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Hotel MarAzul
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Reviewed April 12, 2012

I visited Cuba from February 11 to March l0, 2012 so am a bit slow at writing my review this year. Enjoyed every minute that I spent there and have actually made a You Tube movie, set to music of some of my photos. Named it "Tripagogo to the Tropicoco Cuba, 2012" if anyone wants to see it. I posted under the name of epacnuckOK. I travel solo and enjoy this hotel because I never feel alone, unless I choose to be. Everyone always seems so friendly and welcoming. Love the staff, they have become very good friends of mine. You may recognize a couple in the You Tube movie! Many guests are there each time I return - this was my 6th visit and most of the staff have been there long enough to remember me as well.

The bands playing in the dining room for the evening meal were excellent. If I have one critisim it would be that the evening entertainment in the basement is always way too loud for me to enjoy which leaves nothing to do in the evening.

The beach, where I spent a lot of time, was great - water just beautiful.



Thankyou everyone concerned for making my holiday soooooo enjoyable.

Meals were better than I remember. Wish I could roast a turkey and have it come out as moist as their cook does - excellent job! The fruit and vegetables were plentiful and so good. I have never had such juicy, tasty grapefruit as they served this trip and I loved when they grilled peppers to serve with roast pork that was done with rosemary. We often had squash or beets, both excellent and they do know how to cook fish. Ice cream was served frequently - glad it wasn't served more often as I have no will power when it comes to Cuban ice cream ;o).

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled solo
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3  Thank epcanuck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2012

Reviewed trip advisor for this property and travel rep advised us not to book this property. I have always enjoyed travel and locations that most main stream travelers wouldn't consider. I have travelled comprehensively around the globe and have had a multiude of both positive and negative experiences. Accommodations ranging from ,most deplorable to the most elegant. Preference for travel for me is to be a part of a unique and interesting experience. To enjoy the local scene/people/culture/history, etc. My friend and I arrived at Tropicoco and enjoyed that it is in an area that is pretty much undeveloped and not full of the rat race culture at big resorts and exclusive beach properties. The hotel is worn looking but I found it to be better than I had expected. The staff in all service areas were fantastic. No problem there whatsoever. Our room was basic but clean with a shower that worked very well. Bed was comfortable enough. Nice view of the beach and ocean across the street. Food, I felt, was good. I have stayed at several 4 stars in Cuba with nowhere near the quality, selection. Nice fresh fruit daily too. Drinks at all bars were basic fare and the red wine was very good. The pool and adjoining restaurant/lounge were basic....pool was clean and very refreshing after a day at the beach. Nice to relax and have some quiet time here to read as well as the outside side patio location. The beach was cleaned daily and was thoroughly enjoyable for walking. Lots of beach available to find your own little piece of paradise. Same thing, not a lot of development and naturally very attractive with gorgeous big sand dunes and palm trees. Free kayaks....fantastic. Shuttle to Havana was a wonderful perk. If you want to stay later into the evening, you can taxi back for 15 cuc or take the highway bus and walk down the hill to the resort. Local bus also stops in front of hotel for 3 cuc return but again hours of operation change depending on day of week. Manager was present in hotel on many occasions and was very approachable and helpful. So, this all sounds pretty good doesn"t it? I was growing a little tired of watching old foreign men partnered up with the very young Cuban girls. Some days it was just way too much for my liking especially in the lobby/and lobby bar areas. Variety of other guests. Singles, couples, several gay male couples when I was there. We really enjoyed the company of several people we met while staying there. A word of caution to female travelers...Be careful, My friend and I were attacked by a naked man with his face covered on the beach about 1 mile to the left of the hotel. This was at night. He was quite persistant but after a lot of resistance and the use of a big stick, he ran away. A few bumps in the road but a in all, I would recommend this hotel if you are a relaxed, open minded kind of traveler looking for more of a local scene. Once again, I would like to commend the staff in all departments. Their friendliness and wonderful service were very much appreciated.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with friends
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8  Thank anna-marie d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
desants, General Manager at Hotel MarAzul, responded to this reviewResponded April 21, 2012

Thanks for your comments Anne Marie D. I am sure that readers will find interesting your description of the destination. Although Santa María del Mar is known to be a secure place, I agree with you on recommending female travellers not to wander around in an isolated beach in the dark. I hope to see you again in Tropicoco.
Best regards,
Juan Fernández Rodón
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 9, 2012

This was the second time coming to this hotel this year. I have travelled and lived in other countries so I am aware that everything never goes as smooth as you would like. I believe both times the staff and management tried to accommodate me. In fact when I checked in late on Friday the manager was there with his wife, offering me something to eat, and remembering me from the first time. It made me feel very welcomed.
People travel for various reasons. Mine was to enjoy the nightlife. 3 nightclubs around the area very close by, concerts, and an abundance of locals ready to show you how to dance and party it up ! Many ladies around but just like in Canada when you go to a club that is what you see. Also when I am in Canada I buy ladies drinks and socialize, dance and try to enjoy myself the best I can.
I am looking forward to travelling again here in the next couple months to do the same thing as before. I am not there to judge Cuban society but to embrace it. The staff and management did not judge me.

