39 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
"I just came back from my third holiday in Cuba!
Hotel Solymar is just amazing, friendly staff, great animation, beautiful hotel and beach.
you can eat and drink as much as you want at all times, great selection of food.The furniture in the rooms is not super modern but very nice.
Everything is very clean and nice.
staff is very helpful and smiley, the whole experience is just wonderful!!!
- Travel date: Mon 5th of March 2012
Dont go to Barcelo Solymar in April early May
"We have just returned from Cuba the Bacelo Solymar.The young Canadians who arrived in droves started drinking as soon as they arrived they were obnoxious swearing loud aggresssive drunk confrontational.
Nobody at the resort did anything to prevent bad behaviour they all had great big flasks which took at least 6 drinks at the bar and kept refilling.
The food at the hotel was excellent.
The beach is beautiful our holiday was spoilt by young Canadian yobs.
The Dolphin Swim was excellent but if you buy the DVD which is not cheap check its you on it before you leave resort we had someone else's experience we are devastated and trying to get ours by contacting Thos Cook who we booked it through."
- Travel date: Thu 12th of May 2011
"We have just returned from our honeymoon at the barcelo solymar and cant wait to go back! After reading a few reviews before leaving I was a little worried but I really cant see what everyone complains about, we certainly didn't come across anything.
The staff- I always say that you should treat others as you yourself should want to be treated. Staff were always extremely helpful and friendly but perhaps that was because we were always courteous to them. (we witnessed a few people treating them as if they were second class citizens...so of course they would be grumpy back...who wouldn't!) The maid cleaned the room every day and left fantastic creations out of the towels and bedding.
The hotel- Yes its true that it could do with a little maintenance but overall we thought the hotel was lovely and in a fantastic location. We always managed to get a pick of dozens of sunbeds even if you got down to the pool/beach at 11am. The swimming pool was at a lovely depth which made it accessible to all and the location of the hotel right next to a glorious beach and within walking distance to shops and restaurants was fantastic. Perhaps a little more air con in the lobby area wouldn't go amiss but overall we thought the hotel was brill.
The food- We never got bored once! there was plenty to choose from. For breakfast you could have omlettes, fruit, cereals, fried eggs, croissants, yoghurt and all manner of other cooked things. For dinner you could either order burgers, wraps, chicken fingers, pizza etc at the poolside or again there was plenty of choice at the buffet. Evening meal was either at the buffet again with plenty of variety or one of the a la carte restaurants. We weren't much for the Italian or Creole restaurant (we didnt try the seafood restaurant as you could only choose 2 restaurants to book at a week) but it made a nice change to be waited on and the food was edible enough.
The drink- Well I can certainly say that the alcohol is very free flowing..we had to keep asking for smaller measures and an extra mixer on the side. You could get drunk quite quickly!!
Entertainment- there was plenty to keep you occupied each day with activities at the poolside suvh as dance lessons, language lessons, water games, draught tournemants etc etc. On the beach you could use the pedalos, catamarans or kayaks. You could borrow a bike and go cycling down to Varadero (which I don't think I would attempt after seeing some peoples driving skills) at night there was an evening show which were normally quite funny and involved audience participation and late into the evening was a nightclub/ disco on the beach which went on til 6am. This was a little noisy but we drowned the beat out with the air con and bathroom fan whirring away in our bedroom.
Overall- we would definately go back to the barcelo solymar...we had a fantastic week and didnt want to come home!"
- Travel date: Fri 9th of July 2010
All inclusive with less than possible included
"I was in the Barcelo Solymar Hotel and I have to say that the overall service is really pitying. First it has so strict schedules that it seems more a concentration champ than a five star hotel. There are times in the day where you will not find where to eat. A la carta restaurants are only open in the evening, never during the day. To eat there, you have to book them and you can do it a limited number of times depending on your stay duration. For example, for one week, you can only book twice! The result is that you have almost forced to eat always at the buffet restaurant, full of people. Every day the same food. No variety. Hygiene is not preserved. After 5 days I ended up with a diarrhea. The meals are pretty cold and most are fatty. Breakfast is even worse. Coming on Friday and leaving next Friday only on Thursday I noticed a little improvement. The food is very poor anywhere you go. The Italian restaurant is not that good and the Sea Food restaurant is very limited. I didn't had the chance to eat in the creole restaurant. But, I suppose it's not better.
