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Cuatro Palmas
Canuck130-Joe and Karen 

December 2008
Our flight: we flew out on Skyservice Airlines on Thursday morning November 20 at 10.00 a.m.. The flight was supposed to leave at 6:10 a.m. but they had some mechanical difficulties so we were delayed. Nevertheless it was a quick smooth 3 1/2 hour flight into Varadero from Toronto. They gave us free drinks in consideration of our delay. We landed at Varadero at 1:25 p.m.. A nice smooth landing.

Cuban Customs and Immigration: We had no problems whatsoever coming through customs and immigration this time around. We had our baggage within 30 minutes and where ensconced on our bus to the hotel within 40 minutes. The bus filled up quickly and we were on our way to our hotel shortly thereafter. They sold beer on the bus at a reasonable price and we indulged ourselves with two frosty cold ones. A great start to our holiday. The weather was sunny and warm and it's great when everything turns out well despite the delay in Toronto.

The Hotel. The Cuatro Palmas is a nice three-star budget hotel. It is situated on Ave 1ra opposite Calle 62 in Varadero proper. It is quite central to everything in Varadero. There are three sections to this hotel. The main hotel is a three-story building with about 90 rooms, in this complex some of the rooms have ocean view and others pool view and others street view. The colonial section is three-story and has about 100 rooms, some rooms may be partial ocean view and some rooms directly viewing Ave 1ra and Calle 62 disco and others have garden view. The economy section has three buildings with absolutely no ocean view. Most economy views are East and West. These rooms are the 3000 block, 4000 block, and 5000 block. These economy rooms are across the street from the main building. There are about 120 economy rooms.

Check-in: The check-in at the Cuatro Palmas was quick and we had our wristbands on before we knew it. Of course since it was only 2:30 p.m. and our rooms weren't ready until the 4 p.m. check-in time. They will not let you go to your room before 4 p.m. even if you get there early in the morning. I guess rules are rules. We had no problem with this as we just stowed our luggage in a room off the lobby and donned our bathing suits and headed for the pool for a quick dip and then the lobby bar where we had a well deserved Mojito.

Economy Building Las Palmas: Since we had paid the lowest price possible through our travel agent for the Nolitours package holiday to Cuatro Palmas out of Toronto the economy rooms are what we got. On getting our keys we made our way across the road to these rooms. As I said there are three buildings with rooms across the street. Sections 3000 and 4000 directly across the street (for me those looked a bit neglected) and then building 2000 where we stayed a short way down and across the street which was a tiny bit more upscale. These rooms are about a three minute walk from the main hotel lobby. This was the Nolitours section. We had no problems whatsoever with the Nolitours section (Club Cameleon). Our block of rooms though timeworn were very clean and well-kept. They had a central covered courtyard with nice landscaping at the edges of the courtyard. Under the courtyard roof was a bar and the Italian à la carte restaurant. The bar was open from about midday until 6 p.m. when it then served as Italian à la carte restaurant. It was a great place to have a quiet drink in the afternoon as there were not too many people that used the bar. They just served rum and basic cocktails and soft drinks there. There was no beer on tap. This was just fine with us as if we wanted beer we could just pop across the street and fill our thermal mugs. There were lots of security on the buildings so there is no need for worry about personal or property safety issues. I got up at 5 a.m. several times during the week to go for a walk and there was lots of security on duty so you will feel quite safe.

Our Room: It was in the 2000 block and was clean and comfortable. Our room which was on the second floor had a really nice view of Josone Park. The room 2219 had a small balcony with chairs and table. The balcony had a western exposure so the afternoon sun shone directly on the balcony and this was a nice place to sit and read and have a Mojito or two. It was very quiet. The room was equipped with a television, bar fridge, a room safety deposit box which opened with your room key. The safety deposit box was located in the closet. The bathroom had a nice marble vanity with sink, shower stall, toilet. There was also a hair dryer in the bathroom. The voltage in the bathroom was 110 V. The plug in the bathroom was standard North American three prong. We used this plug for our electric kettle to make coffee and tea in the morning and to charge our iPod and camera batteries. Although the bathroom was small it was more than adequate for both of us. The main room furnishings were very basic but suited us fine as the closet was a fairly good size to hang up your clothes and there were two small bedside tables with drawers and shelves underneath. There was a larger cabinet that the bar fridge and television stood on which had ample room underneath for more storage.There was a 110 V plug in the main room. There was a stand for your suitcase as well. The closet was big enough that we could keep our 2 large suitcases in. There was a very quiet air conditioner controlled by a remote control. We just tried the air conditioner the first day and didn't need it after that. I certainly also have to commend our housekeeper as the housekeeping was immaculate every day of our vacation and the housekeeper was friendly and had great skills in towel art and best of all had some knowledge of English. This was good because our communication skills in Spanish I would have to say are pathetic to say the least. We are certainly ashamed of ourselves. But what can you do about lack of brain cells. I guess cut back on the Mojito's maybe.LOL. One thing also to remember about this section is you have to supply your own bottled water as the hotel doesn't supply it. There was a one time small problem with tiny ants that showed up in our room near the balcony on the third day but on telling our housekeeper she quickly dispatched them to wherever you dispatch small ants in Varadero. There was no ant problem for the rest of the week. I would have to say all in all we were very pleased with the room as we had read other reviews about the economy rooms that classed the building and rooms as scary and unsafe. We didn't find that at all.

The Buffet:. A large bright room with lots of space. Very good service also. This is where we ate most breakfasts and dinners. The food and service was in our opinion quite good for a three star resort. The staff were quick to meet your needs for coffee or orange juice in the morning, or wine with your lunch or dinner. All finished dishes were cleared promptly from your table. We certainly didn't want for service here all week long.

Breakfast: There were lots for breakfast every morning at the buffet. There were eggs any style. Omelettes, fried eggs or boiled eggs. There was a variety of sausage meat and hot ham, beans, scrambled eggs, pancakes. There was no cooked crispy bacon served all week. There was lots of bread which by the way was very good. There was yogurt, fruit, cold meats and cheeses, orange juice. The waiters and waitresses served coffee and filled your orange juice on your arrival at the table. Breakfast was good.

Lunch: On most occasions we had lunch at the restaurant "Tropipalma" which was by the beach promenade . There they served a simple salad of lettuce , cucumbers, peppers, shredded cabbage and oil and vinegar. They had different breads and rolls. At the hot table they served white and brown rice with beans, some pasta, boiled potato, french fries, green vegetables, fish, chicken, pork chops. They had wine and beer service for lunch. The staff always kept your wine glass full. Also a dessert table with pie, and different pastries. There was a magnificent view of Varadero beach and the ocean from there. We certainly looked forward every day to our lunch in this setting.

Buffet Lunch: We had our lunch here on one occasion. This was very good with a lot more food variety than Tropipalma, but alas without the wonderful ocean view. Here they had the usual salad table, fruit table, breads and rolls. Carved turkey or pork. Pork chops, beef patties, veal stew, fish, chicken. Beans, cabbage, white rice, brown rice with beans, assorted vegetables. Great dessert table with pie, lots of different pastries, fruit. Then there was usually three different kinds of ice cream.

Buffet Dinner: We had dinner on most occasions at the buffet. It was similar food to lunchtime. Usually they had a carving station with either turkey, pork, lamb, fish, and on one occasion beef. And then they had an assortment of vegetables. Two kinds of soup. Lots of breads. Also white rice or brown rice with beans. Usually potatoes of some kind along with some other green vegetable. Then there was usually three different kinds of ice cream. Great dessert table with pie, lots of different pastries and fruit. There was always something to choose from that pleased our palate.

Bars: there was four bars that we had drinks at. The bar we frequented most was the lobby bar. You could have almost any type of cocktail you wanted here plus you could have several types of coffee. The staff were quite professional and on almost all occasions we got our drinks in a timely fashion. This bar is the most popular bar at Cuatro Palmas. This bar was open 24 hours.The pool bar was also a snack bar. This pool bar was quite busy from midday until 5 p.m.. Sometimes there was a line up but the lineup was never too long. They served your basic cocktails and beer. These were mostly served in small plastic glasses. It would be better for to bring your own thermal mugs for the beer.The Cuban bar which opened at 6 p.m. was a favorite of ours for a before dinner cocktail. This bar by the beach was not particularly busy at that time. It was just wonderful sitting there having a drink. The bartender was a bit of a showoff. He was constantly juggling the bottles and showing off his cocktail mixing skills. It reminded me of the movie "Cocktail" with Tom Cruise LOL. At the economy rooms across the street from the main hotel there was a small bar that was open from noon until about 6 p.m.. It was a very quiet location and if you wanted somewhere to relax and read and have a quiet cocktail in the afternoon this was the place to be. The staff were very friendly and eager to please.

The Pool: This was a very nice large pool with lots of lounges all the way around the pool. It was fairly busy during our weeks stay. The water temperature of the pool itself was quite cool on that week. Most people were just sunning themselves. We didn't see that many enter the pool. It is a beautiful pool area and the snack bar and pool bar and lobby bar are quite close when you are in need of refreshments. The pool itself is kept quite clean. I would say though that the lounges because they are cloth need some steam cleaning or power washing. They are on the most part quite discolored because of the suntan lotion.

