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“You really do get the 3.5 star you pay for, but.....”

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BelleVue BeachFun4Life Puntarena
Ranked #51 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Reviewed April 14, 2012

Our stay at the Punterena was from April 3rd-10th, 2012...lots of sun and warm temp"s! My husband and I took our 13 year daughter and 5 year old boy for a family fun vacation. Fun...forget the golf...dry bumpy grass and no holes for the ball. Outdoor chess...no pieces...basketball...no ball...soccer net...no ball. Thank goodness my kids loved the pool and beach! I had hoped the pool would have a volleyball net or children's games, but they didn't. The water was beautiful and clean though...just pack your own water toys for the kids.

Lets talk about the food...some say you don't don't go to Cuba for the food..well, at least not this resort. The food was horrible!! Bananas once and no variety of fresh fruit, unless you like pinapple and tiny pieces of seeded watermelon. I love fruit and had withdrawels from none. If you love your morning coffee, then go to the bar accross from the buffet. The coffee machine rarely worked at the buffet and if you ask for help, forget it. I found the buffet area very messy at times and limited untencils. Getting a clean glass for your juice or water was a challange at times. Forget booking the a la carte...we did and very disappointed. I must mention the pancakes...they were really good and my kids lived off them for each morning breakfast. To sum up the food..I've been to other resorts in Cuba and the food was much better.

Rooms...they only accept 3 people per room, so when booking I had to book 2 rooms for the 4 of us...weird! I requested ocean view and adjoining rooms...got the ocean view, but 1 room was on the 7th floor and the other on the 4th...so much for family time. Each day I went to the lobby and asked the front desk for what i requested and was told, sorry we're booked. The room on the 4th was clean, but the bathroom was in dire need of a new tub...down to rust and the metal. When we went up to the 7th to see our other room, I first checked the bathroom and yes...it was renovated and where I was staying. Beds were clean and we slept well. Our maid was very friendly! Little red ants on the floor, so don't leave food spills there...ewe..

Would we go back to the Punterena? No....service and food are musts for us, so a sure 5 star will be next. Talked to some people on the plane back to St.John's, Nl and they stayed at the TRYP Penninsula, a 5 star...had fresh mussels, lobster and shrimp most nights. Summary, I guess you get what you paid for.

Room Tip: Ocean Room View is a must!
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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4  Thank Colleen B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 13, 2012

I have just returned from this hotel April 2-9 2012 with my family of 6. I read tons of reviews on this property and realize from being in Cuba 4 other times its all what you make it. There were times I had to remind myself of this during my stay here.

The Flight:
We flew Sunwing the check in was awsome and service was exceptional.

The Hotel:
We arrived at the hotel at 10:30pm hungry, tired and excited. The lobby is very nice lots of seating to relax and plants everywhere.The 24 hour snack bar was open but only had dried up rolls so dont go looking for food if you arrive late. Check in went well, fairly quickly however they did as other reviews stated held our passports over night. We were told they had to input the infomation in the morning as there was only 2 staff on the desk.I was very uncomfortable with this but really what do you do. I sent my husband down at 8am and they were all together nothing missing. There was a very helpfull bell man who loaded all 11 pieces of our luggage onto a cart and brought it to our rooms on the 4 floor. 1428 &1430 connecting rooms.

