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“Three times and still counting...simply adore this place” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Grand Memories Varadero

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Grand Memories Varadero
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4.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Km 18 1/2 Autopista Sur | Parque Natural Punta Hicacos, Varadero 42200, Cuba (Formerly Hotel Riu Varadero)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #52 of 59 Hotels in Varadero
1 review
“Three times and still counting...simply adore this place”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed yesterday NEW via mobile

I have been to the grand memories 3 times every time I have had a great experience. I have gone with for my sister's wedding then with my whole family including my mother in law who is 67 and again with a friend and my 12 year old daughter. The great staff and facilities has made each visit fantastic! My mother in law even visits regularly as well now! We even put packages together to send to the wonderful staff.. They are like family. The property is clean but most importantly I felt safe at all times,
The food and drinks were great. There was many sauces and flavours available. Fresh grilled meats at every meal. It is great!
The shows were well presented couldn't ask for more.
I love to travel. I have been to several countries and resorts and grand memories maybe the only place I chose to visit for vacations going forward. When you have found a place that feels like home when you are not there it feels like being home sick :)

Stayed April 2015, traveled with family
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106 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (35)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Hebrew first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Prince Edward Island
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed yesterday NEW

I travelled to Grand Memories Varadero from 22 April 2015 - 29 April 2015, so this was just a few weeks after the transition from RIU Varadero, which is what it was called when we booked. I traveled with two girlfriends (all of us in our early twenties) and we were all a little nervous since the reviews had tanked after the switch, but thankfully, the experience was mostly great! This was my second time to Varadero.

HOTEL AND ROOM:
The grounds were very nice. The entrance is beautiful, and the buildings had very good upkeep, and our room had no major issues. The only issue was with the toilet, which was not working since the flusher wasn't connected to the internal plug. No big deal, we just had to lift the back of the tank to flush it. We didn't bother reporting it because it didn't hinder our bedroom experience at all. We always had hot water, but the beds were very hard and uncomfortable. April is the end of the dry season so there were dry spots in the grass and some of the "rivers" the hotel has for decoration were empty. A/C in the room was great. There is a safe with no charge as well. I saw a lot of reviews stating that this resort was too big, but it was definitely no bigger than any other resort I've been to. I never felt like going any where was too great of a distance.

BEACH:
We spent a grand total of 2 hours at the beach, but this does not reflect the quality of it. I come from PEI so my standards for beaches are very high, and I was still very impressed. The water is clear and turquoise, but if you are looking to snorkel you will have to go out on one of the boats which I was told costs $25 CUC. Lots of beach chairs and shade as well.

POOL:
This is where we spent most of our time, because there was always a lot more going on. There was always music playing, or entertainers playing games or performing for us. Come 3PM the pool and swim up bar gets packed with people and it feels like a giant party, but there is also a pool at the other end of the resort that is quiet if that isn't quite your style. Shade was a bit of an issue. There were lots and lots of lounge chairs but most of them were sitting in the sun, so if you wanted a shaded area you would have to get up early or be on the look out for when people left. The pool itself was very clean, and I saw a guy every morning scrubbing the sides of the pool and pool bar.

FOOD:
It's Cuba so I was not expecting very much, and it was basically exactly what I expected. There was always lots to choose from at the buffet, but most of it was pretty bland tasting. The fresh grilled food stations were always better. I ate a bit of everything: bread, meat, dairy, fruit, and vegetables and never got sick once. There is a snack bar right next to the pool that has hot dogs and fries and things like that and it was pretty good. Lots of drinking water was available at all bars so bring a water bottle! Also, the buffet was air conditioned which I enjoyed.

You are limited to 2 a la cartes per week and we booked the Cuban and the Italian restaurants. I found these no better than the buffet, and they often ran out of food on the menus.

The alcohol was great! I enjoy the beer in Cuba so I mainly stuck to that all week. I brought a large mug for drinks and am very glad that I did, because many people around the bar were jealous of me haha.

