logo Old Reviews - Barlovento
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Tehseen 

August 2008
went to Barlavento with ten girls last May (May 2007). we flew in from Toronto and straight to Varadero. The hotel was okay but definitly nothing special. The employees were all very nice and friendly but LAZY. They did not do any activities even when requested. Mostly they came and sat with us on the beach which was nice but at the same time they were not doing their job.

The food was okay the best was definitly the MEXICAN a la carte! AMAZING! the worst would have to be the lunch buffet by the beach, the same thing EVERY day and usually left outside not covered or fresh.

umm the resort was okay, really quiet most of the time but pretty good!
The beach was beautiful high tide one or two days but other than that it was really nice.
definitly a 3* no more because of the lack of activities and employee enthusiasm but overall was alright!
would not recommend this hotel to young singles!
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Bruce & Zain 
Toronto, Canada
April 2008
My friend and I stayed at this Hotel March 21-28/08.
We had a great time.
The rooms were adequate and kept very clean.
The food was average at the Buffett but the 2 A La Carte restaurants were great, especially the Mexican one.
The Resort was kept very clean.
The staff were polite and friendly.
The Beach was awesome.
We met some wonderful people from Canada and Ireland.
We would definitely return to this Resort.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Ontario 

March 2008
My husband and I stayed at GC Barlovento for one week January 11 2008 to January 18 2008.
We chose this hotel because we could fly out of our own city and didn't have to travel to Toronto and because a dear Cuban friend of ours had started working at Barlovento in December.
Our past trips had been to RIU Turquesa which we loved but decided to change things up a bit.

I can't honestly say I would stay at Barlovento again.

There was nothing really wrong with the resort specifically although if I had to complain about something it would really be the food. It left a lot to be desired. I am by no means a picky eater but the buffet was just plain blah. I liked the Mexican restaurant the best. As other reviewers have stated, getting a good drink here is a little difficult. We had great Pina Colada's one day at the beach bar. I tried many different cocktails and either switched back to the Pina Colada's or just went with Cerveza. It just wasn't working for me.... :)

This is an affordable vacation if you get a good price. For future trips though I would select a different resort....something 4* or better.

Lot's of 20 somethings there from Quebec during our week and they absolutely took over the lobby bar and were quite annoying after a couple of days.

We go to Cuba to visit our friends and really only expect a nice pool, clean room and somewhat decent food....the rest is a bonus and the vacation is what you make it after all.

Enjoy!!
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Brett & Barbara 
Winnipeg, MB.
February 2008
The week of Jan.26-Feb3, 2008 was our 4th visit to Cuba, 2nd to Veradero. We chose the Gran Caribe Barlovento based on reviews and a friends positive referal. This is definitely a 3.5 star . Great location and a beautiful beach to surround it. We managed to get an oceanview room in the old section which is very close to the beach (the new section may be closer to the buffet and lobby and has a balcony, but is not as nice). The weather is quite warm until exactly 1pm when, like clockwork, the winds shift to the north, leaving only die-hards on the beach for the remainder of the afternoon. A few of the nights were very cool so bring some warmer clothes.

We booked two excursions through our Sunwing rep who was very accomodating. Take the JUNGLE SAFARI tour if you want a true feel of inner Cuba but make sure you can drive a standard and wear a bandana to cover your nose and mouth. Hopefully you’ll get REY (Michael Boltons’ clone) who makes this a very entertaining day trip. The other tour we took was to Havana. We did this excursion 4 years ago so our rep gave us a reduced rate because we wanted a ride only and not the inclusive tour. We noticed this tour omitted stops at the Valley of Palms and the old fort outside of Havana which were offered on this same excursion 4 years ago. It still was worth it.

The majority of the staff and service people were very friendly and gracious. Both ala cartes were fantastic. The evening entertainment was outstanding especially by the house band and dance troop, but the magic and water ballet shows blew us away.

Here are a few things to be aware of if you should choose this hotel for your vacation.

1) certain advertised items such as fitness facilities and bicycles are not offered

2) the buffet near the pool closest to the beach gave several people we met a bit of tummy problems ; avoid eggs and/or any food that should be kept cold (bring Imodium, KOA and any electrolyte powder ie. Gatoraide. These helped our friends in dire need)

3) the majority of the anime team were lazy and not very personable to guests though some did try

4) the lobby bar doesn’t wash there glasses properly, just a quick rinse (a friend found faded lipstick on her glass); BRING YOUR OWN THERMAL MUGS!!!!!!!!

5) all bars at this resort CAN’T make a proper cocktail

6) unless you like eggs every morning , there is NO variety for breakfeast (eat fruit and save yourself for lunch and dinner) The bread is to die for.

7) MOST IMPORTANT!!!! It doesn’t matter if you exchange your money at the hotel or at any cuban bank, you will still lose 20% of each dollar you convert to their cuban peso. Figure out how much you may need before you covert otherwise you will stand to lose again when converting back to your currency.

Thumbs up to the Gran Caribe Barlavento for trying. We, also, met great couples from the west (Rita&Gerard/Kris&Gary) which made our stay more fun. Unfortunately, the loss of our currency is the only drawback that would have us return to Cuba in the near future otherwise its’ people, culture and beauty will always remain in our hearts. Too bad Castros greediness has to screw things up again.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
 
Saskatchewan, Canada
January 2008
Arrival - We arrived on Jan 7, 2008 in the early evening and stayed until January 21, 2008. Check-in was fast and friendly. We all ended up in rooms with the wrong names attached but I would blame that on my practicing my Spanish and the fact that we had such a large group. They handed us the keys with numbers but not names so it was like drawing straws we each took a key and went to see what we got.

Rooms - The rooms were clean and comfortable. We were able to get three in a row because we were traveling as a family. They were all identical. The view from the balcony was of some beautiful palm trees and some trees with pretty purple flowers. One of the local people told me that they call them paper flowers. There was always hot water in the mornings and evenings but not the afternoons.

Restaurants - There were 3 restuarants the Cuban(at night)/Lunch Bar(during the day), the Buffet dining room and the Mexican Restaurant. The Mexican was my favorite and the staff there were excellent. We had no trouble getting into any of them.

Bars - I think there were four of these, Lobby, Beach, Bingo, Snack Bar. All were okay. My favorite was the Beach bar China was very nice and it was nice to sit and watch the waves. I know you have probably read it before but an insulated mug is a great item to bring. It will keep your drinks colder longer, reduce waste and get you a bigger drink. You will spend less of your time waiting for a drink.

Beach and Pools - The beach was fun alot of waves but we had a couple of really calm days. The kids used the Boogie boards on the days with waves and the snorkle gear on the days that were calm. We took a ride on the catamaran and had a nice look at the beach.

Grounds - The grounds were well maintained and cleaned regularily. I don't recall any time that they weren't working on something. They hosed down the areas that could potentially have glass and swept away all debis daily. I don't think they could do a better job. We happened accross a soccer field and my son was very excited. But let me tell you get really hot fast playing soccer in Cuba.

Activities - We often missed the activites that is our own fault because we were not real clock watchers. But we did participate in the bowling, archary and Bingo. The organizers were a lot of fun. The people at the animation hut were very friendly. We went there often for items to play games with and were always warmly greeted. This is where you get the soccer balls, pool table balls, shuffle board things etc.

Tours - We did the Seafari Tour. I really enjoyed it. We got to see the dolphins and have our picture taken with them. We also were able to pet them. This was perfect for my youngest because he would have been to little to really swim with them but for older people and teenagers it might not have been enough.

We also went to La Habana. That was a great day. Everyone took something different away from there. I had my Cards read, my daughter found a beautiful painting, my youngest girl got to go to the chocolate factory/just a shop but with real hot chocolate and hand made chocolates.

