Grand Memories Varadero
About Grand Memories Varadero
- high speed internet in room
- swimming pool
- fitness center
- bar lounge
- free parking
- public wifi
- wheelchair access
- meeting room
- laundry service
- concierge desk
- multilingual staff
- breakfast buffet
- outdoor pool
- free breakfast
- private balcony
- breakfast available
- facilities for disabled guests
- paid internet
- kids activities
- swimup bar
- poolside bar
- kids club
- tv other russia
- adult pool
13 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
One of Cuba's best! Will be back!
"Stayed at the Riu Varadero in Dec 2010 and our group and I had an amazing vacation. Normally I don't review my resorts I go to, but before we left for this trip, we were all VERY concerned over the bad reviews. I am not sure if some people are just spoiled or what, but some previous reviews were rediculous. People complaining over the smallest things like not having buffet food labelled, pool being too cold, etc. The Riu Varadero will be the 9th resort we have been to in Cuba over the years, and it is definitely at the top of my list along with the Laguna Azul. I think people need to realize that a 5star in Cuba is not the same as a 5star in Toronto or Vancouver. Some people need to lighten up and just enjoy their vacactions, not look for small details to ruin their trip.
Staff - As with most resorts in Cuba, staff was great and friendly. The hotel did just open up so they are still learning and ironing out the kinks, but they were friendly and always willing to help. Improvement made each day. I imagine kinks should all be ironed out before January 2011.
Resort - Beautiful and clean. Everything is new and modern and a rare find in Cuba. Construction happening in far side of resort, but it didnt affect our vacation what-so-ever. Lobby and restaurants are stunning.
Rooms - Stayed in Royal Suites and it was fantastic. Met many other couples around us who were also blown away by the rooms. Drinks re-stocked every 2-3 days, but maids willing to stock them if you leave a note daily. Room was not cleaned until late afternoon a couple times, but who stays in their room while on vacation anyways? We were out on the beach so it didnt affect us.
Beach - Wonderful beach. Heard some early reports the beach was not up to par...must have been reviews from early on because the beach is your standard cuban beach - amazing. Sand isnt quite as white as some beaches down the strecth, but all beaches are public if you want to move down there.
Food - I give it 4 out of 5. It is definitely better than your average Cuban resort (duh) but some minor problems. Early on in our trip, certain dishes were running out at the buffet, however this got better each day and at the end of the trip was a non concern. I doubt it to be a problem for future stays. Buffet food was varied and great. A la cartes were also very good, but tough to get a reservation, however I have found this at many resorts I have been to...nothing new for me...just have to stand in line for 10-15 min. Drinks were also very good... we were in royal section so we got international brands and our own bar...definitely worth the upgrade!!!
Hope this review helps clear the air for future travellers who are worried about the bad reviews. It's 30 degrees, the resort is beautiful, and you're surrounded by friendly people and loads of food and drink...it takes a certain type of person to have their trip ruined by not having their mini fridge stocked. haha
We will definitely be going back to the Riu again, hopefully when all the construction is done..I think then it will be the #1 hotel in Cuba!"
- Travel date: Wed 29th of December 2010
Not the standard we expected from a RIU hotel
"Stayed from 8th to 22nd December.
Firstly the positives
Rooms We had 2 different rooms first in block 23 then block 33 in the Royal section.
Good sized rooms, beds really comfortable, nice furniture, lovely bathrooms
Restaurants The restaurant in the Royal section, food and service excellent, but same menu every day. A la Carte restaurants the Gourmet was very nice again service good and nice food.
Grounds well kept and very pretty will be even better when more mature.
Reception and Bar area attractive and modern.
Pools Very attractive but water so cold unusable,
Beach Plenty of plastic beds, and some thatched umbrellas, beach attendant helpful.
Staff some of the staff are excellent and very friendly.
Now the negatives.