The Beach: This beach in front of the Cuatro Palmas is quite beautiful and they have lots of Palapas and lounges. We at any time of the week could have got a lounge on the beach. It is one of the nicest beaches we have ever been to. You can walk for approximately 3 km to the east before you hit the golf course. You can walk for about 5 km to the west toward the Puntarena Hotel. Varadero beach is spectacular and wide on either side of this hotel (which is very centrally located). The beach didn't seem crowded at any one point. But of course this is the shoulder season so that may account for the lack of crowding on the beach.

Changing Money: We found that we got the best rate for changing our Canadian dollars to CUC was at the bank which is located at Ave 1ra and Calle 32 about a 20 minute walk west from the hotel (you get a receipt for your exchange). There is a Cadeca closer to the hotel (about two blocks west on the north side of Ave 1ra) which will give you less of a rate than the bank (no receipt as their printer was broken). The hotel rate on our weeks stay at the hotel was a little better than the Cadeca rate (you get a receipt if you ask for one) . So if you don't want to walk very far and you don't have a lot to exchange just exchange your money at the hotel. There was a difference of .04 CUC per Canadian dollar in the rates (.71 CUC at the bank, .68CUC at hotel, as opposed .67CUC per 1 Canadian dollar at the Cadeca). These exchange rates though fluctuate every day so it may be different on your weeks vacation. You will however save money by going to the bank.

Varadero Doubledecker: The last time we were in Varadero was in the winter of 1990/91 . We stayed at Sol Palmeras. The Sol was in those days the last hotel on the peninsula. To see what changes had taken place we decided to take the double-decker bus. The cost of the bus fare was five CUC per person for the whole day to see the peninsula. The bus was great value for money as we could alight or board the bus at any designated bus stop at our discretion between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. that day. We sat on the upper deck of the bus because it was a brilliantly sunny day and we enjoyed seeing the many changes that have happened on the peninsula since we were there last. We would recommend the bus as a fairly frugal way of seeing the different vacation properties which Varadero has to offer. Just ask permission at the lobbies of the different hotels to see the property and most public relations will allow you with a hotel security escort to do just that .

Cuatro Palmas Overall: We certainly had a good vacation at this three-star property. We got great value for money spent. We had adequate to good food all week long. The cocktails and beer and soft drinks were good quality. The staff at most locations throughout the hotel we found to be friendly and helpful. On the overall the staff tried to make our vacation a good one. The beach is absolutely great. The pool was fine. The rooms at the economy section as I said although timeworn were more than adequate for us. The only negative thing we would say about all of the property is that some parts are definitely in need of a good coat of paint.

Our Flight Back: We were supposed to board our bus for the airport at 7 a.m.. The bus didn't arrive until 7:45 a.m. so we were able to have a quick breakfast at the buffet which opened at 7 a.m.. This was perfect as we would have missed breakfast had the bus been on time. There is always a silver lining to vacationing on Cuba time. The bus to the airport takes about one hour and we got through our airport check-in fairly quickly . The waiting room at the airport wasn't very crowded so we sat and enjoyed some sandwiches that we had made the evening before and kept in our fridge overnight. Before long we were boarding the Skyservice Airbus and after an uneventful 3 1/2 hour flight we were back in cold snowy Toronto.

We have put together a few photographs and videos of the hotel and beach. Just go to this link.

Would We Go Back to This Hotel Again: We certainly would. It was great value for money and we had a good time. Of course it will be quite a while into the future before we go back to Varadero again as we have so many other great places to visit in Cuba that are on our bucket list
Cuatro Palmas
December 2008
Arrival: November 2008
Fast and smooth - very accomadating to put our group together

We stayed across the street, in the Las Palmas area on the bottom floor. The rooms are fairly clean and 3rd day in they installed new fancy hair dryers in the bathroom. It is old and not fancy buy any means, but was comforatable and really no real issues. Our expectations were a 3 star hotel room and that is what it was. Lovely lime green curtains and wicker furniture. There is a fridge in the rooms, however it is up to you to add water or pop or what you want. All in all it was fine, as how much time do you really spend in your room? Just to add they do have tv with 2 english stations HBO and CTV edm is you like to watch tv on your holidays!

Restaurants and Bars:
The restaurants are very good - however if you want to go to you will need to make reservations fast as they book up. we never got a chance to go to the Italian or the cuban because we could not get in for our group of 6. The buffet is fine, this is the 3rd time to cuba and probably the best tasting food I had. It had flavor and variety. There was always something to eat. Breakfast they did not change it up and I wish that they had bacon, but I guess you can't get everything! Snackbar was good with the typical stuff - pizza,hamburgers,fries,grilled ham and cheese, chicked sandwich open from 12-5 Bars good, service sometimes slow but they make the best pina colodas that I have ever tasted at the main bar. the pool bar has a great orange slushy and you add rum- YUMMY - make sure you bring a to go cup though as the plastic glasses they give are like shooter glasses!

of cource the beach was beautiful, pool was clean and more comfortable chairs by the pool. Grounds clean and nice - they were always painting when we were there, probably getting ready for the busy season! only complaint is the washrooms.... no toilit paper! complained several times, and then they would only put a roll in 1 stall so that was fustrating. Not sure if there was a shortage or what!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The activities were ok - The entertainment staff was alot of fun, however they did not try to get the guests involved in many of the activities. though we did have 1 afternoon that we played games by the pool and that was a riot!

Other Comments: Overall this hotel is perfect for its location - if you are looking to go to Cuba to venture out of your resort and enjoy the cuban culture then this is the place to stay. Situated right downtown across the street from the 62 bar which has live bands every night and people salsa dancing in the streets - we would just carry over our drinks from the hotel and hang out. You can walk to restauruants, markets, and lots of the disco's! Its fantastic. If you are not interested in that sort of thing I would recommend staying farther away from downtown as you will get a nicer 4+ star hotel. Also another note the exchange is awful! The hotel was giving us .65 cents to their peso - thankfully we found a money exchange up the street and got about .71 cents, but it is a rip off - you can't tell me that thie $ is worth that much more then ours.... I thought we were in a poor country! thats the only downside I think. Enjoy!
Cuatro Palmas
September 2008
Arrival and Flight
Flew with SkyService (through Nolitours). Both ways flight was early and uneventful. No complaints about SkyService at all!

With Nolitours there are 2 room options – Economy and Hotel Room. Economy is across the street. Hotel room is “on the beach”. The economy rooms are in a scary building across the street from the main hotel and down the street a bit. I am glad we didn’t book there or I’d be upgrading as quickly as possible. The hotel rooms were in a building a pathway away from the main building. It is in a 3 story building that is semi-open air. No elevators to these rooms. We were on the second floor facing the main hotel.

The room was adequate, bed was not extremely comfortable but same as other resorts in Cuba. Air conditioning worked fine thankfully! Each room has a private balcony with 2 chairs and a table. The bathroom was OK, the tub had chipped enamel but they had attempted repair and it didn’t affect the shower at all. There was some discoloration of the wall where it looked like it may have been wet under the A/C but wasn’t moldy and there were no problems at all. The rooms were always cleaned well and the maid was nice.

There is one buffet, a snack bar and 1 a la carte. There is a second buffet open for lunch only on the beach. The food at both buffets was substandard, even for Cuba – disappointed with the selection of dishes. I will eat just about anything and did not starve but wasn’t happy either. The main buffet is open for breakfast from 7:00-10:00, lunch from 12:30-2:30 and dinner from 7:00-10:00 pm. It is only mildly air conditioned so I found it fairly hot at lunch and dinner in there. The service wasn’t great either – ended up getting my own drinks usually.

The snack bar was open from 12:00-5:00 and they served French fries, hamburgers (until they run out each day), hot dogs and pizza.

The a la carte was great with wonderful service, good food and ambiance. Only one a la carte per week though!

Nolitours also provided a BBQ night (which was wonderful) and a tapas and paella night (which no paella was served at)

There is no 24 hour bar as advertised (Nolitours). There is a lobby bar which is open from 9:15-12:00 midnight. The pool bar is open from 10-5. The service at the lobby bar was difficult unless you were female and there is no order in which they serve people, often stood there for 10-15 mins before getting a drink. The pool bar was much better and organized, but unfortunately, not open long! No frozen drinks available. Vodka only occasionally available if you were friends with the bartender!

Beach and Pools
Pool was recently retiled and the grout/caulking from between the tiles stuck to our feet, legs, swimsuits and everything else that touched the ground. The water was great besides that and we spent many hours in the pool. Always lots of loungers available.

Beach of course is amazing, it’s Varadero!

We arrived just after Hurricane Ike hit so there were some branches down and many leaves etc, all over the grounds, but the grounds people were working hard to get rid of the debris. Besides that, everything was in good shape and clean.

Activities and Entertainment
There was supposed to be activities? Once or twice I saw pool aerobics, but that was it. Entertainment was typical and we watched 2-3 shows the week we were there.

Probably wouldn’t return. Would recommend to someone for an inexpensive vacation if you aren’t a fussy eater. In a great location central to downtown varadero and across from Calle 62 (outdoor bar with entertainment).
Cuatro Palmas
January 2007
Just got home from a week at the Cuatro Palmas (Jan 14 to 21, 2007). I think the hotel may have changed hands since the previous reviews, since it is now Cameleon Mercure, not Coralia.

I am a 50 year-old woman travelling on her own, and have visted other resorts in Cuba, Dominican, Mexico, etc.

