22 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
disgusting food hygiene standards
"Most hotels in varadero or cuba never are the star they say they are, most hotels in cuba are about 2+ star where ever you go or lower star.
Cuba is not a holiday destination for appreciating its hotel,food or especialy hospitable services.
ITS A COMMUNIST COUNTRY FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
Majority of people dont have much drive or passion about achieving in life, they have a dont care attitude which is due socialism.
The best thing is to go to cuba prepared, hotels are soooo crap, food is worst, you cant go cuba if your vegetarian! sanitary hygiene is very very bad.
But you are sure to enjoy the music, dancing, night life beautiful beaches , rum and cigars, and good time cubans.
Travel to cuba at least 2-3 times a year, as a tourist for the past 7 years.
- Travel date: Sat 22nd of September 2012
No Way This Is 5*
"Just back from 8 days at the Iberostar Varadero. Had a fabulous holiday, having already spent 3 nights at the Iberostar Parque Central, Havana, but a bit disappointed by this hotel, and not the "Iberostar" experience of Havana.
On arrival, our room was musty and damp so requested an alternative room, which reception did without any undue fuss, and to be honest was far better located for all amenities, and the beach.
In general, the room was fine, beach brilliant, weather glorious, rained early one morning, and late one evening, breakfast was good, and lunch, great if you ate at the grill bar, which was A La Carte evenings.
Biggest let down was the "Ambrosia" Canteen, this is all I can call it, food was repetitive and there was no Air Conditioning, only Fans moving the stale Air around, one Italian couple who had a small child, complained many times about temp in the " Canteen" but staff only seemed to pay lip service to their complaints/concerns etc.
Entertainment- Butlins does Cuba, fine for kids, but what about us Adults, we seemed to get 1 hour after 11pm, and that was very sparce, although did enjoy a Cuban cover band Rice N Beans, not bad 1 night out of 7
The pool was usually very noisy with endless bingo type PA annoucements, rule was no towels on sun beds to reserve them, but this just didn't seem to apply, so most sun bed taken by 8.30am, glad we spent all day on beach, and only ventured to pool when all others had left.Jacuzzi in pool didn't function very well, if at all.
5* rating doesn't really say BINGO twice dailly, to me
Ah, my biggest gripe yet, TIPPING, within minutes of being shown to our 1st room, Porter duly put his hand out, sorry, no money I said, then when we moved to the other room, same Porter moved us, and again, having showed us to the room, he turned to me, in perfect English, said, I have Â£9 in coins if you give me a Â£10 note, I told him, politely, that I had NO MONEY.
This was also the case when asked by one of the gardeners if we wanted a coconut, he would cut one down but only if you gave him money tut tut, come on Iberostar.
In general, the rest of the staff, very efficient, friendly , always willing to please, without Tipping.
So, overall we enjoyed our stay, but we had to adjust our expectations of " 5* ", it was more of a Luxury Holiday Camp, especially in the evenings, not a place for couples without children, looking to that special 5* peaceful retreat"
- Travel date: Wed 18th of May 2011
Flies, flies and more flies
"The Hotel looked fantastic, the staff where all very helpful although overworked, gardens immaculate, pools could be a little bit noisy with crying children suffering from the heat. The one BIG disappointment was the food, covered in flies, we did complain and where told the management had a problem with air conditioning, the following day the food area in Buffet Ambrosio which is the main restuarant was amazingly chilled and the dining area the same, pity it only lasted one day. This was the first time we have stayed at an Iberostar Hotel I have been assured by friends this is not the usual standard, I hope the management take notice of my complaint which was put in writing to them."
- Travel date: Sat 18th of September 2010
THE HOLIDAY PLACE RECOMMENDED THIS Awful Awful Dump
"Do not believe the hype, this place is bad beyond belief. The food hygiene standard is so poor you are more than likely going to be sick. The entertainment is tacky and unbearably loud, all day, all around the pool.You have to queue for filthy tiny towel pools daily to sit around the awful pool on their broken seats and be assulted by the "entertainment" The evening is almost worse, restaurants have no AC and are extremely poor. THE HOLIDAY PLACE DID NOTHING BY WAY OF COMPENSATION FOR THIS DUMP. I cannot think of a single good point about this resort."
- Travel date: Tue 9th of June 2009
The hotel was amazing, we got married o...
