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“Good value for the money.”

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Hotel Gran Caribe Sunbeach
Ranked #59 of 65 Hotels in Varadero
Ottawa, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Good value for the money.”
Reviewed March 21, 2013

Stayed March 10-17th,2013. Hotel is definitely run down but then so is everything else in Cuba. Our room had no balcony but was clean. We were on 5th floor, room 503, no balcony. Even number rooms have balconies, odd numbers don't. Ask for an even number when checking in. Walked up stairs most times but both elevators worked fine all week. No bugs of any kind all week. We had hot water most of the time. Beds were comfortable for us but not plush. AC worked fine. Kept it on at night to circulate air and keep outside noise out. We did experience a gasoline smell a couple of mornings around 3am (kind of strong). We knew this ahead of time and brought a plug-in air freshener which took care of that. There is oil drilling close by so the smell must be coming from there. Other resorts smell it too so it's not only Sunbeach.
Staff are not the friendliest. Bartenders could smile more often. Food is OK but not great. Neither of us were sick. We never went hungry but we also never over ate. Lineups for the grill at breakfast and dinner. Lack of cups and glasses at meal times. Usually had to get your own drinks. Coffee not plentiful. Lineups at the snackbar too. The chef there could use a better system as it could take 15-20 minutes for a hamburger. That's a long time to be standing in line. We paid a cheap price ($540 each) and expected to eat out a few nights which we did.
We had entertainment every night. Dance troops, magician, Mr & Ms Sunbeach contest (a hoot!).
Pool was chilly but refreshing after a day at the beach. Beach is great! Beach staff will find you a chair if you ask. It may take 30 minutes but they'll get you one. Only one day for water activities due to winds. We took the kayak out. Others went snorkling on the catamaran. Beach bar is convenient but bring a big thermos mug. The little plastic glasses they use are useless but it saves them having to clean cups all day. The wind blows them around easily too. Beach is accross the street but it was never a problem. Only 1 minute from the resort. Traffic always stops as there is a pedestrian crossing right there. Georgie will give you a great massage at the beach.
We liked being on the main street. Just walk out your door and you see Cuba. Watching the local activities from our room was interesting.
We did Havana bus tour. Long bus trip for only a couple of hours in Havana. There are some local people who will give you a better tour. You need to ask around. There were no high pressure sales people anywhere. No beach vendors. Nobody in the street doing the hard sell speech. It was pleasantly different.
Overall we got exactly what we paid for. Inexpensive trip with low expectations. If we wanted more service and better food, we would have paid hundreds more to stay elsewhere. We didn't have any major complaints for the price. We tipped here and there but not every time. Judy cleaned our room and was pleasant (we tipped her everyday!).

Room Tip: Even numbers have balconies.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Garry W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Drummondville PQ
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2013

Food is food in Varadero. At Sunbeach : Simple, zero gastronomy but good. If you like to party, good place for you. Animation is so loud, forget going to bed early. Party is like in your room until 11pm. If you want to stay in bed late in the morning, forget it, dogs are barking all around the hotel starting at 7. 80% of the rooms have no balcony. Even if you ask for a room with a balcony when you make your reservations, you'll probably won't have one when you get there. If you argue with them night and day, you might end up changing rooms in the middle of the week if you're lucky. First room we got was really small on the 8th floor. Was not clean either. Second room was bigger and a bit cleaner. No smiles from staff unless you tip like crazy. You pay cheap, you get cheap. Go at the beach early to get your towels. This guy disapears constantly. I got my beach towel 3 days later. Not enough chairs for everyone, neither at the beach or at the pool. Personnaly, I thougt Villa Lamar was cheap but it's still much better there than Sunbeach. If I go back to Varadero, I'll go again to Villa Lamar. Be drunk at all times, you'll like Sunbeach. Good luck !

