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Reviewed March 12, 2013

Just back from a fabulous 9 day break at this resort. A truly wonderful holiday - while the resort is perhaps looking a little tired, this is understandable just at the moment, as, to quote the staff, it is winter! They were in the process of redecorating many of the buildings while we were there, and it looked to a high standard. Certainly our room was immaculate - and kept so by excellent staff.

The food in the buffet restaurant was very good - a choice of buffet fare and meats or fish cooked to order. There is also a selection of specialist restaurants available to pre-book, which we made use of on a couple of occasions and found to be very good too.

All inclusive means that everything is simply available and nothing is too much trouble for the staff. We even took advantage of the free SCUBA diving which included ferrying us across Cuba to the Bay of Pigs as visibility was not sufficiently good in Varadero. Stunning diving both there and in Varadero on the one occasion we managed to dive there.

All in all I cannot rate this too highly - the staff and the accommodation were both outstanding.

Room Tip: We didn't take the Royal Service option and don't feel we lost out at all. The staff made our visit there very special. Wherever you stay I'm sure you'll love it.
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank PhilKingsbury
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
residentmanagerPVA, Manager at Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 17, 2013

Dear Guest,
We are delighted to read that you found the Hotel BRILLIANT and you were delighted by the service provided by our Team during your 9 days with us. We look forward to welcoming you back to The Paradisus in the not to distant future.
Best Regards!

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Reviewed March 12, 2013

We have just returned from ten nights at the Paradisus (18th Feb - 1st Mar). The hotel is probably the best we have stayed at. It is tired in places but the staff are constantly cleaning and maintaining the grounds - even to the extent of removing any seaweed or large stones that wash up on the beach. The hotel beach is fantastic, white sand and turquoise water - picture postcard quality. The open plan layout of the main building adds to the relaxing atmosphere along with the live background music of either a saxophonist and pianist or band (repetitive but still enjoyable). All restaurants offered good quality food particularly the Restaurante Romantica, although the beach restaurant in the evening was disappointing (but it does do a good barbecue in the daytime if you dont want to go to the main buffet).

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank JG2004
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
residentmanagerPVA, Manager at Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 17, 2013

Dear guest,
Thank you for your lovely review and we are happy that you had a relaxing time in our “friendly hotel”.
It's always nice to hear when our guests recognise the attitude and warmth of our staff.
We look forward to offer you again an outstanding service in your next visit.
Best regards!

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Reviewed March 11, 2013

I stayed here with my grandmother for 7 nights at the beginning of March. We absolutley loved it. The staff were so welcoming and saw to every need. The rooms were to high standards, as well as the food - such a great selection of restaurants on the resort. The beach was blissfully beautiful, I enjoyed long walks along the seafront. We cherished every minute of our stay here, as well as our time spent in Cuba, and plan to return in the near future. I would highly recommend this place to anyone.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank Rebecca_McClure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
residentmanagerPVA, Manager at Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 17, 2013

Dear Rebecca,
We are glad you and your grandmother enjoyed your stay in our hotel in your first visit and we look forward to welcoming you back again soon!
Thanks for the warm words regarding our hotel!
Best regards from The Paradise!

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Reviewed March 11, 2013

They Cubans say that you could plant a pencil in the fertile Cuban earth and it would grow. That may be true but Cuba imports 80% of its food, for reasons which I will not go into and as a result the meals all over Cuba tend to be second rate. Bearing this in mind the food in this hotel was both plentiful and of good quality for Cuba. The hotel is all inclusive for alcohol entertainment and a la carte restaurants. Book the a la carte choices as soon as you arrive to avoid disappointment. The large buffet style restaurant was also excellent with a good choice of food.
The evening entertainment was enjoyable and diverting.
The beach was perfect the hotel being situated right on the shoreline. The Cuban people were always welcoming as were the staff who could not do enough for their guests. Salaries are small and so even a small tip is appreciated.
Take the day trips to Havana where every bar is filled with live music but be prepared for the culture shock for life under a socialist government where the usual advertising hoardings are replaced with images of Che Guevara.
Go to Cuba now to experience not only this superb hotel but a way of life which will not last long

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank Bob M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
residentmanagerPVA, Manager at Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 17, 2013

Dear Bob,
Thank you for taking the time to write such a kind review of our hotel and for the warm words regarding Cuba and our team, service, food and general relaxing atmosphere, which we try to provide to our guests.
We look forward to welcoming you back again soon

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2013

Introduction

We have just returned from 2 weeks (February 16 - March 2) in the Royal Service at the Paradisus Varadero Hotel. We have been going to the Paradisus since 2007. This was our 6th visit to the hotel, and our 5th in Royal Service. We have spent a total of 12 weeks at the hotel. Our daughter and her family have visited 4 times to date.

