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Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
 

May 2008
Another wonderful vacation as usual. The Tainos never disappoints, it only gets better. This was our third visit. The staff are the best you will find anywhere, the beach is one of the best in Varadero, the food is quite good (My clothes always seem to be much smaller when I get back, I wonder why?), the drinks are the best (Where else can you drink unlimited champagne all day and all night?).

The renovations have made the hotel and grounds much nicer, just a few little odds and ends being done, more general maintenance than anything. Buffet is vastly improved with the food section separated from the dining area. New stoneware on all the paths, very nice. New boardwalk going to the beach, really nice upgrade. Japanese Restaurant is very entertaining with excellent food. Lobby has all new furniture.

Hubby did the Havana Tour which was quite good for the first time going, it cost 67 cuc. Next time he will go by taxi and go where his interests are and stay the length of time that he would like. Service at the restaurant was really slow, in his opinion they wasted too much time there and not enough time at places like Revolution Square. Also, too much time wasted at rum factory, just a gimmick to get you to buy rum which can be purchased anywhere.

We did the Varadero Beach Tour bus again and visited Al Capone’s house for the first time. Quite nice.

We walked the beach to our right as far as Sirenas la Salina, around the coral part. It took about 1 ½ hours. We walked to the left as far as we could get, the golf course. That took about 2 hours.

We visited the Iberostar Playa Alameda to see our friend who is the general manager there. He was the general manager at the Tainos last year while we were there. Very nice man.

We visited a friend in Santa Cruz del Norte. It was our wedding coordinator from Breezes Jibacoa from 5 years ago. It was a lovely visit. Went by taxi, took about 1 ½ hours. It was quite a surprise for her because taxi driver turned out to be a good friend of hers who she had worked with before. His wife also went along with us and she worked with her as well. So it was lots of fun on all sides. We finally got to meet her family who are very nice people.

We met some wonderful people from England, 2 groups actually. It was nice to sit and chat in the evenings.

I cannot say enough good things about the staff at the Tainos, there are just too many to mention. Isabel, Giselle, George, Arthero, Fabianne, Dahleen, Mayleng, Moura, Ernesto, Ramo, Julio, Nestor, Elvis, Fernando, Gino, Franki, Fidel, Aimee, Lisette, Lubia. I’m sure I have forgotten some but I never encountered anyone who didn’t have a smile for me.

This was our third visit to the Tainos and will we go back again? You bet, countdown is already on for next year.
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Karl 

April 2007
For this year’s winter vacation we stayed at the IB Tainos from February 26th to March 12th, 2007.

There were 6 of us who arranged to meet at the hotel. My girlfriend and I, Mandy and Karl, two of our friends from England, Sarah and Phil, who arrived several days earlier than us, and my brother and his girlfriend, Shannon and Kris, arrived the week after us. We all stayed for 2 weeks each, and our stays overlapped each others.

THE HOTEL is a really nice and well taken care of. The 3 story main building is where the check-in/out, Lobby bar, a la carte dinner reservations, tour operations, travel reps, cash exchange and gift/food stores are. There are also many guest rooms in this building, but I really suggest that you attempt to get a room in one of the 17 bungalow buildings. We just e-mailed the hotel ahead of time and they gave us a room in one of the bungalows. The front desk staff are very willing to help and make your stay as great as possible. So, if you get a room in the main building just asked to be moved to one of the bungalows and they will do their best to move you where you want. We met a couple who changed rooms three times to get the exact one they wanted.

THE ROOMS. Are not too bad. They are a bit dated, but they are shutting down for upgrades later this year. Our room had 2 beds we pushed together to make one big one. There is a/c, a television, fridge and hairdryer in the room. We never ran out of hot water and shower pressure was good. There was also a small balcony with 2 chairs and a small table. It was nice to sit out there with a beer and watch the sun go down. One tip for you guys is that the maid only leaves you one bottle of water and replaces it only after it is less than half full. So what I started doing is hiding the water bottle in my suitcase so she would leave another bottle so that after a couple of days we had a stock pile of water to take with us wherever we went.

THE GROUNDS are very well taken care of and the grounds crew does and amazing job of making the whole place clean and tidy. Of all the people that worked at the hotel, the ground crews were the ones that got the least acknowledgment for the great jobs they did. They always said “hola!!” when they passed and they were always working hard when you say them. If you are looking for gifts to bring down there I would suggest work gloves for these guys as they always looked as if they could use new ones. I was particularly impressed with all of the flowers, plants and trees that were on the grounds.

THE FOOD. Well for the first couple of days we were there the food at the buffet was not good at all. Then after that, the food was just amazing and for the rest of our stay the food was great at all the buffets. There was always a lot to eat at the buffets and always something new to try.

AL A CARTES. We tried both of the al a cartes and we went back to them more than once. The Brazilian was our favorite. The service and food was awesome. The Cuban had good service but we found the food not that great although that didn't stop us from going back 2 more times.

BARS. They are everywhere. Lobby, pool, beach, at the show and at the Cuban restaurant. They all had great drinks and service. We visited the pool, lobby and Cuban bars the most. The pool bar had great service during the day with George and Frank serving up good conversation and tasty beverages. At night the show isn't so good so after dinner we visited the Cuban bar where it was quiet and Chaplin served us some good drinks while we chatted and played card games. The beer is pretty good. I like all three types that I tried, Cristal, Buccanero and Mayabe. The Rum isn't he best in the world, but palateable. Make sure to drink the amber/dark rum as the white is not so tasty.