Room: Satisfactory
Stayed in the Colonial section, well away from the pool and stage, facing the street, but with the air conditioner on, I heard very little noise from buses, etc. No elevator, so not good for anyone with mobility challenges. Bathroom small but adequate -- the shower had very good water pressure and lots of hot water (and that is not something I have found in every resort).

Also surprised me that they provided complimentary soap, shampoo and shower gel. No face cloth, but I brought my own.
The bed was firm but comfortable. The in-room safe was controlled by the key card.
When I arrived, the TV Remote only had one battery and of the 6 lights in the room, only 2 had light bulbs. I reported these the next morning -- the TV remote received a battery later that day, and the missing light bulbs appeared the day after.

Food: Adequate
Ate most meals at the buffet. Because of food allergies, I am unable to eat breads, pasta, pastries and most sauces. And having visited Cuba before, I know better than to expect a great variety of salads. I didn't always have a lot of choice but didn't go hungry. As usual in Cuba, particular types of food would appear or disappear unpredictably -- sometimes there would be 3 or 4 choices of fruit, sometimes only 1 or 2.
Two cautions about the buffet in the evening. First, it doesn't start until 7 p.m. Second, if I didn't arrive between 7 and 7:10, I might have to wait to get in -- arriving after 8 p.m. was fine. Tried the beach restaurant for lunch one day and was surprised that they required my room number and signature. Even more surprised that they never bothered to bring my lunch order!

Beach: Wonderful
I spent most of my time on the beach, under a palapa, slathered in 30 SPF sunscreen, or swimming. The beach was fairly well groomed -- would be better if smokers were more careful about putting their cigarette butts into the ashtrays instead of the sand.

I didn't participate in any of the daily activities or attend any shows. However, I saw them rehearsing the water ballet and found it very impressive! TheTowel stand also lends sports equipment and board games, and has a small selection of books to lend.

To tip or not to tip?
I tipped the bellman who carried my 10 and 20 kilo luggage up to the second floor, then didn't tip again for a couple of days. Then a small gift for the maid on my pillow, and a peso for the wait staff one evening. I didn't notice any difference in service from them. I only ordered "Cola Light" at the bars, didn't tip, and didn't notice any difference in service from any other guests.

Other reviewers have mentioned the cats. I saw at least 10 cats, including a beautiful black one that was on my second floor balcony to greet me on my first morning. Sometimes one of the cats would sneak into the buffet.
These did not bother me. The birds bothered me more -- okay, I have a bit of a phobia (thank you, Alfred Hitchcock) but I was unhappy when sparrow-like birds flew around the dining room.
Mosquitos and other biting critters: I tried to stay inside at sunset and don't get up before dawn, so had not expected any bites. However, I found a few bites on my legs, arms and neck when I was at the beach. Never saw anything biting, just found bites.

I paid $750 including the single supplement and all taxes for a week on the beach, and totally got my money's worth. Would I go back? Yes for a comparable price, not if it cost over $950.
Cuatro Palmas
Dara and Gerri 
April 2006
On April 9th 10 of us left for our vacation to Cuba. What can I say…almost 8 days at the Coralia Cuatro Palmas resort in Varedero, it was awesome. Parts of the resort in it self were quite old, but we figure you get what you pay for. We were in rooms in the Colonial building, have stayed in nicer rooms but have to say they were clean. The bathrooms left a bit to be desired but we were okay with that. The staff, basically were friendly, especially the dining room staff, they were great. If you decide to go there Fernendo is great, a big guy with a big heart.

The beach has to be one of the nicest ones I have been on and this is my 4th trip South, one really great feature of this motel is that it is situated right in the heart of Varedero, meaning that you can walk to the markets, take a stroll in the park, go to a disco across the street at night if you wish, and not be afraid to do any of it. We all felt quite safe doing these things, and did them every day. You can also take a ride in a horse and buggy to tour the city which cost us 10 convertible pesos each but was well worth it, there is also a double decker bus that tours the city which you can do for I think 5 pesos per person which is good for the whole day. The bus will stop where you want it and you can catch it again anytime throughout the day and not have to pay again as long as you keep your ticket.

The resort is also situated right on the beach so walk the other way and you are there to have a swim in the Carribian or just lay on the beach and soak up the sun. The food was good and the breads are great, there is the main buffet, a snack bar as well as 2 a la carts. 3 bars,one in the lobby, one close to the beach but not on it and a specialty bar that opens at 5 pm.

The tour to Havana is a long day but well worth the trip, we left the resort around 8:30am and got back around 6:30pm costing us each $67.00 Canadian. This is the only trip we took so can’t tell you anything about the other ones.

All in all if you are looking for a vacation that is affordable, and are not looking for a lot of finer things, but want to have fun this is the one for you. If you do decide to book this resort I don’t think you will be too disappointed. We booked through Go Travel Direct and flew with Zoom airlines which also went great.

Have a good time and just remember you are in a 3rd world country and not in Canada.
Cuatro Palmas
Karen (age 46) & Lauren (age 16) 
New Brunswick
April 2006
My daughter and I took a trip together to this resort during March Break. We booked through Go Travel Direct four days before the trip. Luck was on our side, because the price had just been reduced significantly as a last minute deal. This was our first trip to Cuba.

The Flight & Customs:
There were no complications, and everything ran on schedule. The flight was smooth and the meal was very good. We arrived landed in Varadero at around1:15 am. Going through the customs went smoothly, and finding your luggage afterwards was no problem at all. There was a short lineup for money exchange, but it moved quickly. It’s recommended to this here, instead of at your hotel where the exchange rate is higher. It’s best to get a bit more than you think you might need, and then convert it back later before you leave the country. Our ‘Go Travel Direct’ Rep was clearly visible, waiting to direct everyone to their correct bus. By 2:30am we were on our bus heading to the Hotel, with our rep, Claire who was very informative, talking to us and answering questions the entire trip. The ride in took about 25 minutes.

Checking In:
The hotel lobby was clean and impressive, and quiet at 3:00am. The clerks worked quickly and efficiently, and a man handed us a plate of wrapped food (sandwich and banana and croissant) and bottled water for each person, to take to our rooms. The only unsettling thing was that the front desk clerk insisted that we leave her our passports until the morning. This seemed strange and unexpected and we seemed to have no choice. First thing the next morning, I went back down to get them and they were promptly handed back to us.

The Room:   We were in Room 1223 on the second floor. It turned out to be a good location. We were handy to everything. From the front balcony we could see the pool, and we were also handy to the lobby. The pool and grounds looked exceptionally beautiful in the moonlight, but we were quite eager to see everything in the light of day. The Room itself was very clean, perhaps a bit sparse-looking initially, but we had everything we needed. The room key opens the safe and as it turns out, it also runs the air-conditioner. Our toilet didn’t flush and I didn’t realize the key card worked the air-conditioner. We figured we’d settle things in the morning, maybe change rooms, as it was then 3:30am. In the morning, the girl at the front desk, spoke English quite well and assured us that the toilet would be looked after. She explained how the air-conditioner worked. Our toilet was repaired and worked well for the rest of our stay.

The Pool and the Beach:
The Pool was very pretty and large with a little bridge going over it to the other side. The water was cool and refreshing. This was where we sat between 5pm and 6:30 everyday before supper. There was rarely anyone in the pool. I suppose most people stay at the beach. The hotel bar is on one side and the beach bar is on the other side.

The Beach was why we were here! It was picture-perfect. Smooth white sand, lots of available beach chairs, clear, clean, warm Caribbean waters, with smooth, sandy bottoms. Some days the waves were rolling high and this made it fun to swim in, other days it was smoother and we went kayaking or paddle-boating. The Coralias Cuatro Palmas is in the middle of the Varadero strip, so you could walk a nice distance in either direction. The beach itself is 22.5 km long, and it’s a fun stroll, checking out the other resorts and tourists.

The Food:
This was the only real drawback, but we knew this going in. Most of the reviews I’d read talked about how the food was not very good in Cuba, in genereal. I’m open-minded, even a little adventurous about new foods, but this was still a bit of a challenge. The restaurant buffet was darkly lit, with only candle-light at the supper-buffet, making it difficult to see what the food was. Many foods were not identified. Also there were cats everywhere in the hotel, mostly on the main grounds and outer lobby. The staff kept shooing them out, but there were always several in the restaurant, often sitting at your feet, hoping to get a bit to eat. Some of the tourists, including my daughter were feeding them. I like cats and they gave the place a bit of added character, but I didn’t like to see them in the restaurant, especially on the seafood night. The coffee is wonderful, once you figure out how to run the machine, and get it just right. Sometimes a waiter would get you a coffee, but most of the time you got it yourself. It was only available at breakfast. The fruit was warm and didn’t have a good taste to it. We found this disappointing in a tropical place. The juices had a bad taste too. The salad bar was very limiting. The breakfast omelets were wonderful and I developed a special fondness for churro. The people were cheerful and kind, always. The beach bar hamburgers and hotdogs and pizza were wonderful in the middle of the afternoon. The waitress there was humorous and fun, insisting on getting everything for us.

The Bars:
The hotel lobby bar had the best drinks and espressos. The drinks were pretty limited to Rum Punch, Rum and Coke and Rum Collins, and daquiris. They were usually too strong and I found it best to order one with alcohol and the other without, and then mix this in your thermal mug. It made for a more mellow drink. Service was good at the bars. The bartenders really did try and make you what you wanted with what they had available. The Crystal beer with a splash of lime juice is very good (Cervasa con citron). They will fill your thermal mug up, too. The beach bar was nice, and you always got served right away. In the evenings there was this very good band playing. We enjoyed sitting there after supper and listening to them.