Thanks again and look forward to seeing all the staff members again.

Until then

Mike

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled solo
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2  Thank Mike M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
desants, General Manager at Hotel MarAzul, responded to this reviewResponded April 21, 2012

Thanks to you Mike M. We will be pleased to see you again in Tropicoco.
Best regards,

Juan Fernández Rodón
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 7, 2012

This was not my first choice, but was the only hotel, near the beach available for my travel dates. However my decision to stay here was enhanced by the fact that the hotel manager had responded to many complaints on trip advisor, and I thought that if he was aware of the problems and trying to improve that it would be OK.
I am a single gay male and always nervous to travel alone. To my surprise there were many other single gays and couples as well, from all over the world and I’ve made some lifelong gay friends. it is only $2 for a private taxi, $5 by government taxi to the gay beach “MiCayito”, it doesn’t get any closer that this resort, and there are tons of taxis to bring you back, you could walk but it’s about ½ hour on the sand 20 minutes on the HOT sidewalk. This is a bonus since I could always find someone to share the expense of a taxi to Havana’s gay areas, $15 by private taxi $25 by government taxi, apparently it is much cheaper if you speak a little Spanish and can negotiate.
I had read many reviews about the prostitutes on this resort, but it is very discreet, and you really have to be looking for it, except on one occasion, when my tour bus arrived, and I alone got off, I was offered girls, ha ha ha, before I even checked in, a polite no was all that was required, I was never asked again.
Now the resort, yes it is Russian block architecture, but it’s ok, it could use a different choice of colours, see below, and a few plants scattered here and there. But overall it’s a great resort.
There is a shortage of ashtrays at this resort I suggest that every visitor to this hotel bring one (1) clear glass ashtray from the dollar store to leave behind. Make sure it a clear glass one that will match with the two ashtrays they already have (yes, only two)
Surprisingly the food is better than I expected, there is ALWAYS fresh fruit, and fresh raw vegetables, salads etc. Of course the chicken, pork and beef are all overcooked, as is the custom in Cuba, but to my surprise the fish was always excellent. But I was disappointed that ice cream was not served at every meal. Cuba makes great ice cream, second only to Italy, and I always look forward to trying the many different flavours it comes in, mint, coconut, mango, papaya etc, and I was disappointed that they only served it twice while I was there, chocolate, and vanilla.

