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“Average-agree not a 5 star” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Varadero

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Hotel Riu Varadero
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4.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   | Parque Natural Punta Hicacos, Varadero 42200, Cuba   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #25 of 59 Hotels in Varadero
Ottawa
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Average-agree not a 5 star”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

As said by others our trip started out bad due to a 3 hr delay by Sunwing- that we had to tell the check in woman about as she didn't know! Once on the flight it was OK but Sunwing in the airport at both ends and at the hotel was very disappointing. It was also very annoying that the sunwing rep in the bus going to the hotel told us that it was "normal" in Cuba to tip the driver 5$- quite over the top.

We have been to Cuba many times so very used to it and have had some great trips- despite advertising as a "new 5 star" this hotel was very average-it generally fulfilled your basic needs but nothing special.

Food: There is absolutely no way to get food between 10:30 and 12:30. This as the buffets are closed and the "24 hour snack bar" actually does not open until after noon. In the morning the snack bar just lays out salads and breads- this would be OK except they were always covered in flies and wasps-it was absolutely gross and not edible- this is a very easily solved problem by just using a cover yet somehow it never happened.

Second problem with buffets is that the times on the door did not match reality- you could never quite be sure when they would open (ie 6 sometimes 6:30, once was almost 7!). This is a problem if you are not the first one in you would wait forever in the pasta/omelet lines. Definitely agree with others there is not enough buffet capacity here for the size of resort.

For set meals all the sunwing advertising said we could have six-the reality is you can only have two and really the capacity of the hotel doesn't really allow this. In order to book a restaurant you have to line up for a very long time to see one poor lady with a big paper book- she has to flip through this book to try and find a space. Really for a resort this size this should all be computerized and you need multiple people doing it to get any sort of efficient system.

Seafood restaurant-extremely bad, and not one thing on the menu that was not seafood. There seems to be no consideration for children or somebody being in a group that doesn't want to eat fish- we actually had to take my daughter to the buffet and bring back a plate so she could eat something (10min walk each way). The Cuban restaurant was good.

Bathrooms: They had beautiful sinks but toilets were often plugged up-for most of the week the theater womans washroom only had 1 functioning toilet and 4 out of order!

Rooms- were fine- we were in building 10 facing the pool which was great- but others in out group were in 10 at the back and they had to move due to the noise from the lobby/disco.

Trip to Havana-we booked a private trip for our family and that was great. We had a tour guide named George Gonzalez and would highly recommend him- he can be reached at fonte.nancy@yahoo.es or 0152892031

Regarding this resort- despite there being no major disaster, next time we will choose elsewhere.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

When we originally booked this holiday we had asked for quiet, relaxing and chilled out. So as you do, we researched a bit about the hotel, food, location ect ect, we were pleased with what we read so decided to go ahead and book the holiday. When we arrived the hotel looked out standing, modern and clean. when we arrived in our room, it was spacious and clean. As the holiday progressed we experienced more and more of the hotel.
Most of the staff were great, helpful and polite, however, there were a few whom ruined this, especially the staff in the pool side snack bar, they were dismissive and alot of the time it was hard to get service (make sure you sit in the right area of tables, if you don't they will ignore you!)
Quiet and Chilled out........10am wake up call every morning with loud music and entertainment staff rounding up guests to take part in whatever games they were playing, not finishing until 5/6 at night (around the main pool and on the beach)is not what i call relaxing, the only escape from this was at the pool at the opposite end of the resort, were there was no shade most times of the day. The only time we felt we could sit out on our balcony was at night. It seems that tis resort is trying to cater to far to many types of holiday maker, Families, couples, partyers and mature families don not all mix well like this. We did meet some friends over there who were staying in the royal section, so we wondered round to see what it was like where they were staying, it was a different world!! peaceful quiet, amazing service....
The food was ok, nothing special, no WOW factor. we ate in both the buffet and the speciality restaurants, the service was the main let down, we waited 25min just to have plates collected in one occasion ( we gave up and went to the buffet for dessert)
The bar and lobby area are gorgeous, large and airy, try and get a set close to the open doors around the side, it can be very warm, and the breeze is amazing!
We visited Varadero a few times, The locals are lovely, though are quite persistent with taxis, horse and carriages and coco taxis! Don't be afraid to say no! We were once told in Havana that the horse was air conditioned! haha! Don't get me wrong we had a trip in a coco taxi and it was great fun, and the old cars are amazing! The convertible Oldsmobile was my favourite! :-)
Over all we had a great holiday, but it wasn't because of an amazing hotel, The only way i would come back to this hotel would be to the royal section. This is the second time i have stayed in a Riu hotel, and quite frankly, i would never give them my money again.