" The hotel was amazing, we got married on the beach and i could not wish for a better weddin, it was wicked (only me and the new hubby went which was even better). The staff was really nice even the gardeners was nice, very nice food and choice, the pool was wicked the beach and the sea was fantastic.
The hotel was very clean the room was big, good view of the gardens (and not in to other peoples rooms).
For any one think on havin a wedding there the weddin co ordinater is very good and the photographer and the camera man was brill !!!!!! really funny. The hair stylists there are really good they have got mags there to help you choose a style if you are not sure what to have. The service was nice relaxed, live music for the weddin march and 1st dance. it was really nice and chilled out.
Overall a wicked weddin/ honeymoon/holiday, we will be goin back and to the same hotel. "
- Travel date: Tue 22nd of July 2008
Fantastic Holiday, Amazing Hotel, Beauti...
"Fantastic Holiday, Amazing Hotel, Beautiful Wedding
Before I mention the hotel and the holiday Iâd just like to send a warning to anyone travelling to Cuba with Cubana Airline â DONâT!! If you can change do and if you canât good luck and take plenty of reading material!
Anyway, the important bit â The Iberostar Varadero (5th-18th April 2008), the choice of me and my (now) wife along with 5 of our wedding guests.
Having read so many good reports before going our expectations were high and we were not to be disappointed. How anyone in any previous reports has found a bad word to say about this hotel is beyond me. Anyone finding a negative must be extremely fussy or just darn right anal. Hehe.
Where to start? We travelled as a family of 4 (12 year old and 18 mth old in tow), we were joined by 5 others staying at our hotel and 4 guests from the Blau Varadero for our wedding.
Reception and rooms â we arrived at 1.30am and were met by a very efficient and welcoming receptionist, this was the norm of all reception staff throughout our stay. We signed necessary form, got our wristbands and were whisked away by golf buggy, not too far to block 18 (3rd floor, garden facing) â which happened to be a superb room, lovely view, spacious and all the comforts needed (iron and ironing board, umbrellas for the occasional rain storm, inclusive mini bar with beer, water and soft drinks and a coffee maker â TIP if you are a tea drinker or need to warn babies bottles Iâd suggest taking a travel kettle.
Money Exchange â bring cash to exchange. You can exchange money in a variety of places. Airport (best rate of 1.77CUC to the GBP), bank in Varadero (1.75 to the pound), hotel (1.66) â although we found the most convenient way with a better rate than hotel was to change with our rep (the Holiday Place) where we got 1.70 and didnât have to go into town and back (at least an hours round trip).
Animation â Daytime: plenty going on at various times, but never an intrusion â if you donât want to take part you wonât be pestered. We enjoyed archery, darts, water polo and water basketball along with the 4pm mini-show or quiz by (or in) the pool.
Evening: On the whole the evening entertainment was very good. My only comment (not criticism) would be that you can get a little bored of watching a dance show every night. Before each show the Star Friends normally do some audience participation stuff and this can be quite good fun. Between us we ended up winning Mr Iberostar and also most romantic couple â all good fun.
The Star Friend deserve special commendation as they work so hard.
Food â If you have read any bad reports about the food just ignore them. The food is FANTASTIC. The buffet always had a massive selection of food and as for people saying the food was bland they must have something wrong with their taste buds!!
We ate in the 3 specialist restaurants â twice in the Japanese, twice in the Mediterranean (one of which was our wedding dinner) and once in the Cuban. All were lovely and our particular favourite was the Med (especially the lobster).
Mosquitoes â Saw one, maybe two and as someone who normally gets eaten alive I have a total of 4 bites I think and they havenât been bothering me. Didnât hear anyone else complaining either.
Our Wedding â A perfect day. Weâd had a meeting with Belkis (the Wedding Coordinator) on the day after arriving . All very straightforward, chose cake, flowers, booked photographer and DVD guy, ordered buttonholes and booked restaurant. Dead easy and would recommend getting married here to anyone. We chose the garden gazebo to get married in and it was perfect. No âwedding watchersâ like you get on the beach. We had pics on the gazebo and on the beach.
Tipping â tip if you want to, it doesnât change your level of service which is always excellent. Will give you a good feeling though knowing that youâve helped someone out. Our maid loved the toiletries, crayons and other bits and pieces we left for her.
Trips â definitely go to Havana. If you like the sea and dolphins do the Catamaran trip (pay the extra and get an exclusive boat â we did and it was really really worth it).