Rooms First room was always very dusty, and the only view was 4containers Restaurants It was almost impossible to get a reservation for the a la Carte restaurants the lady in charge kept saying she opened at 7AM for reservations Not acceptable to have to get up at 7am to book a restaurant. We managed to get reservations after a lot of fuss, seafood different menu to the one we were shown, Creole food really poor, Italian poor, Asian nice but very small portions, more like starter than main. Buffet restaurant did get better, after the first 5 days but then got worse again. Breakfast was by far the best, but there was always a problem, no orange juice for 3 days no sliced bread, no jam,There were no tags on the food for the first 10 days,the food was luke warm at best and very repetitious.
By beach snack bar, grill area for hot dogs and hamburgers, and small buffet, the buffet part was closed after about 9 days due to fall in guest numbers, so we had to walk all the way to main buffet restaurant at lunchtime, Definetely not 24 hr food as advertised.
Reception Very slow on check in waited over an hour,
Bars The main bar service was very slow, you could wait 30 mins to get served, then if they did not have what you wanted they never explained, they would just give you what they wanted, brandy and seven up, no seven up so they would put in lemon or the cocktail mixer instead, which meant the drink was wasted. All soft drinks came from 2ltr bottles so often they were flat, no seven up, no beer, no fresh orange, again every night there was a problem, My husband had 2 vodka and fresh orange one evening he asked to try the vodka and it turned out to be water, when they opened a new bottle that was water too.Baileys poured out of a Baileys bottle was something entirely different The coffee station only opened after we had been there 10 days and that was also very hit and miss. Luckily the bar in the Royal service was much better.
Pools Water so cold unusable, there is hot tub in Royal service but only fits 6-8 people, pool areas no where near big enough for the amount of people that will want to use them.Even in Royal service the tiled area was not washed in the evenings.
Beach No cushions for sun beds, beach quite dirty and scruffy, no Royal service private beach, and Beach bar/shack not adequate drinks not cold by afternoon, had one drink served in the 10days we used the beach.
Staff most of the staff are not yet trained and just aren't interested in helping the guests,the few good staff are excellent and always have a smile and do all they can to help make your stay enjoyable.
The hotel was not ready for guests, even when we arrived, but of course the only way the staff will learn and gel if by having guests in the hotel.
One more thing we travelled with Thompson Holidays and the hotel reps Frank and Almundo deserve a medal, they got lots of hassle from the clients but remained polite and cheerful at all times, a big thanks to them........."
- Travel date: Tue 28th of December 2010
This place should be avoided
"5 star rating with 2 star service. Not the fault of the staff the were very nice but under staffed. Just completely disorganized. This place was not ready to be opened. 20 minutes to get a drink at the bar, come on. No view of the beach which was not that great. Buffet was awefull The whole place looked like a retirement complex. Stay away!"
- Travel date: Wed 22nd of December 2010
"We stayed at RIU Varadero hotel from 09 Dec to 16 Dec and return back 17 Dec morning time. Before this trip I got more info from here, so when I return back I would like to share my opinion and post some picture here for everyone - like me who would like to get more before their trip.
Hotel - Hotel is not fully completed but I think only Royal Section (Blue colour building) and Beach. It's still in consturction but could not be heard and seen in the open part of the resort. Of course main section (red colour buliding) also have minor work need to rebuild. eg. grass... etc.. Hotel is marvelous. It's better everything is new, due we visit ILA even it's 5 star hotel but the pool look like old one, some area was broken and rust.
Room - We were stayed in Superior room. Room is clean and huge especially bathroom (brightly). Only one problem for the door, difficult to open and close, make a noise I think the door may be not fix or uneven.
Weather - no good on my travel period. It's too cold and have wind, only 14C, so we can't swin, two days have heavy wind and beach hold a red flag. Only two days have 23C but the water still cool, even beach and pool also. I also the staff of RIU, they told me right now is the winter time in there. I can't imagine too cold in Cuba.
Beach - not big and no white soft sand and shelly. If water not cool and no heavy wind, I think the beach is OK
Bar - it's Ok for me and my family, no need to waiting a long time. But sometime they also out of stock.
Poor - Poor was clean and shallow but again the water too cold.
Food - Buffet breakfast not more choice, everyday is the same food product (repeat and repeat again). At lunch, we also ate the restaurant close the beach, it's pretty good, it's also have hamburger, hotdog, pork rib and chicken and fries ... incl my favour pina colada.