SERVICE. The service was pretty good everywhere we went. The maids did a great job cleaning the rooms. The bartenders and bar servers were attentive and cheerful. The servers at the buffets and restaurants were very attentive and also very cheerful. We tried to sit in the same sections at the buffet restaurants so that the buffet servers would get to know us. The one mistake we made is that we didn't tip the servers early enough in our stay. They servers do give better service if you tip them as there are so many ignorant, pushy people coming and going through the buffet that they treat everyone the same until you show them a little gratitude. That little bit of gratitude gets you faster, more attentive service and they sure do deserve the tips as they work their butts off.

THE STAR FRIENDS entertainment crews work tirelessly to provide something for people to do all day long and are part of the evening entertainment as well. There are pool/beach activities and games all day long so there is always something for everybody to do if you so desire. They are really nice people who work really hard and are fun to talk to and have a drink with.

THE BEACH. Ah, the whole reason to go to Varadero. 23km of beautiful white sand and blue turquois water. It is simply amazing and very hard to put into words. The water was warm, the sand soft and the sun was great too. The hotel had one of the only beach bars and there were lots of beach chairs and palapas to sit under.

DAY TRIPS. We did three. 1) The Havana Special, which is a day trip to Havana and includes the Tropicana show. I recommend this trip as it does show you a good part of Cuba and gives a lot of history on the country and its people. 2) Jeep Adventure Tour. We did the one with a guide. 4 of us in a small jeep with a driver. You visit the country side, have a guided snorkeling tour at a nice reef, tour through Matanzas, a guided walk through a giant underground cave system, visit a cattle ranch for lunch, and swim in a freshwater cave. This is also one I recommend as it shows how the people live and gives a glimpse into everyday life in rural Cuba. 3) Catamaran trip to Cayo Blanco. This is also a must. Board a big catamaran for some snorkeling and a trip to a very nice island with an gorgeous white sand beach, clear blue water and good food. It's all you can drink, which totally appealed to us and the lobster you can buy on the Catamaran was $10 CUC for 1 1/2 lobsters. Here's a hint, bring some butter packages from the buffet and leave them in the sun so they melt and you can dip your Lobster in it.

I think that if we ever go back to Cuba we will upgrade and go to the Iberostar Varadero. We did visit the IB Varadero a couple of times for lunch and found that their service, food and facilities were very much better than that of the Tainos.

All and all this hotel was a pretty good place to stay for a very good price. The service was excellent and the beach was amazing. I would say that for us, the Cuban people made the stay one that was worth going on. The people are very friendly and make it all worth while.

If anyone has any questions feel free to e-mail me, Karl, at vang@kmts.ca.

Note: I must remind you that this is a 4star hotel in Cuba so you aren't going to get the same service/facilities and food you would get in Canada/USA/UK/Europe so keep an open mind. There are frequent power shortages and the internet is down a fair bit. Phone calls back to Canada were very expensive and the phone lines not very clear.
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Shelagh & Jim 
Pemrokeshire
September 2006
What a dirty unkept dump. We paid £2000 for what we thought was a dream holiday, well we soon woke up to find that a big mistake.

The pool has several large areas of tiles missing, which can couse you to stub and injure your feet, the filters around the pool are filthy and brittle and customerd were breaking them daily by just standing on them and getting cut in the process, pool area never washed down or cleaned the whole 11 days we were there, Thomas Cook has this down as a 4 star, never in this world is that dump a 4 star, there was bulding work going on ehile we were there ( last 11 nights) the same food is served for every meal every day just presented in a different way, we had to put up with birds flying over head and bird droppings in our food, well it tasted better that what they provided.

On a positive point the staff were great and very friendly, the rooms were ok, they were the only place that had air con. Varadero beach is fantastic with clear blue warm water, just a shame about the hotel. We have put in a formal complaint and will now follow it up now we are back home. our advise is dont go to this hotel, ever.
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Ed  
USA
March 2006
I am a travel agent that took a group of 10 this month. After spending 4 days in Havana we went to Varadero to the Iberostar Tainos. The weather could not have been better. In checking in some of were told that we had to pay 2 pesos per day for a room safe in advance and some were told they could either pay in advance or have it charged to the room. Unfortunately those that paid in advance (myself included) had to pay again on checkout, as they told us that we did not pay and signed a receipt that we charged it to the room. The hotel would not back down so we paid twice.

The staff in general were extremely helpful and friendly. The rooms were very clean and airy but some of the rooms in the main building by the night club were extremely noisy at night and in the morning from the vendors setting up their souvenirs.

The grounds were beautiful and the beach was excellent. The entertainment was so bad the first night that all of us left and decided not to go back at any other time, so I don't know if was that bad every night.
There are two restaurants besides the buffet. The Brazilian restaurant was very good, nice atmosphere, service and food. The Cuban Restaurant was outside with fairly good service but the food was almost inedible. The buffet was pretty much like most buffets at any all inclusive, very average and not a great variety.

Having been to many all inclusive resorts I could not recommend this resort to anyone. It was not bad, but almost every other place I have been to was better. This was also the opinion of the other 9 people in our party which included singles and couples from their late thirties through the mid sixties.

