logo Old Reviews - Iberostar Playa Alameda
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Carrie 
Windsor, Ontario Canada
July 2008
Arrival and Flight: Our flight let from Toronto at 6 a.m. and we arrived around 11:30 a.m. The bus ride from the airport was short and pleasant. When you get on the bus they offer you an alcoholic or non alcoholic beverage which is nice but take note that it is not free (as most had assumed).

Rooms: The room was beautiful, very clean. We did have a small issue with our safe not opening one day and a technician came to our room and found that the battery was dying so he changed it and we did not have a problem thereafter.

Restaurants: Food was plentiful and very good. The buffet I liked best out of all the a la carte restaurants because there is so much variety and the musicians that play there at dinner time are fantastic. I don't eat seafood but my boyfriend does, he ate at the seafood restaurant and had the surf and turf and absolutely loved it. As well, he says that the seafood at all restaurants were delicious. The Italian Restaurant was good however I found the lasagna to be a little salty. Service was very good, waitresses smiled a lot and were friendly.

Bars: The piano bar is where we got most of our drinks from and each night we sat out on the patio and enjoyed nightly entertainment. The piano bar is where we would get our cappuccino's every morning as we did not like the regular coffee, but the cappuccino's are great.

Beach and Pools: The beach is absolutely beautiful. There is water aerobics and dance lessons on the beach daily and men come by asking if you would like to sky dive, parasail, water ski,go for rides on the banana boat and take a catamaran out in the ocean. Staff that are in charge of daily entertainment are called Star Friends and they are a lot of fun. There is also a bar on the beach which serves a great drink of choice.

Grounds: The property is very well cared for. Staff is quite diligent.

Activities and Entertainment: Each night there are bands that play outside on the patio and they are absolutely awesome. They even sell their CDs which we bought 2 of and they're good. The musical talent there in Cuba is amazing. After they finish up the party moves to the outdoor theatre where they have a mix of entertainment all musical plus a game night which is hilarious. After the theatre is finished then the disco starts up which we only went to once as we were usually too exhausted by then to stay up.

Tours: We took the Havana/Tropicana day trip. The bus picks you up at 7 am and then you arrive back at your hotel roughly around 3 am. You travel into Matanzas and they stop at this huge bridge for pictures, drinks,shopping etc...oh and by the way the toilets are disgusting so be sure to bring hand sanitizer and your own toilet paper as you will have to pay the person at the door for it. Make sure you have change when you travel so that you can not only tip the washroom attendant but others as well. From there you will travel to old Havana and to a museum where you learn about their rum making and then to new Havana for shopping etc. All the while you are permitted to go off and take pictures. The Tropicana show is outdoors and is fantastic. Overall the sights, shopping,people and the show was well worth the trip.

One thing we were really pleased to find out from another guest was that if you walk out to the entrance gate of the hotel there is a bus stop which is for tourists. The double decker bus will come, you pay 5 pesos for an all day pass and the bus will take you through Veradero stopping at various flea markets and other hotels. I do not recommend the so called mall as not only is it expensive but there is not much to look at and it is boring. When you are out in the city it is very safe so there is no need to worry about anything, however there will be people who will want to sing for you and expect money in return and they will also try and sell their CDs to you too. No real issues with drinking water there but everyone sticks to bottled water there anyway due to high amounts of chlorine in the water. Oh and bring toilet paper with you, we brought some from our room. The shopping at the flea markets is great but don't forget to barter with them. Departure and Check Out: Check out was fine, staff pleasant and helpful...be sure to bring your towel with you when you check out as you will have to go back to your room and get it if you don't. Conclusion: It was our first visit to Cuba and we absolutely loved it. We will definitely return next year.
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Pauline 

November 2007
Iberostar Playa Alameda ..referred to by everyone in Cuba as just Playa Alameda

We stayed at this resort Nov 2-9th 2007.

Arrival: we flew Skyservice..who was apparently n Cuban time before we departed. We arrive at the airport the standard 3 hours ahead to find out that our flight was delayed. Our 5:45pm departure turned inot a 8pm departure.

We arrived in Cuba..the airport was quick. Passing htrough customs was a bit uncomfortable. As they just stare at you and enter your info and then give you your Cuban Visa Card..which you must not lose!

They Sunquest Rep loaded us on the bus to head for our hotel. It strikes me as odd because if Varadero is on 25km long why does it take 1.5 hours to get to your hotel…lol

We checked into our hotel a bit after 1am. Check in was quick, Prompt service from the front desk. And we even got a ride on the CubCar to our room!

Rooms: Very clean. Roomy even though we had a 3rd be in it. We loved the Walk-in closet.3 Girls staying in 1 room. It was a great place to hide all our stuff. In room safe was a bonus. Bathroom was very roomy. Separate Shower . Bathtub was deep but very narrow. Bring your own Wash clothes. The rooms are in Bungalows consisting of I think 24 units. You have your privacy.
Problem: One of us was very ill one night and all the water was turned off in our room. No water in the bathtub / shower/ tap.
Dresser drawers in the closet were broke. We left them open half the time.

Wake-up calls: Don’t trust them. We got our 7am wake up call at 6am!

Grounds: Hotel is spread out great. Pool is kind of the centre area. Hotel staff was always cleaning and maintaining the grounds. They always smiled when you passed them.

Restaurants Buffett: 24 hour buffet should be revamped. Some nights there was only fruit and dried up hot dogs. Other than that there was always something for each of us to eat. Fresh Pasta made to your taste. Dinner we found the hounded you a bit asking if you needed anything. Ie: water.

Snack Bar/Pool Bar : food from 12pm-6:30…mmmm.great place to grab a pizza, steak sub, and the Ham & Cheese sandwiches were great! The staff there was always smiling.

Romantico Restaurant (A La Carte restaurant) : Great service. I had the Steak. It was wonderful. Small portions so you may need to hit up the buffet after. BEWARE: If you order the shrimp salad…prepare yourself for eyes, antlers, and little legs….

Italian Restaurant (A La Carte restaurant): Basic Italian food. We all got sick after eating there…could have been a combination of the food and all our drinks.

Seafood Restaurant (A La Carte restaurant): We did not eat there. No time.

Bars Disco was a bit lame. No more than 10 people in there at a time.

Bar Santiago located by the outdoor Café area was our favorite spot to get drink. Reynol the bartender was the best.he knew what we drank and offered service above and beyond.

Piano Bar : Very clean. Our kissing bartender friend Camacheo was great!

Entertainment: Nightly shows were ok. Dancers seemed unorganized. But the shows that involved the crowds were a hoot! Beware of the entertainment staff asking for you to get them drinks. They are not suppose to do that. We also had a problem with the Entertainment director offering to take us off the resort to a club for $10 all inclusive by bus. Which is common in Mexico to do. We went to get on the bus and there were taxi’s waiting, we questioned it and he told us not to worry just get in. There was us 3 girls and himself and another hotel entertainer. Instead of going to a club they took us to a field party. We got out of the Tax and they demanded us to pay $15 pesos for the taxi ride. When we asked why? He said things aren’t free. We are alarmed and as we were walking in asked to make sure that the drinks were included like he said.he lied again. $10 pesos to get in and your drinks were extra. He said 1 pesos per drink. We didn’t feel safe so we took the cab ride back. We were told after by girls who stayed with them that the drinks were 5 pesos each. Not a nice experience getting used to pay their taxi!

Beach: Very nice. Very windy though. At times to windy to lay on the beach, much better by the pool, it sheltered the wind a bit.

Excursions: Make sure you check with your Travel Rep and the hotel. They both offer different things. The Sunquest guy was trying to sell us the Catamaran through them which wasn’t the same as through the tour people at the hotel.

Havana Excursion 65 pesos each.
Long 2 hour bus ride. Wonderful sights. Lunch was great in Havana.
Revolution Square and Christopher Columbus Cemetery was awesome.
For not being able to beg they all were asking for money. Don’t take pics of the ladies dressed up or the street performers or you have to give them money. There are a few places where you have to pay 1 pesos to be able to take pictures.
Bring water on the excursion.

Catamaran Crucero Del Sol. 85 pesos each
Awesome. Well worth it.
Got nice and clean…open bar.
You go snorkeling in the middle of the ocean of a coral reef. It was very windy and lots of waves though. If you are not a good swimmer beware, they give you waist bands that consist of 2-3 foam blocks on it. I tied 2 around me. I wasn’t drowning.
Then you go to an enclosed area when you get to swim with the dolphins. It is cool, the swim around you. You get to pet them, touch them, bring an underwater camera cause you can bring that in the water with you. For an additional 10 pesos you can ride them or have you picture taken with them kissing you.
3rd stop is Cayo Blanco. Beautiful beach. You get a Lobster lunch with French fries, rice, shrimp, fish stick. or chicken if you prefer. The stay was a bit long cause there no beach chair or anything to do. This is the only cheap lace to buy t-shirts. Kids $7 each. Adults $10. Everywhere else it was like $25.
Boat ride back was nice, they made us dance!

Varadero Beach Tour: for anyone that wants to go into town take the double Decker bus. 5 pesos all day. Get on and off as much as you like. Bus says it starter at 9:03 cuban time. It picked us up at 9:45.

Great money exchange around 60th street. The hotel rips you off.
3 great markets. Keychains 12 for $5 pesos. Painting were a great price. Less than half of what the guy at the resort was selling them for. There was a guy trying to sell us puppies! Lots of stray dogs.

Plaza America don’t waste your time. Everything closes for lunch and its expensive. Remember. They do not have toilet seats and you have to pay to go to the bathroom. Bring your own toilet paper!

Few hints: bring a warm sweater, it cools down at night.
It still say sits a 5 star at the resort. 5 star in Cuba is not a true 5-star. But it is clean. And we would stay here again in a heart beat!

Rememer you are on cuban time when you are there…which means Late, Late, Late.
Iberostar Playa Alameda
J & L 

April 2007
My husband an I travelled to Varadero, Cuba from March 24 to March 31st. This was our second time to Varadero, the first being at Tryp Peninsula the previous year.

We had read many reviews prior to booking, however, my husband and I had seen the resort from Tryp and decided this would be our choice for this year. We were not disappointed. A smaller resort than the Tryp and I would say staff make this resort such an excellent place to visit.

Upon arrival they did not take our passports only jotted down numbers for their records. We exchanged our money at the airport and exchanged bills for coins each day at the money exchange on the resort.

The food here was far better than what we had experienced the previous year at the Tryp. There was a much larger selection of various dishes.

Our maid kept our room clean and we always had fresh towels. The bar fridge was stocked regularly.

The resort is well laid out. There is no more than a five minute walk to the beach and other amenities on the resort. We went to the lobby bar and enjoyed the Cuban musicians each evening. They are great entertainers and love people.

We do plan to return to this resort mostly because staff are excellent. They are very personable and work very hard.
Iberostar Playa Alameda
SDB 

March 2007
We just got back from Cuba-Iberostar Playa Alameda in Veradero ( March 10 to March 17). I went with my sister in a last minute arrangement. Dawn is a seasoned travel person (cruises, carribean etc..). This is my second trip to the Carribean. The first time I went to DR. Let me start by saying I loved this trip. I wanted to visit Cuba before the passing of Fidel. The trip to Havana was definately a highlight that I will never forget. We did a day trip on the Wednesday arranged through Signature.

Arrival: Be prepared to wait for your room. We waited from 11am until 2:30. Just have some shorts in you bag and relax. Above all else... remember..... it is Cuba not Ontario....waiting in Cuba happens... it just does.

