We travelled to the Iberostar Varadero for the wedding of our son. We stayed from 3rd -17th November. We booked through Thomas Cook and had reservations before we went with their wedding department as they got the names of the bride & groom incorrect on 2 occasions, first it was my daughter and her boyfriend getting married (much to their amusement) and the second time they tried to marry my husband to my sons future wife. The only confirmation they were able to give us was the date of the wedding and told us that everything else would be dealt with in the resort. I'll come back to that later.
It is worth upgrading to Premier class if you can as you have a dedicated check-in desk, extended luggage allowance (30kg), free drinks throughout the flight in addition to a choice of entertainment and larger seats. My future daughter-in-law was also able to take an additional suitcase containing her wedding dress (this was in addition to her 30kg allowance). We had to disembark in Holguin for approximately 1.5 hours which many people hadn't been made aware of. This is the best place to change your currency as the airport offers a greater rate of exchange than the hotel.
The customs at Varadero was well organized and we got through customs and visa control in about 30 minutes and it was an additional 40 minutes to the hotel.
On arrival at the hotel, your suitcases are left in reception while you check in and are shown to your room and your cases are delivered later. We stayed in block 22 (junior suites) which was separate to the other accommodation and situated near the spa. These rooms are slightly larger and in a quieter location but apart from that there is no difference.
We attended the welcome meeting and decided on 4 trips, swimming with the dolphins, Havana, the catamaran trip and drive your own speedboat. Something I must mention here that we didn't know about and hasn't been mentioned is that apart from credit cards associated with America (MBNA, American Express, Virgin etc.), they also do not accept Abbey credit cards although they do accept Abbey debit cards. My son only had his Abbey credit card with him but thankfully we had taken lots of sterling with us as well as an accepted credit card so we were able to put all of his trips onto our card. Unfortunately we had to reschedule the catmaran trip twice due to the inclement weather (we caught the tail end of Hurricane Ida) and ran out of time to reschedule for a third time but our money was refunded without question. The speedboat trip is great fun, especially if there is a group of you, swimming with the dolphins is expensive but well worth it as there was only 7 people in our group (5 in our family + 2 others) and each person got plenty of personal time with the dolphins (I have swum with the dolphins before in much larger groups and with less personal time with the dolphins). Havana is a must as it gives you a chance to experience true life in Cuba and hear the fascinating history of this country. We also travelled into Varadero on 3 or 4 occasions (about 20 minutes). We tried the open top bus (5CUC) return which you can get on on the main road (not ouside Sandals). This is worth doing if you manage to get a seat upstairs and if you want to hop on and off the bus as this is included in the fare, if you only want to go to one place in Varadero (we went to the largest flea market), it is worth getting the little open train that stops right outside the hotel (2CUC each way). Taxi fare is 15CUC each way.
The hotel was fantastic, the food was good and plentiful (although we have had better in other AI hotels). We tried all 3 al la carte restaurants and the Cuban was our favourite as there was more choice. A word of warning, the mediteranean only serves fish (even the soup is fish) and as 2 of our party do not touch fish, they were disappointed and went hungry although the food was enjoyed by the rest of the party. The japenese restaurant was fun, approx 15 people to a work station with your own personal chef and a choice of fish, beef or chicken which is cooked in front of you with a few surprises thrown in. The rooms are clean and the maids change your towels twice a day and turn down your beds and leave you chocolates in the evening. Your mini bar is restocked daily with beer, soft drinks and water and your tea and coffee are replenished. There is only a coffee maker in the rooms so to have tea you need to fill this with water only, get a glass of milk from one of the bars and keep it in your fridge for your tea as they only supply powdered coffee whitener in your room. The staff are so friendly and go out of their way to make your stay as pleasant as possible, the entertainment in the evening is absolutely brilliant, it is like a top west end show, you would never believe that these people have their own jobs within the hotel during the day and then go on to perform these shows in the evening.
