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Reviewed March 14, 2008

My bf and I were at PPDM February 25 - March 3, 2008. We flew out of Edmonton direct flight into Varadero with Conquest Vacations on Sky Service. Sky Service has older planes, no individual TV's with satellite tv. other than that, it was pretty good. the flight there we were delayed a bit but on the way back we were early an hour! the way back was excellent with Sky Service. This is my 3rd all inclusive vacation (Cancun, Dominican Republic) i love to come on trip advisor before my trips to read about potential resorts so here is my lengthy and honest review.

Arriving in Varadero, we waited in the customs line for a good while. be sure to fill out everything on the plane cuz one couple we seen got booted to the back of the line because they forgot to fill out the back part. the customs lady asked my boyfriend a whole load of questions then finally let him through the door, then my turn came and all she asked me was if i was going to marry him! lol THAT'S IT! and then she let me through. (i don't know if it meant anything but i was last in line- maybe she was tired lol)

We didn't get a chance to exchange money at the airport like i wanted because we were the last in line so we didn't want the others waiting for us. the line was HUGEEE at the money exchange place and beware, it's on the OTHER side when u go outside. anyway, the rate was just a little bit better than the hotel so just change it at the hotel. we found the rep and she told us which # bus to get on for Princesa Del Mar (what i found everyone there called the resort) PPDM is 2nd last on the strip so we had to drop everyone off first (about 40min? for us) and honestly, we stopped at about 4/5 different resorts to drop ppl off and Paradisus Princesa is one of if not the best looking/cleanest looking one. This is true because as the week went by we went to alot of the hotels to pick up/drop off ppl for the day tours and i got to get a good look at all of the hotels more than once.

My first choice was Iberostar Varadero because it's #1 on tripadvisor but they didnt' have any rooms available for the dates we wanted so I chose Paradisus Princesa and boy am I glad Iberostar was not available for us! Paradisus Princesa Del Mar was everything I expected and MORE.

Check-in was so quick and organzied!!! wow! we didn't get welcome drinks/wet towels like i saw some ppl get the days after us but that was ok. they had everything all organized and ready in envelopes and when we got there we (group of 6 from edmonton) were led to a table by the front desk (no lining up!) and there she gave us our envelopes and explained everything. the check-in was done, so quick and easy. they DO take ur passports overnight. we left it there and picked it up the next morning no problem. then the guys drove us on the golf carts with our luggage to our buildings. we were in the 'Holgiun Building' (room #4215) 2nd level, the beach/ocean was right behind our building, and the main lobby and restaurants and pool was just a short short walk away. it was the perfect building.

The room was pretty clean (could be cleaner for me) but it was ok, we're on vacation! Room is very spacious with comfy king bed and the bathroom very spacious as well. i quite liked the bathroom, it was very clean. The AC was very powerful! we had to turn it off or down every night. The water pressure of the shower was pretty good, hot water at all times for us. the water pressure of the sink was very weak but the toilet flush was good. :D the balcony was also very big! we had partial ocean view which was nice and we had full lagoon view which wasn't so nice haha the lagoon at times was pretty smelly. Our maid Keiza was awesome, she cleaned our room whenever we asked and put fresh flowers almost every time. (no towel art though, boohoo) we gave her a tip every other day. one night my bf had some kind of food poisoning and he threw up in his sleep! on the bed! and ran to the bathroom so there was a trail of it to the bathroom and the toilet was a mess and our maid Keiza cleaned everything so nicely!!! we went to look for her the day after to apologize for the huge mess and she greeted us with a smile still and said no problemo and this was before we gave her a huge tip for it. she was awesome! i also gave her a whole bunch of gifts (toothpaste, deoderant, shavers, band aids, sunglasses, baseball caps, etc) at the end of our stay.

I was very concerned with using my hair straightener and charging electronics there so i bought a power converter and adapters at Canadian Tire for $25. Tried to use my hair straightener and it did not work at all there so I had frizzy hair the whole time. oh well. but everything else (my nintendo DS, portable DVD player, camera charger) worked. their outlets are 220V whereas ours is 110V in Canada. but most electronics are 110V-240V so it worked on all the plugs there. everything except the DS (the DS is 120V only) butttt luckily the plug on the hairdryer in the washroom was 110 or 120V and it said 'for shavers only' we plugged in the DS anyway and it charged for us so yay! so dont' worry about the outlets unless u have hair straightener or curler.

