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“WOW!! I LOVE CUBA” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas

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Hotel Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas
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4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Calle 64 e/ 1ra Ave y Autopista, Varadero, Cuba (Formerly Barcelo Solymar)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #27 of 59 Hotels in Varadero
Montreal, Canada
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
94 helpful votes 94 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2009

We stayed at the Barcelo Solymar from March 5-12th... Bungalow, junior suite. Had a fantastic time!! Had great weather 28-32 degres.
Lots of action, lots of things to do!!
Lots of variety of food to choose from..Even the pickiest eaters will find something to eat! Believe me you can not get any pickier than me and I really enjoyed the food!! We ate at all 3 a la cart restaurants (Sea food, Italian, Cuban) and enjoyed all 3 of them. (you just have to know what to order).
Although, the seafood was my favorite.

The beach was just amazing!! we did a few excursions and I do reccomend the catamaran dauphin excursion which was just out of this world! Its worth the money.
99 CUC.

Loved the beer and strawberry daquerie!! Entertainement at night was very good! Many cuban shows! GREAT costums.
The grounds were clean and the resort was very nice!!

The staff was very polite and service was very good, Ok there were a few minor things, not even worth talking about, any one who would like to know just e-mail me.

This was my first time in Cuba, and I would definatley go back.. I LOVED IT!!!

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
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1 review
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2009

Cuba was so beautiful....I'll put my review in a couple catagories

The room was very nice, we stayed in one of the bungalow suites. The beds not so great very uncomfortable but still had good sleeps. We had a little gecko in our bathroom one night. The water pressure and temperature was great. The maid was very nice got clean towels everyday.

The food was great. Lots of variety, chicken, beef, lots of pork. Rice dishes, pasta, fries, burgers and hotdogs at the snack bar. The bar at the beach closed at 6pm which was a bummer. And the snack bar closed at 6pm also. Bring your own mug the cups are small and the drinks are strong mixed half and half.

Pools and beach
The pools were very clean and warm. The beach was beautiful never had a problem finding a chair. Very clean and wide beach. Water was crystal clear.

We went on the Catameran tour to Cayo Blanco an absolute must. Got a bus for 20 mins to the marine. The catameran was big and beautiful. Lots of people fit about 40-50 people. Open bar on the boat very relaxed people on the boat you could sit right in front with your feet hanging off. Bathrooms on the boat were small and no toilet seats. First stop was snorkeling, which was beautiful. Next to see the dolphins, wow was that amazing, you got to swim with them an they take your picture with the dolphin kissing you. Cost for the picture is 10 pesos very big photo a bit bigger the a 8x10. Then off to Cayo Blanco, beautiful white sand beach. They served us lunch your choice of lobster or chicken, I had chicken and it was deep fried and tough, the lobster was alright. The crew onboard danced for us was a great laugh got everybody involed.
The jeep safari was very good. Speed boat drive, snorkeling at the 2nd biggest coral reef in the world, they feed you lunch at an old coffee plantation which was great try the soup with bananas and vegtables it was so good. There was a guy filming us the whole time and made a dvd for people to buy it was 30 pesos do not buy it it will not play in Canada.
Cds are ok but dvds do not work. You drive through some little villages so bring children clothes or anything to give the children.
The trip to Havana was awesome so much history and the Tropicana show was great.

Hotel entertainment was real good, had some shows for the kids a little earlier. They had Dancing after the shows they will come grab you and will not let you leave you have to dance it was great fun.

They really like clothes they asked us when we left if we had any clothes we didn't want anymore. The hotel staff was great real nice and welcoming. They always remebered you and were happy to see you. Overall it was a great trip. The weather was 28-30 degrees the whole time, we stayed for a week. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

  • Stayed March 2009
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2009

Let me be very succinct. If your are in your early twenties, looking for warm weather, an incredible party atmosphere, a terrific location, and maybe getting lucky, then this is the resort you for you!

Last May, a group of ten of us just graduating from University decided to go the Solymar for a graduation trip. It was unreal the number of similar students we met who were doing the same thing. The resort was literally filled with students who had just finished writing final exams.

Mainly younger twenty something students. Resort was packed. Don't come to this resort expecting to get alot of sleep as the party is 24/7. The alcohol flows all hours of the day and night, and there were even young ppl from other resorts who came to the Solymar duing the day after hearing about the utter madness which was taking place at the resort.

The staff are wonderful. Drinks were never watered down, and they were constantantly starting drinking games for hotel guests. It sure didn't take long to become very inebriated.