One day 5 of us rented mopeds for 24 hours at a cost of 25 pesos and rode into town. On 57th street there is a beautiful park with a few very good restaurants and an outside bar with a band. It is wonderful to spend a relaxing hour or two sitting by the water having a drink or two and listing to the music.

A few of us took an excursion from the hotel to the colonial town of Trinidad by helicopter with a hike and lunch in the mountains. The cost was 175 pesos per person and left at 6:30 in the morning and returned at 7:30 at night. It was a fun and exciting trip that was well worth the money.
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Bonnetta 
Newfoundland, Canada
May 2005
We are a family of four, two daughters aged 10 and 14, that stayed at this great resort from April 13 to 27, 2005.

We flew direct from St. John’s to Varadero with Air Transat. Flight was fine except there was a 2-hour delay in leaving from St. John’s due to unscheduled maintenance. Coming back there were no delays.

Going through Customs at Varadero Airport went quite smooth. Remember to have both sections of your tourist cards completed before going through security. Hubby went through first and then my 14 year old went to the counter. The security fellow waved me and my other daughter over so the three of us went through together. He stamped my passport stating my daughters names so coming back, the three of us went together again.

We lost a couple of small items (razor, blades, bracelet) out of our checked in luggage. We discovered it when we got to our resort. Remember to not put anything of any value in your checked in luggage. Keep it all in your carry ons.

Lineup for the money exchange went quite smooth, even though it was past midnight. I was through by the time hubby got our luggage. I exchanged $500 Canadian and received $356 in CUC. There was 40% in the difference between Canadian and CUC to use your Visa.

The bus ride to the resort took about 30 minutes. Check-in was quite simple as we were the only ones arriving at 2 am. We were driven to our room in a cart. We had a second-storey bungalow with a king-size bed and two single beds. There were a few bugs around but we contacted reception a couple of times and our room was sprayed right away. This may have been due to the fact that the girls did have food in the room.

There were mainly Europeans at this resort, not many Canadians at all. We met some great people, from Holland and Britain.

The pool was fantastic, the beach even more so. We did have a few windy days. Most of the time, there were lots of available loungers at both places. However, during the first week there were a lot of loungers being reserved early in the mornings at the pool. We did manage to get loungers each day when we wanted them but not shaded ones.

The staff were amazing, from the reception staff, Star Friends, bartenders, servers, right to the maids. Our favorite bartenders were Frank and Jorge at the pool bar. The Star Friends were a lot of fun, always trying to get you involved in activities during the day. The shows at night were a lot of fun, involving the audience a lot. The drinks were superb everywhere. The bartenders had tip containers out most nights but they didn’t make you feel obligated to tip. Our Signature Representative, Jose Batista, was very informative and helpful.

As for the food, we all know that Cuba is not known for the best food. Well, we were definitely mistaken this time. The food was excellent. The Brazilian Restaurant is a must. We didn’t go until towards the end of our stay and that was a mistake because we didn’t get a chance to visit it again. It was our anniversary and we were given a free bottle of champagne. The meats were delicious. We ate at the buffet every other night. We found lots of variety and something for everyone, even our picky children. The desserts were to die for. Breakfast was great, hubby had his freshly-made omelette each morning. For lunch we usually ate at the pool-side buffet. Burgers, fries, chicken, pizza all delicious. None of us had any stomach problems.

We walked to the Dolphin Show one morning, about a 10 minute walk. It was $10 CUC each. Great show, worth the money. We traveled the strip on the double-decker Varadero Beach Tour Bus. It was $5 CUC each and you could get off and on all day with your ticket. We visited the market in Varadero and found the vendors to be very friendly, not pushy at all. Hubby visited the Plaza at the Melia Las Americas one day while on a bike ride. Nice air-conditioned place. As for the bikes, they are in bad shape. Be careful in picking out the best available one. Hubby’s second bike ride on the best available one ended up with the chain coming off. The pool table needs to be replaced also.

I have included a link to some pictures. This was definitely a wonderful vacation and I highly recommend this resort. We will be back!!!!!!!!!!

http://community.webshots.com/
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
David 
Canada
March 2005
We just returned from a week at the Tainos, and were traveling with two children, aged 4 and 6. I agree with many of the other reviews regarding rooms, staff etc (clean, friendly, nice grounds, etc) I also agree that the food was not the best. It was very repetitive, to the point that you could could probably walk in blindfolded and pick the food you wished to eat (same place all the time). The pool grill was also okay, but again, very repetitive.

I also expected more organized activities, particularly the kids club. The woman who was there each day, Judy, is great with the kids, but never had anything planned for them. Luckily, there were a great group of children there the same time as us, so they managed to keep each other entertained. I went expecting the same type of kids club we had in Mexico last year, and was disappointed.

Also, for those who wish to have an ocean view from their rooms, the Tainos is not the place for you. The ocean is a short walk from the pool area, through a treed path. The bungalows are not directly on the ocean either. Do request a bungalow room as the main hotel (from what I was told) is very noisy and not as nice.

All in all, we enjoyed the vacation. The weather was fantastic and the beach beautiful, but chances are we would not go back to this resort. Feel free to contact us if you are traveling to this resort and have any questions.
dbraha@eastlink.ca
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Murray and Linda 
Alberta
March 2005
Thanks Debbie for this informative site. We are a couple in our late 40’s from Southern Alberta. We are fairly quiet and like to relax and learn more about other cultures. We had the pleasure of visiting Cuba for the first time and stayed at the Iberostar Tainos from January 27 to February 3/05. We have previously vacationed in Cancun, Playa del Carman, and Punta Cana, DR.

