logo Old Reviews - Blau Marina Varadero Resort
Barcelo Marina Palace
London Ontario
December 2008
Arrival: March 2008
Our Arrival was fine but do expect a long journey it takes a while to get to Cuba.Don't forget people from Canada are always in a hurry they travel to foreign place but they want to still be sitting in their living room with the comforts of home.

Rooms were allright remember you are not at home when you get there,the rooms are a bit damp you and only you have to turn on the air conditioning,remember you are not a famous celebrity.there was not bed bugs when I was there.If there is then run and don't turn back.

Restaurants and Bars:
Allright tip tip tip that is the answer but they honestly don't care do you know how much they make,especially wiht the size of Barcelo Marina Palace.You just have to enjoy large hotels like that,go to a smaller resort don't try to enjoy the real feeling of being in another country, if you do go to the jungle.

O.K nothing special just a pool nothing to deep. Beautiful in Cuba without the cold at the pool with bar,room was right by it,perfect spot.Have a drink or five and stop talking already.You know the reviews that go on and on and on!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
There is enough you have to pay it is how they live.Some of them very well but if you want to enjoy your trip SPEND MONEY and stop complaining.

Other Comments:
Go on a trip enjoy it for what it is if you don't like it stay home and keep your negative garbage with you I mean really WHO DO PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE! CELEBRITIES!
Barcelo Marina Palace
Faraz & Fareeza 
Toronto, Canada
August 2008
My fiancé and I just came back from Barcelo Marina Palace, in Varadero, Cuba a few days ago. We went the week of August 18th 2008. Overall, we were very impressed with the appearance of the lobby and all when we first arrived, as seeing the palm trees, turquoise water and white sand through the main entrance. This was our first time visiting Cuba, so this was very new to us. The rooms were decent, we had the oceanview room which was great, however the rooms were not that clean, the cleaning that they did was very minimal. The beach was awesome, no complains, however there are little tiny sand flies that fly around. The little huts that they have on the beach are a real benefit, as they prevent you from the hot sun. The bars are fairly good, they do have a wide selection of drinks and are pretty quick. The bathrooms around the resort are pretty clean however, they could have done a better job. The pools were great as well, however they close the pool bar at 6pm which was a real upset. The food was ok, and the smell at La Marina buffet at the entrance is terrible. The A-la-carte restaurants (Italian and Spanish) were great, however the Seafood was horrible, we both felt sick afterwards. The 24 hour snack bar, worked out great for late night drinking when you got were hungry. They also have a night club and nightly stage dances and entertainment which was great as well. We did the petal boating out on the ocean which was fun and we rented a motorcycle for a day and drove to Varadero. And also did water skidding which was a lot of fun. We also went to a dolphin show, which was not that great. The whales, seals and dolphins do a better job at Marineland in Niagara Falls. My only advice, is to be mindful of the currency exchange, when exchange Canadian dollars you get less money in Cuban Convertible Pesos. For example, we changed 60.00 CDN and got 49.00 of Cuban Pesos. So do be careful, as you will be loosing money. Also, be prepared, they do take your passports as soon as you arrive. They seize it for the first day, we were not happy with this at all, as our passports were bent pretty bad. I think they photocopied it. The bed sheets were not that great as well even though they were changed everyday they did not seem clean, I guess their washer isn’t that powerful or not enough detergent. Luckily, the we took our own, The worst thing about this resort is the mosquitoes. They are terrible!!!!!!!!!! I have over 30 bites, my fiancé had about 15, these mosquitoes are vicious. Even though the spray the lobby with smoke to prevent them from coming, it does not work. I bought every type of OFF! Spray/Skintastic, which helped a little, but it did not stop those monsters from coming. My legs are all red and swollen and the bites are itchy as hell. We were the last resort to be dropped off from the airport and our bus tour guide told us after everyone else had been dropped off that this is the #2 greatest resort in all of Varadero, and that we made an excellent choice. After visiting the Barcelo Marina Palace, We would definitely recommend anyone to visit this resort, as we had a wonderful time, and made memories that will last forever…. : )
Barcelo Marina Palace
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
August 2008
My wife and I stayed at the Barcelo Marina Premium the week of July.28 - Aug.04.08. This was our first and last trip to Cuba! The resort is rated a 4 & half star resort, after our experience at this resort we can say this place is in no way a 4 or 5 star resort. We have stayed in a 4 star resort preivously in Punta Cana. and we would rate the Barcelo about a 1 star resort, after our experieces. We would happily recomend going to the Dominican or Mexico before going to Cuba and this resort in particular.

We were warned about the the bad food before travelling to Cuba, but never thought it could be as bad as people claimed it to be. The food at this resort was absolulty horrible, the disgusting smell just as you enter the Buffet restaurant is enough to turn you off eating in this place.We survived on bread buns for 4 days, the food itself is re used again the next day if not eaten the day before. If not for the tastless frenchfries we would have starved. We did not bother to reserve any of the al a cart restaraunts like the Spanish and Italian after the experience of the Buffet one. All in all the food at this resort is just GROSS!

We met another couple from Onatrio that had the shared the same experiances as we did, only they had it much worse. They tried the seafood restaruant one evening and they were sick with diarrhea rest of the vacation and then could not keep anything down the rest of the week. My wife and I also lost about 10 pounds during this week from hell.

The BUGS! the mosquitos at this resort were so bad, they were everywhere including our room.Try sleeping with the sound of mosquitos buzzing around your head all night.We had purchased the bug spay repellent with deet and sprayed our selves, but the bugs down in Cuba are immune to it, they still continued to bite us. My wifes legs were so bad that infection started in, creating huge red welts with puss. As soon as we got home to Canada she had to see our doctor for treatment.

The resort uses a method of burning deisel fuel to create smoke and proceeds to blow this smoke through the main lobby while guests are sitting their enjoying drinks, making everyone sick to their stomachs. They tried this method of killing mosquitos in our room one day while we were at the pool. As we entered our building we could smell deisel fumes. As we entered our room the smell and stink of deisel fumes hit us, my wife began to vomit and I became light headed and dizzy,it was so bad that we could not even enter our room. I immeidatly went to the front desk and demanded to be moved to another room, which they did accomadate after informing them of basically poisoning us to death. Unfortunatley this smell had permeated all of our clothes and belongings.

The new room was not any better, we quickly discovered the first night of trying to sleep that the bed was infested with bed bugs and we were scratching and itching all night from the bites and the awfull feeling of things crawling all over you. Needless to say we never got any sleep that night, and the next day had to be moved to yet again to another room. 3 DIFFERENT ROOMS IN ONE WEEK!!

Service, what service? The staff at this resort is so badly managed that we find it hard to believe this resort is still in business. Maybe this is the reason so many of the buildings within this resort were closed and have not been occupied with any guests for some time.Try getting a drink at the Hemmingway bar, it takes forever. The staff is slow and unfreindly even after genoursly tipping them a few pesos.
We experienced that all of the Spanish speaking guests or Europeans were catered to first and recieved better service than the English speaking guests.
Every where you looked, the staff at this resort just stood around talking with one another.No smiles,no Olah, no nothing. They all looked miserble and depressed and reflected on the mood and atmosphere of this resort.

The gounds are some what nice, but we found garbage from guests every where, even on the beach and in the water. Their are not enough garbage bins located in proximity to the snack bars or pool areas and the beach itself. The beach sand is way overrated, it is no different than the shores of the Flordida coastline. We found the beaches in the Dominican to be far better with the their soft white powdery beach sand.

Warning its best to exchange your money at the airport, the resort makes up their exhange rate as they go along and they do not give you a receipt.

All in all stay away from the Barcelo Premium Palace in Veradero, Cuba.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Mike & Wendy 
Acton, Ontario, Canada
June 2008
My wife and I stayed at the Barcelo Marina Palace the week of March 30-April 6th. We traveled to the resort to attend a friend’s wedding, as I was one of the wedding photographers.

I brought with me my cameras and tripod. One day before the wedding, the tripod was stolen from our room. When I went to report it, the staff took me on a dog and pony ride generally wasting my vacation time filling out a pile of forms while never having any intention of resolving the matter. In fact, they could not even locate a tripod to lend me from any of their available wedding photographers for the wedding, I simply had to make do without. Service: minus 5 stars.

Aside from that, we found the resort typical Barcelo – good taste in architecture, decor, food and entertainment, very poor in service quality, even after some generous tipping.

The beach was very wide, with no palm trees for shade, only palapas. The sand was fine, but with a lot of broken shells – not like the fine unadulterated sands of Punta Cana or Cayo Coco beaches. It was very windy all week, with only one day calm enough for water sports, no fault of the resort, of course. No water sport equipment was available on the other days – I doubt the US coast guard accepts “looking for wind-swept tourists in a small sailboat” as a reason for Cuban motorboats somewhere off the coast. :o)

There was a very good selection of food, particularly for those making use of the various a la carte restaurants. There was steak, shrimp, lobster, even smoked salmon (excellent!) - and grilled catfish, which my wife could not stop talking about. The cheeses and breads were also terrific everywhere we ate. The steak was very good, at least Keg quality. The lobster was hit and miss – delicious some nights, mushy other nights. Despite many people commenting on how tasty the food was, many in our group of 20 complained of gastrointestinal problems on numerous occasion.

Another surprise was how poorly prepared the resort is for any medical emergencies. There is no First Aid kit available at the front desk! There isn’t even one in the Disco – where probably most first aid incidents occur. There is a medical office in the resort, but it is only open until 5:00 pm on weekdays and only 1:00 pm on weekends - because on weekends people tend only to get hurt in the mornings, presumably.

The resort is located on the farthest end of the peninsula jutting out into the ocean from the town of Varadero, and is some 35 km from the nearest medical clinic in town. This is just plain poor management.

On the other hand, the Cuban public medical system puts Canadian health care system to shame. A cut to the chin requiring 5 stitches was completely taken care of in an hour and a half. This included a 20 min wait for ambulance car from the moment front desk placed the call, the 35 km trip to Varadero, the very professional and completely painless 5-stitch procedure (some rum helped!), the procurement of prescription medication, a 30 minute wait for the return of the ambu-car, and the 20 minute return trip to the resort. The cost? $131US, refundable in Canada.

My wife and I are very seasoned travelers and normally don't require top of the line treatment. We are just as comfortable camping as we are in a 5-star hotel overlooking Niagara Falls. We know what is considered high-end in poor countries like Cuba or the Dominican republic, and, in fact, we even got married at a Barcelo hotel in Punta Cana.

This resort did not impress us, in fact, to the contrary. In particular, given the theft problem at this resort, and the management's complete indifference to it, we will be boycotting Barcelo resorts in the future. There are so many other wonderful resorts to choose from, why risk having your belongings stolen?
Barcelo Marina Palace
Halifax, Nova Scotia
May 2008
We stayed at the Barcelo Marine Palace May 2- May 9, 2008. The resort was beautiful, however, the service was horrible. The mosquitos were horrendous. The food was not good at all. We stayed at a 3 star 2 years ago and the food and service was amazing.

The 24 hour snack bar, what a joke. We were told "It is 24 hour from 11:00 PM till 5:30 AM." They are closed in the morning for a while to get ready for breakfast. Then they close to get ready for lunch. When they do open for lunch, you have to sit outside because they are preparing the inside for Dinner. There are only about 10 tables outside. For a large resort, this was not accomodating at all. We were then told that there was a snack grill at our end of the resort beside the swim up bar by our Transat Rep. Yeah, well, when we asked the bartender where it was, he said it had been closed for about 6 months.

We decided to try the kids club one afternoon as we had our 9 and 6 yr old with us. Luckily, we only stayed at the pool beside the kids club incase they needed us for any reason. After about 15 min, my 9 yr old came over looking for his brother because the lady at the kids club didn't know where he was. There were only 3 kids left at the kids club that afternoon. I immediately ran over to check on the situation and found my 6 yr old in the wading pool alone. She was inside watching cartoons. I then went to the front desk to report her as this was totally ridiculous. While at the front desk, the other kid came to the pool with my kids as he was from Halifax as well. We hadn't met him or his parents before this. We watched for his parents to come back to let them know where he was. His mother went to the kids club to find her son and was told that he had left with the other kids. She only had 3 kids to entertain and couldn't handle that. We decided that was it for the kids club.

The entertainment was ok. The magic show was absolutely amazing. There was an audience participation show that was good as well. The rest of the nights were repetitive.

The seafood a la carte was delicious. The lobster was superb. The spanish one was ok. I had been talking to a couple that ate at the Spanish one the night before and told me to order my steak well done because then it will be medium. Luckily I listened. I ordered it well done and got medium rare. My husband took the chance on medium well, as he likes medium rare, his was still alive I think when they put it on his plate. The service at the a la cartes was really good.

Over all, I would not go back to the Barcelo Marina Palace, not even on a seat sale.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Nova Scotia
May 2008
We travelled to the Barcelo Marina Palace April 16-21 2008. We are 32 and 35 years old and this is our 3rd trip to a tropical resort. I will not bore you with the boring details of check in/flights etc because they are all the same. This resort was newer and beautiful but we found it hard to get service at any of the bars tips or not. They would rather stand around talking to each other than serve you. One evening my companion was at the lobby bar for over 25 minutes. There was suppose to be 24 hr snack bars and drink bars. We could not find any. seemed strange that none were open?

The beach was ok lots of little shells on the beach that hurt your feet to walk on and lots of seaweed in the water. The walk to eat a meal was 12 minutes we did not mind but others may. The entertainment gets to feel like it is the same every night. We just went to bed or watched tv and found there was not much else to do.
We also found at other resorts the staff trys to get you involved - pump you up to have fun and stuff. Not here.

All in all, beautiful new resort with nice room but boring. no service and would not recommend this to anyone. I only wish I knew this before.
Barcelo Marina Palace
St, John's, NL
April 2008
Arrival and Flight - April 17th via Air Transat. The arrival at the airport and transportation to the hotel went smoothly. We arrived late at night and there was only one person at the hotel front desk to check everyone in. It was very slow; especially when you are so tired from the flight!

Rooms - Nice rooms.

Restaurants - The buffet was ok. If you are a fish lover, then you will be ok as there are a few fish dishes everyday. I enjoyed the Italian restaurant the best. There are a lot of mosquitoes in the restaurants. We did not eat at the open restaurants by the pools as the food was surrounded by flies/mosquitoes. Also, the birds; which were beautiful, were flying in and out of the poolside restaurants and perched on the food counters. We watched as the birds flew out with french fries and other bits of food. The staff did not seem to mind. We however, left and decided to eat all meals at the buffet and a la carte restaurants.

Bars - Convenient locations and excellent service.

Beach and Pools - Very nice. The beach is lovely but there are too few beds. You had to get to the beach early to get a bed that was not broken. The resort needs to invest in a few more beds for the beach! Once you had a bed, then you were weary about leaving your beach towel on it and leaving for lunch, drinks, etc. We were advised that the beach towels were stolen quite frequently. Apparently, if you lose your beach towel, you will have to pay $25 pesos. I would suggest bringing your own beach towel to leave on the bed just for your peace of mind.

Grounds - Very nice and clean. The flies and mosquitoes are a real problem at this resort. My sister and so many other guest were so badly bitten that their legs were swollen and red. I, received numerous bites but they did not bother me until I arrived home. Now my legs are a mess! All red, swollen bites and very itchy. The spray with a high concentration of deet did not seem to work. Being from Newfoundland, I am used to the flies and mosquitoes but NL does not compare to this resort. There were evenings that the mosquitoes were so bad, that you had to leave and go back to your room. It was unbearable. I would definitely not return to this resort again! One evening; around 7pm, the grounds were sprayed as there were several complaints from the guests. We were told that this resort is on "ecological grounds". Not sure if that has anything to do with the mosquitoes!

Activities and Entertainment - Beach - music, fun staff and several activities such as volleyball, water aerobics, and other games in the sand.

Tours - Was booked to go to Havana but had to cancel. My sister was too sick from the bites and also, she had twisted her ankle on the small step going into the room. There were several places on the resort where the floors are not even; small steps everywhere. Just need to be careful. We did manage to go to the markets in Veradero and bought some nice things. The people at the markets were very nice!

Departure and Check Out - Very efficient

Conclusion - Beautiful resort but just too uncomfortable due to the mosquitoes. I would definitely not return to this resort. This was my first time in Cuba and I am very weary about returning to Cuba again. I was in Punta Cana once and had a terrific time. This resort in Cuba does not compare!
Barcelo Marina Palace

March 2008
We just got back this past weekend from the Barcelo MP.

We had a tough time deciding which resort to choose based on the wide variety of reviews, etc. including 2 friends with vastly different ideas of the MP. However, we decided to go with it and didn't regret it. Overall, we had a good time. We enjoyed the hotel and we had some amazing staff. I recommend tips not only to your waitress but also some of the other staff like gardeners, porters, the guy who brings you beer to your room, etc. because these people really do not make a lot of money. We also took some kids stuff and gave it and some of our son's stuff to some of the staff with kids, something they really appreciate.

NOTE: Do NOT leave your blue beach towel unattended for too long. We did and both were stolen. The hotel's policy SUCKS, as they will make you pay $25/towel upon check out. If you don't, your maid supposedly has to pay and you won't be able to leave the country. My husband argued with several staff about this policy. They'd had several towels returned by security but would only give us one, so we had to pay $25 for the other. Really doesn't make a lot of sense.

Arrival - We arrived in Varaderro and took a cab to the airport instead of the aircanada vacations bus because we have a toddler and didn't want to tour the rest of the resorts! Good choice as we arrived before everyone, checked in easily and quickly, dumped our bags and headed for the beach and the pool before dinner. Amazing weather for our first day, a definite good start.

Rooms - We requested a mainfloor oceanview junior suite in the 11th building as it was near the pool and the kids club. The location was perfect and being on the oceanview side meant it was quieter and we didn't have the hot afternoon sun. The room itself was just fine although really musty the first day and I like the partition between the main room and the bathroom area so that our son could sleep there and we could have some privacy. The bathroom was fine and the shower was great, no hotwater issues whatsoever. The maids did a great job of cleaning every day and we left a tip and an item for them each day. The air conditioning and ceiling fan worked well, and after a day of airing out the room was fine.

Restaurants - The buffet took some getting used to after we'd been to mexico, because the fruit is just not great and there is little in the way of veggies. But there are lots of options, some local and some north american. Service really varied but once you get a good server you stick with them and everything is good. The best food at the buffet was on Cuba night. Having a toddler proved good as many of the servers have kids and love them, and they were great to our son. Our experience at the seafood restaurant was mixed - great salad bar but mixed reviews of the lobster. 1/2 a side was AWESOME and 1/2 was totally overdone, really strange. The spanish restaurant was pretty good, the italian really wasn't. We didn't make it to the snack bar, the grill restaurant was decent.

Bars - We LOVED the lobby bar for coffee during the day (the best place to get coffee, skip the restaurants) and went after dinner to listen to the jazz pianist and sax players who would play for our son. We also had a great bartender at the pool bar.

Beach and Pools - the only pool we used was the main pool and it was great. Some days the music was a bit too loud but it was a good pool for kids and nice and big. The beach was great. It is too bad that it can get so windy there as there 2 days we couldn't really go on the beach. We spent our last two days on the beach and the guys who run the catamaran were great.

Grounds - super duper. like that it wasn't bunched in with other resorts like one closer to Varaderro, and they were well maintained. Be sure to view the crabs from the bridge, and go up the lighthouse for a great view. And watch for the resident dog, she's wonderful and likes food from the buffet!

Tours - did the double decker bus to varaderro and it worked out great.
Barcelo Marina Palace
February 2008
Your Arrival - We arrived late morning and had to wait until 3pm for our room which was just fine. We had a drink or two in the lobby which had a lovely breeze and the ocean view was nearby to enjoy. We had some lunch and our room was ready a little early.

Rooms - The room was lovely. We had a towel sculpture awaiting us and a stocked fridge of beer, water and sodas. The air conditioning was on and it was perfect. We had hot water showers instantly each day.

Restaurants - The buffet restaurant was better than we expected. We thought the food would be as bland as the Dominican Republic but not so. We were always able to find something that we enjoyed. We generally stuck to eating fish as we found the beef or lamb rather tough.

Bars - We love the beach and walked up to the bar by pool #1 for a drink or the one by the theatre - they were the strongest :) We enjoyed drinks in the lobby as well.

Beach and Pools - The beach was wonderful. The ocean was clear; the sand soft and white, except nearer to the buildings were there were tiny pieces of shells. The pools looked crowded, however, prefer the beach. We could always find chairs. If there was any complaint at all it would be how crammed the palapas were to one another. I felt like I was sitting with someone else's group. We eventually took chairs further down the beach which was perfect.

Grounds - Immaculate. The grounds keepers did a really good job.

Activities - I have never seen so much activity at a resort. The "Animation" team were doing something constantly and with enthusiasm. We didn't join in but they had many people who participated.