To say we love the place is an understatement.

One can travel the world looking for the perfect vacation destination. We have been to many places over the years. Our search for perfection ended with the discovery of the Royal Service at the Paradisus Varadero. The extra cost to upgrade to RS is well worth the price. RS has 80 rooms for 160 people. The main section of the hotel holds an additional 900 guests. Plans are underway to enlarge the RS section.

We have stayed in the royal service sections of other Caribbean hotels. They were very good, but not great like the one at the Paradisus Varadero.

This year, we met a couple on their 26th visit to Cuba and their first stay in RS. They have stayed mostly in the Varadero area for all these trips. They were at the nearby Iberostar last year, and said that it is nowhere near as nice as the Royal Service at the Paradisus.

Royal Service - management and staff

Dayamis Logilde has been the manager of the RS since it opened in December, 2009. Dayamis knows how competitive the Caribbean market is for tourism. She understands the meaning of superlative customer service, and inspires her staff to go the extra mile to provide service that continually exceeds the expectation of the guests. It is this level of uncompromising service that sets the hotel apart from others we have visited. Without exception, Dayamis and her staff of butlers, waiters, waitresses, room maids, pool attendants, receptionists, bartenders, drivers and gardeners, will attend to your every need, always with a happy, gracious and enthusiastic attitude. You will be treated royally. Thank you Dayamis!

Thank you also Mr. Vito Pascual, the hotel's new general manager. He oversees the entire operation, ensuring that it continues to be the great hotel that it is. He is making changes to make a great hotel even better. I was impressed by the number of times I saw Vito walking around the property, making sure the guests were happy and that everything was in good working order.

Vito has hired a new food and beverage manager - Antonio Hernández - as well as a new head chef - José Arco. Both are doing an excellent job. We have always thought the food at the hotel to be excellent, and this year was even better. Variety and presentations are particularly noteworthy.

Repeat customers

An indicator of a great hotel is the number of repeat customers. This hotel has many in that category. Last year we met a couple from Switzerland who were on their 22nd visit, twice a year ever since the main section opened 12 years ago. We met others on their 2nd, 3rd and 4th visits. We met those who travel great distances to be here - England, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and of course Canada. It is a very cosmopolitan hotel, and all the more interesting because of this.

Repairs are fast

Another mark of a great hotel is the speed with which repairs are made whenever necessary. Every hotel needs adjustments occasionally. Light bulbs burn out, door lock batteries expire, and maybe the water should be hotter. In the RS section, it is often only a matter of minutes before repairs are made. No need to ask 2 or 3 times and wait hours like at some hotels.

I read all the Trip Advisor reports for this hotel. Some people would rather complain in print about something gone wrong, rather than at the time finding the right people to fix the problem. I met a guy complaining about no hot water. I asked whether he had spoken to Vito the general manager. He had not. Dear readers, you must go the the right people when you have a problem. Those dear, hard working room maids may not understand your English, French, German or whatever.

Close to the airport

The hotel is only 40 K., a mere 30 minutes on a good highway, from the nicely renovated Juan Gomez Varadero airport. No 2 or 3 hour bus ride to endure. Remember that long ride in St. Lucia?

Safety

People ask whether Cuba is safe. Most definitely. On a scale of one to ten, with 10 the safest, we rate Cuba a 10 and Mexico a one. We have always felt completely safe, both around the hotel at all times, and on visits to neighbouring Havana, Matanzas, Cardenas and Varadero. Readers will remember and shudder at some of the recent events in Mexico, where Mexican authorities dismiss the murder of tourists as "accidents".

Just the other day, the newly appointed head of Mexican tourism was murdered.

Royal Service rooms

The rooms are magnificent. Very large and nicely decorated. The bedroom / sitting area measures 20 by 17 feet; the balcony or patio 10 by 17; the bathroom (as large as some hotel rooms) 12 by 17; and the outdoor shower 11 by 8. The shower is a wonderful feature, and there is always plenty of hot water with strong pressure. The outdoor shower in the ground floor rooms is even larger.

The bathroom includes his and her vanities, a large (good for 2) Jacuzzi tub with shower, and a separate room with toilet and bidet. The lighting is excellent, as it is in the bedroom.

There is a large walk-in closet with many drawers, and a safe for valuables.

