with their stars.

Cheers! :smiley:

Ive stayed at the Sirena and liked it…, The only complain I have is that its pretty big!!! We were at the last block of rooms before the beach so we took the golfcarts when we could… But other then that we thought it was a decent resort… It’s also only 1.5 years old… If you have any specific questions just pm me I can fill you in!!!
Just a quick note too we REALLY loved the slide at the activity pool lol… And we aren’t all young!!! And the beach was nice as well!

I second Sirenis La Salina - was there in October and absolutely LOVED it!! Its a very large resort, but we like the bigger ones and don’t mind the walking!

Found a deal (or least a better price) for Sirena Las Salinas with Air Transat. Thinking that’ll be the one. Stay tuned
:sunglasses:

[quote=@lolajay33]Found a deal (or least a better price) for Sirena Las Salinas with Air Transat. Thinking that’ll be the one. Stay tuned
8-)[/quote]

If you found a good deal, don’t wait too long to book it, it might be gone before you know it!

We’ve been to Cuba 7X (Varadero for 3 of them) and IMHO we enjoyed Blau Varadero the most. It was a lot smaller and more intimate then the SLS but we liked that and still to this day prefer the smaller properties. No it’s not laziness, we are quite active on vacation and truly enjoy our long runs outside the resorts, enjoying the beautiful Cuban scenery.

It’s also a little closer to town then the SLS. You can always take a cab into town, if you want an evening away from the resort. They’ve got some really nice restaurants, cafe’s,etc. there as well. We had the best Chicken Fondue dinner at a place called, ironically enough, La Fondue! :wink: I think we payed about 15CUC’s for the both of us!

Furthermore, you can always check out resorts like Barcelo Solymar, Palma Real, or any other properties located just on the edge of town, that way you can just walk to all of the town’s attractions without burning cab fare away.

[quote=@buznbro] You can always take a cab into town, if you want an evening away from the resort. They’ve got some really nice restaurants, cafe’s,etc. there as well. We had the best Chicken Fondue dinner at a place called, ironically enough, La Fondue! :wink: I think we payed about 15CUC’s for the both of us!

[/quote]

Do you by chance remember where this restaurant is located?

I’d like to add it to the master list of Varadero restaurants in the FAQ section.

I’ve already taken the liberty of adding your comments to the list.

[quote=@yvrck][quote=@buznbro] You can always take a cab into town, if you want an evening away from the resort. They’ve got some really nice restaurants, cafe’s,etc. there as well. We had the best Chicken Fondue dinner at a place called, ironically enough, La Fondue! :wink: I think we payed about 15CUC’s for the both of us!

[/quote]

Do you by chance remember where this restaurant is located?

I’d like to add it to the master list of Varadero restaurants in the FAQ section.

I’ve already taken the liberty of adding your comments to the list.[/quote]

No probs YVRck…the restaurant was directly across from the Mercure Quatro Palmas Hotel…at least it was. Nice quaint little place. I really hope it’s still there… ???

Good news! We’re booked for Sirena Las Salinas, leaving in just under two weeks! Very excted!! ;D

Thanks to all for the very useful info! I’ll be reporting back on my return!

Cheers! :sunglasses:

Im so excited for you lolajay…and just a teeny bit jealous!!! I have 66 days to go :(…HAVE FUN I really liked it there!!!