So much more that I could say. We had a fantastic time and it is definitely a holiday we will remember for a long time.
Adey (Mr Iberostar 09/04/08, hehe.)
- Travel date: Mon 12th of May 2008
the person saying there was a long walk...
"the person saying there was a long walk and it was raining probably went at the wrong time of year when i went it was lovely no rain and there wasnt a long walk either!! the hotel was lovely, the staff where brilliant, the food was lush!! the hotel had everything and it felt really homely. i would recommend it to anyone!! my sister had her wedding there and it was amazing and well organised by the staff and my sister!! 10/10 for the hotel and holiday!!"
- Travel date: Tue 6th of May 2008
Hotel definitely deserves to be No 1, we...
"Hotel definitely deserves to be No 1, we are glad we picked it. The food was plentiful and good with plenty of choice.
Rooms were a good size and clean. The staff at the hotel were all fantastic and worked very hard to keep the hotel immaculate and help to make the holiday a good one.
Thomas Cookâs description was accurate and we have used them several times for our holidays. We have no complaints with them at all.
Cuba a country worth visiting. Weather lovely, people lovely, they could teach us a thing or two as no racism there at all. Fascinating to anyone interested in different cultures and worth reading about from the peoples point of view."
- Travel date: Sun 3rd of June 2007
The hotel rooms are far from the main bu...
"The hotel rooms are far from the main building where they have all the restaurants, lobby, reception, bars and everything else.
It is very very annoying to not have everything like guest rooms, restaurants, and reception in the same building, imagine if it was raining how annoying it is to walk all these big distances and in Cuba Varadero it does rain a lot! Out of 7 days I was there, 4 days was raining.
And there are no elevators in this hotel; you have to go up and down the stairs!
Melia Varadero is one building that contains everything and it has 2 or more elevators.
Food is not good in Iberostar Varadero; I had to always go out to buy food from restaurants in Varadero even though I had paid for all inclusive! :(
I found pizza nova in Plaza Las Americas and it was ok, don't eat their pasta's tried it, had no taste! Only pizza's, I found a Chinese restaurant in downtown Varadero called Lai Lai which was amazing!
Their food is great, I had canton fried rice which was the best, tried the fried shrimps which was ok and also tried chicken and pork sweet, and sour sauce which was ok too and their prices were reasonable! About 4 CUC a meal.
In Iberostar Varadero there is no 24hrs. Restaurant! The restaurant that's open late starts from 11pm to 4am, and they are always late they always start at 11:40pm instead of 11:00pm. And they don't have a variety of food, only 2 dishes to choose from.
Unlike Melia Varadero which has a 24hr. restaurant, and a menu with a lot of choices to choose from, this hotel isn't like that.
Also, their food for lunch and dinner is mostly Cuban food and I, my friends, and a lot of other people did not like it.
They have a restaurant called El Bohio, their buffet food is uncovered and birds always comes and eat from it, then a minute later you'll see a tourist that comes and eats from the same food! Thay didn't realize what just happened.
This hotel is rated 5 stars, it should not be rated more than 3.0 stars.
Melia Varadero and Sol Palmeras are much better than this, these two hotels are rated 4 star, guest rooms are all located within all the same building, main buffet restaurant is downstairs, their food in all restaurants are great and a huge variety!
Their main buffet restaurant is 3 times bigger and 3 times more variety food than the buffet restaurant called Ambrosia located in Iberostar Varadero.
I heard from a few people that Barcelo Solymar is a good hotel but I haven't tried it yet, I also heard to stay away from Sol Sorinas, I think that on my next trip to Varadero I will choose to stay at Melia Varadero or Sol Palmeras.
One day I was in the room watching TV and all of the sudden one of the room service people knocked on the door and a second later right after she opened the door and walked in on me! While I was walking towards the door, there is no privacy at all there.
Be aware of the Cuba Rent a Car that works inside this hotel, he rips people off big time and he asked for $80 CUC for 12hr. rental of the Hyundai Accent and in the contract he wrote that he received $60 CUC and when I asked him why he noted $60 instead of $80 he said "ohh the $20 CUC is for the insurance and other B.S."
Another thing, the car he gave me is a standard car I only found out after he took payment from me, I told him I don't know how to drive standard and he said he will not refund my money and that I should've asked for auto!
