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“My second visit was better than the first”

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Islazul Villa La Mar
Ranked #38 of 65 Hotels in Varadero
Winnipeg, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
54 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
“My second visit was better than the first”
Reviewed 4 September 2013

I always want to visit Cuba but sometimes a cheap hotel is the only way I can swing it. So, I decided to stay here a second time and this time, I brought my 7-year-old son, my boyfriend, and his little brother along for the fun!

We booked two rooms. The first room we got was okay but the toilet would not flush. That would be a problem for anyone. The second room didn't have any sheets on the bed! My boyfriend speaks Spanish so he rectified the situation right away. If I didn't have someone in my party who speaks Spanish then I'm afraid the language barrier would be too much. My boyfriend also knows how to use CHOCOLATE to his advantage in doing business transactions with the Cuban front desk ladies.

The next day we were moved to the nicer block with better rooms and what seemed to be our own private patio. I am not sure what the block is called but it's actually separate from the main hotel complex, across the street, and there is a bar/restaurant beneath it. The only bad thing about our room what that the patio doors didn't lock, but thieves would have to climb over some pretty high walls if they wanted to break in!

The food was fine! The boys love the pasta and red sauce every day and I love the omelettes made for me every morning. I brought some hot sauce and also extra cash so we could eat out.

Since my second trip to this little resort was in March, it was a higher tourist season and I got more services than the first time around. The disco was open and earlier in the evening, there was family-friendly entertainment that my son enjoyed. There were lovely "entertainment" staff working by the pool who would offer to take care of my son/play ball with him if my boyfriend and I wanted a little alone time. I really love how the Cubans love children and seem to treasure them! There were a few other families staying there, a couple of older ratchet guys from Winnipeg, and a lot of fun young women in their 20s/30s who came from Ontario. Having all of these people around made the trip a blast. There were also a lot of Russians there and I didn't really get to know any of them, maybe because of my lack of Russian-language skills.

My son and I took a nice trip to swim with the dolphins, the tour bus picked us up at our hotel lobby early one morning. It was actually a whole-day trip, I think it's called a catamaran trip and we booked it through Sunwing. We first went to some little island called Cayo Largo where they fed us an insane amount of delicious (but salty) chicken and then let us play around in the water. We got some kayaks and enjoyed the beautiful water before we headed off to swim with Pancho. The whole trip cost us $100CUC for the day and then a photographer brought us nice 8x10" glossy photos of ourselves with Pancho the Dolphin. This photographer somehow knew our hotel and he waited in the lobby for us, I was happy to spend the $10CUC for such a great souvenir!

The one downside to the trip to this resort is the smell of oil that sometimes comes through the AC in the night. I only had that bother me about 2 times out of 7 nights/days.

The best part of this hotel is that it is cheap and easy walking distance to go mostly any place in Varadero. A taxi across town to further locations is only going to be about $5CUC or maybe even $3 CUC depending on how much you want to haggle.

I would stay here again especially since most of the travellers I met there are open-minded and just want to enjoy their vacation instead of sitting around and complaining about how tough they have it in their 2-star resort!!

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
6 Thank Melania_Ann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (49)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Winnipeg, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 August 2013

I originally picked this hotel because it was cheap.
When we got there we found a lot of people had been going there for years and really liked it. It is in a central location, a two block walk from the beach, close to markets, little stores, and the main drag... and has a couple of excellent restaurants near by... one just around the corner that specializes in seafood.
They do have a pool and a separate kiddie pool. The bar and snack bar staff are nice.
We've been at this hotel several times in the past two years, and will be going back. I like this place because it's close to where my local friends live and it's easier to meet up with them.
Maid service has been has been my one disappointment, they forget to come or don't do a great job... the first time we went we knew the girl and she was awesome... but now I often have to ask for toilet paper, towels, etc.
The food is okay for a two star hotel... sometimes variety is lacking depending on the time of year that you are there... but it's decent,It's Cuba.

Room Tip: Corner suites seem to be prettier...
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank katrin g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Jersey
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 August 2013

I just stayed at Villa La Mar July 20th and July 21st 2013. Unfortunately there is not goodies to add here. Just the beach part that its okay. The rooms are not good, service is awful we could see the employees joining food from the buffet to take it home. They put the food for customers little by little to see if none else come they take the rest of the food to their homes. Once I was with my friends at the pool bar and I asked for a hot dog. The lady who works over there put a half hot dog into roll for me and put it on the grill with another peace like that one that was already on the grill. The bartender came and took my hot dog and then asked the lady about it and she took it off from him and put in a plate for me saying: No, no, no, yours is the other one. You know the rest, I terned around a left, there were no food for me over there no more.
In the restaurant I saw an employee filling the water dispenser using a dirty pail with water and ice brought from who knows from where.
I'm definitely not recommending this place at all, Stay away from there. I went to eat every day to Paladar El Mojito in Santa Marta Town very close from Varadero entrance. Buy your water if you want to take the risk of being a guest of that hotel. And good luck. You will really need it.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank EDDMaros
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Varadero hotels

Moscow, Moscow City, Russia
Level 3 Contributor
19 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 August 2013

Hotel is located in central part of Varadero, with easy access to shops and restaurants. Ocean in in a short walk, and there's a bar at the beach that is part of this hotel.
Rooms are not good - one night I woke up with a big coil from the bed that poked my leg, and when I complained they just moved this bed to next room and gave it to new guests a day later.
Food is HORRIBLE. And when we read it in reviews we thought that it's not important, that we can eat average meals. But they are not just average, they taste bad! And they serve the same food for several days (meaning that they cook rice once and then give that same rice for 3 days, not cooking anything fresh).
On the other hand, hotel is really cheap, so is the food in restaurants around, so it can be a choice for small budget. And Cuba isn't really about luxury experiences, it's... well, it's about Cuba!

