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“Excellent”

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Ocean Varadero El Patriarca
Ranked #13 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Toronto, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
18 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Excellent”
Reviewed January 11, 2014 via mobile

Wanted to start my New Year off without sub zero weather. The hotel was wonderful, the beach and pool activity instructor was excellent. The front desk staff was pleasant. Never travel with Hola Sun the representative was late rude and decided to do more cell phone talking than speak to us about the trip. I found a English speaking guide for Havana and he was beyond excellent. He contributed to us having a great love for Cuban food by bringing us to great restaurants. The maids were wonderful. Be prepared to tip in toothpaste little dollar store nice naks you'll be their Gods by doing this as the average Cuban cans afford it. In all Cuba is safe the people are educated and very friendly and the hotel reflect such qualities.

Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
Helpful?
10 Thank svgpauls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
London, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed January 10, 2014

Must Read, Honest Review from Tested Traveller:

Good Points:

Beaches are beautiful! The water is stunning on a calm day, the sand is powdery white (no need for swim shoes), and you can walk the beach for miles! Very few peddlers will bother you at the beach and you can always get a lounge chair, although I feel the resort should consider replacing a few for comfort---some are broken but haven’t been removed. If you like to snorkel it is worth paying 20 pesos to do the hour snorkel trip offered by resort staff on the beach. The beach bar & restaurant need to make changes: the plastic drinking cups are smaller than I’ve seen at any resort. I’m not a big drinker, but you have to ask for three drinks at a time in order to get an amount even close to a small Canadian pint of beer. I strongly suggest bringing a beer mug. The drinks are okay---the Crystal Beer is very good. Towel exchange is usually only available after 3pm daily, at the pool hut.

Piano Bar and Entertainment:
If anyone complains about nightly entertainment I’d really like to see them sing and dance, as complaining is totally not warranted in this category! The Piano Bar is absolutely terrific & definitely one of the highlights of this resort. They offer excellent nightly entertainment, and they are very interactive with the audience. The serving staff here is the best & super friendly. We went to the Piano Bar every night, it was a blast!! The shows are also excellent! As many will mention, do not miss the Michael Jackson show---it is first rate!

Resort Appearance:
This is definitely a 5 star resort for Cuban standards. If you have been spoiled with 5 star resorts in Mexico, Jamaica etc...You may be a little disappointed here with the grounds and lack of plantation. That note aside, everything is well maintained. The lobby is very nice, with tons of places to sit and enjoy a cocktail. Pools are pretty standard. The bungalows are standard. The Rooms are nice.

Rooms:
The standard rooms are spacious and have all the amenities you need. The layout of the resort is great, so everyone has a decent view from the balconies. The beds are hard, which I like, but a few people with me had a hard time sleeping because they weren’t comfortable. We requested a king bed and only received 2 doubles---we didn’t complain, we just pushed them together every night. The washrooms are nice---They NEED to put seals on the bottom of the show door as water leaks out everyday which is very dangerous and my brother almost seriously hurt himself. For your own safety, make sure to put two towels down in front prior to showering. They DO NOT give washcloths at this resort---thankfully I brought my own. The mini bar lacks, and will only include one beer, 2 different kinds of pop and one bottle of water. I suggest putting the supply in your bag so that they restock your fridge every day. My dad tipped 5 pesos the first day to get extra beers stocked daily by one of the staff (which was offered & promised by the staff member) and they took his money and never delivered. The safe is included, and works well. No problems with theft. The maid will appreciate gifts and pesos! Be mindful that the walls are very thin and everyone can hear you coming home at night. I suggest booking the 2nd floor as I heard that main floor occupants were having problems with insects. I booked 2nd floor rooms for that reason and we didn’t have any issues. All of the patio doors need to be repaired and do not close easily---double check these, you may have to play with them a bit to lock the latch.