The bed is king-size and comfortable, with many pillows. The air conditioning is excellent. The large, flat-screen TV has such English channels as CNN, HBO, and CTV from Montreal. The well-stocked bar is continually replenished with name brands - Beefeater gin, Chivas Regal Scotch, Havana Club rum, etc., as well as wine, champagne, beer, soft drinks and water. You will never be thirsty. For repeat customers, the staff remember your preferences. A thoughtful touch indeed.

The rooms have high ceilings; the towels are plentiful and as good as at any Four Seasons Hotel. Your room will be maintained by a staff of two - day and evening maids - so it will always be clean and with fresh towels. Thank you Cary and Yenny.

Each building contains 4 units - 2 on the ground floor, and 2 on the second. They are well-built with poured concrete, so you will not hear your neighbor coming in at 4 am. For those who like to party late and sleep late, the rooms have excellent black out curtains to keep out that brilliant Cuban sunshine.

Royal Service butlers

The butlers are great. They make dinner reservations, arrange transportation, exchange currency, bring ice and meals to your room, and do whatever necessary to make your visit exceptional and memorable. Thank you Kenia, Rolando, Eldys, Alex, Luis and Isaac.

Royal Service pool

The main section of the hotel has 2 pools, one of which is particularly large and lovely. The RS has its own beautiful pool for the exclusive use of RS patrons. It is surrounded by comfortable Balinese beds. There are also numerous palm umbrellas with lounge chairs by the pool, and along the beach in front of the RS.

Lidaimi and Jorge, assisted by Marvin, work alternate days looking after their pool guests, constantly on the move serving drinks, sandwiches and fresh fruit. Oscar Tarifa provides free foot massages that people love. Coto and Marvin keep the pool spotless. Yosebani and Montenegro take care of the grounds around the pool and throughout the RS area.

A new feature this year - you can order lunch to be served at the pool. Try the hamburguesa Paradisus - delicious!

There is a vast quantity of towels at the pool. No need to endure the towel inventory control that exists at some hotels. Also, there is no need to wear one of those irritating plastic bracelets during your visit. Don't you hate those things? This is a classy, elegant hotel. No wristbands!

Food and restaurants

I will start this section with a message for those food snobs who fancy themselves gourmet epicures, and who never like the food no matter where they are. If you don't like the food because it is not like what you get at home, then stay at home. The whole point of travelling is to enjoy different foods and new recipes.

The food at this hotel is excellent!

RS has its own exclusive and lovely Bella Mar dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eggs are made in the morning as you like them by Luis, at the breakfast buffet. Or, you can order from the menu - a new feature this year, with excellent choices. We particularly like the way the eggs benedict are made. And there is smoked salmon on the breakfast buffet, complete with capers.

The food is excellent, with good variety. The dinner menu features, inter alia, shrimp, lobster, chateaubriand, and other choices you will love. The hotel has some of the best ice cream we have tasted.

The service in Bella Mar is outstanding. Muchas gracias to both Janets, Mailing, Katy, Karina, Tania, Dayana - and i am sorry I do not have all the names.

There are 4 specialty restaurants in the main section of the hotel. Your butler will make reservations. These are the Sakura for Japanese, Stella di Mar for Italian, Romantica for French, and a new Mexican theme restaurant. A fusion restaurant will open soon. Food and service are excellent at all four. Romantica features a trio or quartet each evening.

The ARA buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The place is huge, with a staggering variety of fresh food. Enough variety to please the most fastidious tastes. There are cooking stations for eggs, meat, fish, pasta etc., to cook food the way you like. If you are unable to find something you like, you are being ridiculously picky.

Then there is the 24-hour restaurant by the main pool, and the beach buffet for lunch and dinner.

When it comes to food and service, the Paradisus goes to extraordinary lengths to please its guests. Job well done, we say.

The beach

The hotel has the best beach we have ever seen. Miles long and exceptionally wide in front of the main part of the hotel. It is shallow a long way out, waist deep 150 feet from shore. Great for young children. The beach is a short 5-minute walk from the Royal Service, and if you do not need the exercise (yeah, right), then Hernan, Ashley or Adnan will be happy to drive you over.

The water is as clear as gin, and a stunning cerculean blue/green on cloudless days. There are dozens of beach chairs. You will always get one. There are several beach bars, and refreshments are never far away.

Google the Paradisus to see pictures of the beach. The hotel is also on Facebook.