We booked our trip though Signature Vacations online with Sell-Off-Vacations. Our carrier was Skyservice (Boeing 757). When we booked our trip it was a direct flight from Calgary but a couple of months before we were informed that we would be going through Edmonton. Not a big deal but it did make the trip that much longer and required us to be at the Calgary airport very early and arriving home very late. We have travelled with Air Transat the last two years and actually found Skyservice superior. It was obvious that they had removed some seats although we were still fairly packed in. We had two movies on the way down and three on the way back and the meals were warm and edible. Soft drinks etc. were complimentary. We did pre-book our seats (3 D & E) so that we could be near the front of the plane, near the bathroom, and have a good view of a movie screen. Service was adequate and we arrived on time, around 5:30 pm at the Veradero Airport.

Our arrival coincided with two other large flights so it took some time to clear customs. While my husband collected our luggage I exchanged our Canadian money into convertible pesos. We found our bus with no problems and after dropping a few other guests off at other resorts we arrived at the Tainos around 8:00. While my husband got the luggage I was the first in line to check in. About three weeks before, I emailed the resort and asked if we could get a 2nd floor bungalow. Then a week before I emailed again and thanked them for their efforts to get us a 2nd floor bungalow. We were assigned to Bungalow 2404, ground level but very near the pool.

Our Room
Our room was spacious and clean. There was a big closet with a few drawers and safe but we missed having a dresser with drawers. The bathroom was equipped with tub, shower, toilet and bidet. The room was a bit musty and tired. The curtains and bedding should be updated. The mattress wasn’t great but we managed to have a restful sleep each night. The maid did an exceptional job and our fridge was stocked with water daily. We took the usual gifts for the staff – hats, toiletries, t-shirts, work gloves, school supplies, nylons, bras etc. They were very appreciative. We did have some tiny black bugs show up around the sink area but I put some pennies out and they disappeared. Other than that we never saw a bug and did not receive one insect bite the whole week. We never used any repellent either.

The Beach - AWESOME
I had researched this carefully and we were not disappointed. We love to have a long stretch of beach where we can walk barefoot either direction for hours. There were little seashells we enjoyed collecting. The white sand and turquoise waters were so amazing! In comparison, Punta Cana has the white icing sugar sand whereas Veradero’s sand was a little coarser – still awesome. We enjoyed “frolicking” in the ocean waves and relaxing on the beach loungers. The Tainos has many palapas and chairs. We never had a problem finding a good spot with some shade. The beach bar is near also to keep you from becoming dehydrated. Vendors were up and down the beach but they were never pushy. You had to go to them. I purchased some very nice crocheted sweaters and a beach cover up. I also bought a wooden rooster (hand carved) for my kitchen and some necklaces from the vendors. We also took out the paddleboats and had one of the staff take us out on one of the resort’s catamarans. The water was so clear.

The Weather
We really lucked out and had perfect weather. The weeks on either side were cooler.

The Food
In the last 5 years of travelling I have always gotten ill. I have tried many remedies but have learned to expect a few rough days. It has taken my system up to 3 weeks to clear whatever I have picked up. In Cuba this year, I didn’t get sick once! The Tainos makes great efforts to keep their cold food cold and their hot food hot. It made such a difference to our holiday. I can’t say enough about the quality of food. It’s certainly not the quality of a Canadian buffet and nothing will compare to an Alberta Angus steak but for the most part we always found something tasty and satisfying at the buffet from all five food groups. The main buffet building was quite noisy and you did have to search to find a clean available table. There was lots of fish served. My favorite desserts were the ice cream and custards. We tried the two ala carts and enjoyed both experiences. At the Cuban restaurant we had the steak tenderloin. When you see their cows you know why their beef is different. The Brazilian Restaurant serves a variety of meats. We had our lunches at the snack bar where we had good variety and tasty meals. There was always fruit and desserts in a fridge. We are not big drinkers but enjoyed a variety of drinks, mostly virgin. There were several bars and the servers were so friendly and efficient.

The Internet
We are computer junkies and found it frustrating that only one computer was working most days and for a couple of days none were working. There were considerable line-ups for the computer. I believe it cost 6 CUC’s for 30 minutes. You were given a code and the computer kept track of your logged in time so you could spread that over multiple visits.

The Entertainment
We liked the first night, which had Cuban singers and dancers, but it seemed to go down hill. Maybe we are a bit picky and conservative but we just found the humor a little cheesy and the audience participation evenings were down right hoaky. We did however appreciate the efforts of the staff and respected them for the long hours they worked in a day.. There wasn’t an abundance of chairs/tables around the stage. A dance floor took up a lot of the space so if you wanted to be there for the show you needed to show up early to get a table. The Star Friends seemed to do an excellent job but we were mainly at the beach so didn’t partake in any of the games or activities.

The Grounds & Pool
The grounds were lovely and meticulously cared for. The pool area was very nice with many loungers. A few tiles were missing. I don’t believe they heat the pool as we never saw too many in it.

Shopping
We took a taxi to the Plaza Americas Mall, as we were desperate to check our email. It was a disappointment. It was all upper end boutique stores and many were vacant. We rode the double decker bus for 5 CUC’s each (good for the whole day). We made two loops (one loop took about 2 hours) as we just enjoyed seeing the country and the different resorts. We got off at Veradero and enjoyed shopping at the Flea Markets there. We bought most of our souvenirs from here and at a Flea Market in Havana.

