Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba
"the food isn't great"
Posted by: zaraiah on Jul 15, 2014
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Standing in a privileged location on the seafront at Varadero Beach, the recently opened five-star resort Iberostar Laguna Azul offers a wide range of facilities making it the ideal choice for couples, families and groups. Be among the first to enjoy this fabulous hotel!
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"the food isn't great"
zaraiah on Jul 15, 2014 >
1 contribution(s) GERMANY
Visited on: Jun, 2014 | Leisure | Solo
48 people found this review helpful
I visited this resort in February but just thought I put up a review for those who havenít been here and since I plan on staying here next month I thought I shared my experience. It was a nice holiday for me when I visited this resort and the hotel is a very beautiful place. The roads leading up to the hotel was beautiful as well and knowing Varadero I was never bored throughout my stay here. Everywhere was clean, the hotel grounds, the lobby area and the beach too. The rooms were cool from the working AC and it was clean because the maid service made sure of that every day. The maids cleaned out the rooms every day and also restocked the mini bar with drinks and water. There is no special snorkeling tour or activity like that, all you got to do is bring your gear along as you come out to the beach and just snorkel away. The beach is really amazing especially at night, I take walks at night at the beach and it is usually awesome. The buffet breakfast was superb, I loved it but overall, the food wasnít that great. The a la carte restaurants were great but you need to book them once you arrive if you donít one be stuck eating out of one. The staff was great; they were warm and nice and helped the guests out when they needed it. I urge them to improve in their kitchen and things will be better.
Stephen on May 22, 2012 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2012 | Wedding | Family and Kids
268 people found this review helpful
Iíd like to begin by saying that Iím not one of the sour grapes that enjoys criticizing about everything like some reviewers here. Yes, there are ups and downs, but letís not focus on the negative stuff.
I might repeat what I mentioned on my other review with the correction of the names as well.
We (15 or more people for a wedding) arrived before noon. Josť Javier, my first contact with the staff (which is great), helped me with my luggage. We sat comfortably in the main lounge, while waiting for our rooms to be ready. The wind was refreshing. I was told that humidity is normal in May.
My cleaning lady, Aimťe did an excellent job. I loved giving her gifts along with pesos daily, which was well deserved.
My room was ready, and I was delighted how nice it is. My air conditioning was working well. I had no channels on my TV and it was fixed shortly, Iím not here to watch TV but enjoy watching the news while getting ready in the morning.
I went to the buffet getting something to eat. I was told that the food is terrible in Cuba. I didnít find the food so bad at all. There are plenty of choices, all you need to do, is be patient and chose carefully what you want. I love fish, and wasnít disappointed. My favorite waitress is youldely (the blond girl on the terrace, not sure for the spelling) for the breakfast service. My favorite waiter is Raul for the evening service. We had three A la Carte meal. The Texmex was Ok. The second I donít remember but had red snapper, which was great. And third, the Romantico was my favorite one, I had lamb.
The wedding was moving and lovely. The ceremony was held near the beach. Alain, in charge at our table, is excellent. The married couple didnít pay twice for their wedding. They were very satisfied.
As for the pool and beach entertainers, Yenyel and Amed were amazing. They went out of their way to find me for a prized I won. Who can forget Lilly, she was amazing too.
Delowa makes great cappuccinos at the Snack Bar.
Did I mention that the staff is great? I miss them already.
I agree with another reviewer when he or she mentioned that we are guests, and we shall act like one.
Iím sorry if I misspelled anyone.
Iíll see you in the following November, Iím looking forward to it.
Saturday May 12
"Hard to beat! Great to be back!"
Claire on Apr 21, 2012 >
6 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2012 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
259 people found this review helpful
Holŗ chiquitos bananos,
We're back from our 2nd time at the Iberostar Laguna Azul in Varadero (April 3-10).
I'll be brief: GREAT WEEK! Sun all week long, only the rare shower early morning or during the night, some wind; did go out on catamaran 2 days.
As usual, we found the staff to be courteous, friendly, helpful AND thankful for our gifts and tips (with no expectations). Some of the staff even remembered us from 2 years ago (we did keep in touch with a few of them and had sent pictures from our last visit).
quick check-in with a smile around noon, with complementary cocktail.
Maricel, Anna and Alain at the Reception are EXCEPTIONAL employees who go above and beyond... That initial welcoming smile is soooo important!
19 facing pool
Perfect location and closer to the beach than our previous trip.
