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“Acuazul - a great experience”
Review of Hotel Acuazul

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Hotel Acuazul
Ranked #55 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Reviewed March 31, 2008

The satisfaction depends on what one wants; for this trip, I wanted a place with a good beach for swimming and snorkeling, close enough to Havana so we could take a day trip there, and ideally an opportunity to do a bit of scuba diving. Acuazul met these expectations – and exceeded them a bit.

Varadero is close to Havana, some previous reviews praised the beach – and also indicated the hotel was in the centre of the town, so I guessed I’d manage to find a diving shop. What I did not care much about is whether the room would be fancy (I don’t spend much time there anyway) or whether the food would be fancy (this might be too much to expect from a modestly priced Cuban hotel).

Despite arriving quite early, we got the room right away. The maid brought in the extra bed as soon as we came back from the beach, and kept the room in excellent condition throughout our stay.

The room was fairly spacious and better than the others I’ve had in Cuba. There were many outlets clearly marked with both 110V and 220V. TV had a number of channels both in English and Spanish (I hardly watched it, though).

My take on the food in Cuba is one can always find something in a buffet that is decent. The buffet at this hotel was somewhat smaller than the ones in larger resorts, so it was a bit more challenging to find that decent dish; still, I never walked out hungry. The snack bar by the pool, open most of the day, offered staples such as burgers, hot dogs, omelets and salads. Drinks were available at the bars by the pool and at the beach, with short or no wait – now a benefit of a smaller setting. The game room had a ping-pong table, a foosball and two pool tables (though at times only one cue) – not much, but usually enough for the guests interested in such pastimes. The swimming pool was clean, but not too exciting. The towels could be exchanged at any time at the reception, which was quite convenient.

The evening entertainment included live bands right after dinner and relatively short shows at the stage later on. The performers were skilled – magicians, gymnasts, animal trainers, aquatic ballet dancers. My favourite was the flamenco concert on Saturday night. I cannot comment much on the animación during the day – always found it more interesting to be at the beach or in the town; the sports events, though, certainly were not plentiful.

The beach is some 200 m from the hotel, across the street. I’ve compared this to the distance within a resort I was in before, and this one turned out to be actually shorter. Nice sand and clear water, beach chairs available as well as pedal-boats and catamarans – all fairly new and in good condition. I believe masks, snorkels and fins were available as well (we had ours). The water was great for swimming and playing in the waves on windy days. Snorkeling was safe and easy to; unfortunately, there were no coral reefs or rocks close by – therefore, nothing much to see in the water. There were some fish, but much scarcer than in the places with more exciting underwater landscape.

The excursion to Havana provided useful overview of the great city and the tour guide gave us plenty of interesting facts; still, I would have liked better had we gone there on our own and spent more time wandering at our own pace through the places we liked better – rather than catching up with the group, attending meals and various breaks.

As for the diving, I found a scuba centre during the very first walk in the town – some 700 m from the hotel. The dives were at Casa Coral, roughly 15 minutes drive by a bus towards the airport – easy, shallow and with a lot of fun things to see, both for scuba divers and snorkelers. The rental equipment was of good quality and in excellent condition, the organization was quite smooth and without rushing – though owing to the latter, the dives eventually finished almost an hour later than anticipated.

In general, the fact that the hotel was right in the town was one of the things I liked the best. Being pretty much isolated within resorts on my previous trips, I was always wondering what Cuba looked like outside; this time, we had the opportunity to visit open markets and little stores, sit in various restaurants – both cozy patios on the sidewalks and a more formal one such as Lai Lai, the Chinese place with surprisingly good food and moderate prices. Most importantly, we got to see more ordinary life and meet more ordinary people – friendly, warm and easy-going.

The same goes for the staff of the hotel. They were amiable and willing to please; at times probably not as quick as one might want, but we always got what we needed quickly enough. Being on vacation, we were in no hurry – adopting the easy-going approach worked very well.

