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“Appreciate Kawama for what it is”
Review of Hotel Club Kawama

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Hotel Club Kawama
Ranked #47 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Reviewed October 23, 2012

Stayed here mid April 2012 and had a great time. This is an old resort, one of the oldest in Varadero so there is obvious signs of age and disrepair. We decided to make the best of it and appreciate it for its’ “rustic charm”. We thought the grounds looked pretty good for the age and condition of the resort.

We found check in to be fairly simple and efficient. We travelled as a group and the one small hiccup was that we got separated, one couple out of our group was assigned a room at the other end of the resort. They upgraded the next day and got a room that was closer. No big deal. We would definitely advise not getting money changed at the front desk, or if need be small quantities as the exchange rate compared to the bank is really bad. Other than that, front desk staff we nice, no problems.

Our rooms were pretty basic accommodations. They were not fancy by any means but really, it’s just a place to sleep. The room appeared clean, no bed bugs, no funky odours, so we were content. We never had a problem with room service either, they always cleaned our room and replenished our towels and supplies and even hung our clothes out to dry for us. We did notice hot water was a little hit and miss at times.

The bar service was sometimes a little slow as they were many people in line being high season. Sometimes it helped if you had a tip, you would get your drink a little faster. Drinks were ok, nothing too spectacular. Would definitely recommend bringing a larger cup or travel mug. The pool bar seemed to have a limited selection of drinks at times, either beer or rum. The pool bar wasn’t bad, it got busy at night as a place to hang out and socialize. There were shows at night at the disco but we never went. We’d usually hang out and have drinks.

We’ve noticed a lot of people have complained about the food but we don’t understand why. We found there was plenty to choose from, quite a variety. No one in our group got sick or ill. In fact many actually enjoyed the buffet. The a la cartes weren’t the greatest though. The presentation and service was nice, but portions were small and sometimes didn’t seem the freshest. We preferred the buffet. Even if you have problems with the food, there are always other options as there are restaurants within minutes of the resort. Kiki’s and the Sangria have pretty good food.

What really makes this resort in our opinion was the beach and the location to town and markets. The beach was fabulous and large, never really felt crowded. The resort is large and has an excellent section of beach. One of the largest we’ve heard. The other great thing is that you can walk right into town and to markets from the resort. We loved this as you could walk into the markets in the afternoon or evening. We definitely would consider returning to this resort for that fact alone. No need to take a taxi or shuttle.

This resort is not fancy or spectacular, it is a basic, no frills average Cuban resort for the budget conscious traveller. Don’t expect to be pampered and have extravagant accommodations. With that being said, we had no major disappointments or complaints and would consider returning to this resort.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank DNASJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 23, 2012

I've been to Cuba more than thirty times over 15 years and I have to say this is the worst hotel I've stayed in. The reviews were mixed, so I took a chance and booked this for my daughter and myself. The hotel I usually stay at was fully booked. What a mistake. We had a pedometer and the room we were given was 2000 steps from any of the hotel's facilities! The buffet?? I wouldn't feed my cat this stuff. We ate out most nights out of necessity after checking to see if there was anything on the buffet that was edible. The smell of bad fish made me gag when I entered the buffet one night. Staff was not good, we were hosed big time for the in-room safe, and talked with other visitors who paid differing amounts for their safes. I had to seek out our tour company rep when I found out, and only then did I get a refund for the overcharge. This hotel is great for the geriatric crowd. They are there in droves. They like the place and keep returning. If you are under 80 and still have your eyesight and sense of smell don't go! The location is almost the worst.....so far from everything. My daughter and I walk a lot and clocked 6 miles on average every day. The beach is nice, but then the Varadero beach is the most beautiful I've seen. Oh, don't try and change money at the little Bank/Hut just outside the hotel property. It's a really bad place, they make you wait 1/2 hr per person (I don't think they can count) and if a hotel worker shows up they jump the line. We waited for 2 hours and were second in line and didn't get to exchange our money. There is a bank two streets up and inside another hotel complex that had nice lounges in the shade where we did get our money exchanged. The rooms are really bad, beds dirty, rarely hot water. You get what you pay for.....this is not a place you should consider wasting yours on.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with family
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7  Thank Sue G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 19, 2012

