So firstly let me start by saying we moved from our original hotel after one day. I came over to the Blau for a look around and was pleased with what i saw so made the move with my family. All the main areas are well looked after. There are always a maintenance team looking after the grounds, buildings etc. When you first arrive the main reception area is large and airy and has a great feel with a busy sociable bar. It is a large resort and is (including the premier island) 2km long so if you are not a walker then it might not be for you. Although there are electric carts always around to help out. The grounds were generally well looked after and the gardens are very well established with loads of palm trees - the gardeners are always happy to give you a coconut and straw or make you a palm tree leafed hat. There was some standing water around due to storms but i did see gardeners spraying to reduce the mosquitos (definitely take your bug spray as Cuba is no stranger to sand flies and mosquitos).
The beach is awesome and you could walk forever to get deep so really safe for kids. We always got shade and chairs and there was always volleyball going on for those energetic ones! We went out with the catamarans on the beach and paid some money to the beach staff who took us to a small reef where we snorkelled with the fish - well worth it.
The most disappointing part of the trip was the room. Im sure when the hotel was new (8 years ago) they were lovely but they are just a little bit tired and because of the humidity can feel damp. The aircon worked well. If you can, make a request go for a 2nd or 3rd floor room as they dont feel anywhere near as damp. The bathroom was compact and the shower was over the bath. The hot water did run cooler the later in the day you showered but it was never cold. There are a couple of accommodation blocks that face the main road so be careful as you might be opposite the development over the road at the marina. The staff on reception were very helpful and i have no doubt if we wanted to move rooms they would have accommodated our request.
We have heard a lot of things about cuban food but didnt really have any issues with it at this resort. My two girls loved the buffet and tried lots of different food. If you are high end cuisine then cuba is probably not for you. We had lobster one night and lots of choice of fresh fish and shrimps every night. Book early if you want to eat a la carte. We ate in the Cuban restaurant one night and it was pretty much the same as the main buffet. If dishes finish the staff are always restocking. The only thing that would run sort was the morning omelette stand which would occasionally run out of cheese. If you like your eggs cooked in 50 different ways you wont be disappointed as i think it is a main staple in Cuba.
My kids didn't do too much in the kids club but the are looked great and one of the pools (3 in total) has a tube slide. The main pool to the west of reception has a swim up bar which was a little crazy on our first afternoon as this is also the pool families are more than likely to use. Being an all inclusive hotel you have to accept that there are some drunk people swearing - wasn't too much of a problem really. The middle pool by the lighthouse is nice and bit more quiet but the last day we went to the pool at the end of the resort and it was really quiet with a swim up bar. Our kids were the only ones there. This was a very picturesque area with an infinity pool.
The evening entertainment for the adults was generally pretty good but if you are looking for Las Vegas then cuba might not be the first choice. My kids loved all the performances except the "romantica' performance which was a little slow. The kids entertainment in the evenings was probably good for little kids but my 11 year old only really watched. In my humble opinion the main kids entertainment team leader seemed like she might be better suited with adults - very few soft skills!!!! We thought it was funny how she would demand the kids and adults to 'clap clap clap' at any time. Still chuckling.
Having never done an All inclusive before we were not sure what to expect - my advice to you would be tip hard before the service and the service will be great! Many times whilst standing at the bar a 'big tipper' would be served before anyone else. They love the tips!! We also got asked several times if we had any spare kids clothes as i think they are hard to come by for Cubans. Maybe think about leaving unwanted clothes there - they will be muchly appreciated.
Would i go back to this hotel - probably not as i like to try different places. Would i recommend it - definitely. BUT dont be fooled into thinking it is a 5* as Cuban 5*s are different to Mexican (so i have been told).
We went on one trip on the Catamaran and i would 100% recommend it. The company was Gaviota and their marina is just over the road from the resort. You get to swim on a reef, have a dolphin encounter and then go to an island (with 100s of other tourists) and have a lobster lunch. Great day out and the staff on the boat were awesome. The dolphin experience was fairly limited but we stayed behind and tipped 10 cucs and my 11 year old got to swim with the dolphin. You can also pay extra for a great photo with the dolphin. I was very concerned about the wellbeing of the dolphins before i arrived and was pleasantly surprised at how healthy they were. Their enclosures are in the sea in a fort like building but the sea water and fishes come and go. My 11 year old also spotted some wild dolphins near the enclosure. Would i rather that dolphins weren't captive - of course but to have an encounter like we did in the wild would be almost impossible.
Varadero is worth a couple of hours to visit but sadly for us the day we went it rained.
All in all a great holiday and we will definitely go back to Cuba.