  • Stayed: March 2008
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5  Thank AzdX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 14, 2008

I've been to Varadero now 4 times, the first 3 times I could not stop raving about the place. Now after my 4th visit I have very mixed feelings. And it all starts with this hotel. I found the staff very indifferent and uncaring about any concerns I had. First off your better to bring an air mattress to sleep on, the beds are like sleeping on that ancient "hide a bed" in your grandmothers basement you slept on as a kid. Secondly after a long sleepless night without airconditioning (yes there was a conditioner in the room, but it blew air hotter than outside) you'd think a nice refreshing shower would put you in a better frame of mind, well it might of if any water actually came out of the faucets (you could turn them on full and after a 3-4 minute delay accompanied by a lot of gurgling a trickle came out, usually cold, and not enough to even wet your backside). Well now I'm ready to start my day, now I normally don't mind going up and down stairs, however being on the 5th floor it can get quite tedious, no problems with the elevators going up, but just try to get one going down.......the only way was if you were lucky enough that someone coming up stopped on your floor. Now I've also heard over and over that the food in Cuba is "uninspiring" to say the least, up until now I've never had that misfortune. I checked the restaurant everyday, breakfast and supper, and not once did I end up eating there. Each and everytime I went out and ate at one of the many restaurants in town and not once did I have a bad meal. I must at this point give kudo's to a little restaurant not even half a block away from the Acuazul for at least restoring some of my faith in the town.....Case Del Chef, it doesnt look like much but wow is it good and the staff pull out all the stops to make you welcome.

Another thing I feel should be said about the Acuazul is that on more than one occasion I tried to speak to the management about some of the problems I was having (air conditioning, water, and evelvators to be specific) and not once did I get to speak to someone (with the exception of the front desk staff) and nothing was ever fixed. I did notice a dramtic drop in the level of sevice I received after each complaint......ie.....the waitresses stopped coming to my table to get my drink orders, my dirty towels wouldn't replaced (just refolded), upon approaching the bar or front desk the staff would turn around and ignore me until I'd raise my voice to get their attention, or they would serve other customers who arrived after I did.

Enough Said!

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled solo
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2  Thank Timbit69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 5, 2008

We spent a week at Hotel Acuazul at the end of February and had a great time. We had been to Varadero 2 years ago and stayed out of town, down the highway at a larger resort. This time we wanted to try staying downtown. When we arrived it was about 2am and the place was pretty deserted, The streets were dark and a little scary. We were kind of worried about what kind of place we had booked. In the morning we were pleasently surprised. The rooms were clean, nice view, had hotwater everyday except 1. We had 6 people in our group, one room was missing a shower curtain, which was replaced the next day, the other room was missing a toilet seat, which they got use to not having. We didn't go to Cuba to stay in our rooms.
There's a buffet restuarant which served a selection of meat, rice, potatoes, veggies, desserts, etc. Not fantastic but no one starved, you can always find enough to eat. We heard the same thing everywhere, the food isn't great. We ate at the snack bar quite a bit. It was usually open from 10am -6pm and served hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled sandwiches, pizza, etc. The staff at the all inclusive bar was wonderful, so friendly and always smiling. On the tables they had a list of drinks that you could order with the ingredients in english. Entertainment at night was okay, nice way to end the day. Because it's a smaller hotel with less people you rarely had to wait for drinks and the girls were eager to serve you. The all inclusive bar was open until midnight. Then you could go to the lobby bar where beer was $1.
The location is good, right downtown, two streets from the beach, two flee markets close by. Nice to be able to step out of the hotel and be on the main street if you just wanted to go for a walk. It's on 13 Ave and the end of downtown is about 64th Ave. We took a horse and buggy to the end one day for $3.50 each and walked back stopping at flee markets and shops along the way. The beach was beautiful, smaller than the bigger resorts but plenty of room. The water was so warm and beautiful. It was nice being close to the beach, we went down in the evening to take pictures of the sunset.
We wouldn't go back only because we would like to try a different resort. We would go back because of the friendly staff. Good place to stay for location, basic rooms and being in Cuba. If you want a 5 star don't stay here, nothing fancy. We are not picky so it worked for us.

