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Hotel Villa Cuba
Randy 

May 2008
we stayed at villa cuba because people from town were heading there and we knew we would have company. the resort is old run down we stayed in a villa no hot water in the a.m if you showered from 8 to 10.ants in the room no place for a woman to sit and pretty herself up like the hotel rooms.one gruop of friends paid 200 bucks extra for a villa but when they seen ours they didn't want it and didn't know how to go about getting the extra money back they paid.

the pool bar was a great meeting place the coffe is always excellent in cuba.i think this hotel has the best beach as we walked the strip .worst was at nite the only thing to eat was at the pool hot dogs and hambergers and coffee no booze as itwas rather noisey and then cut it out at 11 p.m

staff was friendly ***** is a good contact for cheap tourof havanna and cheap cigas or anything else you like he can set you up.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Charmaine 

November 2007
Villa Cuba, Varadero Review: Sept. 29 – Oct. 13, 2007
“Honesty Is the Best Policy” – this is a long one!

Background: We are a Canadian couple, one in our mid-50’s and the other in our early-40’s. This trip was the 5th to Cuba for one of us, and the 25th for the other. However, it was the first time that either of us stayed for 2 solid weeks at a beachfront AI.
Also, we have been to this resort a number of times, including our wedding there in 2005, so we are slightly biased in our perspective.

Flight: As “Varaplaya” was the Tour Operator, the airline was Cubana. We loved both flights departing and returning because there was plenty of leg room, we had ample baggage allowance and the check-in crews were friendly and helpful as well as accommodating. Plus they are Cuban, so your vacation begins upon departure!

The negatives: my luggage was damaged on the way down (torn) and there was no rep to report to upon arrival. And the in-flight food is terrible!

Tour Operator: Varaplaya: Since we are pretty self-sufficient in Cuba, we don’t require any attention from our tour rep. However, if we were newbies we would have had a major problem! The one and only time we heard from our Varaplaya rep was the morning we were leaving! While we were at breakfast, he left a note for us in French (we’re English speakers from Toronto), under the door of our room!

Airport/ Hotel Transfers: The Hotel sent a private bus for us when we arrived – a definite highlight! So thoughtful! We hired a taxi to take us to the airport for our departure because we didn’t feel like dealing with the “herding” element of the departure bus.

Villa Cuba Hotel: As I think about writing this review, I am overwhelmed by my senses of truth and forgiveness.
Villa Cuba is an older hotel, approximately ½ way up the Hicacos Peninsula. When I first stayed there in 1990, the hotel complex and pools did not exist. They were built approximately 10 years ago. The villas that once upon a time were private homes are still a part of the hotel.
We got a fantastic deal on this trip and so it should be remembered that it’s because the hotel is under major construction/ renovation. Half the hotel is currently closed including half the hotel rooms (villas not affected), the main lobby & reception area, 2 a la carte restaurants, the main beach bar, the snack bar and 2 stores. Many of the technological functions of the hotel are also not in normal operation, such as the telephones and computers – both for hotel staff and guests’ internet access. We also discovered that since the hotel is under construction and because it’s low-season, much of the staff is away at school, in training.

Room: On this trip, as with our recent visits to VC, we were given a suite on the 7th floor. Repetition has its privileges and we certainly appreciate it! Our room was clean and well-kept. We had a minor catastrophe the first day with water all over our room from the shower head, but it was fixed by noon that day! Our only other complaint is regarding cockroaches in the bathroom. They come up through the pipes and the drainage vents in the floor at night. Considering they are HUGE, the hotel really needs to treat the piping system throughout the hotel to get rid of them! Oh, and our chambermaid, for some reason kept us ‘short’ on supply of toilet-paper. As soon as I mentioned it, we were well-stocked. LoL
The suite is very sweet indeed! The main ‘living room’ has a water-closet, clothes-closet, safe, TV, bar with sink and stools, 2 rattan chairs, coffee table and couch with access to the double balcony. This room adjoins the ‘bedroom’ that has a king sized bed, 2 night tables, TV, fridge, 2 rattan chairs & table, suitcase bench and balcony access. The ensuite bath has a hair-dryer, toilet, bidet, 2 sinks, 2 clothes lines and a Jacuzzi tub with a ‘waterpik’ shower option.
The balcony provides a fabulous ocean view and overlooks the pool, pool-bar and most of the hotel grounds. Some great sunsets from this perspective!

Complaints: Cockroaches, bath/shower water is luke-warm at best (we like it hot!), décor could use an update

Food & Drink: I really can’t say much bad about the food or drinks at VC! As I heard the litany of complaints by other travelers, I reminded each and every one of them to go to a hotel in their home-city and try the food! Then come back and tell me about how bad Cuban hotel food is! Every single one of them agreed that buffet-style hotel food, the world-over, is pretty atrocious. Our only wish is that Cuban hotels would serve REAL Cuban food!!!!!! I can’t stress this point enough! Real Cuban food is delicious, flavourful and some is quite unique.
I wish that Cuban Tourism would introduce travelers to Cuban food through the AI’s for 2 reasons: so that people would stop complaining about the food and so that we aren’t subjected to eating the same recycled food in the buffet day-after-day.
Although, for a great lunch, go to “El Sitio”, the temporary location of the beach bar! And if you like your pasta cooked a specific way, learn how to give instructions for it in Spanish and the guy at the pasta bar in the buffet, will make it exactly how you like it! Great!
The drinks at the hotel are great! As most repeat guests know…go to Bar Mirador (9th floor) and see “Ayala” for the absolute best Pina Colada you’ll ever have in Cuba! Otherwise, the mint was in very short supply, so I think I only got 3 Mojito’s in 2 weeks. I can’t drink all the sweet stuff that usually goes into most cocktails served at the hotel, so I asked for Sangria! Wow! Now that was a smart plan! I ended up with Sangria as my drink-of-choice the whole trip!