The grounds of the hotel are beautiful. I love the layout of this resort, it wasn't too too big but it wasn't small. walking was nothing, you definately don't need golf carts to get around. everything was close by. it was so clean everywhere, i was impressed! immaculate. there were hammocks everywhere throughout the resort which was so nice. The pool looked nice but we never got a chance to swim in it at all. the loungers were ALWAYS taken, ALWAYS! i swear people put their towels on them the night before or something. the pool is a bit small though compared to alot of places i've been to.

Beach was beautiful. the sand was a little grainy at some places but nothing too noticeable. there weren't that many huts and they were almost always taken of course. we went late in the afternoon almost evening one time and there were some available. there is also a 'private beach area' for hill top guests only and there were always free huts over there! i've only seen one couple there the whole time i was there. it was so tempting to go over there and use their huts lol but there were security guards everywhere. we didnt' get to swim in the ocean either at all cuz the week we were there there was one day (wednesday) where it rained and rained and then the days after that was really windy and not as nice. :(

Main Buffet Gran Terrazza was really good. we ate there everyday even though we ate at the a la cartes too! there was lots of food to choose from, my favorite was the fresh fish and shrimp station the nice ladies cook for you. 2 out of the 7 days we were there, there was lobster. it was sooo yummy. Sunday was seafood night and there was everything! the food is of course a little bland but nothing salt and pepper won't fix! they also have tobasco sauce and steak sauce. the service at the buffet was hit or miss. we had alot of servers who we would only see at the beginning when ordering our drinks and that's it. no refills, no nothing. you have to wave them down to get a refill in those small cups. a few times (3 or 4) we had really good service and they would refill our cups without asking and was there anytime i needed anything. we rarely tipped at the buffet but when we had good service we gave alot. breakfast and lunch was really good at the buffet. Every night at dinner there was live music too, the guys were good and the lady that sang one time was good too.

Remember to book your a la cartes as soon as you can! we booked it the next morning since we came in the evening the night before and the lady was closed. you book it in the room beside front desk or there's a desk by the lobby bar where u can do it too. almost every restaurant was fully booked but we managed to get booked for 4 a la cartes: Bamboo Oriental, Firenze Italian, Marseille French, and Sakura Japanese. We didn't bother booking the Cuban Rockhouse cuz it was closed every other day and nothing was available and i read on here that the food wasn't good. All our reservations were for 9pm or later so be sure to book early! they go by fast. I was concerned about the dress code for men before I went so here are the rules: "Long pants and shirts with collars are required. No beach sandals, jeans or tank tops." someone told me it had to be closed toe shoes which i was worried about but my boyfriend wore dressier white leather flip flops and polo shirts and it was fine. as long as you don't look like a beach bum they are fine with it i'm guessing.

Bamboo Oriental was horrible. we're Asian so of course it won't be up to par for us but i am not picky at all. and everyone we met/talked to at the resort said Bamboo was horrible and they did not like it there at all. service was soooo slow (they only had 2 for the whole packed place) they forgot one of my appetizers but i didn't want to wait forever for it so i didn't remind him. i had the chicken curry (it was ok) and my boyfriend had the bubblegum. (what he calls it lol) the beef. it was horrible. we got ice cream and fruit for desert. After Bamboo we went straight to the Buffet and ate some more! lol

Firenze Italian was pretty good. the service was awesome, the wine was good, the food was pretty good. i forget what we had for appetizers but i had the raviolo (you get 3) it was ok and my bf got the seafood rice which was SOOOOO YUMMY. we had chocolate cake for desert, i wanted tiramisu but they ran out. overall it was pretty good.

Marseille French we didn't get a chance to try because we took a nap and missed our reservation! was dissapointed at that because i heard it was one of the best a la cartes there. pooey.

