I've never been to Cuba, and like most people, was nervous about what I may encounter as I was buying my tickets. Reading people's reviews about food and hearing the general gossip about the country really put me off but it was cheaper than most places so I decided to give it a go. My stay was fantastic. I had so much fun that my one week there was way too short lived and I still cry like a baby, when I dissolve into my memories.
Food: Whoever said that Cuban food is horrible clearly went to all the wrong resorts. Granted I only ate seafood for lunch and dinner (I hate pork and I abstained from the reg. food I eat in Canada), and I absolutely loved it! Other than the regular buffet, there are a la carte restaurants that you must reserve seating for in advance. The 3 different types are Japanese (Tapanyaki), Mediterranean, and International. The Japanense was the best for entertainment reasons as well as the food. But the regular buffet was also fantastic. It was our favourite. If you're a late sleeper, the International buffet is available for you as well but the food selection is limited. The bar is limitless and Mojitos were my favourite. There's a bar on every corner. There are 2 on the beach, 1 in the swimming pool, 1 in every buffet, 2 in the lobby and show room (next to the lobby).
Staff: The staff was my favourite part of the trip. Everyone is friendly and once they meet you, they remember your face and name so that next time they see you, they know exactly who you are (even if YOU forget THEM). If you get involved in their activities, especially, you will make friends with them in no time and you'll have so much more fun. Trust me. If you're a young woman (or a single woman), the boys are wooooooohhooooo! As a female, I got an incredible ego boost with all the attention from every possible Cuban around. Plus, they are a sight for sore eyes ;-)
Target tourist: This resort literally is for everyone. Sandals Resort is very much next door but that one is for couples. This resort is for everyone. If you're a couple, you'll love it. If you have small children, there's a decent playground and staffers that play, entertain and get your child involved in activities. Every night there's a show and right before the show, the entertainers learn dances and stuff for the children to then perform in front of the parents. Often they use children in their actual shows. This is very interactive and might be fun for the child. If you're a teenager or young adult, there are many water activities, archery, shooting, alcohol, etc. for you. I'm in my early twenties and I went there with my mom. We enjoyed salsa lessons, archery, yoga, aqua gym, aerobics, etc. We enjoyed the shows and the alcohol but we limited ourselves with the nightlife. There's a "disco" from 11pm-2am every night, and we both went there. Both generations have fun.
Facilities: The hotel is fantastic. Beautiful (gardeners work all day every day), clean, well kept - no stray dogs. We originally got a room where it was obvious that someone was smoking there before, but we changed it the next day. Even the pillows were different in the other room. A tip for the choosy: Choose a room on the second floor and abstain from the 10th building. Junior suites are 17-20 (I believe - don't quote me on this one) but we moved to the 13th and loved it. Our maid was so creative with how she arranges the towels and curtains, she should be a designer. Not just regular swans, but people, the beach, a bunny, etc. Also, if you're looking for quiet, 13th is far from the pool and show room. 20th is right next to the ocean (you just have to pay more for the junior suites. Our room overlooked the garden and the "lake" (a pool with a fountain). It was gorgeous.
The beach is fantastic. Unfortunately it keeps shrinking with every storm. Sandals resort's beach is two or three times as big as this one, but it didn't bother us in the least bit.
I'd share photos but I have over 300 that I absolutely love. If you have questions, let me know but here's a tip: bring lots of sunscreen, we went through 1.5 bottles between two people. And remember to tip! Exchange is available at the hotel but they really want tips as soon as you get out of the airport. It may be weird/uncomfy at first, but if you tip them once or twice (just a 1 CUC), they'll remember you and take care of you henceforth. Also, if you don't want to give them cash (although I will say cash is the better option), bring little shampoos and soaps and deoderants and things because at the end of your stay, they may or may not ask for whatever you don't need. Quite frankly, not everything they sell there is quality product so if you want to help out, go the extra mile, they'll love you for this.
I went to the spa there for reflexology and enjoyed myself very much. I've never had it done before so I don't have anything to compare it to but I was relaxed.
The only downfall is that Cuba is supposed to be cheap but the prices are outrageous. They pretty well match dollar for peso Canadian-Cuban. Excursions are a rip off (in my opinion, anyway) and whatever normal you want to buy (tshirt for ex) - they're the same price as here in Canada. Caps were 9.95 cuc. My handmade tank top was for 15cuc but i bought it for 10. Their market kiosks - you can always get it for less..but their original prices were suprisingly high.
Overall, I am soooo happy to have went. I'm so upset that I had to come back home because the people I've met and the relationships I've built are the most memorable for me. I loved that place, I miss that place, and next time I'm going for 2 weeks min!
Hope this helps! If you have questions, by all means...otherwise good luck, enjoy your vacation :-)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
17 May 2012
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On behalf of all staff at Iberostar Varadero, we take this opportunity to thank you for your review and comments regarding their work during your stay with us.
After reading your review, I must thank you as well for the time invested in writing about every service we offer, it is important that other readers know what they will find upon arrival.
We are glad to know that you felt the attention from the staff, and that you got the chance to make friends, I think that is one of the main reason a guest remembers once they have to choose their next vacations.
We hope you have the opportunity to visit us for more than a week next time, we will be waiting for you.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC