Grand Caribe Club Puntarena Hotel

Ave. Kawama y Final, Varadero, Cuba
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Recent traveller reviews — view all

Average Rating

6  / 10
(17 reviews)

Ratings summary


Rating by feature

Room: 6.5/10
Service: 7/10
Value: 6.5/10
Cleanliness: 7/10
Location: 6.5/10

Traveller reviews

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Recently returned from a 2 week...

"Recently returned from a 2 week vacation at Club Punta Arena. The hotel is as stated a 3 star, accomodation is basic but clean. The staff are super helpful and friendly.......very conscious of trying to make your holiday enjoyable and memorable.

Unfortunately there were a number of teenage drunks who would do well to seek AA help rather than shouting and screaming abuse and foul language along the respective landings at 2, 3, 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning. Plus turning on fire hoses and flooding rooms. Police were called early one morning and escorted a particularly noisy and violent drunk off the premises. Very much a young persons hotel.

Other than those problems..........the beach is reasonable and uncrowded, lots of crushed seashells............not quite the white powdery stuff that one would imagine..............neither my wife or I found that a problem. With everything taken into consideration we had a great time. Without wishing to sound patronising...........the Cubans are great people, poor but honest and proud of their country. We have every intention of returning...........sooner, rather than later.

However, the chances of returning via Air Transat are minimal. I am a reasonably experience traveller...........former Air Force and Airline crew..........and some 53 countries later. I have travelled some airlines that I have regretted, Air Transat is now on that list.

All in all about 12 hours plus of total discomfort. The seat pitch must be the absolute legal minimum. In addition a reasonably common seating config for A330-200 is 2/3/2........Air Transat is 3/3/3 so as you can imagine it can be pretty cramped. I am 5' 9" not a big knees were touching the seat in front, and when the guy in front reclined his seat I had my table, (attached to his seat), pressed into my stomach. The guy sitting next to me was around 220 Lbs and overlapped into my air space causing futher discomfort.

The Vancouver boarding was fairly straight forward, but the Varadero return was a fiasco. First the bus collecting us at the hotel was 45 mins late. We arrive at the airport...............there are 3 seperate line-ups for Air Transat roughly 100 per line up. One hour and 20 minutes later in our particular line we were next to check in, and there were still people behind us. Everyone was in the transit lounge in good time...........boarding was 40 minutes late. We get on air conditioning. As the Flight Attendant quoted "the little jet engine in the tail is not working" no APU, no A/C and difficulty spooling up the engines. All doors closed.........air was getting very thin, temperature was rising rapidily with 300 plus people locked in......and the crew attempting to start an engine...............babies and young children starting crying etc. Eventually an engine was turning and burning and stabilised and air conditioning followed shortly after.

Back to Air Transat. We were supposed to have a quick trip to Santa Clara to pick up a few pax and re-fuel. Even that turned into a can of worms. As the APU was inoperative and no power supply was available at Santa Clara, it meant all deplane and into the terminal as the crew had to keep #1 engine running so as we could eventually depart. So into the terminal we all go........for an hour.........then all back on the plane again. No apologies were offered.

As for being fed and watered. Consider that we were scheduled for hotel pick up at 13:30 hrs and suffered various delays and inconveniences, the total offerings of food were a small personal pizza and a cold turkey wrap, then arriving in Vancouver at 00:20 next day. One could be forgiven for believing that passenger care is not number one on the Air Transat list. Eventually we were on our way and with great relief arrived back in Vancouver, albeit well behind schedule.

Air Transat use Varadero frequently, therefore one would assume that the system is near clockwork as is possible. Wrong. The comments with regards Air Transat from a vast majority of the passengers ranged from mildly agitated to very angry. I would assume from numerous comments that they have lost ,(that would mean Nolitours), a considerable amount of patronage for the future. The major issue appeared to be poor organisation and the very uncomfortable seat pitch. The discomfort may be OK for the 3 plus hours from Toronto, or Montreal. But nearly 6 hours each way from Vancouver is unacceptable.

Anyway that whinge out of the way............go to Cuba, go to Varadero, enjoy the country and the people. You won't regret it.

by BL Anon
6 / 10

5 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes

I am Canadian and live in Winnipeg,...