Flight: Great. Flew out of Montreal. Might I just say... just because it is legal to smoke in the Varadero airport DOES NOT MAKE IT OK. Think for a moment...You are a Canadian... lighting up beside another Canadian in the airport... is not ok. It is still offensive.

Accomodations: We were in the 16 block The room was bog and always clean. Leave a few pesos to keep the bar fridge stocked. The bar fridge was not always cold. The TV...was a problem. We eventually went the desk and asked for the programming code (do this!). We had a Phillips TV and one of those universal remotes. Once we got the code to reprogram the remote (which routinely stopped working) it was ok. But then again... who needs TV.)

Beach: The beach was lovely. It was windy and rough for most of the week. Bring your own goggles and snorkeling for lots of fun. Miles of beach to walk.

Food: We went to 2 A-La-Cartes (Italian and Romantic... snicker snicker). The food was ok in these- but nothing to write home about. We much prefered the Buffet which had great sald and really fresh stuff. There seemed to be something new added each time which kept it interesting. Pork seems to be their specialty. The bread was very fresh.

Drinks: The best drinks (coffee included) was in the bar by the lobby. Bigger glasses and better mixed drinks. Have you morning coffee there... the coffee in the buffet is horrible.

People: The staff were kind and helpful. Our Signature rep was great.
Be nice to the the Cubans... they will be more than nice to you in return.
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Lucie 
Canada
March 2007
Group of 6 between ages of 45 and 50: Lucie, Scott, Emmett, Lyse, Mark, Ginette from Canada stayed at this hotel from February 23 to March 5

Booked through Flight Centre and travelled with Sunwing.

THE RESORT
Two of the three rooms we booked were robbed within the first few hours of our arrival. We arrived at the resort at approximately midnight and dropped our luggage into our rooms, anxious to explore the site. Money and passports were put into the safes except for one room where the money was left in the luggage. We went for a walk on the grounds and a drink; the place was quiet and deserted. We were gone for approximately 1.5 hours. During that time a $350. digital camera was taken straight out of our luggage in one room and 140 convertible pesos were taken another room (also, from the luggage).

Reporting the theft to the hotel took over two hours, waiting for the security people, having the details translated (unfortunately, none of us speak Spanish), filling out the required form, etc. They showed us a printout of the card access records for our rooms insisting that we were the only ones accessing the rooms within the time span when the theft occurred even though we repeatedly told them that the patio doors locking mechanisms did not work properly. They indicated that they did all that they could (by showing us the printout) and the next step would be to involve the police to investigate, complete with dogs, fingerprint kits, etc… They also indicated that this could take a few days if not the week. We chose not to waste the rest of our holidays in such a way.

The hotel staff; restaurants, bar, buffet, animation, gardeners, maids were all fabulous, friendly, courteous and helpful. The reception desk staff, the public relation person and the security staff were useless and uncooperative.

The resort was clean and beautiful, the pool was large and great, the beach was lovely. The food was only so so but that was expected for Varadero – if you get hungry after 10pm, forget it you won’t find anything except for buffet leftovers. The buffet was repetitious offering no daily variety. The snack bars were very good and so were the three a la carte restaurants.

There were no beach towels available for 2.5 days out of the 7 days we were there.

The drinks were mediocre – the juice was little more than colored water.

The rooms were clean and spacious, some of the towels were rough enough to use as sand paper. Bar fridges were restocked regularly but not daily. Beware of patio doors that don’t lock, even if you are on the 3rd floor!!! Make sure you use the safe for anything valuable. We were in Block 12 the first night and were moved to Block 16 the next day - at our request - Block 16 is well situated at a very short distance from the beach.

We met very nice people from all over the world.

SUNWING:
After taxiing the runway, we had to return to drop off a lady that was not feeling well, waiting for her luggage to be taken off the plane and re-fueling caused a delay of approx. 1.5 hours at the Ottawa airport –Sunwing offered free champagne to make up for the delay. Although I was impressed with the Sunwing flight (except of course for the cramped space), which offered free headphones and an on flight meal, the Sunwing representative in Cuba was very disappointing. It was obvious that his loyalties were with the hotel and not with the guests – the Sunwing clients.

We reported the theft to our Sunwing representative. He indicated that he would see what he could do but never got back to us - a few days passed before we could get hold of him again. When we finally saw him again he said there was nothing he could do for us as we had declined involving the police. We asked if there was anything he could do for us on our departure day as we had an evening flight and we were to leave the hotel at 6:30pm and check-out was at noon. After being robbed once, we were reluctant to leave our luggage in the lobby area designated for this purpose. The area was not secure, people came and went as they pleased and the hotel did not give a receipt for the luggage. We would have settled for a delayed check-out time for only one room for all 6 of us. He (Sunwing) said he would speak with the hotel management and leave instructions for us with the Public Relations rep. by the morning. We were informed that the manager had refused our request – no delayed-check-out, no courtesy room, no nothing. She even went so far as to say that we had no proof that we had been robbed! (i.e. no police report). We contacted the Sunwing Rep. from her desk and he not only washed his hands of the whole thing, when I indicated that this was unacceptable, he hung up on me!! (feigning bad connection – which was not the case).

We are realistic enough to know that such things as thefts happen anywhere and if the hotel and/or the Sunwing representative had shown even the slightest bit of compassion, concern or understanding for our situation, the incident would have been put to rest and the trip would have been considered a very good one. As it is, the incident and the response to it have left us very disappointed and frustrated.

We would not recommend this hotel to anyone and as this was our first time traveling with Sunwing, we truly hope the Sunwing rep. we had is not representative of the organization.
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Elise 
St. Albert, Alberta
February 2007
>Previous Caribbean Travel
Photos
Iberostar Playa Alameda, Varadero Cuba, Feb. 2007
Playa Costa Verde, Holguin Cuba, Mar. 2006
Occidental Allegro, Punta Cana D.R. Feb. 2005
Grand Occidental Playa Turquesa, Holguin Cuba, Feb. 2004
Iberostar Costa Dorada, Puerto Plata D.R. Mar. 2003
Bahia Principe Akumal, Mayan Riviera Mexico, Mar. 2002
Breezes Montego Bay,Jamaica, April 1998

We are a youngish couple in our late 30s, We have traveled on our own and with our children. Usually when we travel with our children we stay at a resort for two weeks and when we travel without the kids we stay for one week.

We usually book our vacations between one week and one month before we go, although we know approximately when we would like to go. We usually find our vacations online and then book them with a travel agent. We have also booked online. We prefer booking with a travel agent when we bring our children as it is a little more complicated when traveling with a large group. We have experienced no problems with online booking and would do so again with a reputable online agent.

For this trip we booked 20 hours before departure. We found the resort on Sell off Vacations, phoned their 1 877 number and booked over the phone. We received online confirmation in about ten minutes , printed the confirmation, and brought it to the airport the next day. There they printed an official confirmation and vouchers for the airline and resort. I was a little worried that we would have difficulty with transfers etc, because of the very short booking time, but all went well.

Our package was with Sunquest, we flew with Skyservice. I was able to pick this particular resort on such short notice because I was familiar with reviews and recommendations for this property. I would NOT recommend booking on such short notice without having some knowledge of a particular resort first.

Playa Alameda has changed names many times so finding past information may involve some research. The resort opened as the LTI and was later changed to the Maritim Varadero Beach resort . Ownership changed again and the resort was called Gaviota Playa Alameda. In Jan. 2007, the Iberostar chain took over and now it is the Iberostar Playa Alameda. Iberostar has only been running it for a few weeks so the labels everywhere still say Gaviota.

We flew out of Edmonton, Ab. Our flight was delayed about one and a half hours. The flight was fine. We had a bumpy ride over northern Florida. A meal was served on the plane, some kind of burrito........ cheese, pudding. There was duty free shopping on board and a small selection of snacks available for small fee. Two movies were shown, headsets for sale for $5.00. The headsets from my Ipod worked fine. Landing was fine.

Customs seemed to move more quickly than usual. It did take a long time for luggage to come through. The luggage is scanned on the way into the country. I believe they are looking mainly for banned electronics. I know when we have had any electrical items in our luggage our bags have been searched, like small electric tea kettle or coffee maker. Blow dyer, curling irons not so much. Usually if they are going to look into your bags, they will wait until you have reached for your bag on the carousel, and then ask you to come to a side table. If you have a banned item in your bags usually they will do the following; keep the item in a locker for you, for a small fee of course ;) you fill out some paperwork and retrieve the item when you leave. Or, they may give you a warning about the item. They may let you take it in, but remind you that you must bring it back with you. I am not sure how well they check for that on the way out.

Usually while my husband waits for the luggage, I get in line to change some money. This way we do not hold up the bus for others who are not changing money. I have found that the rates at the airport are marginally better. It would be a good idea to ask for a receipt of your transaction. Some may take offence to this, but I would never perform a banking transaction at home without a receipt, why would I here? Also there has been a lot of chatter about "mistakes" being made at the Varadero airport in regards to money exchange. The rate at the airport on Feb 1, 2007 was 1.3228 ( 150.00 CND. =113.40 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos) ) The rate at the hotel throughout our stay was 1.3340.

We left the airport and found the Sunquest rep easily. He directed us to the bus, where we waited about 1/2 hour to leave. Once the bus was loaded we began the journey to the resort. The ride is advertised as a 30 minute ride. It depends where on the peninsula your resort is located and how many people are staying at your resort. The Playa Alameda is near the tip of the peninsula so it is the third last resort on the peninsula. Our bus, stopped at ELEVEN resorts on the way to the hotel. I guess the beauty in that is that you get to see the lobby of all of the other resorts. The downside is that the ride was between 1 1/2 to 2 hours long. Though it seemed even longer!!

We arrived at the resort eventually. I believe there were only about 5 couples getting off at our resort and check-in was smooth. We did not request a room in advance as we booked on such short notice. Our first room had two single beds, the ladies at the counter tried to encourage us to keep that room, insisting that it was a very nice room. We were firmly polite that this would not work, we wanted one queen or king. Eventually they said we could have a different room. We gathered our things and a bellhop with a golf cart drove us to our room. Unfortunately this room had some issues. The balcony door would not lock, there water leaking all over the floor from the air conditioning, and the room had not been cleaned properly. There was hair ALL over the tub and sink and the floor looked very dirty. Also, there was about 20 mosquitoes on the ceiling of this room. We returned to the front where the ladies again tried to convince us that the first room with the single beds was a very nice room! Eventually they came up with a room that had a king size bed. We moved to that room and it was clean, had no water issues etc. We were satisfied with the room.

One note on passports. I have read that people must leave their passports overnight at the check in counter at the resorts in Cuba. This was our third Cuban all inclusive and the FIRST time that we had to leave our passports overnight. We picked them up in the morning no problem. It may be a little surprising to some if you are not expecting it. I am not sure why some resorts keep them overnight, but it is not a practice that I am impressed with. The other resorts we have stayed at just wrote down our passport #. They would not do that here even though it was not a busy night. I always keep a copy of my passport in my luggage as well, and a copy at home with someone I can reach if I need too. I guess it is really not a huge deal, but it made me a little uncomfortable.

We changed and went to search out a bar and a restaurant. The first bar we went into was the lobby bar. It was closing and we couldn't get a drink. The only bar open at that time is the disco. We went in search of the 24 hour snack bar. It is not open 24 hours any more. We did find the main buffet. It had a very limited selection of food. Some fruit, buns, cheese, ham, some veggies and a grill where you could choose from beef or pork. I was a little worried about the food selection, but it was just the late night food that was that limited.

