15 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Plenty of fun!
"the overal experience was great. The beach is amazing and there is plenty to do. You are able to rent many things to fill up your time. The one complaint I do have is the buffet food is not very good (other than breakfast). However, the restaurents that you can attend with reservations is fantastic, especially the Italian one. The people are great and the rooms are comfortable. "
- Travel date: Tue 1st of March 2011
Pity about the food
This hotel has fantastic potential. Main buildings a bit overlarge and rambling but set in large grounds so plenty of room for everyone to rattle around in. Two very nice pool areas and right on one of the best beaches we have seen anywhere. Staff mostly very friendly provided you give them some incentive (tips). Quite an old hotel but has had work done it but still some way to go. Parts still looking a bit tired. We actually stayed in what they call the bungelows. These are actually a series of two story apartment blocks, eight per block. They are set in the grounds between the main building and the beach. The accomodation is very large. Large lounge, large bedroom with seperate bathroom and dressin room. Two patios, one off the lounge and the other off the bedroom. We had to fight for several days to get light bulb in some of the areas and never did get any plugs for sink and bath.
Why do we only give it 5/10? The food was absolutely diabolical. Always cold. Very strange mixtures of dishes which never seem to go together to make what we considered a normal meal. Quickly run out of anything popular like bacon and french fries and you had wait ages for them to be refilled, sometime never. Lot of people resorted to cold meats and cheese but that just made them run out sooner as well. Unpopular dishes seems to turn up again the following day rehashed in some way which often not even edible. As for puddings/sweets. Ok if you like ice cream provided you like runny.
All the bars close at 1900hrs except the Lobby Bar which is 24 hrs. The only place you can get coffee after 1900 hrs, none in any of the restraurants, even the a la carte's. Very small bar often with only one person serving, never more than two. The queues for coffee and drinks in the evening where unbeleivable. But that was ok because when you got your drink there was no where to sit and drink it. Seating in the area totally inadequate. They did open another small bar in the same area in the evenings but it didnt do coffee and a lot of other drinks, only basic stuff.
The hotel has been taken over by others and a new manager took over just before we arrived. The name of the hotel has been changed to Aquas Azules. The new guy is trying to improve things and we saw a lot of group haranguing going on between managers and staff but they have an uphill climb. When the manager was in evidence things were better but as soon as he went, back it went to the old ways.
We really hope the new management can pull the catering side around. It is spoiling what could be a really nice three star hotel. At the moment. in view of the food situation we would question whether it even rates 3 stars. "
- Travel date: Sun 1st of February 2009
Howdy... I was bored with the med and Eu...
"Howdy... I was bored with the med and Europe and wanted something different on a holiday.. so wifey booked us a bit of a last minute trip to Cuba (I'd been before). You really do get an almost 1st 2nd & 3rd world experience in everything that you do in Cuba - but it is a must see place.
We flew from Gatwick on a unmarked charter plane (new ish 767 ER ) that Air Cuba flew just outside of american airspace.. it was OK.. although it touched down at another airport before we got to Havana and then the transfer on top of that of 3 ish hours..made for a long day. ( Last time i flew was air cuba out of Cancun and that was Scarey - Russian YAK from the 1950's was wooden and looked like school kids had made the overhead lockers which all opened on take off etc - that was memorable )
The Hotel - Our Room was massive ( we were given 2 rooms ) but gave 1 back and wifey the 3 kids and i had a large family room. It was fine. The complex is good 3-3 1/2 star would be fair. It is clean and grounds are tidy the pools are also nice.
Other Tourists - NO FAT Americans... But you do get a lot of Canadians, Russians, Italians, a few english, a few south american people, and local Cubans. The international seem to get Chalets and the more local residents get a high rise hotel by reception (just my guess)
Foreign Money Changer on Site - Garantee you'll be short changed... check it B4 you leave.
The Food - Yip its a bit blan but you will not starve. There are some restaurants that you can book sort that when you get there with reception how that works. Its a bit of an art... the Cuban was said to be quite nice.. and it was (in its own cuban way)
The beach is without a doubt Awesome 10 out of 10.. and i've done thailand, malaysia, Carribean, Australia... and it tops them! But its flippin hot out there
Evening Entetainment - George was the guy when i was there and every night there was something and again this was very very good.
Staff - All very nice, levels of English are varied, but you will not have issues if you do not speak spanish.
Like a lot of things in Cuba some parts of the hotel are a bit old and not fixed up or modernised... but thats Cuba..
Go with an openmind knowing that you will have a great holiday but things will be different and not run as smooth as the western world and you will have an experience of a life time and you love it. CUBA IS SPECIAL, so see it and enjoy it while its there.