The Specialty House Restaurants:
This was difficult to get into because there was rarely anyone ever at the hospitality desk where you have to sign in. When we finally found her there – and we looked every day – she told us the two restaurants were filled up. We finally did get a booking at the Cuban Restaurant on the last evening we were there. It was especially good. The atmosphere was nice, but there were just our table and one other that were occupied. The waiters were so kind, and formal and attentive. The meal was delicious and decorative. We had hoped to try out the restaurant by the beach, but were not able to book in.

Go Travel Direct Rep:
Rafael was our Rep at the hotel. He was kind, soft-spoken and informative. He made sure everyone knew what was available and when the flight/bus was leaving. The Internet machine was not available at the hotel the entire duration of our visit. Rafael directed us to the nearest Internet Booth a few blocks to the left of the hotel. He also told us about the beautiful Josone Park across the street from the hotel and how you could get the best pina coladas there.

The Catamaran Trip/Cayo Blanco: We had been really looking forward to this trip, but on the morning that we were to leave the winds seemed pretty high. No one knew the forecast, and we considered canceling. The sun began to peek out during breakfast, so we thought we’d take our chances. It turned out to be great. It was a bit windy, but the catamaran was smooth and comfortable. Our trip was to include a swim with dolphins and then some snorkeling. I have to say that I truly loved the catamaran ride.. my daughter and I sat out on the netting, feeling the water splash up at us, enjoying the sun. There was open bar on deck and good music and spirited people running it, making sure everyone had fun. The island is pretty and remote. It was bit cool on the day we were there, but we pulled on sweatshirts and collected seashells after a not-so good dinner of seafood. My daughter had the chicken leg dinner, which she was unable to eat. Again, the food was disappointing.

Day Trip to Havana: We really wanted to venture out of the resort life for a bit to see the real Cuba. Our guide was a pretty Penelope Cruz lookalike, named Sandra, who was very funny and kind. This trip included a nice walking trip through the streets of old Havana, lunch at an outdoor restaurant, complete with a live band and mohitos where they pass the bottle of rum around the table so you can adjust the strength of your drink. We then went to the market, saw Hemmingway’s Bar, and then drove into the newer sections of Havana. We stopped at the Capitalia, and got to mingle with the locals a bit. There is a tourist game going on where they will single you out, particularly if they see you give out coins or soap or anything. You will be approached, even crowded with beggars. This made us all eager to get back on the bus, as it was a bit overwhelming. There is a tour of the Havana Cemetery by bus and then a place near the government buildings where Fidel Castro’s offices are where you can get out and take pictures. It is a long ride in – two hours each way. Well worth it, but by the time we got back to the hotel, we were ready to relax in the late afternoon on the beach.

The Shows and the Club: My daughter and I really enjoyed the shows in the evenings. We saw a pretty good fashion show, some dirty-dancing competitions, singers and dancers. It was always colorful and fun.
Afterwards you could get up on stage and salsa dance with everyone. The night air was beautiful. Across the street after the show, around 10:30pm the Calle 69 Club was always hopping with live bands, and people dancing right in the streets. We went over a few times to watch. We always felt safe on the streets in the daytime, and in the evenings we only went to the Calle directly across the street from the hotel. There are a lot of people, but the atmosphere felt safe.

Varadero Beach is a pretty lively, happening spot.
The Coralia Cuatro Palmas puts you right in the middle of everything, so location is definitely a strong selling point. We had a truly enjoyable stay at the Coralia Cuatro Palmas and would recommend it readily as a clean and safe place to stay, at a very good economy rate. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate it somewhere around a 6-7, mainly because of the cats and the food (and not necessarily in that order). And quite honestly we really liked the cats and grew to like some of the food.
We had a great mother & daughter trip. I would not hesitate to recommend this place to anyone who can accept and even embrace the differences in cultures.
Afterall, isn’t this why we travel?
Cuatro Palmas
Mike & Angela 
Nova Scotia
March 2006
My partner and I, along with 3 other couples have just returned from two weeks vacation at the Cuatro Palmas Varadero Cuba from February 19 to March 5, 2006. We booked with Go-Travel-Direct and flew a direct flight by Zoom. The resort and company we kept was nothing but heaven. We wish we could have stayed longer.

We left Halifax on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. Friendly service and the food was excellent on the plane. A hot meal which consisted of chicken, rice, green beans, a roll and a drink of choice. Movie and music were available to watch and listen if so desired for a fee. Our four hour flight went by quickly arriving right on schedule. The trip was well organized and we did not have any problems with boarding or leaving Varadero.

We arrived at Varadero airport around 1:30 a.m. We were bused to our resort arriving close to 4:00 a.m. A very welcoming entrance. It was an extremely neat and tidy lobby area. Our check-in was fast and we were all given our assigned rooms along side of each on the third floor. It was late when we arrived therefore we all just called it a night. The money exchange is at the same place where you get your towel cards for 20 pesos. You can get a better exchange rate at a sidewalk bank just right of the resort heading towards Jasone Park. They charge you a 3% commission at the resort. You'll need to take your passport with you. You cannot use American dollars. Change only small amounts into pesos little at a time.

The room are very well maintained, basic, and cozy. The King size bed was comfortable and we had no problems with running water. There is also a TV, bar fridge and a balcony. The room was cleaned daily by our fabulous maid, Maribel. Our room # was 1318. We always left her little dollarama gifts and candy. They would like to receive panty hose (hard to purchase there). Maribel would make fancy creations (like swans, hearts and flowers) with the bath towels and leave them on our bed. The plastic room key card will open the door, the safe and run the air conditioner at no extra charge. A great view of Varadero shopping strip. Visit Calle 62 across the street. If you can fall asleep to loud music which lasts until 12:30 p.m. The locals dance in the street. A must to see. We've been to Mayan Riveria, Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Replublic; this has to be our best trip yet. Room safes are free. You don't want them to place you across the street at the El Colonial and Las Palmas buildings. We heard several stories about those sections of the resort.

Big, nice and refreshing. No swim up bar but...there is no problem getting lounge chairs when needed. It was never really crowded. There are bars on either side of the pool.

A beautiful large beach! The best I have ever seen. The sand is white. Every 7 to 10 days they have a storm front come in which only consist of high winds. On these days a red flag is out which means no swimming. But hey... the pool is still available.You can walk to the right until you come to a end because of the reef. We sat on the beach a few days. Not troubles getting a lounge chair when needed. We bought many cans of cold beer (for 1 peso each) from a guy on a four wheeler while walking the beach. He looked for us the whole two weeks there. He provided great service. Very polite. In the evening, the mosquitoes are quite thick; some bug repellant is a must.

There food supply comes in towards the end of the week. So, if you hit it right you may eat like a King for a week. You'll find enough to keep you alive at the buffet. We didn't book for any a la cartes. The buffet could have more variety, other than fish and rice. Not every dish were labelled. Oscar was wonderful. He really enjoyed our company. We tipped him occassionally. He gave cigars to the guys and roses made of kleenex to the ladies. The snack bar offers hamburgers, cheeseburgers and three different types of pizza and ham and cheese sandwiches. The staff were all very friendly and were always right there when we came to sit.

My biggest beef was the drinks. No selection. I like tropical flavored wines and coolers. The pina coloda's were tasty the first week but... tired of them fast. Their strawberry daquiri's were bad. We met a couple from Ontario by the name of Bill and Mary here. He liked his Scotch. She liked her tea. A very nice couple. This is his 13th year there. They filled us with a great deal of knowledge on the resort. We were well respected when the resort staff seen us hanging out with them. At times, we never even asked for drinks; they just kept delivering to our table.

Perfect! You walk out the front door and can walk the streets and walk out the back and your at the ocean. This is what I truly enjoyed the most. If you love to shop; this is the place to be vacationing. The double decker buses cost 5 pesos each. You can use this all day from 9 am to 9 pm. The horse and wagon costed us 3 pesos each. We walked up to a resort called Solymar to use the internet a couple times to keep in touch with back home. The computers are slow. the cost is 8 pesos for an hour. We walked to all the markets (3 or 4), stopping at Jasone park and had a feast of lobster a couple times for 18 pesos. We got a lobster tail, 2 shrimp, rice, salad and a free drink. We stopped for a cold Bacanarrow or Cristal beer.

A tour bus came and picked us up at noon. Our Zoom flight left Cuba at 2 p.m. Everything went like clock work. We enjoyed a chicken salad sandwich, tomatoe juice with cookies. I than had a glass of wine to sip on for my journey home. Our Go Travel Direct representatives at the resort was extremely helpful our whole trip. He provided excellent service with what we needed when asked.

Final Statement
Be sure to save 25 pesos each to get out of the county upon returning home. We had a great relaxing two weeks in Varadero with our travel agent Ivan and Heather, Greg and Judy, my brother Rob and his wife Shelley. It was fun and there was always something to do, or somewhere to go. THANKS for the wonderful trip we all experience and the many memories we have to share. We strongly recommend this resort. Just a reminder "A tip occasionally does go along way." I would definitely return to Cuba again.
Cuatro Palmas
Will and Sandy 
Ottawa, Canada
March 2006
Flight from Ottawa on Zoom left on time. Paid extra for front of plane seating. Ended up getting off from the middle of the plane, both ways, so we weren't the first ones to get off. Lots of room, very comfortable.