Room
Our building was #14. The location was fine. The resort is not huge so it did not seem like we were far from anything. The buildings 15, 16, 17,18 ,19 would be considered ocean view. I think you would have to be on the top floor to actually see much because of the trees.

The room was nice. It had a sofa, small desk, end tables and king size bed. There was a TV, on top of a cabinet with the bar fridge inside. The fridge was empty but was filled a couple of days later. It had a large bottle of water, some carbonated water, club soda, 4 beer, 2 pop. It was topped up periodically throughout the week. There was not a clock radio, but the TV showed the time on the bottom once the TV was off. The remote control did not work. There were a few channels, English and Spanish. We just caught CNN at night to see what was going on in the world.

I loved the bathtub. It was large, and had a hand held shower in it as well. There was also a stall shower in the bathroom. This was great because we were both able to shower at the same time in different tubs. This was a good thing because the stall shower is very tiny, you would have to be VERY skinny to share that shower ;) The water pressure was great, and we always had hot water. The bathroom had a blow dryer that worked fine. The toilet stall is not in a private room.

The room had a walk in closet with about 12 hangers, there were drawers(2) in the closet but they were very hard to open and close as they seemed warped. There was an iron and an ironing board in the room as well. The safe was in this closet. Ours was a combination type that you set yourself, there was no additional charge for the safe. Two umbrellas were in the closet.

We had a balcony that faced a fence and looked at the resort next door, which was the TRYP Peninsula (looked very nice!) We could have upgraded to a room with a view for 10 pesos a day. The ladies at the counter said that Sunquest does not pay for rooms with a view, but for 10 pesos a day, we could have one.... We do not spend enough time in our room so it was not an issue. I would rather be on the beach than look at it!!! We were on the second floor, if we had not already had the room change issues, I would have requested another change. The people on the floor above us were VERY loud in the morning. They got up between 5:30 and 6:00 AM everyday. I am sure that they must have had two twin beds. It sounded like they slid the beds apart everyday.Also, the lady( I am assuming) wore high heels from the time she got up. They click clacked very loudly across the floor. So I was also up every morning with them. The point is, please if you are on the upper floors of a hotel with a tile floor, have some consideration for the people below you as every sound you make is magnified by the tile floor.

The air conditioning in the room worked fine as did the lock on the patio door. Our maid was the best maid we have ever had. Our room was spotless everyday. The sheets were changed regularly, we always had fresh towels and towel art on the bed everyday. Our floor was mopped and the bathrooms sparkled. Other resorts we have stayed at do not compare to the cleanliness of our rooms here. We left the maid a peso or two plus a small gift daily. We left a larger tip on the last day and most of out toiletries and extra flashlight, candles, snacks etc.

Food
This was our third Cuban vacation so we knew what to expect as far as food goes.We were satisfied with the food and even surprised a couple of times. The buffet is a buffet. There was always something to eat. At breakfast there was always a selection of breads and buns, pastries and donuts. I loved the donuts with glaze. There was a selection of fresh juice and yogurt drinks,cereal and fruit. Watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, papaya or guava.Some days there were hash browns or potatoes. My husband enjoyed the omelets and egg station. I saw bacon and different sausage nearly every day. The bacon is a little different. There was also a selection of cold cuts and cheese, veggies, tomatoes, cucumbers. Really something for everyone. Some days they carved a large ham while you waited.

I really enjoyed the lunches at the Playa Alameda. The buffet was always an option with a selection of breads, cheeses, veggies, cold cuts and fruit.The buffet at lunch also included many hot selections, like french fries, rice, fish, chicken, pork chops, and a made to order pasta station. There was a good selection of desserts. I am a baker so I normally do not enjoy the bulk baking at buffets, but I found many of the desserts to be very good. One day at lunch we ate coconut cookies. They were wonderful, soft and chewy, very tasty. We also enjoyed lunch at the beer garden. There, you could order a wonderful shrimp salad and made to order grilled sandwich. I like the salad without the mayo dressing. The shrimp were very good. Across from the beer garden was the ice cream station. Good ice cream but limited flavors. We ate lunch at the pool bar the most. There they serve an excellent pizza and calzone.The last lunch option is the beach buffet. We only ate there once. We did not like to share the buffet with the birds. They seemed to be eating from the small buffet as much as the guests were.

We ate at two of the three a-la cartes during our stay. There are limited reservations up so you need to book ASAP. Even though the restaurant may be half empty, the reservations are staggered so that the restaurant is never full and the staff can deliver excellent service. The seafood a la carte was okay. The surf and turf was lobster even though it was listed as beef with mixed seafood. The meal was not the best and it was barely warm. The staff were very nice and the service was excellent. There was a man playing a guitar and singing in the restaurant. He was very good and entertaining. It was nice to be served instead of standing in the buffet line ups. Nice ambiance. We also ate at the "Romantico" restaurant. I had the beef Wellington , it was very good. The steak had great flavor and was very tender, though it was not what you would expect for a Wellington. It was more like a steak sandwich. My husband had the seafood dish. He was not totally impressed, but it was okay. The ambiance in this restaurant was very nice but the traveling band playing was far too loud. Sometimes you couldn't talk over their music. There were a few birthdays in the restaurant while we were there. Cakes were brought out and the band sang happy birthday. Arrangements must be made for birthday celebrations a couple of days in advance.

The rest of our stay we ate at the main buffet. Again there was a fair selection of food to choose from. I really enjoyed the pasta station though there was a bit of a wait some nights. Again you could choose grilled fish, beef, and pork. There was always cooked chicken which I found to be very good,though cut a little differently than I am used to. If you have the opportunity to try the turkey it is well worth it. We have had turkey at three resorts in Cuba. It is really good. I am not sure how they cook it differently but it has so much flavor and is very moist. The turkey in Cuba is better than any turkey I have had at home! There was also a good selection of other various hot dishes as well as the wonderful breads ands buns they serve with every meal. The dinner buffet also had a selection of cold cuts, cheese, veggies and fruits. Again I tasted many wonderful desserts.

I would have to say that people comment about the food in Cuba frequently. In my limited experience, I have found that there is always something to eat for even the most picky customer. I am quite picky when it comes to food and I always found something that I enjoyed to eat at the Playa Alameda.

Drinks
I would have to say that the drinks were a little disappointing at this resort. I loved the beer. Crystal is my favorite. The selection of frozen slushy, vacation "girly" drinks was not that great. I tried quite a few and was somewhat disappointed with most of them. I have been to resorts where the blended drinks have fresh fruit and taste wonderful. In fact, the Iberostar in Puerto Plata had THE best drinks of any resort we have been to. I was hoping that because this was an IBEROSTAR resort the quality of the drinks might be the same. I think it comes down to ingredients and the supplies must be quite limited compared to the Dominican Republic. The bar staff at the pool bar was very good. The bar staff at the lobby bar was excellent. I am sorry that I am so bad with remembering names, but the evening staff at the lobby bar was excellent. They were very busy but always very fast, efficient and friendly. I must mention that the coffee in the buffet was about the worst coffee I have ever had, but the cappuccino in the lobby and pool bars was very good!

Beach & Pool
We did not spend much time at the pool. The pool is okay, not the best pool we have been to. I would rank it 4 out of 10. There were a lot of chairs around the pool. When we wanted to sit by the pool we always found somewhere to sit. The pool needs to be resurfaced, it is not very nice to look at. I imagine it must be difficult to renovate because the resort is open all year and there is only one pool. There did not seem to be a lot of activities around the pool. Dance lessons, and exercise. We also found that the music was very loud by the pool. No chance of napping there. The entertainment staff seemed to spend a lot of time in the towel shack playing pool with guests. They were all very friendly but I found the daytime activities limited. There was no swim up bar , but the pool bar is very close. Swim up bars in my opinion are somewhat over-rated. After the first drink on the stool, I am ready to move on. Usually it is the same people sitting on those stools having a few too many, do you ever see them get out of the water to use the washroom? Just something to think about IMHO. LOL.

I love the beach. This beach was no exception. We were only at this resort for one week, but I saw a change in the beach daily. People who complained about the beach really must be traveling to some amazingly exotic beaches. The sand is a bit courser than some of the sand at other locations. Some people say the beach was man made, I am not sure if it was or not, but I find it hard to imagine that anyone could bring in the amount of sand required to cover an area that size. The beach is very large and you can walk a long distance in both directions. You will run into the other resorts on either side, but the sand is the same all the way down. The sand to me looked like it was made up mainly of tiny crushed shells. The first day on the beach was a little wavy. The second day on the beach was very calm. The third day got wavy again.The fourth day brought a storm, with huge waves and high wind, rain. We were away for the fifth day. The sixth day again was nice but wavy. The last day was perfectly calm. The water looked like the smooth beautiful pictures that you see in magazines. The storm brought in a ton of seaweed. It was piled up about 2 feet high. The seaweed was removed. The storm also brought in many shells. I would rate this beach # 1 for shell /beach combing. My point is that people can complain about the beach, seaweed , rocks etc. , but really it comes down to the weather at this resort. I did not find it too rocky in the center to go in with bare feet. On the right hand side of the beach there was a rocky area, I would wear water shoes there. I wear water shoes at every beach because I have found broken glass at every resort that I have been too.They are cheap enough and I always leave them for someone that I meet on the resort. I would also snorkel there as there is a lot of things to see in that area. Not a lot of fish but neat coral, rock and shells. The left hand side of the beach was smooth as well.

We did not ride any hobiecats or the like, but most of the week the water sports were closed due to the weather. We walked a long distance in both directions, very beautiful. I did do a bit of snorkeling, but again we were unlucky with the weather. I always bring my own snorkeling gear, that way I can go when I want too, and I don't have to worry about reserving supplies. Not to mention that I am not fond of sharing snorkels........I also bring my own lifejacket as well. I like to bring a large bright beach towel to mark my chair. When you are coming in from the water it is easier to spot your towel in the sea of blue towels the resort supplies. Speaking of the sea of blue towels, the resort gives you a paper to trade for a beach towel, then you can exchange your towel as needed at the pool hut. I had read somewhere that people had to leave a deposit with the towel guy, this was not the case for us. When we left, we returned our towels and got back our slip of paper that we handed in to the checkout ladies, no problem. I have heard of people losing their towels and having to pay for them. I have not had this happen to me. I think it is one way of making people a little more responsible for the towels.

The entertainment staff seemed to get a lot of people dancing and doing aerobics by the beach. If you want quiet, you need to move yourself quite a ways down the beach as the music is very loud here as well. We found a palapa everyday without looking too hard. Very few people reserving chairs early in the morning with their towels. The resort could really do with some new beach chairs as there were many broken chairs. Most were badly stained and looked unappealing. There is a small bar on the beach with limited supplies, but a little further in was a larger bar with more selection. This is where the slushy machine would have been handy. There was an orange hut. It was only opened for one day while we were there. There was a slushy machine in there but it did not work, same with the one on the beach. I did see something that bothered me. The slushy machine that was on the beach (that wasn't frozen) had a leak. The liquid leaked into a drip tray underneath the machine. I happened to be standing by when the man working there dumped the spill tray back into the top of the machine. I really couldn't believe it. While he did this, two or three mangers (I assume because they had ties on) watched and did not say a thing.

Entertainment
We did not watch the shows every night. We did watch their version of the "Tropicana" show. It was pretty good. We saw the circus show and the contortionist show . Both were very good. There did not seem to be as much guest participation in the entertainment as usual . This was okay by me. One evening there was a lip sinc, air guitar kind of show, not my favorite. I did notice that some of the roving entertainment was pretty good. I would not mind seeing a sort of variety show of the local, resort talent. There was a band that played nightly in the courtyard that was good. It was a nice place to relax after dinner.