Sakura Japanese was THE best!!! we eat japanese all the time at home here and of course it doesn't compare but compared to everything at the resort, Sakura had the yummiest tastiest food! (yay for soy sauce and hoisin sauce lol) we had sushi rolls for appetizer and then we both had chicken, beef and seafood with rice. actually everyone pretty much had the same thing cuz the chef would ask you if you wanted to try this and that. also, the ambience/environment was so awesome it made the food really good. you are seated with 3 other couples (U shape table with chef in the middle) and he cooks for you and stuff. but we were all so busy talking and having a good time we barely noticed the poor chef. it was a great way to make friends and drink good wine and eat good food! we had sooo much fun at Sakura. Service was really good too. we tipped both the server and the chef. we had such a good time!

24 hour Raquet Club is small but good enough. the service there is the best out of all the places in our opinion. we tipped the most here. maybe becuase it was smaller and less busy than the buffet. we ate here almost everyday too, especially at night or when nowhere else was open yet (3-6pm) the fish and chips was really good! so were the baguettes (especially the Cuban one) the hamburgers weren't bad either. there was a full bar there too so drinks anytime.

Port Royal Beach Grill we never had a chance to go to cuz it was either really busy or closed. But we heard from ppl that it wasn't good and the service sucked so we were glad we didnt' get to go.

They had shows at the resort every night. it's posted near the front desk and by the pool and you get a copy of it in ur envelope when you check in. It was nice to have something to do/watch every night. My favorite was the Water Ballet show (monday night) and the acrobatic show. We didn't have really good weather so alot of the shows which are usually done in the main square were moved to downstairs in Captain Morgan's Disco. Most of the performers are really really talented and they were a joy to watch! we went to the disco one night and it wasn't very happenin' so we left.

We hung out in the main square alot after dinners. They have live band there every evening which was really awesome. They were really good and played good songs. you can order drinks from a server there too. Our 2nd favorite was the lobby bar, nice and quick service there. We didnt' go to the Piano Bar (too small and dark for us in there) or the Cigar Bar. The gift shop was nice to look in but you can find everything at the flea market or at the airport gift shops (where we bought everything) for cheaper. There was also a 2 pool tables and 2 ping pong tables and a fooseball table. we played pool and ping pong almost everyday. it was fun.

One day we decided to go into downtown Varadero. We waited in front of the hotel for a taxi and waited and waited. Then we met a couple who was gonna bus there like they did the other day ($5 day pass for bus) so we were gonna go on the bus too since we were waiting so long for a taxi. then a wholee bunch of ppl came to wait for the bus too and 2 buses passed by but they were FULL TO THE MAX like sardines. the busdriver waved no meaning too full so we got fed up and got the front desk to call us a taxi and we shared a taxi to town (about 20min). it was $15 CUC. be sure to ask the driver how much first cuz we heard fares from $14 - $17 CUC. The flea market in Varadero was small but we did buy a few things like a hat, coconut monkey, etc. we walked across the street to the public beach which was beautiful too. then we had lunch at this place right by the beach and the food was not that great. i had steak with rice and beans and plantains? and my bf had the pork steak with rice, etc. it wasn't that great but it was neat trying food outside of the resort. then we took a taxi and headed back. i told the taxi driver 'Paradisus Princesa" and he took us to the other Paradisus resort! there i was laughing and told him 'No. Paradisus Princesa Del Mar' and he was like 'ohhhh Princesa Del Mar!' so yeah i noticed they all call PPDM 'Princesa Del Mar' luckily he was nice and laughing about it too.

We did 3 tours.

