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“Easy travellers but disappointed.” 2 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
Ottawa, Canada
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“Easy travellers but disappointed.”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

So I want to start by saying we are really easy travellers and typically find it annoying when people complain about petty things like chipped paint or tiles. But we found ourselves more and more throughout the week saying "Im having a really great time but..." We've been to several resorts in this region and would not agree that this was a 4 star.
Room was nice and clean. Unfortunately our screen didn't work on the door but the a/c would very well. Almost too well. It was nice to come in after being outside but waking up in the morning was quite chilly. The room card seemed to need a little trick that took us a few days and we were sometimes left struggling to get the key in. Not fun when you're dripping sweat. Bed was just ok. Plastic sheet was scratchy and would peek out under the regular sheet. Hurts the sunburn! Pillows were great. Hybrid outlets can be tricky if you have even the slightest bend in your adapter. Nice shower water pressure. Safe always worked.
Food was pretty good. You can't expect much from mass cooking. Buffets at home are just ok. My partner with allergies had very few issues and had lots to choose from. There is no reason for anyone to go hungry here. There was tons of fresh fruit and veggies every day, fresh grilled-in-front-of-you meats, kid friendly foods, Cuban foods and desserts. Cooking staff very friendly. Most of the servers were great too but it was easy to tell who was in a bad mood.
Gin Seng al la carte
Skip it, food was not good.
The pool doesn't seem to be deep enough to get cool on a really hot day.if there is no breeze, there is no relief. The pool is pretty gross. There is garbage and broken tiles and white floaty things. They dump enough pucks into it that I'm sure it can't hurt you, but don't look at it.
The beach was beautiful. We didn't mind the walk so much as it was nice to walk in the trees. There were a lot of broken chairs though. The water is spotless! So beautiful and clear!
Day time activity
Salsa dancing, games and aerobics were very fun. The staff were very charismatic and funny. However sometimes it is nice to relax by the pool without someone shouting for you to get in it.
Snack bar
I really enjoyed the snack food bar. If you love your Heinz classic ketchup make sure you bring it with you! I don't know what they gave us but it was not ketchup.
The lobby has everything, but the other ones have less offerings available. Mojitos are really good. The pool bar is often full of annoying dude bros and it can be hard to get a drink. Other than tright after the disco closes and people swarm the Snack bar it is easy to get a good drink.
Shows were really great. These dancers are obviously very well trained but the shows perhaps could use some more rehearsal time.
Was pretty fun. At first we loved that in Cuba they would play lots of Latin music as well as English pop songs as some resorts just play the top American 40. However we soon realized, that unlike older Latin music, the modern stuff they were playing sounds all the same. Literally. The same. We identified 5 songs with the exact same chord progression. That grates your nerves after a while. The DJ was really bad. Transitions were very jarring And he liked to use this loud air horn sound? All the time.
Perhaps this place needs some time to adjust to the new ownership but for now operations seems to be patchwork system.
Tips: no debit cards work in Cuba. You have to advance cash off you credit card and have to do it at very few available locations with your passport. Closest place is Plaza Americas. There is a bus for 5 CUC day pass that can take you there. Wifi is available but don't count on it. The resort uses a card system for Internet and was often out of cards. In an emergency like when I lost my credit card, there was no way to check my balance or transfer money to someone to get money out for me. You have to pay to use the phone even if it is a collect or toll free call. 2.10 a minute.
OMG SAND FLEAS. These things are beasts from hell. I came home covered in welts.

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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110 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 (36)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Hebrew first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Halifax, Canada
11 reviews 11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

First of all let me start by describing me. I am a simple individual with simple needs/wants and small things make me happy. I don't sweat the small stuff" and I'm easy going. I have been to Cuba 3 times, Dominican 3 times,, Mexico and other islands.
To sum up this hotel.
In my opinion the 4 1/2 -5 star qualities would be the entertainment, the lobby entertainment, piano bar, the number of pools, and the number of restaurants. There was a party pool, then there was another pool with a beautiful waterfall. Everything else to me would be a 2 star. The food was beyond gross, I lived on fried eggs, buns and fruit all week for breakfast, fries for lunch, and pasta that was very bland, but safe. After walking all day in Varadero, we were walking to the lobby from our room which was quite the hike (massive resort), and waved down one of the trolleys. When we got on the trolley the staff member told us we were nothing but lazy fu*** Canadians, we should walk and become sexy like him, you stupid fu***** Canadians. I was so taken back and shocked I just got off the trolley --stunned.
The beach was beautiful, the room was OK, beds were ok. There was a sewer smell all the time on one section of the resort. My main complaint was the food, and when I went to customer service to complain about that staff worker, we mentioned the buffet, and she said she knew it was bad. Due to our shocking experience they gave us a 5pm check out as we were getting picked up at 6 for the airport. I honestly can not recommend this hotel. Like I said before, I typically go to 3 1/2 stars, and HANDS down they have all been better than this resort.

Room Tip: 20 section - but they will charge you 10 peso per person per night... remember - you can negotiate.
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  • Stayed April 2015, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

Second time visiting the Grand Memories and again it was wondering....went with my husband and had an awesome trip:) Resort was great.....room was very clean...food was good....our maid was the best Danani!!! The staff was great....just didnt find them quite as friendly as last year.....but overall it was an awesome trip.....beaches as always are breathtaking...very clean.....just not enough tekki huts to get out of sun.....other than that it was great....I would recommend this resort.....and I would return:)!!!!!

Stayed May 2015, traveled with family
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1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Prince Edward Island
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 5 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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
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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