We actually didn't make it to the disco this year. Yikes, we must be getting old. I hear that people had a good time there, though it closed early compared to other resorts we have been to.

There did not seem to be much daytime activity. So if you are looking for constant entertainment, it's not here.

Kids Club
We did not have our kids with us this year so I have little to offer about the club. There was a decent playground and kiddie pool. The lady that was looking after the club seemed nice. She only had a couple of kids with her at any given time. There were actually very few children at this resort. I think it is because Iberostar does not usually give very good children's rates.

Out and About
We caught the double decker bus and rode into town. For 5.00 pesos, you can ride the bus all day. We went to the market. Typical souvenirs at good prices. The thing that I really like about shopping in Cuba is the price. When you ask for the price of an item, it is not usually over inflated. You do not have to barter forever to get a decent price. The people in the market are very friendly. We also stopped at there shopping centre. It was okay. I checked out the grocery store which was kind of cool, also, there was a shop that sold foreign cosmetics and shampoos etc. I am not sure about the prices but I am assuming they were high. There were ropes stanchions blocking parts of the store so you had to get assistance to look at the L'Oreal shampoo for example. While in Varadero, we walked through a local department store. That was interesting also.

We did go on one excursion. We went on the day trip to Havana. I would highly recommend it. It was not too long, We left about 8:00 am and were back at the resort before 6:00 pm. The bus ride was very interesting, there was a lot to see. Our guide spoke good English and gave us a lot if info. The majority of the tour is spent on the bus, with stops at various locations. The stops were a little short, most were 20 minutes or so, but it was really a good opportunity to take a quick peek at the city, If I did it again, I would probably hire a private tour. These can be arranged with your tour operator.That way, you can see what you want to see, and still have a little time flexibility. I think you really should have a guide as well as the driver as there is so much to be learned about the area.

Varadero Airport
For our flight home, the pickup time was to be 6:00 pm. A bus came at 5:45 to pickup signature vacations people.We were with Sunquest. Our bus came late at nearly 6:30. We stopped at ten resorts on the way to the airport. This was a long ride. It took about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Our bus was the last bus to arrive at the airport.Everybody on that bus had the same scheduled pick up time. So if you were at a resort closer to Varadero,you waited for the bus for about an hour. We rushed through the airport to get some last minute souvenirs. They did a first call for the flight so we waited by the gate, then it was another hour before they actually boarded the plane.The airport was smoky as the smoking section has a half wall to keep the smoke in :) There were a few souvenir shops, duty free shopping and cigars as well. There seemed to be a fair selection of everything.

Overall
The one area of this resort that NEEDS some attention is the bathrooms. I found them to be disgusting. Some of the toilets do not have toilet seats. The bathrooms by the lobby ran out of paper often, many times there was only one toilet that flushed. The smell in these washrooms was bad . I walked through the washrooms at the TRYP next door and they were sparkling clean, had toilet seats and paper, they smelled nice. Most of the time I walked back to my room to use the washroom. Overall the resort was a nice layout, had some really good features. I do think it could do with some updating, like beach chairs.

We had a nice trip. Would I return? Maybe. We have never been to same resort twice. I really like the Iberostar chain. I am sure that this resort will be tuned up to their standards. We got a great deal on this trip. I don't think you will travel to this resort next year for the same prices.The food was fine, the rooms nice, service good, beach beautiful. If you are looking at going to Varadero, I would recommend this resort.
Iberostar Playa Alameda
John 

December 2006
Hi. we just came back from Playa Alameda in Varadero, Cuba. This was our third family trip to Cuba. Last year we went to a 5 star hotel in Holguin. This year we decided on Playa Alameda. Overall, it was a great place and we would recommend it to others.

The Skyservice flight was OK. Seats are too small and there was no entertainment. But I knew what to expect from such charter flights, so there is really no compalaints. The Cuban customs are as always, VERY SLOW. But Sunquest team was well prepared and we were in the hotel within 40 minutes after getting out of the airport. The people at the hotel are friendly and nice. Checking in was a breeze. No hassle at all. Our room was close to the pool and to the main building. I was told people with children are housed closer to the amenities than others, which was great. We had a late night snack and went to bed.

There is plenty to eat. There is one main buffet, one 24hr snack bar by the pool, a beer garden with grill food, an ice-cream bar, a beach grill, and three ala carte restaurants. Not bad, so you are never short of food. BUT, Cuba is not the greatest place for food. Although they have plenty of food, they really don't know how to cook it. We were not picky. We knew the food is always overcooked ... etc.. so we picked what we only wanted to eat. For Christmas gala dinner, they gave us an 8 course meal. :-)

The lobby bar is not that big. It was the right size though. There are bars everywhere and every bar serves a great coffee. We really like the coffee in Cuba.

The entertainment is OK. Lots of efforts and different bands/groups every night. The disco is OK too. The animation team works hard to entertain the people.

We LOVED the pool. It was 0.5, 0.7, 1.00 up to 1.2 meters. It was great for swimming. It was missing a pool bar, but there is bar right by the pool. There is a huge gym with hot tub available to people. Tennis court, basketball court etc. They never run out of towels.

The beach was great. No complaints there.

Overall, Playa Alameda is a great place to go on vacation. It is big, lots of to do, beautiful surroundings and within 30 mins to Varadero town. Would I go back there? Probably in the next few years, but for now I'd like to try other places next year. Would I recommend it to others? Oh yes. This is a great place to go. Just remember, you don't go to Cuba for food, you go there for weather, ambience, people, dance, music, and the rum...

Enjoy.
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Hazel 
UK
September 2006
We stayed here from the 8th June till the 22nd.

We had a fantastic time here, the hotel is brilliant, the people who complain about it must be extremely fussy, remember you are in a 3rd world country.

Last year we went to the Dominican but found Cuba in general to be alot better.

Arrival - we arrived after a 9 hour flight so we were all tired and just wanted to get to our rooms, check in was quick and easy with no problems at all, we were then taken to our rooms me and my boyfriend were allocated room 1410 on the second floor, near the pool. The room was big, clean, and looked nice, although we thought the air conditioning was not working that well it did cool us down. The bathroom was very good with separate shower.

Weather - unfortunately for us it was the beginning of the stormy season and we had the first tropical storm that year Alberto hit us for our first day but after that the weather was fantastic very hot.

Pool - Nice pool, no good for swimming though as its extremely shallow, the only other problem for us was the children they have there own pool so in my opinion they should be in there. We did not spend much time here only 1 day actually we preferred the beach.

Beach - was absolutely amazing, the water was so clear and warm. Me and my boyfriend bought snorkels and masks from the airport on the way out there and we used them every day we would swim a little bit further out and the fish there were great we took some brilliant photos, in the afternoon we would take a pedalo out and go snorkelling from there and we saw some very big fish then. The beach here was so much nicer compared to the Dominican. We spent all our time here, the beach is stunning.

Food - I was worried what the food in Cuba was going to be like after reading some reviews, but I was very please to find out that it was not that bad at all, in the snack bar by the pool, or bear garden then do great sandwiches, and steak sandwiches, also some really nice pizza especially the galzones. The buffet as always in a all inclusive is very repetitive but there was always something to eat, Eduardo the omelette guy is soo funny very intelligent man when you get talking to him. We were having too much fun to get around to booking the Al carte restaurants but some people we got talking to were very impressed.

Trips - we did two trips one on the catamaran to cayo blanco which was relaxing and fun, have the fresh lobster on the catamaran for a extra 10 peso, it was the best I have had, the food they offer when you get to cayo blanco is not that nice. Then we did the overnight tour of Havana which was a great experience a must for everyone who goes we went around old Havana the first day and some markets to buy little gifts which I really enjoyed, then we went to our hotel to get ready for the Tropicana show, the hotel in Havana was disgusting really horrible I had bugs in my bed the air conditioning and broken down, its hot in Varadero but in Havana its unbearable buy one of the little fans they sell for 1 peso in the market you will need it. The Tropicanal show was amazing they are very talented dancers. The second day was around new Havana then finally we arrived back at Playa Alameda very tired and hot.

Staff - we found all the staff at Playa Alameda great they were all so friendly especially in the pool bar, Fidel in the lobby bar was lovely and charming, Eduardo was great, our maid was fantastic we always came back to a different towel design and very clean room, they were very happy to please you, in the pool bar we had not finished our drink and we had another one brought to us. We did tip the whole time we were there and left little presents for the maid and tips the service we received was fantastic. we found the Dominican to be the opposite never got anything with out a tip un like in Cuba, the gardener gave me some flowers on our second or third day and then some more in our second week I went to give him a tip and he refused it, my and my boyfriend were shocked I made him have the tip and my boyfriend gave him his hat which we saw him wearing every day and every day he said thank you.

I really can not see what anyone has to complain about, you don't come here for the food, the culture and the people are fascinating, if you are fussy then don't go to a third world country as they are all similar, but Cuba and its people are just lovely, the service we received from the time we arrived at the hotel till we left was brilliant, planning our next rip there!! Go to Cuba with an open mind, a holiday is what you make it at the end of the day.