Catamaran to Cayo Blanco - (Seafari Cayo Blanco) $75 CUC per person. It was ok, kind of boring for us. We got picked up around 8:15am. Bring ur towels, sunscreen, a book, and snacks! the boat ride was awesome. the day before it had rained so the waters weren't that calm yet. we stopped and did some swimming and snorkelling. not much snorkelling though cuz it was still wavy so i dind't see anytihng. i swam for a bit though and the water was cold but nice. You get free lunch on the island but they also offered a plate of lobster with toast on the way there for $10 CUC . so my bf and i each got a plate and it was pretty good. we were hungry so that helped. alot of ppl didn't know about that and they didn't bring any money at all. i mean why wouldn't u bring even a little bit of money with you just in case? even for tipping the tour guides or bartenders. there was also music and open bar (rum punch, beer or pop) on the catamaran. then we went to Cayo Blanco Island and stopped there for about 3hours. lunch was served there buffet style, had to line up in the sun. it was ok, there was rice, fruits, veggies and the guy gave you 2 shrimps and 2 little lobster pieces and you get free drinks (beer or pop). i had a pina colada and it was $2? CUC. then you hang out on the island till you meet back on the boat to go back. the island looked nicer in pictures and the beach was very dirty with lots of seaweed and stuff. again, not sure if it was because it was raining and really wavy the day before and they didn't get chance to clean it.? we did go into the water and u can walk very far and the water will still be up to ur thigh at most. we suntanned for a bit there and got a nice tan and then headed back. it was a bit boring and long on Cayo Blanco Island. Headed back and got onto a dirty bus for a 1 minute ride to the Dolphin Aquarium. I opted not to 'swim with the dolphins' cuz I did that in Punta Cana before but i regret not doing it here! in Punta Cana, we got to pet the dolphins in a pool, play a bit with them then they pulled me across the pool on their fin thing and i got 3 pictures with the dolphin. here in Varadero, the dolphins are in a gated lagoon/sea area so NO POOL! and i was watching the ppl swim with dolphins and here you have 2 dolphins, one on each of ur feet and together they hoist you up and glide you in the air!!! it was so fun watching them do it and i regret not getting that with our package but oh well. the rest of us (majority) watched the really quick but cute dolphin show. before the show anyone who wanted to gets a chance to line up and go pet the dolphin and take a pic (with your own camera) for a good 40min? so that was nice, u didn't have to pay for that. i didnt' do that though cuz the line was soooo long and i was so tired and burnt out from the sun all day. then you get on the bus and go back to ur resort. PPDM sucks cuz ur always the last ones to get off the bus and the first ones to get picked up. ;D Got back to the resort around 6:30pm?

Havana Colonial - $67 CUC per person. We decided to do this one, the half day one because we didnt' want to see the Tropicana Show and didn't want to come back to the hotel at 2:30am. We got picked up 7:45am and went to pick up everyone else (ALOT of ppl at ALOT of different hotels) this took about an hour and a half. Then off we went to Havana! it was about a 2 n half hour ride on the nice clean AC'ed bus. Our tour guide was nice, not excellent but good enough. We did a walking tour of Old Havana first (soooooo beautiful) i loved the buildings, everything! then we got a chance to shop at the huge flea market for about an hour. my bf and I didn't shop and just sat in the park right beside the market in some shade cuz it was getting really hot. this lady came and sat beside us for the longest eating her lunch, we thought she was some normal lady who kept staring at us. then a kid comes up to us and asks for money and we give him $2. he leaves then the lady is still looking at us shyly and quietly the whole time. we had a feeling she wanted money but we didn't wanna give it to her cuz what if we offended her by doing so? cuz she did look like a normal lady having lunch at the park. then after awhile she got up and we heard her call someone, we look over and it was her son the kid we gave money to! hahaha she got up, called him over and both of them left. it was so funny. tag team or what, luckily we didn't give her money too. SOOO many kids came up to us and asked for money. we did give them money because we like to give even though we know what happens. and yup. a whole bunch of kids come up to you after you give one. it was ok until we got up to leave and i swear a whole swarm of them came after us like we were britney spears!!! this one girl STUCK HER HAND IN MY PURSE!!! that was where we drew the line. i yelled a firm NO! and pushed them away and my bf grabbed my hand and led me to the bus. one kid we said no to gave us the finger!!!! how rude! hahaha even on the bus nice and safe there were ppl outside looking in at us with their hands out. it was crazy i tell ya! i've been to Vietnam and it wasn't as bad as this! lol Also, in old Havana the tour guide brought us to this shop to buy authentic cigars and coffee and rum. it's a small place and really crowded and busy but we managed to get Cohibas (the best they said) a box of 25's the medium sized ones we got for $216 CUC. They say Cohibas are the best, then Monte Crisco? then Romeo y Julieta. Those are the top 3. we also got a bottle of 10yr old Havana Club rum for $29.95 CUC. but u don't have to get them here because at the airport they have lots of cigar stores with the same cigars for the same price.

