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Reviewed March 13, 2012

Villa Cuba has many things going for it - good pool area, terrific beach and wonderful staff (with the exception of the front reception). Unfortunately in this case, the good did not outweigh the bad for us. We arrived late at night, the check-in was quick, the front desk personelle did not really speak to us however, they instead just spoke amoungst themselves, slapped a wrist band on us, told us our room number and motioned for the porter to help us with the bags. We were then escorted to a Villa. Our room was small, cramped, dirty, lights did not work, safe did not work, no running water in the bath, the toilet did not flush etc; the porter recommended that we go to Reception first thing and request other rooms. The next morning, we made our way to reception and were told that there were no other rooms available. We asked to speak to a manager, who came out to speak with us an hour later. While we waited for her, we watched as streams of patrons checked out from their rooms - leading us to believe that there must be some rooms available. The Manager came to speak with us, advised us that no other rooms were available. She went on to say that the hotel was completely overbooked. We asked if she'd recommend another hotel to us, she told us that all of Varadero is booked solid. We pleaded our case and insisted on a reasonable solution; we simply could not stay in the rooms we had. She reluntantly told us about one other option - a villa that was not yet renovated. In her opinion was much worse than the one we currently had (she insisted that our current Villa was totally renovated, when we asked her how that could be - we saw men working on our villa that morning, she was adament that it was already renovated). We asked to see the other villa. She then tried to avoid the subject and insisted that she would simply have someone fix our toilet. We had to be very persistant with her and demand to see the alternate rooms - that she herself told us about. We viewed the 'new' villa, and yes it was not yet renovated, but it was in a much better state that ours. We had running water and toilets that flushed! We still had many bugs in the room and the rooms were not really clean - but we were tired of fighting and wanted to start enjoying our vacation so we moved to them. We did have other issues with the new rooms but nothing out of the ordinary in Cuba.
The rest of our vacation was fine. The drinks were awesome, the bartenders all lovely. The coffee was the highlight for sure - I'd suggest getting coffee at the pool bar in the morning; it was always perfect. We were not overjoyed with the inconsistency of the buffet. Some days were just terrible, the food unidentifiable, some days it wasn't too bad. We actually ate out quite often and all of the restaurants we visited in Varadero and in Havana were fantastic. In my opinion, the food in Cuba is great; the food at the resorts does not in any way reflect real Cuba!

Overall, we had a great vacation and will certainly return to Cuba again. This was our 3rd trip to Cuba and Villa Cuba was the very worst that we've stayed at. We would not return here. If you do choose this resort, it is possible you could get a great room - several people we spoke with who were in the main building said the rooms were good (just loud). The actual renovated Villas really looked nice too. It just seems to be a bit of a lottery as to who gets the good rooms and who gets the overflow. For the price we paid, we could have certainly found better accomodations.

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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11  Thank Brandi D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2012

In its heyday, this hotel would have been phenomenal. Trouble is, it is now well-past its maintenance due-dates. This is best reflected if you sit near the front desk for any amount of time and watch the escalating moods of the agents while they room-swap every third hotel guests' room. If you are one of the lucky ones, you have a 1 and 3 chance of no problems.

First, this is not a developed western country so I would not attend any resort expecting so. That being said, I do expect to have the amenities I was promised, which was a pipe-dream I quickly let go of.

Accessibility - However, IF YOU ARE A PERSON WITH ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES, DO NOT BOOK THIS HOTEL. The elevator was out every other day of our stay while we advocated on the behalf of two 80 yr old sr. citizens who had changed rooms four times with mould issues to be placed on the 6th floor with no working elevator and doctor's orders not to climb stairs. The front desk staff have become beat into belligerence, and did not seem overly concerned.

Staff - On a positive note, seek out the bellhop Willcer, or "willy" to tourists, I promise you, his service and smile will make your vacation. Apart from the front desk, the staff is fantastic and the facilities as clean and in some cases cleaner than we see at home. Most staff members speak 3 to 4 languages, primarily: Spanish, English, French.

Casas - After swapping our first Villa-room (separate from the main hotel in old American Villas that have been converted) we were more than pleased. We had hot water every other day, towels (which seem to be few in numbers) and an a/c that worked almost too well. If you are going to book, UPGRADE to the villas or "CASAs'.

Food - the age-old adage that "food is terrible in Cuba" is NOT TRUE of this resort. FOOD WAS WONDERFUL and in many variations. Not a complaint and the "Mariposa" a la carte was dining as good as in Canada.

Pool & Beach - both were spacious, clean, and not overcrowded. The resort could do with many more lounge chairs and towels are going to cost you a $20 peso deposit per towel.