A la carte - RIU have 5 a la carte restaurant. But 1 a la carte restaurant International restaurant) just only for stayed at Royal section. We only can try 4 a la carte restaurant (Gourmet, Italian/ Asian, Criollo and Seafood). Italian and Asian will swap every week on same restaurant, fortunately, we can try both. Only Seafood restaurant was very bad. the best one was Italian and Asian.
Gym room - all equipments was new incl. step, exercise bikes, recumbent bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, rowers etc...
Spa - 50 minutes for CUC 54
All staff in RIU so friendly and nice but work too slowly. Have one day until 5:30pm can finished to clean up my room and restore my fridge 3 days later."
- Travel date: Tue 21st of December 2010
5 Stars for Riu
"We were in Varadero (Riu Varadero) from Dec 6th to the 13th. There were 5 of us in the group and we all stayed in the Royal section.
The Hotel is marvelous. People are very friendly, service is great and food is good.
It was our first trip to Cuba and all of us came back impressed and determined to go back andâ¦stay at Riu again.
The Hotel is not fully completed and work on the part furthest away from the beach is still in progress. However, the construction could not be heard or seen in the open part of the resort. That being said, the (bigger) part that is completed is justifiably rated as a 5 star accommodation. The rooms are huge, very clean and functional. There were no rats, mice, cats, ants or any other species in our rooms. The three of us stayed in a Royal Master suite which was created by combining a Royal suite with a Royal room. The Royal suite has a master bedroom (king) with a four-piece ensuite (shower, Jacuzzi, vanity sink and a separate toilet), separate living room and two-piece bathroom. We were on the ground floor overlooking the Royal section pool. The Royal room has two double beds, living area and a four-piece bathroom. The rooms were joined and they both have balconies.
The main buffet was about a 3 minute walk from our section. The breakfast was quite rich in choices: scrambled eggs, poached eggs, omelettes, bacon, sausages (many kinds), French toast, pancakes, salami, cheese, cream cheese, fruits, donuts, croissants, bread (make your own toast type of deal), variety of cereals, fruited juices, coffee, teaâ¦pretty much anything that you can think of. The food is restocked frequently.
Lunch is the same deal: pizza, few pasta dishes, grill (pork, beef, chicken and fish), soups, French fries, beans, vegetable dishes etc.
There are 5 a la carte restaurants open; one of them is exclusive to the Royal section. When we arrived and checked in we got vouchers (reservations) at three restaurants for the first three nights (Creole, Italian and Gourmet). We made reservations for the remaining nights afterwards and the waiting in the line to make these was not longer than 3 minutes. For the last two nights we had dinner at the newly opened Royal section restaurant and our butler made the reservations for us. Again, the food was incredible. The Creole restaurant, possibly, has the âweakestâ food, but that could be just my opinion:).
The beach is nice and it has lots of loungers. We never used the main pool, but the one in our section was beautiful. There is a hot tub in the Royal section as well.
All the staff is trilingual (amazing!). The maids are very polite and our rooms were always cleaned timely.
We took a Jeep Safari tour via Sunwing excursions at the Riu and were impressed. The tour is an amazing experience and we highly recommend it.
On our last day we asked to see the Iberostar Laguna Azul which is about a 5 minute walk from Riu as we wanted to see how Riu compares to the highly valued ILA. We were given a very nice tour; they showed us a room, grounds and amenities. After the tour the decision was unanimous â we are going back to Cuba and staying at Riu."
- Travel date: Thu 16th of December 2010
Should have been bumped!!
"Group of 11 travellers. Age range 4 up to age 60. We are a very relaxed group of travellers, this was our annual group trip. This is the first time I feel the need to write a review.
The resort was not ready. We were the first wave of Canadians. We should have been bumped!!
The first and most disturbing incident is finding a dying rat in one of our bathrooms on the 2nd day. Customer service was called immediately BUT it took 2 hours to have the dead rat removed and then another hour to have the cleaning service come in to clean the bathroom. This poor service is completely and utterly unacceptable.