GYM:
I got a bit of a sunburn one afternoon, and so I spent the high point of the next afternoon at the gym to stay out of the sun. It's very tiny, but has most of what you would need if you feel like you absolutely have to get a work out in. The stairmasters were not plugged in and there were no more cords in sight, so they didn't work which was disappointing. No one was at the front desk when I was there, but I was told that sometimes there is. It's nicely air conditioned with cold drinking water available. No cleaning supplies to clean the equipment though. Also no mats to do any floor work.

NIGHTLIFE:
Fantastic. Best night life of any resort I have ever been to. The disco was pretty busy most nights and the party often continued downtown to the clubs. Cabs charge $20 CUC per car to get into town and are widely available. It's about $10 CUC to get into the clubs. The cab drivers always know where the party is, so just ask them if you are unsure which club would be active that night. We went to the Cave Club on Monday night, which is apparently the night for the Cave Club and it was a blast. It was very crowded, but I kind of enjoyed that. The bathrooms outside of the resort are pretty horrendous though so avoid them if possible. Partying on the resort would go until 6AM. The night we went to the Cave we got back around 3AM and the pool with the pool bar had a pretty steady party going. I'm sure we weren't supposed to be in the water, but the staff were all standing around and bringing us drinks, so we joined in haha. The snack bar is also open 24/7 so lots of late night eats.

SERVICE:
The service was great. Tip or no tip, everyone was quite friendly and attentive. Everyone says hello all the time, and unlike the Dominican Republic, no one was ever trying to sell me anything. There was one entertainer who liked to come around and talk/hang out and my friend was able to learn a lot about Cuban life from her. Everyone seemed very social and willing to chat.

There were a lot of servers who would stop and ask to change the $5 CAD they had for the $5 CUC that I had. They said it was because the Canadian money was useless to them, but my Sunwing rep told us we could change our Canadian money back so long as it was in bills, so I'm not sure why the Cubans couldn't do that. I suspected that it was because $5 CUC was worth more than $5 CAD by 25%, so I would advise not to do that unless you're feeling particularly generous or kind. I did it once and he seemed very grateful for the exchange.

There was an incident at checkout that left me with an awful taste in my mouth regarding the resort. During the Italian a la carte, a server set down a bottle of wine on our table. I opened it and poured my friends the wine. About 10 minutes later, a server comes up and is laughing and seems very uncomfortable. He was trying to tell me the wine wasn't for drinking. I asked him what it was for, and he said there was a charge. I had no money on me so I asked him what he wanted me to do, and he said I was to pay at checkout. I asked why I was not told that the wine was not complimentary and he didn't seem to understand me. I asked again if I would have to pay for it and he said "uh it's fine, you just sign this." The whole ordeal was very unclear, but I left the restaurant thinking that I would not have to pay for it; however, at check out the charge was there on my room. I told the man at the front desk that I was not paying for that. And it was basically a back and forth of "yes you are" and "no I'm not" for ten minutes. He then just walked away so I thought it was dealt with and went to wait for the bus. Then I see the man walking towards me with a security guard and he says that I don't have to pay for the wine, but that I can't leave the country if I don't. They were literally threatening Cuban jail to me over this. I asked him to repeat himself because I wanted to be clear in what he was saying, and he threw his hands up and walked away saying "Not my problem, not my problem." I informed him that it was absolutely his problem if we were having this conversation and to be more clear. Eventually another lady came out and seemed much nicer and willing to talk, but at this point it was clear they were going to force me to pay for this. All I had left was $20 CAD and my friend gave me $3 CUC which was barely enough to cover the charge. I threw the money at her and just walked away. She chased me down with a receipt and again tried to apologize, but I told her to just stop talking to me. I was pretty fed up at this point. The whole ordeal was awful, and it was definitely not my finest moment, but the hotel really needs to be more clear on what is not included when it says "ALL INCLUSIVE." Oh well.