Couldn't have asked for more. Over 30 degrees with sun each and every day.

Not the greatest, but by no means terrible.

Very good value for the price. Due to our outrageously good time last year, many more of our friends have decided to join us this year as we plan on returing to the Solymar during the first week of May.

  • Stayed May 2008
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2009

Myself, and 2 of my girlfriends went to the Barcelo Solymar on Feb 26th to March 5th 2009. I’ve got to honestly say we were pretty nervous before going due to all the negative reviews. Let me just say now that I am probably by far 1 of the pickiest women known to man. Thankfully, this resort was amazing and worth every penny spent.

Here are my thoughts and opinions:

LOCATION: The beach was absolutely beautiful. The water was crystal clear, the sand was white and overall it was kept very clean. No rocks or seaweed. We were told you could walk to the Varadero strip in 5 minutes but due to the fact that we were addicted to the beautiful beach, we never had a chance to! The discos we went to (La Rumba, Starz, and Mediterranean) were a 5 minute drive. It costed us 5 pesos each way. The disco International was next door to the resort. Less than a 10 minute walk. For location, I would definitely recommend this hotel.

HOTEL: The second our bus pulled into the resort, my first thought was WOW! Nothing what I was expecting! It was just incredibly beautiful. Love the colours and the plants surrounding the entrance. It gave this resort that extra *UMPH that most of the others didn’t have. It only took about a half hour to get there which was a bonus. My first impression after entering the resort was that it was very clean and well kept. I’ll admit the public bathrooms don’t smell the greatest but over-all were pretty clean considering. The only worry I had next was our room. We got an ocean view room on the 4th floor. Upon entering, I made one of my friends investigate the room for bugs due to the fact of all the horrible things were hearing before arriving. NOT 1 SINGLE BUG! Not 1 the entire week for that matter. The view was impeccable. The beds were comfortable as were the pillows contrast to what others have said. The bathroom was clean. We ran out of toilet paper once out of the whole week. They restocked the mini bar the first 4 days and than shafted us out of the bottled water there after. I went downstairs to ask for one and they gave me some lame excuse and said they would report it. That did absolutely nothing. Please note that although you pay for an all inclusive vacation, this resort does not include bottled water. This was one of the very few things that I was disappointed with. The elevators were slow!!!!!!!! We took the stairs a lot which was very tiresome but hopefully it helped burn some of the calories from all the alcohol we'd been drinking. The power went off once for about 20 minutes. No biggie. I just feel sorry for those who were in the middle of taking a shower and than left in complete darkness.

AMENITIES/STAFF: Pretty good. Not much to complain about, other than the bottled water issue. One other negative thing is that the front desk will rob you on the phone charges. It costs about $2.50 a minute but try your best to buy a phone card that costs 10 pesos and gives you about 8 minutes if I remember correctly. The buffet and a la carte staff were super nice. Tip or no tip, they treated us with the up most respect. Some of the bartenders seemed kind of moody when we would order plenty of drinks. Plenty being 20 or more so that was somewhat understandable, however it is an all-inclusive so really, what do they expect? Nevertheless we did tip almost every single time even if at times it was undeserved. You really genuinely end up feeling sorry for them.

FOOD: Being my first trip to Cuba or anywhere for that matter, I was very impressed. Now don’t get me wrong, the food is not the greatest but it is a buffet, so ultimately you are bound to find a few things that you’re going to like. The omelets and pancakes were my favourite for breakfast. They had french toast, cereal and however you wanted your eggs, you got it. At lunch we did the buffet or the pool bars where they had hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. The French fries were so good. Mmmmmmmm! For dinner I stuck to my fav French fries with rice and chickpeas. Yah I know it sounds quite boring and blah but what can I say, those were the only things I enjoyed. By the 4th day I was sick of everything so pretty much started skipping a lot of meals but it didn’t bother me one bit. However, there is plenty to choose from: salad, pasta, chicken, beef, fish, bread, fresh fruit, you name it. You just have to give it a chance and remember, you’re not at home so a lot of the foods were pretty bland.

DRINKS: I was a little disappointed with some of the drinks. Many of my Pina Coladas were not blended, just poured with ice cubes. Was not a fan. When you order them in the lobby bar though, they make them slushy. Miami Vice is by far the best drink there! In the end though slushy or no slushy, it didn’t really matter cause they both did the trick! ;) The pineapple juice tastes amazing and so did the espressos.