then we took a short bus ride to the area between old Havana and new Havana to have lunch. It was a set lunch and you can either choose from chicken, pasta or pizza. and you get ONE free drink (either pop or beer). alot of ppl didn't hear this so they ordered water or another beer and were billed and didn't have money on them. so we gave a couple $3 to pay for his water cuz he dindt have money. so again, always remember to bring even a few dollars with you just in case! some other guy i seen had to use his credit card which is gonna charge him a 11% surcharge or whatever for his $2 pop lol. my bf and i both had the chicken which was delicious! soooo good. it came with a side of pasta and cabbage and bread. it was really good. then we headed to Christopher Columbus Cemetary, the largest in North America. it was beautiful, all the grand monuments. we stayed there for about 15min. u could either get off the bus and explore a bit or stay on. we stayed on the bus. then off we went to the Revolution Square where u can stay on the bus as well or get out and take a picture with/of CHE on the building. I think we were the only ones that got off the bus haha. then off to new Havana we went. new Havana was not as pretty as old Havana and it was kind of dirty. It was so neat people watching on the bus though. Lots of people and lots of neat stuff. We stopped at Capital Building for a bit, we sat on the steps where more kids asked for money but we were so tired we just said no. Then we hopped back on the AC'ed bus and waited for the rest of the ppl to get on and back we went. we dropped everyone off and we got back to PPDM around 6:30pm. so not too bad! we really enjoyed the day trip to Havana. It was really neat hearing about everything, our tour guide was quite informative.

Jeep Safari - $73 CUC per person. Hands down, THE BEST excursion! picked up at 8:15am? by bus. luckily we met this couple from our resort who was also doing the jeep safari so we paired up with them (4 to a jeep) my boyfriend drove (standard) they didnt' ask for driver's license or anything and didn't give us rules like speed limit, etc. we drove on the streets, through Matanzas town, everywhere! it was awesome. there were about 7 other jeeps and we had to follow the guide. if u dont drive standard or choose not to drive they have 3 guides that will drive too. first we drove through the back roads which were really bumpy and fun! then we drove to Canimar River where we got on speed boats (4 to a boat) and they gave u quick lesson how to start, stop, steer the boat. speed boating down Canimar River was sooooooo much fun! the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. the couple we met, the guy drove and he was such a clown driving fast at times so it was fun. we did that for about 45min? and had some free time there about 30min. there, my bf and i walked out of the gates because we seen a kid fishing by himself. we went up to him and he spoke NO english at all and we spoke NO spanish at all but we still managed to communicate and he taught my bf how to fish without a stick and he showed us how he skinned the fishes he caught and it was the best moment we had there. i got videos of him teaching my bf how to throw the line in and i also got a picture with him. :) we gave him a bag of goodies (thanks to tripadvisor i brought a whole bunch of goodies (candies, gum, notebook, pencils, erasers, pens, sharpeners, sunglasses, hats, etc) in ziploc bags for the kiddies we would see in town) and we also gave him $5. he was speechless, it was so awesome. he didn't expect it cuz he didn't ask us for money, we just have it to him and we were sad we didn't get to spend more time with him.

next was supposed to be snorkelling at this bay but we didn't get to go because the waters were still wavy and not calm enough for snorkelling. so instead they brought us into the town of Matanzas and there we drove through the whole city and visited this peak to take some pictures. it was there where i gave away all my goodies to the kids. we drove through the whole town, through the homes too and alot of kids ran out to wave to us and that is where i threw out all my ziploc bags of goodies. we didnt' stop but we drove slowly and was able to hand most of them out. there were SOOOOOOOO many kids that in the end i had nothing left to give out to the more unfortunate kids on the outskirts of Matanzas town. :( i brought a whole backpack full and it wasn't enough, next time i will bring more. (keep in mind usually driving to Matanzas is not part of Jeep Safari unless you can't go snorkelling) there were still kids you get to see too that were not in Matanzas but not as much. I'm glad we got to do Matanzas instead, you get to see how they really live. loved it!