Tours - We only went on the Beach Tour which really isn't a beach tour. It takes you by other hotels to either drop someone off or pick someone up for 5 pesos for the day. We got off at 15th St Market which was fun. There are many markets along the way. Crafty stuff and busy. We did take a coco taxi back which cost 15 pesos but was worth the fun. Conclusion - This is an excellent resort and we would definately return. The staff was friendly and helpful and spoke enough English that we could communicate pretty well. I would point out that there were bug biters on our ankles. I hear the spray from the store was good to prevent that, however, we didn't use anything. All in all, we will go back!
Barcelo Marina Palace
Rob and Irene 
Winnipeg, Canada
February 2008
Arrival - Not gerat, had to wait about an hour for our room. Gave us Drinks, and it was an ok wait.

Rooms - Small smelled musty, Bed had bugs, no hot water several days.
loud banging all nite from doors of other rooms..very unnerving, lost alot of sleep

Restaurants - Ok, not Great on most days, but the Ala cart restaurants were better.

Bars - Lobby bar was the best, great people in the evening and met some great Cubans whom will be freinds for life.

Beach and Pools - Pools Good, but activity staff seemed not interested and at times were rude in their behaviours with and to guests. Very litle music played when there was it was too loud. Even witnessed some unethical behaviour betweeen Guests and the staff?????

Grounds - Fairly clean too long of distance to and from rooms my Wife had to wait for a cart due to the distances.

Activities - Did not do any , uncertain about them, and the scheduals were wrong.

Tours - Did our own, rented a car and drove the countryside to Matanzas, and back to Varedero, then back to the resort.One day is just not enough for travelling by car.

Conclusion - My wife and I travel every couple of years and are planning a yearly vacation somewhere warm. this was our first time to Cuba and we will definately travel there again. We will nbe going back to our favorite resort chain though the Iberostar, and will not be using the Barcelo chain again. This compplaint is not about the Cuban people, They were wonderful and did their best, it is the hotel management and policies we are complainig about!

We had made valid complaints in writing about our bed, no hot water, poorly stocked fridge filthy beach etc. and to date one year later nothing resolved and all concerns have been disregarded.

Also, one other item to note, we copied Sears Travel on the same letter and it seems they did not take our complaints seriously either, therefore; they have also lost our business.

Beware of your expectations when booking this resort, and prepare to be dissapointed if you have experienced the Iberostar chain " It is not the same"!!!!!>
Barcelo Marina Palace
February 2008
Arrival - This was my first time travelling to the caribbean (last April), I was in some serious shock when we got to the airport. I was pretty scared, and intimitated to go to the washroom even though I had to go SOOOOOOO badly, I didn't want anyone to hand me toilet paper and expect money. So I went to the washroom and someone handed me toilet paper and I didn't even have any money at this point other than $0.05CUC so I handed it to the lady and proceeded to be unable to use the washroom due to my own nerves!! However after that we easily found the bus we needed to go on, it left promtly and I used the tiny bus washroom promptly as well. There weren't many people on the bus and we were the last stop!! Check in was a breeze as well we were in the same building as my parents, nice and close!

Rooms - The room was very clean, and we tipped daily and were always excited to see what towel creation we would see at the end of the day! We saw the maid a couple of times and she got us more water when our fridge was low. She left us a nice note at the end of our stay to thank us for the trinkets we left! The view wasn't spectacular, we had a canal view but my parents ocean view room was amazing! It was nice to have a big balcony to use regardless of the mediocre view! No complaints about the water pressure or temperature and the in room safes were very convenient.

Restaurants - The food was edible. From what I hear no one raves about Cuban food, but I certainly had no complaints. I really enjoyed the variety of bread and rolls and my dad and brother ate steak daily so it must have been good! The service was always friendly and normally quick!

Bars - I'm not much of a drinker, but I was always able to get water quickly or whatever drink I wanted. There was never a problem with line ups. We visited the disco one night and it was quite enjoyable.

Beach and Pools - Beach was fairly windy for the first couple days of our stay and I'm not a fan of sand so we stuck to the pool most of the time, but the beach was very nice for walking. The sand isn't super soft because this resort is at the newly developed end of Varadero, but it was still beautiful.

Grounds - The layout is fairly spread out, but there was shuttles we didn't take them often, we figured the exercise was good for us!!! The buildings were all very nice, but the trees and gardens were all very immature, this was probably the only disappointment during the trip, I missed experiencing the lush fullness of an older resort.

Activities - The dancing lessons were a lot of fun, water aerobics was a blast and the animation team was amazing. Say hi to Enrique for me! :) The nightly entertainment was very good and my parents agreed saying it was the best they'd seen (they're frequent travellers)

Tours - We did the Tour that included a snorkling trip, followed by a river cruise out to a ranch where they served a delicious buffet lunch. The river ride was very enjoyable and at the ranch we were able to do some horse riding, bull riding, put snakes around our necks and hold baby crocs. We got to ride the horses twice, it was not a scenic ride but rather a ride up and down a hill on a road. The first time our horses decided to race each other though and it was very exhilerating so we went again only to be disappointed with a much calmer ride!!! On the boat we had our own personal trio of musicians that sang and played! The snorlking was less enjoyable to for me, the fish weren't all the colourful and they kept swimming into me, not good considering I'm already not a fan of fish in the same ocean as me!! My equipment (from home) was also leaking so that made it hard to relax and enjoy it!!

Conclusion - It was a fabulous resort! My brother and I got to know the animation team very well and hung out with some of them and my brother ended up participating in the audience participation night and winning!! I'd love to go back, I am currently planning my honeymoon and can't seem to steer myself away from Varadero in general, although I do want to see someplace new, I'm not sure where I'll end up at this point! The lobby here was also breathtaking, this made my nerves disappear after my airport experience started me off a bit rough!!! I would recommend this resort to anyone for a great vacation. But if the walking would be a problem get some more information about the frequency of the trolly thingys!!!! HAPPY TRAVELS!
Barcelo Marina Palace
Edmonton Alberta
February 2008
Arrival - We arrived when it was 32 degrees c. We breezed through customs and was greated by our Air Canada Vacations Rep. Don't forget to get your money changed at the airport. As soon as we left the airport to board our bus we were asked by "waiters" if we wanted to buy beer to drink on the bus...which is allowed.

We arrived at Barcelo Marina Palace at noon, but could not get into our room until 3pm...rememeber to pack shorts and oter clothes to change in, cuz sitting in jeans waiting in plus 30's SUCKS! They were nice and allowed us to store our bags until our room was ready.

DO NOT give them your passport, give them a photocopy, I don't feel safe having my passport out of my possession.

Rooms - The room was exactly as shown, we had a king-size bed, a/c was always on. Our Maid Evelyn was awesome and our fridge was always filled. No complaints about the room at all. Use the room safe and bring a padlock for extra security for the chest that is in yoru room. I stored my camera and bigger stuff in there.

The bed was surprisingly comfortable, I slept well.

Restaurants - I'm a picky eater and always found something to eat at the Buffet. If I may recommend sitting where the best servers are.....when you walk in go straight to the end and sit in the first section to your right, your servers for breakfast and lunch should be Boris Louis and Milan...they are awesome. We always left a couple of pesos a meal.

They always have fries...so it's safe. I found the meatballs that were served one day were not cooked all the way through. It's all good.

Bars - We attended the lobby bar (Hemmingway bar) after dinner every night. We enjoyed the people watching and the cool breeze. Please remember that because the main building is completely open, use the bug spray "Repel" that is sold in the store.

Beach and Pools - The beach was nice and pretty much groomed all the time. We spent one day on the beach and the rest of the time was by the pool. We found the pool bars we usually the busiest, but the pool by the lighthouse is great, cuz at the back side of the lighthouse is a bar.

Grounds - Grounds were awesome. we met a Fantastic gardener named Ivan. If you see him, say hi, he is truly awesome. He made me a hat from palm tree leaves and brought me a coconut to drink out of. The gardeners work VERY hard and go unappreciated. I brought down some hats that I don't use or have been once or twice before, they really liked them.

When you cross the bridge from the lighthouse to the main building look over the side and you can see crabs in the sand...kinda cool.

Activities - We didn't do too many activities as we were there to relax. There are lots to do....so enjoy.

Tours - We did the Havana day tour. It was a long drive to Havana and well I didn't really enjoy it. It was kinda rushed and took alot of photos. You leave about 7:45am and get back around 7:30pm....long day. If you do go and the bus stops part way there....the pina coladas are the best there!!

We also took the Varadero beach tour bus into town (Varadero) got off at the far end and walked back upwards and stopped into and few shops. I met one pan-handler, that was all. However the kids love Canadian stuff...pencils, pens, stickers and colouring books. The drivers have Canadian key rings, stickers and all in their buses. Go to a dollar store and but lots of trinkets.

Conclusion - I really enjoyed Barcelo Marina Palace and plan on going back. We heard some people complianing, but they are the type who you can never please. To phone to Canada is $2.10 (pesos)a minute, as soon as the phone is picked up you are charged, so be warned. Internet is slow and costs 5 pesos for a 30 minute card.

Tipping goes a long way. These people live for tips and I believe for good service you get tipped more but a peso here or there goes a long way and these people will remember you.

Please remember the "Repel" cuz you do not feel the bites and trust me whe you come back home where it is dry and your skin starts to dry out they will itch.

Go have fun and enjoy....you're on vacation!!!
Barcelo Marina Palace
Ontario,, Canada
January 2008
Arrival We arrived Christmas Eve 2007 at about 11:00 pm. We were dealt with very quickly at the front desk.

Rooms - The rooms were big and clean and well decorated. There is a large chest with a hasp ready to receive a pad lock. I had not read any advisory to bring one but at the last minute I put a lock in my luggage and the chest came in handy for storing bigger items like our laptop that would not fit in the safe.

Restaurants - The large buffet, the Marina had a huge variety of food at every meal. All was well presented. The staff were very attentive, serving water, wine, coffee. Try the grill at the back right when you enter the room. You can have your meat grilled freshly for you.

Bars - The bar in the lobby serves fresh coffee. Service was always fast.

Beach and Pools - The beach is clean and groomed every night. The pools are clean. The beach sand is very fine and white.

Grounds - Grounds are clean and well maintained.

Activities - We took the sailboat out and the there are canoes, paddle boats and dive masks for free. You can also be taken out in a catamaran but cannot take it yourself. My husband convinced the fellow taking him that he could sail it better and he was allowed to do that for a while until they neared the shore where the beach boss might see.

