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Palma Real
Erin 
PEI,Canada
May 2008
Rooms: A Junior Suite in Bldg 4 on the second floor .Very Clean,very large and had a couch and chairs. the verandah was lovely as well and I enjoyed the breeze every evening.

Restaurants: We went to a little spot in the park near the hotel and had lovely entertainment and pina colada's at a great price and they were the best I had ever had. On the resort We did the Cuban A la carte and enjoyed it very much...should you order and if it is on the menu that week....I HIGHLY suggest that you nibble the pork crackling if you get it.. don't try to chew it... you nibble it like corn on the cob.. it was entertaining watching people figure this out though...it was relaxing and slow paced dinner was over an hour in the serving of our dishes spaced out and very cozy. Remember that any restaurant in Cuba that is not Cuban food exclusive is AN INTERPRETATION of that type of food...I found it amusing that people complained about the pizza or the chinese restaurant.. umm hello.. your in Cuba people...keep it in perspective. Try to enjoy the experience not merely the menu. We loved the Pork, the chicken and the Fish while we at the buffets immensely.

Bars: the Aqua Bar was lively and busy all day yes it closes at 5 p.m yet is still a hang out in the evening. Also the other bars were a bit echo-ee in acoustics however it was a good time whenever we were there as well as the lobby bar/lounge being very entertaining with live music and dancing every night even the waiters got into the action and it was a really good time and full of laughter and even a conga line one night. If we wanted to drink after midnight we just walked around the corner to the little local out door bar and enjoyed a few cocktails and music there Varadero is open and lively and friendly at any time of day or night.

Beach and Pools: the beach was lovely but crowded ( and that is what we were there for afterall.. sun and sand ) it was a short jaunt across the street and if you got there early you got a nice seat if you were past 10 a.m it was tough to get one until after 4 p.m The evenings and the sunsets were stunning and worth the wait!!! Pools were roomy and relaxing.

Grounds: the grounds were well kept, well manicured ,gardeners are very friendly and as a treat they made us wonderful grasshoppers.We tipped everyone we came in contact with ( usually 1 or up to 5 CUC's) but that is what we do there is no presure to do so FYI the gardeners and security don't usually get anything from the touristas so we made sure to extend gratitude to them. The Security detail was very helpful and pleasant, and very respectful,remember they work in 24 hour shifts ...not easy in that heat with dark pants shirts and ties all day and night...we often saw others bringing them refreshment as they are not to leave their posts

Activities and Entertainment
live music nightly in the lobby bar loads of fun...and some daily activities. exercise in the pool a few games etc...

Tours: We went for R&R ,not for the tours but we did hear great things about the catamaran tour. We did rent scooters at a great price and had a lot of fun doing that.

Departure and Check Out: early morning...April 29th,2008

Conclusion: We would go back again and really enjoyed the time we spent there we really enjoyed traipsing around Varadero on foot doing some light shopping and we had brought gifts for the local children ( watching those children play with bubbles and so apreciative over the school supplies was worth every dime of going ) and the resort staff ( our room attendant )... it was all greatly appreciated by all and we had a wonderful relaxing satisfying time.. I would recommend it to any and all...Great for everyone... Especially if your on the easy going side. The resort is definantly a 3.5 star I would give it a 4 for Cuba ; I have stayed in Cuba before and I love Cuba for Cuba...For its climate, its people ,the culture and the ambiance. Cuba is not for the High maintenance needy. It is a state of mind and everything in Cuba ....happens on Cuban Time.. IF you ever get the opportunity toget to know the people..do it you won't regret it.
hang out in local spots.be friendly and approach the local people ....A great time is sure to be had.
Palma Real
Céline  
Montréal, Canada
April 2008
I’m back from a one week stay at the Hotetur Palma Real from April 13th to 20th. It’s my 6th time in Cuba and my 3rd time in Varadero. Over the years, I have stayed in resorts raking from 1 star to 4 stars in different areas of this beautiful country.

It was my 1st time at the Palma Real. I choose it because it is close to the famous small bar named “calle 62” on the 62nd street / corner of main street (which is “downtown”). This bar is THE place in Varadero for anyone that loves Cuban music and dancing: you can watch shows and dance for free in the 62th street with real Cuban people and lots of tourists from around the world. Very lively place indeed!

Conclusion: I enjoyed my stay and would go back. Why (apart from its location)?

This resorts deserves its 3 ½ stars. It is not new but very well maintained and very clean (except for the elevators that don’t work all the time). 2 nice pools and a lively “wet bar”. Food is typical of “Cuban 3 ½ stars” (which equals 2 ½ stars in other countries in my opinion; remember that we don’t go to Cuba for gastronomy); and its fresh orange juice deserves 5 stars. I have not tried “a la carte” restaurants and stayed at the buffet, beach bar and 24 hour snack bar. Most of waiters and staff are friendly. Animation staff try their best. And we enjoyed a wonderful Cuban music group playing at the main bar at night.

The hotel is not located on the beach, which is only a 4 minutes walk (you have to cross main street and walk down the small street between Cuatro Palmas and Arenas Blancas resorts). I heard it’s the reason why it’s not rated 4 stars. At the beach, there is a private beach bar for Palma Real guests (with toilet and shower) where you can also get some food (paella, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.) during the day. Beach is nice but there are definitively not enough palapas and chairs at "rush hour". It's less crowded at the end of the afternoon. The beach is “psychologically” cut from the resort, so I didn’t dare walking alone on the beach at night even if it's guarded by the Cuatro Palmas and Arenas Blancas resorts guards.

I felt that the facilities (bars, restaurants, beach) were kind of crowded during my stay. I heard it was nothing in comparison with the week before (which was the last week of the “high” peak season). I’ve seen better and worse (the worse being in a 4 ½ star hotel in Dominican Republic).

I felt that this resort was kind of noisy. Because of its location close to the highway, its architecture (lots of echo in the hallways and in the bars), the fact that there was a bar in my building (# 1000), the composition of the guests (many groups of young adults that enjoyed partying – but this can change from one week to the other one) and the fact that new guests arrived (and “old” guests left) at any time of the day and night. So don’t forget your ear plugs. It was also the most lively resort I’ve stayed at and made many new friends!

PS for Canadians: bring canadian dollars instead of US dollars as the exchange rate is better (good suggestion from my travel agent).
Palma Real
Lise 

April 2008
Back from 1 week April 4th to the 11th at Palma Real second time and will go back. Beautiful weather and the water was simply amazing as always. This time around we found the food a little harder to get used to but all in all we ending up eating something. We were at the Piazza most of the time anyway at the end of it all if you can't eat the food there is always the ....bread! GREAT with orange juice. One suggestion be very careful of the «undertow» it's ever stronger than the currents in our waters. While swimming a man close to us nearly drowned not realizing how strong the undertow really was. Having said that all in all we have a great time and we hope to be back. Our friends from St-John will be arriving sometime today...hope they have a ball.
Palma Real
Gwen 

February 2008
My husband and I recently took our two youngest daughters on their first plane trip. We got a deal on our trip to Palma Real. At just under 800.00 per person we had lots of cash to spend on trips and trinkets while we were there.

The Jeep Safari was an awesome day trip. My husband enjoyed driving stick though the tight streets and up the bumpy roads to the more remote areas. The great variety of things to do on this trip made it an event for us all. In random order of events we went to a farm, snorkling on a coral beach, swimming in a cool cave with stallagmites and stalagtites, lunch at a hillside stop area where some had a short horse ride or a paddle boat or waterbike ride. Or for a photo op you could ride the large bull. Driving through the narrow streets of Matanza was an adventure in itself. Police and locals waved us though red lights as our carvan of jeeps drove though so as too keep us all together. Despite our efforts not to lose anyone Caroline and her two children and the red jeep behind them missed the turn off on highway and the tour guides went off on a merry chase to find them. The last red Jeep realised they had passed us and tried to catch her but she was speeding up trying to find us, so they turned back and lined up with us waiting for the tour guide to find her. It was comical as she wizzed pased us again and the green tour guide jeep with blaring horn behind her blazed though the intersection again, trying to get her attention. She was a good sport and we all cheered on her arrival. Soon all lined up again we were off on the next leg of our tour. This was a must do in my book. Elleo our guide was a wealth of information on everything from soil conservation to history and his English is great.

My husband does not drink so unlike the other reviews we sought the entertainment. The evening shows in the hotel were entertaining and fun. Ivan and his lovely fiance Yayu were wonderful people that were always on hand thought our days on the resort. Along with the dance lessons and various day activities that they provided pool side, they were the hosts of the evening shows. to start the evening off , a bit of dancing in the hotel lobby, or a cuban fashion show. Later outside in the pool a water ballet was performed . My thirteen year old daughter and I loved it. A comedy night were the crowd went wild took place in the open air "carpa de animacion" they held a competition for Mr. Hotel. Other nights it was music and dancing that is designed with audience participation in mind. ( Ivan by the way would welcome some clear eyes drops, he shares these with the hotel cooks who spend many hours over smokey grills.)

We walked down to the beach where we enjoyed a woderful day of beach volleyball and since we brough the boogey boards we floated around

The hotel kitchen and entertainment staff went to great lengths to make sure my daughters birthday was a great success. I brought some balloons, candles, icing and cake mixes and they provided the perfect evening of envents. It was perfect. The Chef himself came out and sang with the band in the dining room.

The Chef was making authentic cuban coffee the last day pool side but we were leaving so we were not alble to try it. I understand that he has the only such machine in Veridaro. So if you'd like to give it a try look him up in the Restaurante and coax him to set this up while you are there.