"I am Canadian and live in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We were at this hotel from March 17/08 to March 31/08. I don't know what people are expecting from a modestly priced 2 week all inclusive. The hotel is beautifully kept, the grounds are immaculate, the service was excellent and the staff are wonderful. Tipping is expected everywhere in Cuba now and the staff at this hotel have learned that their extra effort usually pays off!! I did notice that many people do not tip and this is regrettable. They just don't get the same attention and service. The food is fairly plainly prepared as is the case in most of these 3 star hotels in Cuba. This is not Mexico! Cuban cooking does not seem to utilize the plethora of spices used in other Caribbean cuisine. The food is, however, nourishing, wholesome, good and there is plenty of it. The water is safe to drink. There are 2 a la carte restaurants and they were excellent. The dinning room is lovely. The fresh fish is always a safe bet and is delicious. The rooms are clean and the maid service is excellent. There is a refrigerator and a safe in each room. Our room was on the canal side but there is a beautiful view from this side as well. The rooms are not sound proof and you can hear your neighbours. The only legitimate complaint is the elevator service. There are three elevators and only 1 was working while we were there. This had to be used by guests, maids, service personnel etc. Apparently it is very difficult to get parts because of the American embargo. One has to make do. The swimming pool area is great and the beach is huge and has ample loungers. The sand at this location has many small shells so is not as fine as further along the beach, however the water is clear and wonderful and there is a lifeguard on duty. We spent all of our time at the beach and there were many palapas for shade. It was great!! This hotel's location is almost at the end of the strip of hotels so it is a fairly long hike to downtown. There is a twin hotel next door and the walk anywhere is very nice. For under $1500 Cdn for 2 weeks all inclusive, I cannot imagine a better deal anywhere. I would go back in a minute. We were there over Easter and the behaviour of the 19 to 30 year olds was somewhat barbaric. They seem to feel that "all inclusive " obligates them to drink excessively and behave like animals. I don't know how the Cuban people can stand it. I heartily recommend this property. We met people who had vacationed there previously and they were satisfied and planned to return as would I."

by M Sullivan
8 / 10

3 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes

I read the first review(above) before...

"I read the first review(above) before I went, and I was dreading it. Just ignore what you read above.

No, it's not 5 star, no there aren't gold plated taps in the bathroom.The rooms are clean, the staff are friendly, the beach is massive (and empty), the bar is 5 metres from the beach.

The food is not Ramsey/Stein/Rhodes, but if you want that then go to France not Cuba. If you go take chalk (for the pool table), table tennis balls (and a bat if you take your 'ping pong' seriously).

My bank told me my credit card wouldn't be accepted if it was Visa, that's wrong, if it's issued by an English bank e.g. Tesco, Egg, RBS etc. then it will be accepted for booking trips etc. but you're better paying cash cos they convert it back to dollars and add 10% on before charging it to your card.

Value for money? 9/10

by W Hooley
8 / 10

3 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes

I returned from the Puntarena...

"I returned from the Puntarena yesterday. I have read some of the reviews of this hotel and I am amazed at the many negative comments stated.

Firstly the hotel was clean, friendly, excellent location and good value for money. I arrived with my wife, less my suitcase, which was lost for a week but this was nothing to do with the hotel but the airline.

On arrival at the the hotel the staff could not do enough to help me with razors, sun cream etc. There is very little to buy in the shops in Cuba in the way of holiday essentials. I am a very fussy eater but I found the food ok. It was not great but OK.

The entertainment was also ok for an international audience but I did find it was biased towards the Cubans and they seemed to win the competitions which in fact we noticed that they clearly were not the winners.

On a couple of nights we came in very late (3.00am) and the bar staff made us sandwiches.

There was activities provided throughout the day if were interested. I would not recommend this hotel for teenagers as there is only a pool table and table tennis. I did not see many teenagers at the hotel. I did notice that Cubans do get served before anyone else but I can live with that. However if you tip the barmen (1 peso approx 65p) occasionally you do get a better service.

I go on 3 major holidays a year and so I am quite well travelled and would have no hesitation in recommending this hotel to any of my friends. Because Cuba is a very poor country you expect things to go wrong. But overall a very good holiday and the friends we went with all agree with my comments. My wife and myself will certainly be back.

by E Fanneran
8 / 10

2 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes

Our party of 6 went just 2 weeks ago...