With out a doubt, Go to Varadero, Just not this hotel. For the money you will pay, you could find a far better one. I have tried to be as honest and fair as possible, so i hope you find this review useful when booking you holiday, I wish some body had written it for us.

Room Tip: If you want peace, get as far from the main pool as possible!!!
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Ancaster
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

Went to the Riu the first week of September, 2013 with a group of friends. You cannot beat the beaches and weather in Cuba. The resort is very clean and the service is very good. The buffet always had a good variety. The staff is very friendly. The buildings are spread out so if you like activity, request buildings around the pool. Nothing fancy but overall a very nice resort. Make sure to go into Havana, a beautiful city.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Cambridge, Ontario
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2013

RIU Varadaro 2013 Vacation
March 1st, 2013
Sunwing Flight 350 out of Toronto delayed 3 hours and no excuse provided by Sunwing
Arrived at 2:30 am at the RIU Varadaro and was taken to room by 2:45. Power went out at 3:20 so it was off to bed. Our room was 15308 and was an excellent room.
The RIU Varadaro is classed as a 5 Star resort in Cuba but from what we experienced I would have to say that the RIU Varadaro does not even make a 4 Star in our respect. I expect after you read the concerns we had with this resort you will see that the RIU needs be down graded from a 5 Star resort. This resort is not worth the $2600.00 we spent.
Our 1st day March 2nd 2013 was not the greatest for us but we can not blame the RIU for that, that belongs to Sunwing for flight delays as mentioned above. We got up around 9:00 am to a very cloudy and cold day and rain off and on. We also can blame the RIU for this either. We made the best out of the bad weather. Didn’t do much the 1st day because of the bad weather. The second day was again bad in the morning but we decided to take a walk around the resort with the umbrellas. The beach had a lot of Man of Wars (Jelly Fish) on the beach. This was the only day we saw them but there was a lot of them. It was a 15 mins walk to the beach from our Villa as we were in the most south villas of the resort. We did have a very nice pool in the centre of our villas. But this pool didn’t have many activities at the pool. We decided to move to the other large pool to the north of the complex where the daily activities where held by the animation crew.
I even won one of the games on the 3 rd day and went to the evening events to get a bottle of rum they had said I won but when I got on the stage they never gave me a bottle of rum. I ask the next day at the pool and they said they would resolve but I never did see a bottle of rum. I did notice that every evening there was always 1 or 2 bottles of rum not handed out even thought there where people on stage without a bottle. I believe the staff where keeping the bottles for them self’s for their own use.
We found that 40% to 50% of the service staff didn’t seem to care much about anything even the guests at the resort. This was a 1st for us as we are used to the staff bending over backwards like the Dominican but not here.
The 2 snack bars are menu driven and it took over 40 mins one day to get a burger and fries after ordering. This is not how we want to spend lunch waiting. We only attempted the snack bars twice because of this and our second visit was even worse. We tried at 12:00 but was told it opened at 12:30 so we went back to the pool and returned at 12:30. I waited for 5 mins and then approached the counter and ask for the Menu and was told that there was a problem at the bar and to come back at 1:00. That was enough of that so we walked to the buffet. This just made us both much more mad after being there earlier. We didn’t care about the bar we wanted food.

The 2 main buffets where not big enough to handle the number of people at the resort. If you wanted to have a made to order pasta or omelets you had better be ready to wait for 20 to 30 mins as they seem to only make one at a time. We were not impressed with many of the food items at the Buffet. We tried many of the dishes and found them very tasteless. Some items where good like the turkey when available or some of the carving items. The buffet’s other then the Beach buffet I would rate at 2.5 to 3.0. We saw one cockroach at the buffet on the wall beside our table and that was the last day so we where clad to leave the resort. No sliced bread for at least 3 days and it may have been 4, very tired of rolls for breakfast.
We only went to 2 ala cart resorts as that is all you are allowed even though they have 5 ala carts. The Sea Food restaurant was just our worst experience ever. Finding the front door was a chore at best. We finally got seated by staff and then we waited 20 mins before getting served. We just about got up to leave and they finally came over to ask what we wanted to drink and gave us menus. The washrooms for the Sea Food ala cart was outside the restaurant and our table was at the doorway for the washrooms so we had people going out the door all the time we were eating. 3 of our group had the same meal Shrimp & Lobster, my wife had Shrimp and Lobster and spent the night in the washroom and the next morning as she had food poising. The gourmet ala cart was much better and the food was great.
For a resort that is only 2 and ½ years old there are a lot of problems at this resort. Many of the mens and ladies washrooms don’t have toilet seats. Don’t know where they are or why they have not been fixed. The north Pool ladies washroom doesn’t have water to wash your hands because the taps where broke. The beach washrooms are at the beach buffet building(sea food ala cart) and that’s about 5 mins from the beach. The resort has about 50 to 100 feet of forest bush between the beach and the resort and 2 paths to get to the beach. The beach bar is in this bush and way too small for the beach. More thought should have put into building placement and washrooms for the beach.
No matter where you went to get a lounger during the day they was none available. I expect the resort was near full and they did not have enough loungers at either pool or the beach. We are lucky that we get up very early most mornings so we got a lounger but all we heard from other guests where how come they don’t have enough loungers. 1 guest dragged loungers from the beach to the pool so his family could have loungers.
We also didn’t have any beach towels in our room as we were told so we went to the front desk and where told to go back to our villa and the maid would give us beach towels. As I have a bad knee my walking at this resort was far too much. My wife went to the villa to meet the maid and got the towels. We had face cloths for the first 2 days and the next 5 days we didn’t. We never saw our maid after the towel event but we did give her stuff every day.




