We went as a family..myself, my hubby and our two kids aged 20 & 17 yrs old. It was meant as a "final" family trip since our kids are getting older and really don't want to be around us much anymore (except if we pay for a trip..lol!). Anyways, this resort was great! We stayed in Bldg 18 which is closest to the beach. The staff are SO friendly and the rooms are big! We ended up with 2 rooms..my hubby and I in one and the kids next door to us. Both rooms had roomy single beds (maybe European size since they were wider than a twin in NAmerica?) pushed together. It seemed to be quite clean and we had a little patio w/ 2 chairs outside our room. My kids room was the same. Walk in closets with a free safe, bathrooms had a tub and a separate shower. My only issue with the rooms were the towels. After a shower and you have a towel on your face or somewhere close like that, I smelled BO on the towels! I thought at first "was it me?" but it really was the towels! Not sure what they were washed in but something needs to change!! Gross! One big positive was air conditioning..aaahhh! thank god for that! It was necessary with being in 38 C weather with 97% humidity! I was happy in my room!
There was a main restaurant, 2 smaller cafe style eating places and then al la carte restaurants. All were warm restaurants with the exception of the main restaurant which had 3 or 4 air conditioning units in a part of the restaurant. The one thing that bothered me about the restaurants was the lack of cooling around the food. There would be a nice selection of cheeses sitting on a marble slab but that was it so the cheeses were shining...that didn't impress me too much. If the chef was cooking chicken, it would be sitting beside him in the open and he would cook batches of it. I found all in all, the food was ok..not fantastic by any means but edible. tomatoes were pink and white (??) instead of red, the desserts would be sitting out getting soft...cakes, pastries, etc. ONly thing that would be in a cooler was the ice cream which was soft.
The beach was lovely! White sand that was brushed and cleaned but get out there early to get one. It was relatively quiet considering there were resorts on either side. Take a good SPF suntan lotion...I took 50 SPF and we still burnt.
You'll need bug spray for the evening. My daughter had a number of bites on her legs. We ended up going to the onsite Dr but with the language barrier (we thought bedbugs, they thought mosquitos), she just got treated with calamine and some meds. We weren't convinced about this but what can you do in a foreign country. I think if the Dr is treating foreigners, they need to make sure their English is decent. We were scrambling a bit trying to communicate the issue. Oh and this happened on the day of our departure!
There were nightly shows that were pretty good and there was entertainment on the beach everyday (the staff would actively walk around recruiting guests to get involved with the games, etc. and the response was really good) and in the main plaza area every evening there was a band with the dancers getting guests up to dance. Some vendors would be closely located to the plaza in the evenings.
As for gifts, I went to the dollar store to buy a bunch of gifts to give out to the resort staff...I also took some of my daughters old clothing as the "special" gifts. The cleaning lady got some smaller items since they receive the brunt of the gifts so I deliberately walked around giving clothing to those that would never get something...the gardener, the cleaning lady who cleans the lobby areas...they were so happy that I gave them something that they hugged me. I loved seeing their happy faces. If you want to make any Cuban happy, give them clothing/ shoes. This is a basic essential that they seem to have a tough time to afford. I gave some basic school supplies to the receptionist Wendy (she's awesome!) to give to her village..chalk, paper, erasers. It made her very happy. I would have done it myself however it wasn't school season so they were closed.
If we go back to Cuba, we would probably got closer to Havana to feel a bit more of the cultural side of the country. That is the one problem with being in the Varadero peninsula of resorts...50 resorts within 22km of each other...row after row of them. An all-in resort is great if you want to be pampered, hang out at the pool or beach and do an excursion or two. If you want purely a cultural experience, you need to stay elsewhere outside of Varadero.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located on a beautiful stretch of Varadero Beach surrounded by tropical gardens. Elegant atmosphere. Wide range of gastronomy. Varied entertainment programme. Golf course nearby. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Playa Alameda Varadero
- Iberostar Varadero
- Playa Alameda Varadero