Hotel/ Amenities: As I said, much of the hotel is undergoing a massive renovation, so travelers at this time should remind themselves of this before booking with the expectations of a fully functional resort!
We were well-aware of the conditions before we booked (and our TA reminded us as well as offering a different resort ), so we expected much worse than what we found!
The elevator! Oh the elevator in the East wing needs reconstruction like I’ve never seen before! It has been in disrepair since last January. The mechanics tried to fix it during our visit, but I’m sure it’s going to be out of use soon! Gran Caribe (the Cuban Hotel chain) really needs to address the issues of parts and repairs, etc. in better than 10 months time!

Suggestion for Bar Mirador: the seats are old and tired and have no stuffing left which makes it impossible to get in and out of them. Please replace them!

Floors: When it rains, the floors are extremely slippery and I fell and smacked my knee on the polished concrete. It would be useful to have the water cleared as soon as possible after a rainfall.
All other hotel amenities were comfortable and operating fine from what we could see.

Staff: The staff of Villa Cuba is the number one reason we keep returning! They are fun, sincere and genuinely nice people. The hotel has undergone some Management changes and they are certainly for the better! The Management is visible and available if and when needed.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to have a lengthy meeting with the Manager of Public Relations one afternoon. During our discussion, I brought many of the guests’ complaints to her attention and she was attentive and understanding. I also made sure to use the same rule of conversation I do at home: never give someone just a complaint, back it up with a suggestion for change and they will listen to what you have to say!
It was following our meeting that the elevator was repaired and I never saw another cockroach in our room again! Sometimes, all you have to do is say something!

We will return to Villa Cuba again in the future and can’t wait to see what the hotel looks like after the renovations! In the meantime, enjoy the great prices!
Hotel Villa Cuba
Greg 

March 2007
Our visit to the Villa Cuba March 5-12 was a good trip. I will focus this review on some of the points others have not touched on in order not to duplicate previous posts.

Layout: The villa Cuba has a layout much different than any resort we have been to in the past. When you enter the hotel you enter into the lobby on the fourth floor of a very open concept center of the resort. There are many trees, plants, waterways etc that almost give you the feel of entering a jungle or rainforest. This whole open concept is backed by a huge window of stained glass through which is the stage for the shows. Almost everything in the resort happens at or around this ‘center’ of the resort. The shops, restaurants, internet café, etc are all just off the main lobby area. The rooms branch out in ‘wings’ from either side of the main reception area. We very much enjoyed the layout of this resort. The only thing we found missing was a full scale beach restaurant (which of course burnt down and has yet to be rebuilt).

9th Floor Bar: The bar on the 9th floor overlooks all of Varadero and has perhaps the best viewpoint night or day of any place in Varadero. Absolutely spectacular and great service to boot.

Rooms: The rooms were relatively standard perhaps a little on the larger & older side. We were initially facing the Quixote Restaurant away from the ocean but switched after two days to an oceanview on the 6th floor. Our Oceanview room also overlooked the stage which could be a little loud until about 11:00 pm but was great otherwise.

Staff: The biggest deficiency we found at this resort was with the staff. We have had many trips to Cuba (10+) and have never failed to completely enjoy the staff and make friends with many of the Animacion staff but this trip was different. We found only a handful of helpful & friendly staff at the resort, our maid, one lady at the front desk and one lifeguard/ animation member. The animacion staff at this resort were far and away the worst group we have ever encountered, they were extremely lazy and seemed to be looking for any excuse to get out of doing activities. We had one day when they called for volleyball and four of the guests (myself included) showed up. They declined to play with us and instead went and watched from a distance in their own little group. They cancelled activities if there was not an immediately large response. The impression that I received (and from talking to many others as well) was that they were interested only in looking for a young guest that may provide a way out of Cuba.

With a new beach restaurant and a turnover in some of the staff this could be one of the best resorts in Cuba. While we had a good time we would probably not return to this resort as it currently stands.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me gregraz@sympatico.ca.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Rob n Kim 

August 2006
we just returned from a week at Villa Cuba and thought we would provide a review for others. I wont bother with details regarding the country, varadero, currency issues etc, instead I encourage everyone to go to Debbies Cuba forums and join in the discussions there. Tons of valuable advice and people who will answer your specific questions. Regardless of which hotel you pick, join the forums here. Now on to the review of Villa Cuba.....

we have pics of our trip and would be more then happy to answer any questions anyone has about this hotel or varadero in general. email us at robertmay@gmail.com

The hotel is located about the middle of the varadero peninsula. Immediately next to 'Don Quioties'. The hotel is close enough to the village of varadero that you could walk if you had to, but most times I wouldnt want to. I would say that this hotel is about the farthest one would want to stay from town and still walk. If you are farther down the peninsula a cab or a bus is necessary. Also of note is that the double decker tourist bus stops at the front door of this hotel every half hour. Some of the fancier hotels farther out the penisula are a bit of a walk to the nearest bus stop which can be an inconvenience if its 40 degrees or raining, or both, lol. The bus is $5 per person and you can ride it all day, so its a cheap way to tour up the peninsual and also to get your butt into the town and home safely.

The hotel itself clearly was quite fancy about 15 years ago, but has started to show its age a little. The design of the hotel consist of many different levels seperated by stairs. I can see that for some with weak legs this may be a bit of a pain, but its not so big a deal to most as it makes the architectural design sort of unique. The hotel has 4 small elevators, 2 in each wing, which are slow but did work while we were there without incident.

The hotel staff were okay. The girls at the front desk were among the least friendly, but the rest of the staff including housekeeping, management, and bartenders were good. The diningroom staff are the ones that you see most regularly and they were always pleasant. We tipped frequently those who were pleasant and who did a good job. I think the only ones who received nothing from us was the girls at the front desk who were always too busy on the phone or talking to deal with guests who had questions.

The room was bright clean and spacious. The bathroom was nice, lots of marble, good shower head, nice water pressure, lots of hot water, no bugs, etc. Once again the room was showing its age a little, but was clean and exactly as we expected.

