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IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul
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Reviewed October 30, 2013

Had such a brillant time and we loved every second of our stay. We were a little put out when we first arrived about having to book the a la carte restaurants but we got over it. The food is ok but do you really go to cuba for the food?? The pool bar -excellent, great staff, great drinks and met some great people. Overall the staff were wonderful from the piano bar to the chambermaid service. We loved it and Pavel in the cigar bar gave us a great insight into cuban life. This is a comment from my husband... It needs a sports bar or a bar that shows sport as all men need a men only place..the bat cave as he calls it.He recommends that you show sport in the cigar bar in the early evening. Would highly recommend.

Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
4  Thank Valerie O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Director D, Manager at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded October 31, 2013

Dear Friends,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at Iberostar Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your nice review. We all are hardworking people always seeking the best for all our clients. Should you choose our hotel, or some other Iberostar Hotels, for your next vacation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Wish you all the best

Kind Regards

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2013

I stayed at Iberostar Laguna Azul between October 12-19. It was my first time in this hotel, but not in Varadero. I stayed at neighboring hotel and Ibero Laguna was definitely a better experience. The hotel is big, but well separated with many buildings.
The beach is gorgeous and clean. You swim with fish and that's usually a good sign.
The pool is beautiful with a wide selection activities.

The staff is very friendly and many went out their way to get what you wanted.Thanks to Odlin, Felix and the beautiful Amara from the Cubano restaurant (à la carte). They treated us very well and made us feel at home.

I also want to thank Roberto Marino and his staff of amazing entertainers. I want to specifically mention the good work of Jiamara, Lester, Giselle and Carlos. You were very great and kind to me. You will be missed.

My experience at Iberostar Laguna Azul gave me the chance to meet great people from all over the world. For the first time in the longest I was deeply saddened to leave and go back home. I had a wonderful vacation full of memories and good times.


Kevin
Montreal, Canada

Room Tip: Edificio 18 & 12 by the pool Edificio 19 & 11 by the pool and beach Edificio 16 & 15 near lobby
  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7  Thank Kev P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Director D, Manager at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded October 30, 2013

Dear Friends,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at Iberostar Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your nice review. We all are hardworking people always seeking the best for all our clients. Should you choose our hotel, or some other Iberostar Hotels, for your next vacation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Wish you all the best

Kind Regards

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2013

I was at the Laguna Azul from October 18-25,2013 with my mother. I will try to make this review easy to read and break it down into sections.
Room: We stayed in bungalow 11,which was a great area away from the noise but close to the pool and the beach. As others have said, our room had a terrible stench of and mold and at night the sheets were actually damp with humidity. The room was kept spotless and the chambermaid was fantastic.
Staff: The animation staff were terrific. They were always in good moods, very friendly and energetic.
Beach and Pools: The beach was spotless with plenty of umbrellas to keep the hot sun at bay. The ocean was a beautiful turquoise blue. The pools were spotlessly clean and big enough for all to be in without being crowded. There was no deep ends in any of the pools so they were well-suited to children or adults that couldn't swim.
Mosquitoes: Unfortunately my mother and I were eaten alive by mosquitoes,which made for a very unpleasant experience! We couldn't even go out at night to watch the live show because it was in an outdoor theater and we got attacked after going the first night we arrived. They were in our room at night and all over the resort. We sprayed ourselves with repellent (thank-god we brought some) but the damage was done and our legs and arms were covered with bites. Some people didn't get bit but we sure did.
Food: As i've read in previous posts, the food was absolutely terrible. I don't consider myself a real fussy eater so before we left i figured people were exaggerating and surely there would be something there that would satisfy me. Was i wrong!! The food was disgusting and my poor mother kept getting headaches because she was so hungry. She ended up eating banana sandwiches at lunch because there was nothing else. I saw people with their plates heaped with food from the buffet but the only thing to us that was good was the dessert and the pasta bar (if you didn't put Parmesan cheeses on your pasta). All the cheese tasted rancid and the only coffee that you could drink was at the cappuccino bar.
Overall : I will never go back to Cuba even though the staff was excellent and the beach was beautiful. The food was so bad (couldn't get into any a la carte restaurants except the Japanese!) and the mosquitoes so annoying it will prevent me from ever returning there.
I hope this review helps others decide .

Room Tip: Bungalow 11 was quiet yet close to the pool and main lobby.
  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7  Thank Sue L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Director D, Manager at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded October 30, 2013

Dear Friends,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at Iberostar Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your review. Priority in our hotel is the improvement of all our services and continuous work to obtain our guest satisfaction. We have taken all your comments and suggestion into consideration and we will do the best we can to improve all the mentioned points. However, if you decide, to visit us again in the near future, please do note hesitate to contact us.

