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“The Bunker”

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Blau Varadero Hotel Cuba
Ranked #2 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 14 December 2009

Our first try at an ‘All Inclusive’ hotel, and first impressions were not encouraging.

Reception was rather frosty and off-hand (in total contrast to our hotel in Havana), although we did not arrive with anyone else and reception was not busy. We were given a room on the 4th floor, near the lifts, with a balcony that had half the view removed due to the central retaining wall of the hotel blocking it. We asked to be moved. The receptionist gave us the standard ‘the hotel is full’ reply. We insisted that our room wasn’t suitable, and were then told if we returned in 1 hour, we could have a room on the same floor, but further down the corridor – which we said we would look at and that we thought would be fine. We returned in 1 hour, but were given instead a room on the ground floor, with no explanation - (so they had at least 2 rooms that weren’t occupied). We did not have a view of the sea, but overlooked the lagoon area, gardens and could just see the pool, so a pleasant outlook. Being on the ground floor turned out to be a plus, as we never had to wait for the lifts and the sound from the entertainment room seemed to carry upstairs rather than down our corridor. (We also found out the next day from our rep that reception should have handed us a Virgin welcome envelope but this was never produced by reception).

One other thing to note about arrival - this must be one of the ugliest hotels on the Varadero beach strip. It is ‘high rise’ for Cuba with 9-10 floors, of an unattractive construction (in our opinion), and you can see it from miles away - we took to calling it ‘the Bunker’.

All of the above now said, the hotel turned out to be very pleasant. Our room was spacious and kept spotlessly clean by our maid Gypsy. There were plenty of toiletries and the towels changed as you required them. All the staff in the hotel, other than the ones we encountered in reception, were friendly and welcoming. The food was pretty decent for buffet food and plentiful, with a freshly grilled fish and meat dish also available. Breakfast was also good with plenty of choice including fresh fruit, omelettes, bacon and the like, along with plenty of breads and salads. For us, the food became a tad repetitive, and we were glad that we were only staying for 6 nights (unlike many guests who are there for 2 weeks).

Alcoholic drinks were always available, and we found the local Cristal beer the Chilean wines all good. There’s also plenty in the way of spirits and we certainly got a liking for Pina Coladas and Mojitos. Whenever you needed a refill, your glass or cocktail was replenished almost too quickly!

The pool is huge with a good pool café bar at the side of it. Indeed, this café bar had the best coffee in the hotel and we usually took our breakfast coffee here, rather than in the restaurant. Very pleasant gardens lead down to the stunning Varadero beach. Note for those that like to sunbathe on the beach – the Blau’s beach area is quite narrow and when the tide is high (which happened due to a storm whilst we were there), there’s not a lot of room. On the day that the beach was out of commission for sunbathing, due to high winds and tides, this was the only time that sun-beds around the pool became scarce.


We took the tourist one day and it stops at the end of the drive near the hotel. The bus calls in at many of the hotels along the strip and then into Varadero town itself. The ride is 5CUC (about £3.40) per person on an open topped bus, and it ran on time, every 30 mins. Varadero is a fairly sleepy, quiet place with not an awful lot on offer. There are a couple of restaurants and a couple of little markets selling the usual tourist stuff and that’s about it. We also went on a short trip to Cardenas one afternoon, and it really is worth a visit just to see all the horse and traps and very few cars.

Would we return to the Blau? Well, it did turn out to be one of the better hotels on the beach strip, with lovely staff (except reception!). However, maybe we aren’t the ‘all inclusive’ types. The wrist tagging at the start of the holiday, the fact that you needed transport to go anywhere outside of your hotel (except walking on the beach), and that Varadero town itself had little to offer, made the whole beach strip a little claustrophobic for us. We had an enjoyable and relaxing stay, but 6 days was more than enough for us. The highlight of our holiday was our stay in Havana, which we thought was the ‘real’ Cuba.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled with friends
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5  Thank yorkspuds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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4,339 - 4,345 of 6,781 reviews

Reviewed 9 December 2009

Had an amazing time at the Blau! Read many reviews in advance to try and pick a place and the Blau met our expectations of an "all in" holiday. If you don't sweat the small stuff you will have a fab trip to Cuba.

The transfer was smooth and fast...check in not the greatest as we arrived in the morning and couldn't get into our room until noon...we didn't care though as we just headed for the beach and left our bags in the storage room.

Phones: Super expensive! Internet is reasonable but down alot...only 2 computers.

Meals...not amazing but we always found something hot off the grill...eggs, made to order omelettes, fish, beef, pork etc and frequented the salad bar...the "a la carte" restaunts were not much to write home about but ok.

Wait staff :Ernesto, Agdil, Ledy were our favourites with great service and personality!

Tipping is not required but kind of an "unwritten rule"...it does go a long way.

Entertainment staff: Nedy and Michael were fab and started off our holiday with volleyball and hilarious trivia games. Didn't hang around to watch the 'shows".

Beach: Amazing! Swam lots and windsurfed one day. No problem getting beds for the day.