Havana
What an experience. We were so fortunate to have met some new friends from West Central Alberta through the forum who were going to be in the Veradero area at the same time as us. Through their contacts, they arranged for a rented van with a private guide who spoke excellent English. This was a real highlight of our trip! We saw the many sites of both New and Old Havana. Some of our fellow vacationers that we talked to didn’t really enjoy the big bus tours (felt like part of a herd) and others who tried the private taxi avenue were disappointed when their drivers couldn’t speak English. We had the premium experience.

Overall we loved Cuba and its people. We definitely plan to return. We were very happy with this resort and would return but most likely will try something different or visit another area. We did visit the Iberostar Veradero on one of our walks and were impressed with the “newness” of the resort.

We would be happy to answer any of your questions. Email: llhartung@hotmail.com
Also some of our pictures are posted at http://community.webshots.com/user/mhartung100
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Delbert 
Toronto Ontario Canada
March 2005
Debbie, had to write this review on Tainos. I read reviews from your web site and made my choice, because of the positive reviews posted.

I have been to two other Iberostars, one in the Mayan Riviera, Del Mar and Puerto Plata, Costa Dorada, Dominican Republic and they were amazing.
They were both rated as 4.5*. I expected the same type of quality or at least similar quality from the Tainos in Cuba, rated 4*. I was very badly mistaken.
My daughter 15 years old and I arrived on March 17 at 11 PM from Toronto.

Flew with Skyservice. Flights were on time, etc.

Hotel: hotel lobby, clean but plain. This includes lobby bar. No atmosphere. Front desk staff very friendly and helpful.

Rooms: basic and clean. Tiled floors. Beds very low to ground. Mattresses in our room needed to be replaced. Cleaning lady was pleasant and did a good job of cleaning our room.

Grounds: not what I am used too from Iberostar. Again plain, needs work and more plants, in my option. Ground staff friendly and work hard.

Food: as I mentioned before, I have been to two other Iberostars and the food was amazing. Buffets, speciality restaurants, snacks, etc.

The food at Tainos, was TERRIBLE.

Breakfast: buffet: very small, with very little selection. If you like, boiled wieners, boiled beans, sugar coated pancakes, sugar coated pastry, breaded deep fried surprises x 3 (had no idea what was in them), cream of wheat (I think), choice of 2-3 boxed sugar coated cereals, sliced cheeses x 2, 2-3 sliced cold cuts, 2-3 fruits. They did have a lady making omelettes and eggs. If this is what you like, this is the place for you.

Lunch: repeat of breakfast, just more beans and wiener selection, French fries, hamburgers, pizza, chicken surprise, as well as, other surprises, because nothing was labelled. That did not really matter, because it was all tasteless. Some people had absolutely no problem with eating this.
My daughter and I do not eat French fries, hamburgers, wieners, boiled beans and other deep fried surprises. My daughter at this point was not eating. I tried almost everything they had to offer and I was struggling. Had my fingers crossed, hoping dinner would be better.

Dinner: in buffet. Repeat of lunch, with more surprises, over done tuff beef, tasteless chicken, pasta under heat lamp, salad consisting of cucumbers, tomatoes, no lettuce and bottled salad dressings x 3-4.

Speciality restaurants: did not have opportunity to eat at.

I left on hotel on Saturday March 12th.

My daughter and I had a wonderful time at another hotel, that compared to other Iberostar hotels that we have been to.

This was very sad, because I had wonderful experiences at the other Iberostars. Will go back to them in the future.

Will not recommend or go back to the Iberostar Tainos.

Thankyou, for your web site, it has always been helpful.
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Duncan & Nicola 
East Sussex, United Kingdom
July 2004
A few days after we experienced the magic of a fabulous wedding on June 5th 2004, my new wife Nicola & I set off for what was to be the most wonderful 2 week honeymoon in Cuba.

Having read the reviews on this site & seen the size of a lot of the other advertised hotels in Varadero, we chose to book the Iberostar Los Tainos. Because of its more intimate size, the Tainos provided a much more personable experience. The staff were fantastic, & could not have done more for us & indeed, were always busy yet cheerful.

The room we had was wonderfully air conditioned & was impeccably presented, with fresh linen & towels arranged artistically each day. Full marks to our maid!

The food in the buffet/carvery restaraunt was far better than we had been led to believe, with a great variety to suit most tastes & a good selection of excellently presented meat & fish - For us the prawn & lobster choice was great, considering the all-inclusive nature of the vacation.

The entertainment staff, known as the "Star Friends" were awesome. Working from 8am til gone 11.30pm, they presented all-day fun & games on the beach & by the pool & still had the energy to perform in quality stage productions in the evening. Red haired Jenny is their principal girl dancer & shows great balletic talent. The house band is amazing & features a young female lead singer who we all felt MUST be related to Gloria Estefan! (if you go, do please give MC & beach games co-ordinator Ed our love!) The lobby bar was a great place to have a coffee or cocktail & the only problem we encountered was the choice of whether to have a Pina Colada, Cuba Libre, Mojito, Daquari or Margarita!!!!! Late afternoon meant cake time in the lobby bar too! Do not expect to lose weight on this holiday! The alternative restaraunt choice (book at reception) was either Cuban Creole or Brasilian. Whilst these were excellent, we prefered the less structured approach of rolling into the buffet restaraunt in our own time rather than rushing to a booked table.