Hotel guests- because it was august there were not a lot of Canadians there and a lot more Europeans. The hotel was only about half full the whole time we were there. I personally found that many of the europeans were rude to the staff and never once seen anyone other then ourselves tip a single staff member. Also at dinner, there would be a line at the buffet and often someone would just walk through the middle of it and merge themselves to the front. I wasnt upset about it, but could imagine that back home somebody would certainly be yelling at them or making a scene about it. I've been before when there are more Canadians, brits, french, dutch, etc and it was alot more vibrant.

The food at the hotel was much better then we anticipated and I would say exceeded our expectations. We are not fish eaters and i would say are both somewhat particular, but were always able to find lots of delicious choices. I think the items which stood out at the buffet were the fresh baked buns, bacon, pork stew was amazing, ice cream was like homemade. We also tried a few of the different items which we dont eat here at home such as mutton and other few other dishes. All of them were good and contributed to a great dining experience. As a side note, they do make french fries and if you get them when they first are served they are actually pretty good, after they sit for a while though they seem to age a day every half hour, lol. The only negative food experience at all was the first hamburger I had at the pool bar which was a little rare for my liking. Not a problem at all, just ask them to grill it a little more for you.

The hotel beach was very nice even though we had a bit of mixed weather the week we were there. It is a short walk down a path to the sand and there are lots of shade palapas there and lots of chairs with really helpful staff on site. I dont think you would find a nicer beachfront at any hotel in varadero in my experience. The hotel pools were clean and uncrowded. A few children during the day but nothing too noisey. There were tons of chairs and lots of shade for those looking to beat the heat. The pool bar staff was pleasant and the drink choices great. An insulated mug comes in handy so you dont have to get up as often. ($1 each at the superstore)

Overall, Villa Cuba was a great holiday for us and we have no complaints about it at all. The only negative I can see anyone having about this hotel is that there are alot of stairs. For the money, this is about the best cheapie hotel in Varadero. If you dont mind spending a bit more money or want a hotel that looks modern and boring like a howard johnson back home, there are 'newer' hotels farther out the peninsula for about 200 more per person.

ADDITIONALLY, we would like to add that we left Villa Cuba and went on a couple of adventures. I would recommend that anyone going plans on booking any one of the 'jeep tours' and also a day trip to Havana. They are both great values for the money and let you see a bit more then just surf and sand. Varadero is scenic and safe, but Havana starts to feel a little more like some of the older mexican resort towns where there are people waiting for the tourist bus to arrive. It still feels safe there, but you will be approached by vendors, 'tour guides', and a few opportunistic cubans. Don't let that deter you though because the scenery, architecture, and culture there is one of a kind and wont always survive western influence.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Eric 
Toronto, Canada
May 2006
Background
We (parents and 2 adult children) spent a week at the Villa Cuba with another family (parents and 2 adult children) from Montreal from May 20-27, 2006 with Hola Sun using the CUBANA (AirBus 320). Please read the other reviews for descriptions of the resorts. It was really useful for us. Cubans are friendly and I feel safe. Overall we are very happy with the vacation.

Here are some helpful tips:

Arrival:

At the airport
: The money changer is right beside the carousals. Get some peso coins. It will come in handy.
Sometimes the luggages don't come out right away. Don't panic.
Carry your own bags. Bus driver will demand for 1 peso. You don't need to give. I rather give to the little boy helping out with the bags.

At the hotel:
Check in may take a long time. When you get off the bus, maybe one of you could look after the bags while the other get the room. We had 3510+ and our friends had 3590+. We had 4 rooms in our villa. We took 2 rooms. Hint: don't take the ones at the beach - 3412/3413. Rooms are smaller and far away from the main restaurants.

To Bring:
Tennis racquets would be useful. There is only one court and our family seems to hogging it since it was not crowded. The game room only had a pair of racquets.
Snorkeling gears - more of this later
Face cloths
Beach towels (optional) - or else put a 20 pesos deposit
Your own shampoo - theirs were not good
Bug sprays and after-bite lotions would help - mosquitoes are big
Suntan lotion and Aloe Vera. - I called it sneaky sun - the breezes were so nice that you don't feel the stickiness and sun until it's too late and you get burnt
School supplies for the maids and school in Veradero are always nice
Board games / cards
Bring cash ***** there is double charge on credit cards. Our guide explained that the currency is exchange to USD first (first service charge) then the USD is change back to Canadian (second service charge).- $100 per person is good
Water bottle / Mug - best thing we've brought. You fill up your bottle at any restaurants.

Activities:
The best was the Havana day tour. Since we had eight people, we make a private tour for ourselves with an English speaking guide. Regular price for the Havana day tour without the evening Tropicana show is 67 pesos per person includes lunch. Our tour costs us 40pesos a person without lunch (pack your own sandwich during breakfast). Ask for Neilson Rodriguez, one of the few English speaking guides available. We went to Havana in a Hyundai minivan. It is capable of sitting 12. I think 8 is minimum for the private tour. Private is more flexible. You could get Neilson to show you where the real Cubans lived and where to get the real local rum (75% proof) at 2pesos.

Massage is cheap. 20 pesos for an hour. Get a drink or some food for her. The workers are not allowed at the restaurants. Give thema drink ais as good as a tip.

There are nightly shows. Ladies please don't volunteer. On one of the nights, they took 4 ladies volunteer for the show. I think it was quite humiliating for the ladies.

Bicycles are free. Veradero is just one long peninsular. There's one main road (1st Avenue) and 2 other side roads that stretched the length of the peninsular. The streets crossed perpendicular to it. I think Villa Cuba is at about 94th Street. The middle of the peninsular is 47th street. There is a flea market at 47th and 1st Ave.

Flea Market. The big one is on 15th street. There is a one in the Havana tour as well. Bought a Bongo and a pair of Murakas for 12pesos. Necklaces are about 2 pesos

Snorkeling: - you could get a 2.5 hour package from the guys giving out the kayaks. Cost 15 pesos. They take you out on a non-motorized catamaran to south of the peninsular and then you have a 40 minutes dive. Or you could take your gears and bicycle south to the same spot. The corals are just about 200 meters out into the sea from the beach near the Melia Las Americas hotel. If you are on the Villa Cuba beach, look right while facing the sea. You will see a yellow round top hotel on a small hill. That's where the corals are. If you are at the beach near to Melias, look for the catamaran, that's the snorkeling spot. Bring some bread as fish food.