We had a wonderful time but I witnessed many who were very unhappy with the resort, so my advice is to book with caution.

Room Tip: Upgrade to a "Casa" and do not take rooms on the ground floors due to mould in either hotel or Casa
  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with friends
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5  Thank LALegault
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 1, 2012

This was my first time ever going to Cuba (and my first time ever travelling with friends) and Let me start off by saying that I had a PHENOMINAL TRIP.I went with four friends over reading week. I love Cuba, I love the Cuban Culture, I love the music, I love the food and I love the BEACHES. We stayed in room 4204 , we had a balcony view of the ocean everyday!! The pictures of the hotel doesn’t do it justice. It is REALLY BIG , and is open and decorated really nicely. The room was really nice , we had a mini fridge , TV , two beds , shower , toilette , two chairs and a mini table . We spent a lot of money buying gifts/toiletries for our maid. Yeny , left us notes everyday telling us about herself and her family. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make sure you bring little gifts for the maids, it’s much appreciated. Also , if you have extra clothes or anything to give to the hotel staff or any Cuban friends you make they REALLY appreciate that as well.

This sounds really cheesy but in a week my roommate and I had made friends with so many of the staff working in the hotel AND with local Cubans we met at the club. Cuban people are so friendly , so nice and so welcoming. Every day when we walked downtown from our resort we were greeted with hugs , smiles and kisses from the friends we had made. We were told we were beautiful several times a day which was unexpected ( because that’s not very common in Ottawa) which was just a cherry on top of our awesome vacation.
We met a ton of people from the resort as well. Groups of guys from Guelph , a group from McGill, people from Almont/Armprior. There were also people from Argentina , Quebec, Germany and Russia. The other guests were nice , funny and super friendly as well. Everyone asks where you’re from and what your name is. So don’t be alarmed if other guests come up to you to introduce themselves.

The food… I LOVEEDD IT! I’m not sure why there were so many negative reviews about the food. They don’t use a lot of sauces there , but it was different and refreshing. I ate fresh fruit every morning. I’m a pescatarian so I only eat seafood , fruits and veggies. I had potatoes , carrots, peas, corn , rice ( THE RICE IS SO GOOD THERE) and either fish and/or shrimp every night. The deserts were really good as well. Make sure you try the ice cream. There should be no reason to complain about the food. You are NOT in Canada, you are NOT in North America , so do NOT expect to have McDonalds, processed food or Tim Horton’s. If you want food like that and warm weather , then go to MIAMI, FLORIDA =). Make sure you go in line around 1pm to make an a la carte reservation , if you wait later it will most likely be booked. My favorite place was the Cuban restaurant El Sitio.

I must say , I love Spanish. I loved hearing people speak Spanish to me and to others. It’s a beautiful language. I really enjoy the Cuban culture. I come from a family where we look at each other in the eyes when we speak to one another , we show a lot of affection through hugs and kisses and we have no such thing as a “personal bubble”/space when we talk to each other. It’s similar to Cuba. They give a hug and two kisses on the cheek when saying hi to people they know. People look you in the eyes , which is nice. People stop to say hi to you on the streets. It’s so nice and refreshing. In Ottawa , people don’t look you in the eye because they are walking and/or texting on their blackberries. So enjoy the Cuban culture, because YOU WILL MISS IT.

Cuban hospitality is also FANTASTIC. I’m not just talking about the hotel staff ( they were awesome too). But I’m talking about the locals in general. They are just very nice, kind people. I went to sit on the side walk after going to a club because I was tired and as I was about to sit down they offered me a chair. I went to put my sunglasses on the ground and they put them on the stand for me. The locals do things because they are nice people , not to get tip money out of tourists. This other time I was trying to get a coconut out of this tree, this local teenage boy saw me struggling and got me three coconuts , I hadn’t asked him for help so I said thank you and offered him a peso. He refused to take the peso , he was just a nice guy , helping out a struggling girl. We went to the beach everyday and we made friends with a guy named Carlos who cut coconuts so you could drink the juice/milk inside of them. He makes his livelihood off of selling those coconuts. On the last day of our trip Carlos offered us all coconuts for free. These people are just amazing , and it reminds me my family in Nova Scotia . There was a language barrier , but with hand gestures, broken Spanish and English you will be surprised as to how much you can learn about someone in a week.

A lot of me made me scared about going off the resort. But, once we went downtown on the first day we kept going back every day. I’m not too sure WHY people were advised not to go off the resort but it was an amazing experience. There are tons of markets museums , people selling authentic Cuban cuisine of the side streets, parks and adventures you are missing out on if you stay in your hotel all week long. You’re in Cuban , enjoy , explore , taste and sight see. When you walk downtown numerous cab drivers will ask you for a ride, a simple No Gracias is a good response . Definitely try the excursions if you’re into that. My friends swam with dolphins and went to Cayo Blanco and had a great time.