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Annsab
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Varadero hotels

montreal
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed March 6, 2013

We paid just under 600$ per person for the all-inclusive package, this doesn't even come out to 100$ a day!!! Although not perfect, I would be ashamed to complain considering everything that it includes but here are the facts:
We were 6 adults in 3 rooms, had each requested queen bed with balcony and fridge. The hotel was full; therefore, after 3 attempts of request, we gave up since the customer service at the front desk was the most careless employees of the hotel. The first two told us to come back the next morning and wrote our room numbers on a random piece of paper but that was obviously useless. The third was just very rude to us. Not ideal but the single bed are still large enough for each couple to sleep together. Otherwise, very decent size of room and bathroom.
Yes, the hotel itself is very old, but it doesn't mean that it is dirty: there are few stains sometimes on the towels and even on the bedsheets, but they are clean.
My expectations for the food was extremely low, having read the reviews and everyone complaining that you don't eat as well in Cuba as in Mexico or the Dominican Republics, but I was pleasantly surprised. They had fresh bread, great fruit juices, amazing burgers and croque monsieur for lunch and great meats (try their sauce at the cooking station!) for supper.
Some might complain that the service for the burgers and croque monsieur too slow. It's not McDonald's and you are on vacation, so just sit back and relax!
I was missing my fries with the burgers but then again, I ate so much, it's probably better for my weight that they didn't have any! We even ate the salads and fruits without getting sick.
Pizzeria was ok, but I rather eat their local cuisine at the buffet.
I'm not a coffee drinker, but heard that it was not good at the buffet. Go to the lobby bar, they have a coffee machine. I drank one every day with coffee liqor, amazing!
Chips are also very rare, a copy of Pringles would cost you 4 CUC.
Drinks are good. No mojitos when they don't have mint; however they were our best mojitos compared to the ones we had in 2 other restaurants in Varadero (Coral on the 16th street is worth a try if you are sick of the buffet).
Public restrooms don't always have tissue and soap, but the maid always left us at least 2 to 3 rolls in our room, so carry a roll in your beach bag.
Do not expect any entertainment. It was not necessary for us, but having been to other resorts, the difference is very noticeable. PS bring your own deck of cards, because you will not be able to buy any in Cuba.
The beach was extremely beautiful except when the wind picks up causing big waves, it can wash up all the algae and the water becomes brownish color, but that depends on mother nature!
There were quite many cats (at least a dozen) in the garden area. I guess they stick around because everyone feeds them. Having the worse phobias and bad allergies of cats, they didn't quite bother me here.
Soap bar provided but no shampoo. Make sure you bring enough shampoo and sunscreen because they are more expensive than at home.
Finally, we also experienced the petrol smell a night or two as other have described. It is quite strong. :(
Overall, out of the 6 of us, 5 would come back to this hotel if cheapest option. However, it is obviously not for everyone. We've stayed in hostels in India, Vietnam, Turkey, so this was far from our worst experience compared to others.
Hope this helps!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
10 Thank adrenalineMontreal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
\wooler, Ontario
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed February 19, 2013

After much discussion our group decided to stay at the Sunbeach Hotel in downtown Varadero, Cuba. I think we got what we paid for: clean rooms, clean hotel, decent food, free use of non-motorized water craft and use of a beautiful beach that went on for miles. It is hard to explain that the beach, water and sky look exactly like the pictures. The water is clean and calm most of the time. We enjoyed several rides on the catamaran and once in a kayak. These were all included even in this 3 star hotel. The walk to the beach is very pleasant but you do have to cross the street. The food was fair, some things better than others. Every day you could have an omelet made just for you and fresh bread, buns, croissants and fruit. Every meal someone at the table would have something really good. This compensated for the items that were prepared a little differently than we are used to. We received great service in the restaurant and it never seemed really busy so we could meet our friends and sit wherever we wanted. We enjoyed being able to walk on the street even in the evenings. We could easily meet up with friends who were at another hotel. We enjoyed shopping in the stalls and little markets. The city bus ride was great too for 5 paesos. Changing over your money was a little awkward as you had to get to the bank at 34th street during business hours and bring your passport. The hotel did not have this service. I am not sure if this is a new law or what. The main advice I would give to any traveller is to count your change and make any arrangement involving money very clear before you get in the taxi or horse and buggy or whatever. Some people want to get what they can from the tourists. Be assertive. (Lesson to self). We took a taxi to and from International Hotel when we went for a show without a problem. The hotel did not provide much interesting entertainment at night. We made our own fun. I think this place is in a great location and it is fine for anyone who loves the beach and wants to enjoy the sights and sounds of Cuba.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with a balcony and fridge. They have these but not in all rooms.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
9 Thank ohohoh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamilton, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed February 15, 2013