Overall, I was very impressed with this resort and if I do ever go back to Varadero, this will be the only place I plan on staying at. Well worth your money, believe me. I think that some people go to Cuba with high expectations and end up leaving with great disappointment. Although everyone is entitled to their opinion, don’t pay too much attention to some of the negative comments people have said. And don’t forget that Varadero is not Canada. There is absolutely no comparison. Cuba is a Third World country. Just go there with an open mind and everything will be peachy.

Couple Tips:
1. To the ladies
Watch out for the dirty men. They have no shame. My friends and I actually got barked at. It was disgusting. And here I thought Woodbridge was bad.
2. Gifts
Even though this is a given, if you leave little gifts for your maid she will leave your room spic and span with some pretty towel art! I loved it!
3. Shopping
The souvenirs aren’t anything great in the resort. I’m pretty sure you’d find some nicer ones if you go into town at a way better price.
Do not forget it cause you will get burned! As did I!! My forehead blew up like a ballon. It was not a pretty sight!
5. Room Safety
ALWAYS LOCK your suitcases before you leave your room. Never leave anything out in the open. A friend of ours left his shorts on the bed one morning, when he went back later that day they were gone. Even if you report something missing, they will not reimburse you. This I can assure you!

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
scotland uk
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2009

just back last Saturday the 13 march stayed for two weeks at solymar . First choice holiday advertise this hotel 4 star premium and we noted that outside the hotel they ave a five star plate so they have dropped to a 4 STAR because of complaints and poor standard.The management is a joke, one guy and a girl walking around doing nothing, i felt sorry for the girls in the front desk ,they had to take all the abuse from the customers who were not happy. The fist room was in a terrible state the ceiling in the bathroom was lifting up and down when i had a shower dangerously .The coffee machine dint not work, and we phoned for room service after two hours we cancelled. The buffet restaurant far to big a pandemonium people try to figure out Wat to do when you first arrive ..some waiters that serve you are nice, and some just standing there doing nothing,,,we find two guys LUIS AND RODGER very nice and helpful and we tip well every time we got served , the food service is again a joke some chefs are very rude like the guy that cooks the chicken and beef one bit at the time, when there is a long queue of people waiting and the food on your plate gets cold and he looks at u if u ask for more . Regarding the quality well , I'm ITALIAN myself and i worked for 20 years in catering i don't think i'm difficult but the pasta and the sauce is a joke a cold passata like ketchup pored over overcooked spaghetti terrible taste and i cant understand why some reviews are saying the italian restaurant is the best !!where do these people come from??anybody i know can cook spaghetti with napoli sauce.
the drinks... The wine was good the first week and u can get gin and tonic , second week wine taste funny and no gin and tonic for the rest of the secon week .,the snack bar at the main pool serves snacks with cold chips horrible,the only thing i have no complaint about is the beach and the sea,fantastic ,we had a few overcast days but the rest very good.
The trip to HAVANA fantastic the guide Augusto very good make sure you tip it well..the .last day Friday when we left. again we heard people shouting at the desk that they will never go back to SOLYMAR and i think we will do the same i hope that THOMSON WILL SOON TAKE MORE STARS AWAY 3 STAR AT THE MAX

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Edmonton, Alberta
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2009

A few girlfriends and I spent a week at the Barcelo Solymar at the beginning of March. This was my first trip to Cuba and I was very excited! The weather started off very poorly the day we arrived...so we ventured out to the pool bar, had a few mojitos and (thanks to the very hard-working animacion team) learned how to salsa! That was the way our vacay was kicked off... It only got better from there.

I was expecting the most horrible food from all the reviews that everyone has left about Cuba. Aside from the odd batch of crunchy rice or a couple mornings where the eggs weren't "perfectly" scrambled, I had ABSOLUTELY NO COMPLAINTS. The food was tasty, hot and plentiful. I had the best orange juice and cappuccinos in my life there...honestly. My girlfriends and I quickly realized that the majority of these reviews left on trip advisor were from very high maintenance people - kind of like the lady I saw at the pasta bar who refused to put her order in until she tested the spaghetti to make sure it was "al dente". I mean, really...get over yourselves people.

The beach is what everyone says it is...amazing. Nuff said.

As I said, the animacion team was incredible. Probably some of the hardest working staff at the hotel. Take the time to enjoy their presentations - you can see a genuine happiness on their faces when you smile!

It was nice to be on a vacation on an island where everyone wasn't on "island time". Our group went on the Havana Special tour, the dolphin swim and the catamaran out to Cayo Blanco (all of which are HIGHLY recommended) and each time we were picked up was ON TIME. I've been on vacays where you're left wondering if they've forgotten about you....this was not the case here.