Arrived at the resort about 2:00 pm, unfortunately we had to wait until 4:00 pm to get our room. Very nice lobby area, that's when we found the lobby bar. :-) The money exchange is at the same place where you get your towel cards for 20 pesos. You get a better exchange rate out on the street. They charge you a 3% commission at the resort.

Lucky. Room was in great shape, looked brand new. Always kept clean by our fabulous maid, whose knowledge of the English language was amazing. We could compare this room to Brisas del Caribe and Breezes Varadero but smaller. Great view of the pool and ocean. No real water problems, didn't have to do any shower dances :-), great water pressure and lots of hot water. Has to be the best resort we have stayed in when it comes to the plumbing. Room safes are free. Try to stay away from the El Colonial and Las Palmas bldgs. (Las Palmas is now a separate listing with Go Travel Direct). All we heard was horror stories about these sections of the resort. Lots of mold and cockroaches, one poor lady with asthma had to sleep on her balcony for two nights because of the mold.

Nice. Lounge chairs never a problem, you could always find one. Pool at first seemed rather small but big enough to swim in and never really that crowded. Bars on either side of the pool but no swim up bar. Water was cool, interesting showers surrounded the pool, looked like side of a mountain.

Great! What can you say about Varadero beach, walked it almost everyday. It takes 55 minutes to walk to the golf course to your right and to your left we could walk for 30 minutes. We didn't want to chance it by walking on the reef. We sat on the beach a couple of days, again really no problems getting a lounge chair. Lots of free water sports available.

Food in Cuba? We didn't do the a la cartes, just the buffet. Heard the a la cartes was a rushed affair but good. The buffet could have more variety, but good. If you like fish and rice you will be just fine. I don't like either so my main food intake was breakfast (hmmm omelets) and the snack bar, where you could get half decent hamburgers, hotdogs, three different types of pizza and ham and cheese sandwiches.

Our main problem was with the bar service. It was extremely slow for first few days, they were expecting tips, I guess. I lost my cool with them over this. Somebody must have complained to management because service improved the next day but still not as good as the other resorts we have stayed at. We had one bartender that gave us good service without expecting a tip, he ended up with our thermal mugs and 15 pesos at the end of our vacation.

Great! Being right in town was really nice especially when it wasn't the best weather. We walked the whole strip a couple of times, stopping at Jasone park or stopping at different bars enjoying a few cold cristals along the way. If you stay at Cuatro Palmas you have to visit Calle 62 across the street. Each night there is a different live Cuban band. It was great watching the Cubans dance (in the street), oh do they love to dance. This had to be the highlight of our trip.

This is were the horror begins. We were advised 24 hrs prior to our departure that our flight was going to be 4 hours delayed because of bad weather. This meaning we were going to be picked up at 1:30 am Monday instead of 9:30 pm Sunday, blaming it on the Ottawa airport, which in real life turned out to be a Zoom problem. Zoom does not have enough airplanes yet to avoid this type of delay. Once the bus arrived, we were then told that we were going to be delayed another 1 3/4 hour because the plane left Quebec City late. Our plane didn't leave Cuba until 5:30 Monday morning. This is the first time in all of our trips that we have been delayed. We also requested the VIP treatment with one of the Go Travel Direct representatives at the resort, who was quite helpful. We knew it would cost us extra. The Go Travel Direct representative at the airport, that we were told to see, showed lack of interest in showing us what we had to do, so we did not receive this service.

Final Statement
We had a good time. This was our fourth time in Cuba. This was the first place we have been to where the bartenders speak very little English though.

Would we return to Cuatro Palmas, YES, location, location, location.
Cuatro Palmas
Bob and Pat  
Orléans Canada
July 2005
We went the second week of June with very low expectations after reading some of the reviews but were very surprised at the resort.

First of all we traveled with Go Travel it was not the most comfortable plane but it was a charter and we knew that we would not get a regular type of plane, the service and the food was excellent on the plane and we arrived on time.

When we arrived at Cuatros Palmas I was very surprised of the entrance to the hotel it was very clean and we were very well received.

The staff went out of there way to help whenever you had any problems, we were shown to our room and noticed that the air conditioning was not working within 5 minutes we had a repair person fix it and refused to take a tip he said that this was a service that we paid for and a tip was not necessary.

The room was very clean, the bed was comfortable and we had no problem with running water, we also had a bar fridge that came very handy.

Since we arrived at 3 p.m. the first thing that we did was get changed and go to the beach, we ordered vodka and orange but were told they did not have vodka so we settled for rum punch this is an excellent drink. The beach was a definite 5 star, with plenty of lounge chairs and huts if you wished to rest in the shade.

Although you will not go hungry, the food is very average. If you like fish, you will enjoy every supper. We had turkey on two occasions and it certainly made a difference. The bread and the desserts are great. We tended to fill up on bread and desserts. When you are at the buffet try to sit on the right side when you enter there is a waitress by the name of Sophia who serves theses tables, she always had a pleasant smile and gave paper roses to the woman and cigars to the men. Give them a small tip and it will brighten up there day.

We took the day trip to Havana. It is a long ride in the bus but you do get to see a bit of the countryside and how the people live in Cuba. If you enjoy classic cars, you will get to see all types of pre-revolution American cars used on a daily basis for everything from private cars to taxis.

Be advised that you cannot use American Dollars or any credit card drawn on an American bank. We had to change our Canadian currency into Cuban Pesos, but we could change any unused pesos back to Canadian currency at the airport on the way home.

We have been to Mexico, Dominican Republic Miami and we found this resort was very comparable except for the food.

I find it strange that some of the reviews were so negative; I guess you have to go with an open mind and not be a fussy eater.

One week would be a maximum stay because of the food and lack of entertainment, the evening shows were not great but the people put in a lot of effort into each production.

One thing that we did notice is in the evening there is a problem with mosquitoes be sure to bring a repellant for the evenings
Cuatro Palmas
Christine and Joe 
Pembroke, Ont
May 2005
My husband and I travelled to the Cuatro Palmas Varadero Cuba from May 9-15. I was a little bit worried about going to this resort after reading several unfavourable reviews. However, the resort was wonderful. The hotel was very nice and clean. We were first put in the Colonial section of the hotel which I read was not so nice. "Right" We stayed there one night and asked to be moved. If you want to change rooms you must get your name put on their list, which they dont all tell you about right away.I was also at the Flamingo in Punta Cana this past February and there also you must ask to be put on the list, or your request is written in the wind.

The location of the hotel to me was great, it was at the end of the main street Varadero, once around the corner you start to hit the other hotels, quite a distance away. Here you walk out the front door and can walk the street for quite a piece. and walk out the back and your at the ocean. There was an open air bar across the street with a live band every night, and we went there to check it out each night because the locals would gather in the street there and dance, and if you want to see real dancing go and watch them.

There is a beautiful park across the street which is a must see. There are several restaurants in the park as well a open air bars with a live band that comes an serenades you.

We booked with Go Travel Direct from Ottawa. We had to stop in Montreal to pick up others which took up about 45min to an hour on the way but was much shorter on the way home. The airline was First Air which is a no frills flight, no movie, no bar, no hookups for music therefore it was a long flight.

The beach was beautiful as everyone says, and the ocean was like bath water. It was great, but I do find the beaches in Varadero to be comparible to Punta Cana.

The only three complaints I have are that the food at this hotel was not good. We are by no means picky eaters and I found it very hard to walk away from the table any night not feeling hungry. The salad bar was very small. with mostly cabbage, tomatoes and cucumbers as your fillers. My husband is allergic to seafood, and none of the dishes are marked which made it very difficult for him to eat. There was crab at the salad bar most nights and the spoons were always mixed with the rest of the food, so he had to steer clear of the salads. Tea and coffee is not served with meals, only at breakfast. YOu must get tea and coffee at the bar after your meals. The meats were usually rare. I did not like the food at all. There were birds in the diningroom all the time and were often seen landing on the breads and picking at it.There were only two days that there were omelets made fresh, your only option for eggs was to boil your own or eat the fried ones that came out in a chaffing dish, mostly cold and runny.We did book ourselves in the a-la-carte twice and that was better. Many people were going and eating out at locals restaurants.

The exchange on canadian money works out to 40% because of the convertible peso. You must take Canadian money and get it converted to the convertable peso. Many people were finding themselves with no money because the depended on their credit cards and found themselves in long line ups at the bank, where the machines were broken, or to find out their cards were American based cards and would not be accepted. Be very careful with that. It costs $25.00 each to get out of the country which worked out to $70.00 canadian for two of us. My other complaint is that we found the staff to be not too friendly until tipped. If you didnt tip you could stand at the bar for a long time, it seemed that their moto is tip first be nice later.

Over all the cheap trip was still worth it to us, I usually only am concerned with a clean room, if you are looking for a clean hotel, and are not a big eater or like to eat out then by all means go here, besides the food it was great.
Cuatro Palmas
George & Maggie 
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
April 2005
We expect you may not be aware of this, as there was no evidence of anyone passing out the "Comment Cards" on our return flight.

However, we have to express our displeasure over our recent trip to Varadero Beach in Cuba. We were at the "CORALIA CUATRO PALMAS" from April 10th to the 17th. You advertised it as 3 1/2 stars.

The ZOOM airline service was excellent both ways, even leaving early on both trips. The meals were what we expected.

The Hotel was not.