Well, i must say that everything went very smooth here, like most people i read the reviews first and had my worries. Arrived at lunch hour, check in went great. You have to pay two pesos a day for your safe and it is a key, but no worries for us the cleaning lady was great and we always felt safe just leaving the key tucked in a bag somewhere. Had a room on the fifth floor, elevators both worked just fine and lots of hot water. The hotel itself was older but everything a simple traveler would or could want is there for you even a pop machine with beer and a smoke machine in the lobby. The beach is just across the street, very safe to cross, there is a walkway and everybody stops for you. We took cabs to different beaches just to see them on the stretch and i must say that ours was the best. Two great big sand bars right there. Just had the best time in the ocean, it was wavy and i must say WOW so much fun. There is no real rip tide like Cancun so it made you feel safe to play in the waves. Lots of chairs for everybody, not that much shade though, you can kinda shift around with the trees but bring you sunscreen and have fun. As far as the perfect location, yes it was!!! If you are going to see the Cubans and enjoy the markets, restaurants, music, sights and people then this is the spot. You just step out on to the sidewalk and boom it is all there for you. All the cool old cars/cabs, horse drawn buggies and those little scooter cabs. You are in walking distance of many many very good restaurants and little bars to hear great music and as a bonus just next door there is a 24 hour snack place with just the best coffee to help you shake off the rum when you get up. One peso. The coffee at the hotel is weak and i did not care for it. The food at the hotel was not all that bad, as everyone always says anyway it's Cuba. Did not starve and found something to eat every time. We went out a few nights and ate. There is really some good restaurants just around the hotel. Casa de Chef had the best lobster i have had down south and came with great sides and wow can they make a Mojito!!! So over all great location, great beach, not bad at all hotel if you are looking for that kinda vacation. The big resorts are too far away for any fun and are just like little towns of Canadians, but if that is what you like then enjoy the cabbage there and enjoy paying for cabs so enjoy the town.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
9 Thank RandalB3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cascapedia quebec
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
Reviewed January 7, 2013

Just back from a great week at Sunbeach hotel in Varadero.
In general, we had a fun time as we always do at Sunbeach hotel.
The staff is amazing, the rooms are very clean, the food is ok.
I can't comment on the air conditioner because I didn't use it, I went there to be warm.
The blue market next door to the hotel is gone, but is being rebuilt.
No more vendors on the beach.
The Coral restaurant at the beach end of 16th street is great, it has a beach view deck
and the food is really good and great prices.
On 21st street the restaurant La Vaca Rosada is a upper deck open air place that
opens in the evenings. This place is really worth going to for a lovely evening of dining at great prices.
Thank you to all the staff at Sunbeach for making our stay so enjoyable again..
see you all in March.

Room Tip: a few extra pesos
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
12 Thank fiddlehead56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed December 30, 2012

I'll be upfront. Although my wife and I had a great time at Bellevue Sunbeach, I will not recommend this place to anyone that is :

- first time visiting Cuba ,Varadero
- traveling with family with kids

This hotel is fine for those who know Varadero, the hotel and it's location, or for those who are really on a small budget.

My wife and I are not Varadero/Cuba newbie.

What we liked:
- location. Fantastic beach in front of hotel. Lots of places you can walk to in the area, such as souvenir shops, bars, restaurants,banks.
- great hotel staffs.
- location , yes, we just love that stretch of the beach.

