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Will we like Varadero?

Toronto
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363 posts
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Will we like Varadero?

My DH and I have been trying to pull the trigger on Cuba but just can't seem to do it. We have been pretty much everywhere in the Caribbean (always 5* resorts... some cruises). We were at our home in Florida last month and PBS has a 5 part series about 'Life In Cuba' and it was fascinating.

We have a couple days off next month and said 'ok let's do it' we'll go to Cuba (flying from Toronto). Now, I know you don't go to Cuba for luxury and a culinary experience. We have been spoiled like crazy- we've been to tons of Sandals Resorts w/ butler service, 5* resorts in Mexico in casitas w/ private pools & 24 hour room service (whatever you want sushi, surf and turf), we were just on an amazing cruise last month to the W. Caribbean.... but I know to keep our expectations down a notch.

We are workaholics so we plan to fly in... book 4 nights at RIU Varadero, Melia Marina or the Paradisus Varadero. We may just hire a driver to do some sight seeing... def will check out Havana (on our own- not a guided tour). We will spend time at the beach/pool but will def venture out as that is the whole point (if I wanted to a strict resort based vacation we would def not being going to Cuba).

Is it just really just that bad? The food? Are the 5* resorts even that bad?

It's def a little cheaper to go to Cuba but I don't want to throw $ out the window either... we have it narrowed down to Cuba or Secret's the Vine in Cancun (which for a few hundred more is a guaranteed good time).

Need help pulling the trigger!

Help Cuba experts!

New Brunswick...
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1. Re: Will we like Varadero?

I am by my own admission the world's fussiest eater and in 14 trips to Cuba I've never had a problem with the food - except at the Riu Varadero. If you go with an open mind and a positive attitude, and don't compare Cuba to Jamaica or Mexico, you will love it!!

I would cross the Riu Varadero off your list. Friends went to the Melia Marina and absolutely loved it. I would also check out the Iberostar Varadero - it's rated # 1 on Trip Advisor for a reason.

Be adventuresome and book Cuba - you won't regret it - it's a wonderful experience!!

hfx
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2. Re: Will we like Varadero?

how were you plaaning to get to Havana on your own? not with a driver/guide?

3. Re: Will we like Varadero?

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Ottawa
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4. Re: Will we like Varadero?

Based on your luxe travel experience, I'm going to venture to say that you will most likely be disappointed.

hfx
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5. Re: Will we like Varadero?

it's hard to say, I've known people that have travelled to many southern islands, high end places, and I really didn't think that they would like Cuba, and they loved it. Sometimes attitude is everything.

Montreal, Canada
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6. Re: Will we like Varadero?

Based on your interests I would suggest a Havana trip instead, with a side excursion to the beach, not the other way around.

In keeping with your tastes, I would suggest a high-end Havana hotel like the Parque Central or the Nacional. Both have pools. Can't remember seeing the one at the Nacional, but the Parque Central's is a lovely rooftop affair, easily as nice as any resort pool I've seen. Thoroughly research your dining options before going.

If you can make it a whole week, several tour operators will sell you a Havana/Varadero split package, making logistics a little easier for you.

Otherwise, I'd just spend the four days in Havana and maybe go for a beach day on the last day, but I'd only go to Varadero if the flight home is leaving from there. Otherwise I'd stick with the beaches near Havana -- playas del Este (better beach, but maybe not your "scene") or Club Habana (mediocre little beach, fascinating pre-revolutionary yacht-club compound/main building).

Montreal, Canada
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7. Re: Will we like Varadero?

BTW, my advice is based on this: "We will spend time at the beach/pool but will def venture out as that is the whole point"

...and IMHO a luxury resort at the far end of the peninsula is not at all a good base for venturing out and exploring, especially on a short four-day trip. If you do this you will see next to nothing of Cuba.

Ontario
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8. Re: Will we like Varadero?

The pool at the Nacional is just outside the bar on the ground floor. It quite frankly just looked like an ordinary pool to me, but maybe they have more than one? Pool or no pool, I'd love to stay there someday.

Montreal, Canada
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9. Re: Will we like Varadero?

OK, looking at the satellite view I see why I missed it: it's to the left of the main entrance, sheltered by vegetation. We didn't stay there, only went for drinks, and we were in the garden facing the Malecón, on the other side of the building from the pool.

Moncton, Canada
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10. Re: Will we like Varadero?

I would say you will be disapointed if you think it is going to be like anything what you mentioned and experienced on your prevous stays at 5 star resorts.

Cuba is a much different place then mexico or a nice cruise.

That being said, I have done them all and I enjoy Cuba very much. But I know what i am getting and expecting. That being said, if the savings are a cpl hundred dollars only, then you maybe disapointed. My trips to Cuba are usually HALF of what I would pay for a 5 star in Mexico.