We booked with Belair travel and our hotel information guide was Manuel (Manolo) he was always available in the lobby until 7 pm daily one day off a week. He was with Transat Holidays. I dont know who that other review booked with but these reps were there all the time. He is a wonderful man with a dignified presence. When we missed one of our booked tours he took care of it and a full refund was no problem.

Beautiful grounds and continious upkeep of the walkways and plants could be seen daily .

The food while plain fair, was on time and plentiful . The breads and cakes were wonderful and the icecream a treat the girls enjoyed.

The prices at the hotel and on the beach for items was better than at some of the local markets, and lower than the prices at the Plaza Americana for sure.

A local artist is featured at the hotel and is there one or two days a week. He has many works on display and paints while there as well. We bought a painting of his and took some pictures of his other works.

Now that we have taken the girls to another country and they felt completely safe there.....they want us to take them everywhere. I believe that our youngest will always love Cuba the best.
Palma Real
Carol 

February 2008
I recently returned from a 1 week all-inclusive girls trip at Palma Real in Varadero Cuba and I loved every minute of it! It was only a 3.5 star resort but I would highly recommend it. This was my first tropical trip and I am now hooked!

We had no trouble at the Varadero airport and were out of there in minutes where we caught a bus to our resort and were informed and humored by our host! We checked in within minutes as well and exchanged money.

The resort is big and clean. The only complaint was our room was a bit dark and you couldn’t plug a curling iron in. The shower was powerful enough and warm and I love my long hot showers! There are 4 choices of places to eat on the resort and although we heard the food was bland I found it very tasty! We didn’t really have any trouble drinking the water on the resort either. There was nightly entertainment at the resort and the staff were always friendly. The pools at the resort were clean and big but the water was a little too cold to use.

The beach was beautiful and close to the resort. There were clubs and markets and stores within walking distance. And I felt very safe there!

We took a day tour to Havana and even though some buildings are run down it is still beautiful because of the amazing architecture and culture! I heard we would be harassed by street vendors constantly and I was only approached once!

I’m not much of a history buff but after visiting Cuba and learning about it I am totally interested in learning more. In fact I’m also going to take Spanish classes! Before I return I’d also like to take dance classes so I can partake in the fun because they really know how to move!
Palma Real
Gordon and Marian 
Moncton, Canada
June 2007
We couldn't pass up a deal to Varadero from Moncton - just over 1200$ tax in for two of us for one week to the Palma Real. This was the first time for us to Cuba so were excited about going. Comparisons between the DR and Cuba is like trying to compare apples and oranges. Different countries, different mentalities, truly different cultures with different expectations by the people. Examples, no pushy beach vendors at the Palma Real beach, drivers in Cuba not nearly as aggressive as those in the DR. The location of resorts also plays a great part. At the Palma Real you are right at the down town area. Instead of going the Palza as in Playa Dorada with mostly other tourists, you go walking down town Varadero with local Cubans. It's very safe and in fact enjoyable.

The DR remains an great place, however it's hard to beat the beach at Varadero. The beach area at the Palma Real is more open and not so lush with palm trees and other vegetation. The DR is or has more of that 'tropical' feeling. As I mentioned we were not bothered by vendors or timeshare persons, however in their own way those individuals do add a flavor to a holiday.

All this to say, we enjoyed this trip to Cuba probably as well as we do the DR.

Previous reviews on the Palma Real are correct. It's quite spread out. We were in Number 4, the furthest from the reception. Staff were ok, not as friendly as in the DR but no problems. The room was adequate, one small closet and with a small balcony. Maid service was great, different formations on the bed every day - great -. We took down some candy and other general items, work gloves, a few tools, nylons, cosmetics, shampoos, etc, etc.. Everyone seemed to appreciate what we gave.

The flight was booked out of Moncton with Melanie from Sell off Vacations.com. They/she are the best. No problems either way, had to go thru security again on arrival in Varadero - ok -. My wife changed 100 CDN dollars for about 78 Cuban Pesos(converted) at the airport. - The exchange rate was a little better downtown Varadero - NOTE remember you need 25 Converted Pesos each for departure tax.

Food was only ok. Buffet was probably the least attended by us. We went to the Pizzeria once twice to the Chinese and the rest of the time to the 'Cuban" restaurant. This Cuban restaurant was open late for after hour snacks also open for breakfast, closed for dinner and open again at supper time as one of the specialty places.

As with all vacations we met some wonderfully good people, the girls from NL, Cindy, Kim and Kelly, Helen and Hubby from Moncton. While we were there an unfortunate incident happened whereby a man died. Two angles (Jackie and Edie) from Newfoundland befriended the mans son who was left by himself and was having a hard time to contact his mopther back in NL. These ladies made us really proud. Mostly of them and yet of we Canadians. Jackie really took charge and the young man was not left alone. After much ado an early flight home was arranged for him. Our hats go off to those ladies and our sympathies to Ben and his family.

Anyhow this was a great vacation. For anyone looking to a reasonable hotel in Cuba on one of the nicest beaches anywhere. the Palma Real is recommended.
Palma Real
The Blacks 

May 2007
Hi All
Sorry it has taken me so long in posting my review, life tends to get in the way sometimes! Here it goes...

My husband and I travelled to the Palma Real in Varadero March Break 2007. We booked online and though I was nervous, it was a good experience, no problems and would definitely do it again. We were in building four, third floor facing the main road and water. If I have any complaint it would be that the traffic was nosy most nights due to our location but it did not distract from the overall experience at the hotel.

We flew out of Halifax with Transat and had no issues with the flight, or airport arrival or departing. Staff on board was friendly and helpful, nice snack and great movie. Security was not an issue and we were enjoying a cold one on the bus before we knew it!

Hotel check in was fine, staff spoke english with relative ease and answered all questions promptly. We had an issue with our toilet not flushing properly and a quick call to the front desk had an employee there in no time, not a big deal and it was fixed. The resturant, bar and maintainance staff were wonderful, friendly and genuine which was a pleasure.

Cleanliness was NEVER an issue, everything was spotless. The pools, decks, grounds, floors, lobby and rooms were kept sparkling and you could always tell the the staff took great pride in their jobs as well as the resort. Our room was done daily and the "towel creatures" were a treat to see. The room was small but adaquate with all the hot water we needed and clean towels. We did take our own faceclothes as reccommended which was a good idea.

The food was great. The buffet was plentiful and definitely had something for everyone.. even if you are a little fussy. The BREAD is to die for and the drinks are amazing. We ate at both a la carte and preferred the Cuban one which was excellent. The Chinese one is not that great but we may have been expecting Canadian Chinese.. in any case the Italian resturday that opened daily was porbably the favorite. The ice cream was also a treat and there always seemed to be enough of everything. The fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast was the best!!!

The Beach was a little walk, maybe three-five minutes, straight down the road and it exceeded all my expectations. White sand, blue water and sunshine is what we went for and certainly what we got. The water was a bit rough, two days of yellow, one of green and the last day was red but we got our fill just the same. Beach club bartenders were wonderful and the food was great down there as well. Next time I am definitely trying the beach massage!

We loved the intimate feel of the resort itself with each building having its out little bar. We met some wonderful people there and it was relaxed and open. We saw one show which was entertaining and enjoyed Juan Carlos at our bar! The resort has a laid back comfortable feel to it and was exactly what we wanted. We were not looking for an all night party atmosphere but enjoyed the drinks all the same! There were 24 hour clubs and bars just outside the resort but we didn't get to them.

We went to Jonsone Park, great experience, and walked through the bars, crafts things and animals. We walked downtown and checked out the markets. I was nervous about safety and after being there realize how unneccessary it was... The Cuban people were lovely, friendly and happy. We were very comfortable being "out and about" and would not hesitate to go and explore a little more next time. At no time did we feel any pressure for anything and that was amazing and reassuring.

The trip exceeded our expectations and we will not hesitate to go back again, soon! The resort was 3 1/2-4 star and we were impressed with it. We were not looking for 5 star plus and if you are, you may want to look elsewhere HOWEVER for the price and the people, it was a 10 to us!!!
Palma Real
 
PEI, Canada
May 2007
We stayed at the Palma Real late April , 2007. Read many reviews before we left, so we had a good idea of what to expect. We found the reviews to be quite accurate.

Arriving in customs at Varadero was a breeze, we went right through very quickly. The same coming back as well.

Although the resort is older, everything for the most part is exceptionally clean. Some area's could use a little paint, but that is minor. The staff are excellent. Our maid was the sweetest lady I have ever met, Margarita. Our room was spotless, and not musty or moldy.The workers are always cleaning, or maintaining the grounds. Pools were great, 4 or 5 to choose from depending on the atmosphere you like.

We were in building 1, with a pool view which was what we requested before leaving. It was fine. Building 4 is newer but a little farther away. It seemed similiar inside and out to ours. We wanted building 1 as it was closer to everything and father away from the Havana Club which is behind building 4, but since it is now closed it would not matter what building you are in.

The food was ok. You know that before you go to Cuba that food is not great. But you can always find something you like. Breakfast was good, orange juice to die for. For lunch and supper if you did not like the buffet, you can always go to the pizzeria or snack bar. Food at both was good.

The beach is a short jaunt across the street, no distance at all. The walk does you good anyway. Beach is beautiful....white sand, and turquoise water. Lots of chairs, and lots to do if you choose.