"Our party of 6 went just 2 weeks ago to the Puntarena. Cuba is beautiful, a very interesting country. The day trips were fantastic, especially the Catamaran to Cayo Blanco.

BUT the hotel was a nightmare. The main problem was the food. I could never call myself a fussy eater - I've been to Mexico, Jamaica etc. and never had a problem. The food here consisted of tasteless slop. The white rice was grey, the pasta and pigs ears was a revelation. The 'lamb' was indeed mutton and was just fat on bone. My main complaint were the flies crawling all over the buffet food and the tables and cutlery. I complained daily to our rep, and it was not until I put the complaint in writing that the cling film appeared. It was a brave effort but not adequate and they obviously ran out of cling film after 2 days. We ate elsewhere in Cuba and found the food perfectly acceptable - so it appears it was just this hotel. The same utensils and chopping boards were used for raw and cooked food! The nice breakfast lady who cooked my pancakes each morning unfortunately lost one of her false nails in the batter one morning and proceeded to fish it out with her hand. I had to ask the waiter for a clean spoon one day as the one I was given was dirty. He spat on it, polished it and handed it to me. These people have clearly never received any health and hygiene training and in no way can be held responsible personally. I understand this country may be classified as 3rd world, but 'peasant food' is unacceptable. I hold my tour operator - Thomas Cook, responsible as they MUST have done an inspection.

The upshot of all this is that during my journey home on the plane I became ill and my breathing became difficult. I went to the doctor, went on antibiotics, but the condition worsened and I developed severe bladder problems. I got the diagnosis yesterday of E coli. I am very shocked by all this and have become very poorly.

I would recommend Cuba as a destination because it is beautiful and very interesting but I could never recommend this hotel. If UK Health and Safety saw it they would close it down without hesitation. Altogether we spent over £4,000 on the holiday and a further £1700 on trips - all through Thomas Cook. I am awaiting their reply to my letter of complaint.

by E J Di Massio
4 / 10

3 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes

This hotel was good for the money....

"This hotel was good for the money. You have to remember that Cuba is still a developing country. The food was pretty awful but the cheese toasties at night from the main restaurant were lovely.

Most of the staff were helpful and friendly, our tour operator, though friendly was not very informative about the trips we booked with him./ also he would only accept Cuban convertible pesos. To pay with pounds sterling it often works out a lot more expensive so make sure you go to the bank where there is no commission prior to booking any trips.

Overall I would give this hotel a 7/10. The drinks were great and there were other amenities around the hotel though not that great. I always thought that it was ok because it’s free though you have to remember its not actually free you have just already paid for it. Cuba is a beautiful country though and we are already planning a return visit.

by L Davies
6 / 10

2 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes

My boyfriend and I travelled to Cuba...

"My boyfriend and I travelled to Cuba for the first time this year on a late deal which we booked 2 weeks before and I think unfortunately it will be the only time!

Although the weather was amazing, Varadero beach was just beautiful and the views from our balcony where fantastic the hotel was just a bit VILE! Go to Cuba it’s beautiful but not to this hotel. Obviously this is only my opinion but read it with an open mind.

First of all OUR ROOM, it was I bit smelly like it needed a good scrub with a bucket of bleach. The bedding was not always as clean and fresh as you would expect. The bathroom was clannish but needed some serious updating. The maid was very welcoming and was willing to help with our problems. Our balcony doors where bent so we needed 'The Hulk' to open them and when it rained a couple of nights the water came in all over the floor and through the ceiling!

THE FOOD was hit and miss really. Some days it made you sick and some days it didn’t. 24hour it was not, between 9:30pm and 7:30am there was nothing except drinks. Boiled cabbage and meatballs for breakfast. Now come on...any normal person knows that’s just wrong! Lunch and dinner deep fried everything and lots of black beans with rice. One guy we spoke to during our time there said he’d found a cockroach in the dinning room and was taking it home with him to send to Thomas Cook...nice! Flies everywhere too!