We had planned to spend our last day at the north pool. We got there about 7:45 after breakfast and just sat and relaxed. We found a lot of fly’s where bugging us and didn’t know why. I got up for some reason and looked over at the pool bar that was still closed because it was early and saw what looked like water all over the tiles. Then I got a funny smell so I went over to the steps for the pool bar and it was not water it was sewage and about 5 inches deep. Another guest had said it happened the day before in the afternoon and the bar was closed. The problem was still not resolved at lunch and a temporary bar was setup by the washrooms. We left the pool for the beach at 9:00 as we could not stand the smell.
I checked with Sunwing 3 times to verify that our flight (351) was on schedule on the last day of our stay. We had heard that Sunwing was in negations and the staff where causing delays. We left the resort at 7:00 and arrived at the airport at 8:00. The board said the flight was still on schedule but after going though the various lineups to get to the boarding area we only had 45 mins before boarding. We started lining up for boarding at 9:10 as we where suppose to leave at 9:35 but once again the Sunwing caused delays and even the board was not updated. The crew didn’t even arrive until 9:20 and we did not depart until 10:05. We didn’t get back to Toronto until 2:30 and then waited for baggage for about 30 mins.
I expect that you will get many more complaints about the RIU Varadaro and I know that it will be a very long time for me to spend any time at a RIU in Cuba and will most likely be very careful booking any RIU resort. This resort DOES NOT deserve a 5 Star rating. A 3.5 would be a good rating for this resort. We have been going to resorts now for 7 years and this was the worst resort we have ever been too. The review above is being sent to the RIU , Trip Advisor, and Signature Vacations as we feel that everyone should know about this resort before booking.

Earl MacLean
Jeanette Denise Leclerc ( MacLean )
Cambridge, Ontario Canada

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Truro, Canada
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2013

Adults only suite was perfect. Some buffet food was ok. The omelette man was great. A la cartes were good. All the bars ,especially the cigar and lobby bars were great. Staff was excellent,especially in adult section. Incredible beach and whoever said. Those who had no hot water and a private beach area must have dementia. Havana is beaten down and too many people beg. Go to cuba for fun, booze , the beach and mainly relaxation. Don't go for the food.

Room Tip: Get the suite
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saskatchewan, Canada
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2013

I just returned from a week at the Riu Varadero. This was my second visit to Cuba, and I had previously loved the beaches, ocean and people, but found the food at the previous resort intolerable. We chose Varadero and the Riu on the suggestion of our travel agent. We upgraded to the Deluxe (adults only) Section. My experience has been that the food at all inclusives whether in Mexico or Cuba leaves a lot to be desired, however, the food at the Riu was not terrible. There was quite a variety of foods, something different each day. There were fresh vegetables, fruit and buns and butter (when available) that were all good. The fish on the buffet was good...just some issues with some of the mystery meat dishes. The guy on the omelette bar was great...always had a big smile, and chatted with the guests. By going deluxe we had access to 24 hour room service, the International restaurant for lunch, and more access to ala carte restaurants, most of which we thoroughly enjoyed. We did not care for the food at the "seafood" restaurant....actually had the lobster at the International Restaurant and it was wonderful.
Our room was comfortable, with a view of the ocean, and only a short walk to the beach. Our room was clean and well appointed. We asked for extra pillows and they were brought up promptly. We always had towels, toilet paper, etc. and the mini bar was kept stocked. The food at Cuban resorts is their one failing, so if you travel for the food don't go here, but if you are looking for great beaches there is no place better!!