The loctaion of this resort is the key. You are within walking distance to everything. We walked down street to the markets where things are very cheap to buy. You can walk to Josone Park, which is next door to the resort. Liquor store, Havana Club across the street. We saw St. Elvira church when we went to the markets, walked right buy it. Nice restaurants and shops all along the way. Much to see and do in Varadero, especially from the Palma Real.

Rent a scooter out front of the resort and tour around Varadero, awesome. 11 pesos for 1.5 hours. There is a cave not far up the Varadero strip, up by Club Amigo (I think). It's called Cueva Ambrosio.You can't miss it. Something to see while on the scooters!! Just do not speed...police are everywhere!!

Be sure to hop on the double decker bus and tour for as long as you want. 5 pesos allows you to ride all day, get off and on as you like. Sit on the top to get lots of pictures. Also, take a horse and carriage ride. Well worth it. And be sure to check out Calle 62 just up the street from the resort. Cafe at day and live Cuban music every night where they are dancing in the street. Pretty cool!!

Havana is a must see while in Varadero. You can go on the tour bus or hire your own taxi for the day. We hired our own driver for 35 pesos each for 4 of us. The architecture in Havana is unreal. I loved Havana, although very busy and hot. Much history there to see. Revolutionary Square, Capitol Buildings, Havana Harbour, Markets, the list goes on and on...

The people of Varadero are warm and friendly. I have never felt as safe in any country as I did while being in Cuba. I would definitely go back to this resort, all though I like to try different places.
Palma Real
Angela  
Canada
March 2007
I read many wonderful reviews on this site prior to booking. I was very disappointed and certainly would not recommend this resort. No bottled water at this resort, they have "filtered" water.. which I think made me sick. The last 3 days on the resort I was very ill.

The beach club that I had raed about on line was a filthy place not even clean toilets. Very dirty, I would not eat or drink anything there..could not even use the bathroom... so dirty and no toilet paper.

The beach wasn't far from the resort, but many other resorts sharing a very small stretch of beach in that area... windy and often the water was too rough for the kids to be allowed in to play.

The hotel pool was fair, 2 of them and a pool bar at one. The tiles were falling off the inside of the pool, the kids had fun collecting them! The buffet was ok.. but often very "Cuban" foods, rice and spicey things that I could not eat. The kids lived on french fries and cookies, ice cream etc.. compared to the Barcelo Marina Palace where we had stayed the year before.. there was no comparison when it came to food choices and entertainment.

Entertainment at the Palma was terrible, very loud and you could not make out a word anyone was saying... they seemed to not know how to operate their equipment. The magician was good and we found that to be entertaining. Otherwise I would say stay away from the shows and dont sit around the lobby waiting for the entertainment that would be posted on the board each day... as it never happened!

The lobby lounge area was very limited in seating..seating that is available is terribly uncomfortable and everyone is standing around waiting to pounce should a seat become available.

The BBQ as they call it... snacks and meals can be found there. I found the service to be terrible and we had to laugh at the orders of french fries... maybe 10 fries would arrive on the plate and the grill cheese sandwiches... no butter or anything on them.. just cheese on bread with a quick flip on the grill. Very dry and hard to eat... however, at that point we were HUNGRY and would eat anything.

The girls in the buffet were so sweet and we would be sure to tip them and they would save our table for us for breakfast and lunch. Supper the buffet would be lined up and food would go quick... many dishes would not be replenished so best to get there early. The Pizza Place was ok.. we learned to ask for extra toppings, they make the pizza on a tortilla very skimmpy on everything.

This might have been a cheap holiday, but I would pay more for something better with bottled water to avoid getting sick. I also found the reviews made it seem like a glorified 3 star.. it is a 3 star and nothing more. You get what you pay for.
Palma Real
Rick and Liz 
Calgary, Alberta
March 2007
My wife and I returned from the Palma Real in Varadero in mid February. This was our second two-week vacation at this resort. We were there also in 2005. One of the best things about this resort is its location. Just on the edge of the town of Varadero, everything is within easy walking distance. Walk around the back roads in town to get a cultural experience. Visit Josone park nearby. At the SW corner of the park is a Cuban mall with few tourists. Very interesting.

The resort is much the same as in 2005, however the evening entertainment and food quality were of a slightly less quality in 2007. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful and the rooms are very clean and comfortable. The food is good and plentiful with lots of selection. There are three a’la’carte restaurants on the resort. I believe the people that complain about the food in Cuba are picky eaters.

The beach is nice with kayaks, hobie cats, wind surfers and snorkel equipment. Snorkeling on the Varadero beach is a waste of time though. If you want to snorkel, the hobie cat guys will take you out for 15 pesos a person. Better choices is a snorkeling tour or just take a bus to the Cuban beach Playa Coral (across from the airport). Snorkeling is very good there!

There’s plenty to do for two weeks in Varadero. Half the fun is getting off the resort and exploring. Cuba is very safe and the people are so nice. Try a trip to Matanzas. Jump on the workers bus for a day sightseeing Cardenas for one peso. It’s a beautiful city and don’t be surprised if you’re the only tourists in town! Havana is nice and beautiful, but is prepared to be hassled by some locals trying to make a buck. Ride the big red bus for 5 pesos a person for all day.

I would never hesitate to go back to the Palma Real at a good price. It is very good value if you can get a seat sale within four weeks of going. If you are used to five star resorts then you will be disappointed. I would give this resort a solid 3 stars. It is a five-minute walk from the beach; otherwise it would be 3 ½ to 4 star resort.

Be sure to bring plenty of gifts to leave for staff. I always take things that I figure the Cubans find hard to get or are expensive there. I always take tools, socket sets, saws, screwdrivers, wrenches, fishing gear. Two very nice bartenders in building four at the Saoco bar are Luis and Juan Carlos.

Enjoy Cuba! We will return for another vacation, making it our fourth to Cuba!
Palma Real
Carmen  
Guysborogh, Nova Scotia
March 2007
My two sisters and I visited Palma Real hoping for a nice, clean resort with a nice beach and good food. We certainly got way more than we bargained for.

The people of Cuba are beautiful people, inside and out. Being walking distance from the small town was great. You really got the opportunity to see the Cuban people in their environment. I always felt safe in Veredero when I was exploring the town. I never felt that I had to look over my shoulder and the men were very respectful and courteous. Remember, though, to bring your own toilet tissue or kleenex because it is non existant in the public washrooms.

The employees at the resort would bend over backward to do anything for you. There were lots of amenities with a hair salon, gym, tennis, basketball, massage and on-site doctor. The staff were kind, friendly, respectful and very honored to have us there. They also spoke very good English and loved when you made an effort to speak Spanish. The food in the buffet was varied and there was alot to choose from even if you were a fussy eater. We had three waitressess who looked after us so well. Look for Karen, Idolkys and Nora to give you excellent service and a beautiful smile. Every morning and again at lunch, our table was reserved and our drinks were poured. (The orange juice and coffee are to die for.) I would have to say that I have never recieved that kind of service here in Canada. Naturally, we tipped generously because they deserved it and they worked hard for it. The pizza at the Italian Restaurant was delicious with scant toppings and a nice thin crust. The way I would assume pizza should be. The Chinese was delisious having various dishes to choose from . The Barbacoa or the grill, was opened 23 hours a day and thier burgers, fries and hotdogs were also very tasty.

The beach was beautifully kept and there were plenty of chaise lounges at least till 12:00 noon. Also the pools were beautiful, although a bit cold (refreshing). The nightly entertainment was not cruise ship equivelant, but keep in mind the price you paid to be there. The dancers were beautiful and graceful and very happy to put on a great show. Our evenings spent in the Lobby Lounge were alot of fun with our glasses never empty thanks to Horatio, our friendly, handsome bartender. For the price I paid for a March Break holiday, I have no complaints and I would go back again anytime. You can reach me at beaverblue@hotmail.com if you have any specific questions about my experience at the Palma Real.
Palma Real
Dave and Gerry 
Niagara region
January 2007
We spent a week Dec21 to 28 at Palma Real and had a great time,

Our room was in Building 1 ,there is a bar in the lobby of this building and a snack shop and internet service, the room size was ok, good for showering-changing-sleeping, it was clean so what else can you ask for,(maby a fridge in the room would be nice), have fun with the elevators,we were on the 3rd floor and if you press 3 it goes to the 4th floor, Building 4 is a newer building and has a nice bar and lobby

There are 5 pools,2 pools (1 swim up bar) between building 1 and 2 and 2 pools plus a babies pool by buildings 3 and 4,not many people swimming in the pools as the water was cold (too cold for me).

We had no problems with the food ,always found food we liked,Christmas eve buffet was just something else ,so much food starting with seafood and then everything else you could think of ,,,WELL DONE PALMA REAL.
The Italian restaurant ,the pizza (thin crust) and pasta was fine (we ate there twice at lunch)
The Cuban ,we had the chicken and that was good,
The Grill at the beach was great,

The only entertainment we saw was the music quiz in the lobby ,did not see any of the shows,

The beach is great ,that's where most of the people were ,
One of the things I liked about Palma Real is the location , We walked down town every day and ventured down different side streets every day (very safe),some nice restaurants and bars down town,,great art shop,,there is also a peso store (our buck or two )near the hotel,so if you want to buy stuff to give away,
You have to take a walk in the park ,its interesting,nice restaurants ,pabble boats and row boats ,go over the bridge and up the steps and to the end of the park (by the main road)there's a pool,lots of things to see there,

Would i go back..YES,

any questions email me at gdforell@yahoo.com,
for photos go to http://community.webshots.com/user/palmarealvaradero
Palma Real
Rhonda 

December 2006
airport arrival went well, customs and luggade were easy to traverse as was the money exchange, everything was well marked.

Shuttle was waiting and we were wisked away to the Palma Real with about 14 other passangers. Checking into the hotel was quick and staff very helpful. The room was nice, a little small, but ample closet and dresser space, aircon, TV, no radio. Bathroom was good size, bath/shower combo hot/cold. Ground floor with balcony and garden view, near pool, room was in the 1130's wing.... quiet, comfortable, well lit and no bugs.

weather was good, there was enough sun to color our skin and enough cloudy days that we didn't overheat walking the main road, window shopping from one end of Varadero to the other.

beach was long and wide, good waves, no real drop-offs so when the water is calm swimming/floating are possible in the shallow water. There was a beach Club where drinks and snacks are available, showers/toilet, very clean and well staffed, food was good, grilled or deep fried.

Entertainment was good, colorful performances. The MC is a Mulata lady and speaks very good english. Bring her some eye drops. They are not available to her. The smoke/stage lights are hard on her eyes.... anyway, I always bring some "Clear Eyes" or some kind of eye drops when I know I'll be swimming. I gave her what I had left. I know that she will take special care of you if you bring her more.

All in all, the hotel was good value, the location was easy walking to everywhere, not beach front, food was good, well staffed restaurants and clean.
Palma Real
Ann  
Toronto Canada
October 2006
I stayed at this hotel from July9-16th 2006. We had a later flight, and check in was very quick. We did not have to wait for our room or our safe key. They do keep your passport over night though.

Our room was in the building closest to the hotel, and had a bar in our loby there. The elevators are a little akward.. and took us a awhile to figure out. U have to press 3 for the 4th floor.. and 4 for the fifth.. a little akward.. But made for an interesting and funny first nite for us.

Overall we thought it was an ok resort.. You are in CUBA remember.. so my expections were not extremly high. Personnaly i am a very picky eater, so it took me a few days before i found things i liked in the buffet.. The grill was GREAT! I did not find one person on the resort who did not like it there. Pizza place took a while to get your food.. so be prepared for a wait.. and an interesting pizza.

The beach was beautiful, and i found more people went there then stayed at the pool.

One thing that is very important.... I seen cockroches... TWICE... personnaly turned me off a lot.. thank god we seen them at the end of the trip. Another thing u should kno.. they were HUGE! ... Once in the room, and once in lobby. I was not totally shocked to see them.. I figured there was some in the hotel, I just didn't want to know forsure they were. So just a heads up.. they are there!

other then that i had a really good time.. But i found the entertainment team was not very good... The requested the havana club every nite... Which is strickly tourist... Luckly i went with people who had been there before, and new a couple mroe clubs.. we also asked the cap drivers a lot about what was hot on what nights.

The only thing that was not so good about our trip was that our flight was delayed 7 hours on the way home.. our flight left at 5:30am instead of 10:30pm the night before.. we had already checked out... but the hotel gave us another room which was nice.
Palma Real
Caroline and Steve 
Québec, Canada
May 2006
Customs
Going to the customs was actually quite easy, we did not wait that long and our luggage was there very fast, to be more effective me and my hubby actually split up; he took care of the baggage while I went to change our money at the exchange desk. The exchange rate was 1.31 in April. Be aware that at the exit of the airport there is always Cuban boys tying to get you suitcase to help you to your bus which is approximately 20 meter away, of course you will have to tip them for this service. My advice just holds on to your luggage.

Check In
The bus ride from the airport to the Palma real is approximately 30 minutes. The check in at the hotel was fast, we were one of the lucky ones who had their room ready right away, otherwise you can leave you bag in the lobby and go wander around. We try to get our beach towel and our safe key right away, but they told us to come back in one hour for the safe which was extend to 2h and to come back the next morning for the beach towel. They also keep you passport for one night.

The cost for the safe keys is 10$ deposit and 2$ for each day, which comes to a total of 28$ for the entire stay (yes they count the day your are leaving has an entire day)

The beach towel are 10$ deposit each, the front desk give you a receipt and you go at the pool clubhouse to get the actual towel.

The room
There is 4 building at the complex, 2 of those building actually have their own lobby bar. We were in the atabey (room 4224) building, which is the furthest one. One side of the building have their room facing the Havana club which can be loud at the night and the others room (like ours) where facing the ocean, only hick between the hotel and the ocean there is a very busy highway. Quite frankly it did not bother us that much since we were only in our room at night.

The room had 2 single bed put together to make a big bed which is kind of annoying. Every thing was clean and the maid we had was really nice, we left her 1pesos a day plus a small gift (mostly bought a the dollars store). There is a hairdryer in the bathroom, for people who need an alarm bring you own since there is no clock in the room, you can always go to the reception and get a wake up call. Also just to let you know you don’t hear your neighbor but any sound that are made in the hallway are heard by everybody, so be nice and try to be quiet in the hallway when you are coming back from the bar late at night.

Bar (all bar stop serving alcohol at midnight)
There is 5 bar at the hotel, the most popular bar seem to be the lobby bar, it’s extremely busy at night during the entertainment that is also in the main lobby. The lobby bar also has a self-serve fountain where you can refill you bottle of water and any type of pop.
There is also a bar in 2 of the room building (I only went to the one in my building). There is also a bar in the pool, but since this bar is always in the shade I did not go there much. The pool bar and the beach bar only serve drink in a small plastic cup, you can bring you own jug and they will fill it up. The beach bar is situated about 200 meters from the beach its is open until 6 o’clock you can also get some food at this bar, mainly hamburger, hot dog and fries. If you want to go out dancing the Havana club is a block away from the hotel, they play mostly Latin and hip hop. The charge to get in is 10$

The beach
The beach is a very short walk from the hotel. The beach and the ocean is definitely nice, the ocean is actually warmer then the pool at the hotel. There is definitely not many palapas so if you definitely want a spot in the shade you have to be there early. The latest we got to the beach was 10:30 and we were still able to get a shady spot. Since spring in the season of wind, the ocean definitely was agitated from time to time. Night can actually be quite cool so make sure to bring a sweater.

The restaurants
Like most review on the site I would have to say that the food was definitely not the greatest thing, we actually manage to found something to eat. My hubby eat rice and chicken all week and I for myself I eat pasta the entire week. Breakfast was definitely the best meal of the day, the orange juice was very good, just don’t wait up for the staff to await you, you are better get most of the things yourself. The restaurant at the beach was also a good place to eat, the hot dog and burger where quite good, you can get the exact same food during the day at the Cuban a la carte restaurant. There is two a la Carte restaurant on the resort the Cuban and the Chinese; you have to make reservation at the front desk between noon and 6pm. We went to both restaurants we found the Cuban restaurant was good and it was fun to get serve for once. As for the Chinese restaurant I actually would tell you not to bother going. The food was pretty much just awful and the service there was not good either. There is also a pizza place on the complex that serves pizza from noon to 9pm, I found that the pizza seem to have more topping on it during the night. We mainly went to the pizza place to get ice cream during the day.

The entertainment
There is pretty much no entertainment during the day on the complex, you can play volleyball at the beach but that is pretty much the only entertainment you will see there. The night entertainment has I say before is in the main lobby.

The excursion and thing to do
We took the Havana tour with the factory, instead of the Havana tour alone, I frankly don’t think the factory add on to the tour was worth the money spend. The tour of the factory only last about 20 minutes, it’s definitely interesting but may be a little too expensive for what you actually see. On the other hand I definitely enjoy the Havana tour, we got a chance to see a little bit more of what the life of the Cuban people his and that was great.

The Palma Real is situated real close to the downtown of Varadero, you can easily walk to the city main park, or the museum of Varadero, you can also walk to many of the small market on the main road. If you want you can also walk to the main market situated on Calle 15 but it will take you about 45minutes. We actually walk there and took a Coco taxi (small taxi driven by girls only) back to the hotel for 10 pesos

All and all we had a great vacation, and for the price paid the Palma Real is a great bargain
Palma Real
Dave & Lise, Faye & Ian, Cindy & Kevin, Judy & Bernard, Sylvie & Gilles 