Through Thomas Cook we where told that we had use of the hotel next doors facilities, this was a lie. They separated 6 months previous. The lifts where a joke. Out of the 3 1 was out of order all 2 weeks and the other 2 worked sporadically, waiting up to 15 minutes a quite a few times. The only other way was metal fire exit stairs on the outside of the building, which I thought was a tad unsafe. The communal toilets where dirty, I had to ask reception one night if they could get someone to clean them as there were other people’s leftovers in all three of the cubicles. Revolting! Needless to say we used our own bathroom most of the time. The pool was a good size and the area around it was kept clean.

The Club Puntarena, I feel was the most badly run and badly maintained hotel I’ve been to, it’s like Fawlty Towers but way less funny! Even my self catering 18/30`s apartments when I was young where better and I only paid a few hundred pounds for those! I really think it needs to be totally refurbished and employ all new, well trained and polite staff. It sounds like I’m just moan, moan, and moan but when you pay over a thousand pounds for your Caribbean holiday you expect something special.

by L Meadows
4 / 10

3 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes

Great time!!!

"Well I just returned from a family Christmas vacation in Varadero Cuba. We had a great time. The staff was great, especially Alexander at the beach grillhouse, if you see him tell him Sara says hello! The nightly entertainment was awesome, very well put together, and even humorous at times. Very clean. The gardens could have used more flowers. A lot of activities to do i.e. boating, snorkling, pool games, dance lessons etc. The only problem we had with the hotel was the food. There is not much variety and everything is very bland. Although you will never go hungry during your stay. I'd say this resort is great for anyone looking for a relaxing week for a great price! One piece of advice, get out there and meet people. Everyone is very friendly. Make the msot of your vacation and have some fun!"

by A TripAdvisor Member
8 / 10

Did you find this review helpful? Yes

life in varadero

"we spent 10 days at this hotel.. the food was average and the italian restaurant had no pasta for over a week but you could get it in the buffet and the beach grill.. the drinks were too strong if anything and they would give you whatever you asked for and as much as you wanted.. so don't believe anything about weak drinks..

the elevators broke down regularily.. one apparently has not worked for 2 years, one breaks down every second day so that leaves the hotel with one.. the outside staircase is the only way up and down so i would advise you to take the lower floors, no higher than the 3rd..

i am not much of a water person but if you were the ocean is clean and apparently warm, although i never got past my waist.. varadero is not much of a town.. you'll miss it if you are looking for a real town to wonder around in,, not much to do except the odd excursions.. everything was expensive when you compare it to what the cubans make .. the government appears to be ripping off the tourists because i am sure the employees don't make the money.. to rent a motor scooter for 4 hours cost about 25 dollars cdn.. for the speed and comfort of the scooter you are not about to go very far.. considering you can rent a motorcycle in vietnam for 5 dollars a day i felt this was a rip off.. to rent a car will cost you about 130 dollars cdn a day, perhaps more..

the weather was nice but i think that was a been there done that sort of thing,, i would like to do more on my vacation than what was available.. give me S/E asia any day.. cuba is a big island and it would be interesting to travel around it and not have it cost you like you were in new york..

by navtel
6 / 10

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OK time at varadero

"First, we spend only 3 nights a this resort (jan.3 to 6. We spent the first 4 nights in Jibacoa (Cameleon Villas), then we got a free offer to transfert and live two trip in one. I don't regret my decison to switch, but let me say that I wouldn't spent seven nights in Club Puntarena, three was just good !!


The resort is the first of Varadero, so it's quite far if you look to go out in Varadero (bus, taxi). It look like a big Miami beach complex... The room is ok, the ocean view is very nice. The bathroom is rusty and dark, believe me !! We were on the first floor near the elevator, alot of noice because the alley is very "eccho". The elevator make alot of noise too, so ask for the highest floor you can, away from the elevators.


There's several place you can eat. First the Buffet : not that good, you just have to eat less, more place for the "cerbeza" !! Second, the beach grill where you can lunch between 12 and 3. Real good to eat near the ocean. There is another little grill where you can eat until 6PM. 24h burgers and sandwiches at the buffet grill was real nice real late. There is 2 "a la carte" retaurants. One italian where they rush you to eat the 4 services in less than a hour. This is sad because the food was real nice. One international (chinese) that was really nice. The 2 best dinner a had the whole trip.