next we drove to a coffee plantation where we had lunch buffet style. it was traditional cuban 'country' food they said. it was ok. beef, yams, plantains?, red n yellow peppers, soup and ice cream. we hung out there for about an hour after. (it was kind of boring) you got to kind of horseback ride around the farm if you wanted. no one went though. next we went to the cave to swim and snorkel! it was really spooky in there and pretty small and alot of people. i went in for a bit just so i can say i swam in a cave! lol it was really pokey lots of rocks on your feet so be careful. i didnt' snorkel but alot of ppl said u couldn't see anything. its shallow on both ends but really really deep in the middle. after about 5min in there it was too spooky for us so we went upstairs to wait. then we drove back and that's it! it was an awesome excursion! loved it alot and would do it again.

Their money (traveler's convertible peso) is more than our CAD. when we were there for $100 CAD i think we got about $77 CUC. it changes almost everyday so u can exchange what u need everyday if you want. they have $1 coins then $3 bills and $5, $10, $20, etc. the bank at PPDM is very convenient, it's open 9am - 9pm everyday. a couple we met said they went to the bank in Varadero downtown and the rate they got was not as good as at our hotel's even though everyone said it would be. we never bothered changing anywhere else other than at the resort.

We met sooo many nice people at the resort, which made our vacation that much better. During our week there we made really good friends with 2 of the cooks at the buffet. they would always cook our food for us with a smile and on our last night, we gave them each $25 CUC and each a bag of goodies for their kids and for them (toiletries, sunglasses, caps, etc) and the lady cried. :( it was awesome. and the guy was so appreciative, we both took pics with them. ;) the gardener was also super nice to us the whole week so at the end we gave him money and a cap and gardener gloves. those 3 and our chambermaid were soooo nice, we loved them. but to be honest, other than those 4 ppl, we found overall service in the Dominican Republic and Cancun much better than here.

i brought mosquitoe/bue repellent and after bite and didn't use them at all! i did not get bit once! amazing! a lady i met got bit a few times so i guess it just depends. bring repellent in case.

We also got the VIP lounge at the airport for $20 CUC a person. We were the first to check in (special line) and the rep led us to pay the $25 CUC each to leave Cuba. Remember to have that! and then we went through customs (a breeze) and then into the VIP lounge where it was nicely AC'ed and we got to sit on leather couches and have TV's and free drinks, chips, snacks (crakcers, cheese n ham) I thought it was worth it but my bf didn't really think it was that great. We went upstairs to shop for souveniers (there are quite alot of shops!) and also a money exchange booth too. The prices were pretty reasonable at the airport and the cigars were the same price as we bought in Havana. The rum was a little cheaper in Havana though. We were first to board the plane too being VIP and it was awesome! Sky Service left an hour early and our flight was nice and fast. The only bad thing was we were stopped and had our luggage checked at Customs here in Edmonton. what a waste of time. out of all the times i travelled, this was the first time. 2 other young guys were checked too. they went through every single thing in our luggage and asked stupid questions. we weren't scared cuz we didnt' do anything wrong; it was just a waste of time. (took an hour) then i had to repack everything and they let us go.

Overall we had a wonderful wonderful time!!! wished we had an extra day or 2 to enjoy the resort more. we were hardly ever at the gorgeous resort and never got to swim in the pool or the ocean. the weather was only hot on the first 2 days and then crappy the rest of the week but that didn't ruin our vacation. it was windy but hot which was good for me. another thing i loved was that there were no kids!!!! it was so nice and quiet. it was our first time at an adults-only resort, i would book adults only every time if i could! another thing, we were one of the youngest there (we're 26 & 27) the whole time and the only asian people there for the first half of the week LOL everyone was 40+ at least and alot of people from europe. definately a relaxing and beautiful resort, we hope to go back in a few years and will definately stay at this resort again for sure!!!

Any questions or to see more pics please feel free to message me!

Date of stay: February 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
13  Thank hotpeenk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 12, 2008

Stayed at this resort the week of February 25, 2008. Travelled with a group of 12 people ranging in age from late 30's to mid 70's. This is an adult only resort.