A slight problem with the toilet one night (DH to the rescue!)
Also a slight problem with shower head but at least we had hot water!
ADA was our room lady. Never saw her but we exchanged little bilingual messages and we marveled at her towel art each day.
Restaurants and Bars:
Thanks to Mother Nature, the lobby terrace was in full swing all week long which was great. Friendly service, good drinks (particularly at the Jazz bar, gracias Carlos). The dudes at the beach bar could learn to SMIIIIIIIIIIILE a bit more.
I've said it once and I'll say it again: Cuba has some fantastic musicians and aren't we lucky to get to see/hear some of them! We caught one trio (LAS CANTARELAS) of ladies on the Lobby terrace one night and the next night at the new Jazz bar down by the pool. Su-perb harmonies (reminiscent of Brazil's Trio EsperanÁa) and guitars. One of the ladies has collaborated with famed Buena Vista Social Club's Ibrahin Ferrer. Excellent performances both nights.
The Romantico was by far the best of the a la cartes (I had duck), and the Tex Mex (far right if you face the beach) was the least liked... but it did have the nicest setting imo (open air like the Ranchon, but with flowy curtains, overlooking the east pool)
FOOD: Yes, there was plenty of food all week but... not much variety. Food mostly overcooked and/or cold. WONDERFUL hard-working staff. Some inexperienced, slow BBQ staff (at Ranchon near beach and at one happy hour by pool). FORGET the beef, people, stick with the chicken, pork and fish. We DID have some wonderful smoked salmon one night at the buffet and good turkey and fish as well.
Impeccable. They even added a few garbage bins on the beach and most tourists picked up after themselves (thank you), except for the smokers... dang. I know it's sand, but an ASHTRAY it ain't, so guys, PLEASE pick up when you leave.
1. As mentioned by a few people on TA, Gaviota(as in The State) has been experiencing a problem with its (only) laundry service for this hotel's beach towels, hence many people went without fresh blue towels, some for as many as 3 days. Totally inacceptable for this rank of hotel. The poor staff apologized profusely and often, but obviously, their hands are tied. They've complained too, but to no avail... Guess it's up to US PATRONS to complain to Gaviota+hotels reps in our reviews.
*Note: One such day, a young Spanish woman (group of 3) literally stole a towel from a young mother next to us. Of course, the Canadian couple were appalled and complained to the hotel; the Spanish woman just laughed at them, and said "I dare you to prove it" in Spanish. HOW RUDE! (another incident is mentioned in final comments)
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We went to an all-Cuban wedding during our week It's similar to our 10-min civil weddings followed by a reception and small lunch, bar service, loud music, --the only two differences being that Cubans can ALL dance lol (me loves me some salsa) and they luuuuuuuuuv to sing Karaoke (not all Cubans can sing, lol). I also thought that Cubans loved cigars and ronron but to my surprise 95% drank beer, the others colas and rum or colas, while a couple (including us "whities") had mojitos. Only a small percentage of the people there were smokers (who went outside, thank you).Everyone was very friendly, curious, and layed back. Wonderful memories!
We went out for catamaran runs 2 days (with Frank and Julio, very nice dads, had wonderful --and meaningful-- conversations with both).
Noticed a couple of things:
For those who like to walk the length of this end of Varadero, you'll be glad to know that there is now a sandy path running around the point past the Paradisus toward the Iberostar Varadero and beyond. We walked as far as the Blau one day and could have continued right into town; beautiful 2h walk!
Many Cubans now own permits to sell their wares on the beach so people selling knit dresses, staws hats, beer mugs, shells are now being seen up and down the beach. The vendors are respectful, and under close surveillance by the occasional cop, keep their distance unless otherwise asked to approach.
One final comment: Do you want to know what realllllllllly bugs me? Incident 2: There was a line-up for ice cream one very hot afternoon, and this (again, Spanish --trust me, I know the accent) morbidly obese man, Barbie in tow, walks right up to the counter in front of everyone in the line-up and shouts out his order. The employee was obviously embarrassed BUT she served him anyway ahead of the others. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE????? What's worse? The guy with no manners or "savoir-vivre" OR the fact that no one in the line-up SAID ANYTHING?? GEEZ LOUISE!
Ok, done ranting! Hasta luego, dudes and dudettes!