We were also told by our Sunwing Rep that the water in the resort is processed through a purification system but we were advised not to drink the tap water. On four occasions both the snack bar and the pool bar ran out of water. The bottled water in our rooms was only replenished once during our 1 wk stay and it was finally replenished after all us called customer service separately and insisted water be brought to our rooms. In addition, not only did the resort run out of water at both the snack bar and the pool bar but they ran out of beer and juice on three separate occasions. This is not considered fully operational.
The hotel brochure describes the Snack Bar to have 24 hour food and drink service. This was not the case. It seemed that it was only opened whenever the hotel was able to staff the bar. We never did figure out what the true hours of operation were as it seemed to fluctuate during our stay. We were advised on one occasion at 5pm that the snack was closed and we were directed to the restaurant by the beach. With great frustration we found that no restaurants were opened and we had to wait for the buffet to open at 630pm. When the buffet did open, there was a line up all evening. They decided to only let a certain amount of people in as they were not able to service all the guests at once. The wait was 20 minutes before they allowed us in. This is not considered fully operational and is completely unacceptable considering I have a 4 year old child.
The poor quality in food and selection was a big disappointment. While we understand food quality in Cuba varies, the selection of food was extremely limited. Fresh fruit was hard to come by. Banana's had to be requested. Food was repeated every meal. There was no variety. It was not until our last evening that the entire buffet opened up with various selections of food that were not offered earlier in the week. This is a sure sign that our stay was simply too early and that the resort was not ready to service guests up to the expected 5 star standards.
The beach access was also poor. While there was a boardwalk leading to the beach, the path leading to the boardwalk was not safe as flat rocks were simply laid on the sand to act as a path. My elderly mother was not able to see the beach or spend time on the beach which is unacceptable. This in our opinion is yet another example that the resort was not ready to accept guests and is not considered fully operational.
The pool bridge that was part of the path through the middle of the pool grounds was in need of repair all week. A board had come loose and as a result guests had to travel around the bridge and walk alongside the pool. The grates of the pool were loose and several of us tripped or fell through these grates. This is a dangerous situation which was left unattended. The broken pool grates were finally noticed by the managers who had taken photos, repair did not occur during our stay.
Lastly, 2 of the rooms also had a strong paint fumes when we arrived. We assume they had just recently been painted. The fumes were so bad we had to have the screen doors left open for days as the fumes were unbearable. These rooms were not suitable for stay. The Reception desk was not helpful as many guests staying at the resort were also asking to switch rooms for various reasons. Our options were to move to a far off building with view of the construction.
All this being said, we feel the resort was mediocre at best. It was not up to 5 star resort standards as it was sold. The resort was not ready to service guests. We should have been given the option to transfer to another resort, but were not!
As a result, the Riu resorts will be one we will AVOID in future when planning our annual group trip. Dirty bits"
- Travel date: Thu 16th of December 2010
5 star billing, 3 star service
"- The service here was mostly lacking to say the least. There are a few very good people on staff in each area, (and this is not meant to tarnish them), but overall the staff seems unprepared and uninterested in giving service. They donât appear to care. I had to hound and forage for bottled water and mini bar replacement in our room for instance, for the whole 2 weeks. After repeatedly asking for service on a daily basis (all I wanted was bottled water for the room basically), and given the customary âI will checkâ comment â Nothing improved throughout the whole stay. Often I heard âI will check, what is your room number?â And nothing whatever would happen.
- The hotel makes no hint at off-setting jestures to appease many who seem dissatisfied!
- The food is definitely not as appetizing as elsewhere throughout Mexico and the Caribbean I have visited â no hot oatmeal for instance for breakfasts. All sugary cereals otherwise or bacon and eggs. Booking the restauaunts is a joke! We booked the creole for instance, and arrived and instead they had switched it to seafood.
- Communication is very tough with most staff. (Unless you know Spanish)
- If you like to stay connected, forget it! There is no wi-fi anywhere in the hotel. And for hundreds of guests they supply only two what look like hand-me-down-junk computers from a flee market. And for that privilege you get to pay over $6 cad per half hour, for a crawling slow internet while many others are breathing down your neck to get on because there are no other computers. And sometimes they would even run out of the internet password cards, so you could not even purchase one if you were willing to pay!