Pool: Big, Clean, centrally located, gets busy around the pool in the afternoon when the wind picks up on the beach.

Rooms: Good size, same with bathroom, cleaned daily, nice view from the balcony, only used it to sleep and change.

Trip to Havana: We took the bus to get there and then ditched the tour and explored on our own...we didn't want to stay in the bus all day which is what it seemed to be. We had a great day in Old Havana...just be prepared for the attention that you will get and be friendly and firm with your "no gracias". Had a great lunch at an outdoor cafe 4 courses, coffee and drink for 7 C$.

We met some interesting people and they played a huge part in how much fun we had! Carlos!!!! You are the best and we missed you when you left!!! Irish fam and London/Turkey, thanks for getting us on the volleyball court...that started it all! Hopefully Graham is recovering well! Jeff, Daren and Fam, hopefully we will see you in Fernie, BC! Last but not least P1 and P2...the grand finale! I'm speechless! :) Come and visit when you can so we can terrorize you on the slopes! Cheers from Supermommy!

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled with friends
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Thank beaverlodge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 December 2009

My husband and I recently returned from a two week holiday at the Blau Varadero and really enjoyed it! I picked this hotel after reading reviews on here and getting a really good price with Thomas Cook.

Room:
Our room was really large with two double beds. There was also a dressing table, TV, mini fridge (stocked with 2 cans of juice, 2 beers and a bottle of water!), and a small table and chairs. As per other Caribbean hotels the room was done in bright colours but quite tame compared to others! The beds were comfortable enough and there are extra blankets and pillows. The balcony was of a good size and was glass fronted which I thought was a nice touch. The safe was in the wardrobe, we couldn't actually get ours to work so just locked our valuables in the suitcases. beside the wardrobe is a full length mirror - handy for when getting ready for a night out! The bathroom was pretty big too. The hairdryer isn't great so I would take your own.The maid came daily and cleaned our room without any problem.

Food:
The food was alright. Nothing spectacular but much better than what I was expecting! Hotels in Cuba are notoriously bad for there food but I didn't think this hotel was any worse than any other All Inclusive I have stayed in. There is really something for everyone. We particularly enjoyed breakfast as you could have your own smoothie made, toast, cold meats, cooked breakfast, pancakes even champagne and salmon! The A La Carte restaurants were really nice - especially Palma Real. It felt very special eating there. The 24 hour toasties from the beach bar were a real winner too!

Pool and Beach:
The beach was beautiful but quite narrow. The sea was gorgeous blue and clean! One day though we did have a beggar come up to us when we out for a walk!
We spent most our time by the poolside which was fabulous! Always plenty of loungers and you can get served drinks by the pool. Water was clean. We did find a giant crab at the pool having a drink one night though! I would say that the toilets at the pool are really disgusting.

Overall we found this hotel to be of a really good standard. The interior is lovely. It's all open plan which means there is a nice breeze if you are near the doors otherwise it's really warm and sticky. The staff were friendly and we never had a problem getting served. We tipped sometimes but not every time. It is very quite though in the evenings. We didn't think too much of the entertainment so felt that after dinner all we could do was go to our rooms. The lobby bar gets really busy and if you are there after 7pm there is no hope of getting a seat. When we went for drinks in the Piano bar it was far too quite and smoky.

I would recommend a trip to swim with the Dolphins at the Dolphinarium. Thomas Cook offer the trip at the same price as booking directly and they pick you up from the hotel and take you back. Did the day trip to Havana which was an experience! Worth the visit but couldn't handle all the begging. It's constant. Our bus did have a bit of a crash while we were there which was added to our experience although some people took there frustrations out on the tour guide rather embarrassingly. Take the open top bus into Varadero. Also did the jeep safari which was good fun - best part was the speed boats on the river!

Great Holiday - would definitely recommend!

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank Lauren S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 9 December 2009

We originally stayed here in March and April of 2009. Had some complaints about the food and the wait staff. This time around we noticed that the hotel did a much better job with the food and the wait staff was exeptional this time around. Look out for Orlando or Norberto, you will not be dissapointed. we did not have a problem during our two week stay this time around, although they did mess up lunch about 3 times, but it's still nothing to get too upset about.

We had our 2 year old with us and the hotel did an amazing club wih our daughter especially with all the activities. Almost every night they had mini disco at 8:00pm which all the kids who participated loved. Eilyn was just amazing and we all just fell in love with her spirit. She is very helpfully and made our trip that much better. They also had other activities for the kids and a day care faciliy on site including slides, swings, various activities which was also nice.

Dont forget the piano bar, they make the best pinacolada in the hotel and probably one of the best in varadero.

Last point to mention is that their suit rooms are just amazing. This was the reason why we come back and it helps when you have small children.

Don't forget to visit Dantes in downtown Varadero, they have a great 3 pasta special that is to die for, especially the lasagnia.

