My husband and I finally took my dream trip of a Old Habana Varadero combination vacation. 14 days of magnificent Cuba.
After an incredible 4 nights at the Iberostar Park Central we transferred to Varadero for the remaining 10 days of our vacation.
We were booked to stay at the Iberostar Laguna Azul but after a first horrid night at the Laguna we were transferred free of charge to the Iberostar Varadero.
(for that story I highly suggest travellers read my review on the Laguna Azul to be forewarned about a serious ongoing infrastructure issue at the hotel.) At least until they get the issue resolved.
The Iberostar Varadero is beautiful, impeccably clean and very welcoming. Their staff are simply lovely, helpful, accommodating and friendly. There was not a single staff member that wasn't extremely courteous, friendly and helpful.
The Varadero easily meets all the high standards of the Iberostar Group. We have stayed at several in other countries as well. This was our first time back to Cuba in 13 years. This will be my go to resort each time we vacation in Varadero. It appears that several other guest feel the same way. We encountered many guests that travel each year to this resort. The staff know them immediately upon arrival by first name. You can see the friendships that have evolved over time.
It is the perfect size resort. Not too big and not too small. Just the right size to feel like you are getting that extra bit of attention and the opportunity to get to know their lovely staff quite well.
The resort is quite pretty and they made sure to pay attention to little details in the decor. All of the public areas are very comfortable and relaxing. Especially the lobby itself and the lobby bar.
Because we had a last minute transfer to this hotel from the Laguna Azul we had to, understandably, wait awhile for a room to be prepared for us that I actually fell asleep on one of the comfy upholstered benches in the lobby. There are several of these in the lobby to sit and chat, read, wait or just enjoy a rest.
The rooms were very comfortable and spacious. We had a standard room and there was plenty of space. We were in the 1200 block of 2 storey little buildings. It was only a 5-10 minute walk to anywhere on the resort. Yet far enough away to be quite peaceful and tranquil.
The housekeeping staff are quick and efficient. Fefe was our housekeeper for the stay. She is a real sweetheart always insisting I needed clean towels and my room cleaned even when I said oh don't bother. She would have none of that and I got clean towels each day.
Often she would leave us such sweet notes. Not just the typewritten ones issued by management. Some were personally handwritten.
When she found out that I liked the elephant towel the most she made sure I received another one the very next day after telling her.
We never had to wait for a table in the buffet. The food was very good and trust me I am a very picky eater. The wait staff were just lovely. We never wanted for anything. I always bring refillable bottles when I travel and one girl was so nice and took it to the kitchen to wash it with hot water for me. All I had asked for was if there was a hot water station for tea water. But no, she insisted on hand washing it for me. My bottles are metal and they came back piping hot in just a few minutes and spotless. I so appreciated that.
The beach is lovely and pristine. And the pools are always clean. A plus is that we never had any difficulty locating loungers any time we went to the pool or beach. Unlike most other resorts there is always at least 2 or more loungers side by side awaiting. No one has to do the reserve a lounger with a towel by 6 am. A routine that I find quite self serving and discourteous when they are left there for several hours unused.
We did encounter a disastrous and quite scary episode but not of the hotel's fault in the slightest. Due to the misadventure we encountered at the Laguna Azul my husband became ill after 5 days of arriving at the Varadero Iberostar.He had not been ill the entire time in Cuba until that point. And my husband rarely gets ill at home or away. Due to the conditions we encountered at the Laguna Azul it seems that he contracted a virus of some sort and It progressed into a serious lung infection that required medical immediate medical intervention.
I called our receptionist, Sulma, she called a doctor immediately. Within 20 minutes a nurse and attendant from the hospital arrived to our room. She assessed my husband as having a lung infection and took us immediately to the public hospital. Normally one would be taken to the Tourist Hospital but as this was an emergency and life threatening case you must go to the public hospital as it is a fully supplied hospital as you would find at home. Xray machines, monitors, oxygen masks, etc.