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 date: Tue 26th of January 2010
L.O.V.E.D The Barcelo Solymar
"My Parents and I stayed at the Barcelo for a week and we will definitely be going back sometime soon. The hotel is old but kept very clean and neither myself or my parents had any problems whatsoever with our rooms.
The lobby is really neat with the vines hanging. It was always cool in there with a nice breeze blowing in the open doors and with all the greenery around. It is kept very clean as well.
We were checked in fast and if you have a sense of humour the staff is very friendly. If you are stuffy then you get the same attitude in return.
The food, as you have probably read in many reviews, is not the best. But keep in mind that Cuba doesn't have the imports that other countries have so they do the best with what they know. We definitely wouldn't go hungry and always found something to satisfy our hunger. The drinks were amazing and plentiful. All you have to do is tip one CUC and they will cater to you hand and foot. Like I mentioned before, if you treat them well you will get it in return. We made friends with most of the servers so the drinks kept coming until you stood up to leave.
The pools were beautiful. Always very clean and so relaxing. And never really any problems finding a lounger to lay on. I can't believe that people said that the pools were disgusting. They are simply amazing.
The beach...WOW...there are really no words to describe the beach in Varadero...white sands, crystal clear water that is bath water warm...what else is there to say...Pictures of it are beautiful but they really don't do it justice. I also have to mention that we always got to the beach a little later but still had lots of choice to sit in the shade. The cuban guys on the beach will get you loungers and bring them to your little hut.
We walked into Varadero as it was only 15 mins to downtown by foot. The people in town were always very friendly and never ever pushy. We got an HOLA from pretty much everyone we passed. The kiosks in the markets are full of really neat souveniers.
We went to The Ranchero restaurant and had a full lobster lunch. It was really good. And ladies, the Cuban men that work there, gorgeous :) It was great to get off the resort for the day and to experience the cuban culture.
We also took the Tour of Havana. They take you to New, Old, and downtown Havana. What an eye opener. If you love to go sightseeing and learn things about different countries, then definitely go on this tour. The architecture of the old buildings is breath taking.
If you are not a high matainance person, and enjoy the simple things in life then I recommend the Barcelo Solymar. We DEFINITELY enjoyed our stay there :)
- Travel date: Tue 9th of June 2009
"i must say this hotel is amazing must be 1 of the best holidays the staff were sound the people in the hotel there was a lot of young people late teens earlly 20s the beach bar was open 24/7 there was even food there any time at the beach bar by far the best hotel in varadero the place is unbeliveable dont listen to stuck up people u will have the best time here spring break there was 100s of hot girls lol i would recommend this place 2 any 1 if you look after the bar staff they will treat u great there was drinks all the tym u didnt need 2 ask they would bring u drinks all the time the food was very nice try the lobster go to cuba go to barcelo solymar !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
- Travel date: Tue 17th of March 2009
This is the worst hotel we've ever staye...
"This is the worst hotel we've ever stayed. We're in the middle of a compensation claim. I will leave more feedback later. Don't waste your money here go somewhere else. Very very disappointing. I am writing this to prevent other people going through what we've been through. Pools too filthy to use, same food lunch and dinner for 2 weeks, meat often inedible or almost raw, we all suffered upset stomachs. Very poor hygiene, awful customer service. We don't know why It has been advertised as a 4 star hotel. Not suitable for families, hotel was full of noisy students and backpackers. Hotel needs refurbishment . The list is too long to mention here. We've written a seven page comlaint letter.Lots of muggings in excursion areas. Never been so glad to come home."
- Travel date: Fri 5th of September 2008
Barcelo Solymar was a fantastic hotel; t...
"Barcelo Solymar was a fantastic hotel; the staff were friendly and couldn't do enough to help.
I was married at the resort and can 100% say that we definitely made the rite decision in going to this hotel for our special day. The wedding co-ordinator, Maylene was amazing; she gave us the personal touch that a bride requires on the build up to the big day.
Overall the hotel was clean; the food was good (especially the a-la-carte Cuban restaurant) and the staff very friendly and welcoming.
The only negatives were that the reception area was not None Smoking and at times we found it unbearable to sit at the lobby bar due to the amount of cigarette smoke. The other thing was that the hotel is in need of refurbishment, the bedrooms and bathrooms in particular need updating.
Overall we had a fantastic experience and we will definitely return to this resort.
- Travel date: Wed 27th of August 2008
i read with disbelief at some of the poo...