We went on various tours, Havana was awesome, with the Tropicana a really unmissable experience, the sunset cat cruise from Marina Chatelan was cool & aptly romantic for newlyweds like us & the hi-lite of the honeymoon, our dolphin encounter back in Varadero. All excursions aranged by our rep, Jose Batista, were well organised & informative without being over the top. (Mercedes, our tour guide to Havana had enough energy to power the city!)

Despite being warned of mosquito activity, we did use a recommended spray repellent & didn't even get a single nibble! In conclusion, not only would I recommend this hotel, resort & country, but I will willingly return to the place & its beautiful people at the earliest oportunity! VIVA IBEROSTAR LOS TAINOS!
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Karen 
Canada
July 2004
First of all,thanks to Debbie for this wonderful website,it is an awesome idea,very helpful for anyone planning a vacation. I would like to add to all these wonderful comments about this fantastic resort and hope it will be of benefit to people planning a vacation to Cuba.

My friend&I travelled to Cuba during the spring of 2002,now I must add we were two single females ages 29&30,so we were looking for a more of a party place,however cleaniness&saftey were our #1 priority.This we did recieve without a doubt,its very hard to describe the resort itself without using the word perfect,the food,staff,nightly shows and accomidations were to be highly commended.

However as I said earlier on,being 30 years old we were not ready to settle in for the night after the shows eneded at 11pm,we were just ready to get started,and unfortunatley this resort doesnt have a disco,so we did find that the night life there was a little on the quiet side,however for anyone looking for this,you cant beat it,no problems of loudness&music blaring until the wee hours of the night,but if thats what you want,this may not be the best resort for you.

If i were to return to Cuba in another couple of years,I may want to take my family that I have since started,and would most defiantley consider Iberostar tainos again,it is an excellent resort &I feel that it is aimed more for famalies than the single life....great job guys...keep up the hard work&hope to be back someday soon.
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
George 
Canada
April 2004
My wife and I took a one-week vacation in Varadero, Cuba over spring break and stayed at the Iberostar Tainos (pronounced Taheenos) hotel. We booked through the AMA (Alberta Motor Association) travel agency and Air Transat Holidays. Overall, we were very pleased with the vacation.

The flight
Our scheduled departure time was 9:00am, but we departed at about 9:45 because the incoming flight was delayed. A word of advice: it's definitely worthwhile to pay the extra $20 per seat to select your seat, provided you can get the emergency exit row (on our plane, it was row 13). There is a lot of legroom in this row, and not very much in the other rows. Air Transat does a good job at entertaining their passengers - two movies were shown (School of Rock and Love Actually), in addition to some comedy shows (Friends and Just For Laughs: Gags). They charged a few dollars to purchase headsets, but any standard headphones will work. A "light breakfast" was served instead of a lunch, unfortunately. Snacks and drinks cost $1-2, so you might want to have some cash handy.

Arrival
The Varadero airport is fairly small, with only four gates. As such, it doesn't take too long to get to the terminal and get to Cuban Customs. Be sure to have your tourist card filled out completely to avoid delays. Unlike Canadian customs, you don't get to go through as a family - only one person at a time. This made things take a while, but it wasn't too bad - only about 20 minutes or so. A word of caution: The drinks on the bus to the hotel are not free, but you won't find that out until after you finish them - they don't charge you until have drank them, so at that point you have no choice but to pay. Checking into the hotel was fairly painless. Be sure to request access to the room safe ($2USD per day). It's also a good idea to request a room in one of the bungalows. They're quieter than the main building. Our room was on the upper (second) level of one of the bungalows, which was nice because we could leave our swimsuits on the balcony to dry with no worries that somebody would take them. We checked at night, and had some difficulty turning on the lights in our room. A card (any card) has to be in a card slot near the door in order for the room power to be activated. As we arrived after dark, we didn't figure this out and had to ask at the front desk. Keep in mind that the air conditioning also doesn't work unless there's a card in the slot. At the advice of the bellhop, we made it a habit of leaving our room key there when we came in, and taking it when we left.

Weather
The weather was fantastic at this time of year - not too hot. Daytime highs were around 26-27C, and nighttime lows were around 18-19C. It was sunny almost every day, and there was no rain while we were there.

Animals and bugs
Surprisingly, there were no significant insects around during the trip. We thought we'd need bug repellent and brought it, but didn't use it at all. There were some small lizards that we ran across on the path to the beach, but other than that we didn't come across any wildlife.

Resort location
The Tainos is toward the end of the peninsula, and a fair distance from downtown Varadero. There was a bus that came by every hour or so that would take you around the city, for $5 per day (unlimited trips). We never ended up going into downtown, though - there was plenty to do at the resort and on the excursions. Varadero is Cuba's tourist hub, so expect that there will be a lot of hotels - while we were there, there were a total of 52 resorts, with more being built.