Conclusion - We had a great time and would go back in a heartbeat. The hotel was perfect for a family. And the price was reasonable. We were close to restaurants, Bars, the market, horse and buggy rides, cool little taxi rides. Something for everyone.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Rob and Kim 

January 2008
Just returned from spending the first week of January/08 at the GC Barlovento in Varadero, Cuba. This was my 3rd trip to Cuba in the past 2 years, and I have been to Varadero region multiple times over the past 15 years, always to a different hotel each trip.

The Barlovento is well located at the very entrance to the Varadero peninsula. This makes it convenient for going on tours and also for walking around varadero townsite.

The hotel itself was clean and decently maintained. Lobby, restaurants, beach, etc were all decent. Room was exactly like every other room in a cuban hotel, basic but clean with the standard 2 twin beds. A/C worked well, tv channel selection was limited, view from our patio wasnt anything special. The toilet tank ran a little unless you jiggled the handle, but other then that, there were no problems.

This resort is one of the smaller ones, so the buffet restaurant is a little crowded at rush hour and the lobby bar is always too crowded to attend. The quality of the food and drink was great and above average, but the selection was slightly less then average, even for Cuba. The a la carte restaurants were a nice change, but not significantly different then the buffet so if you miss them, no big deal.

Weather was a little cool and windy. Beach was closed the first few days. There were blue jelly fish washed up on the beach which were cool as well as a few shells in the wash.

The nightly animacion team did a good job. They do a show in the water one evening and that was really good. Everyone who attended seemed to be amused and enjoyed the shows.

Staff was mixed performance. The maid service was adequate, the front desk was too. The bartenders served those who spoke spanish and the young girls first, but I dont know of any bars that dont have that policy, lol. Restaurant staff and wait staff was very very good and made up for any shortcomings by the rest of the employees.

Overall a great trip. Hotel was comparable in my opinion to quattro palmas, club amigo, and villa cuba. (all sort of the same price range) Not as fancy as the ones farther out the peninsula, but a litte more fun and relaxed, plus cheaper.

The biggest negatives were the over crowded lobby bar and weak bar service. Also, no granita/slushy machine at this hotel. If you like to spend the evenings sipping cocktails with other tourists, this isnt the place to do it.

Note: there is an alarm system/siren (on one of the maids closets) which went off loudly at random intervals 24 hours a day. Fortunately our room was a long ways away from it, but I recall a couple times at 7 am faintly hearing it. Guests who were closer said it was horribly annoying and had been going on for weeks apparantly without being repaired. The front desk said it was being repaired soon.

Also, there was a large group of young people from quebec who got drunk and out of hand every evening and disrupted many guests. The last night of our stay, hotel security finally kicked them out of the hotel when one of them exposed himself repeatedly on the animacion stage. Not the hotels fault, but they were slow to do anything until it got far out of hand. As a Canadian, those punks were an embarassment to us all.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Michele 

June 2007
My husband and I visited Varadero, Cuba in February 2007 and had a great time. We stayed at the Barlovento hotel - 3*- and were not expecting much. We were pleasantly surprised with the place: very organized, clean, friendly staff, decent food. We only stayed a week and found this to be the perfect amount of time. After a week the beds become quite uncomfortable and the same food everyday becomes boring. You have to keep in mind that this is a poor communist country and that basic things that we are used to are not readily available here. I would recommend this place for a nice relaxing holiday sitting on the beach or by the pool and doing a day trip or two. The pina coladas and mojitos were delicious, enjoy:) They provided bottled water for us in the room and at the bar so we didn't have to drink tap water. I found it helpful to bring an insulated cup that you could have filled up with a drink or water so that you didn't have to keep going back to the bar.

We went on the one-day trip to Habana (about $80 CAD) and really enjoyed seeing all the interesting buildings and history there is there. Beware that EVERYONE wants money/gifts from you - inside the hotel and out. This can become quite tiring but don't feel like you have to tip constantly. They appreciate tips but appreciate small gifts much more and are more likely to remember you. For example, bring soaps, make-up, shampoo, clothing, accessories. We did not feel unsafe in Habana at all. We were warned that there is some pickpocketing but really no significant theft or violence. They are so used to tourists there and you'll probably see just as many Canadians as you do Cuban's :-)

We also did a day Catamaran trip which was worthwhile (about $90 CAD). You spend most of the day on the boat. There is a stop for snorkelling which didn't go too well for us. There was a strong undercurrent so we were not allowed to go far from the boat as it pulls you out quite quickly. Subsequently we did not see anything. They take you to a beautiful island for a few hours where you have lunch including lobster.

Overall is was a very relaxing holiday and we would definately going back to the same hotel if we went back to Cuba. It is not a big hotel compared to others which is nice because there is less lineups for food and less competition for beach/pool chairs. It is very acceptable for a 3*.

Feel free to e-mail me with any questions at
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Howard 

January 2007
My daughter and I just returned from a week at the Gran Caribe Barlovento in Varadero, Cuba. We had a great time, and I thought that I would share our experiences here. We left from Calgary, Alberta on Jan. 4/07 on a Skyservice B757 aircraft. We have also used Skyservice on our trips to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. I have no complaints with the airline, other than the usual "no leg room" complaint. We were seated in the rear of the aircraft this time which seemed much roomer than the middle or front. We were quite comfortable, and I will endeavour to get seats in the rear of the aircraft from now on.

We arrived at Varadero, about 5.5 hours later, and exited the aircraft on the tarmac. We were put on 2 "buses" (they had no seats), for the extremely short trip to the terminal. Why they use these "buses" is beyond me. The walk to the terminal would have been faster than waiting for the second bus. We exited the bus, and entered the terminal to go through Cuban customs. There was about a dozen customs booths inside, where we were processed by the Cuban officials. This took about 30-45 minutes, as there were still people in line from a European flight that landed before we did. There was nothing "special" about the process other than having to pass through a metal detector when leaving the secure area. I thought that it was a little odd getting checked coming OFF an aircraft, but since I was not packing a gun, it made no difference to me. :) We then collected our baggage and walked out the terminal doors and met our Signature rep who directed us to our bus. All baggage arrived safe and sound.

We waited for the rest of the passengers to board, and started the short drive from the airport to Varadero. We were staying at the Gran Caribe Barlovento, so we were the first passengers dropped off. Check in went very smoothly with the front desk staff speaking fluent English. We paid $2 CUC per day for our room safe, which was OK by me. The "keys" at the Barlovento are the "credit card" swipe style, and the same card is used to open the safe. We also received 2 towel cards and our wrist bands. Our porter took us to our rooms, as it was getting dark by then and we had no idea where to go. Our room was #311, and was on the third floor near the street side of the hotel. The room consisted of a small closet (the safe was in the closet), a bathroom, and the main room with twin beds. The room was not "spectacular", but it was very clean and comfortable. A colour TV was available with at least 25-30 channels, with several in English. There was a small balcony looking out over the grass lawn, with the usual coconut trees. The "main drag" of Varadero was just past this green area. I did notice a little traffic noise, but it was of no consequence to us. By bed time the noise had died down to nothing more than the clip-clop of horse's feet on the pavement.

After putting our stuff away, we went to the buffet restaurant for something to eat. We got lucky that night, as huge shrimp were on the menu. We engorged ourselves on these treats and then called it a night. The next day we explored the resort, and met our Signature rep for our welcome briefing. We signed up for 3 excursions, and left for our first on the next day (Saturday). We took the day trip to Havana and the bus left the front doors at 08:30. Our guide kept us informed of what we were driving by on the 1.5-2.0 hour trip. Once in Havana, we got off the bus for an escorted tour of old Havana. We stopped at Hemingway's bar, a cigar store, etc. and then we had some free time to explore a large flea market near the harbour. Note that you will be "accosted" by street vendors wanting money for sketches they made of you during the tour. I bought two of them before it became evident that there were more "artists" in Havana than I had money to pay. When it was obvious to them that you were not buying anymore, they moved on. We then got back on the bus and went to a restaurant for lunch. The meal was included in the excursion and consisted of either chicken or fish, and it tasted fine. We also checked out the massive cemetery in Havana. It is VERY large and was quite beautiful. The "modern" part of Havana, consisted of block after block of Soviet inspired concrete "ghettos". Not the most beautiful sight I have seen to be charitable.
We also went to Revolution Square, and I was very surprised at how small it was. The parking lot at my Safeway has a larger area than Revolution Square, and is in better condition. Still, it was interesting to actually stand there, and to see the old American vehicles still on the road after all these years. We then drove back to Varadero, and the Barlovento hotel is the first stop. Gotta love it.