Bad Points:
Food:
Let’s respect that there’s limited supply of many foods in this country. They hand wash the utensils and plates, so when you come in to the buffet you immediately get hit with a foul smell---I got use to the smell after a while, but a couple of people almost vomited a few times just entering the buffet. The food isn’t great, but I am pretty easy to please, so I could always find something to fill my stomach. You will not find a good salad or fruit selection, as I don’ think they have the supply. I suggest getting some grilled chicken or fish at the stations and then grab a piece of pizza and some cheese and crackers (if they are available). The ice cream was the highlight of the buffet---and most of the desserts were good---some really bad, so you have to try a few to judge. The Beach Bar Restaurant is very gross (lol)---no one could stomach the food there. Go to the main buffet for all meals. The a la cartes are okay, but the reservations have to be made at 6:30pm and you’ll be lucky to get a reasonable eating time. Also, I found the staff to be generally unfriendly at the a la cartes, and we always leave good tips. Some people complained about waiting over an hour to be served dinner at the a la cartes---we stuck primarily to the buffet. The service at the buffet is good. The food is very repetitive. The Pool Restaurant/Snack bar always serves excellent pizza and fries! I am glad to be home to eat good food, but I respect that there is limited supply in these countries and people should be mindful of this. I didn’t come to Cuba for the food, and if you are, don’t goa!

Amenities:
You will pay top dollar for money exchange at the resort $100 Canadian = 87 pesos----try to exchange money at the airport as it will be close to par there. The Internet is painfully slow if you don’t have your own device, so bring one---it’s still very slow with a device, and the server often has issues. Internet cards are 4.50 pesos, for an hour---make sure you logout properly. Internet is not available in your room---only in the lobby area. There are NO phone cards, so it is extremely expensive to call home----it works out to be around $3 a minute!! This was a huge turn-off for me as I need to be connected because of business. Cabs are about 20 pesos each way in to Varadero---we drove in a 55 Chev convertible on our way back from the Beatles bar one night! BTW: Varadero is very safe during the day and at night. I suggest taking the double-decker bus for 5 pesos (per day, as many transfers as you want)---it runs until 8pm.

Suggestion:
Go to Havana (Habana) if you’re visiting Cuba. It will cost around $80 Canadian for the day, but it is worth seeing and learning about the history. There really isn’t a lot to do in Cuba, so look for the coolest or least nice beach day to book for the excursion.

First and last time to Cuba for me----Overall Not Bad, But No Cigar!

PLEASE NOTE: This does appear to be a true 4.5-5 star resort for Cuban standards.

Room Tip: Choose 2nd Floor
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
25 Thank MelissaRealtor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Medicine Hat, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed January 9, 2014

This resort is definitely worthy of being 5 star.
It's very clean, spacious, lots of entertainment and friendly staff.
I would highly recommend going to "mikes coffee bar" and seeing the ladies that work there. (Karima,Anaiza,Anisleidys and Rosana.) They are wonderful to talk to and always make you feel welcome, plus they make a mean cup of coffee!
Also check out the piano bar in the lobby bar, Jose puts on a really awesome show almost every night and it is a lot of fun.

  • Stayed January 2014
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank Tylerglasgo7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed January 7, 2014

Stayed from December 29 - January 5 (New Years week); with family (2 kids). First time in Cuba and we fell in love with the beach! Simply stunning! We always found a chair on the beach and at the pool area (pool was also nice and clean).

Food, was expected to be bland, but I was pretty impressed with the food varieties - they even had Peanut butter, bacon and steak - my Canadian friends! My kids lived off the hash browns, fries and burgers from the snack bar. Fruit, I was surprised actually, I thought I'd see more bananas or plantains, even mangos! But it was always the same four items: Papaya, grapefruit, oranges and melon dew.

They have this little gem next to the lobby called Mike's Coffee - where they have these different coffee drink mix (with alcohol), I always grabbed an espresso with fresh cream everyday and its freshly ground coffee, like a starbucks, Cuban style. Plus the ladies who worked there were so friendly, by mid-week they knew my name and my coffee drink.

