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Hotel Roc Barlovento
Ranked #20 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Reviewed February 19, 2010

February 1st till the 16th we were at the Barlovento. Our 3rd year there and our 8th in Varadero. We pretty well knew what to expect and things had not changed much in 3 years.
The good stuff: location, beach and staff. The food is OK for me and I can always find something to eat. My husband had no problem with the food. He was quite happy with what was available.
The bad stuff: I am submitting a photo of this poor horse from one of the horsedrawn carriages for tourists. He fell over in front of us and then the owner started poking him with a stick until he got up. A Cuban standing next to me said "oh he is not dead, only tired" They apparently run these horses from 6am till midnight. I would suggest not ever using them. Disgusting.
Sun Wing... I would never use them again. Before we left Canada our trip was changed 3 times, first our departure was to be Feb 4th and then suddenly it was Feb 1st.. If I was not retired by now and still working this would not have worked for me. Fortunately my husband was able to change his holidays. The very worst thing was that on our departure our flight was changed to 8 hours later so this meant we missed our connection to Campbell River at a cost of $440.00 SunWing had no explanation for this change and I feel they should take some resopnsibility for us landing in Vancouver and no way to get home.
We will go back next year but on another airline.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled on business
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2  Thank champion51
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 14, 2010

I stayed at this hotel from Feb 6th til Feb 14th 2010.. I was originally supposed to stay some where else but they upgraded me to this hotel. The lobby bar is 24 hours and theres also a snack bar down at the adult pool that offers hamburgers and fries after midnight.

For the most part this Hotel was pretty good. The bar staff are probably the best bar staff at any hotel I have stayed at in Varadero. The thing that was really lacking at this place was the lack of pool side activities , in fact there was nothing going on at pool side during the day.

The nightly entertainment was so so , was not impressed with it as I was with others hotels I have been at.

The maid service was amazing, very lovely people and same with the rest of the people that work at this hotel.

The grounds were very nicely kept. There are 2 pools and a 3rd for kids.

The only real issue I had with this hotel wasn't with the Hotel itself but with all the senior citizens , the majority of whom were extremely rude not only to other vacationers but especially to the staff. Some of them were very nice but most were just down right rude with no please or thank you but just barking out orders. my 2nd full day at this hotel I was down at the adult pool where the water volley ball net is ... no one was sitting around the pool so I picked a chair and sat out in the sun .. a group of 6 seniors came over and demanded I move to another spot because they had been coming here for years and where I was sitting was apparently "theirs" .. of course I didn't move nor had any intention of moving. I don't care how old a person is I will not let ignorant rude people treat me like dirt. They were even more rude during the breakfast and dinners ..just being so demanding on the waiters and waitresses like they are garbage and only walk this earth to service them .. I had a few arguments with the Seniors that were being awful to them, and eventually put them in their place. The other thing I noticed about them is the majority NEVER TIP. But its the lack of please and thank you that really got on my nerves with them. You would figure since they are in retirement they must have learned some manners after all their years.

WHAT TO BRING

I always bring lots tooth paste shampoo soaps and other hygiene products for the maids, oh and nylons.... I also take some with me when I'm walking around town and meeting the locals, and give some out to those who ask. I've met enough locals in Varadero during my trips there to know what it is they need most. I also like to take old clothes and give them out as well.. but nothing ratty or torn but stuff I don't wear anymore .. clothing is another thing they lack there.

The bar staff I usually give them a T-shirt and lots of pesos as tips. they also love to show a little Canadian pride on them so usually give them a pin with the Canadian flag on it or something to wear .. they LOVE CANADIANS in Cuba. It is our number 1 Vacation spot and we fuel the local economy, they make more from our tips and generosity than they do at their jobs, remember most of them only make 10 pesos a month at their jobs.

THE BEACH

The beach was pretty nice, though because of the weather (which was pretty good but cloudy most of the week) but it was the tide that had kept the beach red flagged so wasn't able to go in it. That of course is NOT the Hotels fault but mother natures.

THE FOOD

I'm not a big fan of resort food especially in the Caribbean as it usually always makes me sick so I avoid most of it, so I will not comment on the food as I usually ate outside of the hotel.

THE BEDROOM

The bedroom was in fairly good condition and very well kept .. did not have an issue with hot water for showers at this hotel like I have had in others in Cuba.

The only problem with the rooms here is the bathroom doors, for some bizarre reason they put frosted glass on the door so who ever walks by the door can see if your sitting down or standing up at the toilet , BUT with a little creativity with the shower curtain you can make a nice screen.. all I did to solve that problem was I lifted up the shower curtain and hung it over the door then closed the door... I like my privacy when doing my bathroom business.