Our welcoming meal was a Cheese sandwich, a small bottle of water & a very brown banana. Restaurant was closed.

Although communication was possible, the English spoken by the people at the front desk was very lacking for those in such a position. Pointing and sign language were often required.

Our bathroom was sub-par: Our tub had a huge break along the bottom and had been recently repaired with a hunk of cement. There was also a large amount of unsightly blue residue running the length of the tub. It looked very unsanitary. There were two days when the water wasn't running for a major part of the day (i.e. when we needed it). This was the entire hotel not just our building.

And for the rest of the days, we were lucky if we got hot water from the taps. The lighting in the bathroom was very temperamental as we had to flick the light switch back-'n-forth many times to get any reaction.

The beach & water were above par except for:
1) They had 100 beach loungers and at least 40 had either bad cracks in them or were missing one of the legs. You had to be very early to have a chance to sit comfortably at the beach.

2) The beach was horribly littered with cigarette butts and drinking straws. It was never raked while we were there.

The Restaurant was very confusing as it was quite dark. No foods were ever labelled and most of the hot dishes could only be called "Mystery Meats". All the unknown dishes were quite repetitive (we think?). My wife has a bad reaction to ginger and one meal she had to spit out some salad as it was just loaded. Condiments were unknown, outside of Ketchup. We asked for hot sauces for the meats or slices of lemon for the fishes and got only blank stares. These ideas seemed to be very foreign to them? There seemed to be a different fish every day but none of the three chefs could ever tell us what kind.

During our tour of Havana, we visited four different washrooms in hotels and plazas. All were communal & none had either toilet seats or toilet paper. Please let people know about things like this.
Cuatro Palmas
Sonia and Francois 
April 2005
My friend and I we have just returned from a one week vacation at Varadero's Cuatro Palmas resort we booked through Go-Travel-Direct. The trip was well organized and we did not have any problems with boarding in Ottawa or leaving Varadero. We were a bit surprised that we flew with excelair.com instead of Zoom which was advertised on Go Travel Direct web page. We were told that this is the same family. The 737 Airbus was almost new and a crew very professional. We left Ottawa on Sunday at 16:55, arriving Varadero around 21:00 and we left Cuba on Sunday the week after at 10:55 a.m. (pick up at the hotel at 9:30 a.m.) We felt that we have lost a day, even though we had 7 nights in Varadero, since we arrived late at night and left early morning. The check-in was fast but unfortunately the rooms have been all assigned prior to our arrival to the hotel, so we did not have any word to say and ended up in the Section 5 (Colonial) a definite 3-star or less, which was quite far. We were expecting a king-size bed, ended up with two twin beds. The resort is located within the walking distance to flee markets with a lot of stuff to bring back home. I purchased two crocheted tops – quite nice and not expensive. We found Cubans very talented people. On Wednesday evening we had a visitor, a cockroach, in our bathroom. I was very upset about this, but was told by the hotel staff that this is quite normal in Caribbeans. Well, it was my first encounter with this bug, never experienced it in any of my trips to the South. Maybe I was lucky on my previous trips. The hotel staff sprayed the room the same evening. We asked the front desk to spray it again the next day, but that never happened. We stayed in this section the whole time. Later we learned that if you complain about the room, you will be relocated to the main building in section 1 that is much nicer and more comfortable. Seems unfair to people whom does not complain. The staff at the hotel was friendly and helpful, unfortunately somehow always expecting tips. The food was good, not too much variety but tasty. The beach was nice and clean but it was very busy on the weekend and the chairs were taken early in the morning so almost no chance to have a chair in the afternoon. All what was left were the broken ones. The nightly shows were rather artistic a bit boring, lacking that Caribbean flare. We arranged through Go Travel Direct a sail on catamaran to Cayo Blanco. The island was beautiful but the catamaran excursion is overly overpriced (75 converted pesos per person - $94.60 can$). We were supposed to go snorkelling, have a lobster dinner, dauphin show and a sunset cruise. We were told to bring just a towel and a bathing suit. To our surprise the crew was selling the lobster for 10 converted pesos (as an appetiser), the lobster dinner was rather something else with a trace of lobster, the dauphin show a 15-minutes experience and the sunset cruise never happened. It was postponed and postponed, it seems that there is never the right time to go for a sunset cruise. Snorkelling was not that great either since we anchored in 3-meters deep sea with big waives – not many tropical fishes there. Definitely not worth the money. I do not want to repeat the comments of other people so this is about what I have to say. Please contact me if you want to ask more specific questions.
Cuatro Palmas
April 2005
We visited Cuatro Palmas in Varadero from April 3 - 10, 2005. We booked this resort after finding a fantastic deal on Go Travel Direct.

The resort is in a great location. You step out of the front entrance and you are on the main street in Varadero. This is very convenient for visiting the markets and exploring some local culture. It's a big selling point.

The beach is also on an excellent section of Varadero. It was cleaned everyday and there was always a lounger available. I was pleasantly surprised that we didn't have to get up at 7am to get a good spot on the beach. The water was clear with no seaweed.

The variety and selection of food was somewhat disappointing, however, we certainly didn't starve. We could always find something. Some of the staples at the buffet were fish, pork or beef, cooked vegetables, mashed potatoes, rice & pasta. There wasn't much chicken. The ice cream and desserts in particular were very good. The pool grill serves, burgers, pizza, hot dogs, grilled sandwiches & fries. It is open for lunch only and closed early most days. There is nowhere to get food on the resort between approximately 4:30 and 7:30pm. We ate at the hotel restaurant one evening. We were seated outside and watched the sunset while we ate!

The resort is in such a great location, I recommend checking out the local restaurants. We ate out several nights and it was a great experience. The Cuban restuarant in Josone Park is very good. Across the street at Calle 62 you can get burgers, sandwiches, etc anytime for 1 CUC. We also ate at the Fondue restaurant across from the resort and El Ranchero. There are many to pick from in walking distance.

Our room was in the Colonial section rather than the main hotel. There is also a section of the hotel across the street. Don't let them put you here!

The Colonial building faces the main street on one side and the beach on the other side. Our room faced the beach on the top floor. It was very quiet. I would recommend requesting a room in the main building which overlooks the pool. However, if you prefer being away from the action, you may prefer the Colonial. Don't face the street though, it could get noisy because of Calle 62 across the street - there is live entertainment every night. There is no elevator in this buillding. Our room was dated and quite small, but it was kept very clean. The rooms all have a small balconey.

Taking the advice of many travellers, we decided to book the catamaran tour. Definitely money well spent. Swimming in the ocean with the dolphins in was quite an experience! Book it as soon as you get there because it fills up fast.

Another piece of advice I read was to try a pina colada at the bar in Josone Park. These are the best ever. Don't miss out on this treat!

The staff at the hotel were helpful and never rude. I did not find that there were expectations of tipping. At the lobby bar, there were always three bartenders and the service was good. Just slightly better if you were tipping. The lobby bar seemed to be the gathering place. We spent our late afternoons there after a day in the sun.

During our week at Cuatro Palmas, the atmosphere was subdued. This could have been due to the fact that we were there during the 3 days of mourning after the Pope's death. The entertainment was cancelled as well as the music in the restaurants and bars (on and off the resort). After this period, the shows started again and many went offsite to enjoy live bands and discos.