Arrival at airport went smoothly and fairly quick. You can cash in some Canadian money directly at the airport if you want to tip your bus driver, otherwise most hotels will exchange your money for tourist pesos.

Hotel pick up was with a nice grey coach bus. Took about an hour to get to our hotel as we had to drop off passengers to other hotels on the way.

Upon arrival to the hotel we were greeted with a mojito (local drink). Hotel check-in was a bit of a nightmare. Lack of and unexperienced staff did not know how to check us in. We were asked to leave our passports, which we refused, and concierge had to write down all our passport information. What for, we had no idea. This took a while to do as there was only one person checking everyone in and there was a line up of 20 people waiting!

After being checked in we were driven to our rooms on a golf cart. The rooms were spacious with walk out patio on the main level. There is a mini fridge in your room which the hotel is supposed to stock on a daily basis free of charge. We had to remind them to restock it on occasion. The tv works, but the movie stations are limited. The same movies played over and over again all week. Bed is firm and comfortable, although others did not agree. Due to the high humidity your sheets feel damp. There is also a little sitting area with a love seat and chair. Bathroom has a blowdryer and phone. Don't forget to bring a power converter if you plan on plugging in anything in, ie shaver, curling iron. Your room also has a safe and ironing board and iron. Don't bother upgrading to the VIP section of rooms; they back onto a lagoon and it smells. We stayed in the 1100 building which was closest to the beach.

Long, white sandy beach with rows of huts and lounge chairs. Be sure to reserve your spot early! Most people go down in the wee morning hours and leave their towels. There is also a beach bar and water activities centre.

There is only one pool in the centre of the complex, but it is very big. Water was nice the first couple of days, but then it seemed to get colder. Again, there are lots of lounge chairs and umbrellas but reserve them early! Pool has a swim up bar.

Restaurants are good. Daily buffet restaurant has breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food selection was good; fresh fish grilled on site, chicken, beef, pork, pasta bar, pizza, salad bar, fresh bread, rolls & dessert bar. We like our coffee HOT so ended up ordering cappachinos everyday; they were hot; regular coffee was lukewarm. Make sure you reserve at the a-la-carte restaurants right away or you won't be able to get in. There is limited seating and they fill up quickly. We ate at the Chinese, Italian, French; never made it into the Japanese restaurant. Our favourite was the French restaurant. The racquet club also has good food and is good for a quick bite.

Nightly entertainment was not the greatest. Depends what you are looking for in a vacation. They have a piano bar, cigar lounge and disco. We frequented the piano bar for evening cocktails, but the disco was empty. They do have your typical tropical shows, but they are over in an hour. Note: there is no lack of alcohol in the drinks!

There is a gift shop on site and a local vendor who comes in almost every evening with paintings, sculptures and jewellery. Don't leave your souvenir shopping for the airport; there is not much to chose from; better buy it at the hotel or take a day trip into town or Havana.

Weather was perfect the first few days - hot and sunny. We did end up with some rain mid week which brought in some windy weather, but still nice overall.

Check out when smoothly and we were picked up on time. Airport was a nightmare when we arrived, with line ups for all the check in counters out the door. Be prepared for a long wait! Make sure you have your tourist visa and $25 pesos to get out of the country.

A word of advice, if you have room in your luggage on the way down, take down extra toiletry items or clothing, the locals really appreciate it. In fact most prefer it over tips as these items are limited and expensive.

Overall trip was good and I would definitely go back to Cuba again.

Date of stay: February 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled on business
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4  Thank MRGroup
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 10, 2008

I am Natalie's friend who wrote a review also, but she forgot to mention one thing. We took the Catamaran excursion one day which was a lot of fun. But... the lobster lunch you'll get is not very big. The pieces of lobster (2) are very very small. But... they do give you the option of getting a couple more full beautiful lobster tails for $10. If we knew this, I would have brought money and unfortunately on that day, we didn't.

After the more recent reviews here, I wouldn't recommend for anyone to go to this Hotel, or even Varadero. I'm going back to the Mayan Riviera where the food and service surpasses your imagination.

Date of stay: March 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled with friends
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3  Thank LucyOttawa_Ontario
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2008

I wanted so bad to come home and write a positive review, but there is no way. Read these reviews very carefully. If people rate it a 5 star they probably went with the Royal Service. If you are booking Junior Suite it is only a 2-3 star resort.