- The weather, which I know the hotel could not control; but in any case was very cold and rainy for the most of our 2 week stay. So cold, that we needed to heat our room, but there does not seem to be that option to the rooms. Only Air conditioning, which we certainly did not need.
- The resort is not finished construction, so be prepared for a lot of commotion going on around some of the buildings. Also hot water to our room was hit and miss, with more than 3 to 4 showers taken with completely cold water.
- The gym and Spa area seems to work well and was very nice. But again tough to get water, even in the gym!
- You will get .85 cuban convertible pesos for $1 dollar Cad, so things on the street after you do this conversion are much higher than Jamaica for instance it seemed to me. It is not a cheap place to visit after this conversion.
- Havana is worth visiting, and overall I am glad to have visited Cuba, but will choose other destinations until they are ready to give service and facilities equal to there neighbors. There are simply too many other great places to visit in the area without having to go here. Also we have stayed at two other RUI hotels with good experiences, and is one of the reasons I choose the RUI here. I am disappointed in the RUI for letting this hotel come to market in such an unprepared state. Very bad!"
- Travel date: Wed 15th of December 2010
"Just got back today from 8 days at the Riu Varadero. This will a great resort in time just not yet. Only 2 alacartes open and couldn't get in to either one in 8 days. The rooms were not cleaned to my specifications. The bathroom floor never did get mopped. The fridge was filled twice in the time we were there. No hot water and the list goes on. If you are booked I would be asked to move now and give this hotel time to get the kinks out. I don't have high expectation but there are some things like cleanliness that I won't give in on. One year from now this place will hopefully be the five star it says it is."
- Travel date: Tue 14th of December 2010
RIU VARADERO IS AN AWSOME HOTEL
"We stayed at the Riu Varadero from Nov 27 to Dec 05 and we had a fantastic time.
The hotel was at about 85% functional, meaning, that there are still things they need to complete and improve to make the hotel 100% 5/star. For example, they were slightly short staffed in the lobby in the evening and so the line up at the bar for drinks was quite long. Haging out at the lobby at night was fun with the singers & entertainment staff!!!
We had trouble with our key but shortly after some one came to fix it. My parents were short towels one day, but few hrs later the maid brought more and was very appologetic. One night, there was a line up at 7:30 to get into the buffet....some tables were not setup for the amount of guests. Next day, it was no longer an issue - all tables were set. They stocked our fridge every 2 days......these things are petty and don't bother us, these are things that just happen. We am not fussy, we just want to relax & enjoy our vacation - we don't spend time complaining about these type of things.
Also, during the end of our week, there must have been few hundered guests that had arrived because there were no more pool chairs to go around. But before you knew it, a truck came by to provide the missing chairs.
(POOL) I must say, the pool was very clean. Again, the staff should have come by more often to pick up the empty plastic glasses, but besides that no problem with the pools. The CRAZY GAMES at 3:00pm were a lot of fun with the entertainment team (Joe & Onel)!!! There is a swip up bar & 24/7 snack bar that is good for lunch and snacks at 2:00am!!.
(BEACH) Water was beautiful except it was not white sand. There is a guy that helps you with your chairs. Unfortunately, I forgot his name, but he would reserve our spot every day (we were 11 people) under the same huts so we didn't have to worry aboout finding a spot on the beach. We played beach volleyball every day with the entertainment team. Also we did some water sports (Banana boat & kiaking).
At lunch we also ate at the oustide snack restaurant by the beach and it was amazing for hamburgers, hotdog & fries and there was also the option of a buffet instead of going tp the main buffet,
(BUFFET & Restaurants) Food was amazing!! The buffet was great. They kept increasing the variety everyday. Only down side was lacked fruit & dessert. Ice-cream was amazing - kids & adults enjoyed that!! The servers were so friendly. We kept going to the same section at the buffets for breakfast & dinner so our tables were always ready for us.
Only 3 A la carte were up & running (Italian, Gourmet & Creol).
(ROOM) Was clean and average. I would have preferred two queen beds but they did not have so we had to sleep on 2 double beds instead....it was tight but we survived!