The next day was a day off, so we used it to explore the rest of Varadero. You can catch the double-decker buses running up and down the peninsula for $5 CUC per person. The ticket is good for all day, and you can get off/on the bus all along the peninsula. The is also a large flea market just a few blocks from the Barlovento. Just turn left after leaving the hotel, and walk for 4-5 blocks. It will be on your right.
There is lots of neat stuff for sale there from the usual tourist "junk"
to nicely made wooden decorations. I bought a nice wooden parrot made from different types of wood. It is a quality piece of work and cost me $12 CUC. We tried snorkeling at the hotel beach, but there is not much to see. This is a swimming beach and not a snorkeling beach. The bottom consists of unbroken white sand everywhere with ZERO coral. As a matter of fact, I could not even locate a dime sized rock on the bottom. It is nothing but pure, clean sand that is PERFECT for swimming. You will NOT hurt yourself by stepping on something here. It is one of the finest swimming beaches that I have seen.

On Monday, we left for the Cayo Blanco catamaran cruise. The bus left the front doors at 08:30 again and drove part way down the peninsula to the marina. We then got on a 64 foot catamaran that looked exactly like the one we were on on the Saona Island excursion in Punta Cana. The bar was open from the beginning, and the weather that day was stunning. The trip to Cayo Blanco was probably 1 hour in length not counting the snorkeling stop we made on the way. The water is quite clear, and I had no problem seeing various fishes, corals, etc. You are offered a large lobster tail for $10 CUC and we accepted, as did the vast majority of the 70ish people aboard. Unfortunatley, I got ill from my lobster, but my daughter felt fine. Just the luck of the draw I suppose. We then sailed to the beach at Cayo Blanco, and had a couple of hours of free time to spend on the magnificent beach. Lunch was a buffet style, and was included in the cost. Lobster was also served there, but I was not hungry as I was already feeling ill. The rest of the people seemed to gobble it up as fast as they could however. Just my luck to miss out on a lobster pig out. :) After the free time, we sailed back to the marina, where we boarded buses for a quick stop at the dolphin show.
This is literally across the street from the marina, so it was not much of a drive. The free show lasted about 20-30 minutes, and I was halfway to death's door by then. The show could not end soon enough for me, but everyone else seemed to like it. We then drove to the hotel where I proceeded to get sick. I was down for the count for the rest of that night, so I went to bed while my daughter took in the nightly show. She went to almost every show, and liked them all. I only made it to one (the magic show), and it was fine. It was not David Copperfield, but we were not looking for that. The Barlovento is much smaller thatn the other resorts we have been to, so the seating for the show goes quickly. Get there early or you will have to stand.

The next day was a day off, which I sorely needed to recover. I subsisted on soup and watermelon. The food is not the greatest as others have mentioned, but it is OK. We found something good to eat everytime we were there. As I mentioned, we lucked out on large shrimp on our first night, but we never saw them again. Perhaps they are only served on Thursdays. Since we left the following Thursday afternoon, we will never know. HINT- If you want hot food, be there when the buffet opens. We had no problems with cold food. Are there flies around? Of course. You are in a tropical country with open doors/windows all over. What would you expect? We rented one of the motor scooters available all over Varadero. It cost us $12 CUC for 2 hours. It was a fun way of seeing the sights, but I must give you a very important piece of advice. ALWAYS get gas in your scooter before you do anything else.
We ran out of gas and I had to push the bike 20 blocks to the ONLY gas station on the peninsula. It could have been much worse if we ran out at the far end of the peninsula. GET GAS BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE.

The next day (Wednesday), was our last full day in Cuba. We left at 09:30 for our Jeep Safari excursion. In this excursion you form a convoy of about 12 Suzuki jeeps and drive out into the countryside. We were lucky, as we were in the lead jeep and one of the guides drove it. Most of the rest of the people drove their own jeep, and merely followed the leader. We were able to get lots of info from the guide about what we were looking at etc. We drove through Matanzas city on the way to a beautiful cave system. The cave is very extensive and was very interesting. The guide was a geologist, so he knew what he was talking about. We would have gone snorkeling in the ocean, but the seas were too rough that day. The waves breaking against the shore looked impressive. We then went to a coffee farm for lunch. The meal was welcome as I had not had much solid food for a couple of days. The soup was especially delicious. It was some sort of home made soup made from tubers, if I recall correctly, and was very tasty. After lunch there was some free time for a short horseback ride etc, The well on the farm was dug by slaves and is VERY deep. You had to look quite hard to see the water at the bottom. The guide said it was almost 60 meters deep, and I believe him. It was probably 6-7 feet in diameter, and I can only imagine the labour that was used in its construction. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at another cave where you could swim. I did not go in as I was still not at full speed, but my daughter said the water was nice and clear. I brought along some school supplies that we distributed out of the jeep. The driver would drive down a street and honk his horn. Kids would come running, and we would then pass out the goodies. I brought 40 scribblers, 80 pencils, a couple of dozen pens, pencil sharpeners etc., and these treasures were snapped up as fast as we could hand them out. Please consider bringing something similar when you go to Cuba. Free candy is one thing, but school supplies are needed more.

The next day (Thursday Jan. 11) we left for home. We used the morning to go to the flea market to pick up some goodies and then caught the bus at 14:10. The ride to the airport was only 20-25 minutes, but the line up at check in took at least twice that long. We had to pay our $25 CUC departure tax (per person) after the check in, and an official stamp is placed on your boarding pass to prove that you paid. We then went through security and went upstairs to the departure area to await the flight. There are many shops there, and you can get your presents, rum, cigars there if you prefer. The prices were good.

The flight back to Calgary was about 6 hours in length, and we were again seated in the rear of the aircraft. Lots of leg room and no complaints. This last day was the only day that was cloudy. Every other day was beautiful sunshine and blue skies. We could not have asked for better weather. We landed at Calgary at about 9:30 PM and were greeted with minus 15-20 degrees and snow. Quite a difference 6 hours makes.

In conclusion, the Barlovento is a fine hotel. It is a 3+ hotel and we had no complaints what so ever. There are a couple of places that could use a fresh coat of paint, but I was impressed with the hotel for the price we paid. We got our tickets on a "last minute" deal, which is the ONLY way to get them in my opinion. We paid $1650ish Canadian for BOTH tickets taxes IN. The housekeeping staff kept the room sparkling, and we even received a small present from our housekeeper that we will treasure forever. We cashed in Canadian $20 at both the front desk and at the "bank" which is also located right at the hotel. It could not be more convenient. There were no "hidden" costs upon check out, and I give the Gran Caribe Barlovento 2 thumbs up.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Shelley 