"The best resort "
Posted by: Barb
on Oct 22, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Oct, 2011 | Leisure | With friend
310 people found this review helpful
We had the best time at this resort, it's clean the food is great and the staff are so friendly.
From the time we got there untill we left we have no complaints at all.
We where never cramped for tips however we did tip because we got great service.
The only thing we miss is our own ketchup and peanut butter so we brought our own. :-)
Check in was fast and friendly. The resort is large but compact you can get everywhere pretty quick.
A lot of the bars have food at them so it never seemed busy at the buffet at any time.
We had fresh vegetables everyday a lot of choices and never got bored with any of the food.
The sunwing rep was very good and was there everyday so if you had any questions she was easy to find
Sitting in the lobby.
The lobby is huge the service is great they come ask you if you would like anything and after a couple days
They know what you like.
We spent most of our time at a quiet pool and they also have a waiter that comes around and takes your order
And treats you like he has known you for years.
We would not hesitate to go back and hope to in March 2012.
Not a complaint from us at all :-)
The beach is big and very clean lots of room no problem getting a loung at all.
"Very good hotel"
Imad Nammour on Jul 4, 2011 >
2 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Jun, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
360 people found this review helpful
This was a good place to stay, and in the end, we were happy with our stay. The employees all do their best to make you feel important. They are very hard workers and earned my respect. I kept reminding myself that I was not in a 5 star European or American hotel, because a few things are not 5 star hotel quality. Things like room quality, buffet food quality/selection. But, what makes up for that is the people who work at this place. They are 10 star quality, and that is not something easily found at European or American hotels. This was a very good place to stay, and I would stay here again.
Arrived an hour before 3 pm check-in. Room was not ready until 5:30 pm. But, at least you can enjoy all the drinks you care for while you wait!
Rooms are not stocked with drinking water every day. The towels are a little cheap, but at least each person gets 1 towel. I expected an LCD TV at a hotel such as this, but you still get the old tube TVs with bad picture.
Restaurants and Bars:
Restaurants and Bars are very clean!! The employees see everything, and are fast to refill drinks and clean the table. Most drinks taste very good and you don't have to wait very long. The food at the buffet is ok, very bland though. But, this is Cuba, and that's the best they can do with what they have!
The beaches are beautiful and pool is very clean. The staff make sure they entertain the guests and there was always some sort of group activity going on.
"Here is how it is"
Robert Oedegaard on Jun 13, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) NORWAY
Visited on: Jun, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
369 people found this review helpful
The facilitis (pools, bars, buildings) might be close to five stars, but the content around it is not quite there. Helpful staff in the front desk, easy check-in. Drinks in the pianobar are good. The BAD part is in the buffet. Me and my girlfriend arrived in the afternoon, and went there for the dinner buffet. The staff there are horrible. They are over-friendly, giving you almost no time to eat - because you are answering on the "is everyhing ok" question every 20 second. Not from the same waiters, but ALL of them. In addition the waiters are obviously instructed to touch all the male guest, putting their arm around your shoulder when asking if you want more wine etc. (The house-wine is good though!). In addition, they came with a questionnare to the table on our first night, asking us to answer how satisfied we were with cleaning, service etc. They were making a big deal that we HAD to cross on "very satisfied" with the restarant service, almost hanging over your shoulder making sure you crossed that. Well, I did not - i just choosed "good" and explained that they are trying to hard and we just want our meal in peace and quite. For me it is no problem if they come and ask if the food etc. is ok - but not every second minute! And they should learn to have one waiter per area of tables. Well the result of me choosing "good" resulted in three of them standing at our table demanding to know why it was not good. After tryting to explain (again) why, and they refused to understand and started being big-mouthed I demonstratively tared the form apart and said I did not wanted to answer it at all then if i cannot choose the answers myself! The result was very poor service from that shift of waiters the rest of our stay! Kids in a kindergarten behave better than these folks.
Well, and the food is not five star either. But - maybe as five-star as it gets on Cuba? It is ok - but not exciting. The pizzas are ok, and the selection is also good. But, most of it taste "nothing".
Rooms are big and the bed is good, but not very good bedsheets (they felt wet, or sticky). Cleaning is NOT five star, but again - it is OK. You are walking in and out in slippers with salt and sand all day and only to change and shower - so the room I had no problem with. But far from five star cleaning and maintenance everywhere.
But, an overall ok hotel. It is fairly cheap (early june) and we had a good time!