My friend and I usually book 5 star resorts with our husbands and this never even came close. I did stay in a 4 star in Cayo Coco with my kids one year and it was much better than this.
My girlfriend and I decided to leave the guys at home. Thank god, they would not have been impressed.
Also, because 2 girls can have a blast even with bad service, which we did.

Our room was never cleaned except for making the bed and on the first day the maid wanted to go home and not do it, but we caught her in the hall at 6:00 p.m. and told her she had to. The fridge had 2 beers and 2 bottles of water on the first day and were never replaced even after going to the front desk everyday.
Our glasses (which we used) were never replaced either. Even with bad service we decided to leave gifts/tips because we wanted to see some towel art. HAHAAA, never any towel art, we didn't even get clean glasses, so no more tips for her.

Food: I always gain 5-7 pounds on these all inclusives, but I didn't gain one and my girlfriend actually lost 2 because the food was so bad. Near the end of the week I was eating alot of bread because I couldn't find much to eat, so that's why I didn't lose weight. I had egg shell in my omellete the first day. The second day my omellete wasn't cooked very well, so no more omellets for me.
You can't go to the bar in the buffet area to get a drink, you have to wait for them to come to you and then it's usually too late.
The lady serving Spaghetti........I will give $25.00 to whoever can make her smile or even look at you. I will give $50.00 to you if you can get her to talk to you. Well not really, but try the challenge.

The staff: I really don't think they are really happy people. None of them talk to you. They don't smile. Some don't even look at you.
The happiest staff were the gardeners, the salsa teachers and the waitresses in the piano bar. That's about it.
Oh the bartender at the swim up bar laughed one day when we told her there was a piece of someones bubblegum stuck to the inside of our cup.
The music around the pool wasn't as good as the church music I hear when I go to church (not often enough).

Sorry, for sounding so negative, but things were not good.

We met some people around the pool who felt the same way. When we spoke to people in the Royal Service, they were quite impressed.
Other than salsa dancing there were no activities around the pool.
We sat near the volleyball net and never saw it being used once all week.

Positive: The pool area is beautiful. But very quiet. The beach is big and very nice. Some of the shows at night were quite good also.

One more thing, if you are like me and love blender drinks when you go away, well they don't have blenders. My favourite drink is a Banana Mama with real banana.

Bottome line: If you are used to 5 star resorts in Jamaica, Mexico or anywhere else, you will not be very happy at this resort.

p.s. You don't know me, but I am an extremely happy and positive person, not a grump. Just so you know this is the very first negative review I have ever had to write.

Date of stay: March 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled with friends
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9  Thank natamour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 2, 2008

I'm not horribly picky although lots of things bothered me at this "5 star" resort....especially for the price.

Firstly the resort grounds look great, nice gardens, pool is large but shallow.

Staff- Not many all-inclusive staff actually like tourists (what!?...)...but many fake it well enough and make things pleasant...most of the staff here really couldn't care less and really show it....the most helpful people were were the gardners frankly, who's job was not to service the guests.

Food-The one shining star sorta is the Buffet, although one of our friends did get sick for a day, watch out for the sushi.

The buffet has lobster, ready cooked steaks, fish, pasta, etc and is well run....but as for the "a la carte restaurants" most were horrible.

Asian - embarrassingly bad, horrible cold chicken sticks (made me ill that night), dry bad salmon, any take-out asian food place you've even been to is better than this dive.

French- Blech! Considering more than half of the clients here are from Quebec you'd think at least a decent french restaurant would be in order. C'est une horreur!

Itilian- Skipped because of he reviews here about people getting sick

Japanese, Carribean Rock house (Cuban) - Only restaurants worth it. Japanese was best. Don't book anything else, you WILL be dissapointed!

Beach - Nice beach, nice water

Room - Not bad but our cleaner was not great and a mysterious $3 phone charge was put on our account (let it go, didn't feel like arguing for only $3)

***Overall SKIP IT unless you get a great price, under $1000 or less....

Date of stay: February 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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4  Thank JeanFrancois66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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