May 2006
Check in was only 5 minutes, room was very clean and so was the rest of the hotel, they work really hard at keeping the place spotless, the front desk are the best I ever encountered, the grounds are beautiful, the pools are kept clean, and are maintained, the beach is beautiful, the food was good, the drinks were awesome, the bartenders are the best and make the best drinks, sometimes they add too much rum, I never stayed much in my room because the weather was over 30 celcius everyday, the staff at the hotel are number 1, and I will always remember everyone at the hotel, the Cubans are awesome people and are fun to party with, I give this hotel a number 5+++++++++ This hotel was well worth the money, I'm going back again for sure, its also right next to the town, everynight it was nice going for a walk to town and browse the market, prices are awesome for wood carvings and beach jewerley, all the workers at barlovento are very honest people, I never had to rent a safe, left my stuff on the beach unattended a few times, never had to worry about a thing, I love the BARLOVENTO
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Les 
Canada
May 2006
We again visited this resort Apr.9-23.This was my 12th time at Barlovento.My friends who travel there from other parts of Canada and I do so mainly for the excellent value this hotel represents.The staff are the best I have encountered at any resort and the hotel is well situated.The beach area had suffered some from the hurricane season but is on the mend.We did complain about the straws/plastic glasses laying around (almost resembled the sides of our highways in Canada)We did note that during the last 3 days there was a marked improvement as there was a fellow cleaning and emptying the garbage,etc ; maybe he had been on vacation (for the benefit of a previous reviewer, the strange people on the beach are for the most part Cubans and it is their country,the sometimes very strange people are tourists)The meals both buffet and in the Cuban/Mexican restaurants was good especially the latter, although the turkey and roast beef in the buffet were very good.Limited bacon at breakfast but that seems to vary year to year as they cater to many nationalities.As I previously mentioned, the staff are with few exceptions great (never seen a drunk one yet) and they make the many visitors who return year after year feel like they have returned home.We hope to be able to return again in the near future.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Sarah & Denny 
Canada
April 2006
My boyfriend and I just spent a week at the Gran Caribe Barlovento in Varadero and had a blast (April 13-20)! Since it was a 4-star hotel we weren't expecting much and were pleasantly surprised. The grounds were well landscaped and for the most part the staff was friendly. Our room was pretty basic and overlooked the tennis court, but we had no problems with it and the air conditioner worked really well. Our maid was fantastic and she really appreciated the gifts we left her every day. She would create amazing sculptures out of the towels and blankets and would write us cute notes in english.

The food at the Barlovento wasn't the best, but I have heard from a lot of people who have stayed at some of the best resorts that their food was subpar too. The buffet was basic and you could always find something to eat on it... I ended up dining on a lot of ham, cheese and fruit. The al a carte restaurants were pretty tasty, especially the Mexican. However, we were under the impression that there were two separate al a carte restaurants, but recently they combined them and have them on alternate nights in the restaurant near the beach.

The beach was really beautiful. I've traveled extensively and think that this beach rivals only the ones found in Asia. We could walk for over 100m into the ocean without it going over our heads and there were barely any waves! There were always enough beach chairs for everyone, no matter what time you arrived. The watersport activities were fun... we enjoyed taking out the paddleboats, but they also offered Catamaran snorkeling trips. The three pools were clean and refreshing and again, there were always enough beach chairs.

The resort boasts four bars: one in the lobby, one on the beach (daytime only), one by the stage (night only) and one by the furthest pool (daytime only). The nightly shows were sometimes very impressive and other nights were so boring. I think they were having staffing problems.

The location of The Barlovento was so convenient. We were in easy walking distance of downtown, restaurants and the large market. We often left the resort grounds and strolled around town, ate at some of the local restaurants and went shopping.

The only downfall of the resort is that I constantly felt like I should tip everyone. I have no problem with tipping, as I know that they do not make much money and I have worked in the service industry before, but I don't feel like tipping EVERYONE. We had some really great bartenders and waiters however, and we were more than happy to tip them. I can't understand people that don't tip at all (and believe me there are quite a few), because if you really break down your vacation cost - airfare, hotel, food etc... there is nothing left for the staff. It is only customary to tip good service and I was surprised to see how tight-wadded a lot of people were, even when they were getting excellent service. However, a lot of people did tip and not surprisingly, they got amazing service. So, if you don't tip, don't complain about the service, as these people don't make much for a wage and appreciate anything they can get.

Overall, we were pleased with the Barlovento. With it being a 4-star it went beyond our expectations and I don't understand why people would complain when they're getting a fantastic deal and expect 5-star accommodations and service.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Neo 

April 2006
i have been in barlovento, 1 week, April 2006
it is one of the worst place i have ever seen, it has the structure of a 4 stars hotel, but the employees are unbelievably rude, to me it is a 2 star, i will mention some episodes,

THE ROOM
- i arrived there in the mornng, apparently the only one getting off at barlovento (only later i understood the reason) they gave me a room wich looks on the street, i mean, we are in the carebbean there, and they gave me a room on the highway... and the window was broken, so no way to isolate the noise, only after 4-5 pesos of tips they gave me finally a good room, and they were not happy with my complains,

THE BEACH
- i went to the beach, the beach of the hotel is often populated by strange individuals, cuban people, asking you to buy stuff that you dont need or looking in the trash for empty glasses to reuse probably in their bars,or just sitting on the hotel's chairs with their pitbulls looking for over 40 ladies, in one week nobody cleaned the beach except the trash-searchers

THE BEACH RESTAURANT
- i went to eat something to the restaurant closer to the beach, and this is the worst restaurant i have ver seen in my life, it is easier for a worker there to get a sandwich than for a customer, you can often see the employes taking food with the hands from the same dishes where the customers should take their food, if you ask for something, they often say they dont have it, for example a sandwich ham and cheese, they will give you only cheese, to see later that a worker is eating an ham and cheese one the pool table was taken always all the days by the bar guys, if a supervisor comes they stop to play, when he goes away they begin again, i understand in cuba food is not easy to find, but they stand all the day at the bar eating and drinking, the employees and they get quite annoyes if a customer asks for something, that's not a food matter, it is a respect matter

- in that same bar i asked for a glass of coke, the barman put the glass exactly in front of him, which is exactly on the opposite side of where i was, when i said i am here, he answered that the glass was there indicating that i had to go and pick it up

THE ANIMATION
- the animation, i was walking near the swimming pool when a girl of the animation, a dancer i guess, that i never saw before, told me "hey bring me a coffe" i thought... ???? how come that i have to bring coffee to an hotel employee that i dont know, she thought i was looking for sex and maybe the coffee was part of her "salary", when i told her that i didnt like her and i especially didnt like her to ask me for coffes, then she said that's what i had to do, and asked also for a beer and a cigarette, and she mentions something about cuban magic that she could control...then she began her personal war against me, i remember i knew a girl in a disco outside the hotel and she was scared to talk with me because someone came from the barlovento to say i was a cuban cop lol??? sure i could realized what was happening there, i went alone and i had nothing to do but sleeping, eating and wathching around, probably to them i watched arounf too much... when her suprivisor knew about my complains, he said i was insulting here, i had to shut him up lol??

DRUNK EMPLOYEES
- i never saw also such thirsty employees, so thirtsy that after 5-6 hours of "work" they are drunk
- so thirtsy, or should i say so drunk, that the last 2 days the hotel forgot to order bottles of water

LACK OF RESPECT
Basically it is an hotel in which there is a big lack of respect, a big lack of awareness of the role of each ecmployee, they are in the hotel like they are in the street, for them it is a place where an employee, not a customer, has to eat and sleep, and to make business, more or less illegal

POSITIVE ASPECTS
i can say there are also positve aspects, the cleaning ladies were great, especially in doing what the rest of the staff didnt want to do, the guy cooking over night sandwhich service was very good too, and also the waitresses of the buffet, actually the only working waiters in all the hotel, since in the other restaurant they eat together with the customers, and the hotet is very close to the varadero downtown which is interesting, but many other hotels are even closer, however i need to say these things to save other unlucky tourists
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Lana, James and Marissa 
Canada
February 2006
we stayed at this hotel from the 5th of feb to the 12th. it was a great experience for everyone in our group. we have been to the dr 5 years in a row and choose cuba this year for a change of pace.

the flight-zoom airlines/go-direct-as good as it gets. our departure time from canada could have been better but this is just part of life in atlantic canada.

