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Gran Caribe Varadero Internacional
Dave and Debbie  
Canada
March 2006
We stayed at the International Hotel in Varadero (Grand Caribe International) and had a great time. It was our first trip to Cuba and being relatively novice in our Caribbean travels I really checked out the hotel via this site and talking with a travel agent. The reviews on this site were mixed and the agent told me she saw the hotel the last time she was in Cuba but didn't go in it. But we took a chance anyway and I am glad we did.

This was our 8th anniversary and we went Dec17-26th. Christmas in Cuba is really low key which was nice for a change. The Christmas eve buffet and show were really awesome.

Getting There - Pretty boring actually. I expected some adventure but it was all pretty mundane. The bus was late (broken down) so we had to stand outside the airport terminal for about 1 hour while they found a new bus. Made some friends while we waited so it worked out well (Hey Todd and Kasia) The trip to the hotel from the airport was quick. I thought we were going through the government housing but it turned out to be other hotels. Glad I did some homework before I went. The International is the first decent place I saw with an oldstyle entranceway and clean grounds.

Hotel - This must have been the Hotel in its day, Marble floors and counters with a real Grand feel to the lobby, and a quick walk through the lobby and you are on the beach. Not the worst hotel I have seen but it could use a coat of paint.

Staff - The staff were excellent. Juan (bellman) was top notch and was a great resource. Marisa (chambermaid) was very good and always left us some towel art in our room. The barmen were excellent and The line ups were tolerable but a peso in your hand sped things up a bit…which brings me to….

TIPPING - Seriously folks, be somewhat generous with your tips. A peso or 2 is nothing to you or I but it means a lot to the people who work at the resort (if they earn a tip). Take a walk into Veradero to get an appreciation for the poverty these people struggle with each day. Budget a few bucks for tipping you'll fell better (Gets off soapbox).

Room - Clean room with a nice ocean view (ask for it nicely at check in and you will have a better chance at getting one, try to get the top floor). The hotel is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the bed I had was probably an original but my wife is gorgeous so I didn't really care. The water pressure is a little lacking but this is Cuba (flush twice).

Beach - This is the best feature at the Hotel. This stretch of beach is right outside the hotel, you don’t have to navigate through endless bugalow buildings and brush to get to the beach. The beach was clean and it was probably the nicest maintained beach at that end of Varadero Beach. The paddle boats were fun and actually easy to use compared to others I have used. The entertainment staff were always engaging people to get involved in something (volley ball and soccer were quite popular)

Pool - Only got to the pool a couple of times and it was cold so we went back to the beach. The pool snack bar did have the best fries which brings me to….

FOOD - This is where the Hotel fell down. The food was bland and reclycled (waste not, want not I guess) but I didn’t lose any weight so I wont complain too loudly.

The a la carte restaurant was OK. I did eat at the snack bar quite a bit (good fries). You may want to bring your own Ketchup as the cuban idea of ketchup isn't quite the same. The Ice cream is awesome.

Town - Going into town was fun, the double decker bus is a good deal but you can hire a taxi or a handsome cab (horse and buggy) for about the same money if you negotiate. The outdoor markets are fun although it seems to be the same stuff over and over again. But the crafts are of good quality and the value isnt too bad. The Americas mall is really a waste of time unless you like to spend more money than you would at home.

There were a few rooms that did get robbed but that really could happen anywhere if your careless (leaving money in open view etc)

I would recommend this Hotel to anyone and I would stay there again.
Gran Caribe Varadero Internacional
Lisa and Paul  
Whitby,Ontario
January 2006
Wow what a trip! I have to say. First of all our trip threw customs! DON'T TAKE WALKIE TALKIES!! That is a big no no down there! We took our children 9 and 12. Thought it would a neat way to keep in touch along the resort if they wanted to take a few minutes on their own. If you do take them you will not get them threw the airport. You will have to go back to get them when you are leaving their Country. At least we can say that the shuttle bus to the hotel did wait for us after being held up for a extra 40 minutes!! Sorry to the rest of the bus!

Once we were there DECEMBER 25, 2005. We got in around 10:30pm. Check in was a little on the slow side, but it was Christmas day as well. As for trying to find something to eat for the kids....They do have a snack bar where you can get grilled ham and cheese, or just grilled cheese at that time. Well the beach, what can I say....it's beautiful. It is just like looking at a picture. White sand, the water is clear.It is aqua water that you do see in a magazine. The hotel....Well it has it's issues. It's in it's 50th year now. So it could use some fixing up. The beds seemed to be lower to the floor, and not very comfortable. If you suffer from back problems (like me) be prepared. Some of the rooms have had some work now to them. We were in 346 which had nothing done to it. Our friends we went down with had 508 and it was beautiful.