Tours - We went to Havana by bus. The guide was very knowledgeable and was willing to answer everything. It was a very long day for her from 7 am to 7 pm and then she had to get to her home another hour's drive away. I would recommend this tour for the information about the history and culture we received. We ate lunch at a large tourist place under awnings. Considering the large groups they had to serve at once it was a very good meal, hot and on china places. Was four courses too.

Conclusion - We had never travelled to a southern resort nor had we been to an all- inclusive. We have travelled quite a bit to Europe but always on our own plans. I was pleasantly surprised at the emptiness of the beach and facilities. Perhaps this was because we were there at the 25th of December. I took Spanish lessons three times and there never was more than four of us. The teacher, who also spoke French, was the star of the show the night before. She was very flexible in her teaching considering she gets all levels of students.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Ottawa, Canada
January 2008
Arrival ~ The staff made us wait a long time when we arrived, at which time we were surprised taht we could not check in until 3pm. We were tired and wanted to change but we couldn't do that because our luggage was being stored. The resort itself was very impressive when we first arrived. The views are breathtaking.

Rooms - The look of the room was a little cheesy. The beds were hard and so were the pillows (bring your own!). The room was quite clean and the adjustable thermostat was fantastic.

Restaurants - The food sucked. It was awful! The buffet looks impressive but they used very little to add spice or flavor. My friends and I lost weight (I considered that a bonus).

Bars - The mixed drinks were pretty good but they didn't use real juice in their drinks like margaritas.

Beach and Pools - The pools were all VERY shallow. The deepest one was three feet deep. I like lounging and tanning in pools where I can stay submereged so I was dissapointed. The beach was very calm, sandy blue and beautiful. Once in a while there were rocks at the bottom at the beach so I wore my clogs.

Activities - There was barely anyone at the club on the five nights we went. Most people go in couples so don't expect to pick anyone up but the staff (who are always eager to please).

Tours - I did the Jeep tour but contrary to what the brochure said they DO NOT take you snorkeling (at all). They also let you swim in a cave. The cave is beautiful but it smells like urine. Everyone who jumped in, quickly jumped out.

Conclusion - The workers were very friendly. They made my trip worthwhile.
Barcelo Marina Palace

June 2007
Food: Terrible, lots of mold in bread, same food all the time
Coffee: Sucks
Drinks in Main Restaurant : Often you get it when you are done with eating and want to go.
Mosquitoes: Lots of them
Restaurants : Terrible, never know what you will get, no taste at all, sometimes get old food, service is a big zero
Amusement Group: Terrible. These guys are just like tourists, laying on the beach and doing nothing. No involvement, no service at all.
Resort: 5 stars? yeah right. Would rate it 31/2 at most. It is mismanaged, looks old, at least 15 years old even though it was built 2 years ago. Mold on walls, paintings, chair cushins.

One good thing: Guy working on the swimming pool. He is the only one doing something, while of course the rest of amusement group is lying down and watching. There is no way I would go back or recommend anyone going to this place.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Karen and Howard 
Alberta, Canada
May 2007
My husband, myself and another couple spent two awesome weeks, from March 26 - April 09, at this resort. We flew Air Transat and had a very pleasant flight as we travelled Club Class. This was our third trip to Cuba and we have nothing negative to say about this resort.

The staff was very friendly, the beach was very long and clean - which we walked every morning. Their was a wide assortment of food at the buffet - fish, chicken, pasta and beef, so there was always something to satisfy us. Their was also a wide assortment of desserts. The room was always cleaned and fridge stocked with water, beer and soft drinks every day. Our beds were made twice a day - in the morning and again in the evening, while we were gone to dinner. We only took in a couple shows which we enjoyed. We were early risers so we retired early at night, around 10:00.

Reading previous reviews about this resort, it seems there were complaints about mosquitoes and the weather being windy. They have no control over this, we have mosquitoes in Canada that would just drive you crazy in the summer. The first week we were there was a little windy but it was welcomed because of the mid-day heat.

I would definitely recommend this resort and we will be returning to Varadero again and I would not hesitate to stay at this resort again.
Barcelo Marina Palace
George & Anderine 
Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia
April 2007
My wife and I along with another couple traveled to the Barcelo Marina Palace from March19/07-March26/07. It seems as though Air Transat fooled a lot of people in to thinking they were getting an eight day vacation and then cancelled it at the last moment.We,ll be sure to check that next year.

We have been to Cuba five times in the last seven years and I must say that this was our worst experience.
A combination of things like the bugs,poor selection of food and drinks and terrible weather really put a damper on out trip.
I did run into other travelers from different resorts who had the bug problem and I guess the weather was the same throughout,however the poor food and drinks were exclusive to the Marina Palace.
I have always said that if you are going to Cuba for the food you are in trouble but this resort even disappointed me.
The hotel is totally unprotected from the wind and covers too much property.
The rooms were very clean as was the resort itself and the workers were great.
I did find that is was hard to get a drink at any of the bars especially the lobby bar.It was certainly a tipping issue.

The pools were freezing cold and the beech sand was like walking on glass.I believe that the sand was poorly crushed coral and shells.You would not walk on it in your bare feet for sure.

The good thing about the trip is that the couple that was with us was on their first vacation ever outside Canada and though they were in paradise so that was good for them.
Would Ireturn to this resort....NO...but the main thing I want to bring up is the legal robbery that the Cubans are doing to Canadians on the money exchange.By the time you change you dollar over to Convertible pesos you have lost 35 cents on the dollar and do not even think about changing it back to Canadian.

It was obvious to all whom I spoke with that they Cuban Tourism Dept. is catering to the Europeans and the Euro currency.They even had a section of the resort set aside for the Spanish,Greek and Portuguese.

So my advise to all who read this is take your money elsewhere..I am.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Ridgeway (near Niagara Falls), Ontario Canada
March 2007
My sister & I in our sixties stayed at Marina Palace from Feb. 16-23rd. When we arrived everyone was walking around with jackets and long pants. For the first three days the weather was cool and rainy but then it changed to sun for the rest of our stay. It seems the weather can change very quickly so be prepared. This place is huge, very clean and food was good. It was a 15 minute walk from our room to the lobby but we didn't mind as our room was beautiful with a balcony overlooking the beach and one of the pools and a restaurant was very close (room # 2020).

I was not prepared for the insect bites I got (even though I researched this site) it was not so much the bites mostly around my feet and ankles. You do not feel or see these bugs they are called "Je Jen". It was that I developed an allergic reaction and I had to go to the doctor in the hotel. He gave me a cortisone shot in my rear end and some cream. I asked him what I could have done to prevent this as I had brought insect repellent and he said that the only thing that would help was to buy the repellent they sold in the store at the hotel and to apply it all over as soon as I arrived and keep applying it. I told him I wish I had known that before as I am not allergic to anything and to be allergic to these insects was a total surprise. SO BE PREPARED!!! It's not pleasant as your feet swell and you have to be very careful not to scratch as you could develop a bad infection. I have travelled many places and this is the first time I have experienced anything like this.

One place I would recommend is the "Delfinarium" not far from the hotel. It is not part of the Catamaran tour but a tour on its own. You can book it through the tour area. It was amazing as you really interacted with the dolphins and much more than I had expected. I took home a large 8"x10" photo and a DVD and the DVD is great!!! So if this is something you have always wanted to do (as I have). Make a point of booking this tour. The tour is just the Dolphin show and then swimming with them.

I had read that the "Magic Show" was great and I would definitely recommend it, it was really great. The other shows were dancing and singing and they were good but not great. The audience participation show was not good.

The Cuban people are very friendly and the Guest Relations hostess was really good. I think her name was "Katia". The girls at the front desk (apart from one or two) were not very helpful in fact most of the time they ignored you.

Overall this is a good place for a vacation (apart from the bugs & weather not being dependable). Just make sure you do a lot of research before making your decision. I think my next vacation will be Hawaii!!!!!
Barcelo Marina Palace
Nova Scotia
March 2007
We stayed at this resort from March 5 - 12. We were six adults travelling together two of whom had been to Varadero before and four who had not. Before we left we read through many many reviews and this prepared us alot for what to expect and how to pack. I highly recommend doing lots of area research before visiting any place or hotel/resort. Reviews provide more honest information than any travel agent.

Hotel: We stayed in the Cayo Diana buliding which is a fair distance from the main buildings. This resort is spread out a lot which makes for a lot of walking, that's not necessarily a bad thing considering all we were eating and we could have called for the cart to come get us at anytime. Once we got used to the walking it was not big deal. We found walking on the beach or the sidewalk behind the buildings to be much quicker than the paths. Also, during the end of our stay we figured out the the seafood restaurant - which was quite close to us - also served breakfast and lunch at the same time as the main buffet. It was less crowded and the food was better, not as big of a selection but we didn't care. The food was really good at this buffet and there were no line ups. The cooks and staff here were also very friendly.

We were also close to the pool and pool bar where burgers and hotdogs were cooked. Once we figured all this out our walking decreased significantly. Check the place out and ask questions. You'll find easy access to most things without having to go to the main building all the time. We were pretty much just there in the evenings once we figured everything out.

The only real complaint I would have about the resort is the lack of daytime music or entertainment. We had cloudy weather while we were there and really there wasn't much to do. Even a little Cuban music at the main lobby bar or by the pools would have been nice.

Rooms: The rooms are exactly what the Barcelo and Transat sites say they are. You get exactly what is listed. The maids make cool things with the towels and bread spreads and leave nice little notes. No complaints what so ever about the rooms. Our bar fridge was filled (sometimes with extra if we left a little note inside) every day.

Food/Drink: Lots of people told us it wouldn't be as good as the Dominican. It was better for the most part. I wouldn't do the seafood resaurant again, but some people may enjoy it. We're used to lobster our way and their's doesn't compare. We also ate at the Spanish and Italian restaurants. They were great, especially the Spanish. Lunch at the buffet in the seafood restaurant is much better than the main buffet. The alcoholic drinks are not all that great, much better in the Dominican. I also found that expresso was significantly better than the coffee.

Bugs: Before we went we read lot's about mosquitos and no-see-ums. We were ready. We took repellent (they also had some in our rooms) and so long as we used it not a problem. I also took reactine, afterbite and cortisone cream with us, common sense stuff that we keep at home for the same reasons. I took reactine every day as a precaution - I have a mosquito allergy - and used the other two on the bites I did get, no problem. My husband used nothing and didn't have a single bite. We used our patio doors when we wanted to and were out and about every night we were there. A dip in the salt water also seemed to to wonders for bug bites. One other note on this, it wasn't just Marina Palace where your could find the bugs it was almost anywhere. We saw people with bites from resorts all up and down the strip.