I've heard people complain about sand in the beds .. well 1st of all your on a beach with LOTS OF SAND!! 2ndly if you take the time to wash your feet in the bathtub before going to bed YOU WONT HAVE SAND IN THE BED!.

THE STAFF

I honestly can't say enough about the staff here, especially the bar staff they are just so amazing even after being treated like crap by the senior citizens.

WHOM I WOULD RECOMMEND GOING HERE

Senior Citizens as most of the hotel was packed full of them. Certainly not a place for younger people as this hotel also does not have a night club in it.

WHOM I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND GOING HERE

Younger people especially 40's and younger, and people who have zero tolerance for rude old people.

I'm giving this 4 stars as for the most part I really enjoyed myself there even though I had to bite my tongue a lot from giving the smack down to the seniors. I have nothing against senior citizens but I just feel they need to be somewhat more nicer to people at these hotels.

The people that work at these hotels work a lot of hours for VERY LITTLE money. They don't have the luxuries that we have when we go home, I've seen 1st hand how Cubans live and their struggles to get the little things we take for granted like shampoo and soap.

So show them a little respect, be nice to them , TIP THEM, and dont get on their cases if your coffee doesn't taste like it does from Tim Horton's

Be nice to the resort staff and tip them and you will see they will love you to death and treat you like gold, they will become your new best friend during your stay, getting that kind of respect is always a good thing and showing it back is even better.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled with friends
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7  Thank SithDave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2010

We enjoyed our stay at the Barlovento but wanted to give a few tips. The staff was helpful and polite and appreciated tips but didn't expect them all the time. The beach is great-shallow water with great sand. They have hobie catamarans and paddle boats avail at no charge. YOu can walk for miles either direction on the beach. The room was clean but bring your own face cloths and kleenex. You'll want to have toilet paper in your pocket, hand sanitizer and tip money for bathrooms on trips off the resort. We could smell sewer around some first floor rooms so do ask for a different room if yours is affected. Internet avail on one computer $5 for 30 minutes. There was always a broad selection of food on the buffet, even if it was much the same as yesterday. The food was okay--the bread was always fresh, coffee is strong (ask for more milk), custom omelettes at Breakfast, pork and fish was usually very good. Three ala carte restaurants are good-the Italian one opened the day we left. Next time i would bring snack foods like chocolate bars cheezies, potato chips, and clamato. Insulated mugs are great for the beach. There are a few mosquitos around (esp some first floor rooms by the pool) bring spray and after bite lotion for the itch. Be sure to know the dollar-peso exchange ----we paid more either way at the hotel bank. It may be better to save your $10 towel deposit for the airport tax than exchange it at the bank. The cocktails were great, with generous shots. Overall a good hotel but for the most part the food was a letdown. I did find a few things I liked but got tired of eating the same thing every day.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Albertan10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 5, 2010

tips: bring your own travel mug, drink glasses are too small
ladies bring tissue everywhere you go for bathrooms
bringing our own towels helped alot
be prepared to say no alot to locals who ask for stuff, don't be afraid to say no and be direct. Did the Havana day tour and was harrassed by very aggressive guys sketching outside the capitol building, so be aware.

Also, some of the reviews are complaining about a sewage smell in the hotel at night but actually it's odor coming from an oil plant of aways. So when the winds shift the right way, thats what you smell. Just happens to be at night mostly. We were given a new bottle of water everyday (1.5 lt) our beds were made everyday, fresh room towels and garbages emptied. People are bang on with the food reviews. It is mostly the same everyday but it is fresh. The breads are amazing and always freshly made. They do have a different main dish everynight just to switch things up. Be prepared to eat alot of pork as ham seems to be a main staple. Fresh made omlettes cooked right in front of you or fried eggs.
We visited 2 restaurants outside the hotel both located right across the street, Case de chef and castel nuovo. i thought both of them were pretty good and it was nice to get away from the buffet. We also went to the on site mexican restaurant one night and though thats was very good. if you want to get in again just leave a nice tip your first time.
The markets were nothing special. All the vendors have government issued crafts so the variety is just not there. but good prices none the less.
Internet was a problem since 1 out of 2 computers wasn't working. However, there are booths located just 2-3 blocks away for the same price . expect to pay 10 pesos an hour.
If your booking off site adventures, make sure to do it with your tour rep. there is another person at the hotel everyday to book things for you but it's hard to get full information from them and refunds if the trip doesn't happen. and their english is not always great but your tour rep will be fantastic and speak very good english (thanks Annie).