In summary, we really enjoyed our week. We especially enjoyed being in such a great location. If you can get this resort for a good price, I recommend it. Keep your expectations realistic and you will have a great time!
Cuatro Palmas
Rick + Linda 
PEI, Canada
March 2005
We have just returned from a one week vacation at Cuba's Cuatro Palmas resort in Varadero booked through Go-Travel-Direct. How much easier can it be? Just sit in your favorite chair and call Go-Travel to make a booking and get the tickets in your e-mail, then go to the airport with your e-tickets and board the aeroplane. Most other travelers were lined up for over an hour but it only took us about 15 minutes with the e-tickets. This was our first trip to Cuba, but it will not be our last. Our flight actually departed about 45 minutes early from Halifax because every one was ready to go. It was a little confusing arriving at the airport in Cuba because there were 4 flights arriving at the same time and we never knew where the luggage was coming from, but it gave us lots of time to exchange our money into cuban pesos. The exchange was open when we arrived at 10:30 pm on sunday. It was very easy to locate our transportation to the resort and there was even a bar open on the bus for the short trip to the resort. Check-in was fast and efficient and there was no problem getting a second room key with no questions and no charge. The plastic room key card opened the door, opened the safe and ran the air conditioning at no extra charge also. The resort was clean and the rooms were very clean and NO musty smell of any kind. The rating in the travel brochures was a 3 star but at the reception indicated 4 stars on the wall in the entrance. The 24-hour security around the resort was almost invisible with guards posted everywhere dressed in dress pants and white shirts with ties and NO guns. If you single people want to bring home a mate for the night, forget it because security will not let them in unless they have the right wrist band on. We were located in building 5, a nice stroll from everything on the resort. We had no trouble with showering 2 or 3 times a day with always lots of hot water. We were expecting a king size bed but ended up with two singles that we just pushed together. Everything worked great. The resort was very clean around the grounds and on the beach, and in the town of Varadero. All of the staff were very friendly and helpful and a few even spoke good english but you should try to learn some Spanish. I loved the food and found there to be a good variety for me but others were not so satisfied with the variety. There was fresh turkey, pork, beef, but very little chicken and my favorite octopus. Lots of different fish and pastas. The ice cream and bread was to die for. The pool was great but it was colder than the ocean. The beach was the best and you could walk for ever in any direction. There were 3 all inclusive bars, but the variety was limited. We found the rum punch to go down good and often. The lobby bar was always very busy, but the other two were never lined up. The resort is located in the town of Varadero and you just go out the front door to the town and the back door to the beach. We like to wander and see things and lay on the beach so this location was perfect for us. We always take small items to give to the children, but found very few because it is compulsary for them to attend school and it also seemed like they didn't hang around the streets like they do in DR. No shoe shiners or beggars at all. There were what seemed like hundreds of horse drawn carriages with different prices to ride, some with no flexibility in price and others able to barter the price. There were also lots of those 3 wheeled open air orange shaped taxie's with no flexibility in price but fun to use. We arranged through private means a trip to where they call Habana and we call Havana with a guide for $30 each which was a real eye opener. We were picked up down the street from the resort in a 1960 plymouth with a 4-cylinder diesel fiat engine and driven to Habana with a pit stop at an outdoor bar on the way. It was a long trip but eventful and eye opening with some unmentionable palm greasing on the way there and back. Habana was also eye opening with lots of begging . Be forewarned of pick pockets and women with pictures of babies needing $ for food. Oh yes, if you need to use a toilet off of the resort, be prepared to pay for the toilet with no seat and no toilet paper. The park across the street and down a little from Cuatro Palmas is beautiful and should be on your to see list. Also right accross the street from the resort is a 24-hour bar with live entertainment nightly. There is dancing in the street competitions for prizes and many other things going on that the ordinary eye may not catch. It was interesting to say the least. If you are an antique car buff, you will see cars running on the streets from the 40's, 50's, and 60's , mostly with diesal engines now because they can not get parts. I would say about 1/3 of the motor vehicles are from this era. I have said enough now so if you want to ask more specific questions contact me (rick.j.barton@pei.sympatico.ca)
Cuatro Palmas
Bonita & Bill  
Nova Scotia, Canada
February 2005
My husband and I just got back from this 3 star resort that was booked through GO-Travel. We were nervous about the 3 star and had never been outside Canada before. GO-Travel reps are excellent and are at the Cuban airport to great you and take you to the right bus, and right resort. Arrived at the resort at 12:00 midnight and because of not being ther before thought everything was closed up and nervous about going out on the streets to find somewhere to go (found out by the end of our trip there was no reason for this). By the next day we realized the 3 star was very clean with lots of friendly staff to help out. Dance lessons 2x a day,evening entertainment (a different show each night), The last night was the best with a water show with talented dancers and swimmers.

We went to Cuba by ourselves but met many people to associate with and have a lot of laughs. Thanks Gisele & Norman, Cheryl & Todd, Flo& Rob, Wendy& Lloyd, Wanda&Mike,Trish & Sean, Roy & Bea and everyone else that made our vacation great. The hotel staff Roberto, Mario, Eliuver, Ramone (awsome corn rows). Thanks again Ramone. Yvonne, and the other bar tenders, (I forget all their names). The great dance teachers, and dancers.

The food at the Hotel was great and I tried everything. My husband was nervous about getting food sick so he kept to the simple things. Their bread was awesome , the beef was a little tough, but chicken was super. I had tried the regular (common) foods such as the chicken,beef, pork,pastas as well os the excentrics such as squid, toungue,and all kinds of others that were flavourful but didn't know what it was. Lots of tossed salad items, vegies such as broccoli, carrots, peas, corn, potato. Fruit juice,milk (which was a little too thick for me). The breakfast menu was delicious, with boiled, fried, scrambled, or omelet (your choice of toppings) every morning. A La Carte was good food as well with a little more privacy and more romantic. With a choice of pork or beef, salad or shrimp cocktail,dessert and wine. this was only once during your stay and you need to make a reservation. Divides up the buffet surroundings and adds a little change of routine. The ice cream is the best tastes creamier .Deserts were great too, with pastries, squares, cake. NEVER ATE OUTSIDE the resort besides the safari trip, and never got sick or any other bodily malfunctions.

The only thing the resort didn't have that we were looking forward to was the swim up bar. But we certainly survived and drank lots despite the fact.

The beach was the best along Varadero with the largest area of sand compaired to the other resorts.

We went on a couple of trips with the Jeep Safari being the best. The variey of activities like snorkeling in a cave, snorkeling in the ocean where there were reefs and tropical fish. On to driving through Matanzas which was a definite eye opener about how people really live there. A very run down part of the Island and as driving through saying how run down it was then being shocked by people coming out of the structures and realizing they live here. When I said driving through Matanzas I mean you get to drive yourself in one of the Jeeps in the group that goes with you. We then went to Belemar Cave to see aa underground site that seemed as though you were in a dream. We bought a video of the trip but the effect of the caves inside just couldn't be captured on tape.

We then came out of the cave and thought our day was over because it seemed so fulfilled at this point,but then we were off to a ranch where we had a tipical Cuban lunch that was also quite good. We wnt horse & bull back riding, bicycling, boating,sailing, seen papaya trees,banana trees, sugar cane we tasted,and a variety of farm animals running around. After a couple hours here we then ventured back to the resort, whick took about 1 and a half hours. Left resort at 9am and back at 6pm.

The cost was 69 convertible pecos each.(Which is by the way their currency for tourists) The best outing ever!!!! Thanks Noel Went on a catamaran off of the resort to a coral reef where the fish are swimming all around you as the tour guides feed them bread and I took a banana as they ate out of our hands. This was 15 pecos each. The sunset was beautiful as nothing I've seen before. Very well worth lying on the beach to watch. Back to talk more abot the hotel.

You take canadian money their and get it converted at the hotel or take a trip to the Bank to save the 3% surcharge. Items such as shampoo, tylenol, toothpaste, clothing for kids would be great for the Matanza outing ,the children have torn and ratted ones and would appreciate any thing. Crayons,books,pencils,juice paks, hair items, pretty well anything goes. Tips at the hotel and services along your vacation is greatly accepted by all the residents of Cuba.

My husband and I are already planning to come back here next year and definitely bring our kids.
Cuatro Palmas
January 2005
My friend and I went to Cuatro Palmas in November 2004. We had a great time. We grabbed the deal of the day and spent 7 glorious days in Cuba. The weather was awesome. I had been to Varadero in January and knew not to do that again because we nearly froze to death, but November weather is perfect. Varadero is usually very breezy so even on hot days it’s enjoyable.

Unfortunately due to rough seas we could not swim in the ocean for three out of the seven days so we enjoyed the pool instead. The pool is not heated so the nighttime temperature impacts the warmth of the pool. It was pretty chilly but very refreshing for swimming on hot days. I missed not having a hot tub but hey, at what I paid you can’t have it all.

I loved being right in the town of Varadero. My friend and I would walk every morning for 2-3 hours looking through the little craft markets. The on-off bus was great too. For $5 you could ride it from 9 am to 9 pm. I loved the beer stop they made where the guy comes along and sells a selection of cold drinks to all the thirsty tourists. Too fun.

We enjoyed pina coladas at the Dupont house. The neat thing about Cuba is it is stuck in the 60’s and has not been overly renovated like historic sites in the US. Cuba is a true antique.

I enjoyed my day on the catamaran mostly because I had never been on one. They bring live lobsters onboard and you can meet and eat yours for $10.

There is a really cool nightclub right across the street with live music but we were just too pooped to go after playing in the ocean and touring all day. If you like to go out at night, you’re in the right location. This is a very popular place with tourists and locals alike.

There is a park across the street that use to be the grounds of a rich industrialist. They too serve good pina coladas.

As for the hotel, well we got what we paid for and knew that when we booked. Tip and the service is great. Get a whole whack of quarters and tip for your drinks and food. You will be surprised how the service improves. You don’t have to tip much, but do tip. Bring your own travel mug. The plastic drink glasses only hold half a cup of liquid and you’ll be running back and forth all day for refills. You can change your money at the front desk for quarters.

Go to the bank at the airport. Change your money when you arrive and change it back when you leave. If you end up having to go to a Cuban bank to change it you will be in a line-up of 1-2 hours like we were on a sunny morning with several hundred other tourists.

The food was not that great but we could always find something to eat. Cubans are not good cooks and it is a third world country. I don’t know how many people I told to adjust and just have fun. Let’s face it; you’re not going to get 5 star resort services at the price we paid. I really detest listening to people who whine their whole vacation when they have paid rock bottom prices. Keep these people out of your life. Their woes will ruin your vacation.

Bring bug spray. We had a really noisy air conditioner and opted to leave the patio door open all night instead. Our theory being, fat people are harder to kidnap and the breeze was really nice. Unfortunately the mosquito dinner bell rang and we both woke up with a half dozen bites each. These mosquitoes were obviously imported from Canada because they were huge bites.

Be sure they don’t put you in the second half of the hotel, which is across the street and down the road. One of the Aussie tourists got stuck there and the hotel wasn’t even full to the limit. Poor bloke thought we were in the four-star section and he was in three star section. We really laughed about that one because we paid for less.

Don’t take a street side room because the bar across the street has live music, outside, and goes till the wee hours of the morning. If you get ocean view, make sure you are not above the stage because they play music after the evening shows.

Cuba can be very cold in late December, January, and early February because of the ocean breezes coming in from the North. Be sure to bring some warm things to wear in the evenings or you will freeze. Temperatures can drop from 29C to 16C and you freeze trying to adjust at night, especially if you’ve had a wee bit too much sun.