The Cuban clubs were fantastic. Yes, they did play a ton of well known music that we play in Canada but they also had a lot of songs with Spanish artists and Spanish singers. Cuban men can dance, and it is so sexy. I mean salsa, meringue , perlo , rumba you name it. It was definitely more tasteful in Cuba then it is at Ottawa Clubs. International , La Rumba , Havana Club and the Cave are all places you should go to . So much fun! We went home every night at 5am , we always stayed until the club ended. Bring money for water because you will be very very very very hot.

The night entertainment at the hotel was SUPER FUN. The professional dancers put on a show every night and they work their butts off. The dancing was amazing , which I loved. There was a magic show one night … I still don’t know how he did all of his tricks. Definitely ask one of the dancers and/or people in the band to show you how to do some of the dances like salsa and/or meringue. They would love to teach you and they don’t bite.
Some TIPS. Bring a water bottle , jug so that you can fill up your water/drinks when you go the beach. They provide small cups that you will have to refill often. CLEAN UP YOUR GARBAGE FROM THE BEACH! Bring some Imodium, Advil, pepto bismol and/or nay medication for pain, indigestion , nausea or diarrhea. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Pack some snacks! If you miss breakfast/lunch/dinner and don’t want to go to the snack bar bring along some nutrigrain bars or something to snack on in between meals. Sunglasses, bring a spare pair. We also brought our own beach towels, the hotels provides towels , but we brought our own and I’m glad we did. Beach chairs fill up FAST around the pool. So if you want one place your towel on the chair when you go to breakfast so it’s ready. Bring some sunscreen because it gets HOT!

Overall , we had a n amazing time. As cheesy as this sounds my friend and I cried when we were saying our “see you laters” ( not good-byes) to our friends that we made on and off the resort. It’s hard to get to know someone and then have to pack up and leave. We exchanged e-mails and phone numbers and still keep in touch with everyone.

I just hope that if you are coming to Cuba you enjoy Cuba and all that it has to offer. Be open , be KIND , be PATIENT and most of all be RESPECTFUL to those whose country YOU are a guest in. "you catch more bess with honey than with vinegar". So, Please leave all your negative, bourgeoisie , spoiled and/or “I’m better than you attitudes” at home. There is no point in complaining about minor things that don’t matter and that are out of your control. You are in paradise, you are in HOT WEATHER , you are eating what you want , when you want. So just enjoy, meet as many people as possible , eat as much as you can , sun bath , try something crazy, step outside of your comfort zone , go with the flow and enjoy everything Cuba has to offer.

We are going back to Cuba this June because we loved it and to hang out with the friends we made.I miss Cuba alot and I hope everyone gets to experience the type of trip that we had. I have been to 15 states in the US and to 15 countries around the world and Cuba will forever be one of the best vacations I have ever had.

Room Tip: Ask for a room on the 2nd floor or HIGHER!
  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with friends
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29  Thank Anasztaszia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 18, 2012

Ok if you're picky on accommodations, don't go here. If your not, this place was awesome! Yeah i might have had a cat fall through my ceiling and my friend says she swears there was a shaved dog in our room but hey, thats the kinda stuff that makes jokes stories when you get home. The hotel was really nice (apart from those minor discretions but we found them hilarious anyway) and I'm really confused on why people say the food in cuba sucks? I thought the food was really awesome but I'm really not a picky eater. I went on reading week 2010 and there was a group of 40 or so young people so it was a good party. The drinks were awesome (especially the whiskey) but you definitely want to bring a bubba cuz once you get a drink it's done by the time you walk to the beach. The beach and the hotel were beautiful I was really impressed. We went scuba diving and it was the most amazing thing I'd ever done, except that they never told me not to touch things in the ocean, which i know, its common sense right? well i didn't know that and i poisoned my hand into one position that lasted a good three weeks..it was my last day so i didn't go to the hospital cuz i thought it was sketchy cuz it was in cuba, little did i know they have the best health care..but anyways, yeah I'm an idiot. it was a blast though i would most definitely go back there

Stayed: February 2012, traveled with friends
15  Thank Katie K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 3, 2012

Nightly entertainment, variable food quality but honest portions - friendly Cuban service - a big pool and a lovely beach - its not on the Sandals level but its ok! Ask for a room near the beach in one of their flatlets

Room Tip: Ask for a beach side villa or apartment room
  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank TravellingEastMarlow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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