the hotel-when we arrived at the hotel it was late. they sent us off to our room which was more like a broom closet so we bit the bullet that night and got everything changed up the following morning. marfranco our rep and katia the guest relation lady from the hotel were very obliging and offered us several rooms to inspect and choose from. no big deal there got a great room in no time at all. i think it took 45mins to solve the problem and move. very large grounds and very clean. no complaints at all.

the food-we ate at the buffet for breakfast every day. the coffee was always hot a quick to come so no service issues there. our lunches where at the poolside grill/bar and that was very good as well. they had the same type of food you recieve anywhere else in the caribean at a mid level resort. we ate at the supper buffet only once during our stay so can't really coment on that. we did both a la cartes and they where great. much better than we had expected. the rest of the meals where off the resort at a restaurant called casa de chef. it is just off to the left of the hotel. lobster diner for $10.00.

the beach-some days very cold and windy with red flags. on the hot days they where excellent. included at the beach when the ocean allows are padel boats, kayaks and life jackets for the little ones. there is also a bar at the beach that serve basic drinks.

the pools- both excellent and rarely had a problem getting a lounger. they are not in as bad a shape as others have claimed. the whole resort seems to be well kept up other than the play structure for the kids.

the bars-drinks where good. remember to ask for havana club otherwise you will get whatever the brand x rum is. service was good. the lobby bar could get a bit trying at times because of the people getting espresso and such but again no big deal.

havana tour-well worth the money it was great. very busy and hurried though. in the future we would probably do the overnight tour. we heard from some at the resort that that is the way to fly.

varadero-nice and clean. the people don't accost you like in the dr so it was a real treat. we would go through a shop and look a stuff and the only thing the shop keep would say was hola. if we wanted something we bought it if not nothing was said. very different than what we are used to.

cigars-great selection. the best store i though was at 1st and 40th street. still very expensive but about 30% of canadian costs.

getting around- coco taxi, horse and buggy ride and double decker bus were all fun and worth the few bucks for touring around. all very safe but watch the over hanging branches when sitting on the top deck of the bus.

overall we had a great holiday and can't really find a bad thing to say about the hotel the staff or the cuban people. a special thanks to our rep marfranco and katia for everthing they did for us and we hope to see them again next year when we go back.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Brianne 

September 2005
I just returned from my first visit to Cuba and I had a blast! I went with one of my girlfriends and we had chosen Hotel Barlovento because we got a good last minute deal. The hotel was about 30 minutes from the airport and we were the first drop off so that was good. Checking in went smoothly, safety deposit box is $16CUC which is a good idea to get. We got a room on the 3rd floor and I was pleasantly surprised because the room was quite nice and clean. Since it’s in between seasons the hotel was very quite, there were maybe 80 guests but it was ok with us because everyone got to know each other and it was like one big party. There was a mix of people from younger singles, to couples and families.

Now everyone warned us about the food in Cuba (I don’t think it really matters where you stay). The food here was “ok”… we never went hungry but didn’t go up for seconds either. There is not a big selection of fruit and veggies – you’ll eat lots of cucumbers and the cabbage… We made reservations every night for the a la carte restaurants, the Mexican was my fav but the Cuban one was pretty good too. We ate lunch at the snack bar everyday… limited selection as well and check your meat cause it wasn’t always cooked through.

For drinks there’s not a huge selection either… when I was in the Dominican there was a nice drink menu so you could try some different tropical drinks but at the Barlovento you have to know what to ask for and really they can just make the basics.

The beach – AMAZING. I could sit in the water all day long. It was the perfect temperature and very clean. There is shade available which was good because it did get very hot. We took the paddle boats out which were fun. People won’t be bothering you to buy stuff on the beach either like in the Dominican or Mexico either. There are 3 pools which were nice too… they said they will be repairing them but they aren’t really that bad. The grounds were kept clean and there was always someone doing something…

Entertainment was good… typical resort shows.

Overall service could have been a little better. Because the resort was practically empty you would think that they would be more attentive to the guests, but there weren’t… well unless you were a regular tipper. There would be no line at the bar but you would still have to wait for a drink, you’d have to ask for water, napkins or coffee at dinner and then wait for them to get around to it and you were never brought drinks unless you tipped…

HAVANA – We made our own day trip to Havana… If you go through the hotel or travel service you will pay $60-75CUC for the day… we paid $30CUC. You will more than likely be approached or you can ask around, everyone there will know someone who knows someone etc with a taxi who will drive you. After talking to the other guests who took the bus trip it sounded like we had a better day too. We left the hotel around 9am, were brought to the lookout point in Matanza (tour bus will take you there too) and then we hit Havana. Our taxi driver drove us around the city a bit and showed us the sites (helps if you understand Spanish a bit) and then left us at the Capitolio to walk around the city which we had about 3 hours to do (the people on the tour bus only had 1 hour to walk around). We had lunch at a little restaurant which cost $5CUC each and then went to the market to get some souvenirs. You will be approached by everyone there to buy cigars. We ended up in 3 different peoples houses with them trying to sell us cigars, you will get a good price if you buy off the street but unless you know your stuff you won’t know if they are fake or not… best bet is to buy from the factory but they are $$$. After walking around our taxi driver took us to the revolution place and then we drove around the city some more and then headed back to the hotel (we got back around 6pm). It was a really enjoyable day, you should really see Havana if you’re going to Cuba….

Overall I would recommend the Barlovento to someone who wants to go to Cuba to relax and have a good time. The place isn’t fancy but it was clean and the service was ok. When traveling to Cuba you just have to remember that “you are in Cuba”. They don’t have all the conveniences that we have but they get by.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Paul 

May 2005
Just got back the other day ,found this hotel getting somewhat tired ,the reviews are about right ,the hotel is closing down for repairs and replacement of all three pools till about christmas .but one thing I cannot abide which is the food being served cold ,no matter even if first in dinning room and a lot of flys on the food on the buffet this is just not acceptable at any time ,in a civilized country these hotels would be shut down ,but I guess this is cuba and they just dont care ,a lot of patrons said they would not come back to this resort again and another thing this property is highly overpriced in relation to the food,accomadation and services given ,I would really only rate it about a 2 hardly a three
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Céline 
Montréal, Canada
April 2005
I'm back from a one week stay at this hotel. It was my fifth trip to Cuba.

HOTEL
The Barlovento is now operated by Gran Caribe, a cuban group. It was previously operated by Iberostar. It's a very charming hotel 'hacienda style' with lots of big trees and flowers. We were told that it will be renovated during the summer and that rooms will be added. Hotel deserves its 3,5 stars but food doesn't deserve more than 3 in comparison with other 3,5 star cuban hotels that I know. Try to arrive early at the buffet if you want warm food. Anyway, you can eat 'outside' at low price if you need a change. For example, we had a wonderful chicken paella (pollo con arroz) at the Benny More terrace. It's located a couple of blocks east from the hotel on the beach street called Camino del Mar. Beach is ok and there are lots of shade and chairs. Pools need cleaning and repair. Staff is friendly in general. Animation at night is good. Few animation during the day but I didn't care. No loud music on the beach (great !) except the one coming from the Tortuga. This hotel made me feel relax as it doesn't give the impression of being overcrowded and noisy. I consider this hotel a good deal for the price I paid from Go Travel Direct. We flied with their own company Zoom Airlines (amazingly friendly and dynamic staff on board, but seats are not confortable at all because cushions are too old).

ACTIVITIES :
I borrowed bicycles for free at the hotel but they are in bad condition. It's a good way of visiting Varadero though. I didn't rent moped at the hotel as they appeared in bad condition. The guy told me that they will all be replaced next week ... in the meanwhile, there are lots of other places in Varadero where you can rent mopeds which look in good condition.