Wish you all the best

Kind Regards

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 28, 2013

My husband and I just returned from ILA. We were there from October 19th to October 26th. Let me start off by saying that I won this trip and i had a choice to go to any destination in the dominican republic and cuba and was also given choices of hotels for each destination. We were initially debating over punta cana and varadero and so glad i chose varadero and this hotel. No regrets!. However both my husband and I are very easy to please and we don`t need much to enjoy ourselves. However if you are of the picky kind i am writing my honest review to help others in their search as everyone is different and places values in differnt things. I simply aim to help others in their search through my eyes and experience but can`t say if all those negative reviews out there are wrong. Just keep an open mind.

Since most people care about the negative of the hotel and since i found this to be the lesser of the two, I will start with this:

NEGATIVES:

#1- 24h Snack Bar- Try not to miss out on any meals during the service hours of breakfast, lunch or dinner because the snack bar offers only three choices which is cheese only Pizza, Spaghetti with a tomato sauce, and french fries. Thats it!! And not the greatest either. Definately not like other hotels that offer hamburgers and hotdogs and chicken. For a so called 5 star hotel...this was really a low budget snack bar.

#2- 20$ cab ride into Varadero - the hotel is situated a bit far from the center of varadero, and you cannot bargain down the price of the cab ride into town. However once in varadero, you are easily able to get back on a 10$ fare if its still early enough i guess. This was true for me twice from my own experience but it was not past 2 am. the hop on hop off bus of the hotel (the blue one) runs until 2 am and being that it was still an option i think the cabbies knowing that would accept the 10$ bargain for two people as we would tell them it was either 10 or we take the bus back.

#3- the hop on hop off bus availabilty - I am placing this in in negatives, but not because its not a great option to have for the pirce of 5$ per person for the full day and runs from 8am to 2am compared to the 20$ cab fare one way..however we did find ourselves waiting really long waiting times then the advertised 30 mminutes during the peak hours. I think at one point we waited over an hour and saw the the red bus pass 3 times. it sucks to have wasted time waiting for a bus. it is supposed to run every half hour unti 5 pm and then every hour until 2am. Not always the case unfortunately. Also if you catch it from the hotel...know that t will first complete the tour to the further out stop until the blau marina before turning around and head towards the center of varadero. Apart from it being a bit of a slow travel ride..its a great option to save money. You're on vacation..nothing to rush for right? Except if your trying tu rush back for a meal. Really don`t wait to catch it too last minute..you want to avoid the snack bar ..lol

#4- The buffet food - Note that you will always find something to eat. but my negativity here was mostly that they do not cook the food properly. It is such a shame to see some good food options be a waste because it wasn`t cooked enough or was over cooked! For instance the shrimp...it was usually overcooked and ruined because of that! such a shame. Also the white rice and pasta was usually undercooked and hard most of the times. But generally the chicken was always good..and the beef. Check out my likes for more on the good side of the food.! :)

#5 - The buffet service - Try and figure out who the good servers are and stick to them and make sure to tip them as they are extremely deservant since for me they were either really really good..or just there..slow.and not so friendly.There was no in between. The staff can make your vacation so much more pleasant and when you meet the right ones it really adds a lot of value. Its a shame that i`m terrible with names because there are a few that were really outstanding, but not to worry as those ones stand out and will make sure you notice them with their big smiles and greeting you. They were like the rare gems. But others were just there, no smiles no nothing. I try to not care..as i would serve myself those times..but I cannot give credit where it isn`t earned. Note that we tipped everyone...and it didn`t make any difference in service. some just really didnt care.

#6 - bed sheets for king size bed - we had a room with a king size bed and not sure if the hotel had any fitted undersheets for the bed. they would simply use regular sheets and tuck it in and would never stay in place. I toss and turn alot and this is probably why. again..not a deal breaker, but trying to simply think of everything here in case others care.

#6 - the waterfall at the pool.shut down by 4 pm I think. - we would spend our days at the beach and go to the pool for 4-4:30 and the waterfall would be closed by that time. I don`t know why they wouldn`t just leave it running longer?

#7 - Cigar store hours - I can`t remember the cigar store hours, they would open at 10am and close somewhere around 10 pm..however the dislike here was that it closes midday without any notifcation on the door to say when it will reopen. My husband once asked me at 1:20pm to buy him a cigar and i figured since it opened at 10 she was probably in the bathroom and was going to open in a few..but no such luck..i waited over 30 minutes and when she came back i found out she was on lunch. i think she could have simply put a sign on the door with a be back at 2 notice or something like that..better yet with so much staff the hotel could have replaced her for her to go on lunch. anyhow...after that we learned to get them early.

