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Iberostar Playa Blanca
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314 - 319 of 2,083 reviews
Reviewed 3 May 2014

We had been to this resort several times previously and obviously returned. We were so disappointed this time. No juice after our second day - limited food to choose from- and definitely much less selection than previous times. We were in a family suite for the first time and had no ventilation what so ever. The air conditioning was adequate, but travelling with a child with allergies made the lack of windows able to open, or patio door quite frustrating. The location is what has always drawn us back to this resort, and the beach was as beautiful as always. Unfortunately I think we may look at a different resort should we return to this island again. Sad - as it was one of our favourites in previous years.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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1  Thank 2014Karen52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 April 2014

My father and I stayed at this wonderful resort from April 11th-18th. The room we stayed in was a bungalow, and I would definitely recommend that you choose a bungalow as well. The room was always very clean, always had hot water in the shower and we had bottled water delivered daily. Our maid was very kind, and did an excellent job making sure everything was spotless. She even made the bed sheets into pretty bows, and folded towels into various creatures. They have a 24 hour bar with a nice variety of drinks. The bartenders were engaging, but didn't seem to be working for tips. Our favourite bartenders were Javier, Roberto and Dunenky. Since it's a small resort, the relationships between the staff and guests were great, and got to know your preferred orders quickly. There was a variety of food as well, however the food was just alright. They had shrimp, pasta and even rabbit one night, plus lots more. Our personal favourite was the homemade pizza that they made right in front of you. Dinner doesn't open at the buffet until 7:00, and the 2 other restaurants need reservations. Breakfast opens at the buffet at 7:30. They had some fresh fruit, (although some of it was packaged) omelettes, various pastries and crepes and much more. My one complaint about the food overall was they don't make fresh bread every day. The bread for the majority of time was not fresh and quite stale, but they did make fresh bread one day and it was very tasty. We brought our own ketchup, hot sauce and peanut butter, and I recommend you do the same, because they don't have regular ketchup and mustard or any peanut butter at all. We were told that the ketchup is not very tasty, so that was a wise decision on our part.
Cayo Largo is quite a small island, so you get to know the town quickly. There were buses that come right to the resort and drive about 10 minutes to get to the marina. They have little shops there, a cigar shop, bank, pharmacy and even a sea turtle hatchery. This was definitely worth seeing, and the prince of 1CUC per person was unbeatable. The turtles are in pools were you can reach in and touch, feed and even pick up the turtles. The man who was working there was very knowledgeable about the turtles and was able to explain to us about the turtles in English. There was a boat that takes you to a different beach with dolphins and catamaran. We took a boat from this other beach (Called Playa Sirenas) to a reef where we snorkeled. Snorkeling was 25CUC per person for 1 hour, and it was gorgeous. The reef was beautiful, with a variety of fish and marine plants. The snorkel staff spoke some English and were kind.
The staff at Playa Blanca do not work for tips. They are very attentive, particularly the maids, bar staff and buffet staff. If you sit in the same area every day in the buffet, you will get to know your waiter and waitress quickly. Our waiter was named Alexei, and he was always cheerful and engaging. The staff are thankful for any gift or tip you leave for them.
The beach was beautiful, with smooth white sand with not a lot of rocks in the water. The waves were medium-large depending on the day. Lots of people talked about how the waves were violent and huge, but if you are a pretty good swimmer, swimming can be very enjoyable, and jumping in the waves was one of our high points. They don't have lifeguards, however, we didn't find the waves to be so violent that they were necessary. The only sea life at this beach were small, silver fish and seaweed. For the most part, the seaweed level was low, although we did have one day where there was quite a lot of it.
Overall, we enjoyed our trip very much, and rating it out of 10 we'd give it and 8.5. I would recommend this resort and would love to visit again!

Room Tip: Definitely choose a bungalow room, it is quite, with good service and the AC works. We stayed in 2221
  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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6  Thank Rachel B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2014

From March 28-April 4 we experienced the following:

On and off water for 2 out of 7 days
Absolutely no hot water the entire time (cold showers every day)
Broken lock on the bathroom window (first floor room)
No coffee on 2 mornings (due to no water)
ran out of beer at one point
Didn't know how to make Mojitos
mixed drinks were terrible
24hour bar staff were miserable
dining room staff overly smarmy
The layout of the pool area and 24 hours was no condusive to enjoyment
No swim up pool
restaurant staff in beach side restaurant ignored us a lot
The water features and fountains were dry and looked disgusting
The treadmill in the fitness center didn't work
The beach had a habit of washing away

However, the maid service was very good
the food was very nice
Massage was very nice

We met a lot of people who had stayed there in the past 4-5 times and say it used to be good, but will not stay there again.

I will NOT recommend this hotel!

