Blau Marina Varadero, Cuba with Small Kids and a Group of Adults
I am a retired Travel Agent and had warned everyone in our group who had never visited Cuba before about how things may not be up to par in our hotel compared to North American/European standards.
I warned them that the food would most likely be bland and hopefully warm but never hot. I warned them that condiments seemed non-existent Cuba and to bring their own. I warned them that the beds would be hard. The closet doors would probably fall off on first opening. The rooms would smell musty – bring a candle. The sand flies and mosquitoes would eat them alive – bring Deep Woods Off.
Everyone was forewarned…over and over. I’m surprised someone didn’t just tell me to shut my pie hole and as it turned out this resort surprised and delighted me! Yes we needed the OFF and yes the room was a bit musty (that’s the way stuff smells in Cuba) and yes the sand flies and mosquitoes were crazy but the Deep Woods Off works best!
Resort size: Because it only has just over 500 rooms – it’s a good medium sized resort. It is however, stretched over a long portion of beach. Pro: The beach is always a stone’s throw from your room no matter where you are. Con: You could be stuck in no man’s land at the far end of the resort and far from the bars and buffet - but there are always golf carts that will pick you up if you don't feel like having a five minute walk. (15 minutes with kids)
Check in: We were stuck at the far end of the resort and with two small kids – we had to request a change of room…now, keep in mind I had already written/emailed the resort and requested rooms close to the pool or buffet. I was assured by Yunior Pérez Sixto -Jefe de Ventas / Sales Manager - Blau Marina Varadero / Blau Privilege Cayo Libertad that we would have the best rooms for a couple of Grandparents in their late 40’s and grandchildren ages 3 and 4. Oh yes, he assured me in many emails that we’d be place appropriately. Can you say PLAYCATE? Here’s his email address maybe you'll have better luck. email@example.com
I tried to change rooms but nothing was available for a couple of days, but as soon as those first two days were over we were put in a room with a pool view which was close to everything. Phew! That was excellent and unexpected. The front desk clerk, Judy really went above and beyond and should probably be given Yunior Pérez Sixto’s job!!!!
Buffet: Large buffet with plenty of condiments, lots of options and choice and the food was actually warm to almost hot…and it tasted good! No “drool” factor but it was surprisingly good! If you tip your server – they will actually fight to have you come to their section of the buffet every time you come in the doors. They are serious about taking care of you!
Lunch: Between 10:00 in the morning till about 4:00pm there was a building to eat lunch in directly beside the pool (opposite to where the slide is). If you didn’t want to go to the buffet. You can get a chicken sandwich or a hamburger, some salad - stuff like that. Right – the hamburgers in Cuba are made with a lot of SMOKED SAUSAGE MEAT FOLKS – which means that it is PINK in the middle! You are not going to get ill by eating these. We all ate them! They’re fine! I saw a lot of people take a bite and leave behind their food…I wanted to tell them that it’s smoked sausage meat – but figured I’d better keep my nose out of it. There is also a bar in this building.
Lighthouse Pizza: On the other side of the lobby down a walkway is the Lighthouse, they serve pizza from the afternoon till the wee hours of the morning…I believe until breakfast begins at the buffet. The pizza is good. As I’m a weirdo and like to put salad dressing on my pizza…I took some with me. There is obviously a bar in this building as well.
The Room: I was happy with it. It was a junior suite which simply means it is a large enough room for a small sofa and chair as well as two, one and a quarter beds pushed together. Our maid put a lot of time into making the room beautiful as well as clean. The two kids slept in one half of the bed and my husband and I squeezed into the other side of the bed. We could have stuck one of the kids on the couch, but it worked.
Cuban Beds: The beds are Cuban. Look at the photos – notice how the blankets are so crisply laid at the corners of the bed? That’s because Cuban beds are only slightly better than sleeping on a box spring with a thin layer of mattress on it. At the Blau Marina resort the beds were OK. I’ve slept in worse in Cuba…but I think they all get them from the same manufacturer. If you like an extra firm bed, you’ll be fine. We brought extra pillows! We put them in a vacuum bag, sucked all the air out of them and put them in luggage (leaving them behind when we left). Cuban pillows…well, if you can’t sleep you can always do some Origami! Yes, they are that flat!
Bar Fridge: Want extra beer and water but no Tukola (Cuban Coke)…write a note in Spanish (Google Translate works well enough) and then leave a gift and a peso in the bar fridge with your request. We brought a carry-on bag filled with baseballs and left one or two in the fridge every day with our note “Only beer and water please.” “ La cerveza y el agua solamente por favor!” And even though it was pretty terrible Spanish, they filled the fridge with beer and we received extra water. Mind you, don’t forget to EMPTY the fridge into your suitcase completely before they get there because if you don't they will only replace what you take out.
NOTE: The bar fridge fillers are not the chamber maids – do not ask the chamber maids for more beer. She doesn’t have any. Some guysfill the fridge…thus the baseballs. We had a lot of Crystal beer thanks to those balls and brought most of it home for our friends and family to try.
The Safe: It worked, kept everything safe and we felt secure using it.
Towel Shortage: As there was a mass towel shortage in all of Cuba at the time of our trip (all resorts use the same cleaning facilities/company apparently) we brought a few towels with us. Happy we did! There really was a towel shortage and what could you do about it?
Pool: The water was chilly but the pool was clean. Yes the dreaded “Towel People” were out in the wee hours of the morning claiming the best spots but I always found a lounger. The swim up bar was OK…not as personal as some of the swim up bars I’ve been to in the Dominican…where you’re actually seated at a wooden bar…but it was a typical Cuban concrete swim up bar. The water slide is lots of fun for adults and older kids.
