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“Fantastic five star”

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Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas Resort
Ranked #28 of 63 Hotels in Varadero
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Level Contributor
22 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Fantastic five star”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 2, 2009

Barcelo Sol Y Mar
My friend and I vacationed here April 23rd to May 1st and had a fantastic time! We didn’t realise till about half way through the trip that Solymar means Sun and Ocean, which there is lots of in Cuba.

Check in- the bus ride from the airport is not very long at all. Once we arrived we were checked in right away and the staff was all very nice. They delivered our luggage to the room for us. We were on the fourth (top) floor and walked the stairs many times because the elevator didn’t look or sound all that safe. There were 21 flights of stairs, yes we counted! We got a good workout from walking up those.

Bars- there was a piano bar near the entertainment room, lobby bar, pool bar, lunch/pool bar and beach bar all evenly spread throughout the resort. They had menus to give you ideas of the drinks to order. Our favourite was the banana dacari’s. They often remind you of something called Cuban time, meaning that what to us would be five minutes, to them would be more like 15-20mins. They are in no rush there to do anything fast which is fine because neither were we.

Food- A LOT OF CARBS! We ate French fries, pizza and buns almost every day. The food got really repetitive for us. There were not many dairy options beside ice-cream which was the best I’ve ever had. We did not like the breakfast there at all, the bacon is usually really fatty and the eggs were cold. The best places to eat at were the two pool snack bars. We went to the A la carte Italian and Cuban. We had the chicken at both, I loved the chicken at the Cuban one, the Italian one wasn’t very good but most other things on the menu there looked better.

Pool and beach- the resort is very large with bungalows spread throughout. There was a relaxing pool that was peaceful, and then there was an entertainment pool with music and activities. We spent a lot of time at the beach because the sand was so beautiful and they played music we recognized from Canada. There were quite a few topless women on the resort and beach therefore may not be appropriate if traveling with children. The weather was very hot every day but there was one day that it rained.

Staff- the entertainment staff was always around, they were fun and George is very good looking! haha The entertainment shows started at 9:30pm every night. Most of the shows were dancing which didn’t interest us too much, but there was a magic show one night that was absolutely amazing! The entertainment staff would take you out after the shows to different night clubs but you had to pay for the cab, entrance fee and for your drinks so it gets costly. There is a hair salon, spa, bank, cigar and gift shops all in the hotel which was very convenient. The hotel room was always very clean, our maid came early which was nice and we left her gifts everyday and in return she would leave us a note or towel art. We didn’t have a sign for our door that said do not disturb so we requested one at the desk two days in a row and never got one the whole week.

Excursions- we were with Sunwing and went on the catamaran day excursion. It was 99 convertible pesos which once we exchanged our Canadian money, worked out to be 140$ Canadian. The exchange is not very good there. The weather wasn’t nice the day we went but it was still a lot of fun. We swam with the dolphins, snorkelled and went for lobster lunch on a different beach. We all danced on the boat and had a good time. You can get a picture with the dolphins and buy it at your hotel later that night for 10 pesos which was well worth the memory. Defiantly a great place to be.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Perrfect
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
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Yarmouth, Canada
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 1, 2009

Our group of 4 (35-43yr old women) travelled to the Solymar from April 13th-20th. Although we checked in 3 hours prior to our room being ready, we were offered a safe place to store our luggage, given our room numbers and given a layout of the resort to explore.
The resort is breathtaking! Clean, large enough to get a good walk and everything we needed was close at hand. The Solymar was booked fully during our week there, and to our delight, we were upgraded to a suite.
The pools were clean, the water was warm and never overcrowded. The gardens and flowers are amazing, and the walkways between everything were clean and great to stroll through.
Ample selection of food choices were offered at EVERY meal, including the choices of food at the poolside bars. The 3 a la cartes (seafood, creole and italian) were also great, but reserve early in the day, as close to 9Am as you can get. They fill up early and we were turned away initially, but the next day we were able to get reservations.
Service was hit or miss and sometimes downright indifference was displayed by most of the servery staff. You quickly found the exceptional staff, and as long as you returned to the same ones, life was good...make sure you see Concheta at the animation pool bar, and life will continue to be good (just make sure you give her your car keys before you drive). And may I make a recommendation that if you like to drink coffee in your room, bring some from home. Getting refills for the in-room coffee makers was like a wild goose chase. But if this is the only obstacle we faced, oh well...
The beach...Ahhh, the beach. What can I say? Clear blue water, smooth sand, and comfortable loungers within a hop, skip and a jump from the beach bar. I would go back to the Solymar for the beach alone. It was amazing. whether you were swimming at 4PM or 4AM (we did both), the water was warm, inviting and just plain great!
Our group will return there, without a doubt. it was a little piece of carribean paradise.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank OlaMama
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
British Columbia
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2009