All cars should be auto unless you specifically ask for standard and if he going to give me a standard then itâs his responsibility to inform me or write it in the contract in which he did not."
- Travel date: Fri 1st of June 2007
This holiday was superb. The hotel is be...
"This holiday was superb. The hotel is beautiful with lots of amenities. The rooms are large, spacious, immaculate and fully equipped. It is located by a beautiful white picturesque beach, has three swimming pools, Jacuzzis, sauna, and gym.
There are two dining areas, a beach side snack bar and three speciality restaurants. The food is good and varied (although at times a little bland). Room service is also available.
The drinks flows, with a pool-bar, beach-bar, show-bar and lobby-bar. There are nightly cabaret shows available.
Without exception the staff are friendly and helpful from the gardener to the management. Nothing is too much trouble. The chambermaid will constantly delight you with her unusual arrangement of towels in the shape of love hearts, swans etc.
The tours are excellent value and well organised. The best value being the catamaran tour with the sunset trip thrown in, terrific value.
As you can see we absolutely loved the place and have no hesitation is recommending it to anyone, no matter how fussy. On a personal canvas of the people we had met on holiday, without exception they could not find fault with anything.
- Travel date: Tue 17th of April 2007
We went there in Nov'05 and had great ti...
"We went there in Nov'05 and had great time! The hotel is fantastic, the staff are very friendly (we spoke Spanish with them and they were very happy to chat with us though everyone speaks perfect English), food selection was superb! The water in the pool was clean but cold, the beach was spotless, clean, with white sand and beautiful sea. Entertainment was really good! They had Spanish, also salsa and meringue classes for free at the hotel and what we especially liked was the selection of cocktails they had (all part of all inclusive) from Cuba libre to pina colada. I have never tried anything that tasty anywhere else in the world. The room was very clean with king size bed and both shower and bath.
We rented a car to go around the island and that was an adventure!!! Thanks God my husband is Spanish and could communicate with locals. We rented a car not in the hotel but somewhere else few miles from the hotel (reasonably cheaper). There aren't many signs on the roads, not even on the highway (which is the only highway across the island). So be careful!!! We went to Trinidad de Cuba and Santa Clara and got lost just few km away from Varadero. In the end we paid a local guy $10 to stay with us in the car all day and show us the way around (no road signs!).
If you want to have a lazy holiday - this hotel is a place to go! Also if you want to have an adventure - Cuba is a place to go too! And good advice: take some pens, key rings, sweets or some other little things, if you go around and meet locals they would really like little gifts like that. Don't give everything to hotel staff, give it to locals in the streets. Remember they are very poor and even a nice pen can make them happy! They are very nice people!
- Travel date: Sun 3rd of September 2006
Travelled in January 06 to Iberostar Var...
"Travelled in January 06 to Iberostar Varadero. This is a SUPERB resort.
Rooms... Our room was large, well furnished and cleaned to a high standard every day. For a small bottle of perfume the maid left flowers on beds etc...
Pools... There are a selection of pools from the large fun pool with activities and swim up bar, to a pool quieter to the pool outside the spa which was very quiet with soft music playing. All spotless every morning the pools were jet washed.
Restaurants... When we were there it was never too busy...only on the middle Fri and Sat did a few more Canadians arrive (for the weekend) but then back to quiet again the buffet was large and a huge selection of good quality foods, meats fish lobsters, pastas pizzas salads etc, etc. The speciality restaurants were also very good we went back 3 times to the Teriyaki Chinese...cooked in front of you as a show...great.
Beach....it is set on a 6 mile bay....plenty of gentle walking or as I did...run 4 miles every morning at the waters edge before it got too hot. clean and tidy.
The whole complex was kept spotless and the staff were so keen to help.
Outside....Due to the political situation there is not a lot to buy if you are looking for bargains....the local crafts are superb at the flea markets ..wood leather etc and cheap so is the rum and cigars.
Havana...We did not do the organised trip. We went to reception who arranged a private taxi for the 4 of us to go. It was a 1 hour 40 drive, but in a modern taxi with stops as the driver stays with you all day and drives you around Havana showing you the sights and to a good restaurant.
Overall we had a SUPERB time. The hotel is only 18 months old and as such its in excellent condition and already having fresh paint.
WOULD DEFINATELY RECOMMEND IT."
- Travel date: Fri 24th of February 2006