April 2006
Arrived at Palma Real Varadero on April 11th for one week only...too bad! Had a wonderful stay at Palma Real, like the other say don't count on the star system. This hotel was clean and had very friendly staff. Arrival exceptional, was fast had our room within 1/2 hour very clear. The most interesting thing about this place was the we were within walking distance to the town of Varadero meet wonderful people saw how the people lived and felt very very safe...we would walk even during nightime lots of people around. The Cuban people were very friendly and very clean. At our hotel the staff were always cleaning around, the pool area was always clean and every morning the cleaning staff were always cleaning the floors. No shortage of drinks...always enough for everyone! Beach very very clean and well taken care of. Beachboys always available for assistance and very polite. Hotel staff were always willing to help everybody we met was very nice and always very polite. Cuba is a very safe place at night you can walk to the town of Varadero late at night and feel safe. All in all we know that we're going again next year, we loved Cuba and want to see more. Departure was excellente with no problems getting out of Cuba...except for the two Newfie girl's....you know who you are!!ha!ha!
Palma Real
Lydia 
Canada
March 2006
We stayed for two weeks Nov. 28- Dec. 12th. The flight was direct (excellent) but the way down was so packed one could not sip a drink without the co-operation of seatmates. Our stewart thought spilled red wine was amusing. He should be fired! After disembarking all was good. Lots of room on the way home. Since our rooms were on opposite ends of the complex we really got to know our way around, and found the best times for food, drink and entertainment. We never found our rep. Angelica nor did she respond to our queries but we did OK anyways. Barbacoa - OJ until 11:00am the best I've ever had. (heed advice - we took our own 500ml mugs) Atabey - the best pin~a colada. Buffet - friendliest staff. Pizzeria - good, ask for dos queso etc. if you like thicker toppings and the menu changes slightly from 6:30 until closing for more variety. Unfortunately we didn't find this out until our last night but will know for the next time. The beach bar had very good fries and burgers and the staff there were real characters! Entertaining cats also! Speaking with people from different hotels we felt we got the best deal. Don't be mislead by their star system. It means nothing in Varadero. We reserved (about 10 days in advance) for the Chino - don't bother! We weren't expecting Vancouver style but the service was the shit's and the food unremarkable (I'm being polite!) The souvenirs in the evenings on the cart and spread out were better quality and price than anywhere else. And price was marked so no bartering needed! We will return. PS. To the Elkford Folks - how was your free upgrade?
Palma Real
Lauren 
Toronto
March 2006
My Best friend and I decided to go to Cuba for our reading week. Something to get us out of the horrible school blues we were suffering. Our travel agent actually recommended the Palma Real as she has another younger girl that will only go there. We got to the airport very early, and our plane was very late. We were warned before we went to Cuba to exchange our money at the airport for a better exchange. Apparently at the hotel they charge you extra to convert the money, so if you do not convert it at the airport it is better to go to a bank and exchange it there. Also make sure you bring cash with you. Two people we met had only brought their credit cards and could not get any money, and could not do anything for the first 4 days we were there.

By the time we got to the Hotel the main bar had closed. And the hotel had pretty much shut down for the night, with the exception of the snack shop. The staff when we got there were not very friendly. The woman at the front desk was a little rude and when we asked for the safe locks, and a late check out time we were told that we would have to return on another day. When we asked for our passports back they said we would have to return the next day at 9:00 am to get them. Then she pointed in the direction of our hotel room and told us to go.

I have to admit after this kind of greeting I was generally concerned with the way the rest of the week was going to turn out. Walking across the grounds we were amazed by how beautiful the resort was. Our hotel was on the far side of the resort. When we got there, there where people sitting down in the hotel lounge. We tried to use the elevators, but the elevators apparently only work on occasion. So we lugged our bags up the stairs to the 4th floor (later to find out that the elevators worked if you went to the second floor and pushed the button). We found our room and it was beautiful. Here is a hint. The hotel is located a little ways off, so we had a view of the highway. If you can try to request a room that over looks the hotel, as it is a much nicer view then the "ocean view" we had. After unpacking we bumped into some of the people we had met on the bus on the way in to the hotel, and decided to go to the club that was right behind the hotel. Another important thing is that the Bars on the resort shut down between 11 -12.

The club behind the resort was called the Havana Club. It cost 10 convertible peso to get in and was all you can drink. The entertainment staff each night would take us out, and trust me they know what clubs are busy on what nights. We went out every single night and here are some tips. The international had the most horrible smell. It did not go away and we could not get use to it. Plus it is set up funny, and very hard to move around in. The bar is tiny, and we waited in line for at least 30 mins every time we wanted a drink. There is the most beautiful club called the Mediterranean, which is completely outdoors. IF you get the chance to go, I strongly suggest it at least once. We also went to the Cave. It is an actually cave. And unfortunately was really dead the night we went. My all time favorite bar was the Havana Club as it was really close to the hotel and seemed to always be busy. IMPORTANT: when you go off the resort make sure to bring toilet paper. The clubs have someone that you have to pay to get the toilet paper from. And some of the bars do not have doors on the stalls (the Mediterranean), but they all cost 10 CPs when you went with the group and where all you can drink.

The activities put on through out the days where not well publicized. Two of the people we met did the scuba diving lessons and had the greatest time. We also met a number of people who did the various tours. Apparently the dolphin swim was well worth the money. Stay away from the Havana trip as you pay 67 CPs and they take you into the City and drop you off. We rented a car for about 30CPS each (4 of us) and drove in ourselves. Other then getting lost and picking up a random Cuban man to show us how to get into the City it was a way better way to see Havana. We got to go where we wanted to, and the time restrictions were less. The market in Havana is no better then the one in Varadero, and is more expensive.

The staff is very friendly and a lot of fun. The only problem we had was the second night when we bumped into friends from another resort and tried to bring them onto ours. Apparently that is a BIG no-no and we got into a lot of trouble for it. The worst part is the security does not speak English, only the hotel staff. So the security was yelling at us and actually dragged us back to the front to have it all translated.

The food that is served on the resort I found very good. There was always plenty of selection. Usually a fish, chicken, pork and beef option, plus a lot of vegetables. I only got up for breakfast twice, but was very impressed with the breakfasts, and the freshly squeezed orange juice (from the weirdest machine ever). Something we were surprised at was that the food shuts down for many hours during the day. Breakfast I think was served until 10:30 them lunch did not start until 12:30 -2:30 and dinner was from 6:30-10:30 (I think) so if you missed the time that the buffet was open, then you would have to wait till it re-opened to eat. I had friends staying at other resorts that constantly complained about how the food selection was very limited and awful. I am very lucky to have not encountered this.

Every night at 9:45 the entertainment staff put on a show. It was a good time to meet the other people in the hotel. I suggest going early to get a good seat. When we went we met a lot of people from France (so learn your French) and Britain. It was an excellent experience and we are still in correspondence with these people. The resort was a lot of older people, but also a lot of younger people. When we first got there it seemed like mostly couples, but eventually all the single people flocked together. So there was usually about 30 of us running amuck in the main lobby.

Here is the part all of you are waiting for. The beach. It was absolutely beautiful, and like a 2 second walk from the resort. Their was a snack shop and a bar at the beach so you could still eat and drink while on the beach. There was never a shortage of chairs, just a shortage of shade (my partner in crime did not want to be in the sun). The only problem we found was that it was hard to get any of the “free equipment” to do anything. I tried to get a volleyball one day and was told it had popped. Then at 3 that same day they brought one out to play beach volleyball. I had a similar experience with the paddle boats, and snorkels. But the beach was so breath-takingly beautiful that just soaking in the sun was well worth the other hassles. One thing to note was that there are many men in speedos, and women who go topless. Just a heads up.

Over all I was greatly impressed with the Palma Real and are actually looking into going for two weeks, with many of the people that we met their this year. If you are looking for a good relaxing time, I definitely suggest going to this resort. As I look to return within the next year. Just remember that it isn’t Canada or Europe, and if you are high maintenance then really go somewhere else. If you are looking for a good time, with extremely fun people, good food and excellent drinks then go here. Another tip: if you travel 3 to a room it knocks quite a bit off the price of the ticket. Hope to see you there!!!

if you want to see pictures of the resort etc then feel free to email me at glimmer_lp@hotmail.com
Palma Real
Gigi 
Canada
March 2006
Flight
We left Winnipeg airport on West Jet and arrived a few minutes early. The flight crew was wonderful and they did serve a lunch box even though it said only snacks would be served.

Customs
Going through customs was good. We sent our 16 year old son in front of us and they asked about papa, not mama. They went in together and then my 6 year old daughter. They did take a while looking at the passport pictures to make sure it really was us. I had my hair color different I think that was the main reason it seemed to take so long. We exchanged some money at the airport and the rate was 1.2833. So for $200 Canadian we got 155.85 Convertible peso’s. For some reason I was thinking it was a better exchange rate.

Check In
Bus was waiting for us and took us to the Palma Real. Check in was quick. I did try to get towels and safe lock but they were busy getting the bus load checked in that they asked we come back in half an hour to get all that done. It ended up being too late for towels so we had to wait till morning. Someone showed up to take our bags to our rooms after we started going on our own. Thank goodness because luggage for 4 people was not light.

The rooms were clean and had the nice towel art on the beds. Everyday there was a new towel art and always very clean. No complaints.

Beach
After checking in the first place we went to was the beach. It was just beautiful. We were there early enough to get a little sun and a swim. There was never a problem getting a lounge chair. No matter what time of day you got there. Short walk across the street but did not bother us at all. Only one day where there was a red flag.

Food
Breakfast was fresh omelets and fruit and of course fresh squeezed orange juice. And if you wanted you could have vegetables or hot dogs. One morning there were even pork chops. LOL and every meal had excellent fresh bread.

There were hamburgers at the beach bar or ham and cheese sandwiches or hot dogs.

There is a pizza place you had to eat in but could not order to take out. The pizza was actually very good. Also a 24 hour restaurant you could have a la carte breakfast or dinner and snacks all the other times. Always found something good to eat at the Buffet restaurant. Tried to book the Chinese a la carte but they were booked solid until the day we were leaving so that was out. We did book the Cuban but ended up missing our reservation because we were having too much fun else where.

Over all the food was not bad at all. Always found more than enough to eat and never went hungry.

Excursions
We rented scooters a few times and they were a blast. For a full day (24 hours it was $24.00 well worth it) or $12.00 for 3 hours.