"i read with disbelief at some of the poor ratings given to this hotel and the resort in general. what do you expect for gods sake its a communist country stuck in the 1950's, and with that in mind i think they do a wonderful job
i have been to cuba many times and have encountered no problems whatsoever with regards to most described in previous reviews. i normally stay at the hotel bella costa but due to refurbishment one year, i stayed in the "barcelo sol y mar" and liked it that much i now stay there eveytime i visit cuba.
the hotel is pleasant, didn't encounter the rudeness of the reception staff quite the opposite really. the lobby is warm and humid at night, but hey what did you expect to find on a carribean island ?? there is no air-con due the fact that the whole lobby is filled with greenery to keep it cool during the day.
hotel staff in general very pleasant and polite at all times..........................................
don't have a problem with cuba; varadero or the barcelo sol y mar
- Travel date: Wed 20th of August 2008
Solymar is not unpleasant but not specia...
"Solymar is not unpleasant but not special either. This was my tenth visit to Cuba - so yes I like it. It was also third time I had booked into Solymar. First time (1 night) drank too much was sick. Staff fantastic help. Second time arrived at airport 8:30am for 9:15 flight (after boarding commenced) and Thomas Cook would not allow me to board, so missed overnight stay. This time, finally, a week to see what I missed: Lobby is a sauna, nice to look at but impossible to stay in for any length of time. Reception staff only marginally avoided being rude, and they don't even know it. One, having captured my attention by recognising my scent as No5 lotion (it was indeed No5 body satinee) remarked that my (Cuban) husband had a kind face and didn't look like he was only with me to improve his life (LOL) re-assured I imagined a UK receptionist volunteering this. Hotel was populated with a couple of rowdies from each represented country, completely unchecked, and a lot of super people having a good holiday. Worst part - I thought I had to deal with Alex, the Thomas Cook rep for my hotel, who I have encountered before, and is as useful as a chocolate fireguard. Needn't have worried, I didn't see him at the hotel once! but I heard that he was in the hotel on Tuesday, a woman was sick and he directed her across the road to the international clinic, and when requested he advised some people to exchange thier money at the hotel (rate 1.70 cucs) but they went to the local bank for 1.75 cucs anyway. Food- good (for Cuba) with some great cheeses; Bathroom- adequate but not really clean and extractor screamed - Air cond in room inadequate and no remote, elsewhere also inadequate or none; location- near 62 and int. clinic, massive beautiful grounds, fabulous beach, service fair to poor.
My references: Have stayed in (no particular order)(a) Palma Real across the road - similar quality, cheaper, not as good-looking (b)Los Delfines (Pricipally italian hotel) renovated rooms to left of reception and not so nice to the right: as good as Solymar same sort of price. (c) International Hotel; old hotel, great disco, nasty pool and best entertainment was watching staff removing food from restaurant for thier own comercial ventures- almost nothing left for guests to eat (d) Kawama - no water to room for 72 hours - staff ignorant(e) Puntarena great staff best in Cuba in my opinion - need taxi or motor really as hotel is out on a limb. (f) Aqua-Azul - basic but cheap and cheerful (must cross the road to beach) (g) Oasis (2* on very edge of Varadero) No telephone facilities for duration of my stay (my son was rushed to a UK hospital on the day of my arrival; in the middle of nowhere, no free drinks after 10.30, cheap as chips, and best value for money. Must mention Club Amigo in Trinidad - waited 3 hours as pool of water inches deep formed around our feet in the ala carte restaurant for a pizza which arrived cold almost raw and (of course) inedible. Was in ala carte because buffet restaurant had no food and no plates or cutlery and was becoming violent (not surprisingly)- received apology. "
- Travel date: Sun 22nd of June 2008
We had a fantastic time at this hotel. I...
"We had a fantastic time at this hotel. It was very clean and tidy, the beach was fantastic and the staff were very friendly and looked after you!
The food got boring after a while - but what do you expect from All Inclusive. The Italian a la carte was fantastic - not too keen on the seafood & I like seafood.
A tip - the hotel was invaded by Canadian students during the last 2 days, who were extremely noisey.
I would recommend checking your holiday dates against the canadian university calendar before booking!
- Travel date: Wed 14th of May 2008
The lobby is just how you see it in the...
"The lobby is just how you see it in the reviews, the staff are friendly and helpful. The food was varied and very good. The entertainment was interesting and enjoyable.
The trips where the best part, the catamarans, speed boats, jeep discovery trip we went to havana for the weekend by taxi and this was best for us. You don't have to spend much money but havana you need plenty as you have to pay for everything but it's all worth it.
Enjoy your holiday we did. "
- Travel date: Mon 21st of April 2008