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7  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 December 2009

I took a last minute vacation to Varadero and stayed at the Blau and have no idea how anyone could complain about it. The rooms were kept exceptionally clean, the food was great, the grounds were kept spotless and the staff were friendly and helpful. Tipping goes a long way in this country and seems to be appreciated a lot more than in the Dominican. For more of the partying traveller, find Eilyn or Papito from the entertainment staff and ask them where the hopping club will be that night. They'll usually go with you or have you join their group that is already going. The clubs don't open till 11pm and stay open till between 3 and 5 am. That is where you will find the beautiful girls and the amazing Cuban dancers. Have Papito give you lessons and you can show off in the clubs too. Remember to tip him well for lessons, he's trying for a better life. The pool is huge and the drinks just don't stop. I recommend the Pina Colada's. After about four days I lost count around 80 lol. The food is kind of bland compared to restaurants here, but add some salt and spices. They're cooking for everyone remember and a lot of people can't handle salt or spices. The buffet is great and they even have fresh made for you smoothies in the morning. I talked to people on the plane back that stayed at other resorts and they all said they would spend the extra little bit to stay at the Blau next time. Some of them had horror stories about their resorts. In a nutshell, the Blau is more than a four star resort, but because it lacks certain necessities (ie...you have to have four ala carte restaurants to be a five star) it can't be rated higher. If you choose the Blau, you can't go wrong. The place is big and beautiful.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled solo
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9  Thank mydogistiny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 December 2009

When I started looking at the reviews for the Blau, I was concerned with some of the negative comments, but decided to go with an open mind.

I have to say, the negative comments I did read were unjustified.....When we arrived, check in was quick, we had a welcome drink and everyone at reception were really nice and polite. We had a room on the 10th floor, right in the middle of the hotel and it was lovely, great views of the pool and ocean, it was large, clean, all that we needed..A lot of people have said about the lifts being slow....they did take a bit of time, but youre on holiday......so theres no hurry...(plus the hotel we stayed in in Havana, it took at least 25 mins to get the lift!!!!)

The food to be honest I couldnt fault, if someone could not find something they liked there must be something wrong, I think we only had one day when we thought it wasnt that great, but thats only because it seemed to be mainly fish, but other than that it was great. All the staff in the restaurant, serving and waiting were lovely, always willing to help and with a smile on their faces. We tried to sit in the same area each time, and as soon as we would arrive they knew exactly what we were drinking without us having to ask. We ate at the A La Carte restaurants, and again very nice.
The pool was lovely if a bit cold, but on some of the days it was really hot so it was actually nice getting in. The staff at the pool bar were lovely, especially Adeyles who always gave us a kiss in the morning, asked how we were and again knew exactly what we were all drinking. On my daughters birthday, she even arranged for a cake for her.
The beach was lovely, and Raul who helps with the catamarans was great. We wanted to go snorkling, but we didnt want the lunch and stuff so we went with Raul, just the 3 of us and it was great.
As we met up with some great people, most nights were spent in the bar, where Yeli again knew exactly what we were drinking and was so nice. We did watch one of the shows, which reminded us a bit like being at butlins, but it was good fun.
All in all a great hotel we thought, with great staff, and we also got to meet a lot of new people who I hope we will keep in touch with.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled with family
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7  Thank foxyDevon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 December 2009

The hotel is not so impressive from a distance or from the street side however the interior is beautifuly. Large lobby area with birdcage bar at the back and open plan facilities. Our room on the 8th floor was oceanfront also overlooking the pool and outdoor facilities. We had a kingsize bed and large balcony. The bathroom was well equipped with soaps and gels. Cleaning was meticulous and done every day around noon. The buffet meals were good with adequate choice of meats and fish or seafood at lunch and dinner. Am surprised to see many reviews talking about hotdogs and burgers. While they were available I found much better food to eat in particular the fish and seafood. The salad bar at lunch was also varied. The quality of the coffee in the buffet diningroom was poor but very good at the poolside bar so we went there every morning for our coffee. I agree with review that we ate a lot of eggs as the omelettes were cooked fresh in front of us however I happen to like eggs! The only disappointment was the specialty restaurant where we ate one night. The meal was forgetable while the service was friendly. We spent most of our time at the pool and never had a problem getting chairs. We walked the beach in the evenings and admired the sun sets. The animators at the pool were enthusastic and very friendly. We found all staff friendly and happy to be working at the Blau. It showed.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank BarbaraCCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Blau Varadero Hotel Cuba

Address: Crta. de Las Morlas, km 15, Varadero, Cuba
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
#2 Luxury Hotel in Varadero
#2 Family Hotel in Varadero
#4 Romantic Hotel in Varadero
#5 Business Hotel in Varadero
Price Range: £111 - £309 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Blau Varadero Hotel Cuba 4*
Number of rooms: 395
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Just on the shore of the magnificent and famous Varadero Beach, the hotel consists of a 13 floor modern building, completely new. Ideal for those who want to enjoy the beauty and the atmosphere of the most well known beach of Cuba, with the best facilities and a wide list of activities. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Blau Hotel Varadero
Blau Varadero Cuba

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