Bought an all inclusive 7 day stay at Melia Varadero and it was my first visit to Cuba.
Service - My friend and I tipped a peso per person for any service we received (e.g. maid and every meal) for the first half of our trip - a peso per person seemed to be what the avg person tipped based on all the research we had done beforehand. For the first half we mainly ate at the buffet and 24hr cafe where we received very little service and sometimes were virtually ignored. We than noticed that many patrons did not tip and spoke to other tourists who only tipped when they received good service as they felt that the $1,000+ we spent should have entitled us to this. In order to get good service at the 24hr cafe and buffet, I recommend tipping directly to the waiter at the beginning of the trip as they will recognize you for the remainder of the trip and give you the service that you deserve.
Value - The resort was a bit smaller than I expected, but it had a prime beach location and excellent shows everyday at 10:15. The entertainment staff were great and the dancers were excellent! I felt that I had a great trip for what I paid - I believe you get what you paid for - no more. no less.
Sleep Quality - My friend and I booked two twin beds - instead we got two doubles - great! They were nice and firm mattresses the way we like them. Our sheets were changed everyday. There is A/C that you can control in the room - if you turn it on, the sheets that are provided may not be enough. I would recommend opening the door to the balcony.
Cleanliness - Our rooms were cleaned everyday - you have to put out a sign to indicate that you want the maid to come in and clean. Overall we were happy with our sheets and bathroom being cleaned everyday. The whole resort seems to place particular emphasis on the floors, which are cleaned thoroughly everyday, but I felt the tables (side tables and desks) were very dusty. We tipped and gave gifts of various values to the maid, so we were a bit disappointed that we did not receive a new bottle of water for three days out of the seven.
Location - Great location! The beach was great! As Melia Antillas and Melia Las Americas are on both sides, you can pretty much roam freely along the beach (mainly to the Las Americas side). The mall/plaza is actually right next to the hotel, less than a 5 minute walk. The mall/plaza had a bank, souvenir stores, pubs, cigars, grocery store and shops selling anything you could have possibly forgotten at home for your trip. We found the stores/souvenir stands selling at prices around the same as the market in Havana if not cheaper and the bank a good place to get cash if you didn't bring any. I found the airport had the best exchange rate and you can also exchange at the hotel if you have cash, the bank at the plaza is mainly a last minute resort if you need a cash advance from your credit card.
Rooms - From the other reviews, it appears that Melia Varadero has been renovating for months. I did not get the newly renovated rooms as described by the other reviews. I was on the third floor and although some of the paintings on the walls seemed tacky, the bedroom and washroom did not seem dated and old. Overall, cleanliness was good except for the dusty table top surfaces. Our room was facing the ocean at the back of the resort where the gazebo - we did pay for an oceanview room so we were happy. At night, there were no issues with noise from parties/entertainment.
Food - I went to Cuba with no expectations for the food. Every review I read indicated that the food would not be great - I think this is regardless of where you stay in Cuba. I personally felt that the food was better than a home cooked meal and sometimes almost restaurant quality - even at the a la carte restaurants. My friend and I were able to get reservations at all three a la carte restaurants and had our Christmas Eve dinner at the Trinidad. The service is great at the a la carte restaurants. The service at the Trinidad and Paella Corner were also excellent - my friend and I loved the Trinidad so much (food + service) that we ate there for half our trip. You don't go to Cuba for the food - so don't get your expectations too high. What they serve you is the greatest they have to offer. Our tour guide told us that after the age of 16, people are no longer rationed meat.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.