Food
The Tainos has three main restaurants - one buffet, one Brazilian, and one Cuban. Our hotel voucher said we were only entitled to one a la carte visit per week, but this wasn't the case - you can go as many times as you like, but you have to make reservations at the front desk. Make sure you reserve a day or two ahead of time. The Cuban restaurant was the most romantic. The main buffet restaurant was good, but not spectacular. There was a good selection of food, but much of it wasn't labeled, making things kind of a crapshoot. If you're a picky eater, you'd probably have some problems finding something you'd like. We did fine, and certainly didn't starve. The table service (for drinks) was pretty good, but the staff were slow at clearing and setting tables. Water at the restaurants was fine for drinking, but we usually went with the beer instead (the local beer, Cristal, is very good!).

The room
The room was clean and we had a king-size bed that was quite comfortable. Every day there were different animals made out of the sheets and towels by the maid. We left her a dollar on the pillow each morning. At the advice of the Air Transat rep, we avoided drinking the tap water, but there was a bottle of mineral water in our room when we arrived, which was happily refilled at any of the bars.

Beach and Pool
The beach is spectacular. The water is turquoise, and the sand is clean and white. There were ample lounge chairs, even in the afternoon. There were thatched-roof umbrellas along the beach for shade. At this time of the year, the water was warm, but not hot - it took a few minutes to get used to it. The Tainos, unlike many of the other resorts nearby, had a bar at the beach, which was nice to get drinks or even just water. The pool was less busy than the beach, so it was even easier to get chairs there. Despite signs saying topless sunbathing wasn't permitted, there were always a few topless women around the pool and on the beach (a side effect of the number of Europeans at the resort, I suppose) - something to keep in mind if this bothers you.

Activities
There were tons of activities scheduled through the day, and the schedule was on a board in the lobby. We participated in the yoga classes each morning at 10:30, which were very relaxing. Assorted games, competitions, and activities were available through the day, including archery, rifle shooting, spanish lessons, bocce ball on the beach, darts, and so on. There was plenty to keep everybody occupied - boredom was never a problem. A masseuse was available at the club house and the rates were reasonable - $20USD for an hour-long massage. In the evenings, there were salsa dancing lessons at 8:30, with a band performing at 9:00 on most nights. At 9:30 the certificates were awarded for the day's activities (very cheesy - everybody was called up to the stage to get their certificates, then they played "We are the Champions" while you waved your certificate over your head). At 9:45 each night there was a different show put on by the entertainment staff. The shows were quite fun to watch. They certainly weren't "professional" stage shows, but they were well done, and it's obvious that a number of the staff have dance training.

Communication Home
There was a phone in each room, but we didn't bother making any calls - according to the Air Transat rep, the rate was about $3USD per minute for calls to Canada. A much cheaper alternative was to use the Internet access in the lobby. It cost $4USD for 30 minutes. The connection was slow (about as fast as a 28.8k dialup) but was functional for sending off a few e-mails to family.

Staff
All of the staff were friendly to us and were obviously working hard. The entertainment staff seemed to work the longest - they started their day running the morning activities, and then performed in the shows each night. Air Transat had a rep (Pascal) that was in the hotel 6 days a week for an hour or so. He was very helpful, and was always there to answer our questions. He maintained a binder in the lobby that listed his hours, the return flight info, and other useful information. One of the pieces of advice he gave us at the start of our trip was the concept of "Cuban time" everything is late!.

Excursions
Several excursions were available through our Air Transat rep at an extra cost. We went on two - A day trip to Havana including a tour of a cigar factory, and the "Seafari Cayo Blanco", a catamaran trip out to an island. Each was $75USD per person.

The trip to Havana was quite interesting, but we did feel a bit like cattle being herded around the city. It was nice to have a tour guide to show us the sites, though. There were plenty of people throughout the city selling cigars on the street. We were advised to turn them down because the quality wouldn't be the same as the legitimate cigars (sold in cigar shops). There were also some people begging for soaps and such, or for pens and pencils. We brought a package of pencils to hand out. It was obvious that the country was very poor - you don't notice this in Varadero, since it's such a tourist town. Nonetheless, it was an amazing city to tour through, and a must-see for anybody that hasn't been there.

The "Seafari Cayo Blanco" was also a lot of fun. We went to the marina (about a 10 minute drive from the hotel) and boarded a 45' catamaran with about 30-35 other tourists. On board there was an open bar, and it was a blast to meet a whole bunch of people from around the world. We stopped in an area of shallow water to do some snorkeling. My wife and I had never snorkeled before, and we basically panicked as soon as we hit the water. If you want to snorkel, it's probably a better idea to practice in a pool before trying it in sea water. Even so, we still got to see a number of colourful fishies. I was surprised, though, that they didn't clean off the snorkeling gear after each use - it didn't seem hygenic to put the snorkel in your mouth when they get re-used every day. The island, despite being marketed as being "virgin", was moderately developed. There was a bar/restaurant there where we ate lunch (lobster) and we had a while to sun ourselves on the beach. On our way back, they unfurled the sails and we sailed back for a bit. The wind wasn't that strong though, so the engines were fired up again shortly thereafter. On the way back the crew had us doing some dancing and games, which was a lot of fun.

Both tours had somebody videotaping them, and at the end they sold copies of the tapes. We bought a copy of the Havana tape for $20. The sound quality wasn't great, but it captured a "feel" for the city that still pictures just couldn't do. The copy of the video was delivered to our hotel two days after the trip, and we didn't have to pay for it until it was delivered.