* Sort out a plug if you need one before you go for electrical stuff - Camera/Toothbrush charger etc. You will struggle if you don't take it with you.
* Check the weather as its likely to be 43 degrees... ( no seriously its unfeasibly hot ) so bear it in mind Take Sunblock you maybe able to buy it there but it may take 3 days to find a place that sells it.. although we had a downpour of rain... and i've seen nothing like it.
* The is a supermarket about 4 k's away (there is a bus/taxi to take you there - to hot to walk). I was told i could not get Nappies for my 1 2 & 3 year old when i was there - Heart stopping moment.. - You can and lots of other bits to (but you don't get many locals in there ) and its not really around the market area stalls where they will try and take you. From memory its the americano plaza or something.. (ask reception)
* They do tours but this place is a fair hike away from a lot of them ( i stayed in Havana last time ) - so they are long days... but you can go diving, dolphin show for kids.
* OHHH - if you've got little kids take some floatie devices for the pool
* Internet - I did it while i was there but it was in a courier company (like DHL or something)... but it was all non US - so no Microsoft.. but it worked.
* Duty free Cigars at Havana airport are fine! As is the Havana Club.
* IMPORTANT - THE PEOPLE HAVE ALMOST NOTHING, TAKE LITTLE GIFTS, PENS, OLD TSHIRTS ANYTHING.. THEY WILL REALY REALY APPRECIATE IT AND WHEN YOU GET THERE ITS TO LATE."
- Travel date: Sun 30th of March 2008
We saved Â£150 per person by making this...
"We saved Â£150 per person by making this a 13 day holiday flying with Cubana air, rather than a 14 day holiday flying with Virgin! Quite a saving on four people travelling!
The hotel cannot be faulted; the staff are, by Cuban standards, very friendly. We did complain about our first room, but were quickly moved. There is a refrigerator and television (with satellite TV) in the room which was spacious and airy!
Beach was perfect, typical Caribbean white sand blue water (although other parts of beach further along were rocky and not so nice).
Food was buffet style and there was always plenty of selection, although staff were not too quick to replace those dishes that were running out.
Drinks at the bar tend to come in small plastic cups and are either watered down, or they just don't give you very much. Often they forgot to put the alcohol in altogether!
All in all though a terrific holiday and an excellent hotel (the grounds, location and beach are great).
There is evening entertainment but that tended to be outdoors in garden in the evening and to avoid the mosquitoes we always gave that a miss - generally consensus what that the shows were quite good!"
- Travel date: Thu 22nd of February 2007
After booking this hotel I read some awf...
"After booking this hotel I read some awful Internet reviews about both the hotel and Cubana Air (the airline we had booked with!), and was quite worried, but thankfully our holiday experience was good.
The grounds of the hotel are beautiful gardens and well maintained, and a short stroll to the most wonderful beach (the best I have ever seen).
The beach outside this hotel is the best piece of beach in Varadero - and I know that as I walked to the end of the peninsular.
Elsewhere the beach does get narrower and rocky, but the beach outside Club Amigo is fairly wide, free of seaweed, and lovely soft white sand. You can go out into the water for quite a long way before it gets deep, and so is ideal children (and adults!).
The buffet food can get a bit monotonous, but I think that is the same with all buffet style all inclusive resorts. For a few days during our stay the food did not seem that hot, but it transpired that they had problems with the hot plates in the main restaurant and moved all meals to the restaurant closer to the beach until the problem was rectified (2 or 3 days).
I was surprised at how plain the food was, nothing was "spicy" and there is not a tomato to be had anywhere!
The restaurants did seem to have a problem with spoons...they seem to be like gold..and having to forego dessert on some occasions because of their lack, I took to carrying my own with me!
There are two al a carte restaurants that can be booked instead of the buffet restaurants and we tried both of these and they were very good. The staff in the restaurants were wonderful (as were most of the staff in the hotel), and a small tip is really appreciated by them.
The bar staff can be a bit "mean" with the alcohol, and very often you would ask for something that "hadn't arrived yet" but overall it wasn't too bad, and the hotel shop sold a bottle of rum for about Â£4.00!
The rooms were spacious and fairly well maintained, although I did wonder sometimes whether the maids time would be better spent cleaning than making fancy animals out of the towels!
The reviews I had read about Cubana Air were awful, but apart from the fact that we stopped in Holguin on the way, and hour stop where we could not get off the plane, making the outward journey almost 12 hours, it really wasn't too bad.
The plane is not as spacious as some airlines, and they really do pack them in!
Cuba is a unique and wonderful place, apart from the organised excursions though, there is not a lot to do. We went into Varadaro town (by open top tourist bus) a few times, there are a few small craft markets, mostly selling the same thing.