All in all this resort was pretty good. Once all the vegetation grows up I think it will be spectacular. They are lacking in beach entertainment, a beach bar and there are only a few garbage cans on the beach. People seem to have a difficult time making it to these and that is a shame as this beach is massive and beautiful. The resort needs to work towards keeping the beach cleaner, but I do think they will get there over the next few years.

I can honestly say I was disappointed with Varadero itself. It's not the hotel that would stop me from returning, it's Varadero and the extreme exchange rate for the Convertible Peso.

Recommend to pack: Face Clothes, Hand sanitizer, Tylenol/Advil, Immodium, Reactine or Benadryl, Polysporin, Band-aids, Cortate, Gravol, Sunscreen and a good bug repellent lotion (I used Watkins it's an unscented lotion and worked much better than Deep Woods Off).

Enjoy your trip, you get out of it what you put into it.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Lewis & Vicki 
Nova Scotia
March 2007
We flew out of Halifax on March 5th with Air Transit our time of departure was suppose to be 9:30 am our flight was delayed by a hour and a half that wasn't to bad .A couple of nights before we left our travel agent called us and told us that on our return we would be leaving Cuba twelve hours earlier than planned we were not very happy.Our flight was good. We arrived at our resort around4:00pm in the afternoon.This was very interesting there was so many people checking in at the same time they set up a room where we went so they could tell us what we should do and not do picture this a hundred and twenty people or more in one room and they say you can come up to the front of the desk and we will check you in everyone jump up at the same time and rushed to the front of the room butting in front of people .There were not organized at all if this is what they call our seperate check in they can keep it.We finally got checked in we were in room 1639 and our friends were in room 1641 we had to wait there for over a hour and a half for them to bring our luggage to us. It is a very beautiful resort and is very big.The rooms are very clean and our maid was wonderful .The food wasn't to bad the Spanish and Italian alacartes were really good.On our second night there our husbands got sick they were sick all night long and most of the next day.We found out all most half of the passengers on the plane got sick. We think someone on the plane had the flu .We were there for a week and did not find a drink that we liked and if we did you never got it the same way twice. We had two nice hot days and the rest it was cloudy and so so windy it did not matter how you did your hair it always looked the same.The staff had a unique way of ignoring you .There were no bar menu's to select from and service was very poor. As far as the mosquitos there were millions of them they fumagated every day and night the funny thing is the workers wore masks and we breathe in the fumes it was awful one night we went to our room the doors and windows were shut when we opened the door a big cloud of smoke came out at us it was awful. Insect repellent did not work.We checked one night to see what time the plane was leaving to come home they had us going to NFLD and than to Halifax we were mad this was suppose to be a direct flight we all got together with our rep and demanded to know why the next morning we check and it was back to the original time and we were going right through to Halifax.There was suppose to be all kinds of things going on we did not see one you did not hear music playing all day long like you do in other resorts. It almost seemed like a retirement resort They rate this as a five star resort i do not think so more like a two star. We got home on the night of the 12th the next day i was at the doctors my legs are all red and covered in blisters and swollen from the insect bites the doctor told me i was full of infection I am on pills and have to keep them up.So please any one that is allergic to insect bites this is not a resort for you. This was one vacation that i will never forget .
Barcelo Marina Palace
A . Bungay 
Nova Scotia Canada
March 2007
My husband, myself ,sister and her husband have just returned from Barceló marina palace Varadero Cuba.What was supposed to be a 8 day vacation and a direct flight from Halifax turned into a 6 1/day stay, and a eight hour flight home because Air transit decided to change our plans and fly us to NFL first before going to Halifax We flew West Jet down and it was a very comfortable flight.Arrived at the airport in Cuba and all went well there, didn't have to wait long in lines and decided to change over some money there but you can do it at the hotel and its about the same. The bus ride into the resort was nice,, about 45mins. Check in at the hotel took a while but there were a lot of people checking in that day so that was understandable.They will ask to keep your pass port at the front desk and ask you to pick it up the next day, I was not too crazy about doing this but did ,and all turned out ok. Our room wasn't ready but my sisters was so we dropped our luggage off there and went to seek some lunch, we ate at the light house and it was delicious,then headed for the beach. Lots of chairs there and the water was beautiful, the beach was ok not as nice as I have seen before in DR or Cuba but nice.No bar at the beach so take a big drinking cup because its a long walk back to the bar, also no snacks on the beach . Returned to our room to shower and get ready for dinner, rooms were nice and clean, maids very friendly, fridge was always filled with water , pop and beer.We were in room 1633 which was close to the beach and pools ,a nice spot.The food was very good I could always find something that I liked,we ate at the Spanish, the Italian and the seafood.All were delicious but at the seafood very little on your plate. The entertainment was good but much the same every night , except for the magic show on Sunday night a must to see, very good.Now for the mosquitoes, there are millions , no billions of them, they come out around supper time and are very hungry, makes for a very uncomfortable evening,We met people that had to go to the doctors down there and pay from $60 t0 $70 for needles and creams, we had taken deep woods off with us but it seemed like nothing would stop them from biting. A few people had no bites and when I asked them how they avoided them they told me they stayed in there rooms and played cards , not a good way to spent a vacation. They itch bad and for a small bottle of calamine lotion $9 and change , so if you go there take some with you. Not all resorts in Cuba have mosquitoes, We have been there twice before to different resorts and also to Dr and there wasn't any. We later heard that this resort was built on a swamp and there are a lot of still water pools around.We have written to the resort and also sent pictures but had no response from them.If you have any more questions you can email me at wbungay @ ns.sympatico.ca Hope this letter helps. I know we will not be going back to this resort ,but love Cuba and the people there. A . Bungay ~ Nova Scotia Canada
Barcelo Marina Palace
Bob and Debbie 
March 2007
Arrived back from cuba on March 1st,2007 .Having visited Cuba a number of times I thought I knew what to expect but to our surprise the Barcelo Marina Palace was terrible.We spent 4 days in Havana at the Hotel Nacional which was great.But then came 10 dreadful days.

We just returned from Cuba and were staying at the Presige Class Barcelo Marina Palace.The stay at the Marina Palace was one of the worst stays I have had in Cuba. Uupon arriving I noted that our Patio door did not lock and I phoned a number of timrs to get it fixed and it never was.There was no water pressure in the room and had to wait at least 10 minutes between flushes.The bars were always running out of beer or white wine.Our courtesy bar was only refreshed when we tipped to get water and/or beer. There was a constant odor of sewage in the entire resort. To top it all off our room and many of other rooms was infested with bed bugs and we were constantly bitten.The beach was poorly manicured as well.The stench of rotting sea weed covered the beach and drifted into our room.The food was what I expected and was fairly good.The resort is built on reclaimed swamp and the evening was filled with mosqitoes which I knew about ahead of time and was expected. Our tour operator had this resort at 4 1/2 stars and I would be hard pressed to give it 2 stars

Many other Winnipegers also felt the same way

I have always enjoyed visiting Cuba...but staying here has ruined any further plans of returning
Barcelo Marina Palace
Ontario Canada
February 2007
My husband and I arrived around 10 ,and it took quite a while to get to our room, it was after midnight before we made it to bed. Too tired to do or see anything we went to sleep.Next morning to see the beach was quite beautiful .The food was an acquired thing to get used to,i am a fussy eater so,but by the end of the week the food was gobbled down. First day we went into Varadero on the doubledecker bus ,got to see a lot of the country side.Wed we took the catamaran trip which was quite long but worth it,swam with the dolphins and snorkled for the first time. Friday day trip to Havana learned a lot of the history which i enjoyed,but was saddened by the people and how poor it was. They bothered you alot for pecos in Havana not as much in Varadero. Got a lot of flie bites that was no fun! The disco was not what i expected they play a lot of old music. It was an experience to see how other people live ,old history,old cars and old buldings. The main entrance was where everyone hung out.we met Jimmy who was quite an amusing bartender made us chuckle quite a few times! So all i have to say is make sure you talk to your airline rep once you get there because they explain a lot to you that we didnt know,first morning there go to the meeting place where they will answer your questions. Bring flie spray very important,gifts are appreciated for the maids. I found some of the staff nice and others not so friendly.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Toronto, Canada
January 2007
I am single and travelled to Varadero with a good friend of mine (another girl). We are 2 26 year-olds that grew up in Toronto. What we wanted to find was a quiet place to relax and forget about our busy professional lives in Canada. Great food and unparalleled service were our primary criteria. A decent nightlife would be a nice addition as well but it was not mandatory.

This is my first time in the Carribean and it was an overall pleasant experience -- perhaps not 5 star as the resort claims to be, but definitely a good choice for a vacation destination.

FOOD: Lots of selection including 3 of 4 a la cartes (Seafood/Italian/Spanish/Cuban) + 1 main buffet, 1 breakfast buffet (turns Cuban at night), 1 snack bar (open for the people who sleep in as well as late night snacks). Quality was not the best (i.e. do not expect fine dining quality as you would expect from Toronto favourites such as Canoe and Bymark) but with the amount of selection, there is something for everyone. The ambience at the Spanish restaurant made it my favourite with Kenny G favourites playing all night (though do not get the Seafood Casserole dish). You can win the hearts of the waitors/waitresses with small gifts in the morning. One gave us some postcard gifts in return!

ROOMS: We had a Junior Suite (1207) which was always clean and had plenty of bottled water. We left 2 small gifts for our maid everyday so we were able to get extra towels (when the AC was too strong at night) and tissues (for our day tours around the island where toilet paper was scarce). She left us interesting sculptures and a note on our last day in appreciation. I killed 4 misquitos in total in the bathroom (for the 7 days). I had about 15 bites at the end of the week so bring your insect repellent (and something strong too!). Our room is located near the Theatre so you can hear some music (not disturbing) but it is a close walk to the main area of the resort. Shuttle buses are there if you need to get to the other side of the resort (tipping is recommended)

DAY TOURS: Each day tour costs on average $90 CDN and are well worth it. We went on the Seafari (Cayo Blanco beach is ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING), Jeep tour (you get VERY sandy while on the Jeep, motorboating was very fun), and Havana (day only -- learned lots about the history of Cuba from our tour guide).

NIGHTLY ENTERTAINMENT: This starts at 10pm and there is a different show each night. Most have women in embellished bikini costumes shaking their stuff throughout the performance. If you see one, you've seen them all -- but if you have nothing else to do, it's entertaining to watch. The magic show (Sunday night) is a must see.