i went to club kawama with my friends for our graduation we went for 4 days and thank god because it was horrible!! we didnt eat for 4 days because... well there was no food the buffet smelt so bad we walked in almost puked and walked out. the snack bar had hamburgers and hotdogs they were gross also but we ate them just because we had to, also the snack bar was only open for 3-4 hours a day. the beach was amazing! thats about the only good thing about the resort. People were nice but a little creepy at times. The rooms were crazy ! moldy, smelly, no air conditioning so we had to upgrade to a house which was way better! but for $60 we expected more for that also! it was our first vacation alone and alone we were there was another group of people and then just us in the WHOLE RESORT it was completely empty and we know why that scared us very very much the first night we actually started to cry but we made it as best as we can! the beach was amazing but other then that horrible experience!

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with friends
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4  Thank chantel p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2012

Arrived at the Hotel Saturday morning. This was our first taste of Cuba. The buffet got boring after the 3rd day and hot foods were not warm and things got low in supply such as variety of bread. The dessert looked nice however once you cut into the cake it was so dry it was sinful. I felt ill on the 4 th day and could not eat but drink water.One tip I got was drink Coke which you could buy at the store on the Resort. This helped and on the 2nd day of stomach problems I started feeling a little better.Our air conditioner dripped on my husband's pillow and my right side of the bed. ( this room had 2 single beds pushed together). My husband would order rum and get something else. He did mention it to the bartender and after another time he just left the drink.The pool staff such as the life guard was randimonly asking for items to be left behind such as expensive sun glasses, sandals etc. The pool towel exchange person ( male ) was asking for things such as chocolate for his 5 year old daughter. We had no water from midnight till noon the next day....no flushing the toilet or showering. :( As we were about to board our bus to go to the airport and return home a staff member ran out to us yelling stop stop we need your room key. We had checked out over an hour earlier. Speaking of the front desk staff they were always chatting with one and other in their language and we seemed to be disrupting them when we had business to take care of. The ladies had attitude bad attitude and did not promote the hotel well. Our trip had surprises such as when you come in and change your money to pesos TAKE THE TIME AND COUNT IT AT THE COUNTER. We were the last ones to get our luggage and therefore last ones to get our money changed. My husband and I did our exchanging seperate and both were shorted 20 pesos. The person counts your money in their language and shuffles it quickly. JUST BE AWARE. Their had been issues also at the desk for exchanging money. There is a bank not far from the resort which rate is cheaper than the hotel. Would we go back to Kawama hotel NO and we are looking to go to Dominican Republic next time. Off the resort we went to Havana, WOW , everyone is after your money, following you, yelling money money money as they extend their hands. Here is the kicker...bring many pesos on trips off the resort as you need a peso for the washroom as there is staff at the entrance of all the washrooms rolling your toilet tissue around your their hand about 3 or 4 times to hand it to you for a peso. Need not toilet tissue, does not matter they want your peso.

The resort is in the midst of renovating. I do believe all the renovation in the world will not help if the service and welcoming reception is not there.

Room Tip: Change resort location I suppose.
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Rita D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 17, 2012

Hubby and I stayed at Kawama Feb 14-28, 2012 – our third visit. Even though this resort is EIGHTY-TWO years old and is showing signs of age, we are still attracted by its charm, location and, more importantly, the staff. We are always greeted with cries of delight, hugs and kisses every time we return.

