Our stay was Feb 21 to Feb 28th. This was my third trip to Cuba, first time in Varadero. My husband and daughters had never been. We had a great trip, but I am going to give you my honest account of all areas of this resort:
Check in/out: We arrived quite late, I notice we didn't get the welcoming cocktail, fresh fruit and refreshing towels the other groups arrive to, thats ok. Check in was fairly quick, and we were the first ones out to wait for the guys who take your luggage to your room. They put the luggage on one golf cart, and you ride in the other. The 2 guys brought all 4 suitcases up to the 3rd floor room, and I handed the first guy $10 and said it was for both of them, then the other one turned and asked if I had something for him too. I ended up giving him $5, but I wasn't happy with myself for doing it. Check out was simple, just brought our room cards to the desk. We had a 11:05 pm flight, so we had to be out of our room by 12:00...nothing to do but hang around until the 7:00 pm pickup time. They will allow you to keep your room for an extra $10 per hour, and we asked if we could keep ours until 5:00, but unfortunately the resort was booked to capacity, so they couldn't spare the room any longer. We ended up leaving a half an hour ahead of our scheduled pick up bus, we took a taxi - we wanted to avoid all the huge lines and since we hadn't pre-booked our return seats we wanted to ensure that we got the double seats at the back of the plane so we could all stay together. We were happy we did this.
Rooms: When I booked the trip, I sent a very nice email in English, and translated to Spanish from Google translate saying that we were hoping to get our rooms in block 17 or higher, preferably on the third floor, and because we had our 2 teenage daughters with us we wanted to have the rooms close together. I had read many other trip advisor reviews, and knew that we wanted to stay away from the kiddie pool area, and wanted something more central. What we got was adjoining rooms #2345 and 2356 - on the third floor. We were extremely happy with the location of the rooms - nice balconies overlooking the pool area which wasn't overly loud. There was only one night that they had a water ballet in the pool which started at 9:45 - if you wanted to sleep early it may have been an issue, but we enjoyed sitting on our balcony watching the ballet from above. The rooms were also very close to the snack bar, which was handy for drinks. We decided that if we could have our choice of any location on the resort, this would be the perfect one, or the block directly across from us. Now..having said that, #2356 - our room with the king sized bed - had some issues. The air conditioner was a nightmare, spitting out water all over the floor, and being quite loud. As a result the room was very damp and the bathroom smelled of mildew pretty bad. The toilet ran constantly, and then stopped flushing altogether. It took at least 3 visits and us constantly calling to complain on the customer service line every time it stopped working before it finally got fixed. The A/C issue never got resolved. Our daughters A/C was super quiet and efficient. The toilet stopped working once, but it got fixed quickly. There were no issues with hot water and the pressure was good. Our maid, we LOVED. I am very good to our maids anywhere we go, every day we left her a few pesos and gifts - clothes, perfume, tylenol, cheap kids crocs from the dollar store (I brought 1 small suitcase filled with items I knew I would be leaving in Cuba) She was so appreciative, and I was very happy to know that someone would benefit from anything I left, even if she handed it off to someone else. Our towels were always fresh and clean - no mildew smells, linens smelled clean. She made us cute towel animals and personally thanked us for everything, giving us some little souveniers to take home on our last day, which was very nice. All in all the rooms are spacious but a bit dated, we didn't see one bug - I think being on the third floor helps. The beds are kind of hard, we were happy to come home to our bed. There's not much on the t.v., but we weren't there to watch t.v. so that was fine. There's a shower stall and a deep bathtub in each room, and a walk in closet. There is also a digital safe, and you can choose your own password for it.
Beach - The beach is the best I've ever been to. White sand, crystal clear blue water - just gorgeous. We had superb weather on our week, the first couple of days were hot and a bit windy, so there were lots of waves, the next couple were extremely calm and the last couple of days the swells were a bit stronger, although the waves weren't so high, you could feel yourself being sucked in, so we didn't go out too far. There are free kayaks and paddle boats you can use, snorkel equipment is harder to get - we had to go check several times over a couple of days before we got to use some on the last day. There are also Hobie-Cats that they will take you for a free ride on, but for 20 pesos each they will take you about 15 minutes away to a reef for some better snorkelling. They said we could stay as long as we wanted, but we didn't go so I'm not sure how nice the reef was. For the most part we didn't have any problems finding chairs on the beach, there is a guy there if you go early who will un-stack the chairs and drag them wherever you want - we were always looking for the shade which he found for us, and we would give him a peso - worth it. We didn't have any issues with sand fleas either.
Grounds: The grounds are immaculate, they work very hard to keep them lush, with lots of tall palms and pretty hibiscus everywhere. They had the kids playground roped off, and a sign saying they were refurbishing it, it looked a bit worn, so thats good. There are several wooden walkways over water, and I saw they had drained the water and had stacks of new wood, so it looks like they were replacing them as well. The lobby is very nice, lots of sitting areas, comfy chairs - very open with a nice fountain area which does not need to be fenced off, as a previous reviewer stated..it would just look silly. There are hazards everywhere if you have young children, keep an eye on them. Also, I brought bug repellent, and we didn't have to use it once... not one of us got a bite.