The maids keep up pretty well, our room was always done. Smelt pretty good.....they have febreze down there!! There is a bit of musty smell but at least they're trying!

We left the resort a few times....TAKE TOILET PAPER IF YOU LEAVE TO GO ANYWHERE DOWN THERE!! The malls do not have any. The Airport sells it. There is a lady who sits outside the washroom and unrolls it for you at a cost! Thank god I had tissue in my bag! The people were friendly off the resort. We went to the mall, where there is a Pizza Nova!! No pepperoni but it's just like home! Then we went to the flea market. It was nice little walk. Not too much there other then woodworking and jewellery.

To get around down there....Cool they have scooters! They're not much to rent. They're always on empty too. If you go back there to the hotel the man takes the left over gas for his car. It was funny, but sad knowing that they do not make or have much money. Our 12 year old was allowed to drive it too. We did not let him go on the main roads, but it was a experience for him. They have horse and buggies and taxis.

Then we took the swim with the Dolphins....We did not book it threw Sunquest. We booked it threw the ladies just passed the lobby desk. It was a lot cheaper seeing we had 4 people to pay for. It was amazing! You got to swim with the dolphins for a few minutes, they took nice pictures. They come to the hotel to show you that night.10 peso for one.Then to the Ocean for snorkelling....then to another Island for lunch. Can't remember the name,but it was nice. The food was not bad at all. A lot of people thought it was the best meal they'd have since they were there. You get to stay on that Island for 2 hours then start your trip back. It was a lot of money still but worth the money to see the kids faces.The catamaran was nice. You leave at 8:00 and get back around 4:00.

The hotel Internacional is the only hotel that does not have a long way to the beach. It's right there when you go out the back door. The nicer more expensive hotels have either a long walk to the beach or no beach at all. I would return there, but there are too many other places in the world to go to that I haven't seen.If your interested in sitting back and relaxing on the beach this is the place for you!!
Gran Caribe Varadero Internacional
Bill & Diane 
North Bay, Ontario, Canada
December 2005
We left Toronto via SkyService on 26 November 2005;the usual cramped style seating three seats across on both sides;anyone with circulation problems in legs should consider other options and or airlines as the flight was no treat leg room wise. On arrival at the airport in Varadero the clearance was quick and efficient and the transfer to the hotel was rapid and took about 20 minutes via a modern washroom equipped Volvo Bus which had superb seats and air-conditioning;drinks were available on the bus for a nominal fee. We arrived at the resort a little after 10pm and check in took approximately 15 minutes we were then directed to the Italian Restaurant which was still open and had a sandwich then headed to the Lobby Bar for a refreshment. I have to say that they make the best in house Pina Colada that I have ever sampled. Next on to our room #425 on the 4th floor;the room was very large with an in room safe;which works with your room swipe card very convenient;room was very clean and had a king size bed;and piped in air conditioning which did not appear to have any dehumidifying effect at all on the room as it was very damp and the bed was horribly musty and the smell was with us for the two week period. The air conditioner switch had an adjustable temperature control but as previously mentioned did not do anything about the dampness in the room. We put up with the horrible smell as the beach and the other services at the hotel offset the problem. We are both very seasoned travellers and have put up with a lot of inconveniences so one more was just part of the road of the traveller;but in my view the hotel should do something about the mattress in our room. Beach was superb shallow,sand bars,clear warm waters although the one swimming pool was very cold so we didn't bother to use it;there were mosquitoes outside at night so if you plan on a trip to the Internacional be sure to bring some insect repellent with you as they did not have any at the hotel for sale.Facecloths are non existent in the bathroom and the toilet paper is very rough on the sensitive areas so plan accordingly;also the bars of soap are very small so we brought out own from home. Food at the restaurants was very good lots of chicken(but no breasts) lots of thighs and legs pork and beef which was not very tender. Bacon was served every other morning also the food was only lukewarm at the best of times and the orange juice was canned. Fresh pineapple was abundant but it was not ripe and very sour. The employees at the resort were fantastic and very helpful and always had a smile;it was also noted that there was ample security in plain clothes patrolling the grounds which gave us a secure feeling. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give the Internacional a "7" clear up the musty problem in the room and mattresses and you will definitely will get a return from us.
Gran Caribe Varadero Internacional
Pamela and Dwight 
Canada
May 2005
We are a couple in our 50’s who traveled to Hotel Varadero Internacional on our 5th trip to Cuba. Our review of this resort follows:

We flew from Halifax, Nova Scotia with Canjet on May 1st direct to Varadero. The flight was on a 120 passenger plane. This being a discount airline, there is no on-board entertainment other than renting a portable DVD player at a cost of $10.00 for the trip. The flight was very smooth including both take-off and landing in Varadero. Credit due to the excellent pilots. The only problem was a late departure and a 50-minute longer flight due to head winds, according to the pilot.