Kawama resort is spread out over 1.5 km – rather large but that only adds to its charm. I can’t stand a resort where you are housed in rooms stacked on top of each other like chickens in an egg-laying factory. To have the vastness of the Kawama beach and grounds means that you CAN get away from the hordes of people. Admittedly, there are the occasional line-ups at the bars but why worry – it’s not like you have a time limit in which to get your drinks; after all - you ARE on vacation – don’t sweat the small stuff.

Even though Kawama does not have hot water heaters like we are accustomed to in Canada (their water is solar heated), we have never run out of hot water. Even when we stayed in Unit 28 which is like a small apartment building, there was ALWAYS enough hot water for a quick shower.

Our chambermaid on each visit (Leysi, Ida, Haydee) have provided wonderful service. They are always quick with an “Hola” and hug/double-cheek kiss whenever we saw each other – even if it was just passing on a walkway. Our room was always swept, wet mopped and sink/toilet/tub cleaned daily. Towel-art greeted us every day.

Our towels were changed on a regular basis. Do you change your towels daily at home? Didn’t think so. Given that we were there for a two-week stay, our sheets were changed on a weekly basis. Why in the world would people expect their sheets should be changed on a daily basis while on holidays? Do you change your sheets daily at home? Again – didn’t think so. If you need to have your sheets changed (excessive sweating, menstrual accidents, etc), asking your chambermaid politely will result in an immediate linen change.

You might not realize but Kawama does NOT have on-site laundry...there are days where the resort does NOT get an adequate supply of towels and/or linen. They provide clean towels/linen to incoming guests, but sometimes find it difficult to provide replacement towels/linen unnecessarily to current guests.

We have NEVER run out of toilet paper in our rooms. In talking with many chambermaids there are usually TWO rolls of toilet paper in each room at all times – one on the dispenser and one on the back of the toilet. I have personally heard guests say that they take the roll off the back of their toilet and put it in their beach bag. I suspect that it is these same people that will then report that their room NEVER has toilet paper. Not saying that this happens all the time but chances are….

And for that person who lined the toilet with toilet paper in the women’s bathroom off the main lobby at Kawama – why didn’t you dispose of that paper when you were done? Why did you just leave it on the seat for the next person to deal with? FYI – the next person just pushed it to the floor leaving it for the cleaning staff to dispose of. tsk Tsk TSK

Food – people can and have gone on and on about the food quality (or lack thereof) at Kawama. Unless you are an extremely picky, picky eater you will find a decent variety of food at Kawama. Is the food like we can get at home? Nope but again – you are NOT at home!

Omelet station/boiled eggs/French toast/pancakes/cereal/milk/yogurt and a variety of hot dishes (admittedly not what we would normally have at home for breakfast but acceptable choices)/cheeses/a yummy selection of sweet and savory breads/fresh fruit/a selection of vegetables…and this is just breakfast! Lunch and supper will see dishes repeated (pasta/fruit/breads/cheeses/vegetables) as well as pork/chicken/fish/seafood and even rabbit ! There is a selection of desserts and the ice cream is to die for. You can get scrumptious burgers, hot dogs and ham/cheese sandwiches at the main pool bar.

The bar staff can be sometimes gruff but considering the type of clientele that they have to deal with on a regular basis; let’s just say a smile and a please/thank you from the tourist goes a long way when any sort of service is involved. We had learned of our favorite bartender’s death prior to arriving at Kawama. Ester passed in the fall of 2011…even though she is no longer a physical presence at the main pool bar (El Dorado), her spiritual presence is continually felt by those who got to know and love her. Fernando has moved from the small bar (El Candil) to the beach bar…so we were still entertained by his ‘musica’ while preparing our drinks. The expression on his face the time the top fell off of the grenadine bottle into my drink will always be remembered – I just wish I had had my camera ready to capture that look!

Leida (public relations) and Pepe (general manager) are overworked and under-appreciated. To sit in the main lobby and listen to ‘concerns’ voiced by some of the guests, well let’s just say that some people seem to leave any and all manners at home when they go on vacation and expect to be treated like a diety (aka god) because they paid whatever price for their all-inclusive vacation.