We also rented a car and went into Haban for the day. We decided to go on our own for the adventure. Boy did we ever get one. We did some sight seeing on the way there. It is a Very beautiful country that is for sure. While in Habana we were looking for the Cigar Factory and we stopped to ask someone who told us it was closed but could show us some cigars. Being the adventurous husband he said ok. Next thing I knew this guy was hopping into the back seat of our car and picked up my daughter to move her over and away we were going to this guy’s house. He was trying to sell us some illegal cigars. Which I of course I said NO WAY. So off we went. But it sure scared me to have a strange person just hop into the car. The biggest adventure of all was getting back to Varadero. We obviously got lost and had to stop at every little snack bar along the way to make sure we were heading in the right direction. Since we spoke no Spanish and they spoke no English it made for some interesting conversations speaking body language. We were running on fumes when we finally found a service station open and soon there after we found our resort. My personal suggestion is to take a tour guide with you. I know I would have preferred it but my boys wanted an adventure and we got one.

BOAT TOUR we did the seadoo boat tour which was lots of fun. It is a 2 hour ride with a pit stop at this very small zoo. We got to hold a baby crocodile for 1 peso and take a picture of ourselves.

CATERMARAN
It is a full day excursion on the boat. We went snorkeling and what a sight that was. Then we go to an island for lobster or chicken lunch and some beach time.

Then back on the boat to swim with the dolphins. That was my favorite trip of all. Well worth it.

Entertainment
Like other reviews say there is not much in the entertainment. Either we were always at the wrong spot at the wrong time but we did not see much in the entertainment. And when they were entertaining they were very slow to get started. The animation staff spent more time talking with each other than the guests, or trying to pick up a girl for the evening. I had one insist he loved my body and went as far as to ask me to come back without my hubby.

General comments
Over all it was good value for our money. We had a wonderful time and would go again. The staff in general was friendly and willing to help. Only the entertainment staff was no where to be found unless talking among themselves.

I found more people this year begging. We had one guy follow us through one of the flea markets asking for a peso. He was very determined to get that peso. This was our 3rd visit to Cuba and see the changes it is making and not for the better. This is the first time that our orientation person talked to us about tipping. Everyone wants a tip. Our first trip 4 years ago I remember them telling us. PLEASE DO NOT TIP.

Now it seems like it is expected and see the people in Cuba changing more like us tourists. Hopefully it does not become too Americanized as it will not be the same Cuba I have come to love. I know I want to go back again next year.
Palma Real
Gayle 
UK
March 2006
We stayed at the Palma Real 15-22nd February 2006. I had read the reviews and found it exactly as others had described it. It was clean and adequate but not luxurious and the staff were friendly (particularly in the buffet resteraunt).

Even at this time in the year we could not book a place in the Chinese resteraunt as it was fully booked, so if you have your heart set on it may i recommend you book almost as soon as you arrive. We always found something nice and fresh every day at the buffet that suited us but we are not difficult to please and just the fact there was no cooking and cleaning involved made it a nice change! The freshly squeezed orange juice every morning was fab and our waitress every day was particularly lovely. Only one problem with the buffet experience were the rude people who kept pushing in. The hotel's entertainment really wasn't up to much. It never started on time and didn't last very long. Having said that the band, singers and dancers were all talented and it was great watching them (if only for 45 mins!). We went to the Mambo Club one evening which was nice. It wasn't very busy, which i suspect has something to do with the time of year, 10CUC for entry and free drinks all night, fantastic band (some real old characters), brilliant dancers and a pleasant atmosphere.

Varadero beach was gorgeous. We stopped for a massage on the beach by a lovely lady and it was one of the most dreamy things i've ever dome. Would have been perfect if it werent for some nosey french folks who had a good gawk!We went on the catarmaran trip, which was brilliant and well worth it if you can. We did the day trip to Havana which I found a little disappointing because the cigar factory was not included and we went deep sea fishing which really was not worth the money!

Cuba is an odd little country but the atmosphere is electric! Absolutely loved it. If we went again we may upgrade to a slightly more luxurious hotel but not really a problem as there was so much to do.Well worth the moeny. Have a great time!
Palma Real
Sue 
Canada
February 2006
Hi....We have just vacationed at the Palmas Real hotel from Jan.21/06 - Feb 4 /06.I'd have to say that after doing some online research,the hotel was as expected.We had stayed at the Arenas Blancas across the street five years ago.I think for a few extra $$,we would have preferred to be there.They have a nicer property right on the beach. The hotel was an easy check-in and our room was over looking the pool.(1300's)The staff was not as friendly as we'd found at the Arenas except for our chambermaid and one of the buffet workers.As mentioned in some other reviews, it was the guests who were the rudest.There were a lot of very rude guests especially at the buffet.Also ,as non-smokers we were particularly annoyed that there were so many smokers everywhere.The food was also as expected...not too great ! But we knew that from before.The pools were clean but cold and the swim-up bar was always in the shade ! Cuban math isn't to great either.When we rented a room safe for 14 days it was supposed to be 2$CUC a day for a total of $28.00.They took $30.00 and......no change. The beach was great and we did the Catamaran day trip which was fabulous!Really well worth it !!!!All in all for what we paid,we got what we wanted!
Palma Real
Canada 

January 2006
We were at the Palma Real from January 19 - 26 2006.

We chose this resort because of the price and we wanted to see Havana and were not traveling with kids. We go to Tulum every spring break with our kids and will go again this March. So this was an extra week of sun not our big annual vacation.

Getting There:
We traveled West Jet directly from Winnipeg. Nice planes, satellite TV and friendly staff. Great way to start. Our time in the Varadero airport was short and the nice thing about the Palma Real is that it is a short bus ride and you are one of the first hotel stops.

Check In:
Quick and easy. How ever there were no staff members to haul your luggage to your room. Remember to obtain your safe key while checking in. It is a 10 peso deposit and 2 peso's per day charge. Also while here you might as well put down your 5 peso per towel deposit down for the blue beach and pool towels. If you like to exchange for clean ones everyday you must do that around 9:30 am.

The Room
We were in 1306. The room was fine, clean everything you needed. No irons but it did have a hair dryer. I am a pillow fanatic so I always bring my own. The hallways were load and one could hear door slamming whenever anyone came and went. The Palma Real is along the main road so you could hear some road noise. Nothing that bothered us. Although there was almost a fist fight in the hallway at 4 am between an older German fellow and the young disco fans when they were slamming doors. The one item that would have been nice to have would have been a mini bar fridge but there were none.

The Pool:
The pools were nice but the water was quite cool when I stuck my toe in. I honestly spent everyday at the beach.

The Lounge Chairs:
I had read that the beach (and pool) chairs were uncomfortable. The blues ones were terrible but they seemed to have bought a bunch of new all white plastic ones that were quite OK. The white ones were only at the beach and not at the pool.

The Beach:
The water is that gorgeous turquoise blue and the sand soft. You do not need water shoes as I didn't see any rocks or coral. Lovely for taking long walks in each direction.

Yes it is a 3 minute walk from the hotel across 2 one way roads. But in actual distance it is not much further than beach front hotels that are set back off the beach. If you do not want to walk to the beach the Internacional hotel was literally right on the beach (but nothing for a pool).

Very little shade - we had to be there by 9:00 am to secure a shady spot. I am guessing it gets earlier and earlier as the busy season approaches.

The beach bar is fine and yes they serve the beer in very small cups but it gave me a reason to get up and stretch my legs. I never ate at the beach bar.

The Food:
We tried the Pizza place. It was good if you like the thin crust pizza's (which we do). The past is fine as well.

We tried the Cuban restaurant. It was fine - similar to the food at the buffet but it was nice to be served. The best part was the pork crackling appetizer. If you like pork rinds you will like this.

We tried the Chinese restaurant too. Now if you are looking for North American Chinese food you will not find it here. I did have the Chicken Curry and it was very good and a nice change form the buffet style flavours.

The Buffet:
Breakfast: They have made to order omelettes every morning. You can have fried eggs, bacon, toast etc. They have the best fresh squeezed orange juice - squeezed while you hold your glass under the spout. They also had cereal, yogurt, fruit and sweet rolls. Plus they would have strange things like brussel spouts and cut up wieners. I just skipped those. Great coffee.

Lunch and Dinner: I will lump these together as the food is very similar. Lots of grilled fish, fried chicken and lots of pork. Every one in while you would come across beef. Tasty but tough and well done. We did not see any 'steak'. Lots of French fires and rice. Lots of salads but oddly enough no salad dressing except oil and vinegar. If I was to return I would be bringing my Newman's. Remember about brining food is that the rooms do not have a fridge. Lots of fruit, ice cream and deserts. The food would be repetitive if you stayed for 2 weeks but for one it was just fine.

The Entertainment:
The hotel shows were not very interesting at all and we were all relieved when they ended so we could go back to having our conversations and drinks at the lobby bar in peace.

Alcohol;
Lots of it - be careful the drinks may not be as watered down as some my lead you to believe. We had ice in our drinks and suffered no ill effects - mind you we have had our Hepatitis vaccines.

Havana Tour: We took the day trip to Havana and felt it was well worth seeing. Very interesting - just things like the Cubans all have ration books to get food.

Smoking:
The one thing that would prevent us from retuning with our children was the amount of smokers and the free reign they had of every restaurant , bar room etc at the hotel. I did not see one no smoking sign and every single person seemed to be a smoker.