The Rooms:
I was VERY upset when I opened the doors to our rooms. The smell was so over whelming and it wasnt the oil smell that other people complained about. It was sewer. We had the canal view which didnt bother me. We had older furniture and that didnt bother me.The bed was comfortable and the pillows were nice and full. The curtains were not black out but that was fine with me as I went for the sunshine. The bathroom was where I almost fell down. Its was so old and very well used. The mirror was full of chips and scratches, there were 2 towels that to me were hand towels with holes and strings all around the edges. Like I said Im a family of 6. On the reservation it was requested 4-6 towels as avail. And before you think anything we use the same towels all week. After all your clean when you get out of a shower or bath. The tub was down to the metal. Not white or yellow or even rust. It was metal and the icing on the cake, NO HOT WATER!! At this point I went for a room change.I was told the hotel was full and come back in the morning. From reading other reviews I thought awsome here we go. I decided to waite till the meeting with our Sunwing rep who again was wonderfull. She took me to the front desk Tuesday am and told them our problems again we were told the hotel was full come back in the morning. So Wednesday morning I went to the front desk and told them Im not leaving this spot untill you move me. I will stay here all day in your face. I got a new room. They gave me oceann view, third floor 1331 and 1337. TONS of hot water, no music from the disco same furniture in bedroom same fixtures in the bathroom but I could shower in warmth and take my shoes off while doing so. It pays to upgrade! I mean really laying in bed with your head on the pillow watching the waves! Ohhh the life

Food:
Like others have said you wont starve but be very thankfull Varadero has alot of places to eat off the resort. There was hardly ever fresh fruit. As a matter of fact we had Bannanas twice. There was enough to eat if you werent fussy which thankfully we are not. Easter Sunday I was a bit bothered by the Rabbit on the buffett. That to me was in bad taste as this resort had alot of childern this week.

Drinks & Staff:
The drinks were always great. Look for Noel hes awsome and will make you whatever you want!! There a little understaffed and I think thats where the problem lies with the grumpy ones. They work very hard for next to nothing and we go there flashing around in our nice clothes and at times loose respect. Remember to tip. Even if its just 5 cents. If the shoe was on the other foot how would we feel. The staff they had did the best they could.

The Beach:
Yes the beach sand is very full of little pieces of shells. It is NOT impossible to walk on without shoes. The water is amazing. However During our stay there was a red flag for 5 days. That being said so what you couldnt swim in the ocean there was a large pool that was clean that did the trick. Yes the ocean would've been my first choice but hey life goes on.

All in all would I go back, no this property isnt for me. It wasnt great but it wasnt awfull. It was what it was!!!
Please feel free to write with any questions or for more infomation.
If you've booked, have fun and keep an open mind.

Room Tip: Ask for Ocean view room
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank cubacrazy1976
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 11, 2012

Stayed here with my girlfriend for 11 days(loved that I could get 11 days back then instead of 7 - too short or 14 too long)
We were there for Xmas week and New Year's(sort of. We flew home- through the night on NY's eve).
This was my 1st time to Cuba and even though it rained most days we were there, I fell in love with the people and could not wait to return.
The hotel back then was 2 hotels(buildings) and the pool was the largest in Varadero. It is now 2 huge pools. One for each building/hotel. We stayed in the last bldg. The negatives were minor. The rain caused shorts in the elevator so it would stop unannounced in between floors. Anyway loved the lobby band and all the entertainment staff. Everything was brought in doors because of the rain. There were Xmas trees in the lobby and they brought a bunch of local children in for Xmas day.
Did the Havana Tour. Loved it but very long. Went out to eat in Varadero in a nice cozy seafood(lobster) restaurant.
Bought a few pieces of local art at the flea market. Back then they only accepted US dollars. My have times changed.
Oh I just remembered there was a man who slipped on the wet tiles and hit his head. I believe he was from S.America but living in T.O. I hope he was ok. We never did hear about how he was.
The beach was steep due to the surge from the waves. The location is away from the town. One one side - the rooms have a view of the canal and land with(back then) oil excavation machinery. I may scan some photos and add them. The better side is ocean view but we didn't care. There was lots to see on the canal side.
Lobby band was great. Asked if I could play with them and they agreed. Great singers/dancing ladies. Que Bonita! Viva Cuba!

Room Tip: Like in my review. Ocean side is better. 2nd floor is high enough. May be taking the stairs a lot.
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  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Dan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 9, 2012

My time a spent at “the hostel” more commonly known as Puntarena - Varadero Cuba was indeed fabulous!! I will do my best to summarize my experience and only hope I don’t leave any details out.