  • Stayed: February 2008, traveled with friends
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1  Thank 20,080,222
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2008

We (2 adults, 2 kids) stayed Hotel Acuazul for one week in mid Feb 2008. Had no idea of what to expect and we were very happy with the hotel. Keep in mind this is a hotel, not a resort, and is located right in the actual town of Varadero - most of the resorts are outside of the 6 kilometer length of the town. The hotel itself is well cared for. The room was very clean - we were on the 6th floor and had two balconies facing the water. The view was great. The maid Cecilia did a fine job taking care of us, ensuring we had the extra pillows & towels requested and taking the time to make things out of the towels which our kids loved. The only complaint about the room would be the poor water pressure - doesn't make for having great hair - bring a hat! The food at the hotel was fine. There is one buffet restaurant, were we had breakfast and dinner. The food was OK, none of us starved, not even our picky 6 & 8 year olds. Breakfast offered an egg bar with a fellow who would make whatever sort of eggs you liked - breads/buns, cereals, cheese, fruits ect. Food at dinner is pretty simple, chicken, pork, beef, turkey, shrimp, a couple of different rice dishes, pasta. All was fine, nothing outstanding but you won't starve. The plates at meal times were cleared quickly, the staff was very attentive. For lunch we would go to the snack bar for hotdogs, pizza, hamburgers - but mostly ate at the BBQ at the beach which was run by cook Ryndall, who perfected the art of grill cooking. Delicious chicken, pork, beef & veg's. The beach itself is no longer than a five minute walk. It is narrower here than in other areas but is beautiful. The colour of the water is truly amazing. The staff at the beach were great. Sergio the bartender made the best Rum Punch I've ever had. The lifeguards took a shine to our kids and kept a good eye on them. There is a catamaran boat and paddle boat to use free of charge. We also rented the catamaran for a couple of hours (50 CUC for the 4 of us) and they took us snorkling - an amazing time, great value. All in all our stay here was great. Perhaps it made a difference that my husband speaks Spanish so we were able to communicate really well with the people and were able to get to know them. On our last day one of the beach staff (Camillo) presented my daughter and I with shell necklaces as going away presents. We were very touched by their kindness. I felt the hotel was in a good location, there was a large market one one side of us, and a smaller one across the street on the other side. There was a small store nearby to buy bottled water and other things that you may need. Being in town allowed you to get a feel for life in Cuba. Watching the people come and go to work, the children in their smart school uniforms go to school, people hanging their washing out, boys playing baseball in the street. We rented a car one day and drove out to the end of Varadero, and saw all the big mega resorts. The people staying at these locations are somewhat in a plastic bubble - you would not get a feel for the culture staying out there. I should also mention the hotel entertainment in the evenings was very good, every night there was a band, and afterwards another performance (during our stay there was a circus performance, Flamenco dancing ect). I would not recommend this hotel if you are looking for a 5 star vacation. But if you are not pretentious and don't mind a very short walk to the beach its a great place to stay for what it cost (our flight from Winnipeg / hotel for the 4 of us was $2,000). Also I will mention that some good tipping daily will get you excellent, excellent service.

  • Stayed: February 2008, traveled with friends
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Thank LMM8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 6, 2008

This is exactly what an 2.5 star hotel should be in Cuba.

The room was fine. A bit loud though if you have a room facing the street. Please choose a room facing back/pool. We were located on the first floor which has an extra terrace that the other rooms don't have. One must bare in mind that this is a 2.5 star, not a 5. This is the perfect hotel to not stay there during the day. This is for the travellers. This is not a resort. Small pool, one buffet, one inclusive bar, shows at night with bare minimum audience. The food is very ordinary and this is usually the case in cuba. Some nights, they have a very nice piece of pork roast which was absolutally delicious, and other nights, very bad with goulache. The breakfast is better. Lunch ok. Restaurants on the main street are very cheap at $2 for chicken leg roast. This is not a young people hotel. So overall I was pleased with the hotel. I have now been to cuba for the 7th time and still enjoy every visit. Remember that you must be indulgent here in cuba.

Pros:
- Well located at the 13th street. You are close to everything here.
- Bar included at the beach. The beach has been damaged by a storm but it's ok 100 feet from there.
- Beach 3 minutes from hotel.