For more adventure, you could go to the Playa Coral near to the airport. Rent a moped (24CUC for 24hours or 15CUC for 3 hours). Take the route to the airport ( use 1st Ave). There is a 2cuc toll when you leave Veradero. On the highway nearing the airport, look out for mileage markers on the road median. I think it starts as 220 then continues are 200. After 118 look for Playa Coral on the right. It should be on the right of 116. If you pass 116 then you have gone too far and it's just on the right of you. Cubans are friendly and safe. Ask around if you are lost.

The Beach is Fantastic. Give the guy who carries your chair a beer. He will remember you next time

Food:
Good freshly cooked fish, chicken, pork and beef. Don't missed the seafood night. I think the food at Bahia Principe in Punta Cana is better.

The Italian restaurant - not my liking. Waiter with white hair on the side has an attitude...no big deal. Others were superb especially Lidia. Get some small gifts for them. It means a lot.

Rum is 4.50 cuc at the airport for a 3yr, 8.75cuc for a 5 and 11.50 for a 7year Havana Club
Hotel Villa Cuba
Judy 
Canada
April 2006
We left Ottawa February 19th on Skyservice. Had a good flight down, once we arrived we boarded a bus that took us directly to Villa Cuba. We had a quick check in and went to our rooms. The staff at the front desk were quite friendly.

ROOMS: We had a room in one of the villas down by the beach. It was clean but the lights didn't work most of the time. The beds were very uncomfortable, lumpy would best describe them. No pillow cases on the pillows. There are no screens on the windows so be prepared to get a lot of moths in the room if you leave the windows open.

RESTAURANTS: There is one Main Restaurant where you have breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is not great but you can always find something. Pasta, pizza, fries. The breakfast was always good but the toaster never worked and the coffee is just awful. (bring a jar of instant with you). There are 2 a la carte restaurants which we enjoyed, a change from eating at the "Main Reataurant". There is a third restaurant by the beach, but it had a fire, it looked like it was quite large, they are starting to repair it, but from the speed at which they work, I am sure it won't be open until next year. There is small pool snack bar that serves only hamburgs, hotdogs and ham and cheese sandwiches. There is no what I call "SNACK FOODS" which you can get at other resorts, so bring your own snack foods.

Villa Cuba is very large and needs a great deal of upgrades, there is no lightening on the walkways which I found quite dangerous at night, I tripped a few times, so if you are elderly be cautious. The hand dryers in the public washerooms never worked. Could do with a coat of paint to brighten it up.

BEACH: The beach is wonderful what more can I say. Lots of beach chairs, also lots of chairs around the pool.

ENTERTAINMENT: I thought the entertainment was good, it was held outdoors by the pool, it ran from 9:30 pm to 10:30 pm.

TIPPING: I never found the bar staff to ignore me for not tipping like others have said, but then I was not always at the bar every 5 minutes as I saw many people do. I always left the maid something everyday to make sure we got clean towels. The think the hotel staff does quite well with all the tipping the tourists do. I figured the bellhop must make at least 50 pesos a day, not bad.

We took a lot of school supplies down and left them at a school in Varadero. The school is on 45th Street just around the corner from the Church. They were so happy to received these supplies, really made me feel good to give it to them.

SUGGESTIONS: Bring a facecloth, they don't supply them. Also bring a plastic cup for your drinks, they only have these very small (5 oz) plastic cups for all their drinks and they are so flimzy if you squeeze them to hard they collapse. If you want clean towels leave the dirty ones in the tub.

INTERNET: They have one computer with internet, but is hasn't worked apparently for 6 months. I had to go next door to the Riu to use their internet, there is also one down the street at the Solymar.

BANK: There is a bank just down the road from the Villa Cuba, you get a much better rate for your money, the hotel rips you off when exchanging your money.

DOUBLE DECKER BUS: For 5 pesos you can ride this all day up and down the strip, only problem is that there are only 2 buses running so sometimes you could wait up to an hour to get on the bus. If the bus is full it will just go by the stops, so that is when the wait begins. I did not feel it was worth the 5 pesos, you can hop on the regular bus for 1 peso.

ANIMALS: There are 4 cats and one stray dog at the resort, all the tourists were feeding these poor animals. I am sure after having a steady diet of the hotel even the animals will get sick.

SUMMARY: I would rate this resort as a 3.5 NOT a 4 Star. I have been to Varadero a few times before and have stayed at much nicer places, it is worth the extra couple of hundred dollars to stay at a more updated place.

I love visiting Cuba, but would not stay at the Villa Cuba again, there are much better places for a few dollars more. There were people that were staying for 2 weeks, I could not have coped with the food for 2 weeks.

Hope this review helps.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Stephanie and Andrea 
Carroll's Corner Nova Scotia
March 2006
My sister and I booked our trip through Conquest Tours, through a travel agent friend of hers. We wanted a specific combination where we were at an all-inclusive resort for 5 days and in Havana for 2 days. Conquest was one of the few tour groups that offered this type of package - we wanted more than a day excursion to the city. As a result, we had to book quite a few weeks in advance and paid more than some people would want for a get-away package. We know that good deals can be had for less than $1000 per person, but we paid $1500 each simply to have the additional time in Havana. Overall Conquest was exceptional at organizing all our travel needs (from airport to resort; from resort to Havana; from Havana to Varadero airport). I'm not going to bother reviewing the airplane trip - we went WestJet and it was a normal flight...

Now for the review:

The resort was great... but then again, this is the first time either of us have done an all-inclusive resort and the first time we travelled to a Caribbean country so we don't have anything to compare it to. We did read quite a few reviews of this resort on this website, and for the most part, people were happy with everything. And we agree!