*A note to the manager*, since I know he reads all of these reviews
Here are a few inexpensive things you could do to greatly improve your guest’s vacation
Music
This is Cuba, home of salsa, and reaggaeton, be proud, show off, there should always be music in the lobby bar, it would help cover up some of the conversation, and enhance visitor experience. It doesn’t have to be live bands, just any Cuban radio station, preferably without commercials. This was the first thing I noticed at this resort. Also the constant noise from the dot matrix printer, that runs all day long is almost unbearable and needs to be covered up by music. Also note that Cubans speak very loudly and often while sitting in the lounge I can hear hotel staff speaking about guest information, for discretion this needs to be covered up. And nobody wants to sit at the bar and listen to the bar noise, water running, coffee machine etc. Also it would be great if you had some music on the beach.
Mojito’s, and Pina Coladas,
The national drinks of Cuba, and every tourist expects them, the sugar water pina colada’s available now are absolutely horrible and should be removed immediately, they are an embarrassment to your culture. I understand these blender drinks are labour intensive, and require additional staff, and supplies, but possibly you could offer them at specific times, or at specific bars, maybe after dinner only, at the outside lounge, where the birds are. You could set up some kind of temporary blender bar, with Spanish coffees, blender drinks etc
You Need More Ashtrays
I’ve suggested that every visitor to this hotel bring one (1) clear glass ashtray from the dollar store to leave behind. This would cut down on cleaning expenses since people wouldn’t be dropping ashtrays on the floors.
Also you really do need ashtrays outside the elevators, Canadians will NEVER smoke inside an elevator, (its’ very illegal in Canada) subsequently there are many cigarette butts on the floors and window sills outside every elevator.
Paint Colors
While I understand and embrace the architecture, I think it could be enhanced with a little more paint. You’ve done a great job to date; but, the choice of colors is what makes the hotel look tired. Pick cleaner, clearer, brighter colours, think south beach. Get rid of the muddy orange and replace it with a bright clean clear crisp fuchsia. The yellow that you have is a dirty yellow, looks like cigarette smoke damage; you want a bright clean banana yellow. While these colors may be authentic to Cuba, they are not what we expect; having travelled to Miami Beach, watched Miami vice etc. the perception of Cuba is a clearer color palette than the authentic Cuba
Fountains,
These should be fixed and operational should muffle a lot of the street noise, and the conversations. When a guest enters and sees that you don’t respect the resort, they adopt similar behavior. Also the soft sound of trickling water will add to the ambience, while covering up noise from guests’ conversations, maybe enhance these areas with live plants, fish etc
Plants
I see that many areas don’t get very good light and may not be able to sustain plant life, any other areas should be completely covered with vegetation, have live things in the lobby area. Or maybe some sort of movable plant boxes, whereby the plants could be repositioned weekly. I would love to see hanging plants form every beam.
Shuttle Bus
The daily shuttle busses are redundant, and not necessary, there is a much better service directly out front every half hour, by Havana tours. What is required is some sort of night service, departing and returning twice nightly, once before dinner time, for guests that wish to go into the city for dinner, and a later night service for those wishing to go out to clubs.
Coffee Cups, And Coffee Service.
The café con leche, and cappuccinos are inconsistent, one time it is made perfectly, while the next time poorly, and to serve them in a plastic cup is unacceptable. Your staff needs training in consistency.
Havana, and was surprised how chic the waiters looked in all black, other resorts s have adopted all white attire, I don’t expect this at tropicoco, but I would definitely suggest removing the red vest.
Drinks On The Beach
I suggest you move this beverage hut closer to the beach. I carried three orange sodas to the beach and by the time I got there my legs were cover in liquid. Maybe have some sort of waiter service on the beach. People NEED refreshments while on the beach, If it was my hotel, I would move the entire pool grill to the beach area.
The outside lounge
My favorite area in the entire resort is the outside patio with the birds; this area has tons of plants and vegetation, great chairs , and the ambient noise from the birds and this area should be utilized, and exploited. I see many guests wanting to sit in this area, but there is no drink service available.
Bar Staff Uniforms
This may be cultural, but in Canada, black pants, white shirt, red vest signifies a very cheap old hotel, restaurant or bar. I suggest you strip away the red vest. I went for drinks at the plaza hotel in
Prostitution
I had read many reviews about the prostitutes on this resort, but it is very discreet, and you really have to be looking for it, except on one occasion, when my tour bus arrived, and I alone got off, i was offered girls, ha ha ha, before I even checked in. I would suggest that hotel security monitor these guys at the door to calm down a bit. Nobody wants to be accosted like this when they first arrive. I actually enjoyed watching the goings on, and meeting all different people. I myself would have liked to invite some guests to my room but the hotel charges were too much for a few hours. Other resorts I have been to have offered “day” passes to tourists and locals $20 for the day, must leave by 6 pm. This restricts prostitution to daytimes when families are all at the beach, or out of the hotel. Many of the other gay guests I spoke with will not stay at the resort again, but will instead find a casa downtown.

Room Tip: all rooms are ocean view
  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled solo
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28  Thank nosinglesupplement
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
desants, General Manager at Hotel MarAzul, responded to this reviewResponded April 18, 2012

I am happy to know that my replies to comments published in Tripadvisor have influenced on the choice of Tropicoco for your holidays. You have given me a great incentive to continue with this task. I sincerely thank you for your comments. Sometimes, we, hotelworkers, overlook things that are important to our customers. Thanks to comments from clients like yourself, we have already made some changes in our daily operation. Conga Bar was open ten days ago as an evening cocktail bar where you can find all Cuban cocktails: mojito, piña colada, canchanchara, daiquiri, cubanito, etc, all prepared with expert hands and following traditional recipes. In this bar we play instrumental music from Cuban Radio without interrumptions nor commercials and there is an ashtray on every table located in the smoking area, as there should always have been, sorry. We are also offering sandwiches all night long from the lobby bar. I regret not having met you personnally. Had I known that you have an interest in interior design as it seems to be, I would have shown you some of the designs we are considering for changes in the lobby: colours, paintings, theme bars, plants.
Best regards,
Juan Fernández Rodón
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 1, 2012