I would highly recommend Oceans, you just need to keep an open mind that their standards are much different, the beds and rooms were pretty clean, the buffet area, I had a few issues like unclean table, or dirty glass - but that is because they don't have dishwashers like we do in North America, everything is by hand.

Overall, I will be coming back to this resort and back to Cuba!!!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
14 Thank hippiedaze
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AB
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed January 7, 2014

Rooms etc were fine - staff is very nice and accommodating. The beach is good - not as crammed as some other areas along that stretch ( I walked it all), shows were good (if that is what are you into).
What we missed: outdoor eating spaces! All restaurants are indoor, airconditioned and LOUD. The cafeteria (buffet restaurant) is horrific. You literally have to yell and the clattering of dishes and chairs and the like reminded me of university cafeterias. I am glad we booked privilege for that reason alone. Without the nice breakfasts on the terrace I'd have gone crazy. There is a nice outdoor beach eating area that would lend itself to spectacular evening meals...and, its not open at night. Aside from the lobby area which is nice - the other gathering spaces (pool bar - impersonal, piano bar - too small and too cold, disco - nice size but whatever happened to the dancing under the stars?) there doesn't seem a good flow to the place. The privilege pool is great...and the pool bar shuts down at 5! We are beach people but it was nice to go for a swim in the morning and at the end of the day. Food: I have had much better in Cuba - honorable mention go to killer grilled calamari - cooked to perfection and tender. Vegetables are an issue - lots of canned stuff. Red wine was good. In general you are more likely to find good food at the buffet then in the restaurants -plus it is hot!

So will I go back to Cuba? Absolutely - but not to a place that offers me what I can have at home - airconditioned hyper modern noisy indoor restaurants. Lastly - be aware there is construction going on right next door - so if you don't like to wake up to heavy equipment moving around in the early morning, ask for a spot on the "other side" of the resort.

Room Tip: Upstairs rooms are better if you like to sleep with the doors open - some rooms have connecting door...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank Blau
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
200 reviews
79 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 135 helpful votes
Reviewed January 4, 2014

This was our first trip to Cuba, so have nothing to compare this resort to. Thus we don't know if we'd return or not. The resort claims it is 5 star, Air Canada lists it at four, and 4 minus is probably accurate.

The resort if less than two years old. The grounds, buildings, rooms, pool area, and beach are spotlessly clean. The rooms have a king size bed, writing table, couch, bathroom with tub and shower, and balcony with a table and two chairs. We don't know where the complaints about bugs in the rooms and broken tiles comes from because we didn't see them. The employees are universally friendly and helpful, and as far as we could see it didn't depend on whether you tipped or not. There was a bar open from morning to late at night serving good quality spirits and even at the Christmas period there was never a problem finding a seat and we only once overheard gregarious beautiful people who had too much to drink. There is food available some place on the grounds 24 hours per day, even though in the middle of the night it is very limited.

The pool is large, curved rather than a rectangle, and there was never a shortage of lounges. The beach is a couple of hundred metres long, white sand, gentle slope into the ocean, and again never a shortage of shaded lounges no matter what time of the day. It is true that the beach bar, restaurant and rest rooms are at the top end of the beach, which can be a longish walk if you are at the far end, but this is because the beach is adjacent to an environmental area and the resort was not permitted to run hydro, water and sewers through it to provide mid beach facilities. There are no beach butlers to serve drinks nor food to your lounge.

On the not so good, the resort has 400+ rooms, but there are only three a la carte dining rooms which each hold 50 diners, in addition to the buffet. At times one of the three is closed.On the first night we lined up for 20 minutes waiting to get in. The second night we lined up 40 minutes inside the restaurant waiting for a table. You must understand that some guests are in the "Privilege" class and the majority of us are not, and the Privilege class can make reservations while the rest of us can not. Its like at an airport where some passengers have reservations and the rest are on standby. But, we learned that if you went there at about 8:20, looked into each dining room to see which one had empty tables and no line up, you always got a table within minutes with no trouble providing you didn't care which restaurant you ate in. BUT, there is never a wait at the buffet and the food there is more varied. On the negative side, unless you want more than fried eggs or an omelette for breakfast (e.g. no bacon, North American style sausage, ham) the breakfasts are pretty uninspiring.

