We have just returned from our 9 day stay at the Iberostar Varadero. First of all, I’d like to say that the staff and the hotel do their very best to accommodate their guests. That being said, I read all of the reviews before booking and I think that many of the reviews have to be planted as they are simply untrue. I will do the pros and cons.
Pros: The staff is absolutely wonderful. Mabel greeted us every time we entered the buffet and had our “special” table for us. One our last day the table was sprinkled with flower petals and the napkins folded like 2 swans. All of our servers seemed to remember the things we liked and anticipated our needs. Susanna was a fantastic server! At the lobby bar, one bartender (I’m sorry I forgot his name, he has a shaved head) always knew what we wanted when we walked in. Even the gardeners knew we were from Canada and would say “Good morning, Canada!” with warm smiles. Our housemaid was Leydeyes (I don’t know if I spelled it correctly) was fantastic! She went out of her way to get us anything we asked for.
The beach is fabulous. I can’t understand anyone that complains. It is shallow and clear for meters. Kids would be completely safe in the water. It is well maintained and groomed daily. There is always some activity going on.
Sunwing does an excellent job of being on site and sorting out any issues you may have. We booked an extra night because the flights to Vancouver are at ungodly hours coming and going. With the extra day, we could stay in our room until midnight to shower, pack, enjoy the beach and nap after dinner before our flight.
Do the Havana day trip. Old Havana is not to be missed. It is a beautiful colonial city. The 2 hour lunch (unnecessary time wasted) and the rude members of our tour group who would not return when they were supposed to cost us a lot of time at the market. The only other thing is the bus stopped to pick up local friends of the driver and guide on the way back to our resorts and drop them off in their various towns and that added time to our day as well and we got back 2 hours late even though we were one of the first hotels they dropped off. You are last in the morning to be picked up for these tours so be prepared to not be able to sit with your companions.
Cons: The food is hit and miss. It gets better as time goes by which means you just adjust to it. The service in the Mediterranean was deplorable. We were the first through the door and our meal was served much later after several families and large groups received theirs and were leaving. The children of a couple families were allowed to eat off the spoons at the buffet and return them to the dishes. One child filled his plate with all the prawns and left nothing for us to try and they did not refill the dish. Not the resorts fault at all but it makes dining an unpleasant experience. The lobster was okay, but if you are a foodie – just be warned the steak is grisly and undercooked. It is probably all they can get and they do their best I am sure. The service and the food at La Parilla was so much better! I had the snapper and my companion had prawn skewers. The buffet is a safe bet anytime, but it can be hit and miss. We had excellent grilled fish and prawns. Again, the children that are allowed to use their hands to eat off the dishes, lick and eat off serving spoons, scoop out ice cream with their hands and eat the sprinkles and syrups with their fingers, drop things on the floor, pick them up with their hands and return them to the serving dishes, ruin it for the adults. Again, not the resorts fault. This will really make me consider an adult only resort next time. Children were also pouring out their drinks from the swim up bar into the pool and eating food in the pool. Again, not the resorts fault.
The drinks are hit and miss. Some bartenders are good, other are not. They do not have a lot of the international liquor that they say they have. No chivas regal, no single malt at all. We settled for Jameson’s. If you enjoy good wine – don’t bother drinking the wine or you will be very disappointed. The beer was okay. Generally, the drinks were as good as the bartenders. There is a great lady at the beach bar who makes awesome Pina coladas with real fruit blended in. I don’t remember her name (see, great Pina Coladas!), but I would generally have to ask for a little less alcohol. The cocktail waitress that came around at the pool was rather rude so I avoided ordering drinks and went directly to the bar or the beach bar.
There is no room service. There was a post saying “it is not to be missed”. It doesn’t exist. There was no welcome bottle of liquor and cigar in our room that we read about and so requested. The food is not fantastic by any stretch of the imagination. This is not luxurious by any standard but it is clean, quiet (Block 17, second floor) and the staff make up for any short comings.
Cigars: If you are coming to buy cigars – avoid the staff or people on the street trying sell you some for a good deal. These can be fake - even with fake government stamps on them. At the reputable vendors in Havana, Varadero, the airport and the hotel – the prices are pretty consistent. We actually found better prices at the hotel for a couple items. We bought our large quantities in Havana and Varadero. Havana is freshest. I f you have any questions on specifics – email me. We bought mainly Cohiba Siglo II, Siglo IV, Siglo VI and Punch Serie d'Oro No.2 Edicion Limitada 2013, but we tried many, many singles and priced a lot of them.
The rum was good in Varadero and the prices are the same – no matter where you buy it (maybe fluctuate by a CUC or 2). We bought some at the hotel as the price was the same.
Gifts: We brought gifts for the service workers and they were greatly appreciated. We always gave CUC’s and gifts. We are so fortunate and they have to pay dearly for everything. We left all toiletries, OTC drugs, bug spray, etc. We brought baseball caps, toothbrushes, razors, crayons, watercolours, matchbox cars, extra clothes and shoes to leave as gifts. We would tip waiters and bartenders in CUCs and packages of gum. Never substitute a tip with a gift, give both things.
Ask for receipts for everything. Many vendors want your cash and no receipt. I’m sure this is shady. Even the t-shirt shop at the hotel refused to give us a receipt with cash – they would give us a receipt if we used a credit card. They all will say the cash register is broken. Not. Have receipts for everything for customs. They weighed our bag and are strict about the weight limit of 20 kilos.
Spend the extra 30 CUC’s for a VIP pass at the airport. You get this from your tour director. SO worth it! They personally take you through all the lines at the airport – no waiting – and you spend your time in the VIP lounge with and open bar (better alcohol than the hotel), air conditioning, TV and food.
I’m sure I have forgotten something but if you have any question please feel free to email me email@example.com
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Directly on the beach of Varadero. Iberostar's first 5 star hotel in Cuba. Luxury and comfort in an elegant atmosphere. Top gastronomy and excellent service. Equipped for every kind of meeting, gala dinner, party, etc.. Ideal for groups & incentives. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Varadero Hotel Varadero
- Iberostar Cuba
- Iberostar Varadero Cuba
- Varadero Iberostar