The old cars, the unspoilt beaches, the wonderful people, make this a destination that I hope to return to soon.
I would recommend Cuba and the Hotel Club Amigo Varadaro."
- Travel date: Thu 11th of January 2007
Will not return
"I must admit that my wife and I were somewhat concerned with what we were in store for at Club Amigo. We had read a few reviews on this hotel in Nov.2003 when we booked our vacation,3 were bad 2 were good.
As our vacation drew closer ( feb.22-29/04) , we read more and more bad reviews. We thought we could deal with whatever problems other people were mentioning. We are seasoned travelers having been to Mazatlan 3 times and Cancun 3 times.Lets start with the beaches. The water is clear and blue, beautiful. The sand is very soft but not white like Cancun.The surf is either non-existant or too rough. Four of our 7 days there it was too windy therefore too rough too enter the water. Once the lifegaurd puts up the red flag you must not enter the water (by law).This is not the hotels fault but should be kept in mind for your own safety. It is a fair walk to the beach but the grounds are pretty .The hotel layout is very confusing with very poor signage. There are no signs to direct you to the Italian restaurant for example.We have 2 children 13,11 and we're sure glad we didn't bring them. There were no kids their age anywhere to be found. We are both 40 years old but the average age of the guests was about 65. Old people can be very rude and seem to revert back to their childhood ways. This was obvious at this hotel. Be prepared to listen to constant french blabbing. Most annoying after not too long. The food was brutal at the buffet. Fish heads and tails on the grill at one point.Very often at the buffet they run out of certain foods, especially dessert. You will get the trots ,I think its the oil they use to cook with. Drinks were plentiful but very limited selction. Certain bars at times ran out of beer and wine. The hotel staff were polite except for the front desk. It was like you were bothering them if you had a question. The room was nice but one day we were given only one towel.When you get the runs , conserve toilet paper as you only get 2 small rolls. Tipping works, but bring gifts from home like old tee shirts , kids cloths, toothpaste,brushes,hairbands,deodorant,etc. It costs them too much too buy that stuff. This hotel is too far too walk to any flee market. In all we will never return to Club Amigo or Cuba even if it was free. We would pay twice as much to return to Cancun."
- Travel date: Mon 1st of March 2004
Awful service on a beautiful beach
"Club Amigo, while a beautiful hotel in terms of its physical structure and location on the beach, is an awful hotel. I would not recommend staying at this hotel to anyone. As a twenty-something year old I was told by my travel agent that this resort was popular among young people...au contraire! not only were the majorit of guests over fifty, the majority of them did not even speak english. When we arrived at the hotel they had over booked, so we were put in a bungalow far from main building. Halfway through our week, we were told without any warning that we would have to move rooms and that we had half an hour to vacate our original room. When we went back to pack we were locked out of our room...the front desk staff of course could do nothing to help since none of them spoke fluent english, not even the head manager. Every problem was exaggerated times 100 because of this lack of comprehension. Truly awful. Plus the weather was horrible while we were there. Remember to bring lots of cash because everything you want to do outside the resort adds up, and trust me, you won't want to stay on the resort property the whole time. Pick a different hotel, the value definitely did not compensate for the poor service!"
- Travel date: Sat 28th of February 2004
"Before leaving on our first trip to Cuba we read the review's posted here and where very concerned about our upcomming trip to Club Amigo.
What we did before we went was to keep in mind that is is ONLY a 3 star resort this will help you,if you go there and think you are going to get 5 star service in a 3 star resort you will be dissappointed. The property is well maintained and kept clean,the walk to the beach is a 5 min walk with a nice little beach bar and the beach is beautiful with lifeguards on duty. If you arrived late (let say a half hour before lunch is over) then you will have to eat what is left because at that time they don't refill. We were staying in the bungalow's because they had over booked the hotel and therefore we believed had the right to go to the the restaurant located in the centre of the bungalow area, the maitre D tried to stop us the first night but after explaining we stayed in the bungalow's he reluctantly let us in. Th food in the french restaurant Amelia was with out a doubt 5 star or better so we made sure we tipped the maitre D on our way out and that guaranteed us our way in for the next night,(each couple would tip him 5 buck's)and every night after that. Tipping in Cuba is very extensive if you want service there are however a few bartenders like Maria,Juan at the beach bar and Loriel at the bar where the piano is who would recognize you after you tipped them and give you excellent service. To sum it all up we won't go back to Club Amigo because the next time it will be a 5 star or nothing"
- Travel date: Sun 22nd of February 2004
Better than expected
"We ventured off to Cuba looking for an affordable vacation, and came home with a better trip than expected. We read reveiws here before going, and now after returning: I am shocked at many people's opinions.