We were at the Solymar for 2 weeks and had an amazing holiday. We had booked a bungalo however when we got there they had been overbooked so we ended up getting an ocean view room instead. This turned out to be no big deal at all, the room was clean and comfortable and what a view, in fact we were offered a bungalo for week 2 but we chose to stay put. The food was great, the buffet had so much variety I'd have been just as happy to eat every meal right there. The snack bars were okay as well if you would sooner have burgers or pizza. We did the Seafood and the Italian a la carts and enjoyed them both, they do fill up fast however so book early. The bars were spaced out perfectly so that you never had to go far to find a drink. Each bar had their own specialty, my favorite by far was a Rosita from Jorge at the beach bar. We went to the shows just about every night, some of them were a little corny but for the most part we were thoroughly entertained. That leaves the beach. To call it amazing is putting it mildly, there is white sand as far as the eye can see and tons of room. The beach and the proximity to town are the best features of the hotel. I could not imagine anyone going to this hotel and not enjoying themselves.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank jambro01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ontario
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2009

We returned from Barcelo Solymar April 24th after two weeks vacation. This is the second time we have stayed at this hotel and once again had a wonderful vacation there. This tme we were lucky enough to stay in a junior suite bungalow with two floors. A balcony off the master bedroom upstairs, overlooking the pool and a terrace on the lower level with flowers growing around it. The hotel grounds are beautifully landscaped and the beach has to be the best one in Varadero. The food at the buffet restaurant has improved since our last visit and the hotel and grounds were kept in imaculate condition. We found the staff to be friendly and helpful and our maid kept our rooms spotless. We received a bottle of champaig each on our dining room table for our birthdays and a bottle of rum for our second visit to the hotel. The Solymar is close enough that you can walk to town along the beach and the entertainment at the hotel was excellent. We took gifts for some of the staff that we met there last year, mainly school supplies for their children and toiletries etc. which was greatly appreciated. In our view the Solymar is the best hotel on the strip and we can't wait to go back next year.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Margiedoll
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint John, Canada
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 28, 2009

As everyone says, the beach is absolutely amazing! We had some windy days, so spent the latter part of our week at the entertainment pool. We never had a problem finding a Palapas at either location. We didn’t have to get there early to save them as some do. It’s too bad that people do that before breakfast and it’s 4 in the afternoon before they show up!
The staff at this resort did an amazing job keeping it clean. It was spotless. Always someone cleaning no matter where you go.
As far as food goes I can’t believe that people complain. They don’t come any pickier than me and I always found plenty to eat at the buffets. The selection was unbelievable and always changing. You have to remember that they are catering to many nationalities. The pool snack bars were pretty good. Some days the pizza was cooked better than others but no huge deal. We only tried the seafood a la carte. Some from the Maritimes complained about the lobster but I wanted to try it to see the difference. I have to admit that ours really is the best in the world but I still really enjoyed my lobster dinner!
We didn’t catch much of the evening entertainment “shows”. We spent most evenings at the poolside restaurant enjoying the live music, relaxing in the warm evening, where we met some truly amazing people right from our own back yard to Germany. And not to forget the Newfies!
We did the Colonial trip to Havana and it was a great day. We had chance to see some of the real Cuba along the way. I thought that we would only see Habana Vieja but we also got to have a bus ride right across Havana. We saw the Miramar district and the homes were absolutely beautiful! On the way back they stop for Pina Coladas. $2.50 for the drink and the rum is free :):) .Mmmmm. One word of warning, if you can hold it, don’t use the washrooms there.
The only downside to our vacation was that we booked a bungalow (months ahead of time) and when we got there we were told that there were none available. We heard this many times from others through the week. We were not really happy about it but it in no way ruined our vacation. The hotel rooms are a bit tired but still clean.
Would I recommend the Barcelo Solymar? You bet I would. The staff was, for the most part fabulous! As I said the resort is immaculate, and the beach and pools amazing!