Cons:
- Not much activity, very quiet.
- Be ready for 1 out 7 nights no hot water
- Food very average

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled with friends
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2  Thank FrancisL22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2007

We have been to 6 different hotels in Varadero and Acuazul was an excellent choice. It is only a 2-3 star hotel but it had all the amenities we could ever need. There is one buffet restaurant that had a varied selection of meat and seafood, pasta, bread, fruits, salads, and desserts. All are typical of Cuba and are not the most amazing meals you will ever have but you will experience this at a 5 star hotel too. We never went hungry. The restaurant had musicians every night that played through dinner. The tables had clean linens and waiters who quickly removed the dirty plates. There was a snack bar with grilled sandwhiches and good hamburgers. There was a bar open almost 24 hours with lemon and pina colada slushies as well as other great drink choices. The hotel has a nice sized pool surrounded by lounges and table/chairs. At any given point in time you can find a shady or sunny place to relax in the pool area. The pool was sparklingly clean, they cleaned it every morning at 7 am. There was a games room with a ping pong table and 2 pool tables. It was a popular spot. There were great shows every night, better than many of the 4 stars we have stayed at!! The hotel is a 6 storey building with 2 elevators that were very prompt and safe. Our room was quite large and accomodated 4 people comfortably- a rarity in Cuba (most only allow 3 to a room) The room had 3 beds and a sitting area. There was a TV, phone, and AC. We had 2 balconies which afforded us a great view of Varadero city and the bay of Cardenas. The bathroom was nice, the toilet flushed and the shower head was adjustible. Water pressure was not great but it has been bad at all the hotels we have been to in Varadero. The people that worked at the hotel were friendly and accomodating. The beach is 2 blocks away from the hotel and is a very short 5 minute walk. It is physically closer to the beach than many of the mega resorts in Varadero. The resorts have huge properties and the rooms are a long walk to the beach. At Aquazul the beach is right there! We often went accross the road to Varazul or the cafeteria and bought Nestle icecream bars, the cheapest one is 55 CUC and the most expensive about 1.50 CUC. Well worth the money on a hot day! The beach has lounges, a bar and watersports. The beach was very nice and we enjoyed swimming and lounging there each day. There were many guests at Acuazul who had transerred from Villa Lamar. They were very happy at Acuazul and said it was far better than this other lower end hotel. Overall we were very satisfied with Acuazul and would return in a heartbeat.

Acuazul is worth a shot if you are flexible, unpretentious and looking to relax.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled with family
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12  Thank salsera
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 28, 2007

Needed a place to stay for the first couple of days of our holiday, before we travelled around Cuba. It was cheap enough for a room and breakfast. It is one of the first hotels you come to in Varadero, and is two blocks away from the beach. The beach goes the whole length of Varadero, and is a white sandy beach - 5 minutes walk away.
The hotel was clean and our room was large with 2 beds, table and chairs, TV, safe ($2 a day) and a balcony. The air conditioner worked well but was very noisy. There are 6 floors to the hotel, but the lift didn't work from the top floor, so you have to walk down to floor 5 with your bags. The women on reception spoke English, and seemed friendly enough.
The breakfast was a buffet with a good selection of food. We didn't stay for the evening meals, which were $10 for all you could eat from a buffet selection, plus a drink.
There was a bar that said it was open 24 hours, although we don't know that for sure, as we only stayed there till around 12 at the latest. Beers $1.50 and cocktails $2.50. If was often full of Cubans watching soap operas on the TV in the middle of the room.
At 10pm there is a show put on outside - the one we happened to see when sat in the bar were ballet dancers performing to famous dances/songs about lovers! Quite odd, and slightly entertaining.
The swimming pool was a good size which enough sun beds around it. Most people went to the beach. If you wanted to eat something during the daytime you have to go to a restaurant outside of the hotel, as they only served people that were paying for the all-inclusive option. There is a cafe over the road selling cheap food, although not great quality. But all food in Cuba is pretty horrible. There are various restaurants around the area, cheap and serving all the same food, around $5 a meal.
The bus stop for the 'Varadero Bus Tour' is right outside the hotel, which takes you up and down the main road for $5 - hop on/off at various places along the way, like the caves, awful shops, dolphin show, etc.
This hotel was ok for a few days, but i definitely wouldn't want to stay there for longer, and would have been very disappointed if i had paid for a 2 week all-inclusive holiday and went there!

  • Stayed: August 2007, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank jclewis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Acuazul

Address: Primera Avenida e/ Calle 13 y Calle 14, Varadero 42200, Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #55 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Price Range: $65 - $145 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Hotel Acuazul 2.5*
Number of rooms: 78
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Also Known As:
Acuazul Hotel Varadero

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