If you want to hear real cuban music and see real cuban shows in Varadero, try the Comparsita on the 60th street. It's a nice cultural center. Opens at 10h30 pm, 7 days a week. Price around 7 CUC with open bar. There is karaoke on the second floor.

I really enjoyed the 'Sol Cruise' (Crucero del Sol) in catamaran with the lunch at Cayo Blanco and the short swimming with the dolphins. Bring your camera and sunscreen. It's well worth the 75 cuc. It's the third time I buy this cruise and enjoy it each time.

I went to the Habana by bus. The bus terminal is on the 36th street, corner of Autopista. The Viazul bus leaves at 8 am, 10 am and 12 am and it's a 2h30 ride approx. It costs 10 cuc / person for the one way ride. It brings you to the terminal de omnibuses in the Vedado. You can also ask the driver to leave you in the Habana Vieja. Bus comes back to Varadero at 4 pm and 6 pm. You can take the bus in the Vedado or in the Habana Vieja in front of the memorial to the Medical Students (estatua de los estudiantes martires de medicina). Bus picks you up there around 4h20 pm and 6h20 pm (but is usually a couple of minutes late). You can pay the driver if you don't have a ticket. Be very careful to the following as it happens to me each time : while you are waiting, one or more 'helpful' cubans will show up saying that you have missed the bus (or that you are waiting at the wrong spot) and will offer you their 'help' in bringing you to Varadero by car for 60 cuc or more. They will talk to you and try to distract your attention. So just ignore them and keep your attention on the street. The Viazul bus will come from the west (your left) on the Malecon and when you see it, wave at it. The first time I had this experience, I was with 3 other persons and we trusted what the 'helpful guy' was telling us ; we were lucky in negociating the ride at 40 CUC (the same price of the bus) and we had a funny trip back in Varadero (nice guy, good car, nice cuban music, some stops on the road for taking pictures). But I wouldn't do it again, just in case.

Lots of guides will offer their help in visiting Habana. If you want to visit only Havana Vieja, I recommend to do it by foot. One day is enough for that. You can do it on your own with a map or with a guide book as the excellent Lonely Planet.

If you want to buy things or are taking taxi, horse carriage or taxi coco, don't forget to negociate. It's the rule for all touristic places, especially in Varadero. So it's a good idea to ask your tour rep about the 'normal prices'. From my own experience, the airport is a good place for buying rum and coffee (the Cubita coffee is good). Little known, a good rum at affordable price is the Santiago de Cuba añejo (the dark one) and it costs 7,65 CUC at the airport (at the shop close to the place where you pay your 25 CUC tax when leaving). I was asked up to 12,50 CUC in the Habana VIeja and in Varadero. Employees keep this rum under the counter and it doesn"t bear a price tag, allowing them to sell this less known rum at any price. I have seen this strategy a couple of times during my stay.

By the way, exchange rate for canadian dollar was approximately 0,72 at the airport and at the bank (ie you receive 0,72 CUC for 1 CAD). Our hotel charged a 2% commission (exchange rate being 0,70). For 1 USD, you receive approx. 0,90 CUC. A commission is added if you pay with your credit card : for example, for 50 CUC you will be charged around USD 56 (transactions are in USD when you pay with a credit card).

I wish you a nice stay in Varadero and at the Barlovento ! For more details, you can write to me at celinevaradero@hotmail.com.
Gran Caribe Barlovento
Garry 
Niagara Falls, Ontario
April 2005
We just came back from a week stay here and had a wonderful time. If your looking for a cheap relaxing stay then I would recommed staying here. Don't expect too much. The rooms were clean, staff wonderful, beach excellent, food give or take, mexician restaurant food and staff the best, the big pool needs some help and a bit better cleaning but the pool closest to the beach is much better. Oh and also the lunch grill is really good. I would'nt pay alot to stay here .. IF you can get a low price it would be worth it, but if your looking for a really nice fancy hotel then you'll need to spend more money. Over all for a cheap week I'd go back again.
Iberostar Barlovento Varadero
Nancy & Trevor 
Canada
February 2005
My husband and I stayed at the Barlovento Feb. 10th- 17th 2005 located in downtown Varadaro; Weather during this month was 27-30C every day with a beautiful breeze. This resort is just great with very friendly staff and good service. The rooms & resort was very clean. The reception area is very comfortable with a bar and the buffet restaurant the food was always plentiful but as usual Cuban food is very bland. Just outside this area are 2 pools with lots of loungers and tree huts if you wish for shade. Beside these pools is the entertainment area where the nightly shows take place and a bar that opens in the evening with lots of tables & chairs. They have a Cuban restaurant (not recommended) and a Mexican restaurant (THE BEST). The third pool is located between the resort and the beach with a bar and food cabana. The beach was just a 30 second walk down a path with lots of loungers and tree huts and unfortunately jellyfish but we managed not to get bit and a view that is unspeakable a must visit with very white sand and crystal clear water (BUT NO BEACH BAR) that was not good. The animation staff is so friendly, funny and helpful they were awesome. I would rate this resort a very good 3 ½ star and would recommend it.

Varadaro is great with the BEST BEACH crystal clear with white sand. The town is safe too walk in day or night. The markets are full of local merchandise to purchase. You can take a double decker bus all day for 5 pesos (recommend). Horse and buggy's everywhere to ride at reasonable price. Remember not to take American Dollars as you will be penalized 10%, try to exchange at the bank its a better rate, and you must bring your passport with you. Ask your tour operator about devices (walky talkies, cell phone etc. some are not allowed in Cuba)
Iberostar Barlovento Varadero
Les 
Canada
April 2004
Just returned from my 9th visit to this property.As usual we were greeted at the desk with a "welcome home".The staff at this hotel , without exception, are the best I have encountered in numerous visits to Cuba and, my experience at most others has been very good.The beach area , which is quite large , was in excellent condition with numerous areas for shade and an abundance of loungers.The gardens were also in excellent shape and receive daily attention by the staff in that department.The hotel enjoys a large return client base and it was great to see many "old friends".The clients are from Europe, Great Britain (more this year) , Mexico, and Central and South America as well as we Canadians who return frequently.The food was abundent as usual and well varied with a wide chouce especially at the dinner buffet.The breakfasts are excellent and lunch not too bad.The oledr of the 2 adult pools could stand some work and would be much more attractive with new tiles.While facilities in the rooms have been refurbished over the past 2-3 years, some painting of furniture and doors would be recommended.The Iberostar operator regularly conducts surveys as to the service, food, etc.Having said that, this hotel will change hands on May 1 and will be operated by another Spanish company, RIU , who have 2 other properties in Varadero.Living in Nova Scotia we may not have direct access to this hotel as I understand Signature may not offer it next year.As a result we may need to search for another tour company and no doubt travel via Toronto.While rated 3.5 stars this hotel has been priced higher that most in that category and the price still represents full value as it offers most services/facilities offered by 4 star resorts and has the added advantage of a location in Varadero which allows one to have the beach at the back of the property and be virtually downtown at the front of the property.
Iberostar Barlovento Varadero
Linda & Michel 
Bathurst, New Brunswick Canada
February 2004
Photos

This trip was very special to me. I was getting quality time with my son who will be graduating in June 2004. He will be leaving for university and as much as I dont want to see him leave... I'm a single mom, where to go for a good price and also staying at a good hotel for my budget was very important.

It is just great to have help regarding your trip. If you take the time to post questions in the " Travel Forum", your questions will be replied by travellers who visited Cuba many times and are more then happy to help you out with their experiences. They will also gladely provide you with " tips", " internet links" and the dos and don't. Please, if you are staying at a resort wish has no reviews posted yet, it would be just awsome if you do. I had a real hard time finding info regarding the Iberostar Barlovento. It really helps to make a decision on where to stay. Thanks to everyone who took time to email me to give me info.