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank TravellingNewbees
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Neath Port Talbot, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
183 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 27, 2009

Just returned from Varadero and have nothing but praise for the holiday, the hotel and all that went with it. For all those yet to go, just remember one thing...dont worry about any of the rubbsih written by those saying that the food is terrible or that the service was poor, etc, these people must be living on a different planet.
The rooms are lovely, cleaned daily (we stayed in the main hotel) and with great air-con, water, coke replaced in the mini bar daily and stylish rooms and bathroom.
The service was fine, better if you tipped your "regular" waiter / waitress one peso daily (about 75p) as the service did improve then (who can blame them when they still use ration books to buy food themselves).
The food was completely fine, a great choice - breakfast had the choice of cereal, toast, croissants, cheeses, hams, hot food, omelettes, juices, yoghurts, cakes and doughnuts. Lunch was a choice from the hot section buffet, or meats and fish cooked for you on the spot or patsa, with dinner the same, but the choices available meant that as long as you didn't pile 10 different main courses on your plate at the same time, you could have a different meal each night. Two a-la-cartes were allowed each week, from the choice of Cuban, Italian or Seafood restaurant, Personally, we preferred the seafood restaurant (although you should have the fillet mignon here - gorgeous!!) but the other two were really good too. So, as I say, anyone complaining about the food are really not worth worrying about.
The beach is great, and there are activities throughout the day (football, baseball, darts, aqua gym, dance lessons) as well as the free kayaking, catamaran short trip, pedal boats and banana boat.
The pools were great too, plenty of space and always plenty of sun-loungers available, one pool was relaxing with the other for entertainment, both were very good although I would say that the service at the pool bars isn't as good as that in the main food area.
Entertainment in the evening is not bad, a few shows and the magic act being the best (watch out for the performance of the geese!!).
For trips out, we went to Havana for the day and then took in the trip to Santa Clara (where we visited Che Guevaras memorial - really inspiring), Trinidad and Cienfuegos. The trips were long, quite expensive (approx £55 each for Havana and £65 each for the Three Cities) but were definitely worth it and a highlight of the holiday.
Overall, a great hotel, a fabulous location, fine food, super service from the maid to the waitresses. We met some good friends too which is great (hi to Robin & Gill and to Bud & Patti). We would highly recommend Cuba and the Solymar to anyone.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Attews
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 27, 2009

My son and his fiance planned their wedding at this hotel and they couldn't have picked a more beautiful spot. The wedding party consisted of adults aged from 22 to 81 and all admired the beach and the grounds. The hotel lobby is stunning and there was lots to choose from for food preferences in the different restaurants/buffet.
What was not so positive was the slipshod maid service for some of the rooms. Linens were stained, glasses weren't cleaned/replaced. The furnishings could definitely use an upgrade as they were scuffed and/or stained.
I understand the limitations of Cuba after years of embargoes but it looks like the Barcelo management has some work to do to bring this hotel up to it's 4 star standards.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank denizon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas Resort

Property: Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas Resort
Address: Carretera Las Americas, Km. 3, Varadero 42200, Cuba (Formerly Barcelo Solymar)
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Ski-In / Ski-Out Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#20 Top resorts Hotel in Varadero
#23 Luxury Hotel in Varadero
#23 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 883
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The hotel Barceló Solymar stands right on the sea front of the top spot of Varadero beach, Cuba's best-known tourist destination. With a privileged setting just a few metres from the city centre, this exclusive resort, surrounded by beautiful gardens, offers a wide variety of services characterised by the excellent Barceló All-Inclusive program. Highly recommended for families, couples and those who enjoy diving and water activities in general. Guests at the Barceló Solymar and Barceló Arenas Blancas hotels can enjoy the facilities at either hotel. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Barcelo Hotel Solymar
Barcelo Hotel Varadero
Barcelo Solymar Cuba
Barcelo Solymar Hotel Cuba
Barcelo Solymar Beach Resort
Barcelo Solymar Varadero Cuba
Barcelo Sol y Mar

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