They have rules, e.g. men can not wear short pants nor open toed footwear to the dining rooms, no saving lounges, towels must be returned, no children in the adult pool, but it is to laugh. Those rules are consistently ignored. Go ahead. If you want to eat in a dining room with table cloths and uniformed servers, but want to dress like a slob, go ahead, nobody will say anything, least of all the staff. BUT, there are plenty of lounges, the areas are huge, and we never found noisy children a distraction.

We had a really good room overlooking the pool, but the location of a lot of the rooms didn't look so good. We had dry weather for two weeks, but some guests would have a mighty long walk in the rain to get to the restaurants or bars. We've made our remarks about room location under tips for a good room.

We were there at Christmas time, and the resort did a very poor job at fostering the Christmas spirit. There was one tree in the lobby, a couple of artificial snowmen, and that was it. The grounds and buildings had no Christmas lights, the Christmas music was hit and miss, there was no Christmas program, but there was a Christmas eve dinner with dry turkey, but the biggest lobster tails we ever saw.

Don't bring USD. Canadian money is most common. Change into pesos at the front desk. Trip Advisor has a good section on what to dip at Cuban all-inclusives.

Room Tip: There are 420 rooms. They are distributed among 35 two-story buildings on spacious grounds. Each b...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
10 Thank dldcw2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed January 4, 2014

Was such a great vacation!!!!!
This was our second all inclusive vacation and we loved it. We would definitely stay here again if were back in Varadero. The food was the only problem due to it being bland. (except at a locals house) But the drinks more than made up for the food.
All staff was unbelievable!!!!!
Stay privileged if you can only because of the extra bar, breakfast a la cart, and private pool, rooms were very comparable.
Ramellio, George, Maria and Junior were the best!!!!! (privilege staff) and if Ramellio is sporting aviators they were mine LOL
Our friends 50th birthday happened while we were there and the privilege desk allowed us to book 12 for dinner and brought out a cake and all. Only 4 of us were privileged guests.
As I mentioned the food at a locals house was an exception. I brought down a bottle of crown royal and tipped with it, the bartender was ecstatic! We asked when he was going to drink the bottle he said Friday his day off, we jokingly said we should come to his house and drink with him.......He took us seriously (I think sarcasm was lost in translation) and before we knew it Friday 3 of us were in a cab and headed 20 min past Varadero to a town with no resorts, real CUBA. The cab driver got turned around three times and then finally found his house, Inside we were treated like kings and his wife made us a meal like no other, Little Lobsters with black beans rice and pork, What a Meal!!!!!!! (and no we didn't get sick at all) He and his family made this trip a very memorable one.
This year the group wants to go to Mexico but we are looking into a Oceans H10 resort in riveara maya, due to the great time had at the El Patriarca.

Side note book a private tour to Havana, we used Yadir aka Bob who was recommended by Yadira (no relation) at the privileged desk. We had an unbelievable trip and went to La Casa in Havana for lunch Ask to go there.

Room Tip: We stayed As Privileged guests and our room was amazing. How ever three other couples stayed in sta...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank melis150
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ocean Varadero El Patriarca

Property: Ocean Varadero El Patriarca
Address: Autopista Sur km 18 | Punta Hicacos, Varadero 42200, Cuba
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #13 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Ocean Varadero El Patriarca 5*
Number of rooms: 420
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Prime oceanfront property stretching more than 200 meters wide, Ocean Varadero El Patriarca is a five-star resort reflecting the 40’s and 50’s Varadero historic architecture. Complete with 420 deluxe rooms, Privilege Deluxe and Privilege Junior Suites; an array of thematic restaurants; a Despacio Spa Centre; Privilege Exclusive Rooms and Services, Privilege Lounge and upgraded amenities. ... more   less 
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