Shopping
We picked up a few crafts at the resort, along with some bottles of rum. Crafts were fairly cheap (almost all were less than $20USD, with most of them less than $5) and the rum was much cheaper than in Canada. It ranged from $4-7USD per 700ml bottle. The prices in the duty-free shops in the Varadero airport were similar to those in the resort, so you might want to consider buying it at the airport instead - the same brands were available.

Return Flight
The bus picked us up at the resort to go back to the airport, and we had some fairly long lines to wade through to check in and get through customs. There were shrink-wrap machines for your luggage; we didn't bother, and everything arrived safe and sound. Luggage locks were a good idea, though. There is a $25USD departure tax that has to be paid in cash at the airport. Keep in mind that they don't take large bills. We each set aside a $20 and a $5 at the beginning to make sure we had it available upon our departure. The wait in the airport was about 90 minutes.

Overall
The trip was a lot of fun, and we would stay at the Tainos again. There were plenty of people we met there who had been back there several times. Be sure to bring lots of sunscreen!
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Trevor 

February 2004
I did alot of research on this site before I booked my 14 night stay at the Iberostar Tainos Jan/Feb 2004.This hotel gets universally 'excellent' reviews and I had quite a good time but I would say certain aspects are below average and certain things are very good.The food was dreadful and I am not a fussy eater and I was bedridden for three days with food poisoning and unwell for a further four days. I have never had food poisoning before so it was irritating as I paid $3000 for my vacation. I guess it's the luck of the draw........The rooms are spacious and simple but I could smell drains in my bathroom and it permeated throughout my room.The beach is very nice but other guests get up early and hog all the lounge chairs by the pool and on the beach which is very irritating as many of the loungers are vacant for alot of the time but simply 'reserved' with an article of clothing or a towel.I had all my swimming costumes and my money belt with sunglasses taken from my balcony and I suspect it was other guests who were at fault because the staff were amazing.Second week I was over the worst of my food-bug and the weather was glorious so I had a good time.I flew with Signature Vacations and Skyservice and all flights were on-time or early and the cabin crews to and from Varadero were excellent.I had to fly through Vancouver to get to Varadero and I was in line for two and a half hours prior to clearing customs and immigration and the Immigration and Customs staff in Vancouver can be very rude and aggressive - almost accusatory - which leaves a bitter taste in one's mouth!I have to mention the entertainment team who organise games and activities during the day and parties and shows in the evening. They are brilliant. Georgio is a hoot so is Gley and the gals whose names I can't remember.Also the two guys who run the pool bar, Jorge (George) and Frankie are really great too. If you decide to go tell them Tall-Trevor says "Hi!"The shows are a bit cheesy and the Lobby bar is too brightly lit and garish to relax.They should tone down the lighting in the Lobby in the evening and provide more comfy seating and the waiters NEVER clean the tables or empty the ashtrays so I did it myself!! Everything felt as if it needed a good clean in the evenings!!They also need to tone down the lighting in the main restaurant as it is too much like a school-lunch atmosphere with no ambience at all. There is also a sense of 'competition' when you go to the buffet with people cutting in front of you to get to the best food.However I was travelling solo and met some wonderful people and we made our own fun. $10.00 for all-inclusive entry to the local nightclub (all drinks included) and we saw a fabulous local cuban swing-band (16 piece) followed by dancing to a disco til dawn. Georgio - one of the entertainment staff came and organised everything for us)Apologies to those staying in the hotel that night because ten of us returned to the hotel at 5am and ended up in the pool and we were a bit rowdy...... oops. Sorry!Great swimming in pool and beach. Kayaking, Paddle-boats and snorkelling off beach is all included and for $30 a pop you can parascend at 150 feet behind a speed-boat (highly recommended)However I would try to go to a 5 star next time if I could afford it. The cuban people are really lovely and the staff at the Iberostar go out of there way to make you happy.Conclusion: Great Beach and Pool. Great Staff. Rooms OK. Food and dining/drinking ambience: Poor.
Iberostar Tainos - Varadero
Diane 

January 2004
I would just like to tell anyone who is planning a family vacation to Veradero and perhaps has been to Cuba before but to a less popular location, that the Iberstar Tainos is absolutely wonderful. In fact our family of 7 instantly decided that we would return there again - and we have never said that about a resort before and have been travelling once or twice yearly for the past 6 years. This is the only small resort on the peninsula and we found it perfect for children, and older adults, in that there is not a great deal of walking within all the amenities of the resort and it is small enough that you get an opportunity to get to know some of the Cuban staff as well as other holiday travellers. For $1 daily you can grab a ride on the Veradero Beach bus which runs hourly and keep your ticket for the return trip. This bus will take you into the town of Veradero where there are many local vending markets as well as an "Americanized shopping center" if that is more to your liking. There are several watercraft activities such as seadoo rentals, ocean cruises, ocean fishing, dolphin viewing and swimming, and ecological reserves all along this peninsula. We were delighted to see so much space between the resorts but this will not be for long as their is construction underway. Many resorts are 14 stories high whereas the Iberstar Tainos had buildings that were 2 storeys high and held just 8 units (4 on the ground level and 4 on the 2nd floor). There are about 16 of these units as well as the hotel itself which has 3 floors.

All in all, this is a perfect place to go for families or groups as there is something to interest everyone. We did take a day trip into Havana which we enjoyed, but missed the Caves which we would see next trip as we heard they were fantastic. Cuba is a very safe place to travel within and the people are ever so nice........and not because you are a tourist, but because it is their nature to be polite and gracious.