ps. if your particual about your pillows, bring your own

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank reddeerstacey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 1, 2010

My husband and I stayed at the Barlovento Jan 8-23. Location was amazing. Beach was fabulous and very clean. Staff at the hotel were very friendly and helpful especially Miguel at the lobby bar, Ramon at the Mexican rest. ( book the first day ) Joel and his animation crew ( very talented and great with kids ) and of course Giovanna the masseuse, absolutely amazing for the money. Overall our stay at the Barlovento was great if you want sun, sea and relaxation. We would definitely return.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank angelfaceToronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 31, 2010

I had researched on-line before finally selecting this hotel based on the reviews.

The location was great - I had walked along the beach east and west for a few kilometres and the Barlovento has one of the best locations - the water is clear and the beach is shallow for many metres out - which is great for non swimmers - many of the other resorts the beach is not so shallow and drops off much more quickly to deeper water.
There is a huge flea market - probably the biggest in Varadero located at around Calle 16 (there is a smaller one located around Calle 13) just a few hundred metres from the front door (take a left when you walk out - you will walk pass the smaller one before getting to the much bigger one). I purchased a hand-crafted chess set for 16 CUC and a hand-crafted boat for 6 CUC as well as a couple of other items.
The food was better than expected - you can almost eat almost 24 hours a day, there was a wide selection of meats - chicken, hamburgers, fish, beef, pork as well as fries, salads, fruits, soups, rice dishes etc though the pastries were not good and the croissants one time were hard as a rock.
Do not expect great tasting food from a mass production buffet but you will not go hungry - and you almost certainly will gain weight with all the eating and drinking.
There are at least 2 other restaurants that were not buffet style but had to be booked a day ahead of time @ 1600 - due to our schedule we were only able to try and book the Mexican style restaurant for one day but was told that it was already booked - as someone else has mentioned I suspect that it was not fully booked and you can obtain a reservation with a bribe - which brings us to MONEY:
The Average Cuban makes very little (less than a dollar a day - of course the cost of living for an average Cuban is also much lower, but not enough to make up for the very low pay) - so it is important to tip generously - I know it is an all-exclusive but I found it disgusting the attitude of some of the vacationers - such as ordering massive quantities of alcohol all day and then not bothering to tip. I tipped our maid at least 2+ CUC a day (as well as leaving her a 'goody bag' of many candies, tooth paste, old shoes, pens etc) and a few CUC's to the other workers i.e. the bus driver, guides, cooks, gardeners, the doorman etc. which was greatly appreciated, at the end of the vacation I was slightly surprised to discover that in total I had tipped over 100 CUC to the various workers - but it did not bother me at all.
There a a couple of thing you should watch out for - When I got in very late the first night I had exchanged $10 Canadian for CUC - I had checked the conversion rate before leaving and knew it was between 87 and 88 CUC for $100 Canadian. The front desk made a show of using a calculator and then gave me only 7 CUC for $10 Canadian despite my complaints.
The next day I went to the local exchange booth at room 141 and tried to exchange $700 Canadian for CUC and was quoted an rate of 83 CUC for every $100 Canadian - so I was expecting around 581 CUC for my $700 Canadian, the woman at the booth counted out 5 stacks of 5 x 20 CUC for a total of 500 CUC and then exclaimed 600 CUC! - expecting to be happy with getting an extra 19 CUC and taking the money and running, but I of course pointed out that it was only 500 CUC. I then exchanged 2 20 CUC bills for 40 CUC coins - this is where she ripped me off 1 CUC by giving me only 39. DO NOT TRUST THIS WOMAN - she will try and rip you off almost every time - count your money carefully. The front desk also tried to charge me 16 CUC for the use of the room safe but I pointed out that it should be only only 14 CUC since I did not use the safe the first night.
We did not get a chance - but there is a bank at around Calle 31 where I suspect that you will get an exchange rate closer to the 'official' exchange rate - but you will need to bring your passport.
We took a 2 day/one night trip to Havana (including the Tropicana show) which was well worth it (good food, spacious hotel room) - but wished we had more time to explore Havana on our own.
We also did 2 'cave explorations' in Varadero - Cueva Musulmanes (more of a trail walk) and Cueva de Ambrosio - the 2nd one was a real cave - complete with pitch dark blackness and plenty of bats - and certainly was interesting seeing etchings that were a few hundred years to a a couple of thousand years old.
The double decker bus ride for 5 CUC each for the whole day that travelled up and down the full length of the peninsula was certainly value for the money and will get you to all the sights in Varadero.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Kaissa123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 26, 2010

THE GOOD

The resort itself is quite pretty, if a little dated and worn. It has a stellar beach with a sandy entry to the water. Ideal location close to markets and downtown. And if you want to get away from downtown the other direction is quite picturesque beside the canal.