"Fabulous stay nothing but the best "
Mermaida on Jun 8, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Jun, 2011 | Leisure | Family and Kids
352 people found this review helpful
Six of us stay for four days and it was the most spectacular. Would love to go again and would certainly stay here.
The service you get is like nothing before and I have gone to many places. The rooms and dining and pool area were beautiful.
I will go on a different month though because of the heat and most lobbies our open air just to warm for me.
People there were friendly and very kind.
1701 , 1708, and 1709
May 19th 2011 - May 23rd
Service in rooms was great very clean spacious and comfortable beautiful
Restaurants and Bars:
We tried the buffets for breakfast but for evenings we would tried the Japanese the International, and The Bohio which was a different name at night.
Pool area and beach was lovely
"Really enjoyed resort"
Tammy on May 24, 2011 >
2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2011 | Leisure | With Group
386 people found this review helpful
The resort is beautiful,it is laid out well.Room was Ok, bathroom was great! Pools were a little crowded but we spent most of our time on the beautiful beach! Although we couldn't swim because of the invasion of "jelly fish"- they were really Portuguese Man of War- By the next week they were all gone!Food was Ok..I am picky so I ate burgers hotdogs and pizza most of the week.. drinks were great! Service was better than places we have been to in Mexico! I would recommend this hotel to everyone!
"Stayed for 1 week with my family"
Posted by: Johanne
on May 17, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2011 | Leisure | Family and Kids
381 people found this review helpful
We had a wonderful time in Cuba. The weather was perfect but not the hotel.
It was too busy. Too many people on the beach and around the pool.
Too busy everywhere and impersonel. Hard to find a spot.
The buffet was pretty to look at but not good at all. Coffee lovers; have an expresso because the the cafe con leche is disgusting.
Restaurants ŗ la carte ,ONLY one was good; the Japanese one. The others were aweful. The beach was pretty.
The staff at the front desk was OK. You don't need to know Spanish at all. They all speak English and they prefer to speak this language whoever you are.
This hotel is very clean and new.
The service was excellent when you needed something in your room.
The 10:00 shows were great with the talented musicians. I like the cuban music.
From 9 to 10:00 very boring. A waste of time to watch the tourists on the stage doing silly things. The disco, I don't know I didn't go.
"Room was tired already but rest of resort was very good"
MJ on May 11, 2011 >
3 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2011 | Business | Family and Kids
374 people found this review helpful
My teenage daughter and I spent 4 nights at this resort in April 2011. This was my 4th time in Varadero, first at this resort. This is my second stay at an Iberostar (first was Iberostar Varadero) and I am really impressed with their smart design and overall effort, with a few exceptions.
Ok, so worst first: I got a bit of a tummy bug after my first meal. However, I am very susceptible to foodborne illness in spite of all the normal precautions so I came properly prepared with drugs and had no further issues. That being said, food safety standards are nonexistent at the beach buffet and you couldn't have paid me enough to eat there with all the flies crawling on everything.
Also, this is a fairly new hotel so I was surprised that the room (18320) was so shabby. Both the safe and the patio door were broken and never fixed during our stay and there was a chronic infestation of tiny ants. The mattress on my bed had a very unpleasant odour. The bathroom was totally fine, and apart from the above issues, everything was clean.
The process for booking a la carte restaurants is tedious and you're liable to not get what you want unless you either go right away to make a reservation or get a lucky cancellation.
So that's the negative part of my review.
The positive part is about the service, the Japanese and Italian restaurants, the awesome musicians, and the two quiet pools. We absolutely loved the pool at the east side of the resort and on one of the days we visited, there was practically nobody there. The beach is also very nice, although not as nice as the main Varadero beach. There were a few loudmouths at the resort but that's pretty typical wherever you go. There was a beach party instead of a show on the Tuesday night.
The layout of the resort is quite compact and well-planned and the size is just right if you enjoy a smaller resort.
The main buffet restaurant is all right although I stuck to the made-to-order items so I can't comment on the steam tables - the food is certainly better than at Barcelo Marina Palace, where I went last year. The drinks were great, especially at the lobby bar (that's also typical of the resorts I've visited). The wines were passable, although I wasn't exactly writing down the names so I could have them at home. We also really enjoyed the little ice cream stand on the way to the beach. I was a bit disappointed with the coffee in the restaurant but there was a nice coffee setup at the main pool bar if you wanted to try your luck there.
Overall, I would return to this resort since I figure we have probably already had the worst room available!