The grounds

An army of gardeners is constantly at work, dawn until dusk, keeping the gardens immaculate and the grounds spotless. The plantings are magnificent, with many royal palms providing shade and ambience. The property is huge, so even when the hotel is full, as it usually is, you never feel crowded. There is an aura of calm, quiet elegance everywhere. This is a classy place, never raucous or frenetic. Serenity prevails. Thank you Yosebani, Montenegro, Camilo and Luis, and all the other gardeners whose names I do not know.

Gym and spa

No great hotel is complete without these. The gym and spa facilities, right beside the RS section, are of the highest standard, with first class equipment in the gym, and well-qualified staff in the spa offering a variety of treatments. There are hot pools for relaxation, all in a superb setting overlooking the ocean.

Prices are very reasonable, considering the quality offered.

Main lobby and buildings

The main lobby is an architectural delight in a Tahitian/Japanese theme, with reflecting pools filled with plants and fish. Stunningly beautiful.

The guest rooms are contained in attractive, low-rise two-story buildings, 8 units per building. Many of these rooms have been recently re-furbished, and the rest will be done soon. Be sure to request a re-furbished room.

Internet service is available in both the Royal Service and in the main lobby.

Sports activities

The hotel provides Hobie Cats, paddle boats and snorkelling gear. Scuba diving is easily arranged. Deep-sea fishing is available at the nearby Gaviota Marina. In 2011 we chartered a sport fisherman for 5 hours ($350 CDN) and caught some fish, including a 60-pound barracuda. Catamaran cruises are very popular. There are 4 tennis courts at the hotel, and an 18-hole golf course is only 10 minutes away.

Day trips

One great advantage of the Varadero area is the variety of trips you can make to places beyond the hotel. Havana is only 2 hours to the west. This city is a must for visitors to Cuba. Matanzas and Cardenas are two cities much closer and both are very interesting. The town of Varadero is a short cab or bus ride from the hotel. Lovers of old cars, especially the American ones from the late 1950s, will find themselves in car paradise. Many are available as taxis.

On this trip, we hired Santiago from Varadero to take us to SanFrancisco de Paula and Cojímar in his lovely 1955 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. A memorable day.

Hemingway fans can visit the author's "Finca Vigía" estate, 16 K. southeast of Havana. This is a remarkable restoration, thanks to the Cuban government. Hemingway's fishing cruiser "Pilar" is there, resting on the old tennis court, beautifully restored.

We enjoy visiting "Xanadu", the magnificent mansion in Varadero once owned by the Dupont family. Only 10 minutes from the Paradisus. On our recent visit, we had a superb dinner. Truly, "una noche para recordar". The golf course is located at Xanadu.

Tipping

Some all-inclusive hotels discourage tipping. Many travellers tend not to tip at an all-inclusive, believing this is covered in the overall cost. In the case of hotels in Cuba, please tip generously for the good service you receive. In addition, because goods can be scarce in Cuba, try to bring items with you that can help these good people. Items for both adults and children such as: toothpaste, tooth brushes, soap, vitamins, medicine (Tylenol, Advil, etc.) clothing, notebooks, pens and pencils for school children - these are but a few of the items so gratefully appreciated.

One more message for Trip Advisor writers

A few have written that Cuban people are unfriendly. Anyone who thinks this must have a personality disorder. Cubans are the friendliest people you can find anywhere. Try smiling and a few words in Spanish next time.

And on the subject of bugs in the room. Look, if you bring food to the room and leave crumbs around, I guarantee you will get a bug or two. Bugs make no distinction between one star and five star hotels. Clean up after you eat in your room. If you wait for the maid to come along, it might be too late. We have never had a problem with bugs.

Finally - to the guy who complained that a pool tile was broken - get a life!

In conclusion

Congratulations if you have reached this point. Brevity is not one of my strengths. I know you will love the Royal Service at the Paradisus Varadero as much as we do. Treat yourself to an exceptional vacation. You will be treated royally. Once you visit, you will want to return again.

Amor y recuerdos a todos nuestros amigas y amigos en Servicio Real en la Paradisus Varadero. Amo Cuba. Amo alos Cubanos!

See you next February.

Elena y Pedro

March 11, 2013

Room Tip: Ocean view, second floor
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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11  Thank VACATIONER097
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
residentmanagerPVA, Manager at Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded April 1, 2013

Dear Elena & Pedro,
We are glad to know that your 6th experience at Paradisus Varadero was wonderful and we take the chance to thank you for your high and detailed reviews about our staff, services and facilities you have enjoyed during these unforgettable weeks with us.
We hope you will give us another opportunity to serve you in the future again for 7th time and not last!
Kind regards.

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