Thanks to the recommendation of one of the night security staff, we accessed the medical clinic at Kawama and subsequently, the International Clinic downtown. We went to the Resort Medical Clinic at 9 am one morning and after a quick check by the nurse on staff, were told to come back between 1030 and 11 am when the doctor would be there (the doctor covers 20 resorts). After seeing the doctor at the resort, we were on our way to the International Clinic. Within 10 minutes of arriving at the clinic, my husband had a chest x-ray. Within 20 minutes of the x-ray, we were speaking with the clinic doctor who, after reviewing my husband’s medications, prescribed a small change AND additional drugs. She walked with us through the clinic to the pharmacy where we received required medications. By 1 pm, we were back at the resort, 170CUC poorer but given that my husband had developed pneumonia, 170CUC well spent. I just wish that we could go through our at-home medical system that quickly ! All medical staff that we spoke to – from the resort to the international clinic, spoke excellent English and there was no fear of mis-understanding.

We spent our 14 day Kawama stay visiting with friends - on and off resort. While we were not able to visit all our Cuban friends in their homes, we have invitations to visit them when we are in Varadero again. The Cuban hospitality is head and shoulders above any hospitality we have experienced…maybe because it is given with much love and whole-heartedness. Never once have we been asked for ‘tips’ when on resort – we tip for good service, not to get service. The ‘gifts’ we take down are for specific people on our resort – leaf-rakes for the gardeners and pantyhose/feminine supplies for the ladies behind the front desk who are the front-line-recipients of all the ‘crap’ thrown at them by ungrateful tourists.

Because the main pool lounge chairs have been replaced, there were more chairs on the beach. As a result, there were more people enjoying the beach. The beach was always groomed in the morning when we walked by (730 am). The volleyball net was up and the paddle boats were accessible. Last visit there were quite a few red-flag days but we didn’t notice any this year (although given the ocean-action on a couple of days, I’m sure there were days the red-flags were out).

The animation staff were great and did their best to get everyone involved. From aquasize in the main pool to beach volleyball, Spanish lessons, dance lessons and bingo (where the prize is a 40oz bottle of rum!), you could be as busy or as lazy as you wanted.

There was a huge beach party one night with lots of music and dancing. We didn’t see any of the evening entertainment only because we were usually back to our room by 9 pm – exhausted from our day of sun, visiting, riding the double decker bus and beverage consumption.

Being repeat visitors to Kawama, we were invited to the Repeater’s Supper the first Thursday evening we were there. We enjoyed a wonderful lobster supper at the Gran Canal restaurant – complete with live band, greetings from Leida (public relations manager), champagne and flaming Baked Alaska for dessert. It was great to see people like Garnet and Nedelia (back for their umpteenth return visit), as well as Dave and Kristy (who like us) were back for their third visit to Kawama. Given that there were about 50 people at this Repeater’s Supper, you have to know that a lot of people don’t give any validity to the negative reviews because they come back time and time again.

People complain about the oil-smell that is noticeable on Kawama. There is an oil refinery on the outskirts of Varadero that does result in a somewhat nasty gas smell. This odor is obvious in all areas of the resort and for the most part, dissipates by mid-morning. We have stayed in all areas of Kawama and the smell has NEVER lasted all day. Maybe some noses are just more snotty – er - sensitive than others…

Apparently, in some reviews, it is the resort’s fault there are mosquitoes and sand fleas. People who would normally use repellant at home, seemingly forget to use repellant on vacation and then complain about the bites that they receive. I did get some bites but they were most likely from sand fleas as I spent some time on the sand.

These same bites have also been reported as bed bugs. Um – you would have bed bug bites ALL OVER your body, not just in specific areas (i.e. legs). Use some common sense; don’t be a sheep and believe that just because someone at some resort said there were bed bugs, that all resorts in Varadero are infested.