#8 - No clocks in the room - Bring a watch or something if you want/need it...otherwise there is always the wake up call service from the front desk. simply arrange it. Very easy to do! :)

#9 - BATHTUB - a high step to get in/out. Not a problem for me..but can see how others might not appreciate it..especially if elderly.

#10 - Stains on stuff - Again something i don`t care about..but if you are the type to care..and like those people that take pictures of every stain making it the end of the world when you see it..then i would have to say that yes...things in the hotel..from the towels to furniture, will have stains on them­. this does not make them drity. it just makes them stained. For me..perhaps the most stained or the item that looked to be the most worn down would have to be the mattress pads for the pool loungers. Most of those looked like they probably needed to be replaced..but i never used it just from what i saw visullay passing by, but a small stain on a towel or sofa is not enough to recoomend it be replaced.

#11 - SWIM UP BAR DRINKING CUPS - I don`t know why at this bar the plastic cups were tiny. We called them shot glasses! you can ask for bigger but they don`t always have..so just order two at a time which is what we did or bring a bubba like most people! Problem solved! :) also as a side note..the depth of the water at the swim up bar is quite low. I would have prefered it a bit deeper. but there is a lot of seating so mostly for sitting down in that area.

Now for the POSITIVE which outwweigh the negavtive.

#1 - HOTEL & GROUNDS - Just beautiful! Very well maintained grounds and the hotel is breathtaking to look at. Not a run down hotel. Very modern. the large patio of the main lobby just wonderful. I liked that the lobby was on the third floor which makes for a nice breeze and view on the patio. Its hard to say anything negative about this.

#2 - THE BEACH - Beautiful beach. Always palapas and chairs available. No need to play the towel game. just wonderul. One of the most beautiful beaches I`ve seen..and even better in center of Varadero. Do wear your bathing suit if you go into town during the day. follow the path to the beach and you will be in that postcard or tv commercial of the carribean that you have always wished you can jump into. it will be right there for you to do just that! TRULY MAGNIFICENTl!!

#3 - RESTAURANTS - I went to three a la cartes the romantico the japanese and the cuban, I loved my meals at all three. they were excellent especially the romantico and the japanese! Fantastic! Mind you for the romantico we took the advise of others and did not order the lamb. apparently those who did were not happy. We also saw a girl at the restaurant order it and return it once she tried it. I ordered the sirloin steak and my husband the snapper (fish) and both were fantastic. Appetizers we had the lobster salad (wow and wow...really get that if you like lobster) and the smoked salmon one again very good/satisfying! also the deserts were delicious! we had the chocolate mousse one and the pineapple sponge cake...yum yum.

the japanese..no menu really...just get the mix..it was great!! a little on the salty side from the soya..but still delicous!!!! Seems everyone at the hotel raved about the food at the japanese.

The cuban: I had the red snapper which i hightly recommend ! Fantastic..and my husband the lobster..which was so so. I think its either a hit or a miss. depending on the piece you get. it was really stuck on the shell and nothing to rave about.. also a little buffet section which had smoked salmon which was great..but not much great selection there apart from that. It was my least favorite of the three we tried but would reccomend likewise for a break from the buffet.

I reserved them totally last minute not even at arrival, we arrived satruday and i think i booked them only on tuesday.and it was not a problem but i wasn`t picky with the time either. I didn`t try the italian one, so i can`t give you a review on that one sorry. A lot fo people booked before hand through email. so if you can, go for it!

#4 - the positvies of the Buffet food - There is always something to eat and and the foods that were a steady hit in my book were the following..
- The white fish was always FANTASTIC. this was where the chef was and would be grilling it on the spot. very fresh and never bad. My husband and I would have this daily. Anything that was there as far as fish was great. (you are in the carribean...the fish is fresh, its something you should take advantage of)
- The pizza at the buffet was really good! I loved it. Thin crust, had the crunchiness to it,. you can either have from the ones already made or ask to have one made with the toping you like.
- if there is roasted chicken..go for it...was always good!
- Anything beef was good everytime i tried it.
- The paella was usually good. but it was beef and i would have like a seafood one for a change.
- the baked potatoes - either sliced or whole were always good as well.
- The desserts - I think cubans excell in dessert making. Anything I had was really good! No complains there :)

As for other items...just take it to try it..you have nothing to lose. Be open minded..its not as bad as some people have exxagerated it to be. If there is no sign to say what it is..just ask someone..there is always a worker around the buffet area who knows. Its so not a big deal like some people make it out to be. My husband and I seriously had no major issues with the food. Overall satisfied enough. it is cuba and you just need to accept that. :)