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
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4  Thank Linda C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 April 2014 via mobile

This was my second trip to Cuba, but the first time staying in Cayo Largo. I was drawn to it by the reviews of the beach being so beautiful , the snorkeling undeniable, etc.
upon arrival we were given a room that once opening the door a HUGE (as the man behind the desk called it) "le cookarocha " came toward us as well as the undeniable smell of mold. My friend and I went back to the counter to speak with the person in charge.. Great haircut.. Not so nice attitude. After back and forth over the room being unacceptable he complied and gave us a different room in the lobby area.. This was not much better. Although it lacked the black mold on the walls. It made up for it in stench as well as the lamp shades and bathroom having mold visibly present. The next day.. And I'm talking maybe 5 hours sleep we spoke with our travel agent at TMR.. This person and the hotel manager literally SAVED the trip. We asked about switching hotels etc, but he was adamant on making things right. He brought us to a room visibly close to the ocean , everything was clean. NO MOLD! It was the light at the end of the tunnel.. From that day our stay was what we expected we had payed for .. Beds comfy ? ... Pillows comfy.. No. But who cares when u hanging by the pool all day.. Ps. The beach is nice to look at, can't swim in it at all.. Water's to rough. But u can take a journey on a bus to the main beach which is all of 5 minutes and absolutely beautiful! Also check out the catamaran/ snorkel trip.. Incredible!! Lobster dinner was amazing as well!

  • Stayed: April 2014
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1  Thank ATsquare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 April 2014

My husband and I stayed at Hotel Playa Blanca for a week from April 4th - 11th, and had a wonderful time! We had been looking for a unique, beautiful, sun-filled getaway that was quiet and low-key and this resort and gorgeous island was perfect for that! I am actually quite surprised to read some of the really bad reviews people have been giving, as we had completely the opposite experience. We also were maybe a little more prepared going into it, as we had read tons of reviews before traveling to Cayo Largo and had done a lot of research, so I think maybe we were a little better prepared than other travelers who seemed disappointed. We're also very easy-going people, and are realistic about the fact that we're traveling to a 3-star in Cuba, not a 3-star in Canada, and therefore there are certain things you just learn to live with. Bottom line, when we paid $730 taxes included each for an oceanview bungalow, you can't complain!

Here's a little rundown of the pros and cons. I'll start with some of the cons to get them out of the way:

- As many reviewers have stated here, the hotel is nice but is showing some wear and tear and could use a little upgrading. Our bungalow rooms were nice and clean, but the phone wasn't working and our air conditioning mysteriously stopped working for one night. The chain on our door also fell off after one day, as the wood it was mounted to broke away - we just used the dead bolt after that though.
- Water ran out a couple of times for a period of 3 - 5 hours each. This was an inconvenience but it wasn't horrible, as it wasn't out for a super long period of time. Apparently water running out was a problem on the whole island though, so the way that we looked at it was, we could have paid $600- $1000 more to stay at one of the higher-end resorts, but still be dealing with similar issues
- The beach directly in front of the hotel is absolutely gorgeous, but red flags were up all week because the waves are pretty rough and aren't suitable for swimming unless you're a VERY experienced swimmer. We didn't mind this so much though, as we loved walking the beach and wading in the water, and there are other beaches you have a free shuttle too that aren't far away.
- The water both in the toilets and from the faucets had a slightly sulphur smell to it - obviously we wouldn't drink it anyway, but sometimes the sulphur-like smell was a little strong
- There's a nude beach directly to the right of the beach in front of the hotel, again - we were aware of this going into it by doing our research, and it didn't really bother us much but I could see how some would find it aggravating, especially if you're traveling with children
- There's a bit of a language barrier with some of the staff, more so than you'd expect with the average English/Spanish gap - a lot of the staff spoke better French than English because many travelers from Quebec stay here.
- There's no toilet paper in some of the public places you can travel to (i.e.) the airport, Villa Marina, etc. We were aware of this before going, and packed a couple extra rolls

Now, to the many PROS and wonderful things about this place:

FOOD & SERVICE:
- The food and service are VERY good for Cuba! We had only visited Cuba once before (Varadero), to a resort that was actually billed as a 5-star, and found the food and service here in Cayo Largo at Hotel Playa Blanca to be FAR superior. Most of the staff and restaurant servers are very friendly and efficient, and well-deserving of tips. The quality and range of food offered is quite impressive: a full breakfast buffet with a fresh omelet station, french toast, crepes, desserts, and fruit. Be aware though that their version of jam, maple syrup, etc. is different than others - and they have no peanut butter - so if you enjoy those condiments with your breakfast, then feel free to pack them. We packed a small jar of peanut butter, used it with our toast a couple mornings, and left the rest as a gift to our maid upon checking out.
- There are several choices for mid-day snacks and lunch! Both an open-air buffet closer to the main building, and at the Ranchon overlooking the ocean - the Ranchon is the more popular of the two because of the view, and because you can order freshly-cooked chicken, fish, or beef, so I suggest arriving there early (12 pm) in order to get a seat. Both buffets offer pasta, rice, fruit, desserts, etc.
- The open-air lunch buffet turns into a restaurant-style 'snack bar' from 3 to 6 pm, where you can order french fries, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, pizzas, etc. Their fries are actually really tasty, as well as their chicken and rice dishes.
- Mid-day there's also the option of ordering grilled chicken, pork, sausages, etc. right in front of the open-air restaurant
- The dinner buffet starts at 7 (a little late in my opinion, but that's the only con really, and with the amount of food offered during the day you should never be hungry) and includes fresh pasta grill and fresh personalized pizza service, which were both quite good. There's also a wide selection of meats, rices and pastas, breads, fruit and veggies, and even very tasty garlic masted potatoes, roasted potatoes, etc.! There's also fresh meat carving each night via the chef (i.e.) chicken, beef, ham, etc. and a fresh fish grill, where you can choose from a selection of fish and have it grilled fresh in front of you, if you preferred that to the meat sitting on the buffet. Our favourite was probably the pizza chef, who was always extremely friendly and efficient despite a constant line-up ... I would often get a pizza with green peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms, then once it was ready line-up for the fresh roast chicken slices on top. For dessert, in addition to all the cakes and jellos, pastries, rice pudding, etc. there was even a chef who cooked a selection of fruits of your choice in special liquers!
- Drinks were very good: really enjoyed the coffee, cappuccino, and mango/pineapple juices. The alcoholic beverages were actually better than expected as well: The bucanero beer is really good, awesome pina coladas, good red wine/white wine! The mojitos were hit and miss depending on how fresh the mint leaves were, but again, very minor issue as overall we were really impressed with the drink selection.
- We booked one night at the international a-la-carte, which was great: fresh rolls, drinks of choice, salad and soup to start, fresh snapper with veggies and mashed potatoes for dinner, and chocolate cake for dessert.

BEACHES & AREA
- The beaches in Cayo Largo are absolutely STUNNING! Gorgeous colours of turqouise and aqua, and pure white sand... What we really enjoyed about visiting here was the fact that it felt like we had the choice of THREE different types of beaches: the one in front of our resort, which was great for walks and exploring (my husband went out every morning around 7 am around the rocky parts to take pictures of the sunrise, waves, iguanas, crabs, pelicans, etc.), plus Playa Sirena and Playa Paradiso beaches (Sirena is widely considered to be one of the top 25 beaches in the world). There is a free shuttle to both these beaches, via a 10-minute bus ride from the hotel plus a 5-minute boat ride. Playa Sirena is like crystal clear bath water, like something from a postcard, with lots of interesting shells, star fish, and small jellyfish (watch out you don't step on them!) to see. Playa Paradiso is on the other side of the island, and is similar to the beach in front of the resort, but way less rough in terms of the waves so is much more swimmable and better for watersports. There's also a bar/restaurant here that has decently priced beer and drinks.
- The Villa Marina is fun to visit, with a small museum, stations you can buy local wares from, and a must-see turtle hatchery. The turtle hatchery is only $1 CUC to visit, and so worth it to be able to see and pick up/interact with the turtles ... The work the volunteers do there is so important and admirable, all the effort they put in to ensuring the turtle eggs are conserved and hatch properly, and the babies are taken care of and assisted with their release back into the ocean - all on only $25 support offered by the Cuban government per month! Please email them ahead of time if you're planning a visit and get details about what type of food they need for the turtles, as they do appreciate Canadians bringing turtle food with them to donate.

HOTEL PLAYA BLANCA RESORT:
- The resort is small, and easily accessible, which we appreciate as it's not a long walk to the buffets or bars even from an ocean-front bungalow. Everything is close by: you're only a 10-minute drive from the airport, a 10-15 minute drive from the Villa Marina, etc.
- Book a room with an oceanview bungalow... We absolutely loved our proximity and view of the beach! Even when I would take a break by having a nap inside, watching some tv or reading, having the balcony door propped open and being able to hear and see the ocean waves at the same time was priceless.
- There are lots of crabs around the area, a couple of iguanas, geckos that come out at night, and tons of birds... We really enjoyed seeing these creatures as we love experiencing wildlife from another country!
- We really appreciated the rustic, secluded feel of the resort and Cayo Largo in general... Some people prefer the more busy, more cultural feel of staying on the mainland in Havana, Varadero, etc. but this was just perfect for us. Way quieter, less busy, and more tranquil and beautiful.


Overall we definitely recommend this resort, as it's an amazing value for the price, and we absolutely plan on returning! If you go visit, be sure to say hi to Yoanni, one of the best waiters there, from Kelli & Scotty in Canada :)

Room Tip: Book an oceanview bungalow room, trust me, it's worth it!
  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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7  Thank Kelli R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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