We spent most of our time on the beach which is stunning. Unfortunately due to the weather, the sea was very rough on a few days which stopped all but the very strong swimmers from going in as the riptide was very strong. The waves also came right up the beach and most of the beach disappeared although there is something very romantic about lying on your sunlounger immersed in the sea. Although the weather was like this, it was still very warm. On the calm days, the sea was lovely, very clear, very warm and very safe. It gets deeper very gradually, you have to go a long way out for it to reach your waist. The main pool gets very busy and is quite shallow, the pool by the spa is very small but deeper and a lot quiter, piped music is played through the speakers which is very relaxing. There is a jacuzzi, sauna, gym, hairdressers and treatment rooms within the spa complex. The jacuzzi is unisex so if you go as a couple, you are separated into women and men. I tried one of the aromatherapy massages which at £70 was not cheap but it was absolute bliss. My husband and son made the most of the gym and they took their own tennis equipment and had a few games of tennis, although you can hire tennis equipment. Four of our group booked the hairdressers to have our hair done for the wedding and I cannot recommend them highly enough. I decided to have my hair up for the wedding and chose a photo from one of the many hair magazines that they have and they worked miracles. My hairstyle was identical to the one in the photo and my husband and son both said that I looked the best they have ever seen me (still trying to work out if that is a compliment). All four of us looked great after the hairdressers had worked their magic so don't be afraid to use them (25CUC for any hairstyle that is down or 50CUC for a hairstyle that is up).
Wedding - What can I say other than it was absolutely perfect. My son and his wife had met with the wedding co-ordinator Belkis on several occasions in the first few days we were there, she was brilliant and nothing was too much trouble. The hotel has a standard wedding but my son and daughter-in-law wanted to personalize theirs with their own music, they arranged a white cadillac for after the wedding and changed the venue for the wedding supper (due to the fact that they had booked the mediterranean prior to my son finding out that they only served fish). They had a choice of wedding locations (garden, beach or pool), choice of flowers and a cake. On the day of the wedding the weather was perfect up until about 3 p.m. (wedding was 4 p.m.). The flowers arrived at 3.30 and we left our rooms to head to the beach, by this time it was raining quite heavily and when we arrived at the beach, the wedding gazebo had been set up as it was really windy and well as raining. My son was upset about this as it has always been his dream to get married on the beach. At 4 p.m. the wedding buggy went off to collect my daughter-in-law from her room and lo and behold, the rain stopped and the sun came out so without us having to ask, they quickly rearranged the table and chairs on the sand and the wedding went ahead on the beach as planned, albeit amid very windy conditions. The music that my son and daughter-in-law had requested was played on cue and following that, a saxophonist came down onto the sand while we attempted to perform the cha-cha-cha and did a conga on the beach - surreal but wonderful and very personal. The bride and groom then had further photos taken on the beach and then went on to have photos taken in the grounds around the garden gazebo and lake, the hotel lobby and then out the front of the hotel with the wonderful old cadillac that they had hired. All the while, the champagne flowed freely (too freely as it went straight to my head due to the emotion of everything). On their return we continued drinking in the bar until it was time to go for the evening meal in the Cuban restaurant where we had a fantastic meal and the wedding cake was laid on a separate table and more photos were taken on the cutting of the cake. Following this it was back to the bar before hitting the air conditioned nightclub for a few turns on the dancefloor before collapsing into bed with our heads swimming with all the wonderful memories. The photos were delivered the following day and the DVD 2 days after that and the quality was amazing and so much cheaper than you would pay here (approx. £350 for photographer & £170 for videographer), and they gave them the full CD containing all the photos and the DVD which we were able to copy when we got home so we all have our own treasured memories.
Anyone getting married in this hotel, all I can say is trust the hotel that they know what they are doing as their wedding department is fantastic and they will make your dreams come true and to anyone not getting married, you will also have a fantastic holiday as the surroundings are beautiful and the staff go over and above their call of duty to make your stay as memorable as possible.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Directly on the beach of Varadero. Iberostar's first 5 star hotel in Cuba. Luxury and comfort in an elegant atmosphere. Top gastronomy and excellent service. Equipped for every kind of meeting, gala dinner, party, etc.. Ideal for groups & incentives. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Varadero Hotel Varadero
- Iberostar Cuba
- Iberostar Varadero Cuba
- Varadero Iberostar