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“First Trip to Cuba!”

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Hotel Roc Barlovento
Ranked #21 of 63 Hotels in Varadero
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“First Trip to Cuba!”
Reviewed November 12, 2012

This was my first vacation to Cuba, and we chose to stay at Barlovento Hotel for its great price! I travelled with my boyfriend, as we stayed for 5 nights and 6 days. We paid around around $800 (including the tax and the flight) per person. And this was during the high season near the Christmas week. Regardless of the disappointing events that occurred during our vacation (such as having our luggage lost for 3 days) I will be only reviewing the resort.

Location:
One of my favourite things about this resort is its great location. The ride from the Varadero airport to Barlovento was no longer than 20 min. It is located at the front of the resort strip in Varadero. I was able to explore around the resort, as there was a small market about 3 min walk away. There was even a larger market that was only a 10 min walk away. These markets have a great variety of souvenir items. I was able to get some cute bracelets and necklaces. There are many Hop-on-hop-off double decker buses that take you along the Varadero strip for only 5 CUC. Hold onto this ticket because it is valid for the whole day!

Food
Probably one of the only things I was warned about before travelling to Cuba was its food. Though I must say, it's definitely not as bad as I've anticipated. But then again, I did arrive with low expectations. The buffet provided a good amount of choices. Though it became quite repetitive, as the choices didnt seem to change a lot each day. But that wasn't a huge problem for us, as we're not picky eaters.

Beach
The beach was absolutely beautiful! The vibrant blue water along with soft and smooth sand. It was perfect. I felt the resort did a great job on maintaining the beach area, as it was very clean. It was definitely a large beach, and there were plenty of beach chairs for everyone.

Room
The big disappointment for us was the room. Overall, it seemed very outdated and the atmosphere was gloomy, perhaps because of where our room was facing, we didn't get much sunlight. The television was small and old. The beds were quite uncomfortable, and we had to request more pillows. But then again, whats the point of staying in your room all day when you're at a resort?? The bathroom's cleanliness was poor, but we didn't have any major problems with the showers or such. Also, our room was right next to the lobby, and surprisingly, it wasn't too noisy.

Service
Most of the staff were very warm and friendly. The staff at the buffet welcomed us with large warm smiles, and provided an overall great service. Our maid didn't speak fluent English; however, we really appreciated the small notes she wrote to us every now and then.
One of the most devastating event that occurred was that our luggage was lost for a good 3 days. What's even more frustrating was that our vacation provider, Sunwing, didn't seem to be very involved with keep us updated. So it was a waiting game..and that feeling just sucks! Instead of our Sunwing rep helping us, the excursion organizer at the resort was more than helpful, as she dealt with most of the communicating with the airport and airline. Eventually, they delivered the luggages to our rooms.. on the 3rd day of our stay.

Overall
Despite all the unfortunate events, I had a pleasant time at the resort. Although it is a small, there is still a lot of explore around the resort. However, I will not be returning if I were to return to Varadero. As I was travelling on the double decker bus, we passed by some really nice and large resorts towards the end of the Varadero strip. Plus, I always like to try out new places!

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Ann L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
22 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed November 8, 2012 via mobile

We had stay at this resort almost two years ago, I totally forgot to add my review about my stay.

It was a 5 stars hotel, however it was good for the price we paid, just like the old saying "you get what you pay...."

The only thing I remember clearly is the fact that one of the servers at the restaurant offered me a box of cigars, stating that they were original and genuine, it turned out that those cigars were all fakes, I got sick of my throat... So just be a little aware when someone offers things for sale...

  • Stayed December 2011
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank VaneGas2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berlin, Germany
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed November 6, 2012

I stayed at Barlovento Hotel for six nights at the end of October 2012. I'm Canadian in my mid-30's and travelled there with my German husband. It was passable for the price I paid (<$600 CAD all inclusive per person including flights and taxes), but any more would be too much. I'm not a picky traveller - I've stayed in all-inclusives in Cuba/Mexico/Egypt before, and have backpacked through Asia/India/New Zealand.

PROS:
- In central Varadero close to the airport, markets and restaurants
- Inexpensive hotel if you can get a good deal
- Great maid service
- Small hotel with nice beach

OKAY:
- Rooms a bit worn but clean
- Food is decent for Cuba

CONS:
- Poor service in general
- Bad "cocktails" and small drinks (stick to rum/coke and beer)
- We both got food poisoning, 90% sure it's something from the hotel

The hotel is located at the start of central Varadero, it's a quick 20 minute ride from the Varadero airport and you're there. It's also within walking distance to small markets and restaurants, so you're never stuck on the resort with nothing to do. To the main part of Varadero (park, clubs, bank) it's a 20-30 minute walk or a fast trip with the double decker tourist bus or taxi.

When we checked in, the woman at the desk didn't even look or speak to us until she gave us our room key. The only thing she said us then was our room number and that the room would be ready in about five hours. Throughout our stay, the female reception staff were indifferent/rude. The male staff were generally more helpful.