Things you should do before you leave:
Leave with a positive attidude, dont forget that it's a different country with different cultures, different food etc etc... Things can not be like it is here in Canada. We are living in the fast lane, not them. As far as the weather is concern, who can tell really... Just make sure you pack for very warm and cooler days. When you book a trip, who can tell what the weather will be? Just find interesting things to do even if the weather isn't always nice.

Pack everything you need and do not forget the emergency luggage. Just in case the airline decides to be " creative" and sends your luggage to another destination. Make a list if you have to before you pack. Leave emergency contacts with someone you trust. Make copies of you passport ( keep the original in the safe deposit box in your resort's room) and keep the copy with you if you leave the resort for a day trip etc. In Cuba, debit cards are not accepted. Make sure you have money on your Visa instead ( if you dont like to carry lots of cash). Cash advance on your Visa is done at the bank and it is a minimun of $100.

Flying to Varadero on January 24th 2004 from Mirabel Montreal
It was my son's first big trip ever. It was also his first time flying. We did a " pre-selection of seats" since I wanted to make sure we would be sitting together and also that he would have a window seat so he could look outside. Pre-selection with Air Transat is only $10 per person for one way.

Make sure you are at the airport at least 2 hours in advance. Since we were taking an early flight and we are from New Brunswick, we had to sleep in Blainville. Wish is the only hotel near the airport. They will provide you with a shuttle to the airport. You tell them what time you want to leave the hotel and the shuttle will drive you to the airport. The hotel is just 15 minutes away. When you book, tell them you need the shuttle and they will book you departure and it is included in the price of the room. The room was adequate. Nothing fancy. Very clean. The shuttle drivers were very very nice to us and very helpful. Lobby personel were very nice also. Wake up call was done like we asked and shuttle was on time to drive us to the airport. If I would return to this hotel, yes for the same reason as above. For a week stay, I would prefer something more elegant. The wait was not that long. I've seen worse. Air Transat personel at the counter were nice. The line up for security was and is always the worst. Wait and wait some more.

The flight was nice, not much turbulence. Flight attendance were nice this time. They had smiles to share. Pilote did a great landing. Everybody applauded.

Arrival at the Varadero Airport
We arrived on time. Security was fast. The wait for our luggage was a bit long. When you exit the airport, you will see signs everywhere. Representant for you trip are there for you. It's easy to find. You go to the right one, for us it was Nouvelle Frontiere Tours Mont Royal. They gave us an enveloppe with the bus number written on it. Bus was easy to find.

Transportation to the hotel
The bus was very comfortable. A man was selling drinks to cool you down. A tour guide was present and she spoke about important things you should know about Varadero and Cuba ex: black market, water etc Iberostar Barlovento is one of the first resort on the way. The ride from the airport to our resort was very short. Mostely along the beautiful sea. The lobby check in counter is divided in two. On the right, you will find personel who will give you information about telephone calls and internet access. You will see a wood sign with the symboles: @ and a phone. Very easy to see.

Check in at the hotel
Wow! that was a fast check in. Cheers! Nice personel and helpful. Room wasn't ready yet but it didn't bother us at all. We went for a walk around the grounds then we sat down and relaxed for awhile. We asked for the safe deposit box. We paid $16 american for one week. The safe can be open with your room cardkey. They program the card when you pay for the safe. They will give you towel cards. One per person. If you loose your card, you will have to pay $15 american. Make sure you return all your towels.

Room and view from the room
Our room was nice. Nothing fancy but very nice and very clean. Nice bathroom with air dryer, shampoo and shower gel dispenser in the shower. No face clothes. Two very comfortable beds. The closet is big and you will find the safe deposit box inside of it along with a small dresser.

The bar or should I say refrigerator is right after the closet. You will find a bottle of fresh water. Not like in the Dominican, where we had soft drinks and rhum. I was suprised just to find water since it was an all inclusive deal. The television worked fine and it's with satellite. Not much choice for us since we listen to english channels only home. Let's just say that my son watched " The Ozzbornes" over and over...I prefered the news.

There's a lot of vegetation at this resort. Most windows are being very big palm trees. In our room, 321, we could see a bit of the pool and theater. I wanted to do a bit of photography like I did in Punta Cana but it was impossible. Dont get me wrong, it is very very nice to wake up with such a nice relaxing view. It just if you want to take pictures, it's very limited. It's better then waking up with " snow" all over I can tell you that. The balcony is a bit narrow. We didn't mind since we didn't spend much time there. I never saw coconuts so close in a tree before. Nice. We liked the room because we had no neighboors. We were the first room to the left after the stairs and it was separated with a storage closet. Very nice and cozy. Ileana was our maid. She's very nice. Always smiling. She left our room nice and clean everyday. If you want to tip, please leave it on the pillow. Also, even if the medical expenses are free in Cuba, medicine is very very hard to get for them. If you have any to spare when you check out, leave them to the maid. I left Advils, cold syrup etc etc. We also left perfum, face clothes and a tip.

If you need a powerful airdryer to style your hair, you should pack one in your luggage. The one in the bathroom is very hot but no juice if you know what I mean. I brought an adapter and a converter. I was only using my curling iron since we both have short hair. I didn't need any. I was able to plug in my iron no problem and it worked perfectly fine.

Iberostar Barlovento's look in general
A very nice Spanish Style resort. Very clean, plenty of vegetation. A nice lobby with fountain, bar, internet access, boutiques, tours representatives. The nice new lobby furniture is made of blue wicker. The coffee tables are made of wicker and glass and they are kept nice and clean all the time. Trees and flower pots are nice too. The bar in the lobby has great drinks and especially coffee, expresso etc. The bar personel were very very nice.

The stairs are kept nice and clean, no elevators. They will provide you with porters to carry your luggages dont worry. If you have medical problem and it would be important for you not to have to walk up stairs, please advise your travel agent who could send a fax request to the hotel and you will be able to have a room on the ground level. When you exit the lobby, you will find the buffet restaurant to the left. A nice rock with fountain is on the left with nice vegetation. If you go straight, you will find the first pool then the toddlers pool. After the buffet restaurant, it's the theater then the Mexican Restaurant. Next to the Mexican Restaurant, a nice souvenir shop. They carry cigars, rhum, ice cream treats, pop, clothing, creams and makup too. Not that expensive compare to the Dominican. In the day time, you will find crafts tables where the theather is. They are very cheap. Cheaper then the market in Varadero and also cheaper then the market on the streets of Varadero ( very close to the hotel when you exit the resort...turn to the left and have a very short walk.) If you want to do a good thing, dont buy anything right away and compare prices. After the toddlers pool, you will find the place to get your towels. Bring your towel card and then, when you return your towel, they will give you your card back. They also have a nice collection of books. I love Daniel Steel and they had some there. I borrowed it for my stay and brought it back the day we were checking out. I was nice not to have to pay for a book. After the towel place, to the left, you will find the 3rd pool. Very nice one. And to the left, the Creole Restaurant. For lunch, both the buffet restaurant and the Creole restaurant are open. The Creole Restaurant is open all day. My son is a bit fussy and doesn't eat much. He was able to find hambergers, hotdogs, french fries, pizza and ice cream everyday. The salads are very good. So is the fish. A chef is there and he's preparing Creole dish on a big grill with a very big black pan. It looked very good. People were lining up and they were getting fast service. Bathroom are also found at the Creole Restaurant. Outside showers and small showers just to rince your feet from the sand can be found along the pat ways. A big chess outside chess game is right after the 3rd pool. For all of you chess nuts... Then, after the restaurant, you will find the patways to the beach. At the beach you will find the water sport cabine. Water sport equipement is also found directely on the beach. You will see dogs coming and going in the resort. They are very gentle. Snoopy the little brown dog was very nice and he loves fish by the way. Customers loves them and cares for them. It is much cheaper to use the internet then to call home. It is $3 american for 1/2 hour or $6 american for 1 hour or internet. It is " accumulative", meaning that if you dont use it all in one shot, you can use it another time. It is very important to click on " END SESSION" when you are done. Long distances to Canada are $3 a minute. I "had" to call my son and I spoke to him for about 2.5 minutes and it cost me $7.95. You have to pay right away. You can't use your Canadian calling cards. Ex: I have a NBTel calling card and I was unable to use it. Yes, the internet is slow, so, maybe it would be a good idea to write down your letter before you start your session if you're a slow typer. Send the same emails to whom it may concern. Ex:We are in Varadero. Flight was good, having a great time and everything is fine etc....Saves a lot of time. You have to go to the lobby to get a code and pay for your internet time. The lobby counter is divided in two parts. The one to the right with the wood sign: " @ and a phone" is the one you have to go too. They will give you a code that you have to enter to log on. " Make sure you create an email address in hotmail or yahoo before you leave home".