(GROUNDS) Very clean and workers working 24/7 to finish the grounds around the resort.
There is only one souvenir shop at this time, I hope to see more! There is a disco on site that starts around 11:00pm after the show.
Shows at night were great and don't be late for the kids show at 7:00pm.
Note - the resort is not completely finished, still the royal section to be finished.
All in all, we had a fantastic time with the family and the resort was very nice and food was great, I love the friendly satff. I have been to Cuba 5 times and I know how the food can be, but the RIU was the best for food - well done!
If you can, try going to La Rumba, the Mambo Club or La Americana. These are clubs that are safe and lots of fun with live bands. The entertainment staff can organise this if you don't want to go alone."
- Travel date: Sun 12th of December 2010
Only good things to come....
"Just returned today after a week stay. This is my 4th time to Cuba. There is a lot to cover so I will try to do it by section. We flew Sunwing - the flight was fine (left an hour late) .
Arrival - quick check in - rec'd our arrival drink. Beautiful lobby and grounds are mostly finished but shrubs are small of course - as just planted.
Room - we were in section 20 then got moved to 22. We have a small daughter and they had given us 2 beds that were just a little bigger than a single. So we got a king and a cot in section 22 - on the 2nd floor. We didn't see rats ever nor had an ant problem. May have been a ground floor problem. The rooms are nice. Compare with an Iberostar or Melia's that I have stayed in. There was a power problem one morning and no hot water one day also. Both got fixed quickly. The construction is not noticeable at the resort except for the random construction worker and seeing it as you drive past the far end of the resort. The royal section has its own pool and is close to the beach but far from the other amenities.
Pool - beautiful pool, great loungers. The pool is made up of several smaller pools. Clean, my daughter loved them.
Beach - beach was nice and comparable to other Varadero hotel beaches. I didn't find it tiny at all. Yes, there is a makeshift bar down there but it serves its purpose. There is a snack bar also with hamburgers/hotdogs and drinks. Our burgers were kinda raw so we didn't go back.
Food -There is a main buffet, a beach bar, a pool buffet. There was noticeable improvement as the week went on. New dishes and very good. We enjoyed the food actually and it was one of the better all inclusive buffets I've been to. I can't comment on the a la cartes as we didn't go to them (small daughter - buffets are easier). The people that went to the a la cartes said they were very good. Great omelet station and pasta station also. The beach bar had good variety and better as the week went.
Bars/drinks - The main lobby bar was busy in the evening and we noticed that as the week went by it got busier and almost impossible to get a drink. They will need to be opening their cappuccino bar soon as this would get the line down. They do have random waiters coming by to order your drinks.
Entertainment - they work hard on their show. Some nights were better than others but they have some amazing dancers.
Excursion - we did the catamaran day trip to Cayo Blanco. Snorkeled (very nice but very rushed) and Swam with the dolphins (I felt bad for them) and then lunch at Cayo Blanco. Beautiful but crowded.
Spa - we had a couples massage. It was great - $54 each
Kid Club - I was disappointed in the kids club but i had a feeling it was too early to be established. There also wasn't a lot of kids at the beginning of the week then more showed up later in the week. My daughter went once and didn't want to go back due to lack of kids then went again when we had our massage and liked it.
Summary - its a beautiful resort with some things to iron out. If you are a super fussy person then you won't be happy. The crowd is a varied one - old, young, families. French speaking guests outnumber English and with that said - there was times we were embarrassed by the rudeness of the French Canadians at the resort and on the excursion. I know that not all Quebecers are like that but the few that are really paint a bad picture.
If you have any questions - let me know."
- Travel date: Thu 9th of December 2010
Will be fabulous when ready...
"This will be long but hopefully it will help answer many questions for many people.
My family and I just returned this weekend after a one week stay at the Riu Varadero. The resort is beautiful and will be fantastic when complete but there are many finishing touches and services to be dealt with (not including the 2nd section that is schedule to open next year). The area that is now housing all the travellers is on the north side (towards beach) of the resort, it is beautiful and surprisingly lush at this stage. The construction part is on the south side (at the front of the resort) and off to one side. The construction did not disturb us in any way. The majority of the workers you see in the open guest areas of the resort are the gardeners and a few crews finishing up odds and ends. All very polite and non intrusive, an hola and a smile is what you'll get from them.