The room was fine, a little worn out but clean and spacious. We had a room in the main hotel with a balcony overlooking the garden, and the location was not too noisy. There was always hot water at any time of the day. Our maid Meilanie was excellent and courteous, keeping the room tidy every day, making towel/bedding animals, and accommodating our daily requests for extra rolls of toilet paper.

I was pleasantly surprised by the food. Having said that, both my husband and I got food poisoning (diarrhea, vomiting, the works!) on the last day of our stay, so be careful! We've both been to Cuban all-inclusives before, so we weren't expecting too much, but it was fine. Food is somewhat repetitive (fried spaghetti or potatoes anyone?) but there were always one or two new items throughout the week to try. I liked the prawns, chicken, grilled fish, and papaya. For condiments, there is salt and pepper on every table, along with a good choice of salad dressing (strangely, all in German). For breakfast, bring bacon and bread from the buffet to the omellette guy's grill and you will be so much happier.

Of the a-la-carte restaurants, we only got to try the Mexican restaurant. The food was a nice change there and the service better than at the main buffet restaurant. There wasn't too much extra table service besides wine and a sizzling meat/fish plate served on a mini pig-shaped oven. Mainly it was self-serve salad/beans/tortilla chips and a soft taco station.

We tried to book the other restaurants repeatedly (creole, italian) without success. We'd show up every day at 4pm as instructed by reception, and sometimes there would be nobody there to take our booking. Othertimes we'd just be told it was full and to come back tomorrow at 4pm (even one day when we came back at 3:50pm and there was nobody waiting). When passing by later in the evening, there would be only 2 or 3 tables occupied, or the restaurants appeared to be closed. I'm not sure what's up with that but we went back several times to each and were never able to secure a booking.

The bars were a big disappointment at Barlovento. In my previous experience, there was always at least one bar on premises that could whip up a proper Mojito or Piña Colada. Not so at Barlovento. The cocktails were sad, small and slushy. The lobby bar had the best drink selection, including an espresso/coffee machine. The smaller bars (by the pool, stage, and beach) were very limited. Big BOOO ON THE DRINK availability! Limited opening hours, only sugar/slush juice "cocktails" available, and only the busy lobby bar had reliable hours. Stick with Cuba Libré's and beers, and bring a travel mug if you want more than one tiny cup at a time.

Beware: the 24 hour food advertised does not seem to exist. We saw some sad white bread sandwiches by the lobby bar once between breakfast and lunch. The snack bar by the pool (El Rancho?) was often closed or seemed closed, and offered extremely limited food choices. When open, the only thing they seemed to make was luncheon ham in a bun, or "hamburgers". We tried these "hamburgers" once and I'm not sure if they were beef, pork, chicken or what. All I know is that they were premade, extremely pink inside, and a possible source for our food poisoning!!

As mentioned before, the service was the biggest disappointment at Barlovento Hotel. I am a very laid-back traveller, but I expect at least basic service in hotels. The service in general ranged from okay to downright rude... I'd characterise it as indifferent at best. We almost always had to wave down buffet restaurant staff to get water or wine. There were a few people here and there that provided decent service, but that was the exception. We tipped to try to get better service, but it seemed to make no difference, so by the end we only tipped individuals who actually made any kind of effort to do their job at a minimum level.

The beach was nice, as is with most hotels in Varadero. We unfortunately had no chance to swim in the sea due to waves from Hurricane Sandy. But from our previous experiences in Varadero the water is usually calm and lovely.

Be sure to book a day trip to Havana, it's well worth it! We went with a Sunwings tour but the other trips seem pretty similar.

A final warning: Both me and my husband got food poisoning while staying at this hotel. We might have picked it up from Havana or a drink outside of the hotel, but it's unlikely since it was over 24 hours since we'd been anywhere else. I normally have a strong stomach and have eaten all sorts of dodgy street food while travelling without getting sick. Despite the signs, there is no actual doctor on site, only a nurse who will call a doctor to travel in at the minimum expense of 50 CUC. Medical services at the hotel don't seem to exist - we even saw a poor woman who broke her leg, and was being pushed around in an office chair because there were no wheelchairs available!

Book this hotel only if you get great deal, love the beach, and don't mind bad drinks and service!!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank lisagoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santiago, Chile
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2012

It's a good hotel for the price, but it's probably a 2 stars.
The best: location.. near airport and bus terminal, also near stores

Good things: beach, beauty and clean room.

Bad things:
- The food was just for eat, not to enjoy. Breakfast was better but for lunch or dinner it was always the same.
- Getting a reservation for a restaurant was impossible, only with tips you can get it,
- Difficult to get or to change the beach towels.
- Staff was nice, cuban people are wonderful!

The worst:
- Animation! it was terrible! there was no animation really.. just a few games with one guy to animate. The shows at night really poor compared to other hotels.
- Drinks: just cuba libre, no mojito and piña colada was terrible. You didn't have no alcoholic drinks, just some terrible juices.

If you are searching a cheap place to get some sun and to eat, it's ok for you. But if you are searching a place to have fun with cuban music, party, good food, good drinks, etc. pay a bit more! Worth it!