The hotel itself was really nice and the entrance was quite spectacular with lots of stained glass, large plants (trees) and caged love birds and cockatiels. The lobby bar was striking with a large stained glass "roof" over it, looking out through huge windows onto the pool area. Upon check in (we arrived around midnight), the front desk staff were efficient and we were on our way to our room very quickly. The only problem was we weren't told which way to go, and of course went the wrong way (there are "wings" to the hotel to the left and to the right of the front lobby, so it's easy to go wrong!). A porter did correct us when we realized we couldn't get to our second floor room from the elevator we were at (it accessed floor 4 and above, so floor 2 is actually below the lobby).

Our room was clean and serviceable - beds were comfortable though the pillows were very small relative to what we are used to. We had heeded some suggestions to bring our own, and were grateful. The bathroom was fine (lots of marble!) and we had plenty of hot water for showers/baths (one lady I was talking to later in the week who was in one of the cottages had no hot water). The only small glitch was no facecloths. I think we read that someplace or were told by someone, but we forgot. We never used the AC in the room, though our maid did have it turned on one morning after housecleaning. It seemed to work OK, but it wasn't really uncomfortable without it. Maid service was fine - no fancy towel animals as some others have seen, but the bathroom was cleaned and our beds made up as expected. We did leave her gifts of hand lotion, lip balm, shampoo, etc, and left a cash tip on our last day. We ran into her one morning after she had just finished our room, and she thanked us personally for the gifts, which was very nice.

Our room overlooked the pool area. The only issue we had with this was a couple of nights of very loud partiers around the pool at 2am in the morning. We both preferred the balcony door open at night, but these particular nights we had to close it. Still, I think it was preferable than being on the street side. For one thing, sitting on the balcony was quite enjoyable - we were screened directly form the pool by lots of palm trees, so the balcony was quite private (though it shared an end with the neighbouring room. Never saw any neighbours though). The room itself opened onto a central courtyard filled with lots of trees, vines, and other plants. Each "wing" of the hotel was a square with all the rooms opening into a central courtyard.

Our normal daily routine would be to spend the morning at the beach, which was gorgeous. There were lots of loungers (with a guy who really likes to take one from the pile for you and dust it off!). The first day was very windy, and the red flag was up so there were no water activities. The following 2 days were yellow flags - we went swimming or should I say body-surfing (not too graceful but loads of fun!). The last 2 days we were there were green flags, and what a difference! We didn't partake of the paddle boats or catamaran, but they were there if we chose. The sand was wonderfully white and soft and clean. And the beach vendors were not at all pushy selling their crafts (some of which we did purchase of course). We walked the beach in both directions, and noted that some of the resorts around us didn't seem to be open. That probably explained why things didn't seem really crowded.

The pool area was very pretty - three intersecting circular pools, surrounded by deck chairs, with the pool bar in the center. We never had any problems nabbing a lounger for each of us whenever we went to the pool area. And there are lots of palm trees to get under if we wanted a break from the direct sun. The pool was clean (saw a maintenance guy almost every morning vacuuming the bottom before most people were done breakfast), and never really crowded

The pool bar was beautiful with lots of mosaic tile work. Drinks were good (the margaritas were a pre-made frozen limeade base, so were very sweet, but perfectly drinkable). We each had our own drink containers (again, as per reviewer recommendations) to avoid having to go through lots of small plastic cups. One annoyance was the fact that people were not picking their cups up after themselves, and so the cups were blowing around the pool. Of course, maintenance cleaned everything up at the end of the day, but it was inconsiderate of the patrons to be so messy, especially as there garbage receptacles very close by.

We saw lots of maintenance people around, watering and taking care of the plants, taking care of the birds in the lobby as well as painting small sections here and there throughout the resort. Overall, it seemed very well taken care of.

The food at the buffet was perfectly fine. Always lots of choices at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There were always pancakes, eggs done a number of ways at the omelette station (or pre-scrambled in the self-serve area), bread, cereal. The fresh squeezed OJ was fabulous, as was the coffee from the dispenser (I think it was being contaminated by the hot chocolate that was from the same dispenser, because it was kind of mocha-y tasting). The toast left some to be desired - the toaster was very slow, only did one side of the bread at a time and barely warmed the bread rather than actually toasted it. But that is a very minor complaint. Lunch always had some hot stuff and some cold stuff to choose from (and yes, you would see some of the same choices at all three meals) - rice, veggies, chicken, bread, sliced meats, cheese, fruit (though that seemed to consist mostly of oranges, pink grapefruit and pineapple, with some prickly pear on a couple of days). Dinner was somewhat the same as lunch - though one night there was grilled lobster (a bit tough but still tasty. I'm used to Maritime Atlantic lobster, which is different, I'm sure).

We did eat at the 2 restaurants that were available (The one down by the beach was closed while they put a new roof on it. It may have sustained hurricane damage this past fall). Both were really good, though really different from the buffet. Both were also located right in the hotel. I now understand why the suggestions are to book a reservation early if you are interested in eating at the restaurants - here, both only sat about 20 people each, and only had 2 or 3 sittings per night. Considering the number of people who can be on the resort at any time, it could be hard to get a seat. They are worth while, but I wouldn't be completely disappointed if I couldn't get a reservation either.

One afternoon we hired a horse and buggy to go into Varadero town. We simply asked a doorman at the front entrance, and he called for one to come to the hotel for us. Other times, we saw some just waiting around for hire. We booked the trip with the driver for 2 hours, though in hindsight 1 hour would have been sufficient. The driver was great, pointing out all sorts of details and letting us get off and go shopping whenever we wanted to. We only went to one of the artisan markets - they all have the same wares - leather goods, wooden carvings, shell jewellery, woven cotton cloths and shawls. We did make some purchases, though (The artisans that were set up at the resort had some of the same stuff, as well as some different types of jewellery, so we bought other gifts right at the resort). This was the only excursion we did off the resort, simply because we were going to be in Havana for 2 days later on.

The nightly show was something else. Eddy rules! The MC was SO into his role, but kept his tongue firmly planted in cheek whenever he came out crying "hands up! hands up! come on! come on!" He was also the day activity coordinator, and just as perky and friendly. Not to mention he knew English, French, and German phrases. Each night was a different show so you could attend all week without too much repetition.