Arriving in Varadero, we disembarked and proceeded through Cuban Customs with no delays and left via our bus to the resort.

Check-in was very quick and we had the bell hop take out luggage to our room. We had requested via our travel agent to have a room in the Villa section which we had read about on the internet. We discovered on our arrival that the Villa section has obviously been closed for some time and were given an Oceanview room, Number 409, on the 4th floor of the Hotel.

The room was very large, with two queen size beds, a table and two chairs, large dresser, television, phone, lamps, etc. Very clean and well maintained as most resorts in Cuba are. There were two patio doors, exiting onto our balcony, which had a plastic table and two chairs on it. The view was spectacular of the beach and the balcony was positioned between trees in the yard on both sides of the balcony, so our view of the beach was totally unobstructed. We couldn’t have picked a better room for ourselves.

There was a walk-in closet with plenty of hangers, a wall safe which was included in our package, a shoe rack and a bench to put your luggage on.

The bathroom had a tub with shower and a vanity with sink and mirror and of course toilet. We found the water pressure very poor in the shower, but no problem in the sink. The toilet was very slow to flush and we noticed during our stay there were maintenance people going quite often with a plunger in their hand, so some tourists were no doubt having problems.

On to the food. This resort has a 24-hr cafeteria where you can get the typical fast food (French fries, hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches). From 7-10 pm each evening, this cafeteria subs as the Italian a la carte restaurant, offering pastas, pizzas, and then reverts back to a cafeteria. Also in the morning, if you happen to sleep in late and want breakfast, you can get eggs and toast and sometimes bacon in the cafeteria.

There is also the Universal a la carte which is accessed about 25-ft outside the main entrance of the hotel. This restaurant features for starters salads such as seafood, fish, vegetable, etc. Then on to your choice of 5 different soups, all with a cream base and they all are good. Then onto your main course which can be your choice of chicken, pork, fish, all of which are done in a variety of ways and finally your choice of desserts and coffee or whatever you would like to drink. We thought the food at this restaurant was the best on the resort. This restaurant is attached to the stage area where, each night of the week there is a Cabaret show performed. On Wednesday nites, the all-inclusive guests are treated to supper and the Cabaret show for free. The main course for this free nite consisted of two small pieces of lobster, a piece of fish, and a small steak, along with rice and vegetables. On any other nite if you wish to see the show, there is a discount for you. However, the same show is performed every nite so once you see it, you probably would not want to bother seeing it repeated. Each nite after the Cabaret show has ended, the stage area and bar are turned into the disco. However this does not happen until 11:30 pm or sometimes midnight. There are some people, mostly younger ones that can stay up this late to do some dancing and enjoy a few drinks. We managed to do this on one night, but only stayed for about an hour. The DJ’s music was not all that bad and of course the drinks, as at all bars, were very good.

The buffet restaurant in the main hotel area opens at 7:30 am for breakfast and is open also for lunch and supper. Having traveled to other resorts in Cuba a previous four times and experiencing those buffets, we were a little disappointed in this one. The selection of food was more limited than we were used to and we had to accept it for what it was, if we were to eat at all. An example was that during our two-week stay, we were only offered bacon for breakfast on two days. Other than that, if you wanted meat for breakfast, your only choice was cold cuts such as ham, or fish and chicken done in a batter. Not exactly appetizing with your eggs. However you could get omelets made fresh or have scrambled eggs kept warm in the trays; there were pancakes and syrup, yogurt, dinner rolls or bread (not a great selection) and cereal. We always managed to eat something. The lunch menu was not much better, but again we managed. For whatever reason, there was no limitations put on us to the number of times you could eat at the a la carte restaurants and so we alternated between the two of them and never checked the buffet out for supper, so I can’t comment on what was available and if it was better than the breakfast or lunch offerings.

At the pool area of the resort, there is also a grill at which you could get French fries, hot dogs, cheese burgers, grilled chicken (always a leg or thigh), grilled pork and your usual drinks, whether coffee, water, pop, tea, or alcohol. We ate there a few times during our stay and it was very good.

Swimming. We did not try the swimming pool, as it was entirely in the sun and offered very little shade unless you wanted to sit in the grill area which was under a sun roof. We spent most of our days at the beach and what can you say about Varadero beach other than it is fantastic. During our two week stay it was about 37 C every day with the lowest day being about 33 C, so when you got too warm, even with the continual breeze at the beach, it was very refreshing to have a swim in the warm, but cooler water.