Rooms: With a glorious ocean view and green/orange décor (surprisingly modern for Cuba) I will admit I was quite impressed. There were the standard amenities in the room such as a TV, sink and a toilet but it was the added touches that really stood out. The cleaning staff created an ‘exfoliate while you slept’ effect which was quite unique. To do this they would simply not change the sheets during my stay. For fun, a little game I liked to play with the staff was “how much does it take in tips before they leave a roll of toilet paper”… good times! And…by not cleaning the red splatters off the wall and ceiling in the bathroom from previous guests it allowed me to live vicariously thru what must have been someone else’s REALLY good time.

Food: What can I say…it was all so tempting. My favourite was the boiled potatoes. In fact, that was all I would eat at the buffet…EVER. When I needed a protein fix, I would grab a delicious hamburger from the beach grill. Not only did it take away the hunger pains but oh so entertaining as the ground meat always kept me guessing 

Amenities (see pics below): So many to keep one busy during a week’s stay. The Mini putt was super challenging as 2 of all 4 holes didn’t have a hole. I didn’t get a chance to play but I can imagine par was quite high on this course. (Helpful Travellers Tip: bring your own putter and ball) Tennis Court: in contrast to the difficult mini-putt, no net made for a super easy tennis match. (Helpful Travellers Tip: bring your own racket and balls) Basketball: You were at a disadvantage if there were already tennis players on the court as it was all the same court but nothing ‘paper, rock, scissors’ couldn’t settle. (Helpful Travellers Tip: Bring your own Basket Ball) A life size chess board was a very cool feature on the resort as well. For comfort pool lounge chairs were brought up to relax on while engaged in a game. One did have to be a little careful as the railing around the board was in need of a few minor repairs. (Helpful Travellers Tip: bring your own life size chess pieces OR the 32 new friends you just made on the resort. The drunker the better…Trust me )

Bars: 24 hours… Perfect! I quickly settled into a “comfortably numb” state for the week and nothing else really mattered.

Beach/Pool: Both beautiful…seriously. OK…a little garbage lying around but eventually they get to it.

The Other Guests I met: 100% amazing. So many laughs and so much fun…as I was a solo traveller, these were the people who made everything else just perfect. I hope to remain in touch with them for a long, long time. Miss you all already… xoxo

Overall… LOVED my week at Punterena

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
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4  Thank LydiaJambon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2012

My husband and I stay at the Puntarena from March 20th to April 3, 2012 (2 weeks).

Let me share with you that this resort does need some upgrades, however, this is being done as we speak. Our experience at this resort was exceptional. We found this resort was clean, the staff friendly and very helpful, and the food was amazing!!! This was our third visit to Cuba and our second time to Varadaro. During our previous visits to Cuba, we found that the food was bland and not as good as other Carribean places. That said, the food at this resort was beyond our expectations. Be sure to try the hamburgers at the beach bar (Anita makes the best burgers ever). The Buffet always had fresh fruits as well as a variety of salads and we were very impressed with the taste and the selection.

We had a room on the 6th floor with an ocean view - the view was breathtaking! We had no complaints with our room at all!

During our 2 weeks at The Puntarena, we walked into downtown Varadaro several times. This took 35 minutes to walk and because my husband and I walk every day anyways, this was a pleasant 35 minute walk for us. We were able to take in all the flea markets along the strip as well as the underground mall (flea market). One day we actually stopped at a pizzeria - OMG! We ordered 2, 9 inch pizzas and 2 beer for 12.5 pesos - this was the BEST pizza we have ever had! If you get the chance, please stop along the strip to eat lunch as there are many places to stop and eat and we were told from other vacationers that the food along the strip is second to none.

The staff at The Puntarena are very helpful and very friendly. They do work hard and they are truly beautiful people. We were told that they work 6 days solid with only one day off during the week. They are a hard working, honest people, and any tips are very appreciated.