Room Tip: Ask for rooms with bedroom and guest room. They are in the same price, but much more comfortable. An...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Arina G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 June 2013

stayed at villa la mar from april 23- 30 2013, we knew this was not gonna be the best hotel but decided to give it a try anyways. first the positives: the staff there was always friendly, the front desk people, the restaurant workers, everyone was always smiling and friendly to us. and thats it for the positive. Negative: the food was horribleeeeeeee!! My husband and i come from a latin american country so we had an idea of what food to except but we were wrong. the food was the same for breakfast lunch and dinner and it seems like everything is cooked with the same odd spice :S All we every ate there was icecream, nothing else was eatable. Lucky for us we found a local who offered to cook for us in his home everyday :) so we would eat there instead of the hotel. The pool there was a joke, didnt go in once. The hotel needs to be stricter with drunks, some nights we couldnt sleep because there were drunk people screaming and laughing until like 5am! One of our beds was sort of broken in the middle, and the other bed was super hard and the pillow had a million lumps in it! the room smelled soo bad when we arrived I got nauseous and had to leave the balcony door open all night to air it out, next day either we got used to the smell or the room freshened up. The maids were friendly but did a poor job. not once did they sweep the room or clean the bathroom let alone change the towels.
I see some people complaining that the beach was too far away... not true, beach is literally like 3 minutes walking and was gorgeous! have never seen such blue water in my life! this crappy hotel is right in the middle of varadero city so u can easily go anywhere by just walking or taking the 2 story buses. We loved our trip to cuba minus the hotel, never would stay there again but definitely going back to cuba!, i advise you to do the havana one day special, its amazing!!!!

Room Tip: you have no options in choosing rooms, all the rooms are the same!
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Patricia A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 June 2013

I went in December with my friend, we are 24 year old females and really went to Veradero for the beach and the parties. Overall, Staff were friendly for the most part. Of course like any resort in Cuba , you need to tip to get the most out of customer service. My friend and I gave out a lot of clothes, hair products to both the male staff and women. They really appreciate anything that you give them. The snack bar is actually pretty gross, they serve egg on a bun, fruit and other crap that appeared to be sitting their for a long while. I don’t recommend you eat it or you will probably get sick. We had to stay in the first night because my friend got sick, most likely it was from the food. Buffet wasn’t that great but you will not go hungry. DO NOT STAY ON THIS RESORT IF YOU PLAN TO ONLY BE ON THE RESORT!!!! There is nothing to do. Think of it as just a hotel a place to sleep and occasionally eat at. The beach is about a 5 minute walk from the resort. I personally did not mind the walk it was nice to experience the way Cubans live. There is a bar from our hotel on the beach so drinks are handy and close by. My bedroom was clean and I had no complaints otherwise.

Room Tip: Ask to get a room facing the main entrance "Guest Services"
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  • Stayed December 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Vanessa M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Edmonton, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 May 2013

I gave it 3* because of condition of rooms and limited food choices. If I gave more it wouldn't be fair to the others I wrote reviews about.

We're ther 2013.april 14th-21st. Got there 1AM but they checked us in no extra cost!

Went with teenagers (16&18). We got 305 and 306 in the Delfinos section. In 305 the toilet doesn't flush #2 only #1 -LMAO- but the safe works unlike 306. Check that before excepting the room or you'll have a surprise in the morning. The lack of luxuries was annoying to the spoiled Canadian teens of ours. No FB, email, cable (3 english channels) or phones. It was actually liberating! Me and the wife loved the trip.

I'll tell you what it is and what its not.
Room were clean, maid come every day. Take some clothing you don't need for tips to the maids. Don't just leave it on the last day because your maid for the week might have the day off and miss it. Give it to them daily. There is one security guard that tried bumming me for clothes the first time he saw us. That was a little rude. I was tipping the others maybe the word got out... He was also playing older guest ladies for whatever. He was good at it. I talked to one of them they only make like $15-$20 a month!! First I thought it was a day. So a $ here and there goes a long way.

Food was plain but good. Even had lettuce 1 day of the week.

Entertainment during the day is more like a guideline then a schedule. Hit and miss depending how the dude feels. I went for spanish and ended up pool volleyball. Still had fun no problem!

Beach is 50 meters away. Awesome! There is a volleyball net! Go to dollarama and get a ball for $2 then leave it there.

In closing just as many said before me if you wanna rot in the hotel in luxury this is not the place for you. If you're not tinkerbell you'll be fine. Remember what you send out you will get back - about the staff. Treat them with respect and you'll be treated the same.

ONE MORE THING. IF YOU MESS UP THE FORM ON THE PLANE DO NOT BUY A NEW ONE FROM THE CREW FOR $20! A CREW MEMBER SAID IT MIGHT COST ME MORE THERE "IT IS CUBA". BS! I MADE A MISTAKE, JUST WROTE OVER IT AND HAD NO PROBLEMS WITH CUSTOMS. COST ME NOTHING. SHAME ON YOU SUNWING FOR TRYING TO RIP ME OFF!

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Peti789
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Islazul Villa La Mar

Property: Islazul Villa La Mar
Address: 3a. Avenida E/ 28 Y 30, Varadero 42200, Cuba
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Hotel Style:
Ranked #38 of 65 Hotels in Varadero
Hotel Class:2 star — Islazul Villa La Mar 2*
Number of rooms: 264
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Also Known As:
Islazul Villa La Mar Hotel Varadero
Islazul Hotel La Mar
Islazul Hotel Varadero

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