#5 - The ROOM/BATHROOM - We were in building 12 on the second floor facing the quieter pool . Perfect location! Close to the beach the pools, quiet and had a king size bed in our room. (Room 12202). We especially appreciated the size of the bathroom. Really big and the bathtub was big as well. except for the high step which i mentioned above in the negatives..i loved the fact that it was a true bath size and spacious. The room as well was spacious and had enough lighting. Nice bacony, and little living room area whcih we never sat on..but it added to the feel of the room and was used to put clothes on and stuff. definately was an added benefit to have in the room than just a bed. The maid always did a great job restocking our fridge and making our bed with towel art and flowers. We would also tip from the very begining leaving tips on the bed and in the fridge..but i never felt it was required...however maybe it helped considering others have negative things to say about this. We also gave our maid a bag of clothes that we brought from home that we didn`t need which she left us a beautiful note of appreciation.

#6 - Entertainment team/games - They are a great team, the games are fun....go ahead and participate or just watch for a laugh. I loved that there were games and aqua arobics both at the beach and pool and not only at the pool like other htoels. Very good. My husband won a bottle of Havana Rum 3 anos 1 liter bottle playing the ring toss game. :)

#7 - ICE CREAM SHOP - It was cute. walk to the beach and pick one up. It was a cute little touch. Obviously there is icecream at the buffet as well..but i liked having it from here. :) Also the buffet didn`t have cones where here you can have it on a cone.

#8 - Pools - The pool is beautfiul with the rock formations and the waterfall. There is the quieter parts of it..or the swim up bar where most people are. really nice. Great for pictures.

#9 - VARADERO/HAVANA - Loved the fact that you are not confiend to your resort. Its very safe to go out and explore and I highly reccomend it.. In varadero we would take mostly the hop on hop off buss which is an inexpensive way of treavelling and seeing varadero. As for Havana we opted to go on our own with the VIAZUL bus 10 pesos each way and take the hop on hop off of Havana for 5 pesos to use all day, which again was GREAT! No regrets there either! I reccomend havana hightly if you want to truly experience cuba!

I think i have mentioned the most I can think of to say. Overall great vacation. We are extremely satisfied with our choice. We probably wouldn`t go back because we would like to be closer to town but i wouldn`t talk anyone out of going here. If you have questions..I would be glad to answer you just send me a message. I would reccommend a room on the higher floors as views are better and the first floor has no balcony rail so you can`t really leave things out to dry.. But thats about it.

Another side note...if you can bring clothes that you no longer wear and amenities that are inexpensive here like shampoo and bath sponges and stuff..please do!! Do not think twice about it. It goes a long way and is really appreciated. You will fee so good for doing it as well. I wish i would have brought more! Especially since our airline allowed up to two free luggages! If you have time ahead and willing..just get some cheap travel bag for a luggage and ask friends/colleagues to give you what they don`t need and bring it to them. And don`t feel weird about it either..they really appreciate it and ask for it.

Thats it! Hope I was able to help. :)

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
15  Thank taniaMontreal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Director D, Manager at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded October 30, 2013

Dear Friends,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at Iberostar Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your nice review. We all are hardworking people always seeking the best for all our clients. Should you choose our hotel, or some other Iberostar Hotels, for your next vacation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Wish you all the best

Kind Regards

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 28, 2013 via mobile

Stayed here at the beginning of June for our honeymoon. Check in & hotel servers were great! Lobby is amazing & we spent most evenings enjoying the view, music & drinks out on the balcony. The bar right there was our favorite & the cappuccinos are great. We tipped VERY generously the entire week, the staff seem to really appreciate it & in return you receive even better service (or so we felt)
We requested a room on the quiet side b/c although we are only 25, we were there to relax not get drunk & party all day/night. Our room was on the noisy pool side...the entertainment ppl were loud all day long! It was annoying to us, but we just closed our door if we were in our room & it blocked out most of the noise. At night it was much quieter.
Our room was clean, air cond. & fan worked great! Towels were sometimes holy or stained but not too bad. Coffee maker smelled disquisting! Don't plan on using it. Br

  • Stayed: June 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank DaniNickers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Director D, Manager at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded October 30, 2013

Dear Friends,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at Iberostar Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your review. However, we feel sorry that our hotel was not up to your expectation. We assure you that improvement, in all our services are an ongoing process and our priority is guest satisfaction. We do hope, to have another opportunity in the near future, to make your holiday unforgettable. If you decide to give us another chance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Wish you all the best

Kind Regards

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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