Restaurants/food: Here we go.. YOU DON'T GO TO CUBA FOR THE FOOD! I have heard this and repeated it countless times. It was hit and miss. I didn't starve, I always found something I could eat and my kids and husband were fine too. I loved the pancakes at breakfast, and my favourite was the guy who makes fresh donuts, and there was melted chocolate that you could drizzle on them...so good! I don't love eggs, but my kids and hubby loved the omelettes - there are 2 stations and one of the guys is a rock star at making them. His line up was always longer, but it was because he just made them better. Bacon was like a rare animal - you didn't see it often, but when you did you could appreciate it - and it was gone quickly. We found the lunches at the buffet restaurant were far better than at the beach buffet, and lunch was usually better than dinner. They don't get a lot of fresh veggies in Cuba, but tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, potatoes seem to be plentiful. There seems to be a lot of canned foods. I enjoyed rice and meat every day - there is a guy frying (not grilling unfortunately) different types of meat, but the line was always long - I think they don't cook it in advance so that one person comes and snags it all - it was made to order. My kids loved the ice cream. We didn't eat a lot of the desserts, but the fresh crepe station was nice.. yes.. I had a total carb-fest of a week! There was also a big variety of cheeses - feta, chèvre, blue, cream, etc every day, and LOTS of fresh breads and rolls which are very good. We went to 3 al a cartes - if you ask nicely like we did, the girl taking the reservations will do 3 instead of the usual 2 per week. These were our best meals. The Mexican was really good food and entertainment. The Italian was also good food, and I loved the 3 piece band that entertained us, and the Japanese had a GREAT show, we had a lot of fun watching and participating in the cooking - but the food wasn't quite as good for us, we eat a lot of Japanese at home, it was just ok. The snack bar had lots of sandwiches and pizzas, burgers and hot dogs. The only thing I really enjoyed there myself was the french fries - they were really good...unfortunately they didn't have any the last 3 days we were there. They were always running out of popular items.
Drinks at the bars were always really strong for us - I think rum is probably cheaper for them than the mix. We just always asked for less alcohol, and it was ok. We loved the Pina Coladas, but they were not consistent at any of the bars - some days awesome, some days..meh. The most consistent that we found were at the snack bar. I also loved the cappuccinos at the lobby bar - they were excellent. I highly recommend bringing a "Bubba" to keep your drinks cold - my husband brought one, and I didn't, and I was jealous all week. haha. The drinks are very small, so you also avoid having to make several trips to the bar.
Excursions: We paid 5 pesos each to take the double decker bus to downtown Veradero. It was fun, we stopped and did some souvenir shopping and did the complete round trip to take in all the sights. Its worth it, because for 5 pesos you can get on and off as many times as you want all day long. We also did the Havana trip. It was 59 pesos each, the bus picked us up at 7:30 am, and dropped us off at 7:00 pm. It was an interesting trip, lots of walking and we got harassed a bit by beggars, but honestly not anything like other places I have been such as Jamaica. There is a lot of history in the city, it included a stop at a museum, a cigar factory which we bought some cigars for friends and the prices were much better - don't ever buy cigars from anyone off the street, they are not good quality. They also sold Havana Club rum there, and it was really cheap too. Our lunch was ok, nothing special. Our guide was pretty good, but she spent a lot of time saying what she was "supposed to say" to paint a rosy picture of Cuba, even though she seemed a bit defeated. We went for Mojitos at an old bar that was supposedly the birthplace of the Mojito. Everyone says you haven't been to Cuba until you've been to Havana, but for me I could have passed on it. The other excursion was the Jeep Safari tour.. I HIGHLY recommend this one! It felt like we did so much in one day. It was $81 pesos - worth every penny. The only thing is someone has to be able to drive a stick. There was 4 of us, so we had a jeep (not really, some type of jeep wannabe) to ourselves. My husband drove, and they took us off-roading. It was a long convoy of jeeps, which was fun. We did so many things, a snorkelling trip to a nice reef, a boat ride down the Canimar River, which you drive your own boat, a trip to a ranch where we had a quick horseback ride, and visited a colonial ranch house. The people who lived there were so nice - the old man showed us the shackles in the room where the slaves used to be kept which was one of those "wow" moments. He showed me around his house, and pointed out his Canadian Flag that he was proud of. We had lunch here, and it was a nice buffet, and for an extra 10 pesos you could have a huge grilled lobster tail which was awesome! We ended the day off at Saturno cave, where there is a crystal clear spring that you could jump in and swim in..it was super refreshing after our long day. 22 meters deep and you could see right down to the bottom! If you like adventure, this is the excursion for you!
Entertainment: We only took in a few shows. They weren't great... we liked the International show, but the Disney show was horrible, just a bunch of lip-syncing. the animation team isn't really present a lot of the time..the best day was Wednesday by the pool they had a live Cuban show and some games. There was water aerobics every day either in the pool or the beach. Also dancing lessons on the beach. I guess there was a full agenda of activities to be had, but I just didn't see as much going on as I have at other resorts.
All in all, I really do recommend this resort. We came back with a lot of great memories, nice pictures and we enjoyed everything on the whole. Our resort looked nicer than a lot of the others on the strip, and my conversations with people staying at the RIU nearby told me that it was pretty much the same types of issues at their resort. If you can't make a resort like this work for you in Cuba, maybe you should consider going to a different destination. The Cuban people are wonderful, appreciative and super friendly. If you hate tipping, you just won't get the same service. These people live off their tips, and although its not expected, the service you get reflects the tips you give. We had no problems in that department, but we are generous tippers too. It is like this everywhere.. Sorry this was so long, but I was trying to be as informative as possible!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- All inclusive resort ideal for families, with a dedicated children's area, a marvelous tranquil beach, full of activities for all ages. Honeymooners also get special treatment in a quiet special area. Tennis courts, gym, non motorized water sports, drinks, a la carte and buffet dining included. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Tryp Peninsula Varadero Hotel Varadero
- Tryp Peninsula Cuba
- Peninsula Varadero
- Tryp Varadero
- Varadero Peninsula
- Tryp Peninsula Varadero Cuba
- Tryp Peninsula Hotel Varadero Beach
- Varadero Beach Tryp Peninsula