The staff at the resort for the most part, once you get to know them a little are warm and friendly. The check-in staff are not very friendly towards you, but perhaps they do not understand English as well as other members. The friendliest were the bartenders, maids, animacion staff and public relations people.

There are the usual excursions available from the Hotel, but we did not plan to take any of them on this trip and did no do so. The hotel is only a 15-minute walk from the end of downtown Varadero and we took the opportunity to walk there a few times, but always were too tired from shopping in the flea markets, liquor and cigar stores to walk back. Instead, we opted to take one of the horse and buggies which are always prevalent in the area.

To sum up this review, for the money you pay for this resort, it was a good deal. If you expect more from a resort, you will have to pay more for it. Other than the food being of a lower quality than other resorts, the hotel was very good and we would return again if it was the best deal we could get for an all-inclusive resort.
Gran Caribe Varadero Internacional
Marilyn 

May 2005
We have had a wonderful experience at this hotel. This hotel is the only hotel directly on the beach, with a true ocean front view from the balcony of the rooms. The rooms are spacious, and very clean. I like the fact that it is an older hotel as it has character and charm. The expansive lobby overlooking the beach can take your breath away with its beauty and charm! The rooms provide a lock on the balcony door to prevent/deter access from the outside, as well as a room safe (free of charge) to protect your valuables. Wewere diligent in using both thoroughout our two week stay. Food was plentiful, you could have your choice at breakfast including omlets (as many and as much as one desired), as far as lunch there were 3 areas to choose from and again food was plentiful, in fact one day my husband consumed two cheese burgers!! Dinner was our favourite, especially at the Universal Restaurant (where we ate most nights) where once again you did not leave hungary. You had a variety of items to choose from for the main course as well as starters of salads, soups (both if you wanted), and dessert if you weren't too full!! We found the staff throughout the hotel to be friendly and accommodating, and a few dollars go along way!! The buffet staff greeted us everyday with smiles and friendly words (here too we always showed our appreciation). Both myself, my husband and his mother had no problem getting bottled water, at any time of the day from any bar or restaurant. Not only would I recommend this hotel, I will be going back again next year!! The beach is second to none, we always felt safe and never had a problem leaving our items on the beack when we went to enjoy the water, if you knew where to look you would see at least a half dozen security guards (beachside) at any given time of the day. One needs to be cautious and careful whenever and whereever they travel, but Cuba, and this hotel, in particular, we never gave our safety for ourselves nor our possessions a second thought. I have heard from others who describe this as a hotel, where the others are resorts & impersonal. I for one enjoy this hotel, its friendly staff and the gorgeous beach (which is one of the reasons we go to Cuba). We will not hesitate to return to this hotel, the staff made it feel like our home away from home!!

Thanks for allowing me to share our wonderful time with you!! In fact my daughter is considering using this hotel as a destination for her wedding in a few years!
Gran Caribe Varadero Internacional
Donna 
Canada
March 2005
I have to say that I really enjoy reading your site and able to look over past reviews from other people before I choose a hotel. But I have to say that I have been unlucky this time around when I had chosen the Internacional Hotel - Cuba Veradero. My daughters room as well as mine and my husbands rooms were robbed. Yes ROBBED. At first I thought that we were targeted, because our rooms were 3 doors apart but found out that in total 6 rooms, including ours were robbed. Security was unheard of. If you call the security of one man on the beach security. They did not get into the door but thru the sliding doors from the ocean side off the balcony. This all happened when we all were at the hotel restaurant that you had to reserve. The hotel did nothing for us. ITRAVEL2000 is looking into my request to me being compensated as this happened on our 2nd night there. So much for our family vacation. The police have been quite good as they were eager to go on the case but have heard nothing back in reference to getting a police report.

In reference to the hotel itself. The food was awful. Not a lot of it nor any variety. The chicken and fish was always over cooked. The hotel is old. Found the buffet staff to not be friendly at all. RESTAURANTS-- There were only 2 restaurants that you could reserve sitting at. And you had to stand in a line at 10 am every morning to be able to even get a sitting. If you got one, you were lucky. WATER PRESSURE would go out every day in the afternoon so you had to watch showering and using the toilet. MAID SERVICE-Our service was excellent!! We brought little treats to leave daily (hand creams, candies, hair supplies) and she left towel art for us. Plus she made sure that she made the room really clean after the police had literally had it full of black power . BOTTLED WATER - Hard to get unless you were a women and sweet talked to the bar guys otherwise you had to take your empties to the buffet for filling.

I would definately not recommend this hotel to anyone.