All in all an inexpensive week at the beach.
Palma Real
Merle and Darrell 
Elkford BC
January 2006
November 28 - December 5. We read and re-read the reviews for the Palma Real and knew it was a 3 1/2 star so we were not expecting the Ritz. We also knew we were moving out to a 5 star for the second week. We found the Palma Real to be a good Budget Hotel. It was our fourth trip to Cuba which is not known for its cuisine so we knew what to expect. The food in the buffet was decent enough, I never eat anything I don't recognize or anything floating in sauces. One hilarious thing was the carving of the chickens. There was the remnants of a couple chicken carcasses (the stuff I would of made soup out of at home) on the tray. I pointed to the two nice chickens on the other tray, indicating I would like some white meat. The carver obviously missed the day they learned to carved birds as he went at it like a mad man, chopping at it, bones and all until it resembled the meat on the first tray - I felt like giving him a lesson in carving and that is a job I try to avoid at home but I know I could of done it without all those bones mixed in. Anyhow, it gave us something to talk and laugh about for a few days. Food in the buffet was pretty much the same every night but there was a good selection and if you care for ice cream or desserts, they were pretty good. The bread is wonderful. We went to the pizza place one day - it was fine but not pizza as we know it. We also went to a restaurant at the resort one night which I think they called Italian. Our friend ordered the fish and it was the exact same fish with his head on that she had been avoiding in the buffet. The rest of us had the chicken, which was the same chicken we saw at the buffet ever day so after that we didn't bother with the restaurants as an oriental lady from Vancouver told me about the Chinese Restaurant, "Don't go, it's garbage" I figured coming from her I would take her word for it. Now I see in the reviews that someone else said it was good - what can you do? We had a good time at the Palma Real. A lot of it was attributed to the people we met. Other vacationers that were fun and down to earth. Drinks were so so. Beer was cold. One thing we liked about being at the Palma Real which is right at the edge of Varadero is the easy walking access to the markets, bank, stores, etc in town. We have always stayed farther out the penninsula where you have to rely on buses, cabs, etc. to town. It was wonderful to be able to walk down mainstreet after the evening entertainment, which was pretty much the same every night. I believe it was the house band and dancers. One day we visted Josone Park, rode the train and walked around. The beach is a short 5 minute walk from the hotel. If you don't go early you may not get a lounge chair. One thing we found odd is between the two hotels on the beach were many chairs - locked up. Should of questioned that when people were sitting on the sand but we didn't. The weather was great, we swam in the ocean every day. We would go back to the Palma Real altho we will most likely try the Solmar next time if we are going to Varadero and want to be in town as we heard some good things about it from a fellow traveller. Keep in mind, these are lower end hotels so if you want to be wined and dined and dressed to the hilt - triple your budget and go to a Sandals - The budget hotels are not for everyone.
Palma Real
Vicki 

April 2005
We've just returned from of first trip ever anywhere. We stayed at the Palma Real for two weeks from April 10-25. We had a great time with our nine year old daughter. The staff at the resort were terrific and took our daughter under their wing and treated her as one of their own. The beaches are wonderful. We did the Havana tour, catamaran trip with the dolphin swim and jet ski tour. We highly reccomend the jet ski tour they provided proper life jackets and our daughter thought it was the best thing about the trip. Make sure you take face cloths as the resort doesn't provide them. The staff in at the resort would love chocolate bars as they don't have them in Cuba. If you go to bed early or take kids with you make sure you don't get room 1111 it is so close to the bar and very noisy. We were given that room and the next day we asked for a different room and got put up on the 2nd floor. The only bad thing about the trip was the exchange rate and if you use your credit card you will be charged in American funds and an extra 11.5% will be added onto your card. That went into effect the day befrore we left for Cuba so nobody knew about it until we were already there. Good thing we took lots of cash with us. Make sure you make reservations for the chinese restraunt it was great.
Palma Real
Tammy 
Canada
April 2005
3 girlfriends and I visited the Palma Real Resort in Varadero from March 20 to 28, 2005. It was my first trip to Cuba and on an all inclusive as a whole. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a great resort for an all girls trip!!!! The food was awesome and from what I've heard about food at some resorts, this was a big plus. The buffet could sometimes be iffy, but there was always something to choose from. The chinese a la carte was great and we loved the Pasta and Pizza bar. The only disco we went to was Havana Club, which is literally right next door to the resort.

Only 10 pesos and all drinks are included, the music was good, a little bit of everything. You have to walk to the beach, but it's very close and well worth it once you're there...absolutely beautiful white sand. There are 5 pools at the resort, 4 adult and 1 kiddie. We had the most fun at the pool bar. Please say hello to Miguel and Carlos for us (Tammy, Sharlene, Kelly and Cara) and say a special hello to Marcel, one of the dancers from the animation staff. Our rooms were cleaned every day and always a special "towel animal" left for us on the bed or in the sink in the bathroom. The only excursion we went on was the Crucero del Sol Catamaran trip...what a great day!!! We had so much fun. Only 75 pesos and we snorkelled, swam with dolphins, spent some time at a beautiful beach where we were served a lobster/chicken lunch. All drinks are included and you also get a snack on the catamaran. On the way back at the end of day it was a big party! All in all, I loved this trip and would definitely return to Palma Real again.
Palma Real
Jim & Christine 
Canada
March 2005
This was our first trip to Cuba after many times in Mexico and we will be going back. It is almost like you have a paradigm shift in your head after a couple of days and stop comparing the Mayan Riviera and Cancun with Cuba. They all offer sun and sand with Spanish being spoken but the differences are subtle and involve a state of mind.

The Air Transat flight from Calgary left on Monday at 12:30 am and took exactly 5 hours. This was our second midnight flight and we learned from our last. We both took an over the counter sleeping pill combined with a quick beer at the airport and for the first time ever I fell asleep on the plane.

Getting through Customs provided some anxiety for Chris as you have to go up to the windows one at a time. This is no big deal, but when they asked our occupations the process ground to a halt. She told the guy she was a police officer in Canada and then he had to notify his supervisor. When they found out I was a cop as well then she had to go back in line and have me come up to be questioned. The guy was pleasant enough, asking my duties etc. We felt sorry for the people behind us as we stood there for over 15 minutes being asked questions. Just prior to us there was another copper in the next line and he was handled the same as us. I think next time I would tell them I was an accountant.

A quick 20 minute bus ride to the hotel and we checked into room 1235. I had e-mailed the hotel and asked for a room in building 1000 as another reviewer had suggested it was the best location. It is closer to the swim up bar and main lobby which saves some walking to the beach. The room was at the top of the stairs from the lobby bar and when people were in the stairwell or hallway you could hear everything. Oh, just and aside, when it’s late at night and you are in your cups, say goodbye to your new found friends before you walk to your rooms and let the rest of us sleep at 2:00 am. Anyway, I asked for a new room the next morning and was politely told I would have to wait one day and they would change rooms for us. We had to bring our luggage down to the lobby where they locked them up for us as we had to exchange rooms at noon. We were going golfing, so arranged for the bellboy to take our luggage up to our new room while we were away. We came back to room 1220 and loved it. The room was larger and had a huge balcony overlooking the swim up bar. I can’t remember all the rooms but rooms 1221-1225 would be great as well. The water out of the tap is drinkable and the bathroom area was large. Christine said the hair blower worked very well and she would not take her own next time.

The food was not a big surprise. No, it’s not as good as a five star in the Mayan but we always found tasty items. For some reason I thought every second day the buffet was better. The pizza restaurant was great and the bread was fantastic. We did the Cuban ala carte and didn’t think it was any better then the buffet.

The beach is better than at the Mayan Riviera or Mazatlan with brilliant blue water that hurts your eyes. The water is clear and does not get too deep, due to the sand bars off the shore. The sand is powdery, almost like sugar and it feels great on the feet. You can walk in either direction for kilometers and enjoy the waves.

Golf is fantastic and the cheapest I have ever found while taking winter holidays. The cost is regularly $77 but if you are staying at Palma Real or most of the other resorts it’s $48 plus a cart for $33. If you don’t take your own clubs it’s $30 to rent, we had our own but another couple rented and the clubs all matched and I think they were Wilson’s. We golfed two days and loved the course, I am a 3 handicap and Chris is a 30 and both found it enjoyable. We actually golfed with Guillermo Herrera, who is the Cuban champion, great golfer, fantastic cab driver and a real nice guy. He was the one who suggested Bar 62, the Mambo club and the different markets.

Guillermo Herrera will do private trips to Havana in his new black Mercedes and his English is great. If you want to give it a try call him at 61.4444 and ask for taxi 4233. A lot of people call him William as they must find Guillermo hard to pronounce.

You can view our photos at community.webshots.com/user/jimrorison.

Just down from the hotel is Bar 62, they have live Cuban music every night between 9 – 12 and it is fantastic. The locals dance on the street between the bar and tables set up across the street. After going to this club I started enjoying Cuba for what it is. The Havana Club is just down the street, however we never made it as midnight was our usual witching hour.

In conclusion, we will return to Cuba, perhaps upgrading to a 5 star hotel. Having said that, if the Palma Real was available for the right price we would return in a heart beat. And finally, we found Cuba cleaner than Mexico, including the sidewalks, streets and even empty lots. The few bits of garbage lying about obviously came from tourists.
Palma Real
Jacquie 
Canada
March 2005
We stayed at the Palma Real from February 22 to March 8. It was our first trip to Varadero, although we've been to Holguin a few years ago.

Hotel: The hotel is really nice. We was really disappointed that the room they gave us was overlooking a highway. Didn't seem very tropical. We asked for a room change. It took a couple of days but we got a room overlooking the pool in Building 1. It's definitely in the nicest part of the resort. I have to say that the staff were very accomodating. Everyone is really nice. It's part of what makes the resort so great. There are large, beautiful pools that are kept spotlessly clean. A large reception area where everyone seems to hang around in the evening; until the shows at least.