This is the part of my story that really shows the care and attention that goes over and above. As it is a public hospital they do not have the ability to assist in calling your medical insurance provider. And we did not know there should have been an Air Transat rep there with us.
I speak a tiny bit of Spanish which helped a little as they do not have the resources for a translator available. This is not to be intended as placing fault with the system. It is simply a reality one should be prepared for wherever one travels.
I was instructed that I had to leave the hospital in order to locate a phone to call my insurance plan. After 2 hours of walking the main street in Varadero with no luck. And also not a wise choice for a lady to do without an escort. One should make themselves aware of the cultural norms of any country you visit.
I returned to the hospital and hired a taxi back to the hotel to use the phone in my room. Sulma, the receptionist stopped me to inquire how we were. She was quite concerned about my husband. I told her what was diagnosed, severe pneumonia, and that I was instructed to phone the insurance company myself and also to bring back food and juices for my husband. The hospital doesn't have those provisons and as my husband is diabetic it was important to keep him hydrated and nourished.
Sulma immediately picked up the phone and called Room Service and ordered them to make me something to take back along with a carton of jiuce. I then proceeded to my room to make the calls. Sulma helped me make the connection quite easily.
Room Service arrived to the room quite quickly. However, they had misunderstood and brought in addition to the carton of juice a hot plate of meat and rice. I explained that I needed something more transportable to take to the hospital. He immediately brought me back 2 large securely wrapped toasted ham and cheese sandwiches so I could carry them. One for each of us.
Once the phone call to Canada was completed Ernesto hailed me a cab quickly and told him where to take me. Sulma had already checked with the hospital to ensure where I was to go and what my husband's status was.
After a day of 2 or 3 intravenous antbiotics my husband was able to return to the hotel with oral antibiotics and an xray to show our doctor at home.
The medical bill was not what I expected but was only $289.00 CUC.
For the rest of our stay at the hotel the staff, including Ernesto at Concierge and Sulma, kept checking on us to make sure we were comfortable. It seems the entire staff knew our situation and made sure we enjoyed the remaining 3 or 4 days of our vacation. He recovered thanks to the medical care he received.
We were supposed to return at the end of the week, for one night to the Laguna Azul, in order to catch the airport transport bus. BUT the hotel manager arranged for a room for us so we could stay put and leave from there. They moved us for the last night to a Junior Suite in the 1700 section of the small building. It was an upgrade and free of charge.
Next time I book I will ask for a room in that section. It was a terrific location. The last building before the beach access. It has a lovely large green space between it and the plush tree lined beach. It was only a 2 minute walk now to the beach. There is also a beach bar there as well.
It is definitely the best section of the resort almost feeling like a tropical version of an Ontario Muskoka cottage.
Marbelis was our housekeeper for the night. Another sweet dedicated lady who insisted I have clean towels twice that day. Even though we were leaving the next morning.
The manager also gave us a late checkout to 4pm as our airport transfer was not until 6pm.
A note to the Management Team of the Iberostar Varadero:
I understand that managers of hotels read our reviews. If you are reading this please forgive me. I have forgotten so many of the names of your staff and have misplaced the paper that I jotted their names on. But trust me in saying that all of your staff treated us with the utmost respect, friendliness and courtesy. And I could easily see that all guest were treated in the same manner. i never once heard a single grumble about any of your staff. In fact I only ever heard other guest tell me how great the staff were. They all have such terrific energy, personalities and excellent work ethics.
Everyone of your ladies in the buffet are absolute darlings. I only wish I could recall their names. Every shift every day each and everyone of them made us feel special and like we were family. They are respectful, friendly and very professional. When they discovered it was our last meal with them we were given hugs and good byes from each and everyone of them at breakfast, lunch and then dinner.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Directly on the beach of Varadero. Iberostar's first 5 star hotel in Cuba. Luxury and comfort in an elegant atmosphere. Top gastronomy and excellent service. Equipped for every kind of meeting, gala dinner, party, etc.. Ideal for groups & incentives. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Varadero Hotel Varadero
- Iberostar Cuba
- Iberostar Varadero Cuba
- Varadero Iberostar