If you have any questions email me at Pink_girl_x_x@hotmail.co.uk
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Bryan 
Ontario
May 2006
hello all....took vacation at playa alameda on the week of April 23'rd....was under the impression that it was a 4.5-5 star hotel.....anything but!!!!!!!!...we went with a group of 15 people,and staying at iberostar varadero last year,we were spoiled......I'll keep it as short as possible!!!!!.....airline...same old same old....no surprises...made good time with canjet{airline personal looked like they would rather have the plague,than be working}...but only 2.8 hrs...so not too bad........arrived at hotel at around 9:00 pm{never received welcome drink}...no big deal,but was a sign of things to come!!!!......Rooms smelled so bad that it stopped you at the door{MILDEW}.....bar fridge never worked in room{try drinking warm mayabe beer}....air conditioner....barely worked the entire time.....sheets would be damp at night when you would go to bed!!!!.....mould on all grout in bathroom....and if your sharing room{make sure you like them}...beds are joined together{2 queens}......The grounds and the beach are a 5 star....but that is all.....I'm fairly easy going and can let things go{but to many here!!!}......The pool bar as stated in books,is a bar by the pool{no swim up}.....You have to go to the bar 5 times to get 1 beer with the micro-plastic cups they serve them in!!!....There is 2 other bars where you can get drinks in glasses and made fairly well...Service is roll of the dice....Although,we did have great service from 2 bartenders at one of the bars....I find with most,if you tip or not it does not matter in service..other than a few who we took care of for it!!!!....The food was horrible....I'm 6'1...200 lbs..not a picky eater...lost 8 lbs on vacation{should be other way around}...You could drink your eggs...food from buffet night before in breakfast buffet....Not that I did not want to eat...I just did not know what most of what was on buffet was?????...A la cartes...a joke.....Ordered surf and turf{was a steak that was 2" wide x3" long x 2mm thick}no joking and a piece of dried up fish....Had a waiter spill water on me 3 times at another a la carte without even looking at me!!!....Disco...never went due to you could not enter due to the stagnant mildew smell...never saw anyone in it???...Went on sunquest tour.......snorkeling , cave , ..then to some ranch{don't do it}...the snorkeling is awesome{1 hour}...cave{nice also}...after that horrible{got back money due to all the problems}....I find for a country so dependant on tourist money they shouldn't be trying to bend them over at all times.......Don't get me wrong...We came back to Cuba because of our stay at iberostar varadero last year...and after playa alameda,will be going elsewhere...The funny thing is....we left at 4 pm on Sunday,but had to check out at 12:00 pm{we did not get there until 9:00pm when we arrived}...But you think when people spend more than $20,000 at your resort you would give them a room to keep things / shower / etc......But no,we had to pay $50.00{Paso's} for 2 rooms each to do so....That tells you the amount of respect they have for you{the tourist}....I could go on and on....but I think you get it...I ,as well as everyone else works very hard to go away on a vacation like this....And when we are told a resort is 4.5 - 5 star by travel agents / books / etc...And you look so forward to your trip and you get this,it is very frustrating.....Oh yeh....when they charged us for temporary room the resort was at 45% of volume{thanx a lot}....It was at 65% all week and the service was still slow???????....Anyways my friends,don't go anywhere near this resort....If you want a great resort....Go to iberostar varadero{all we kept saying was that we wished we went there again}.....LIVE AND LEARN...peace out
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Robin & Roland 
Dartmouth NS
May 2006
We stayed at the Playa Alameda in April, 16 to 23 for our 28th wedding anniversary. We had been at this resort in 2003, when it was the LTI, it is now run by the Cuban Gaviota group, for our 25th and had a good time on both occasions. The grounds have matured and there is a softer look to them. A testament to the hard work of the groundskeepering staff. The addition of the Bar Santiago is a nice addition. A quiet place to relax after the excursion or that trip into Varadero. The two dayshift bartenders, Yoan and Mayby, are first rate at mixing drinks, they make a great mojhito, and are great people too. At the Lobby Bar, Paval and Paulo mix a mean Cuba Libras. The evening musicians at the Lobby bar are just great. Lots of good music for the middle-age crowd. We found the variety of food selections at the buffet has improved since we were first there. The quality has remained the same, not a problem for us as we are not fussy eaters. Service at the food counters was pleasant and capable. Table service at the buffet was spotty. It ranged from "why are you bothering me" to "welcome, how can I help you". Having worked in the food service industry, I know how frustrating it can be dealing with rude,demanding people, but, not everyone is a miserable prick. The other complaint regarding the buffet is that there is still only one toaster. Maybe even the same one from 2003. At a resort of this size and rating, two toasters, with a back-up should be the norm. And as much as I like dogs, the one running around the patio dining area was unacceptable. It was not a seeing-eye dog. The ala cartes, Romantico and Seafood are first rate. We tried both and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the foods, and the top notch service. We didn't eat at the Italian due to time constraints. We were in Building 15,second floor and had no problems. A little musty, but it disappeared when the room was aired out and did not return. The housekeeping for our room was great. As good, and in some cases better than hotels we have stayed at in Canada. We were disappointed at the Beer Garden. Lagers only. As a Canadian I would have welcomed a Keith's, even a Labatts Blue, but there were no Canadian beers or even a Mexican Sol to break the monotony of the lagers. We didn't return after the first visit. The beach was much better this time around. The addition of the umbrellas was welcomed. We never had a problem finding seats. The nightly entertainment was fine and very enjoyable. These showcases of Cuban talent was very impressive. The reception staff really needs work. There appears to be no communication between shifts and persons in charge. Maintenance problems are not passed on to the maintenance crew quickly enough to be addressed in a timely manner. With the exception of the dayshift, there seems to be no one around to make important decisions ,so they wait until the day time when the operations manager arrives. This is really not acceptable. While it may appear to be unimportant to the staff it is very important to the guests and should be dealt with quickly. Especially anything on a medical nature. I saw an older European woman with an eye injury, in the lobby while a younger woman, her daughter I assume, tried to get the main desk staffs attention and action. They finally left in a taxi to go somewhere for medical aid. We went through a similar situation after a traffic accident ( not the resorts fault ) and the only real assistance came from one of the luggage staff. ( Thank you again Damien, Martika, the Sunquest rep.) If there is no first aid attendant on staff for minor injuries, there should be and the resort should look at getting one. Cigarettes, cigarettes everywhere and not a place to put the butts. Except in the sand on the beach, in the grass, in the fountains, in plastic cups and who knows where else. The buffet should be a smoke-free zone. Its hard to enjoy your meal with the smell of a Galois in your face. The only smoke-free area we saw was in the Lobby Bar by the doors from the main Lobby. Rather like a no-peeing section in a swimming pool. The management should look at: designating the buffet smoke-free. Set aside rooms as smoke-free, a specific bar as non-smoking and having staff enforce such a regulation. There were too many obnoxious drunks around. These trash people ruin the vacations of others and there are small children around who do not need to be subjected to this and there seems to be no staff around to take these people in hand. As returning guests for a special occasion ( our anniversary ) it would have been nice to have it noticed. When we were at the resort in 2003 the then manager, a Portuguese gentleman I believe, had a bottle of champagne, rum and some flowers sent to our room. One of the reasons we returned was this personal touch which was sadly missing this time. Such things go a long way to having people return. We did not go to the pool at all. Too crowded and far too many people who could not hold their liquor making A..holes of themselves. We heard of a few incidents of minor theft, towels,mugs and in one case a bra, but I believe they were most likely done by drunken guests. The Cuban staff have too much to lost to get involved in that kind of activity. There is still no Canadian news channel on the in-house TV. CBCNEWS World would have been good to watch as we had our morning coffee. In 2003 we had suggested this but they added two Chinese speaking channels instead, and I did not see any Chinese guests. Also lots of US stations. The German,Spanish and British channels were fine. There was one Canadian station though, The Discovery Channel. The exchange rate for convertible peso relative to the Canadian dollar is unjustified. $1.27 CDN for one CUC is extortion. When we return to Cuba, and we will, we'll bring Euros. Even after the CDN/Euro exchange, the rate for the CUC would have been better for us with Euros. OVERALL: As I had said earlier, we enjoyed both our trips to this resort. We are planning an all family, 5 adults, vacation this coming Christmas and another anniversary trip to Cuba next April. We did note a trend to Europeans/South and Central American guests and away from Canadians and this will affect our decision of where to go. Would I recommend the Alameda, a qualified yes. If anyone has questions, contact us at pepe@hfx.eastlink.ca
Iberostar Playa Alameda
D.D.  
Ontario
May 2006
My family spent a week at the Playa Alameda from April 23 to April 30. There were 15 of us ranging in age from 12 to 74. I have to say that the 4 + rating is generous.

Rooms
The first room we got smelled not only musty but of chemicals. We changed rooms immediately and the second room still smelled musty but at least no chemical smell. The floor under the toilet was always wet due to the constant dripping from the back of the toilet. My sister had to change their room after 3 days of trying to get the musty smell out. Our air-conditioning would stop working and had to be constantly re-set. My father's air-conditioning almost never worked and the fridge was barely cool. The drawers in the walk-in closet were all broken or jammed.

Beach
The beach was great! Best part of this hotel. There are lots of palapas and a good stretch of sand before the water starts. The beach was free of seaweed except for one windy day. They could use more receptacles for garbage and I have to agree with the last review - people, quit using the sand to butt out your cigarettes!

Food
This was by far the worst part of our vacation. I don't understand some of the reviews where people have raved about the food. Left over pasta and cauliflower should not be served for breakfast. Someones relative must own a wiener factory in Cuba because they were in everything! Wieners and onions, wieners in corn, wieners in eggs and this was day after day.The menu does not change very much. If you like eggs (I'm allergic) then you can get a nice omelet or fried eggs for breakfast. They do make a fairly good pizza at the pool bar and their hamburgers are OK but their beach grill is basically just an extension of their wiener fest.None of us were overly impressed by any of the a la carte restaurants. The staff tries hard to make it a pleasant time but the food falls short.

Service
The bartenders, Leonardo and Reynolo were very friendly and always knew what we were drinking. The service in the buffet was hit and miss.We used a little Spanish, said please and thank you and tipped them but it didn't seem to matter. Most times we were almost done our breakfast and still no one approached us and asked if we wanted coffee. I usually had to go and find someone . My brother-in-law made himself a coffee in the hotel room and drank it while walking to the buffet one morning and set it down on the table in the buffet. The maid called the lobby and told them a cup was missing so my brother -in-law had to pay a pesso for it even though it was in the buffet.Unbelievable!

The overall appearance of the Playa Alameda is very nice. It's a smaller resort and doesn't take long to get anywhere. You can get bottled beer here unlike some places that just have draft. The fridge is always stocked with beer, water and pop. They do tend to "have no more" quite often when you ask for a certain food or drink.

I read the odd remark from people who say" this is a third world country, if you expect more from it then stay home". These resorts are not run and owned by "Juan" down the street. Large companies with money run these resorts and are taking large sums of money from hard working tourists. People should expect more from a resort that calls itself a 4+. If I was backpacking through the jungles of South America then I wouldn't have any expectations. When 15 of us fork out almost twenty-thousand dollars for a weeks vacation we have every right to expect decent food and service.

Would I recommend this hotel--no way. I would recommend the Iberostar Varadero where we stayed last year.
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Berna and Rick  
PEI
April 2006
My husband and I just got back from our vacation at Playa Alameda in Cuba.

The Resort, to us, is not a 5 star..rather a 4 star. The Reception staff need to work on their "people skills", and we found the rest of the staff - if you tipped, you got much better service! A couple of times, that became very annoying! There was far too much litter on the beach to our liking, and it was hard to find a garbage can around the pool area.

After 3 days I discovered that someone had stolen my towel that I had to pay 15 pesos for. I was counting on those pesos at the end of the week to help get me out of the country (that costs 25 pesos), so I was not happy...especially when I went to Public Relations. They were not very helpful! Finally, my husband had a chat with the Sunquest Rep who was VERY helpful. When she found out that we paid extra pesos upon checking in, to upgrade our room to an "Oceanview", and then spoke to Reception, I received my towel pronto! Others that we met at the Resort also found the Sunquest Rep VERY good - her name is Martica Laza and we thank her!!

The same evening of the morning that my towel disappeared, clothes were stolen throughout the night right off people's balconies!! Our neighbours right next door to us left their bathing suit and other pieces of clothing out on the deck chairs to dry, only to get up the next morning to find them gone! and we were on the TOP (3rd) floor!

The 3 Restaurants on the Resort were very good and we always had good food at the buffet.

The Theatre shows were very entertaining and wow! what talent!! I did not understand why the shows would take place at the same time that the piano player and sax (& clarinet) player were trying to entertain in the Lobby Bar. As a result, we only saw two of the shows because we REALLY enjoyed the piano/sax and clarinet!

As I said before, we paid extra pesos upon arrival to upgrade our room to an Oceanview and wow! it was well worth it! The room itself was VERY musty smelling and if we kept the air conditioning on, it was "livable"...but one day the air conditioning wasn't working. That was NOT good!! We lived with it for one night and the next day went to reception and it was like they didn't even KNOW that the air conditioning was not working...seemed lack of communication between one shift at Reception to the next shift!

Overall and from other reviews that I have read, I would recommend this Resort to someone, at which time I would also share our concerns, however, we will not be returning as I believe it is good to try other Resorts.
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Wally & Carolyn 
Canada
April 2006
Overall: We just got back from Playa Alameda and had a great time. Brought both out kids, ages 6 & 9, and they had a ball. For a quiet family vacation, a very solid 4-5 Star resort. We've taken them to the RIUs in Punta Cana, and the former Superclub Coste Verde, and feel this resort is a notch above for overall value.

Food: For a smaller resort, we were pleasantly surprised by the variety and options. We've never seen our kids eat so much in a week. Whether it was made-to-order pancakes in the morning, fries or pizza at the pool-side grill, or pasta at the buffet in the evening, they always filled there plate with something different. So many food options during the day: the buffet (too much food for us), pizzas and toasted sandwiches at the poolside grill, the Pig Roast at the Bucanero "Patio", or the restaurant down by the ocean. My wife and I also went to the 3-a-la-cartes in the evening, and enjoyed ourselves as well. No upset stomaches all week.