And finally, the staff were pleasant and friendly. A couple of the bartenders were very flirtatious and outgoing, while others were more reserved. Never once ran into any issues or difficulties. We usually tipped a peso or so each bar order, and left a few pesos on the table after most meals. The conversion rate between Canadian and Cuban convertible peso was a bit hefty ($1 peso = about $1.25-1.30 Cdn), so I think we were generous with our tips. The only issue was when we would get money exchanged at the front desk (which was never a problem), we would get $5, $10 and $20-peso notes, whereas we would have preferred more smaller denominations. Sometimes, the bars would have accumulated sufficient tips to provide change. We did get money exchanged right at the airport as soon as we landed. And we kept the $25 peso departure tax separate so we didn't;t have to worry about that when we went to leave.

On the return trip, the only comment I have for virgin travellers is that the Varadero airport is extremely disorganized when it comes to communicating flight information for departures. The information over the gates was usually wrong (our gate indicating a flight to Ottawa which had left hours before), and the departure information on the computers wasn't always correct either (there was a flight to Ottawa that was on "last boarding call" a couple of hours before it's scheduled departure). We kept track of the time, and when we saw a lot of people who had been on our flight down to Cuba lining up at the gate, we figured that was our flight home.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Judy 
Ottawa
March 2006
We left Ottawa February 19th on Skyservice. Had a good flight down, once we arrived we boarded a bus that took us directly to Villa Cuba. We had a quick check in and went to our rooms. The staff at the front desk were quite friendly.

NOTE: When you go to get on the bus you will find that the Cubans jump right away on your suitcase to take about 20 feet to the bus, then then want a tip. They will open up their wallets and show you a $5.00 Canadian Bill, they don't want toonies or loonies. I feel I am quite capable of taking my own suitcase to the bus.

ROOMS: We had a room in one of the villas down by the beach. It was clean but the lights didn't work most of the time. The beds were very uncomfortable, lumpy would best describe them. Thre were no pillow cases on our pillows. There are no screens on the windows so be prepared to get a lot of moths in the room if you leave the windows open. All rooms had a safe.

ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was not bad, it was held outside from 9:30 pm to 10:30 pm. Long enought.

RESTAURANTS: There is one Main Restaurant where you have breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is not great but you can always find something. Pasta, pizza, fries. The breakfast was always good but the toaster never worked and the coffee is just awful. (bring a jar of instant with you). There are 2 a la carte restaurants which we enjoyed, a change from eating at the "Main Reataurant". There is a thirds restaurant by the beach, but it had a fire, it looked like it was quite large, they are starting to repair it, but from the speed at which they work, I am sure it won't be open until next year. There is small pool snack bar that serves only hamburgs, hotdogs and ham and cheese sandwiches. There is no what I call "SNACK FOODS" which you can get at other resorts.

Villa Cuba is very large and needs a great deal of upgrades, there is no lightening on the walkways which I found quite dangerous at night, I tripped a few times, so if you are elderly be cautious. The hand dryers in the public washerooms never worked. Could do with a coat of paint to brighten it up.

BEACH: The beach is wonderful what more can I say. Lots of beach chairs, also lots of chairs around the pool. Bring your own beach towel as they will charge you 20 pesos for the week which is refundable.

TIPPING: I never found the bar staff to ignore me for not tipping like others have said, but then I was not always at the bar every 5 minutes as I saw many people do. I always left the maid something everyday to make sure we got clean towels. I feel that the staff do quite well with all the tips they get, for example the Bellhop works about 12 hours in a day, if everyone tips him just 1 peso, I am sure he could make 50 pesos in a day. Not bad.

We took a lot of school supplies down and left them at a school in Varadero. The school is on 45th Street just around the corner from the Church. They were so happy to received these supplies, really made me feel good to give it to them.

SUGGESTIONS: Bring a facecloth, they don't supply them. Also bring a plastic cup for your drinks, they only have these very small (5 oz) plastic cups for all their drinks and they are so flimzy if you squeeze them to hard they collapse. If you want clean towels make sure you put the dirty ones on the tub.

INTERNET: They have one computer with internet, but is hasn't worked apparently for 6 months. I had to go next door to the Riu to use their internet, there is also one down the street at the Solymar.

BANK: There is a bank just down the road from the Villa Cuba, you get a much better rate for your money, the hotel rips you off when exchanging it.

SUMMARY: I would rate this resort as a 3.5 NOT a 4 Star. I have been to Varadero a few times before and have stayed at much nicer places with much better food, it is worth the extra couple of hundred dollars to stay at a more updated place.

I love visiting Cuba, but would not stay at the Villa Cuba again, there are much better places for a few dollars more. There were people that were staying for 2 weeks, I could not have coped with the food for 2 weeks.

Hope this review helps
Hotel Villa Cuba
Robert  
Ottawa, Ontario
February 2006
Flight
Went by Canjet, left at 0730 and arrived at 1230 hrs, strong headwinds, return left at 1130 and arrived at 1555 hrs, right on time. Excellent trip, try for Bulkhead seat Aisle, allows you to stretch on a four hour and cramped trip.

Arrival
First off plane, first through customs, seems more relaxed than last time. First at money exchange with $1 can = 78 centavos. Washrooms are pay by donation. Lady will try to exchange canadian coins for canadian bills. Luggage off was efficient, bus easy to find and two beers are 5 CUC (pesos) not 5$, if you want beer you must exchange prior to purchase or give them 10$ for three beers.

Bus ride of about 25-30 minutes, check in about 5 minutes, need passport and hotel voucher. To avoid confusion got a bellhop to my room which was on the road side. $5 to the bellboy (well worth it)

Weather
Variable, had rain, thunderstorms, lots of sunny days and a few cool days all in two weeks - I thought canadian weather was weird.

Room
Nice layout, facing Meson del Quijote (Quixote's House) great lobster and a caserne (watch tower) - no entry. Brought a can of Raid, but left it there. Saw one ant (stepped on it) and two flying cockroaches that snuck in while the patio door was open (zapped them with Raid - they died), only saw one gecko and no other wild beasts of any sort (except for some of the tourists).