DISCO: This is NOT for the mid-late 20s crowd like clubbing in Toronto. The crowd here is mostly older (30+) and on any given night, there is no more than 30 people attending the disco night (which starts at 11pm). Before I left the resort, a worker told me that the staff normally attend on their nights off (but I wasn't there on those nights to witness) so it might be more lively during those nights. Every 3 months Barcelo has an employee appreciation party happening from 3-5pm at the Disco room (so you may want to try and attend that for what its worth -- it happened the week we were there so the next one will come up in March)

EXTRAS: Tennis lessons at 9am -- not many people take advantage of this, but I did so I had a private lesson. Spanish class at 3pm -- you learn the basics so you should take this as soon as you arrive (takes place at the Theatre). Dance class at 11:30am -- you learn Salsa (Cuban style) basics and it was fun as you do it on the stage of the Theatre. Spa -- not very popular as I rarely ever saw people taking advantage of the massage services (need to pay). Gym -- I went 2 times during my stay -- a few people make use of the facilities (new and clean equipment).

RESORT OVERALL: Main desk attendants appear to be friendly but don't always attend to your needs (like a 5 star resort) (asked twice for an extra towel and got nothing -- they claimed that they have no extra blankets and once claimed that they didn't have bottled water at the moment). 99% of the rest of the staff is always friendly and smiling which is great -- much the same as the rest of the people staying at the resort (mostly Canadians and British). There is a pianist that plays near the lobby every evening (from about 9-10pm) and it is beautiful to listen to.

First and last 2 days of our trip were spent around the resort -- only 1 day was overcast and one late afternoon was raining so we were able to get the tan that we wanted. Remember to bring a sweater/windbreaker for the windy nights (especially this time of year)

Please feel free to contact me with more questions: queenmeesh@hotmail.com
Barcelo Marina Palace
January 2007
Arrived in Winnipeg last night and had to include our opinions. Amazing people, amazing resort, great culture and heritage! Everyone knows the basics... bus transfer, check in, keeping the passports. For us there were absolutely no problems. Passports were available the very next morning and retrieving them was hassle-free. Friendliest and most pleasant people we have ever met. Tour guides, waiters, bartenders are all very proud of their country, well informed and willing to answer any and I mean any questions, no topic is forbidden.

Every buidling in this complex is no more than 100 meters from the beach. You have to keep in mind that this building is at the extreme end of the peninsula, you can travel no further on the highway than this complex. The peninsula is 23 kilometers long and only 550 meters wide. At this extreme tip wind must be considered a part of the environment. Having said that, a breeze in 30 degree Celcius heat and also high humidity, cannot be considered a nuisance.

Being at the end of the peninsula must be considered for those wanting ease of access to anything. It was a bonus for us, since we enjoy peace and quiet. Taxi into Varadero runs about 12-14CUC, scooters rent for 15CUC for 3 hours, with better rates for longer periods. Varadero tourbus runs on the half hour, costs 5CUC and is good for the whole day. Cars can be rented 75CUC per day with 100 free kms, 0.35CUC for over mileage. If you rent, please remember to drive very defensively, many vehicles do not have brake lights!!

Many reviews have comments about the food. We found it very good. Extremely varied, (yes, brussels sprouts on the breakfast menu!), flavourful, and if you arrive at the scheduled start of mealtimes, quite hot. Late arrival at the buffet can result in your meal not being hot but warm. There should be something for everyone at the buffets, unless you have a medically restricted diet or only eat Grandma's cooking. The biggest thing I told my wife is that this is not a cruise ship, there will not be a gastonomic delight in Cuba. Food is plentiful, varied, tasty, and usually hot. Palates expecting Cordon Bleu cuisine should look elsewhere. The a-la-carte menus are very good, too bad we only get 3.

Over all, a wonderful time. WE WILL BE BACK!!!
Barcelo Marina Palace
Brooke and Ashley 
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
January 2007
We visited the Barcelo Marina Palace in Varadero, Cuba from Jan. - Jan. 8, 2007. We are 28 years old and from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We are married and this is our second "tropical vacation" ( Punta Cana last year).

The flight and customs were uneventful, but at the airport in Varadero it took quite awhile for our luggage to come out - well over an hour. We found our bus to the resort easily - the Air Transat rep was right ouside the luggage pickup and directed us on which bus to get on. Once on the bus they offer juice to drink, with a little splash of rum - watch out - they want to charge 3 convertable pesos each drink when you get off the bus.

The ride to the resort was fairly quick (30 min), and we had a great tour guide who explained a bit about Cuba and taught some Spanish. Check in was easy, we had to leave our passport 24 hours (which is fine, another person checking in said she's a return customer and she has never had an issue doing this). The staff at the reception were wonderful - very helpful and cheerful.

We were in room 2212, an oceanview room in prestige club. It was great - the rooms were large and clean and looked just like the pictures. It had a great view of the sunrise over the ocean, and of the pool. The resort is quite long, so this room is quite far from the main buffet and theatre (15 min walk), but we enjoy walking, so it's great. We left our maid a few "gifts" each day (lipstick, perfume samples, lotions, hair clips, gum) which she really seemed to appreciate and reciprocated by creating towel sculptures and leaving sweet notes (and extra beer and H2O in the fridge).

The Main Buffet- it says everywhere that it doesn't open until 7:30, and if you go then or anytime after you have to wait in line 10-15min. We noticed on our third day that people were eating in there at 6:30, so we went in and ate then. Every night we went before 7, and never had to wait (when we would leave there would be a line). We found the food to be pretty bland, and there is not a large selection. The choices offered seemed to be the same everyday. There wasn't even a big selection of fruit!We ate at 2 a la cartes: seafood and Italian. The italian was okay - fried shrimp great appetizer, good soup, but pretty bland pasta(and undercooked?), and dessert (cheesecake) was okay. The seafood had a great selection at the salad bar, and served fresh warm rolls. We had "Varadero Lobster" which was different - not as good as the ones from the east coast.

No coffeemakers in the room - and it is Really hard to find good normal coffee. We would ask for coffee and get cappucinos, instant,expressos, tec. Finally one morning in the buffet my husband saw a waiter pouring "normal black coffee" and we called him over. Every morning after we always looked for him!

The beach was huge and beautiful! There were 3 sections of beach -the main one (outside the lobby) was the nicest -nice, soft sand, shallow blue clear water. The one by the Prestige club rooms had more shells and the sand a bit coarser. Also, wear watershoes in this area - my husband got snapped by a crab, which broke skin. We also saw dozens of crabs in this area one morning; we are not sure why so many, but they bury themselves in the sand underwater and you can't see them until you step on them! We also saw a huge starfish, lots of little fish, and my husband saw a stingray out snorkelling by the weeds -so bring an underwater camera. There were tons of shells to collect too!

The pools seemed really big and nice, alot of people hung out there and would get there early to get good loungers. We preffered the beach and the ocean though.

We took the Double decker bus a couple times into Varadero - took about 25 min to get to the good market (1st and 15th), but took about 45 min to get back to the resort. Great deals at the flea markets - shop around, some vendors have much better prices. There is an ATM in the Plaza America - but it only takes Visas and Mastercards - its on a wall on the main level.

We took the Havana Day trip with the Tropicana show -this is definitely a MUST! What a great city, and to finish it off with huge show is amazing! This is worth the 145 Convertable pesos per person. Includes bus tour, meals, drink at each meal, and Tropicana show with drinks. It took about 2 hours to get to from our resort.

We also did the speedboat tour, which is supposed to be 2 hours. But they dawdle around so much when you get there that the tour is only 1hr 25min.

But it is still lots of fun and worth the 39 pesos pp. Don't take the jet-skis - they aren't real jetskis, and we saw a couple broken down while we were out.

The weather was amazing the entire time- no clouds and in the high 20s and even low 30s last day + the humidex. It was a bit windy by the beach, but what do you expect, it's the ocean!

The bartenders and maids get some pretty good tips, but other people, such as the groundspeople, don't get tips and work just as hard. We saw a groundsman cutting grass with a swath in the mid-afternoon (had to be about 29C) and he was soaked in sweat, and he still smiled and said hi. My husband gave him a couple pesos, and he was so suprised and excited and grateful!

Many people forget about these guys who make the grounds look so beautiful, so give them a peso or two.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Montreal, Canada
December 2006
We have just arrived home after a week in Varadero at the Barcelo Marina Palace (Prestige Club). First I must say that the bus ride from the airport to the hotel was fairly quick (35 minutes) and the guide on the way was very informative. Once we arrived at the hotel, the entrance was very impressive. We were greeted with welcome drinks in the lobby while we checked in.

Speaking of check in...we arrived at 3:30 in the afternoon and were told that our rooms were not ready. I don't understand but however, we made the best of the situation, had a drink and waited for the room. The front desk kept our luggage in an area off the check in so we did not have to worry about that. The other thing we found a little disturbing, is that we were required to leave our passports at the front desk until the next day.

Once we got our room, we found that they were large, very clean and very comfortable. A nice touch was a bottle of rum on the table, stocked mini bar, bath robes and a safe which was all included in the prestige club vacation.

Room service throughout the vacation was perfect.

Now I must say that I was not impressed with the food situation. Brussell sprouts on the breakfast buffet was a little much to take! Food was just so, so. The Seafood Restaurant (El Faro) was nothing to write home about. I ordered the lobster (included in the vacation price) had about 2 tablespoons of meat in the entire half lobster that is served to you. Absolutely no coffee or tea available at this restaurant.

The beach is not exactly what we had expected. It is not the white powdery sand that we thought would be there but a darker more coarse sand. Not the end of the world but the seaweed and the nauseating smell was enough to get to you.

A word of advice for people on the ground floor, if you have bites that don't look like mosquito bites, check your room for ants. There seems to be a problem in some of the first floor rooms.

Take mosquito spray or wipes with you, the insects are ravenous during the evening!

This is a new hotel, and will only be open 2 years April 2007. There are some areas that need improvement but all in all, it was a nice hotel with wonderful staff.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Nanaimo B.C.
November 2006
Hello. My name is Sheila and I have just returned from Prestige Club at Barcelo Marina Palace, Varaderto. First let me say, not in a boasting way, that I have travelled quite a lot. I am 70 years old, and thankfully still energetic and young at heart. Having read reviews on this page before I would like to add my thoughts on the above resort.

I travelled with my daughter and son-in-law, who are half my age and this report includes their opinion.

The entrance was a wonderful surprise - opulent in every way, the trip there by bus was short and hosted by a very knowledgeable young lady who explained quite a bit about the trip and the country.