Food
Two tumbs up Iberostar!!!! Excellent food and plenty to choose from for the size of the resort. We didn't eat " recycled" food like some people have experienced in other resort. We were never sick during our stay. We brough medication to be on the safe side but didn't use any. It is safe to drink the water in Varadero and you are asked not to drink it when you exit the city. We had natural water ( tap water) all the time we were there and it was without bad tast.

The buffet is much smaller then the ones at the Super Club Breeze for example. But the food had much better tast. I rather have less choice and eat better. The deserts were very very good. When you get the " runs", sometimes it is caused by eating fresh all the time. Here, in Canada, during the winter, we eat mostely imported food. But in the summer, when we eat local farmers goods, we get the " runs" also. It's just your body adjusting to eat fresh all the time. Not because it's contaminated or bad for you.

Beach
WOW! is this a good explanation or what!!! Clean, wide, turquoise water. Warmer some days depending on the weather. Plenty of palamas and beach chairs. A lot of people prefer to lay on they towels directely on the sand. Watch for the lifeguards flags. Depending on the color, they will let you know if it's safe to swim in the water. Watersport equipement and lifeguard are on the beach. If you want to have a watersport equipement, you have to go to the watersport representative and sign up. When it gets to the busy season, a lot of people wants the equipment so it's important that you sign up for it. Let everyone a chance to enjoye them. It is free of charge if you have an all inclusive package. The staff will come and ask you if you want to play volleyball, soccer or darts. They are very nice and not pushy. We were not approched by any peddlers on the beach. It was nice and peaceful. Mono-kinis are not in abondance. Sorry gentlemens. But, woman are allowed to sunbath without tops. We saw a few.

Pools
This is the only thing that I can say that needs improvement. I would give it a 7/10. Pools are kept nice and clean all the time. They just need a new look or facelift. The pool closer to the beach is the nicest one. But, the first one, close to the lobby, would need a bit of imagination. There's a fountain in that pool at the very end of it. Square and borring. Plenty of palamas and chairs. Water temperature of the pools depend on the weather. I prefered the beach, it is way warmer. But, my son swam in the pool everyday. The toddlers pool is very big and plenty of space for them to have a nice pool party... ha ha ha. That one also need a bit of creativity.

Services
A big 10/10 !! WOW! Nothing like in the Dominican. Tip or no tip, you get service with a smile. Put please, if you can affort it, cubans work for peanuts and a tip would help them a great deal. Leave a tip if you can afford it. A dollar goes a long way for them. It also shows that their work is appreciated. We tipped every night at dinner. Also, at the bar in the morning. Special thanks to: Aylen who works the evening shift at the buffet restaurant Mariela who works the day shift at the buffet restaurant. Your smiles and your great service will never be forgotten. Security guards are present around the clock for you protection. PS: and very handsome ones too! Plenty to admire for a single lady.

Trip to Havana
You can't go to Cuba and not visit Havana. It is just beautiful. Very poor but very beautiful.
We paid $75 americain wish included our travel bus to Havana, a small stop at the Palm Tree Valley, lunch in a very nice and clean restaurant and a visit at the Romeo and Juliette Cigar Factory. Special thanks to our tour guide 10/10!! Excellent job. Poor young man had a sore troat and still, he never stop teaching us about Havana. He was nice patient and kind. We had plenty of time to visit, shop and ask questions.

For pictures: http://community.webshots.com/user/batamgr ( in constuction. More to follow in the next two weeks. Getting more pictures developped. Thanks for your patience.

The cemetary most the most impressive. I just love the story of Amelia. You need to have faith or beleive in something. Cubans have faith in Amelia and have a lot of respect for her. I also enjoyed visiting where Ernest Hemingway stayed, drank and wrote his book: "For whom the bells tolls". Sad that he took his life away. He was a great writter. Our luch was very very good. I enjoyed eating like the cubans. Rice with chicken and a nice bean in sauce. You put the bean in sauce over the rice cause it is a bit dry. Cubans love to eat it that way. Musicians were there to play while we ate. Their music was very very nice. The cigar factory is in a very old building. The smell when you enter is almost to make you sick. But, as you climb up the stairs, it gets better. The working conditions are just terrible. It is forbidden to take cameras or videocameras in the factory. Protecting their secrets I guess...so is Fidel. *Important! If a worker offers you a cigar....DO NOT TAKE IT. They can loose their job and more. And, you wont keep the cigar let me tell you that. You can purchase cigars at the shop downstairs. You shouldn't buy rhum there. Wise suggestion given by our tour guide. It is way cheeper on the resorts. Ask your vacation representative about how much rhum you can bring back. The laws change all the time. You could end up paying duty on them when you enter your back into your country. During the tour, you will have a chance to go to the flea market. Shop around before you buy anything. Some are asking way too much and it happened that I asked a peddler about a souvenir and he told me $12 dollars. I waited a bit and went back later. I asked for the same object again and he told me $10. It's just an exemple. I find that prices are much cheaper on the resort or on the streets of Varadero.

Shopping for gifts and souvenirs
Plenty to choose from. Much cheaper in Cuba then in the Dominican. Nice leather goods. You shouldn't buy big display shells. You can't bring those back. If you buy drums, make sure you can pack them in your luggage. I saw a couple having to send their drums with the check in luggage cause their hand bags were full. They were not permitted to carry them on the plane. It's extra baggage. A nice trick to do so it is to buy them AFTER you check in. Their is plenty of shopps at the airport after you pass security. Then, you can carry them with you on the plane.

Trip back home
The line ups at the Varadero Airport were very long but they had 4 counters open. We had no problem with our luggage. The weigh is 40 kilos TOTAL and not 40 kilos per person. We say a lot of people having to pay for extra weight. We were at 39.80...talk about luck! Just to show you how it pays to smile.... While in line, I made a big smile to the cuban counter worker. When I got to the counter, he had saved us two nice seats so my son and I could sit together ( we didnt have pre-selection for the return) and a window. He even told me: " I saved those seats for you"...I was very very happy. The flight was one time. Not much turbulence and a very nice landing performed by the pilot. The flight attendents could have smiled a bit...But, what can I say, it's Air Transat.

Conclusion and links to help you plan your next trip
If you ask me if I would return to the Iberostar Barlovento, I would say YES with a nice big smile.
This resort is " under rated" in brochures. They say it's a 3.5 star ( maybe just because it is a smaller resort compare to others). It is a true " Hidden Gem". Try it. You will love it for the price. See you again in January 2005

Special Thanks:
Jackie Jenkins my travel agent
Aylen, the daughter I never had
Donald, Sandra, Andre, Helene, Debbie and my boss and staff for your support.
And Cliff, my new friend who help me with the fear of flying.

Helpful Links to visit
www.iberostar.com
www.accuweather.com ( for a 15 days weather report to help you pack and plan)
http://community.webshots.com/user/batamgr ( for pictures of our trip to Varadero and Punta Cana)
www.ramada.com ( Hotel in Blainville with a shuttle to Mirabel Airport)