That being said, I would probably still go back to this resort. That was really just a tiny blip in my whole trip, which was mostly great.

PS. One free hour of wifi per day, only able to be used in the lobby, which is not air conditioned.

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed yesterday NEW

So this was my first time to Cuba. Much different from other places. I'll list how I felt.
1) we upgraded to adults only. We're in our early 30s. We had alot of extra options. We didn't need to walk anywhere we had someone drive us. We never used it though. I felt like a loser knowing I couldn't walk from one end of fhe resort to the other lol but adults only came in good if you wanted to get away from everything. There was no swim up bar in adults only. However we did have decent food at our restaurant and the cigar bar was great and awesome access to the beach. Just through a little path. No one has Oceanview. Even though it says Oceanview the trees are high. Just don't care about it. Don't sweat the small stuff.
2) the middle pool is like an action pool. Hardcover parties all day. Most people come around 2 from the beach and just let it go. Lol
3) the food was decent. It's Cuba. They made arelot of changes. We did get ketchup on the resort. Might only be in adults only and you will not find peanut butter.
4.) Our currency sucks down there and it is no longer as cheap as you think. The guy on track resort selling his fake jewellery etc is expensive. Do yourself a favor. Get on the bus that comes every 30 minutes and go for a spin in Veradero. It's super safe the people don't make you crazy with the begging and you'll get it 75 percent cheaper. The Beatles bar there is great too. However some places take advantage of our money.
5.) Be good to your maid. Bit more at important. Be good to the little men. Like the Gardners. They work there assessment off and don't get gifts and tips.
6) the catamarans and those things will cost almost 300 canadian for two... it's not as cheap as anywhere else. So bring money.
7.) Enjoy your trip don't focus on anything not done etc and be mad. We had a few little run in a with the ignorant people from the Netherlands and Quebec that we ran into and the fact that some people abuse the vip section at the beach like they did... not all but a certain group. Don't base anything on the resort with douche bags.
8) get food before 10 otherwise your stuck with the snack bar and it's not always great.
9) eat the stone pizza on the beach yummy! And the Italian I loved as well.
10) overall this place is changing from riu to grand memories so you'll probably have a little confusion. Just upgrade to vip and you'll have many more choices. Free WiFi every day etc. And defiantly go to Veradero. Super safe. The people of Cuba are amazing!

Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
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1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

This is a great resort to bring your family in to relax. Beach is a walking distance away... Food isn't that bad. I got sick of the snack bar food since it was bland, but make sure you take advantage of the buffet hours. I love the bartenders, really nice and friendly. The janitors will clean up any mess made after you. This resort far exceeded my expectations and I had an amazing time. Definitely a must!!!

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waasis, Canada
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

we had done our homework before heading to the RIU which was in the middle of the takeover to becoming Grand Memories, other than a few minor hiccups which was to be expected during such a time, my husband and i had an amazing experience. we formed lasting friendships with people we met while vacationing and also with the staff. Nicholas our evening dinner host and server was incredible and quickly became our friend, everyone we met with the exception of one beach bartender was incredible to us. they really all took the time to talk to us and get to know us and also shared with us about their own lives and families. such warm caring people. our room was immaculate and we had fresh towels and our room was throughly cleaned each day our house keeper even left us a bottle of champagne :) we miss cuba already and we just arrived home. we stayed for two weeks from april 11th through to the 25th. we would go back and would recommend it. for people who have been complaining about the food it can be bland at times but they really do their best to provide us with the very best of what they have, better than most of them get to give to their own families, they only have limited supplies and all of it imported, to which they really have little or no control.the rum flows freely, the beaches are breathtaking, and the staff are amazing! if its a food type of trip you want try a cruise,,, tonnes of food there if you want to really experience a culture and become immersed in it while unwinding and relaxing This is the place to be!