The rooms were beautifully equipped, spotless, and I don't know if it was because we upgraded, but also included a bottle of rum, a welcoming letter and a mini bar with beer, pop and bottled water, which was replaced every day. The maid service was excellent and on the whole people are very friendly - albeit very slow. We soon found the way to the heart is through the Peso, and after waiting half an hour for a drink in the lobby, dropped 5 on the bartender, and had no problem thereafter!! Service in the buffet was brilliant - once again a little "incentive" helped, but we were well taken care of. The beaches, which you don't read too much about, are wonderful, the ocean, not as warm as one would expect, but great, and plenty of shade. The pools were very cold, and I guess November is not their warmest month, again, service slow but friendly. Unfortunately the music was VERY loud. Now the down side........ I am not fussy but the food certainly was not great. The la carte restaurants, for me, were non edible!! Again - the staff are great, but this hotel would be better if it had a new, perhaps Spanish, efficient management.

Worst of all THE BUGS. I guess they were mosquitoes, although I never saw an abundance of them, but whatever bites, bites well and I am still scratching all night on at least 60 welts on my legs, my daughter is even worse. We tried bug spray, that didn't work, now I have tried alcohopl rub- solacaine - and just recently have smothered myself in Vaseline to at least try to remove the redness.

We couldn't undertand why we also got eaten alive in bed - my daughter did trap one offender, and the scary part was - it jumped!!!!!

Maybe this will one day be a five star resort, but at present to us it rates three and we have all decided (as had most of the people onn our plane) we will not return.
Barcelo Marina Palace
NB, Canada
July 2006
We had a fabulous Spring Break Vacation at this resort. My 50's mother.. my 8 yr old son and myself.. we found plenty to do, great food.. buffets were always full of wonderful choices and the restaurants offering Fine Cusine.. We thought the service could have been a little better.. however, being a new resort and in Cuba where everything is so laid back and relaxed we really found it to be more than acceptable.

If you are going to Varadero this is the best resort in the area.. the newer Sandals resort next door to this resort looked nice.. but all the others along the stip looked older and I would have been disappointed to have booked at any of the others.. Marina Palace is grande and beautiful the lobby is gorgeous and entertainment was wonderful.. beach is spectacular.. everything we expected it to be!

I would rate this resort a 5 star.. and am sure in years to come it will far exceed most 5 start resorts...
Barcelo Marina Palace
May 2006
Just got back from the Barcelo Marina Palace on Monday May 21st.

After having read some negative reviews (after I booked my trip) I was relieved to come away with a different impression of this resort. Certainly, it is not perfect, but then no resort is, and lets face it people have varying expectations. We had a super time and met some very nice people. Our intentions when booking this holiday were to relax and enjoy the "Sun and the Rum" - we did just that!
Here are my thoughts:

Staff: Hardworking, pleasant, and helpful.

Pools: We spent most of our time at the main pool where all of the action takes place. Throughout the day the animation staff offers dancing lessons, pool volleyball, aerobics, etc. There was always music playing and one can get a drink by swimming, or walking up to the bar. There is also a quiet pool available if you prefer.

Beach: The beach goes on forever and there are always lots of lounges available. The water was warm and a beautiful aquamarine colour. I will admit it was not my favourite beach but then I have visited lots of islands and have found none that compare to the one at the resort I stayed at in Punta Cana.

Food: This was my biggest concern when booking this trip as my husband is a very picky eater. The main buffet, "La Marina" is very big and always offers a huge selection of foods. I find it hard to believe that one could not find something they liked here. For breakfast I ate the waffles with strawberry sauce and fruit, or enjoyed a ham and cheese omelette. But there was something for everyone - toast, donuts, pastries, cereal, bacon, sausages, cheese, cold cuts etc. At dinner I loved getting pasta at the pasta bar, or rice and vegetables. My husband enjoyed both the grilled pork chops and steak. We never went hungry and I cannot imagine how anyone could.

A La Carte Restaurants: We went to the Italian and Cuban restaurants. The Italian was the best and I enjoyed my food. My husband thought it was okay. The atmosphere is pleasant and it made for a nice change to sit down and get served instead of eating at a buffet. The Cuban restaurant was average. We really enjoyed our appetizers but found the chicken we ordered a little dry. However, another couple we spoke to loved it which just goes to show how differently we all perceive things.

Bars: The only one that was very busy was the lobby bar in the evenings. However, the bartenders work very hard to serve everyone in order. For those who have complained that it is difficult to get a drink I agree at times it was difficult. Perhaps this is a reflection of how people treat each other and not how good or bad the staff is. I saw many people butt in and shout out their orders when clearly there were other people in front who had been waiting longer. I wonder if everyone behaved courteously would they get served faster?

Gym: I am an avid runner and prefer to do so outside and not on a treadmill. However, I used the gym twice to do weights. It was well equipped and there is always a fitness instructor present. He was pleasant and very helpful and always ready to offer suggestions on how to improve your workout.

Excursions: We went on the Havana day trip. I would highly recommend doing so if it is your first time in Cuba. In order to see the real Cuba you need to travel outside of the resort area. We also took the double decker bus into Varadaro to do some sightseeing and shopping. We enjoyed this very much. Lastly we took the catamaran excursion to go snorkelling and have lunch on the island of Cayo Blanco. We enjoyed this trip as we met some really nice people. However, I was somewhat unimpressed with the snorkelling. I have snorkelled in Aruba, and the Dominican, and found the snorkelling off these islands better.

Entertainment: We only saw one show and it was entertaining (singing and dancing) . However, we eat late and tended to end up chatting with people at the lobby bar after dinner. Apparently, there is a different show every night and on Sundays a magic show. (everyone gave this show rave reviews but we did not see it as we flew in and out on Sunday)

Rooms: Clean, bright, well maintained - absolutely no complaints.

Mosquitoes/Flies: Yes they showed up in the evening particularly during dusk. I took bug spray with me and made sure to put it on prior to going out in the evening. As a result I only got a couple of bites, my husband got none. Some people did have alot of bites. So I highly recommend you bring bug spray and make sure to use it in the evenings. I spoke to people from another resort further down the beach and they also said the mosquitoes were out in the evening.

Pet Peeve: Litterbugs and hotel guests who seem to think it is okay to put their cigarettes out on the beach and then leave the butts behind. All they need to do is keep a plastic drink cup with them, put a bit of sand in the bottom, and then put the cup in the garbage when they leave. As well, I recommend leaving the beach as you found it - clean. Take your garbage with you.

Overall, a very enjoyable experience. I liked Cuba and hope to return again one day. However, so many places to see, so little time....
Barcelo Marina Palace
May 2006
We just returned from a wonderful week at the Barcelo Marina Palace. I booked late Feb. and was a bit nervous after reading all the bad reviews. I work in the travel industry here in Moncton and was drawn to this hotel because of the variety and choices of restaurant, the big beach and the faxt that it's a new resort. I also knew we had to keep a open mind as they are only in their second year. This hotel did nothing but amaze us.

We left Apr 22 on the Moncton/Westjet flight . We were 1 hour delayed "left around 7:20pm , but hey no problem right ....We're all on vacation. The flight was good. Enjoyed the TV service and the meal. I love Westjet and think their service is the best. Always ready to greet you with a smile. We arrived in Varadero and got in line at customs. Yes I must admit the line is long , it's hot and not fun but what can you do. It took about 30-45 mins to get through (not bad) . Our luggage was waiting for us on the other side . Changed our money and out to the bus. We were greeted by our Air Transat Rep which told us which bus to go on. As we approched our bus we realized our Cubana Rep "Luis" was the same we had last year ( last year we stayed at the Breezes VRA). We were happy to see him again. We were the other hotel stop on that bus which was great. The drive went good to the hotel. Luis' funny jokes made the drive go by fast. The lobby of the hotel as we approched was breathtaking. Gorgeous. Check in was very fast. We found out that we were upgraded to one of the suites on the Island "Cayo Libertad". It is a bit of a walk but it seems farther then it really is. We walked it everyday and it took no more then 10 minutes to get to the main building where you could find the buffet , main bar , internet (10CUC per hour - calling to canada is 2.10CUC per minute) and shops. If you didn't want to walk you could always take the golf carte to the main building.

We found the buffet restaurant was great , many choice and the staff was always there to greet you with a smile. As for the A la carte restaurants , we only tried to Cuban restaurant and found it to be good. You can always find something to fill your belly.

The best was just gorgeous. Big , wide and always with a cool breezes which I found to be very refreshing. You could always find a spot. No need to get up early.

The rooms were awesome.We had a lovely 2 storey suite with an amazing oceanview! The room was very clean. Our maid Louisa was the best. She always left us beautiful decorations and nice messages. I left her gifts everyday (wide range - soap , toothpaste, hair clips , deodorant , clothes and a few other items).

We meet a lovely couple getting married at the hotel and were invited to share in their special day . For anybody looking at getting married it was gorgeous. The setting " wedding gazebo overlooking the ocean", the decorations and ceremony was beautiful. They said they were treated like a king and queen.

We decided to go to Havana one day and took a cab instead of the tour. We were 4 of us and found this to be the best thing for us as we didn't want to be gone the whole day.It was 160CUC total there and back so it came to 40CUC each! Not bad at all! Our cab driver was so nice, spoke English well and explained everything to us. He would ask us if we wanted to see certain things ; if we did he would stop and if not he would keep going. We left at 9:00am and got back to the hotel at 4:00pm . I loved Havana and definitely think it's a must see. This way or the tour is a good way to see Havana!