The staff give you a five star service and they are wonderful. Doing a great job and their very best with what they have. Always smiling and ready to help out. If it wasn't for the entertainment staff like Joe, Onel, Noel, etc. keeping everybody entertained and laughing, the management would have had more people raising their voices as opposed to complaining in a calm manner. And believed me, many, many guests were complaining.
The three stars I gave for service is caused by the lack of supply and not the staff.
With regards to value I gave the resort two stars. We paid for ammenities that were not provided and this was the main complaint from the majority of the people. Please understand that the resort is doing their best and it is improving at a great rate, but the week that we were there much was missing. I believe we were the third wave of Canadian travellers to arrive, first group Thursday the 25th of Nov, more on the Friday and we arrived the Saturday. In my opinion, as well as the majority of the guests and staff, the hotel was not ready to receive that many guests. Unfortunately, the Canadians that arrived within that first week were given a raw deal.
Here were the main issues....
- All five all la cartes were supposed to be functioning but in actuality there were only 2 open upon our arrival. Two more were opened by the Wednesday and the Asian, well, never happened while we were there. Getting a reservatiion was next to impossible. The ratio of guests to a la carte availablity was way off. Have been to many all inclusives and understand how they work and this seriously off balance.
- The buffet could not keep up with the food supply. The food was good but not enough choice. Many trays were left empty for way too long. By Wednesday it was a nightmare, it took us over half an hour to get a table and the lineups for the grills were rediculous. You could see embarassment and concern from the managment staff inside and outside the buffet. They were not prepared and by far not ready for the amount of guests they had. The days following the supply and demand was much better and improving quickly. We felt so bad for the buffet staff, they were doing their very best but some wonderful guests, in their infinite wisdom, chose to treat them poorly instead of directing their anger at management where it belonged.
- The bars could not keep up with the needs of guests either, they kept running out of inventory or didn't have it to start. On many days they ran out of beer, most of the shelves were void or in low supply of the alcohols needed to make the coctails on the hotel's coctail list...rediculous..again not ready
- Beach bar was worst of all..they have a makeshift hut that the bartenders built until the real one is ready. As for when the actual beach bar will be ready..... not even started, they haven't even cleared the area yet! The bartenders are working out of coolers and have a slush machine that isn't doing the job, slush is melted by early afternoon and usually only one of two sides on the machine is working properly. The beach hut isn't nearly supplied with what it needs for this type of resort ...again...not ready. They ran out of beer every day and often at the beginning of the day, not good. Imagine a beach bar with no pineapple juice all week....hmm
- The beach is small for a resort of this size. Unless they have a plan in the works, when this resort is at full capacity there will not be enough room for all the guests. At the end of our stay the beach was crowded and I'm not sure if the expected 630 some odd guests had been checked in.
- Beach had no music...resort still hasn't supplied power to the beach area, so no music on the beach and no beach aerobics...again..not ready
- The resort does not have a bank on site to exchange your money. A bellboy will bring you to the neighboring resort with the hotel cart, but wow, what an inconvenience. As to when they will have one, no one knew at the time we asked....
- There is a game room over the main lobby bar but our teenagers never got in, it was always locked no matter what time of day they checked.
- Gym area is beautiful and have a large supply of machines but the treadmills were not working, they were waiting for a technician to program them....again..not ready
- Beautiful fountains all over the resort but they're never on and many of them are still empty...not ready
- They weren't any live bands/musicians until the Thursday night
- Our room was cleaned late every day. On the Thursday it wasn't done until 5:30. We took very good care of our maid she just had too many rooms to keep up with...not enough qualified maid staff for the amount of guests...Even the maids bosses were helping the out to try and keep up.
- Many guests were complaining of a sewage smell in their room and were told it was due to a problem with the air conditioning units....hmm...is that not something that should have been checked before guests were moved into the rooms...again... not ready.
