My sister and I stayed at the Oasis from March 16-24 this year. We chose the hotel and Cuba because it was the cheapest all-inclusive that we could go on in the month of March and I wanted to get a tan before graduation! We were a little afraid of what we might find because of all of the negative reviews that we had read on here but we weren't looking for anything fancy- all we needed was sun and beach (and a door that locked) and we got everything we asked for and more.
I really liked this resort. It was small in comparison to other places I have stayed and I found that everyone we met when we were here was happy with the hotel too. Our hot water worked just fine and our room was clean and void of any mushrooms growing on the walls like other reviewers have posted. Nothing was stolen and we never worried about any of our stuff getting taken whether in our room or on the beach. Anytime we forgot our bags, flippers, or flip flops on the beach they were always there when we got back. The television in our room worked but was a little fuzzy which wasn't a problem for us because we were rarely in our room and weren't on vacation to watch tv anyway! The beds are older so the mattresses aren't up to memory-foam standards by any means but I found that I slept extremely well and without interruption. The pillows on the beds are very thin which I didn't have a problem with at all, I thought they were very comfortable but my sister found them to be a little too skinny for her liking. However, we both slept well and there was no noise or anything that woke us up in the night. The light in the bathroom, on the balcony, and in the room entrance worked but the main room light was burnt out so the room was a tad darker than we would have normally had it when we were getting ready for bed but it really wasn't an issue.
We always felt safe here, whether we were on the beach, in our rooms, or shopping in Varadero. I'm 18 and my sister is 24 and we never had any issues or felt uncomfortable
in any situations which we were very grateful for. The people working at the resort are the GREATEST. I have never met so many genuinely nice people. The ladies working at the front desk were polite and spoke English very well, they always seemed happy and acted professionally when dealing with the guests. We had heard that some of the hotel workers work 24 hour shifts, and expected some rightfully cranky workers but didn't find any. We met workers who worked the 24 hour shift- they work 24 on, 24 off, 24 on, 24 off, with no holidays, just 24 hours a day every second day. Others work 12 hour shifts every second day. There are two lifeguards and each work 12 hour days every second day. Lifeguards make 12-15 CUC per month (pretty much equivalent to $12 CAD) and other jobs in the hotel pay similar.
We went into Varadero twice during our stay and it costed 10 CUC to get in both times and 7 CUC to get back. Some people walked into town but it is quite far (takes about an hour to walk) and you can't get there by walking along the beach because the canal blocks your way so you have to walk down the sidewalk until you cross the canal over the bridge.
I am a picky eater but I actually really enjoyed the food here. I hate seafood but I always ate a ton of the fresh fish that they made for lunch and supper. The ice cream tasted a lot different than it does in Canada and I ate SO much of it- delicious. We brought plastic drinking cups with plastic screw on lids that probably costed us two bucks each. We always had them full of water and brought them with us to stay hydrated when we went into town. The locals were crazy about our flowery plastic cups and everyone wanted to trade us something for them- they were in hot demand! We didn't have many alcoholic drinks during the week but when we did we found that they were NOT cheap with the alcohol. After our first drink we asked that they give us quite a bit less in our drinks. They were delicious! The bar is open 10-10 but if you want a drink after they close you can still buy them.. (70 cents for a "tropicola" is hardly going to break you). There is also a bar near the beach that I believe closes at five. After five you just go to the main bar by the pool.
We never swam in the pool but it always looked clean and it was always clean around the pool and the rest of the resort. The ocean was AMAZING. The waves were too big to go in the water one day but there were two days of perfectly flat, perfectly clear, perfect ocean and the other days were just extremely small waves that didn't interrupt swimming at all. The hotel doesn't offer any snorkeling gear so if you want to go out, bring your own! Snorkeling in front of the hotel isn't special but there are still lots of fish to see and if you bring out some bread in a water bottle to feed them they will swarm around you and give you quite the experience! The beach isn't swept everyday so if you want to look for cool shells, the occasional washed up fish, wandering crab or even a pineapple or coconut, this is the perfect place! We found several sand dollars that were in perfect condition to the east. To the west we found jellyfish, blow fish, and urchins.
Entertainment at night was great. We loved how it wasn't the "same old same old" dancing every time. Each night the resort brought in a different show so we got to experience a lot of different, out of the box shows. There was dancing, musical acts, and even a glow in the dark show that was incredible!
If you are going anywhere in Cuba (not just this hotel) I would highly recommend bringing gifts for the locals. Like I said before, Cubans work longer, harder days than many of us in Canada but are still extremely poor. We gave away most of what we brought and everyone was SO grateful. Towards the end of our stay some of the workers started asking us for things, but I understand that because most times if they don't ask- they don't receive. Only one worker bothered us enough that we didn't want to give him anything, and most workers didn't ask us for anything at all. We brought Hot Wheels, marbles, frisbees, sandals, sidewalk chalks, notebooks, pencil cases, ponytails, hair clips, skipping ropes, and other toys to give to kids that we saw in the city and to workers that we talked to at the hotel that had kids or our cab drivers with kids. These people can't afford any 'wants' so they are thankful for ANYTHING. We left our sunscreen, makeup, bug spray (don't forget bug spray if you are going to be at the beach after dark because you will get quite a few bug bites. Not a problem if you put on some repellent though!), some clothes, Spanish bibles, sunglasses, Advil (great idea because medicine is hard to get in Cuba), Gravol, nail polish.... Before we left for our trip my sister hit Wal-Mart pretty hard and got really cheap tooth brushes, toothpaste, deodorants, q-tip travel packs, mini Axe colognes, and feminine hygiene products. People were very grateful for all of these things.
This resort is a lot older than most and the workers here know it but they work tremendously hard to ensure that their guests have a good time. Any of the minor problems that I listed were certainly not a big deal and are definitely not going to ruin your vacation- a positive attitude will get you a long way! If your nose isn't stuck too high in the air you will have a great time.
We had so many adventures here. We paid $641 each (including taxes) to depart from Edmonton and I can honestly say that it has been my favorite trip to date. I would not hesitate one second if given the opportunity to go back!
- Also Known As:
- Islazul Oasis Varadero
- Hotel Islazul Oasis