Rooms: Clean (no critters) and roomy (even for 4). Huge bathroom, very nicely tiled with a separate shower and tub. Walk in closet was nice to have. Fridge stocked with pop, beer and water each day.

Amenities/Service: Really no shortage of anything. Service was great. The Buffet got busy at peak times, but we took the kids early, and my wife and I went to the a-la-cartes late (Grama and Grampa babysat). Lots of chairs by the pool, towels, etc. Gotta love a resort that has self-serve beer fridges, that includes bottled "Becks" as well as 3-Cuban Beers.

Beach: Awesome, walk for miles in each direction. No shortage of Chairs and Sun Shades. Bar located down on the beach is very convenient. It's all about the beach.

Pool: Nice big pool. The pool looks like it needs to be vacuumed, but in reality the paint is just faded, and needs a new coat.

Staff: Very friendly and helpful. The Activity crew did a good job of trying to motivate us lazy vacationers, without being a pain. If you go, have lunch and conversation with "Alex", really nice guy. Kids had fun at the "Kids Club" and "Mini Disco", although they had to get used to "flexible" hours of operation, aka Cuban Time :)
Iberostar Playa Alameda
Mitch and Randi 
Hamilton,Ontario
March 2006
Photos

Us
My wife Randi and I are in our mid-50s. This was our fifth trip to Cuba and second to this resort. Our first trip to this resort was during the Maritim ownership last year. Our trip last year was so memorable that we decided to return to the same resort this year. After hearing about an ownership change, we had some reservations about going back but we took a chance anyway. We have no regrets. The changes that have been made by the new owners (Gaviota Group) have taken this very good resort and made it excellent. We have stayed at Puntarena in Varadero and El Senador in Cayo Coco. This resort is by far the best we have stayed at in Cuba and ranks right up there with 5* resorts we have been to in Mexico (Mayan Riviera).

Flight
Although our vacation is not about the flight down and back, I feel that I must say something about it. We booked our vacations through Sunquest. In the past we have flown exclusively on Skyservice and felt that it left something to be desired. This year we had the option of flying Skyservice or Canjet and after hearing that Canjet offered more leg room, we opted to fly with them this time. The upside is that there is more leg room (approximately 3-4 cm). The down side is that the services on the plane were lacking, even when compared to Skyservice. No movie, no music, less than mediocre “snack” and most of all no smiles from the staff.

Airport
Our arrival at the Varadero airport went quite smoothly. There is the usual delay when going through customs. After going through customs, you exchange Canadian currency for CUC. I would suggest that if you plan to tip anyone (baggage handlers, bus driver or bell boy at resort) you might want to exchange a small amount of Canadian currency at the airport. Tips in Canadian money are more difficult for them to convert into Cuban currency than it is for us.

Resort Check-in
After a 40 minute bus ride we arrived at Playa Alameda. If there was any reason to complain about the resort last year, it would be that the reception staff was rather indifferent about getting you checked in and any other requests you made during your stay. This year we were greeted with smiles and pleasant efficiency from check-in to check-out. Any other services or requests at reception were dealt with in the same friendly manner.

Room
Our room (1827) afforded us a beautiful view of the ocean. As returning guests we were pleasantly surprised to find a bouquet of roses and a bottle of rum in our room. The day after our arrival, two thick bathrobes appeared. The room is very spacious. It included two double beds pushed together, a writing desk, a couch and coffee table. The mini-bar included cola, water and beer and was filled every day. We were surprised to find a coffee maker, radio with cd player and an iron and ironing board in the room. These are all new additions since last year. There is a large walk in closet. The safe is in the closet and is free of charge. The bathroom is very large and includes not only a bathtub with handheld shower but also another shower stall. We never had a shortage of hot water. Our maid, Yaned, kept our room immaculate and never failed to amaze us with her towel art. Our bed was turned down every night and a delicious chocolate was placed on each pillow. We took a lot of things to give away and made it a point to leave something for the maid each day along with a couple of pesos. We took things like hand soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, aspirin, Tylenol, panty hose and candy. These are all things that are either luxuries for them or difficult to get and as such are greatly appreciated.

Checkout time is 12:00 noon but if your flight home is late in the day, you can arrange for a late check out for a fee of 50 pesos and keep the room until 5:00PM. If not, you can store your luggage in locked area in the lobby and use common facilities to shower an change before you leave for the airport.

Restaurants
The main restaurants include the buffet and three a la carte restaurants. The buffet always seems to have a good selection and is kept very clean organized. At breakfast there are the usual scrambled eggs and bacon, ham and sausage (chorizo)and French toast along with a variety of other dishes. A selection of cheeses and cold cuts and a variety of cold cereals is also available. You can also get fresh made crepes and omelettes. One of the men cooking the omelettes is Eduardo. Don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with him. He is one of the many pleasant and outgoing people who work in the resort. He speaks Spanish, English, French, German and Italian. He brightened every morning with his beaming smile. He always had a good laugh at my Spanish but was great full when you at least tried to speak his language. Lunch included mainly hot dishes but you could also make a sandwich or just have salads. Our favourite was the cooked to order pasta which included choices of pasta, sauce and ingredients. Dinner was again a wide selection of hot dishes including a vast selection of vegetables and rice dishes along with cooked to order items such as chicken, steak, fish shrimp and pork. Dinner usually included a carving station that had anything from whole salmon, whole young pig, ham, roast pork and roast beef. A must to try is a traditional Cuban dish made up of black beans and rice. Most nights had an international theme while some nights had various themes including Cuban and Gala(seafood). With every meal, there is a fantastic selection of breads and rolls and of course the amazing deserts and fresh fruits.

The a la carte restaurants included Italian (Don Alfredo) , Romantic (Yamuri) and Seafood (Ranchon). With all of the a la carte restaurants, there is a limited menu that includes choice of appetizer, soup (Ranchon), pasta (Don Alfredo) and main courses including steak, shrimp, chicken, veal, fish along with vegetable main courses at all of the a la cartes. At Ranchon another treat is the grilled lobster. Don Alfredo and Yamuri are in a more intimate setting while Ranchon is indoor/outdoor near the beach. All of the restaurants had live music that ranged from traditional Cuban music at Don Alfredo, classical and soft music at Yamuri and more a contemporary mix of Cuban and English music at Ranchon. Our favourite was Ranchon. We ate there three times during our stay and thoroughly enjoyed every experience. If you eat there, ask to meet the chef. His name is Reynol. He has worked as a chef all over Europe and as such is affectionately known as “el chef del mundo” (the chef of the world). He is a very pleasant man and always takes the time to ask how your dinner is and if there is anything else you need.

In addition to these restaurants there are a number of other places to get food. There is a pool bar that is open 24 hours a day and serves a continental breakfast and light lunches and snacks the rest of the day along with the usual selection of alcoholic beverages, juice, pop and coffee.

There is also a new snack bar that serves a variety of things ranging from grilled sandwiches to amazing chicken nuggets and spring rolls along with a serve yourself selection of domestic and imported beers and wines along with the usual pop.

Another addition this year is an ice cream parlor where along with the usual vanilla, chocolate and strawberry you will find some more exotic flavours such as coconut, pineapple, mango and almond. You can have any of these in a cone or in a cup and make your own sundaes with a large variety of toppings.

Tips at any of the restaurants are greatly appreciated but not expected. In most cases they are very hard working people who deserve an extra reward.

Bars
There a number of bars including a 24 hour lobby bar where you can get the best selection of “fancy” drinks from daiquiris to Spanish coffee. Also the place for some of the best coffee in the resort.

The new Santiago bar is off of the main courtyard and is a pleasant open-air bar with the option of sitting outside in the sun and or inside in the shade. It seems to be the afternoon gathering spot. The two bartenders are extremely friendly and attentive.

As mentioned before there is a bar at the pool plus during the day the Ranchon restaurant acts as the beach bar and beach grill.

Last but not least, there is a small bar on the beach that serves drinks during the day that includes beer, pina coladas (with or without rum) pop and water.

The service at all of the bars is efficient and very friendly. At any of the bars, tipping is greatly appreciated, although not required, and will always get you that much better service.

Beach
The beach one of the best features of this resort. There was never a problem getting lounges or a palapa. There are young men who will get lounges for you and set them wherever you would like to sit. A peso tip is always greatly appreciated but not required.

The beach is generally clean. There are clay refuse containers scattered about the beach and for the most part, the guests use them. It is a shame that many of the smokers tend to use the sand as an ashtray and don’t pick up their butts afterward. The beach is groomed everyday and the water’s edge is generally clean. The water is a beautiful blue colour and can vary in temperature depending on the direction of the wind. I guess the only drawback is that sometimes the staff is playing loud music through a large set of speakers on the beach. This can interfere with the tranquility of the beach.

Pool
The pool is large and generally shallow. It is always sparkling clean. It is not heated so if the previous evening has been cool, the water may be cool in the morning. The only time we had a difficulty getting a lounge at the pool was when it was quite windy on the beach which caused most people to want to be at the pool. There is a good mixture of shaded and sunny areas around the pool. There is also a supervised kid’s pool and a play area.

Internet Service
There is an Internet area with four computers where you can check and send e-mails. There is a charge of 6 pesos for one hour. You are given an account number that is good for the amount of time you purchase. If you don’t use it up all at once, the system keeps track of how much time you have left for your next session. It is a dial up connection and as such may be slower than what you are used to at home. Oh well, what’s a little more time when you are on holidays?

Guest Relations
Guest relations is in the same area as the internet service the manager (Ana) and her staff are there to take care of all of you needs and concerns. This is where you will make your reservations for the a la carte restaurants. The people here are extremely friendly and efficient when it comes to serving the guests. Remember them also if you take gifts to give away.

A final note about tipping and gifts. Just like at home, it is acceptable to tip for good service. The staff is very appreciative of anything that you might give them. Remember that some of the things that we take for granted at home are luxuries to them. A little bit from home goes a long way in Cuba.
Playa Alameda Varadero Resort
Don and Nancy 
Thamesford, Ontario, Canada
March 2006
we had a wonderful time. flew out of kitchener on skyservice great. resort and rooms very clean. staff are the best.food is more than adequate and very tasty. beach is large clean and breathtaking. this resort is good value for the cost. i will go back.
Playa Alameda Varadero Resort
Arch 
Ontario
March 2006
We just came back from playa alameda varadero and we must say we had a pleasant holiday.

We flew Can-Jet which is roomier than Sky Service and we arrived from Toronto within 3 hours. The airport at Varadero checked us all through rather quickly, as compared to the one in Santa Clara last year.

We were ushered to our bus by a young cuban, who in turned asked for a tip. Wasn't pleased with coins, so we gave a $5.00 canadian bill, which he also questioned.

We were offered welcome drinks on the bus, but we weren't sure if we had to tip this guy too, so we didn't take any.

Checking into the hotel was very very slow. Only two people behind the counter to check in a whole plane load. It took over an hour. At Melia Cayo Santa clara we were checked in on the bus and was wisked to the buffet once we arrrived there. So I like their system better.

The room was nice and the maid, Ana, was wonderful. She kept our room neat and clean the whole time.

We ate at the buffet all week for breakfast and supper and we were very pleased with the food. In the evening we sat outside at the buffet and was served by Maytee and Allen all week. We did tip them at the beginning of the week, and our service was superb the rest of the week, until the last day when they know you are leaving. But Heh what do you expect.