If you have eaten at a buffet, then you already know what to expect from the food: it's mediocre at Club Amigo, Breezes, Sandals...wherever! The A La Carte restaurants were much better, so I would recommend booking into these every night. At the restaurants, you are served by wait staff, have your wine refilled, plates cleared etc.
At the "trough", it's like at any mass buffet -- food is bland to please the general palatte, preped earlier in the day day to accomodate feeding 400+ people. We never went hungry, as there was always something you can eat that was tolerable. Anyone who travels to an all inclusive to dine well is crazy: go for the sun, beach, stay. The rooms were very nice, big, really comfy beds, pillows -- all better than we expected. We always had water, hot water, clean towels, TV with satellite working, fridge in room working etc. No hotels in Cuba are "right on the beach" which is part of the charm. You can be on the beach and not see any hotels from there as the trees cover them. Our room was in building 1, closest to the main building and the path to the beach. In 28 degree weather, who is complaining about a 5-7 minute walk? We got cocktials from the Cuba bar and headed down to the beach.
The beach bar has everything from blended drinks, beer, wine, snacks, and bathrooms. The beach itself and water were unbelievable. I've travelled extensively, and the only water comparable was in Southern Thailand. The bluest of blues, clean, essentially fish free, and the sand is perfect. It's sandy with no rocks all the way out into the deep water. We were pleasantly surprised by the level of facilities offered by Club Amigo. Signature Vacations list it as 3*+, but we thought it warranted a 4*. The paino bar at night, cappucinnos in the Am and evening, healthy stocked bars with liquers, 2 a la carte restaurants, and the beauty of the grounds made this place perfect at an affordable price. We would recommend Club Amigo in a heartbeat!"
- Travel date: Sun 8th of February 2004
Nice hotel, terrible service
"Just returned from Club Amigo (jan 24-31). Beautiful country, some nice people but not overly friendly. The hotel was very nice, rooms were clean and staff who cleaned our room were very sweet. I will just say, the buffet is less than to be desired, food is usually cold, not much variety and very greasy..my complaint..lack of Cuban food, everything North American, not what I like in a Caribbean country! Had to go in to town to eat a real Cuban meal which was exellent, all for a whole 1$.
Biggest complaint..STAFF: the receptionists where totally useless! they were unfriendly and almost unwilling to help you. My sister-in-law lost her wallet full of cash on the first day, and the hotel staff did absolutely nothing to help, didn't even take down her name!
"supposedly" was found by a tourist and returned to the lobby where a bellboy brought it to her room at 2am.. from 300$ to 13$ which was left... funny they left any at all. So it was difficult trying to get any information from the hotel and like I said, they were not helpful and didn't care that they handled the entire situation very badly.
Besides that, we rented a car to go to Havana, better option if you are more than 2 since the day trips start at 67$US each. I found everything quite expensive, I have been to other Central American country (Nicaragua) where the people are much poorer, they have nothing, but they would give you all they got! Cubans are not all that friendly, granted their wages are next to nothing, but they make them up in tips every day! Overall, I would not go back to Club Amigo, probably not even Varadero (althought the beach and ocean were absolutely breathtaking). People were rude and food was just OK, edible at best.
Still just a 3 star! A la carte Cuban restaurant was really good, Italian, just ok, but really hard to make a reservation..again, you have to go to Reception where they were always too busy to see you...come back in the morning, no it has to be the night before..always a different answer..Most frustrating!"
- Travel date: Tue 3rd of February 2004
"The Club Amigo in Varadero is rated as a 3* but should be a 4 or 4.5* . The room was large , the staff were mostly courteous , the food was good , but typical of buffets , the grounds are lovely , the beach of course was great , the nightly entertainment was typical but good . My wife and I have no complaints at all , except the hamburgers are better in town . We are planning our return soon . It was an excellent holiday ."
- Travel date: Mon 2nd of February 2004
Going cheap, is just okay!!!
"We had a budget for an unplanned last minute holiday. Club Amigo was cheap and so off we went. The hotel grounds are very nice. Rooms were very spacious and clean. The beach is a 7-10 minute walk, but through well kept grounds with hammoks hung in some trees were you could relax and just read. Now for the "problems". The Food was often cold and lacked variety, and wait staff needed to be more attentive to clean up the tables. Cuban night buffet on Wednesdays we quite enjoyed. The a la carte restaurants, cuban was excellent but Italian not okay. The "Animacion" or entertainment group were excellent and understood our complaints and even added them into a skit!! during one evening show.
IT's NOT A 5 STAR but good value for a cheap getaway. I'd consider it a 3 star. We had a good relaxing trip. We didn't starve either!!"
- Travel date: Mon 2nd of February 2004