Room Tip: ask for building 24 closest to the beach!! we loved it!
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Danville, Canada
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

We booked when it was Riu Varadero, even when we did read about the bad reviews. I was about to cancel when it changed to Grand Memories, and the reviews for those hotels were good enough, so we went there. Terrible experience, the longest 2 weeks of our lives. The firs week, starting on April 11, the hotel was full and severely understaff. We ran out of food every single day. Forget about getting ice. Our "upgraded room" was more like a normal room with a very old TV and CD player. It was very clean, and our maid, Nery always had clean towels for us and clean sheets for our son's bed, she made the experience way better and was very kind.
The food was terrible, no salt or pepper on the tables, nor easy to get. We had to go out and buy our own Ketchup and food. On the A la Carte restaurants, there was never the offered food, and even if the service was excellent in there, service will not keep you away of being hungry.
About the service, I honestly think that the staff did what they could, the administration should notice that they were understaffed and that the existing employees are over worked. In 15 days in there, our maid was off for only 1 day.
Service at the bars was good, problem, to get good drinks, since they also ran out of alcohol, and of course, ice.
We travelled a lot, and this was, by far the worst experience ever. First time in Cuba and last one for us.
I hope that the new administration changes the experience for new travellers, or they will go out of business soon.

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

I stay in hotels quite a bit (mostly boutique style hotels) and was very pleased with Grand Memories. It was clean and beautifully situated on a lovely white sand beach. The buffet food options were immense and delicious. I stuck to the fresh grilled meats, fish, salad bar, sandwiches, pizza and super tasty Cuban stews. Food was always in abundance, even at 1am at the snack bar (though not buffet).

The best part of Grand Memories is the staff. Everyone was amazing – reception staff were helpful, cleaning staff were on point and even left fun arrangements in the room, food and bar service was top notch and the entertainment staff were always so polite and super fun. The hotel offers many free activities, which we totally enjoyed. Pedal boats, Kayaks, cataman tours. It was awesome.

The only not-so-great things were the a la carte restaurants and internet access. The a la carte restaurants offer mostly the same food as in the buffet just arranged differently on your plate. We tried the creole and the Asian. We were completely underwhelmed by both. And internet access is only available in the main lobby building and you get one free hour a day. Access is given to you on a card, so don’t lose that card. Also make sure you turn off your wifi after each use, because the one hour clock keeps ticking otherwise.

We stayed in a standard room, which was perfectly fine. I was travelling with my father (69) and my son (15), so the hotel had an extra bed placed in the room prior to our arrival. The mattress was pretty hard, but did the trick. When I return I will most definitely reserve one of their suites. We checked them out before we left and the furnishings were higher quality and by staying in the adult only suite area you will have access to another private pool. Which I assume is a little quieter than the two other massive pools.

The gym is also on point. It’s in an air conditioned room and has lots of options – spinning bikes, treadmill, stair master, weights, etc. etc. The changing rooms could use some TLC, but still very clean and has a modern zen design. Staff offer various free lessons – dancing, stretching, thai bo?

Anyway, I should stop, but all in all this is a great option for your stay in Varadero. I will most definitely go back! Bon voyage

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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 Grand Memories Varadero

Address: Km 18 1/2 Autopista Sur | Parque Natural Punta Hicacos, Varadero 42200, Cuba (Formerly Hotel Riu Varadero)
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 #52 of 59 Hotels in Varadero
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Grand Memories Varadero 4.5*
Number of rooms: 1110
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Enjoy Cuba's blissful year-round climate, stunning white sand beaches, and crystal clear waters with a stay at the luxurious Grand Memories Varadero. Elegant and spacious guestrooms are available in a variety of room categories in our child-friendly and Adults-Only sections. Lounge by the dazzling pools, get active with a variety of land and water sports, work out at the fitness centre, or pamper yourself at the luxurious spa. Children will have a great time at our Kids Club, which features a children's play area with supervised games and activities. Guests of the Adults-Only area will enjoy extra luxuries such as complimentary 24-hour room service, club house, cigar room, butler service and more. ... more   less 

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