Room Tip: Depends what you want....access to the pools and amenities then go standard, but if you want access...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton, Canada
1 review
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2013

We traveled Feb 24 to March 3 2013

I was a bit nervous about my choice after reading a lot of the reviews on this resort . We have traveled many places over the past 20 yrs and we go to Mexico at least 3 times a year, so we are not new to travel. So people STOP saying it is a 2 or 3 star, what world do you live in.....

We will say we were very happy with our choice.

My only real complaint which has NOTHING to do with the resort is TOO many smokers, who lack proper etiquette and consideration for others.

First I will say the resort is beautiful, clean, well decorated, large and the lobby is amazing.
Lobby offers 3 separate sections and a piano bar and depending on if you want a louder place to a quieter place to relax. There is a cappuccino bar, great spanish coffees too ,as well a few outside seating areas which was so relaxing. Also will advise through- out entire resort they have bistro style tables set up and you can have a sit down whenever and where ever, nice touch.

Our check in went without a hitch. Fast and efficient.

We stayed in block 20 which is close to everything. Our room was clean and nice decor. Everything worked fine. As for complaints of lack of towels, face cloths etc. I did not worry too much about that as long as we each had a towel I was happy, which we always did. Our maid Mary came to meet us and checked on us to make sure we were happy with our room. One time she advised she would be back with more towels which she did return with. I want to advise the reason for towel issues at times is because all laundry is sent out for cleaning and at times not back in time. Given the size of the resort it is understandable that at times they may not have towels in a timely fashion. This is why I chose to reuse my towel ( Just like when in Banff Alberta it is explained as an environmental decision which we all have a responsibility in). Do the math people.

Beach is amazing baby blue color and you do need to get there early if you want a palapa for relief from sun. Only thing I would like to see is when people save a spot at beach and at the pool for them to actually come before noon to use them, as there was times where spots were saved with a towels and they sat empty the better part of the day or all of the day. Unfortunately there were people who could not find a spot even though there was a lot of empty spots saved with a towels. I see others have had same complaint THIS IS NOT THE RESORTS fault this is your fellow travelers who need to use some consideration for others.

Both A la cartes we tried were great food and and again the atmosphere / location/ decor were very welcoming. Nice places.

There are plenty of places to eat throughout the day snack bars, buffets and plenty of food.

Not sure how much people know about Cuba but their people get a limited amount of food assigned to them monthly. So please only take what you are going to eat, same rules apply as if you were in your own home. I saw so much waste, in a country where food is limited due to embargo's. Same goes for drinks. Buffets- yes a bit of a line up on some days for omelettes and for the fresh prepared foods like pasta, carved meat etc, however there is a lot of food. Bacon every morning we were there, however if people would not heap an entire plate of it there would be lots for all. There was fresh fruit every day and every meal. Desserts were nicely presented and tasted great too. Good bread selection. We had lobster on our buffet but it did not look like we usually see it, but it was great tasting. At times the Buffet lacked salad fixings. There is plenty of food, it just is not prepared the same as we are use too, but remember we are not in Canada. Try some of the different stuff you may actually like it. I would put a small amount on my plate have nibble if I liked it I would take more if I did not like it I would not take any. Really that simple no waste. At times the servers were run off their feet trying to serve drinks, clean tables, reset tables, run to kitchen to get clean utensils. Yes what they need is BUS PERSONS to help the servers out.

Now come on people .. keep in mind that 1 CUC is roughly equal to 1 Cdn dollar and equivalent to approx 25 of Cuban Pesos that the local people use. So for goodness sake TIP these people. If you can not afford to leave 1 CUC on the table or bed then maybe you should not travel. These people make roughly 17 dollars a month. You leaving 1 CUC gives them 25 of their money. Regardless how you feel about the resort these people work 6 days a week long hours and 1 Cuc can make a difference in their life.

All in all we loved our trip the people are great , friendly , resort clean and beautiful. Habana trip was worth every penny, amazing. Good day self -trip into Varadero too. Sure food is different but of course it is it is CUBA not Canada.

By the way I also want to add that in past reviews persons complained about watered down drinks, everyone of my few drinks were too strong and I had to get them adjusted. I never saw any recycling of beer or cups like one person reports, sounds like someone may have had too much to drink.

Frankly I was tired of hearing people complain, you are on vacation make the best of it.

Reading some of these reviews ... is embarrassing, REALLY because you had to use a hot dog bun for your hamburger. Remember the word EMBARGO ** read about Cuba before you travel to this country then maybe you will understand the things you tend to complain about.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Varadero

Address: | Parque Natural Punta Hicacos, Varadero 42200, Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #25 of 59 Hotels in Varadero
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Hotel Riu Varadero 4.5*
Number of rooms: 1110

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