Took the sugar cane tour. Very simple, but we did see alot of the cuban country side. They tried hard, but wasn't worth the money. Remember to bring toilet paper with you, cause they will charge a peso for each piece. Also don't expect any seats on the toilets. Very interesting, but we survived.

Everything else about the resort was good, except you had to get up early in the morning to reserve a chair at the beach. They didn't have enough. The resort beside had plenty.

We found the resort lacked personal service which we got at Santa Clara. We had to get up and get everything. They lacked gardeners and staff. We hope they will correct this, cause the grounds are wonderful.

All in all, it was a good holiday , the weather was plus 30 everyday and we could swim in the ocean everyday.

Checking out was easier than checking in, but they did make you leave the room at noon. if you were late they will charge you. Our bus was leaving at 5:30 in the afternoon, so that was an inconvenience. In santa clara they extended the time we could have our room.

We would recommend this resort if you aren't too fussy about personal service. We were not plagued by mosquitoes, but the villa beside us , said they had plenty. There again, lack of gardeners to cut the grass and spray these little critters.

We would give it a thumbs up.
Playa Alameda Varadero Resort
Bob 
Canada
February 2006
Photos
We decided, with the help of an expert friend, to head to Cuba for our winter vacation this year after a pair of fabulous trips to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.

When we booked, we were prepared for a few sacrifices. Our first resort vacation was at the RIU Tequila in Mexico, and we're of the opinion that the food there is the best all-inclusive food you could get. So we weren't expecting top-quality food. We also were ready for some deprivations and a lower grade of amenities.

The good news is, that when we got to the Playa Alameda (previously known as the LTI and as the Maritim), we got a pleasant surprise.

We flew Skyservice from Ottawa on February 12, and arrived at the Varadero airport on time, around 1:00 p.m. If you're flying a Skyservice Airbus, and you're over six feet tall, I would advise you to do whatever you can to get bulkhead seating for the extra legroom. One of our seatmates was an older man awaiting a knee replacement, and he suffered.

The airport in Varadero is much nicer, in my opinion, than the Cancun airport. This isn't as important when you're arriving as when you're leaving, since you have to spend some time there. And the staff is accommodating. I left my brand-new digital camera on the plane. We realized this when we got on the bus. I got back off the bus, told my tour rep the problem. She immediately walked me over to the airport and told one of her colleagues the problem, he took me back into the airport, and an airport guard asked me my seat number. When I answered correctly, he gave me my camera.

It's a short bus ride from the airport to the resort area of Varadero. We were lucky that the entire busload was heading to Playa Alameda, so we had no stops at all – direct from the airport to the resort.

First nasty discovery: it was freaking cold on the 12th. Likely about 12 to 14 degrees Celsius, with a nasty wind too. We were a bit worried that after all that money, we were gonna spend the next seven days wearing long pants and polar fleece. Your mileage, of course, will vary. For us, by the Tuesday of that week, we were into beachy weather and ready for sun and fun.

Second yellow light: the food at the buffet was kind of iffy on the first day. This also changed during the week. On a related note, the first two days, there was no mint, so … sob, no mojitos.

Our room was fine. I know some people have said the rooms weren't maintained well, but ours was cleaned thoroughly each day by a sweet woman, Jacqueline. The only issue was a slight leak in the bathroom (we suspected it was from the minibar fridge, but not sure.) Wasn't a big deal or enough to bother us. We also had a mini-panic when the room safe (operated electronically) failed, but a technician was there quickly and fixed it almost instantly.

The resort is small and intimate, compared to some of the mega resorts like Bahia Principe's property in Playa del Carmen (774 rooms). It's got about 391 rooms. The grounds are well-kept. Not quite up to some of the ornate Mexican resorts, but quite nice, and the folks working there are far from lazy.

There's a shop that, not surprisingly, has lots of tobacco products and a few souvenirs. That's not what we were there for, so it didn't pull us in much. There's a bar in the lobby with cappuccino and espresso available, and a fabulous little open air bar just off the lobby inside the resort grounds. That was one of our favourite places. A few tables, some stools, excellent staff (Mayby and Leo – at least I think his name was Leo), and great drinks – they make a fine mojito there, as well as good coffees (a rarity in Cuba).

The main buffet restaurant was very nice, and the wait staff is, for the most part, friendly and prompt to ensure your glass is filled and your table tidy. Breakfasts are good (Eduardo at the omelette bar and Adrian the crepe-meister are very friendly and make great food). There's almost always some fresh fruit – lots of guava and usually some papaya, and there are cereal, cold meats, cheese, and breads. It doesn't matter which meal you're talking about, a country that makes as much sugar as Cuba is going to have great sweet treats.

Lunch and dinner at the buffet are good as well, but not exceptional. There's nothing WRONG with the food, it's just not a culinary experience. The usual wines offered are Spanish La Terra, and they're not award winners either.

The other thing that was good about the buffet was that there was always lots of staff. You never had to wait for coffee in the morning or for a glass to get filled up, and plates get picked up quickly. People circulate through making sure you're having a good time at your meal. Julio, one of the beverage managers in the dining room, was great – always making sure you were having a good day and doing whatever he could to make sure you were having a great trip.

The a la carte restaurants are great. There are three: Romantico, Don Alfredo, and the Seafood. We tried Romantico and the Seafood, and while both were good, the seafood was excellent. Our waiter, Reynold, was truly excellent – very personable, funny, and did everything with the utmost professionalism. The food was also top-notch, especially the fish. The setting of the seafood restaurant is amazing too. Open air, with screens to break the wind, on the beach, nice woodwork everywhere. The seafood in Cuba is fabulous in general.

One thing that separated our experience in Cuba from previous trips was the music. It seemed that every meal was accompanied by live music, from a guitar-cello duo at breakfast to the Huracanes (hola Orlando!) to a number of other groups. The quality of musicianship (I'm an amateur musician, and I was listening carefully) is excellent, and the whole trip left me wanting to learn more about Cuban music. If I had to be picky about the music, I'd impose a one-day-per-week ban on "Chan Chan", the song that everyone knows from Buena Vista Social Club. Great song, but it's eeevvverrryyywhere.

The evening entertainment was really good, with a couple of minor problems I'll get to in a second. The music (provided by about a 12-piece group led by a VERY cool conga player) was excellent, and the two main singers for the evening shows had great voices. And the dancers! Holy crap! I'm no expert in dance, but it looked like really top-notch stuff from them. The shows, overall, were much better than similar ones I've seen in Mexico for several reasons. The music was live, and really good; the dancers were obviously professional, and the material was local. Watching a bunch of little Mayans prancing on stage and lip-syncing to the soundtrack of Cats isn't much of a show compared to this. Okay, now the problems: the theater's a nice venue, but frequently ran out of seating for guests, and I don't think guests at a resort this good should be bringing chairs in to sit down on. Second, the sound system was focused more on volume than on sound quality. One night, we left early in the show because there was so much distortion in the sound.

We heard good things about the organized bus tour to Havana, and the option of the Tropicana show (although it's a LONG day, by all accounts, and you have to bring a change of clothes). We also heard good things from other guests about the catamaran day-trip where you do some snorkelling, some drinking, and some tanning on a full-day trip on a BIG catamaran.

We went into Havana on our own, and had a wonderful time with a private driver – got to spend as much time as we wanted, where we wanted, and keep our own pace. And if you are more than two, you'll likely find it a lot cheaper than an organized excursion if you find a private driver. I can't tell you strongly enough to go to Havana. It's an amazing city, and we want to go back just to hang there for a while. If you're looking for a place to eat in the city, we had a great meal in La Guarijito in New Havana, and we stopped at the Bodeguita del Medio (a tourist trap to be sure, but ya gotta) for a mojito and to soak up the Hemingwayiana.

We also went into the town of Varadero our first day on the resort, since the weather was in the not-ready-for-beach-time category yet. Varadero's a cool enough little place. Not overrun with commercialism like Playa del Carmen (yet), and there's a neat art gallery where we picked up a small painting for our house. To me, a much better keepsake than a tacky figurine of a guy peeing (seriously, they were selling those) or an ashtray. One note – if you buy a painting on canvas, ask if you need a stamp from the government to export it. There are some government regulations you don't want to miss.

You also want to do some basic Cuba-tourism stuff. For example, if you're doing excursions off site at a resort – bring some toilet paper. If you're going to Cuba, make some space in your bags for things you can give to Cubans. Things like soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, antiperspirant, school supplies, etc. Doesn't have to be fancy, doesn't have to be expensive, but it's DEFINITELY appreciated. Be subtle when you're giving stuff, because it's not always looked on well by the authorities. Our travel clinic gave us some great advice – two Pepto-Bismol tablets before each meal and two at bedtime, and you'll never get turista. We got Hep A and B shots as well, but it's up to you to decide whether you want those or not.

The beach is wonderful. Long, lots of space, and water that I thought was fabulous. Not as many cigarette butts in the sand as at other resorts, too, which is nice. I did hear some others say they thought the water there was cold. I didn't, but that's just me. The beach wasn't crowded, although there were lots of people there. It felt spacious. One turnoff – in the mornings, the animation team brought a sound system down for promoting other activities and running stretching and dance classes. If you're hung over, tired, or just don't like high-decibel sound at 10 a.m., make sure you're away from the main entrance to the beach.

There are usually a few vendors that wander through the beach area, pushing goods on converted bicycles. My partner bought some lovely crocheted cover-ups from one. Beautiful workmanship. No high-pressure sales tactics, either, which you can get in Mexico.

The seafood restaurant doubles during the day as the beach snack-bar. The one problem there is that lines can be long, so you might consider heading back to the main buffet for lunch.

If you're going to Cuba and are thinking of the snorkelling options off Akumal, it's probably going to be a bit of a disappointment. The snorkelling in Mexico is world-class. While there is some stuff to see off Varadero, it's not as spectacular. Equipment is available for loan on the beach, as well as HobieCats, small boats, paddle boats, windsurfers, etc.

Our last night, we booked a dinner off-resort at Xanadu, the former du Pont Mansion. It sits near the Plaza las Americas shopping area, on the grounds of the golf resort. The meal, with wine, came to about 88 pesos, but it was tasty and the service was WOW. The mansion is unbelievably lavish, and you get a real idea of what the rich must have lived like in the 20s and 30s, when Varadero was being settled. We dressed up a little bit, and it made us feel like we belonged. Other diners there were wearing tank tops and the like, and it just didn't seem as classy. If you're interested in eating there, talk to Ana in public relations, and she'll put it together.

The airport was reasonably efficient at getting us out of there (unfortunately!). The lines can be long, but move. Don't forget to keep $25 pesos per person for your departure tax; since you have to make a towel deposit, you can top that up. It would make even more sense for the hotel to either go to a towel-card system, or if they're going to take a towel deposit, make it 25 pesos each, so that when you turn in your towels, you've got your departure tax.

Speaking of money – there's a currency exchange at the hotel, and you can get currency there from your credit card (no American Express or American-based credit cards, though, so Capital One's a problem) or with Canadian cash. Service was fine.