Hemingway's 24 hr Lobby Bar: Great place to gather, cool breeze coming in off the ocean and a lovely open air feeling. The service was very good but once again, bear in mind it’s Cuban service…that’s not an insult…it’s just a more relaxed pace. I write that just as I remember a very busy time at the Lobby Bar when the servers must have put wings on their feet because they were flying. They work very long shifts – so I think they have to pace themselves. When things slow down, they slow down…when things fire up, they fire up. Makes sense to me. Lovely drinks by the way. We tried everything on the drink menu over the course of our holiday. It was fun!
Live music at Hemingway's: The bands they brought in were great! Buy their CD’s – they are great souvenirs and better than dust collectors!
The Beach: Very long stretch of beach with great sand, warm water, lots of room and available loungers. We always stayed closer to the Lighthouse so we could bring Pizza down to the beach and also fill up our “Bubba’s” that we got at Canadian Tire at 50% off. Mind you, bringing down an entire pizza on napkins was fun! You just fold it in half and away you go. A little sand on a pizza never killed us. Remember there is no beach bar and no beach waiters at this resort. No big deal if you have a Bubba!
Kids Club: Ah yes as I mentioned earlier, we had children with us! Our grandchildren age 3 and 4 years old! Insane? Not at all. We had a lot of fun building sand castles with them and when the sun got too much for them they couldn’t wait to go spend an hour with Oxana the woman who looked after the kids club and the Kids Disco. Grandpa and I would tell them we’d be at Hemingway’s and the kids would play with Oxana and a few other kids in the air conditioned Kids Club for an hour every day. It gave us an hour to relax every day and it gave the kids a break from Grandma and Grandpa as well!
Playground: Just outside the Kids Club is a very small fenced in playground with a wading pool. It’s nothing fancy but the kids were happy with it and I was happy with the shade that was available!
Kids Disco: If the kids are able to stay up late enough – let them have some fun and rid themselves of the very last ounce of energy they have stored up from the day. After the kids disco – when we got back to our room – our two little gringos’ would be asleep in five minutes. It was incredible!
Adult Entertainment/Animation Group: Can’t say I saw much of it – but I heard it was entertaining from other members in our group.
Gifting: We bring gifts and leave tips. I know a lot of people are against it but guess what – I am semi-retired and work part time as a bartender! Every tip I receive goes towards my son’s education. Every gift I receive, and surprisingly people do bring me gifts on occasion, is greatly appreciated. Someone on TripAdvisor wrote a huge diatribe on how gifting and tipping is ruining the Cuban people. They said it was akin to some rich guy from Abu Dhabi showing up in my driveway and feeling sorry for me because I only have a house and a car and giving me a hundred thousand dollars…well I can tell you right now, I’d take that money with great appreciation and thank him very much. As someone who appreciates a tip, I tip!
Who to tip: Don’t forget the bathroom ladies. They have the WORST job at the resort and don’t normally receive the cool presents that the room maids are left. I talked to one bathroom maid and she said wistfully, “It is my dream to be a room maid. That is all I want in life.” I just about choked! But alas…compared to constantly cleaning the bathrooms…it would be a dream job. I brought the bathroom maid (standing outside the bathrooms by the buffet) a huge bag of clothes and toiletries. She was over the moon.
Varadero Hop On Bus: Worth the money but keep your ticket stub if you want to ride it again on the same day. The woman at the front of the bus (not the driver) will ask for it back before you get off the bus. This is to stop you from giving it to a friend and thus allowing them to ride for free. I agree, we shouldn’t be ripping off people! BUT if you want to go back on the bus, just tell her that you’re riding again and she’ll let you keep it.
Cuba is what it is – it’s affordable – friendly and safe! You take the good with the not so good and keep your perspective.
We’ll be going back to the Blau Marina Varadero during the winter of 2015. It’s a good resort!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Blau Marina Varadero Resort***** All Inclusive, is a luxurious hotel surrounded by beautiful gardens and unforgettable views that offers its clients superb service and comfortable environment. The 548 rooms and all the installations of 5 star All Inclusive hotel Blau Marina Varadero Resort***** offer the perfect combination for memorable family vacations. Blau Marina Varadero Resort***** offers its clients: Complete Twin rooms, Twins with Sea View and Suites All Inclusive package 6 Restaurants 6 Bars Daily and night animation 2 tennis courts 1 universal court Beach volleyball Non-motorized water sports (catamaran, snorkelling, windsurf) Fitness and aerobics rooms Parking 3 pools for adults 1 pools for children Playground Sport Club (library, billiard, ping pong...) Conference hall with capacity of 300 seats Business centre Souvenirs and boutique Wifi (Looby and meeting room. With charge) Blau Marina Varadero Resort***** ALL INCLUSIVE: Breakfast, lunch and dinner in Buffet restaurant Typical Cuban dinner once a week Selection of national and international drinks (top brands with extra cost) 2 tennis courts Courts reservation and necessary equipment 1 universal court Beach volleyball Petanca Non-motorized water sports (catamaran,water cycles, snorkelling, windsurf) Fitness and aerobics rooms Parking Access to all the shows in “La Senora de Atocha” every night Mini bar daily filled with 1 bottle of water, 2 soft drinks, 2 bottles of local beer 3 pools for adults 1 pool for children Area for children in main pool Playground 3 dinners per booking per week in our "a la carte" restaurants (reservation required) Snacks in Pool Bars ... more less
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