Exercise
Normal exercise is to walk. You can walk the beach to Varadero (about 30-35 minutes) or the road - paved sidewalks (about 20-25 minutes). There is a gym, volleyball, etc but poorly used and minimally maintained. there is a very small lending library beside the giant chess and checker sets in the leisure ! area.

Currency
Currency here is the CUC - only used in Cuba, and can only use in Cuba - make sure you spend it all before you leave. Airport has numerous places to spend, my last two CUC went for use of the toilet. Exchange rate is 0.74-0.79 to the dollar, best rate is at the airport (bank may be higher but is always lined up - one block or so from the hotel). Lots of "gray market" - rum is 5 CUC; cohiba panatella cigars are 25 for 25 CUC - both at the bar in the hotel. A beach towel is 20 CUC deposit (cash), returned when towel returned.

Travelling
Travelling is very easy; horse carriages, carts shaped like 1/2 oranges (mopeds); mopeds to rent; bicycles to rent; cars to rent; (all right outside the hotel); walk; horses to ride; para-sailing; catamarans and for 5 CUC the double decker open air Veradero Cruise bus (best deal) 0900 to 2100 hrs get on and get off. Trip in total is about 1 3/4 hours, highlights are the House of Al Capone (now a restaurant); the international mall (upper class boutiques) and a lovely ride along the ocean. Beware, the bus gets very crowded during the period 1030 to 1600 hrs, to get off you must make your way down beside the driver and tell him you want off at the next stop.

Entertainment and Tours
Entertainment every night (2100 to 2030 hrs or so) and frequent afternoons. Some of it quite hokey but overall a good show. Good seats are the two balconies on either side of the stage by the bar and by the stairs to the restaurant. Lots of on floor seating in plastic chairs. OK if it is warm, but if cool bring a blanket or coat. Lots of tours, just sign up and go - tour briefing will explain in full. Television is adequate; CNN is on; best news channel seemed to be the german channel (in English)

Two tours to Havana; cheap one is 35 and is in a twelve passenger mini-van (book your ride in the restaurant - one of the waiters will approach you - you are not hard to spot as you are as white as Casper the Ghost). Second is 67 and includes all meals, and a visit to the Tropicana Revue - well worth it; only drawback is you get back after midnight.

Food
General consensus is the the speciality restaurants are marginal at best - very hit and miss. For lobster go across the street to Meson del Quijote - about 15 CUC each priced per size.

Buffet restaurant is absolutely adequate; you can have fish twice a day; omelettes with bacon in the morning; lots of variety of cold meat and cheese; fresh bread to die for; lots of pasta with marginal tomato sauce; lots of chicken and many, many vegetables (yum, yum). Beef, pork and veal are not the best but adequate. Remeber you are on holidays, enjoy. Warning: avoid the sausages, they are loaded with the hottest spices you can find (oh why did I eat them) - two days of misery. Forget the milk, you will have a hard time adjusting to the taste.

Swimming pool restaurant has hamburgers and hot dogs and a few other things - quite good food but one day they ran out of hamburgers!!!

Cigars
Without a receipt you can take 23 cigars out of Cuba, but with a receipt you can take 50 into Canada. You can take two 750 ml bottles of liquor into Canada, so if you buy two 70cl bottles (700 ml each) you should be okay. I was and I stated exactly what I had.

Staff
All great with two minor exceptions; the day girl on the main bar - seems to have an attitude problem but seemed to soften as the days went on ( I think this had something to do with the hotel inspectors being on site during my second week there - not to any change in her.) She often refused to say either Olla or Hello until you said it for the second or third time. To make sure the service was there I gave my maid a bag of goodies both at the start and the finish, also gave the bartender some XL clothes.

Swimming
Beach is great, fine white sand, well maintained and signed. Water is warmer than the pools (3) inter connected - one is adult 1.4 m; one is kids - 0.4 m; one is sports - 1.0 m. Lots of catamarans - hobies to 60 feet excursions, scuba and snorkelling. Cost is 15-80 CUC extra.

People
Mix is vastly Canadian (about 1/2 and 1/2 from Quebec and TROC - particularly Western Canada); many Europeans particularly Scandinavian countries. The vast majority are aged 40-70; there are a very few 1-4 years; some 4-12; some teen agers (Spring Break would be quite different). Everyone was very friendly and easy to meet (I was by myself and met my first new friend no more than 5 minutes after sitting at the bar on my first day)

All in all a rewarding holiday, highly recommended, more info or photographs e-mail me at rhollow@sympatico.ca

Enjoy your vacation.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Amy 
Banff, Alberta
January 2006
THE FLIGHT: I went to Cuba with a freind from college and we flew there via Air Canada, which was changed from our original flight on Sky Services (we booked with Conquest). The flight was great; we had breakfast on the flight, a movie to pass the time and comfortable seating. The flight attendants were really nice as well. Landing in Cuba was beautiful. The island was so green, compared to the white and brown we were coming from. The airport is very small (only 4 gates). Customs didn't take very long to get through. The officers didn't say much but that was ok. We had to go through security, then grab our bags, which were already out on the belt then head outside to find our shuttle bus to the hotel. Be carfeful of people grabbing your bags to bring to the buses because they expect money from you. The guy who took ours wanted $10 canadian for the little trip to the bus.

THE HOTEL: Once everyone was on the bus (just a little wait) we headed out to the different hotels. We had a Conquest rep. on the bus to tell us of the country on our way to the hotels. It was very nice of him to tell us of the island because I like to know about where I am. Once we got to the hotel, check-in was a breeze. We got our key and headed up to our room. We dropped off our bags and then checked out the hotel. It was so beautiful the minute I got there and after walking around it got more beautiful. We could walk to the beach without leaving the hotel premisis which was really cool. The sand is so white and the ocean was so blue. The inside of the hotel was modern looking. There are places to sit everywhere so that you can just chill out and have a drink. There are 4 bars at the hotel so wherever you are, you could get a drink. One was inside, with a balcony very close by so that you can sit and enjoy the view. One was just outside at the pool, again with places to sit and relax. The third was at the beach so you didn't have to walk very far to get a drink. There are places to sit inside and outside at that bar, plus you could get food for lunch and supper as well. So, if you wanted to stay at the beach all day long, you could. The fourth one was my favourite. It is on the 9th floor (opened at 7pm) and it has a 360 degreee view of Veradero. You could go up there and watch the sunset if you wanted.