On the positive side
- The hotel will be spectacular when it's ready and the staff and management are working very hard. Great improvements are seen every day.
- The grounds in the finished area are beautiful and will only get better.
- Rooms are very nice, never had a problem with water pressure or hot water.
- Food is very good and I'm sure they will have more of a selection once they figure it out
- The staff is this hotel's greatest asset, always kind and willing to help with a smile. I really wish that disgruntled guests would take it up with the management, it's their job. Treating the staff with such disrespect is wrong.
- Pool area is fantastic. Big, clean and something for everybody.
As I wrote, the Canadian guests that arrived the first week were unfortunately given a raw deal and were missing many of the amenities the hotel was supposed to provide which in my opinion is unprofessional and simply wrong and that's something the hotel is going to have to deal with....BUT......this hotel is fixing the issues quickly and it's going to be the place to be. It's beautiful and grand and they are doing everything they can to please their guests.
Our family has already discussed visiting this resort next year, by then I'm sure it will be spectacular and will not disappoint."
- Travel date: Mon 6th of December 2010
Work in progress - Looking Great!
"We were supposed to be at the Riu from Nov 13-20. Instead we were next door at the Iberostar Laguna Azul. (great place). We did get a tour of the Riu on Nov 18th.(after waiting at the front gate for almost an hour (that's 20 minutes Cuban time) for Guest Services). The Riu was open with only about 40 guests, mostly Dutch and Germans. All Brits and North Americans were accommodated next door.
The resort is still under construction. The south end is nowhere near completion, while the section closer to the beach looks marvelous. (everything looks great when brand new). When itâs all done, it is supposed to be the largest resort in Cuba.
We spoke to several guests, who had nothing but praise for the resort. All raved about the food, and said staff bent over backwards to please them. Nobody we spoke to had any regrets being there. (with only 40 guests, I'm guessing it was not a hopping party place.) The buffet was open, (we peeked in and it looked nice), and one "a la carte" restaurant was open. (also looked fabulous, It was set up for Asian that day). The other restaurants looked done but not in use yet.
The main lobby is impressive. Reception on the left, and lobby bar on the right. Lots of seating available, and they made us some great Mojitos. (no air-conditioning and no ceiling fans either).
The main pool (open) has a strange boxy design. It does not look very large, and has the appearance of limited deck space. Not quite sure it can handle 800+ guests. The smaller pool in the Royal Section is also done. The south section (under construction) is to have its own pool as well.
The beach I found disappointing. Itâs narrow, with a large slope to the ocean. (and hard plastic beach chairs) It's tiny compared to the Iberostar beach to the south. I found the beach at the Iberostar crowded, so I cannot imagine what the Riu beach will be like when the largest hotel in Cuba is finally completely open. (I think itâs even too small for the first section of 400+ rooms).
We did get to go into a standard room. Being brand new, it looked lovely. I thought it was on the small side, but itâs well laid out and probably very functional. (one does not go south to spend time in your room anyway). The blocks of rooms are quite large. The center of the block is a courtyard from which you have access to your room. The courtyard has lots of lush vegetation so you feel like your going through a tropical jungle on the way to your room. (3 floors -no elevators) The resort is spread out and you do have to walk some distance to get anywhere. There are no rooms directly on the beach.
We could see furniture piled up in a lot of the rooms, patio doors still not installed and painters working away. Its all getting there, but don't forget, all the work is being done in Cuban time !!!
The grounds look great with streams and ponds, and when all the vegetation planted starts to grow, it should look fabulous.
Building materials are hard to come by in Cuba, and sometimes the quality of them is not there. This is evident at the Iberostar Laguna Azul, a resort just over a year old, where a lot of things are falling apart already. (the sea salt laden air and humidity I am sure contribute to the problem) We did notice at the Riu, that the plaster stucco covering the drain spouts (from the roof) are already blistered and peeling. I'm hoping that itâs not a sign of thing to come. I would be a shame to see this lovely place fall apart before itâs even complete.
I am looking forward to coming back next year to enjoy my "Free Week" stay. I have been to Varadero 7 times now and watched this resort grow. It will be nice to see it completed."
- Travel date: Thu 2nd of December 2010