This hotel was by far the best hotel i've been too yet. This was my 4th time to Cuba , second to Varadero and I can say I had a wonderful vacation. There is just something about Cuba that I love. I've been to DR and a few other places and to me nothing compares to Cuba. I would definitely go back in a heart beat.
Barcelo Marina Palace

May 2006
After many terrible reviews on websites, I still had the misfortune of landing here. First of all, Varadero weather is very up and down November thru March, one day can be 24 the next is 12, windy and raining. You’re not in the Caribbean, just 100 miles from Florida. Next, bear in mind the food here has always had a bad rap. In my mind because they cannot or will not import much, they do have plenty food, but it’s mostly luke warm stodge, rice, muffins even most veggies are frozen cauliflower and broccoli. 3 types of fresh fruit all week! That’s it! This hotel had most of its 24 hr “grills” leaving much to be desired, they have several pieces of meat on a plate and little else. All that you read about cold pools are true (always empty) and perhaps the nicest one of them had dead palm trees round it and a road very close where trucks full of rubble drove by – all day long. We had one good day in the sea here. Scuba diving is terrible, go to the Carib side. No snorkeling on the beach in Varadero, there is no coral and therefore, no fish – they will rent you gear, we thought it was to catch escapees from the hotel trying to get to Florida. The hotel would be great for location, except they designed and built it at the end of a windy peninsula. The chandeliers were tied down with ropes and people wore jeans and the heavy jacket they stashed away at the airport. While the hotel doesn’t make the weather, they do train their staff. Everything here was a problem. If you wanted good drinks at the bar you had to tip good, a few dollars for domestic booze is a rip off really and it was supposed to be a ‘premium resort!’ Some staff rude, most didn’t care. If you gave them a Reebok or Nike shirt though, they were your long lost cousin. The rooms were new but had bulldozers outside (see pics), wild dogs roamed the property, the Transat rep shrugged her shoulders at many complaints from “there’s a mouse in my room they won’t deal with” to “I have been waiting here for 3 hours for the tour bus you arranged.” You heard this all day long from other guests. Lots of Spaniards there, who compared it to the crummy end of the Costa del Sol. I think the hotel was in some ways under staffed – and opened far too early. They were building all over (not just ciggies in the sand but building refuse too in places), the bars were crowded as the weather was bad, the a-la-carte restaurants often closed off many tables as they didn’t have staff – which means you don’t get in of course - and yet they said the hotel was full. All in all, it was a very bad trip. Havana is beautiful, very interesting – full of beggars though, quite sad. In Varadero there are no beggars as the army only allows worked with permits over the canal and into the resort area. I went diving in the Bay of Pigs where it was hot, came back and found people frozen in the windy lobby. The city of Trinidad is a must too. Cuba is not cheap by any means. E.g. 11.5% service charge on a credit card. If you want value for a trip, then go further south or to Mexico where the weather is nicer (every day) and 1 watermelon doesn’t show up for 1 day in the restaurant because everything, I mean everything, is in short supply. Don’t ask me about Kleenex and toilets! It’s worth going once to Cuba to see the cities and people, Varadero as tourist resort is an unsophisticated place (I am comparing it with Senor Frogs to show how bad it is – at least the Senor has fun.) Having said all this, people on the flight home swore they’d be back next year – yes, you have to put it in context of people who have seen the world (or not) if you don’t know you’re missing out on a good vacation, you’d prob think it was nice…. I asked if they had enjoyed days so cold and windy they could not sit on the beach as well as the poor food. They looked at each other speechless – it’s like the cheap rum made them forget… LOL J Just as well, probably. The Marina Palace could be pretty, when landscaped and all the building equipment goes, the food and service are 3 star at best. Very bad value, and there’s the reason why it’s heavily discounted here. It simply sucks!
Barcelo Marina Palace

April 2006
I did not want to call this a review, as I am not a professional and found after reading every review on this site, about this hotel, you can only really judge for yourself. These are only my impressions of this resort. If you find them helpful, great. I have included a web page you may access if you would like to see further pictures of this resort. Go to www.personal2pics.shutterfly.com.

Who we are. My husband and I are two working professionals with no small children. Our ages are 44 & 54. We travel twice a year and have never been to Cuba before.

After reading the reviews, good and bad, I found that when you review this resort, don’t compare it to other resorts you have been to on other islands. The situation in Cuba is very different than other islands in the Caribbean; therefore a comparison would be like comparing fresh fruit and dry goods.

Please remember you will be making your decision to visit a communist country, one who is trying to make the best of what they have to offer and try to make you as comfortable and happy with your visit as they can. They are not privileged like most islands in the Caribbean to importing from all countries, but we found for this reason, they have done very well to help make our vacation a memorable one.

Food: we found the resort had a lot of food to offer and many selections. You must remember that they have no external influence on cooking outside of their own country, so when you eat take small portions at first to try. Presentation, variety and great taste is available everyday, however they cook differently in Cuba.
La Marina, the main buffet restaurant is large and carry a large selections of foods. They also have an area where they can cook up steak or fresh fish while you wait and watch as well as fresh pasta dishes.

The resort has 6 restaraunts;
La Marina: buffet open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, no reservations required.
La Duna: open for breakfast & lunch and reservations for dinner. Style is Cuban and “al fresco”
Great big lobsters offered the night we were ther. Yum.
Bacunayagua: open 24 hours and it’s “al fresco”
El Fero: open for lunch at 1 pm, seafood and reservations required for dinner, also “al fresco”
Spanish Restaurant: dinner only, reservations required.
Italian Restaurant: dinner only, reservations required.
We ate at almost all of these restaurants except the Italian and found all had great selections, friendly service and charm.

Pools: the resort has 3 pools. Two are open and one still under construction. Main pool is also where more activities and games and music are daily. Main ppool has swim up bar, very popular. All are very beautiful and fill quickly. NB: there is also a small children area for toddlers next to the main pool.

Beach: large beach with lots of sand. Water is warm, lots of Cabana’s, water sports and even two small vendors, set up their wagons in case you feel the need to browse and shop. There is no one bothering you on the beach trying to sell you anything. Suggestion, as other people have mentioned bring large thermal mug, to the beach, otherwise you’ll be making a few trips back to the pool bar for refills.

Very Personal Comments: as mentioned I read many reviews and wanted to add my personal interpretation on:
Smoke butts on the beach: it is not the locals who leave them, it’s the visitors. Help keep both Cuba and the rest of the world a cleaner place and collect the butts in a safe container and get rid of them yourself.
Tipping: locals are not walking around with their hands out. If they provide a small service and you feel you want to leave a tip, they appreciate this. We did not experience any kind of begging or poor service or better service if a tip was given or not. Just remember you live in a much freer world then they do. Anything that is given to them is appreciated.

Last but certainly not least, if you have the opportunity to visit Havana, take it. It’s not like any other city in the Carribean, including Puerto Rico. We left wanting more and found the sites and sounds of that city incredible.

In closing we found Cuba warm and friendly, with a lot to offer the world as a possible first class place to travel. Despite the limitations put on the locals, they are extremely bright, intuitive and have found amazing ways to make their lives better. We will definitely return and hope their future will only improve!
Barcelo Marina Palace
Grandma Mona 
April 2006
11 family members (5 children, ages 5 - 16, parents, and grandparents) enjoyed a wondeful week at this resort - Apr. 9 - 16, 2006.

The architectural design is unique, especially the pools!

This casual resort was ideal for all of us. It's huge, and if you don't want too much walking, you should request staying in the 1100,1200,1300,1400 sections. The 2 younger families stayed in the 1000 building while the grandparents stayed in the 2000 building - we enjoyed the walk, the grounds are lovely and will only improve as they mature, gardeners are constantly watering and weeding. There were people in wheelchairs and all areas seemed to be accessible.

The staff were friendly and helpful. We felt safe with the presence of security.

The rooms are spacious and spotless. The mini fridge was stocked daily. The safe was a convenient place to store your wallet,passports, etc. There was a hairdryer and iron/ironing board. Large beach towels are in the room on arrival as well as the usual towels (no face cloths).

There are many restaurants and we enjoyed all of them. Reservations are necessary at the Italian, the Spanish, and the Cuban restaurants for dinner. (The Cuban restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch when reservations are not required). The buffet has an amazing range of choices that can accommodate even "picky" eaters. The snack bar beside the activity pool was popular with the young folk for lunch. There is also a seafood restaurant.

The buildings sprawl along the spacious beach at the very end of the pennisula - lots of beach chairs available and huts for much needed shade. The sun is intense. We had strong winds for 3 days so the red flag was up.

The activity pool is a fun place, especially for the young. There is a huge water slide into the pool that everyone enjoyed. At various times during the day, there are dance lessons, volleyball games, etc.

The shows at night were fun, great costumes, a beautiful large theatre. The children really enjoyed the mini disco at the theatre at 8 pm each evening when they could go up on stage, an activity director would lead them through songs, games, and dancing.

My advice is pack fewer clothes and apply lots of sunscreen. Dressing in our bathing suits with cover-ups/t-shirts, before breakfast, we were ready for a day at the beach/poolside.
Barcelo Marina Palace
Odette and Les 
Nova Scotia
April 2006
This is the second trip to Barcelo Marina Palace for my husband & I. We were there in 2005 shortly after it opened. We enjoyed ourselves enough to return now that it is completed. There is still some construction at the the resort but it was not disruptive.

We are a retired couple in their mid sixties and have traveled to many places, including Australia. This is our 7th trip to Cuba so feel that our judgment is relatively unbiased.

We booked last minute through the Sellofvacactions online site with Air Transat Holidays . There were no problems with the bookings. We have booked in this manner many times and have yet to be disappointed. The charters were flown by WestJet Airlines and I have only good things to say about the company & staff. Our trip from the airport was timely and well organized.

I will only write a bit about our experiences at the resort as there are many other reviews and they are all very accurate and well written. The excursions are generally much the same in each area and can be as much fun and interesting as you want to make them. We had requested a ground floor room and this was granted. Check-in went well with no delays. There was a long wait for the bell hop and since there were only about 8 couples checking-in and it was very late at night we found it hard to understand the long wait. They also were disorganized when it came to delivering our luggage to our room.

Eventually we settled in and the night was very quiet. Generally we had no problems with noise while except for the very inconsiderate guests on several occasions.

The rooms are large and have comfortable sitting areas unlike some resorts where form comes before function. Everything listed in the brochure is an place. As returning guests we were treated to a bottle of champagne & a bottle of rum, along with a fruit plate and a welcoming letter. The fridge was stocked on a daily basis with water, beer & soft drinks. The maids were very good and supplied us with anything we asked for but we did find the rooms were not made up till very late in the day.

The grounds are vast. Since last year the resort has doubled in size. It takes 1 hour to walk the perimeter of the resort. We found the resort too big for our liking and preferred the smaller footprint of last year. The food is very good from a standard buffet resort point of view. You could always find something to eat and there was always a good variety to choose from. We are somewhat fussy eaters but managed very well with what was offered. It was the first time in Cuba that I had lobster that was well prepared at the Cuban a la carte restaurant. It will never be the same as our northern lobster but still was tasty.

A word about Cayo Libertad is in order. We had friends who overlapped with us and they found themselves in Cayo Libertad. This area is exclusive to the guests who are booked in there. It has it's own pool, bar, eating area and separate check-in. It is so far from the remainder of the facilities that it takes 15 to 20 minutes to walk back or wait for a golf cart. Since they run on Cuban time you can wait a long time for them. Several couples requested a transfer back to the main resort area. At the time of booking they were not aware that we would not be able to visit them in their own enclave so we asked reception what could be done. The management graciously changed our bracelets to allow us this privilege. We found however, that we all preferred to spend most of our time in the main facilities area.

In conclusion, I would not hesitate to recommend this resort as a good place to stay but would caution that if you like a small footprint this is not the place. The staff are courteous and try hard to make your stay as pleasant as possible. Should anyone have any questions we would be happy to try to answer them.