We have never stayed at a resort less than 4 stars, so we were a bit apprehensive about going to this 3.5 star resort and especially when reading the reviews, however, I can tell you that our 2 week vacation at this resort was one of my best vacations ever! My husband and I had always said that we would never go back to the same resort twice as there are so my resorts to choose from and each one would be a unique experience. This resort has changed our perspective on that and we can say that we definitely would go back to this resort again.
The people who gave reviews that were negative obviously did not stop and take in the beauty around them or appreciate that others were working hard to serve them while they were on vacation. The Cuban people do not have money to go on vacation. They do not even get 2 days off during the week. These negative people with their negative reviews need to count their blessings and not take the beauty around them for granted.

To sum it up - we were very happy with our 2 week stay at The Puntarena, and we are already looking forward to booking our next trip to Varadaro.

Very happy in Moncton, NB

Room Tip: Ask for a room on the 5th, 6th, or 7th floor as these are the floors that have been renovated.
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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12  Thank Janet C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 3, 2012

i just got back from my vacation on sunday april 1st with my boyfriend and i had a very good time at this resort the people were very nice the bartenders were hilarious and were always up for conversation(joze was our favorite) i do suggest getting a room on a higher floor when we first arrived we were put on the third and the room had a bit of a smell and you could here the disco also it wasnt very nice so we went down the the front desk and we were moved to the 5th floor and it was better and less noisy and very very clean the only thing i could complain about would be the bathrooms definitely need upgrades but i heard the ocean floor rooms had better bathrooms but we didnt want to pay an extra 80$ for the week so you get what you pay.
The food,in my opinion was not bland and was very good something different every night for supper breakfast and lunch however got a little repetitive but you had a guy making fresh eggs anyway you like them which was amazing and at lunch you had a guy making fresh pasta any way you like it, there was always fresh fruit and fresh bread. they had ketchup most of the time but around friday i think they ran out until their truck comes in, i do suggest bringing travel mugs the bartenders will fill them for you and if you tip even a peso they will make them stronger for you and you can by a big water bottle in the resort store for 2 peso and the bartender will refill it for you with filtered water. also if you go to the bank to exchange your money to pesos you do need your passport and you get a better rate then you do at the resort and also they accept credit cards at the bank but i think they only accept visa and master card. alot of people brought ketchup and maple syrup with them instant coffee those kind of things. also leave stuff or your maids we went to the dollar store before we left a got some travel sized shampoo and pencils and notepads different stuff they also like gum and other things also if you have clothes you never wear bring them with you they will appreciate it, we always had lots of towels and anything we needed.. we had an amazing time also we are not party people and still had a great time the beach goes on forever! also the beach is a bit shelly so be carefull with your feet!

Room Tip: 5th floor or higher less noise from the disco and nicer
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank amanda06_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2012

I went there with a friend for a week. It was my first time in Cuba and I only have good memories about it. It was awesome. The staff is very nice, the beach is very clean, pool is beautiful, and the room are clean.
I heard that if you are on the first or on the 2nd floor the bathroom are bad...on the 4th floor it was very clean!
The food is OK. If you don't like it you can eat pasta (you can't miss pasta).Hamburgers are good. If you want you can ask the barman for lobsters and you'll have a BIG lobster for like 10 pesos or go eat it in Varadero for 20 pesos.
Anyway you don't go to Cuba for the food.
Bar 24h and if you want anything you can ask the barman, they know everything.

Room Tip: 4th floor is nice
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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5  Thank secret m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about BelleVue BeachFun4Life Puntarena

Address: Ave. Kawama y Final, Varadero 42200, Cuba (Formerly Hotel Club Puntarena)
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#30 Luxury Hotel in Varadero
#39 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
Price Range: $107 - $200 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — BelleVue BeachFun4Life Puntarena 4*
Number of rooms: 255
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Also Known As:
Gran Caribe Hotel Puntarena
Gran Caribe Varadero

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