So would I go back there? For what I paid, in a heartbeat. Mind you it is –35C here right now ... I’d go to anywhere right now to defrost.
Cuatro Palmas
Salty Cashew 

January 2005
My husband and I just returned from Cuba. We were there Jan. 3rd-9th 2005. We stayed at the Cuatro Palmas in the town. We loved the location and being able to walk out the door to the town streets. There are craft markets within easy walking distance. We had a great week and intend to go back. The Cubans are friendly and courteous. We always felt safe and we were not hassled to buy things and also there is good police presence. We traveled with Go Travel Direct out of Halifax. We sat all night in the airport but that is for another letter! We are seniors and here are our opinions of our trip.

Meals- the buffet offers good plain food and lots of it. There is nothing gourmet about it but you can always find something you like. The a la carte restaurant is good but small so make your reservations early. The Cuban bar makes really good pina coladas!

Beach- lovely white sand and clean. My husband did have a “run in” with jellyfish called a Portuguese Man of War and got stung. The life guard took him immediately across the street to a clinic and they gave him a shot in the hip and oxygen and two ointments to use. The medical treatment was excellent. We had to pay $165Ca. but we get reimbursed here at home. He was well cared for and grateful. So stay away from little (6- 8”) jellyfish that are clear coloured with a pink and blue stripe on them as they are deadly!

Tour- we took the day tour to Havana. It was an eye-opener to see the city- like a grand old lady who has seen better days. The architecture was interesting and we took a horse & buggy tour with a young man who could speak English..many young people can as they go to language school. The food at lunch was not so good- what should have been hot was cold, but we got enough to eat while being entertained by a Cuban band.

Room- our room had twin beds, a TV which had CNN in English, a mini fridge, a balcony and was clean. The bathroom was well worn but adequate.

Entertainment- each night there was entertainment. We didn’t go every night but enjoyed it when we did. By far the best night was when the show was in the pool with dancing and synchronized swimming- great costumes and they were good performers.

Money- they will exchange Canadian money at the desk. We took no American dollars with us. To get money using your Canadian credit card go to the international bank and take your passport. Be sure to have $25 CCP per person to leave the country.

Tips to make life easier- if you like a decent sized bar of soap take it with you, No facecloths are provided. If you like peanuts, pretzels, etc. with your drinks take those too as they are pricey to buy there. Change convertible pesos into 1 peso coins to pass out as tips. One is equivalent to about a day’s pay for many labourers so they much appreciate getting them. We gave them to those sweeping, working in the yard, etc. as these folk receive few tips unlike the dining room staff. Save patience for the airport as you will need it!
Cuatro Palmas
Nova Scotia, Canada
July 2004
We spent one week at the Cuatro Palmas in Varadero in April 2004. The reason we went to this resort was because Go Travel Direct offered a great deal of $ 699.00 per person. Because it was so inexpensive we took our 11 & 14 year old kids. This is what we thought:

Go Travel Direct - Wonderful to deal with and we will book with them again. They definitely have the best prices and the service on the plane was excellent. Nice big plane and the food was good and so was the wine. The Go Travel Direct rep ( Ivan ) was great also. He met us at the airport and guided us to the bus. He was at the resort daily if you had any questions or concerns. I highly recommend Go Travel Direct. This was our first time booking with them and highly recommend them. We will definitely book with them again and again and again.

Resort - Actually much better than we expected. Appearance was pretty good. Dated yes but clean. This resort was fairly quiet during the days with not much going on for entertainment. At night they had a nightly show that really wasn't worth seeing but gave my kids something to watch.

Rooms - We were put in the Colonial section which was the farthest away but o.k. If I ever return I would request the rooms overlooking the pool or ocean. They actually looked great and very close to everything. This resort is small so nothing is very far away.

Food - Blah but they try. Some nights are better than others as far meals go but the deserts were excellent. Apparently the chef was a french pastry chef at one time. To be honest... it compared nothing to resorts we've been too in Dominican Republic but those resorts were over double the price. My kids had never been to any other resorts and they loved the food. I was worried they wouldn't but they had no problems with the food at all.

Drinks - My biggest complaint was the drinks. Very limited selection and when I asked for a certain drink they would say "no" and show me the list they had. The list sucked. I was very disappointed with the drinks because I love tropical drinks. The pina colodas were made with big ice cubes and didn't taste good at all. They had the usual rum and coke, rum punch, beer and I couldn't really see anything else. We ended up going across the street to buy some yummy coolers at the store which were really good and cheap. I wanted drinks like banana mama, strawberry daquiri's, good pina coloda's, sex on the beach. They offer nothing like that. The beer was o.k. but I couldn't drink that all week and unfortunately for me I'm not a rum and coke drinker.

Beach - Best I have ever seen. The beach was beautiful. We had lots of fun in the waves and sand was almost white. It was kept very clean. We have been to Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Varadero beach is our favorite.

Location- Perfect!!! This resort is in the town of Varadero so you can walk out the front lobby and be on the main street. My husband likes to wander around and not be stuck on a resort with no where to go so this was perfect for us. We walked up and down the street looking at the sights. Went to the park that is just up the street that has the best Pina Coladas I have ever tasted. There were markets all around and convenience shops. Thoroughly enjoyed Varadero.

Excursions - We went on the catamaran trip to Cayo Blanco Island. Best excursion ever. They pick you up at the resort then take you to the dophin show ( not good ) then take you to the catamaran. It is a big, beautiful catamaran with excellent staff, open free bar and cuban music. They sail part way to the island and then stop to let you snorkel for awhile. Then they proceed to the island that is absolutely breath taking. On the island they have a buffet ready for you as well as a bar for drinks. The food was great and so were the drinks. The beauty of this island is like nothing I had ever seen before. We lounged around enjoying the island for a couple hours before heading back. I highly recommend this excursion. It was $ 75.00 per adult and $38.00 per child. Worth every cent. This was my most favorite day of any vacation I ever took. I loved it!!!

Overall - For a 3.5 star is pretty good. Better than I expected. It was worth the money we paid for it but I wouldn't pay much more. This resort would be awful if it was in a isolated area because you would have very little to do but because its in the town of Varadero and you can wander off and do some sight seeing. Its worth the trip... for the right price. If your trying to get away on a trip for a budget price this is the resort to go to. I recommend it for the budget traveller. If your the type to pick a resort apart - don't go. This resort is for people who are on a tight budget and are just grateful to be able to get away for sun and fun. I went with very low expectations because we were on a budget and I was just happy to be able to get away for a week. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was for the price we paid. I didn't care that it was older or that the food was so so or even that the drink choices were limited. We made the best of our trip and had a great time. If you go with a good attitude you'll totally enjoy it, I know we did and I'd go back again if next years another budget trip. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because we didnt' spend a fortune to go.
Cuatro Palmas
Gerry B. 
January 2004
We spent Christmas week at this resort in Varadero Beach. We bought the all inclusive package so made daily use of the dining room and other facilities. Here is what our family of four, with two teenagers found.

We liked this establishment, the rooms were practical and served us well and the shower was great with lots of hot water. The hotel itself was attractive and the staff very congenial with us. The food was plentiful but we quickly became tired of the same fare and the quality was not great. I don’t think one goes to Cuba for the cuisine. The dining room staff were terrific, we made some great friends while there.

The town is worth seeing and close enough to wander about from the hotel. The beach is to die for, the water stunning and a place to relax without being harassed by anyone. Boats and lounges were readily available and we made good use of them during our stay. We booked with Go Travel from Ottawa and I would use their services in a flash, we arrived 25 minutes late and returned home 20 minutes delayed, we were quite pleased.

We used Viazul bus company to drive to Havana and found it reliable, clean and comfortable. It is located on 36th street with the hotel situated on 60th street. Round fare to Havana was $20 per person for a 95 minute drive. They go to all major cities in Cuba, their web site is excellent, one might wish to consult it prior to leaving Canada.

We have skiied numerous times for our winter holiday, this was our first beach/sun holiday and we thoroughly enjoyed this family holiday. The boys still talk about the fun they had and want to go back. With the food being the only concern I would recommend this resort as a great holiday destination.

The week we were here we were one of three Canadian families with the bulk of visitors being Europeans. It was a real learning experience for our boys to befriend Europeans from 8 or 9 different cultures.
Cuatro Palmas
April 2003
We stayed at the Coralia Cuatro Palmas hotel on Varadaro Beach during the week of April 6. The hotel is rated as a three star hotel and we were on an all inclusive package. We are both over fifty. Here is what we found. The hotel is old but clean. All staff were very courteous and friendly. The beach was a s good as it gets and from the tours we took as good as there is in Varadaro. The food was typical three star but good and lots of it. The village of Varadaro was safe and clean. Compared to the DR the vendors are much easier to deal with. They do not approach you unless you have an inquiry. We have two small complaints. For an all inclusive the bar was not very good. The beer was excellent but rum drinks were made of the cheapest rum with mixes that were too sweet. There was very little choice at the bar. As well the water pressure in the shower was always a surprise. Our room was small and Spartan but very clean. We had a great holiday and will definitely go back.

We booked our trip through gotraveldirect and flew out of Ottawa. The plane owned by Zoom airlines was twelve hours late on departing. I am currently negotiating a partial refund because we missed a day of our vacation. I'll keep you posted on the results of the refund.