What we didn't like:
- the recently relaxed Cuban law allows guest to bring local registered guests into the hotel. This led to a lot of seediness at this premise as we have witnessed during our stay.And ' a lot' is an understatement. We do hope the management will crack down on these things. These seediness always lead to all sorts of other problems at the hotel if management or government does not act on it pronto.
- some management type aggressively flirted with married hotel guests at restaurant, in front of their spouse. We know and understand latino culture, but that was just too much. No respect whatsoever ... hope that particular manager is no longer there or anywhere else.

Prior to booking, we know the location and the star ratings of the hotel, so there were few surprises other than the above.

Our room was clean, and actually quite spacious. Air con leaking was quickly fixed by the maid.

Restaurant food acceptable. Attentive staffs. Yes, we tip them 1 CUC per seating.

Street side rancho snacks acceptable. You can't get beer there though. Pool side bar is the only place to get beer, other than the restaurant. Lobby bar is fine, coffee, juice, and hard liquor only.

Beach bar is fine, for picking up drinks for the beach.

We did not use the pool.

This hotel actually had it's glory. Years ago in the early 90's, it used to be called Villamar, with it's famous disco on the top floor. I was lucky enough to experience that. It was fun..... and that was then. That part of the building is not being used anymore other than the lower floor.

Some info may be useful:

- do not leave valuables alone at the beach. We have seen guests had their belongings stolen from their beach chair. During weekends, beach will be a bit more crowded, keep your eyes open. The police patrolling the beach will tell you the same.

- hotel is located on the main street ( Avenida Primera ) and Calle 17.

- Lai Lai, the Chinese restaurant is just across the street.

-there is no currency exchange booth at the hotel. You either walk to hotel Aguazul a couple blocks away to change money , or walk 15 to 20 min along the main street to the bank on calle 32. Bank opens Sunday. Rate was 1 CAD to .975 CUC.

- Rincon Bellamar, the rancho restaurant across the street from the hotel serves lobster tail dinner. About 14.50 CUC including 1 drink. National beer 2 CUC each.

- very difficult to buy lighters there. I had to use cigars matches, 2 CUC a box ..... LOL.

- for souvenirs, they tend to be more expensive at the artisan markets which you will find plenty along the main street. We got ours from other street stores. Between the hotel and the bank at calle 32, you will see quite a few of them. Straw hats 3 CUC each. Crochet dress 9 CUC and up.

- bottle water 2L , 75 cents CUC each at local corner stores. A can of Crystal beer is 1 CUC. ( 2 CUC a can at hotels )

- 1.50 CUC hotdog, and 1.50 CUC can of soft drinks at the little snack place outside next to the hotel.

- late check out was supposed to be 20 CUC. The friendly front desk staff only charged us 18.

- Beer outside airport is 2 or 5 CUC.

- Cigars inside the airport, inside the gate, are cheaper than in town. So buy your habanos before boarding.
- At the airport, a can of pop 3 CUC, small can pringle chips 3.50 CUC, Cuban ground coffee 5 - 7.50 CUC a pack, Havana Club 7 year rum 11.50 CUC.

If you are visiting Varadero for the first time, book something newer up along the stretch.

We stayed there in September.

Have a nice trip.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
24 Thank YYZ-Danny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Gran Caribe Sunbeach

Property: Hotel Gran Caribe Sunbeach
Address: Calle 17 e/ 1ra y 3ra, Varadero 42200, Cuba (Formerly Sun Beach by Excellence Style Hotels)
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#35 Top resorts Hotel in Varadero
#38 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 272
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Gran Caribe Sun Beach's Hotel is an inclusive hotel, 3 stars of category. Property of Gran Caribe's Company. An economic hotel located to the entrance of Varadero 80 m from the beach, beside the biggest commercial center of Artesany of the peninsula. 15 minutes from the airport of Varadero. Has 4 bars, 2 restaurants, comfortable rooms with hot water, air conditioning, activities and shows at night. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bellevue Sunbeach Hotel Varadero
Hotetur Sunbeach Hotel
Resort All Inclusive Hotetur Sunbeach

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