The hotel itself is very clean. Floors are tile and my shoes would squeak as I walked. The plants hanging from the top floor down into the lobby are really beautiful - pictures don't do it justice. Our room was very clean as well. We had complained of a noxious smell (somewhat like propane or gas) coming from our room and within 20 minutes, a maintenance person was up in our room taking care of it. The problem was a faulty A/C but it was all fixed and ready for use immediately.

We did the seafood and italian a la cartes. The seafood was okay...food was okay and the waiter was okay. Italian food was very good, the waiter was incredibly brave telling us all about what it's REALLY like to live in Cuba. What a wakeup call, for sure.

With every vacay, there are a few hiccups. Here are mine with the Solymar:

-we booked a bungalow but when we arrived, they had none left (as seems to be the case for many on this forum). We were upgraded (FOR FREE) to a superior room - ocean view. We did not have hot water for our first two days - remedied by several chats with the front desk staff that I'm not certain cared about our problem. It ultimately got fixed and that's all that mattered.

-If you need to make a phone call, expect to get swindled. They say it's 2 CUC per minute, but a 4 minute phone call cost one girl in our group 25 CUC. The staff was rude when challenged on it...so just prepare to fight if you have to make a phone call. On the up side, internet is 10CUC for an hour.

-some staff are more appreciative of gifts than others. The maids get stuff every day so try to think of others like the cooks, the gardeners etc. We gave some gifts to one of our waitresses and she smiled politely, and waited for her tip - I gave some gifts to the pasta chef and he just about turned inside out he was so excited. Point made.

-tipping gets tiresome. I have a good understanding of the socioeconomic status of people in Cuba and wish to help as much as I can but constantly being asked for things, to buy your shirt, to give them money, to tip them all the time, gets a little old. If you've never been to Cuba, be prepared.

-most of the staff was pleasant, some were grumpy and some were over the top happy and excited to see you (see above note on tips). A good cross section of people, not unlike the real world.

-LADIES ALERT*** The men in Cuba verge on predatory. Beware and watch your back at all times. I was in a group with 6 girls and we watched each other like hawks...especially when these guys would try to "cull one from the herd". "I'm married" doesn't even work - they tell you they're married too and that it doesn't matter. Please be careful when you're out...one lady from the resort told us that she was followed back to her bungalow on the resort from one of the night entertainment venues...again, this happened ON THE RESORT. Cuba is safe but the men...they're a whole other world down there.

The lobby bar was always hopping but there were tons of other places to "get your drink on". We cut a rug or two at the seafood a la carte that turned into a nightclub every night...so much fun! When you're looking for some munchies, the chefs there will whip up a hamburger or hotdog for you after a long night of rum and salsa dancing!

I would go back to Barcelo Solymar and do recommend it to anyone looking for a good time in Cuba. The beach is to die for, food is good, rum is plentiful and the hotel is clean. Have fun!!!

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2009

Just remeber your in Cuba!!! This resort in my opinion and many others that we met is the best on the strip hands down. Sure you have to get use to the food but its Cuba not The Keg. I would suggest to take in two other resturants in your package to change things up. We did the Italian and Seafood, both excellent!! If you don't like the smell of smoke then this hotel is not for you. If you don't like alot of noise I suggest that if you are staying in the main hotel ask for a room far away from the lobby. Try the pizza for lunch at the bar/rest. closet to the stage and deep pool. We found no problem finding chairs at the beach. So just relax enjoy the beach, sun and Cuba culture. HAVE FUN!!!!

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas

Address: Calle 64 e/ 1ra Ave y Autopista, Varadero, Cuba (Formerly Barcelo Solymar)
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Ski-In / Ski-Out Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#20 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
#22 Top resorts Hotel in Varadero
#23 Luxury Hotel in Varadero
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas 4*
Number of rooms: 883
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The hotel Barceló Solymar***** stands on right on the sea front of the top spot of Varadero beach, Cuba's best-known tourist destination.With a privileged setting just a few metres from the city centre, this exclusive resort, surrounded by beautiful gardens, offers a wide variety of services characterised by the excellent Barceló All-Inclusive programme.Highly recommended for families, couples and those who enjoy diving and water activities in general.Guests at the Barceló Solymar and Barceló Arenas Blancas hotels can enjoy the facilities at either hotel. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Barcelo Hotel Solymar
Barcelo Hotel Varadero
Barcelo Solymar Cuba
Barcelo Solymar Hotel Cuba
Barcelo Solymar Beach Resort
Barcelo Solymar Varadero Cuba
Barcelo Sol y Mar

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