We wouldn't hesitate to go back to Playa Alameda. The best part of the resort is the staff – if you're friendly to them, they will be absolutely WONDERFUL to you. The food service was better than we thought it would be, the drinks were fine, and the resort was clean and felt well-managed. As long as the weather's with you, you'll have a great time.
Playa Alameda Varadero Resort
Tom and Lily 
Canada
January 2006
We stayed here December 25, 2005 - January 1, 2006. We were a family of four. 2 adults, 2 kids (14 & 17)

The resort is beautiful, well kept grounds, the beach was wonderful. Everything clean. All rooms had a small safe deposit box, very easy to use. In the middle of our week they came in with new coffee makers, ironing board, iron and radio/CD for each room. The food was ok. The breads, cheeses, ice cream, desserts and juices were very good. My kids liked the pineapple juice. I don't think it was fresh juice but they liked it. Yes the meat was awful, the chicken, pork and seafood were better choices. Fruit was limited, they had a lot of tinned fruit. Fresh was usually pineapple (not ripe), papayas (loved it, but not always available), bananas, apples (for some reason the apples were cut up one day. That did not look appealing as you know how cut-up apples go brown quite quickly). We tried all 3 specialy restaurants as well - The Romantic, the Seafood and the Italian. The Italian was poor, the other two were better. Warning: if you or your kids are vegetarian Cuba might not be a great eating place. Vegetarianism is basically not know here. Everything has a bit of meat or seafood in it. Even if the dish has no meat it is usually cooked with pork fat as they like the flavour. My daughter basically ate bread, cheese and juice all 7 days.

At night there were usually about 3 vendors set up on the plaza in the front of the lobby area selling paintings, jewelry and wood carvings. You could get your souvenirs here but a better bet is to go into the flea market of Varadero on the double decker bus. It's a nice trip on the bus into town and you can bargain there. Makes for a nice one day outing. Be advised though that there is not much to buy even in the flea market area. It looks like a big place, but all the vendors have the same basic 6-7 items to sell. The paintings, the wood carvings, the straw hats, the jewelry, the maracas, the crocheted items, and papier-maché toys. There might be 1 or 2 other things but that's about the bulk of it. Still it was a fun day.

All in all though we had a fun holiday. The weather and beach were wonderful. I would go back to this resort.
Playa Alameda Varadero Resort
Katrina  
Toronto, Canada
January 2006
Thanks for the site Debbie - you are our "bible" which we consult before we travel. My friend and I are experienced travellers and have been to Varadero on several occasions. I normally do not write a review but felt the need to "warn" visitors.

Playa Alameda is resort run by the Cuban Gaviota chain. It is a wonderful property, beautifully set out with large rooms and great bathrooms. Good beach, not the same quality of beach as further down the strip e.g. Las Americas etc. but the beach is the beach. This resort can be so much more than it is. The food is awful, unfortunately this is the only way to describe it. Watch out for burgers, bacon, any kind of meat in fact as it is not thoroughly cooked and we invariably sent it back to be cooked thoroughly. The Italian restaurant served alphagetti - seriously. The staff try very hard but are harried and there are just not enough of them. The resort itself is beautiful but very poorly lit at night and several tourists fell due to lack of insufficient lighting. It really is a shame because the resort almost has things in place but not quite. Some of the staff are surly no doubt due to the vast workload. You had to line up for everything. Getting a burger from the pool bar took over an hour one day. Line-ups to get into the buffet were commonplace. The kids pool area had nails sticking out and the pool had a green scum over the top. It seems as though it is a novice running the resort and they need to be shown what a 4 and a half star (Canadian) rating should be. The Brits were told it was 5 star and they were not impressed.

I believe a vacation is what you make of it and despite the above-noted we had a great time but be very wary of the food - upon returning home I got very sick - will be getting the Hep A and B shot before taking off for the caribbean again!
Playa Alameda Varadero Resort
Adam and Sue  
Canada
December 2005
Photos
We were there December 11-25, 2005, 3 adults, 2 boys -- ages 6 & 9.

Air Carrier: Travelled from Toronto via the SkyService cattle car. A little crammed but the price was right having booked last minute (ie. about 3-4 weeks before) through Escapes.ca . Cheapest last minute available. Flight was not great: Skyservice staff were terrible quite frankly and had a hard time being bothered to do just about anything. Nevertheless, we got there safe and sound.

Varadero Airport: Only flight to arrive at the time of 11:00 PM. There were 10, count 'em 10 customs agents waiting but not ready to handle a few hundred tired and excited tourists. It took over 2 hours to g! et us all processed, at approx 15-20 minutes per family. Un-bloody-believable. Remember that there is absolutely NO incentive for any Cuban government worker to work expediently -- no tipping is allowed or recommended given the little the camera up in the corner of each cabin. Also, important to remember that the customs' computer system is not even Windows-based, but DOS based and extremely SLOW. This was certainly part of the problem. Finally got through, got luggage and got to the hotel about 45 minutes later.

Playa Alameda Resort: In short, wonderful. Not a huge resort, but lovely, with friendly, well-trained and impeccable staff. We arrived at the resort well into the wee hours of the morning and were welcomed by the porter staff (Enrique is wonderfully friendly), and the reception staff who had our room keys waiting to an unexpected Ocean front room (we had got exactly what we requested but did not know it was ocean front/vie! w). Two rooms adjoining for the five of us.

The resort is Italian owned (Gaviota Group), which didn't really make a difference to us. However by the second week which included Christmas Day, the resort was at full occupency with mostly Italian. Again that was fine, except that the Italian Tour company affiliated with Gaviota brought in several Italian animateurs/entertainment staff. Clearly a clash of cultures between the Cuban staff already working at the resort and the Italian staff who took over -- boistrous and pushy with far too much loud banter. Other than the Italian guests, who were all very friendly, there were Canadians, Brits and some Germans.

Rooms: Spacious, colonial style, comfortable beds (in the two rooms we had one single cot, one king and two full double beds, not twins). Rooms were 1815 and 1810 both with clear gorgeous ocean view and large balconies. Bathrooms are marble, clean! and everything worked. The safe worked well. Cleaning staff were excellent and trustworthy.

Restaurants: With the exception of the Beach restaurant which was being renovated and not opened until the 2nd last day of our trip, the buffet was open for 3 meals per day and then there were 2 other specialty restaurants opened in the evening. Lots of variety at the Buffet. We have a son with severe food allergies and he did not experience any problems. Yes, after 2 weeks we were ready for a change but that would be expected after two weeks anywhere. The Christmas Eve Gala dinner was phenomenal -- mostly seafood including crab, lobster, scallops, mussels, oysters, you name it, turkey, ham, steaks, etc. Flowing champagne. The Romantico restaurant was fabulous, excellent food (mostly seafood) and amazing staff. The Italian (of course) was just OK, actually not very good at all, and likely didn't meet the standard! s of the Italian guests either.

Bars: All were great, variety could be more at the pool bar and of course, they kept running out of mint for Mojitos which is weired since mint would naturally grow like wildfire if they grew it at the resort. The lobby bar had the best brands of booze but service was sometimes slow. Incentally, the white wine served in the restaurants was exceptional.

Entertainment: We are not overly picky but quite well travelled, and don't appreciate hoaky entertainment that we have seen at some all inclusives throughout the Caribbean and cruise ships. I have to say that the house band (mostly Cuban and salsa style music) and the resort dancers were some of the best, if not the best I have ever witnessed anywhere we have been. Dancers were amazing, exceptionally trained and well practiced. The shows were top notch and I looked forward to them. My only critic! ism is that it would have been better for us if they shows started at 9 PM instead of 10 PM, but the resort does cater mostly to a European crowd who are used to eating later in the evening, so all in all understandable. Finally, the classical quartet that played in the evenings at the Romatico restaurant are amazing -- very talented musicians, at par with any professional orchestra musicians in Canada or Europe. Thankfully that is one thing Castro did right, by nurturing Cuban arts and culture -- it shows to this day. What a shame the rest of the world can't appreciate their talents as well.

Kids Club: Located next to the shallow end of the pool, with a huge and safe play structure. Two ladies work there who are great with children and really love what they do. Very concientious and great at communicating with parents and keeping you informed of what's up next. We particularly liked the one night of the week when t! hey have dress-up (lots of great costumes to pick from) at 6:30, parade around the resort and take the kids to the buffet restaurant for dinner at 7PM, to give the parents a night off without having to hire a baby sitter. They were good at keeping the kids in line and actually spoke with parents of one boy who was too aggressive for the kids crowd. Much appreciated.

Beach: Beautiful and in good shape. Snorkelling is not great as there is no natural reef close by. One can walk for about 2 KM either way of the resort. All beach club equipment is in great shape and paddle boats are a fun way to spend a few hours. Sunrise every morning was breathtaking.

Guest Relations: Ana is the Director of Guest Relations and we did track down her e-mail address to send a room request before we went. She is wonderful and works extremely hard at her job. The resort is fortunate to have her employed there. S! he's a gem.

Tipping: Not expected, but yes appreciated. Also, little gifts that are useful to the staff are very appreciated and in some cases valued more than monetary tips. Panty hose, hair accessories, toothbrushes, toothpaste, pencils, school supplies, childrens clothes and shoes (even used). Remember that these items are not always available to Cubans even if they have the money. Walmart is an extremely foreign concept to these people.

Overall Assessment: A true Cuban 4.5 star that is trying to improve to reach the 5 star category. Got lots of potential. Staff and service are exceptional. Food is very good for Cuba and entertainment is excellent for a resort. Unlike the DR and Mexico, potable water was not a concern -- no tourista problems experienced here. Although we like to explore new resorts, we would go again to this resort. I would rate it 8.5/10, particula! rly since we got such a good last minute deal for a two week holiday -- at least 50-60% cheaper than what we would pay if booked months before and wanted to go in February or for March break for example. Enjoy.
Playa Alameda Varadero Resort
Norm 
Canada
December 2005
We stayed here from December 12 to 20th. The hotel was great and grounds well-kept. There were some renovations going on but they did not interfer with our enjoyment of the property. It appeared that all the renovations would be complete in a week or less. While the food could use some spices, there was considerable variety. The hotel staff, without exception, were extremely helpful. Our Sunquest hostess was informative and helpful. Our unit was next to the beach and very comfortable. I would recommded this hotel, but would take some spices.
Playa Alameda Varadero Resort
Bob 

June 2005
Hola::Mi nombre es BoB::;My name is BoB and I have been to the same Hotel in Varadero for ten vacations,,My first trip the Hotel was the LTI,,then it was called the Maritim,,Now it is called the Alameda Playa Varadero Resort,, The same Hotel and most of the same staff,,

From meeting Ana who is in charge of guest relations to the maintenance men the staff at the Hotel have always gone out of there way to make your vacation a special one that you will remember for a long time,,,I have been going to Cuba since 2002 and have had the same beach front Room and the same Maid for all of my visit's,,I rent a car and drive all over Cuba,,I have been in such towns as Cidra, Colon,Santa Marta,Cardenas,Matanza,Havana Pindar del Rio,and a few others and have nothing but praise for the Cuban people who have a tremondous love for there Country if not for there leader...And if you watch him on local T.V. where he will talk for hours ask someone the next day if they heard Fidel on T.V and they look at you and laugh as no one watchs him....They are the most honest people at the Hotel and you could leave money on the table and go out and it will be there when you come back,,,,,I enjoy the Cuban food but then I have had the oppurtunity to dine at the Homes of many of the staff of the Hotel and it is great,but remember you are not in Canada or Mexico,,,In Cuba a tortilla is two eggs whipped and poured in a hot frying pan and left to cook as you would scrambled eggs not the tortilla of Mexico made with flour or Corn. I truly enjoy myself at the Hotel I was there for Xmas and New Years,,went back the 2nd of May for two more weeks and I leave for Cuba again on the 10th of Sept which will make my 11th trip,,So all of you out there who have questions about my second Home away from Home ask away and I hope I can be of help.. As they say in spanish Ten Cuidado,,or be careful...Enjoy your vacations thats what they for,,,,Chao Pescao