Food: You know, there are always people who are going to complain about the food. They expect everything to be up to the standards and selection they'd get at home. We've been to the caribbean 9 times and we've never had a problem with the food. Including here. There was always something on the grill. Pasta, fresh bread, salads..... The ice cream is awesome. Lots of fresh fruit. We always eat too much and put on weight. Hey, it's our vacation.

Beach: If we had one disappointment, it was the beach. We go south for the beach and ocean. The beach at the resort is on the narrowest part of the strip. The Areana Blancas and the Cualtro Palmas sections of beach border ours and they're both fantastic. Actually, the picture in the Air Transat book is taken down the beach, showing mostly the Areana Blancas section. The pallapas are all on a little hill. Not on the beach it'self. It's too narrow. When the wind was up, some of the people in chairs on the beach itself were sitting in water.

The hotel in a great location. There's a friendly, comfortable feeling there. The entertainment was good. These people work really, really hard. You can wallk into Veradero anytime. Other than the beach, we were pleased with everything. We had a great two weeks.
Palma Real
Heather 
Calgary, Alberta
February 2005
We stayed at the Palma Real from January 28-February 04. Paid $970 with taxes through iTravel2000 and was not expecting alot because of what we paid. Was thoroughly impressed though with this resort. Flight down was with West Jet which was great. On-time and excellent service as always.

Hotel: Not too big and well laid out. Easy to find your way around. Great location as you are right in Varadero and can walk to markets etc. Also we were first to be dropped off and last to be picked up for the airport transfer. Rooms are spacious and clean. Always had plenty of hot water and good water pressure. Because I was travelling with an infant I requested a mini fridge and crib and both were in the room when I arrived.

Food: We thought the food was great. They are trying to cater to so many different cultures and countries and we thought that they did a great job. The pizzeria was great and the beach grill had awesome hamburgers. We did not try either of the restaurants. Remember even at a 5 Star in Cuba the food quality will not be the same as home. We are not picky eaters though and were happy to not be cooking. There are plenty of Cuban restaurants close to the resort. Out of 3 adults and one baby not one of us got sick during the week. Sometimes you have to get your own drink at the buffet but that was not a big deal to us.

Staff: Very friendly and helpful. We saw alot of rude tourists and they simply ignore these people and give them no service even if they are waving money around. We never waited more than a minute or two for drinks. Tipping is not expected but appreciated. If you are tipping for better service you are out of luck but if you are tipping because you want them to have a little extra you will be pleased because they are very thankful for anything you offer. They can not convert the convertible peso to regular pesos so you may be better off tipping with gifts.

Beach: Great beach. I never had a problem finding a chair and I went at all times of the day. Lots of sun and shade places. Beach grill and bar were excellent. I was a little concerned about the walk to the beach before I went. It took me under 3 minutes, from lobby to sand, and I was pushing a baby stroller and struggling to get it up and down the curbs. No big deal! You cross 2 one-way streets and be careful because pedestrians do not have the right away. They do not slow down let alone stop.

Pools: There are a total of 5 pools in two areas. Always plenty of chairs in sun or shade. Pool waiter was usually handy.

A few recommendations and FYI. The convertible peso is a scam but what can you do. It cost less to exchange at the airport opposed to the hotel and sometimes later in the day the hotel is out of convertible pesos. You can not exchange back the convertible $5, $3, $1 and coins to your usual currency. The hotel does not provide alarm clocks or face cloths. Towels are $10 deposit. Bring a water bottle as they have two yellow water coolers right next to the lobby bar that has clean and cool water. We drank the water and I used it to make baby bottles and had no problems. Bottled water is not included at this resort. Bring a to-go mug as the glasses they provide are very small and they do not mind refilling your mug. I think the best building to stay in would be building 1 (Rooms in the 1000's) because it is closest to beach and close to pools and lobby. We stayed in Building 4 (Rooms in 4000's) and it is the furthest from everything but not far enough to be a concern. The Havana Club disco is closest to this building and I could hear it pumping until 2 am but people 2 rooms down never heard a thing. I think most rooms in this building would not hear anything but I had an end room. Buildings 2 and 3 are next to pools.

Go and have a great time and don't be high maintenance!
Palma Real
Brenda  
Canada
February 2005
We just returned from our vacation at the Palma Real Beach Resort. We vacationed there from Jan 31- Feb 7, 2005. This resort is not owned by Barceló and is currently owned and run by Grupo. I was quite skeptical about going here since most of the reviews were not that good.

This resort was beautiful. The resort staff is very friendly and always trying to help. Some of them didn’t speak English, but there was always someone nearby who did. We always managed to get what we needed. Yes it was a smaller resort, but this seemed to add to its charm. There were no coffee makers in the room, but this seemed to be the only thing we were missing that was supposed to be there. The rooms were nice and clean and kept well. Any damages I saw would only have been by caused by tourists being destructive. They are always working and trying to keep things in working order. We had lots of hot water and so did all the other guests we talked to.

The beach was very nice, not Cuba nice, but we went swimming every day in the Sea. The water is nice and warm and very sandy on the bottom. My eight year old daughter loved it – and we didn’t even need the swimming shoes.

The pools are both very clean and well kept. There was only one bar, but this didn’t seem to be a problem since the resort is smaller. It was steps away from both the beach and the pools. 90 % of the time you could walk up and get your drink without a wait. When it was busy they would put on another bar tender, the longest we ever waited was about 8 minutes. Well, I’m on vacation and if that’s the most I have to do is wait a couple minutes for a drink I think I can handle it.

The food was good. We had a variety since they made something different for each meal. Yes, rice was always on the table and so was chicken, but prepared several different ways. It was nice to always count on having that traveling with a child. Not to say only rice and chicken, we had several different things, we had lobster one night, turkey another, we had a Mexican theme night, an Italian them night and always lots of variety. Some of the people didn’t like the food and others loved it. I guess it depends on what you like to eat. Not one person was sick from the food or anything at any time. We ate the fruits and vegetables and everything was great.

If you are young and single and looking for other young and single people you are not likely to find it here. This resort seemed to be more family oriented with some young families with kids and teenagers. The age group seemed to be 35 and up. It was very safe and I could let my daughter wander around with the other kids she met there.

There are a lot of tours to take, and with the water park at the entrance to the resort there was a lot to do.

I didn’t pay for a five star resort and I didn’t get one, but I did get a lovely clean resort with very friendly people and had a fabulous relaxing vacation. When asked if I would go back, yes I would.
Palma Real
Rose & Barb  
Canada
February 2005
Just got back from a week at this resort Jan 24-31/2005 we had a wonderful time and we lucked out with the weather. There rainy season is Nov/Dec/Jan. The resort was quiet and remote (mostly only Canadians some locals arrived for the weekend). The food was adequate, we always found something to eat and were without any stomach issues all week. The rooms were quite large and most are ocean view. The beach was swimable but not that pretty blue we were hoping for (we were told it's blue once the rainy season ends). The entertainment crew really tried but need more time. They are trying to get this resort up and running again so it's not perfect yet. We were really impressed with the staff, they were friendly and very accommodating. If you go, (we'd recommend it) make sure you take advantage of the tours, the prices are really reasonable and the tours are awesome. If you want to go to Copan to see the ruins it's an overnight excursion so make sure you plan for that ahead (you may want to go for 2 weeks - we wished we had). Once this little gem is found out then the prices will most certainly go up and you may not be able to experience as many tours so take advantage while you still can....
Palma Real
Matt 

December 2004
I had an amazing time in Cuba. People are very friendly, and you can walk the streets at 1am no problem. I quite enjoyed shopping at the market, which is not too far from the Palma Real Resort. People tend to complain about the food and the walk to the beach, but the walk to the beach does not take long at all, and the streets that you cross are not busy at all. The food was a little sketchy, but we must remember what we are in another country and that they do things differently. The night life is very fun, I suggest going to The Havana Club, and the Mediteraneo club. The Havana club is for people who wish to listen to a mix of hiphop and rap, with a little bit of Cuban culture thrown in. The Mediteraneo is a pure Cuban club, with live music. It is located on 54th street, and it was a great time. I suggest talking to the entertainment staff/dancers at the hotel to find out where they will be going that night. The reason for this is because if they get enough people to go with them, the club lets them in for free. This is a way of tipping the entertainment staff because it costs 10$ to get in, which is a lot of money for them. EVERYONE MUST GO ON THE CATAMARAN CRUISE!!!!!! MUST highlight of my trip as well as everyone else that was on the boat with myself. You get to swim with the dolphins, snorkel, and relax all day long. AMAZING DAY!. When booking your trip to Havana, because you must go to Havana, talk to the entertainment staff, or the locals on the beach they will help you get there paying only half the amount the tour guides charge you. It is safe, and well worth it.

If you are feeling hungry late at night, and you don’t have any food in your place, go out for a night on the town, and eat at a local restaurant. I had the best hamburger in town for only 1.10$. This place is also located on 54th street. BRING LOTS OF THINGS TO GIVE AWAY!!...T shirts, pants, shorts, toothpaste etc...in the market you can almost use this as a currency and also use these to tip the maids.

DON’T BRING DOWN AMERICAN MONEY….they charge 10% on the dollar as of NOV. 8th, which your travel agent doesn’t tell you for some reason. Go there with euros, pounds or Canadian dollars.

Well that’s that….if you have any questions please email me @ mathewpiccioni@hotmail.com I will give you further details, and any information you need to make your trip a good one!!

HAVE FUN