Like other reviews - where do I start ? Hostile front-desk staff. Run-down rooms with archaic beds (twins) and bedding. Only one towel each was provided. No water left in the hallways for guests to use, no drinking glasses, and poorly lit hallways with many burned-out bulbs. The air conditioner was so loud, we couldn't sleep if it was on, therefore we were forced to keep the windows open. Between the two of us the mosquitoes dined heartily. This is the only placed we have ever stayed where water and snacks were Not Available in their gift shop. The lobby bartenders were filling up the disgusting Thermos provided, and flimsy plastic cups to accompany as either for drinking or as ashtrays. The food in the buffet was beyond repetitive and unrecognizable in some cases. Cockroaches were seen running from the fruit and vegetable dishes on two separate days. That in itself is enough to make you lose your lunch !
This hotel seems to operate with an undercurrent of allowed prostitution, mostly old men of several nationalities parading around with, in some cases, very young teen-aged Cuban girls.
The staff seemed to openly shun anyone who only spoke English (Us) Nothing friendly in any part of this hotel's operation. Sunwing is doing the public a huge disservice by using this property. They have a "free" shuttle that had so many people holding their reservation stubs, that three to four bus loads wanted to ride. We chose to go into Havana with the 3 CUC peso
return bus, located across the street from the hotel. The hotel pool has NO safety or lifeguarding equipment, and many children (on day-passes) were left to their own devices while their irresponsible parents spent their time drinking and eating at the grill provided near the pool. Across the street through a dusty pathway, you find the beach. It is littered with many broken lounge chairs and and leftover garbage from uncaring beachgoers. The only gem on this trip, was the Mirazul Restaurant about 2 blocks down the street from the hotel. Awesome grilled shrimp and lobster, cheap and very tasty! Unfortunately the proprietors of this restaurant are swamped by local youths hanging out (loitering) and holding chairs and tables for their own usage, while willing, paying customers were left to wait. Now, back to Sunwing: their representatives, were Not available daily in the hotel, as their paperwork stated.
On our departure date, our flight was not even listed on the correct lobby sheet. The reps kept the SUNWING book themselves. We kept getting told " NOT TO WORRY" that everything will be fine. It was NOT !!! The rep told us to wait in the lobby by 11:45 pm for bus pickup to Varadero Airport to get us to our 5 a.m. flight. We knew ahead of time that Cuba was changing to Daylight Savings Time March 31-April 1 st. They change time at mignight. This meant that our bus pickup would turn out to be 12:45 am, leaving approx. 90 minutes of travel time to the airport and then less than the usual 3 hours of waiting for the flight. That night the bus finally arrived at 1:57 am (after mechanical troubles), and 3 frantic attempts by we and another woman to contact the rep. and find out when we would in deed be transported. We did manage to get our flight out - way too close for comfort for everyone who was depending on that ride. The hotel tried to pull a fast-one on us as well. They called our room on Saturday, March 31st at 5 pm wanting to know why we hadn't checked out yet. They wanted us to pay an additional 15 CUC pesos. I went down to the frontdesk, with paperwork in hand and was quickly told not to worry, that Sunwing told them a late check-out was part of our trip arrangment. The two young ladies who were also stuck waiting in the lobby, were told at 5pm that they had 10 minutes to get out of their rooms, or be thrown out. How miserable can reception staff get??? Never a manager, or anyone who could actually speak passable English was every on duty. My husband and I felt terribly discriminated against at this property, and you can be sure we will NEVER darken it's doorways again. What a wasted trip ( our anniversary). Please do not go here. I would also entertain any feedback from either the Hotel or Sunwing.

Room Tip: We had to nove right away from check-in, the room we were given had NO BEDDING provided.
  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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12  Thank orthogal1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
desants, General Manager at Hotel MarAzul, responded to this reviewResponded April 18, 2012

My sincere apologies for the alleged suffered inconveniences. I have not been able to trace the problem with the bedding at check-in, it should never happen.Our procedure does not allow to give any room until it has the OK from Housekeeping. Food is a very important issue in an All Inclusive Hotel and we elaborate cycles of menus with the intention of offering variety on products and on elaboration but in your case we have failed to meet your expectations. Usually when buying a holiday package, dates, times and services are described in the invoice or voucher. I understand that sometimes when flying on night flight there is some confusion. Flying after midnight does not mean that one is entitled to an extra room/day because in a hotel a day is counted from 12.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m.
With regards,
Juan Fernández Rodón
General Manager

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