The housekeeping staff are friendly and competent. Some of the bartenders and serving staff were super-friendly and warm. We had an especially lovely moment with one of the lifeguards who borrowed a guitar from us and entertained us with a few songs. A few of the security guards were fun and friendly.

Some of the more 'entrepreneurial' staff will offer tours to Havana, meals at a local home, etc. so you can get closer to the real culture of Cuba. Some of the restaurants outside the resort are fantastic - recommended are Barracuda for surf n' turf and sunset on the beach, and Dante's in Josone Park for Italian.

Food at the resort was reasonable for the price we paid. We never went hungry, but it wasn't a culinary adventure. It's repetitive and is definitely spiced for the mild palate. The a la carte restaurants are good to change things up from buffet, particularly the Mexican.

Drinks seem to be available around the clock. Not always what you want, but SOMEthing. Bring a cooler mug to cut down on the use of plastic cups.

The shows at the resort are actually very good. We saw a fantastic synchronized show in the main pool, several other dance shows and a magic show put on by very talented performers.

The animation team is laid back. You really need to seek out the activities if you want to participate. But there's lots to do - from archery to bocce to volleyball to shuffleboard to bingo.

THE BAD

When issues arise the service from the front desk staff is appalling. They literally hung up on me several times when I was trying to sort out if we could get a room with a double bed (rather than two singles).

Some of the staff were downright surly. Some of the security guys were leering and making suggestive comments to women in their bathing suits.

Not all rooms are created equally. Most have two double beds, ours unfortunately had two singles. Our room was located in a 3 room outbuilding at the edge of the resort property that smelled of pee when we arrived. We also had no hairdryer, so clearly not all rooms have them. (My impression is that these are the last rooms to be filled. Most of the other rooms are in typical two-story blocks. My friends had basic but decent rooms in the regular buildings.) One nice thing about our unusual room - we had a rooftop patio that had both an ocean view and pointed straight into the sunset.

As you'll read in other reviews, hot water is an issue throughout the resort. Sometimes there was simply no water for bathing. Also, clean beach towels seem to be available only every few days. Better to bring your own.

The resort starts out clean every day, but there is simply not enough cleaning staff to maintain standards throughout the day when the resort is at capacity. By 3 PM the washrooms by the pools/beach are filthy. Later in the evening, when people shift to the stage area and the lobby bar the washrooms there follow suit. And forget about toilet paper - there's seldom any to be found in the public washrooms on the resort. Carry tissue with you.

The resort regularly ran out of alcohol. When we arrived there was no wine, a few days later no vodka. However, the bartenders are quick to offer to sell bottles to you. A scam? I don't know. But for an "all inclusive" resort, we spent a lot of cash at the supermarket on wine for dinner. (There's one conveniently located on Calle 13, two streets away from the resort.)

Unlike other resorts, tipping seems to be a requirement at this one as it impacts what is available to you and how you're treated. My suggestion - tip early, tip small and tip often. Don't save it up for a big one at the end of your trip.

THE UGLY

A note to parents - the drinking age in Cuba is 16 so teenagers, even those younger than 16, will have access to alcohol. No adult supervision is required by the resort.

Two teenaged girls in our party were sexually assaulted by a male resort staffer in the bathroom off the lobby bar late one evening, with their parents nearby. The management did a ridiculously poor job of handling this, even refusing to call in the police. We've been told the staffer was fired, but that hardly builds confidence.

Our last night we got hit with the refinery stench. It was absolutely the foulest smell, acrid and eye-stinging, and woke us from sleep. But as an earlier reviewer pointed out, all of Varadero might be victim to this. The Barlovento just happens to be closest to the refinery.

IN A NUTSHELL

This is truly a budget property. I would only recommend this resort to those who couldn't afford better. For two people we spent another $600 on top of our purchase price (tips, snacks, wine, dinners off the property) which would have been better spent on a resort of a higher calibre.

Finally, if you're a family with teens I would exercise real caution at this resort. You know your kids best and can determine if this is the kind of environment for them.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled with friends
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8  Thank Angela H
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

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:
#17 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
Price Range: $125 - $317 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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