Not as friendly as in Jibacoa, even if you tip them. Osiris was real nice at the buffet, look for him. Animation was ok, some where friendly but there was this big cocky cuban dude, you'll regconize him, trust me.


Not much to do. Animation was ok, pool tables and table games in the lobby was cool. The nightly entertainment did the job. The night party: you had to make your own fun, even at the disco where there wasn't alot of people, but we stick with the group we met in Jibacoa, we had alot of fun despite all that.


Pool was kind of nice. The ocean : well, 2 meters and you have water up to your neck. Very dangerous for kids. The sand a the beach was not nice at all... but is nicer and nicer away from the resort.


One 24h bar in the lobby. Beach bar, Disco bar, another lobby bar on second "lobby" floor (L2) and the pool bar.

Finally, this resort is good for young adults and couples looking to take some sun, have a few beers & drinks. I don't recommand this place for famillies with young kids. The beach was really dangerous when I was there.

Hope this review help you in some way, have fun !!


Montreal, qc, ca

by HolaVince
6 / 10

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Great hotel, great stay

"Just returned from spending the christmas holiday in beautiful Cuba. Went with my husband and 19year old daughter and 17 year old son. Had a great time. We all met lots of people our own ages. Weather was better than we had anticipated. Sunny everyday, 75 to 80 with loads of sunshine. Staff was all wonderful and very friendly. They try to make your stay a good one. Rooms where very clean at all times with clean towels and towel shapes left by the maid daily. Do not leave out any food as there were a few ants if you did. The water was a gorgeous turquoise and clean and clear enough to want to drink . I think it is the best caribbean water I have ever seen. Only had one red flag day where you were not allowed in the ocean. Water was very warm.Pool was large and clean however it was in need of a bit of repair. A few tiles in and around the pool needed fixing, but there were plenty of loungers available with or without shade. Plenty of huts and loungers available on the beach as well. Never had to search for one. Beach side grill/bar had the best food for the day. Say hello to Alexander the waiter. Very nice guy! Make use of all amenities available at the beach. Snorkel gear(go into the canal side) catamaran, kayak, paddle boats. Pool hut has the towels and any kind of balls you want.

Food was not the best. Everything is dry. Breakfast was good. Omelettes you best bet. Toaster never worked properly. Leftovers from each meal were incorporated into the next meal. Very limited variety. We did not ever go hungry, but they definetly need to work on the menu. Not everything was labelled so we stayed away from meats that we weren't sure of.

We would return to Puntarena anytime. Good value for your money.

by janeandus
8 / 10

Did you find this review helpful? Yes

Amazing time!!

"Just came back from a one week stay at Puntarena with my daughter. We had an absolute blast!! The staff (Yordanka, Arturo, Noel, Boris, Thomas, Ariel) was SUPER friendly..drinks were non stop and perhaps a little too strong at times, contrary to what other reviewers wrote!! Must admit that the food was below much so that we ate out in local restaurants several times..but then again, we weren't there for the food..but for the beautiful beach!! The weather was perfect EVERY day!! Lots of sunshine, not too hot.

If you can only do one or two excursions, we recommend the Jeep Safari (Discovery Tour) and the Catamaran excursion..both were all day. Whilst on the resorts catamaran, we were blessed to be followed by two dophins who stayed next to us the entire time!!

For nightlife, we suggest heading out to La Rumba Disco as the resort disco is usually empty. Entrance fee is $10 and is all inclusive..and again..drinks are NOT watered down!!

The rooms at the hotel were acceptable, roomy and clean. The only drawback was that they did not stock the minibar as most resorts will have to buy your own libations to keep in there.

All in all we had a fabulous experience and would definitely go back!! Just one word of advice, be sure to bring a roll of toilet paper if you leave the resort, as most establishments in town do not provide this!!

by A TripAdvisor Member
6 / 10

Did you find this review helpful? Yes

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Map for Grand Caribe Club Puntarena Hotel Closest airport: Juan Gualberto Gomez (VRA) 11 miles

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Grand Caribe Club Puntarena Hotel is also called:

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Address: Ave. Kawama y Final, Varadero, Cuba