Hope it can help :)

Room Tip: If you stay near the swimming pool, you are going to wake up everyday at 10am with the same music. T...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Trinidad R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2012

We stayed in Barlovento as a couple twice. It is a very small hotel with nicely maintained grounds. In March and in September of 2008 during hurricane Ike, second after hurricane Katrina, costliest Atlantic hurricane of all time. The costliest hurricane ever to impact Cuba. As you can imagine, the stay was not what we were looking for during our vacation time. 4 out of 7 days were just awful, due to the weather but I have to praise the hotel staff that was trying their BEST to keep us safe and provide food and entertainment during this difficult times. Many people from other hotels were moved to Barlovento as this hotel is low and strong. Anyway, I will not go into the details, just wanted to let you all know that the way the management and staff of the hotel handed this crises was excellent.

Besides that, the food during both of our stays in 2008 was surprisingly good. The location of the hotel in the city of Varadero is very convenient and the beach amazing!
If the price is right, go for it!

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Gosia C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed October 14, 2012

Stayed at the "Barlovento" in Varadero. We Have stayed there previously and had no problems. This time alot of things changed. First, location of this hotel is excellent, it is situated at the beginning of Varadero close to shops and restaurants. I would like to review an important aspect LACKING at the Barlovento hotel- "CUSTOMER SERVICE". The first thing you like to see when arriving from a long flight and bus ride is a smile on the face of the people representing the hotel at the front desk. Their attitude represents the hotel, GM, and other management. The people at the front desk of the "Barlovento" hotel were beyond unprofessional. There were 4people I will name as they should not be working in the customer service industry , the manager in charge of the front desk "Maritza", Osmany, Yadelin and the other who did not wear a name tag the whole time we where there. They did not have a smiles on ther faces or were helpful in anyway about anything. If they want to make this a 4 star hotel they will have to retrain these people on "CUSTOMER service and ETTIQETTE on how to deal with customers arriving and leaving their hotel. The first sign of a great hotel is the front desk- how they deal with issues regarding rooms, how to make a phone call etc.
Our trip to Cuba wasn't entirely negative. We made a trip to Havana for 4 days and stayed at the "Melia Cohiba". This hotel was a true 4 star hotel in Cuba. The reception desk at the front were very professional, curteous and dealt with issues immediately. The restaurants were amazing, history extrordinary and people very friendly.
Be very careful when choosing a hotel in Cuba, read the reviews and ask fellow travellers their opinions.

Room Tip: Rooms on higher floors. Tends to be noisy facing the pool.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank angelfaceToronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Varadero hotels

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed October 9, 2012

This was my first time travelling, and of course Cuba was the spot! I stayed a Barlovento, and I couldn't have been more impressed! I am usually quite the picky person, and this place defeated all my expectations. The staff were all so wonderful and kind. Infact I had injured myself while visiting this resort, and all the staff asked if I had been ok, the manager made sure everything was fine, and made sure we had everything we wanted/needed.
The beach is BY FAR one of and probably the only BEST beach in Veradaro. My boyfriend and I walked the entire beach strip, and there was no better beach.... nice white sands.

As per everyones complaint, the food sucks... but thats cuba. Rice, and potatoes... you could live off of it there.

All and all, a great resort, great people, and i would TOTALLY go back in a heartbeat!

Room Tip: If you want a quite room, face the backside... There really isn't an "oceanview" unles...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
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    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Amanda L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Roc Barlovento

Property: Hotel Roc Barlovento
Address: Ave 1ra e/ 9 y 12, Varadero, Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#18 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Roc Barlovento 3.5*
Number of rooms: 293
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Hotel Roc Barlovento is located on beachfront and just a few meters from town centre of Varadero only 25 km away from the airport.This large Caribbean-style resort is in perfect harmony with its natural surroundings along an extensive, fine white sanded beach and turquoise waters .Adults only hotel, over 16 years.Services Around the gardens, there are a tennis court, a solarium, three swimming pools and one jacuzzi. 3 Out Door Pools Sunbeds & Umbrellas Reception 24 hrsStores, shops Air Conditioning Tourism office GardensInternet, with charge Telephone and fax, with charg eMassage, with charge"All Inclusive" Services Buffet service for breakfast, lunch and dinner 3 á la carte restaurants (prior reservation required and upon availability) Fast food, snacks, grill y paellas. Cocktails, beverages: national and international brands. 24 hrs Service. Non motorized water sports (upon availability), snorkel, windsurf, kayak, pedalboatl, catamaran, windsurf . Voleyball, football, tennis, ping pong, billard, petanca, dards, archery and table games. Basket, beach volley, water polo- Gym Sunbeds andbeach/pool towels Day time entertainment programme: aerobics, yoga, dancing lessons, Spanish lessons, pool/beach games. Evening entertainment with a variety of international shows and theme nights (resident band and dancers)GastronomyThe All Inclusive offer includes, in addition to the three complete buffet meals per day, à la carte meals in the 3 specialty restaurants (with reservation) snacks, alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic drinks throughout the day. A great variety of gastronomical treats awaits our guests in the hotel’s 4 restaurants and 4 bars . The hotel offers a 24 hrs service. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Barlovento Hotel Varadero
Barlovento Cuba
Gran Caribe Club Barlovento
Hotel Barlovento
Barlovento Varadero

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