You’ll notice I did not describe what our wait was like at the airport before we boarded the plane; or what the traffic was like getting to the airport; nor did I provide detail about how good or bad the flight was (although I have to admit that Air Transat treats their Club Class passengers FANTASTIC…!) This information is totally irrelevant to my review of Kawama. And for those people who do provide this information in their review of Kawama, maybe, just maybe, your experiences in departing for Kawama affect your review of Kawama…just saying.

If you’ve done your research and/or any reading on Trip Advisor, you would have read about things such as the scarcity of toilet seats, toilet paper, even clamato juice. People think that what is easily accessible at home MUST be accessible everywhere else. Same with speaking English. Good gawd people – how rude of you to expect a Spanish-speaking country to speak YOUR language. To think that English (or French or Italian, etc) is THE ONLY language to be spoken is very self-centered!

People who complain that the hotel does not provide ‘essentials’ (whatever you use at home) are just plain goofy. I never expect to have essentials provided; what I consider essential is not what the resort would consider essential. If you have read anything on the TA forums, you have to read all of the links listed under “Top Questions about Varadero”… a MUST READ for anyone travelling to Cuba/Varadero.

I have to admit that I have met AND AVOIDED more rude and obnoxious people, from all over the world, in Varadero. Somehow I suspect that this same type of person can and is found at other vacation spots as well.

I know negative reviews will continue to be posted but, as a consistent repeat visitor to Kawama, I wanted to provide a positive slant on the resort and information that isn’t really considered when writing most reviews.

Hubby and I look forward to returning to Kawama in 2013 – to Our Cuban Home Away From Home!

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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20  Thank Saskatoon-Cuba-bound
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2012

We arrived at 1030pm got our rooms they put us far out, we had kids so it seemed pretty far from everything. The room is discusting, the bathroom is even more gross! The Mosquitos were a big problem we were all bit all over. The pool is the only great thing about this hotel. There is no entertainment during the day or night. I remember reading a review of somebody who mentioned that they spoke to the sunwing rep and they transferred them after complaining, and that's exactly what we did. We were moved to villa cuba MUCH MUCH better we paid no additional cost and actually enjoyed the rest of our trip.

  • Stayed: October 2012
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1  Thank Blea2210
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2012

My husband and I stayed at this resort from October 5th to the 12th. We both loved every second and plan to make it our home away from home whenever we go back to Cuba.

Hotel Room: Basic but lots of character. My husband loves old buildings so he loved this resort. As my husband and I have disabilities we requested a room close to the pool restaurants and lobby and are room was close to all three. No bed bugs, no cockroaches, or any other insects other then the odd ant and mosquito.

Beach: Neither my husband and I ever went out to the beach. My husband doesn't swim and I do but due to disability didn't want to risk the ocean currents. Still beach was beautiful.

Food: This was the biggest surprise. Due to the negative reviews I was expecting the food to be average at best. However I can say there was only one meal in the whole week that I didn't enjoy. The food was far from bland. No they don't have many spices but they have their own sauce that they use to flavor the food. I had the best chicken I've ever eaten in my life.

Bar: My husband loved the bar. (He loves Cuban beer) I didn't enjoy as much but that's only because I only drink like two alcoholic drinks and they didn't make either very well. Not a big deal for me as I'm not much of a drinker.

Service: This was the best part of the trip. Staff absolutely amazing and bent over backwards to please us. I have never been so well treated by any staff in my life.

Overall great vacation looking forward to going back.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Kelly0032003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Club Kawama

Address: Primera Avenida y Calle 1 | Reparto Kawama, Varadero 42200, Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#30 Top resorts Hotel in Varadero
Price Range: $80 - $195 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Hotel Club Kawama 3*
Number of rooms: 336
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Also Known As:
Kawama Hotel Varadero
Resort All Inclusive Kawama
Kawama Varadero
Club Kawama Varadero

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