THE FOOD: Along with the bars, there are many places to eat. There is a buffet where you can have breakfast, lunch and supper. They also have 3 different restuarants, one Italian, one Cuban and one International. You need to make reservations for those restaurants, and have to make them early in advance. We only had the opportunity to go to the Italian one. We were able to choose a starter (soup and/or salad), plus a main item. They only serve pasta or pizza, and knowing how they cook their pasta, we opted for the pizza. Very delicious! The bartenders were all very friendly and knew what they were doing. They all had a drink menu where you could choose from any of the drink selections (written in English) which was a big help. We ate at the buffet for most of the week which was great because they had many options to choose from. They served 4-5 different tyes of eggs in the morning, which was surprising. There were plenty of fruits to choose from, meats and cheeses. They also had salads, pastas, bread/buns and hot dishes. They serve lots of chicken, fish, beef and pork. Lots of variety! The one thing we were worried about was drinking the water, but our Conquest representative (who was extremely nice) let us know that it was safe to drink the water because it is pumped in to the hotels. So, go ahead and drink up!

THE ACTIVITIES: There are so many things to do at the hotel, including a games area, with 2 pool tables, air hockey, fuse ball, a giant connect 4, giant checkers and giant chess. So much fun! They also have a tennis court and basketball court where you can play. Everyday at 4pm you can take dancing lessons. The teachers speak in English and they make it very fun to learn just some basic steps. On the beach, you can play beach volleyball and soccer. Plus, you can take out paddle boats, have a 15min. catamaran ride or go wind surfing. When we did the catamaran ride, we had the option of paying 15cuc to go snorkeling with hundreds of tropical fish. The ride to the snorkeling spot didn't take very long and you had plenty of time to swim with the fish. We were able to feed the fish as well which was really awesome and freaky at the same time.

We also went on 2 tours. The first one was to Havana. I would recommend going on a tour to Havana, especially if you are travelling by yourself, or if you are just girls. Our tour guide was very friendly and knew so much of Havana. We went to all the prime spots in Havana as well. There was so much to see and so many photos to take. If you want to take photos of the Cuban people, they will ask for 1 peso each, so be prepared. Also, we noticed that people would just come up to the group and try to sell you paper, or coins or peanuts. Our tour guide prepared us for those people and just to ignore them. They just want your money. When we were in one of the parks, there were a couple of people that came up and started drawing caricatures of just the men in the group. It was a little weird. Lunch was included in the tour and the food was great. In Havana though, try and bring bottled water and ask for bottled water at luch or cola (in a can).

The other tour we did was swimming with dolphins. This was so worth it!!! It was a little expensive but so much fun. We were able to play with the dolphins in the tank. They did tricks, like jump over us, let us grab their fins and swim with them and they gave us kisses. At the end, the dolphins gave us the foot push, so you could be like Superman for just a few seconds. After swimming with them, they did about a 20min. show which was really cool. You are able to bring in underwater cameras to the swimming part, and trust me, you want to have them.

There are so many other tours you can go on as well, you just have to ask at the front desk, or your representative.

THE ENTERTAINMENT: Every night we were at the hotel, there was a different show. Some nights were not as fun as the others, but still GREAT!! The entertainment staff are very friendly and most speak enough English that you could have a little conversation with them. They are AWESOME dancers and the shows they put on are incredible. At the beginning of the show, they put on the same song and the announcer comes out and greets you to the show....."HANDS UP, HANDS UP!" You will know what I am talking about if you have been there, but it's not as annoying as some people have said. It's kinda funny and very energetic. The hotel has a mariachi band as well that plays everywhere. They play at 2 different bars, plus they come into the buffet area at supper time. They are really good too and if you like that kind of music, the trumpet player is really talented. I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THE ENTERTAINMENT!!! If you do have a balcony room and you complain about the noise, it's becuase you aren't into the whole atmosphere. You can shut the door and it's not as loud. Plus, the show only goes on for about an hour so you can be in bed by 10:30pm with little to no noise outside. Oh, after the show too, you have the opportunity to go on the stage and follow the leader guy and dance. It's so much fun!

MONEY: Cuba ONLY takes Convertible Pesos which you can't get in advance. Some of the tours you can use VISA to book but everything else is the pesos. You can exchange it at the airport if you have time to wait in line for awhile. We exchanged ours at the hotel front desk which was fine with us. Doing it that way was helpful because you could just exchange what you needed. Keep in mind though that you need 25cuc to get out of the country, so keep that in consideration when you are figuring out how much money to bring.

TIPS: For souvenirs, we found most of ours at the hotel. There are a few different shops at the hotel, plus, there were a few down on the beach. You can buy instruments, necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, paintings, keychains, pencils and pens, and a whole lot of different items.

Kids are welcome at this hotel, but we didn't see many. There were lots of younger people, teens and young adults but also a lot of older people and families. The elevators did work at most times but you can't rely on them all the time. Take the stairs as often as you can. Bring little gifts for the maid in your room because they really like them. We brought candies, pens, pencils, notebooks, chapstick, keychains, pins, toys for their kids and we also left a note everyday thanking her. Bring lots of suncreen and aloe vera. You can bring your own towel but you can also borrow from the hotel. Other than that, the hotel was clean, little to no bugs in our room, and the staff were really helpful and very nice (especially if you are nice to them).

All in all, I LOVED my vacation and I would definitely go back to this hotel and recommend it to everyone!
Hotel Villa Cuba
Sophie 
Canada
January 2006
My husband and I just returned from a family trip to Cuba Dec 30-Jan 6 2006. We stayed at Villa Cuba.

This is my second time to Varadero and I thought that I should write regarding this trip, since this time we had kids with us.

Flight:
Air Transat flight was simple and on time. They served us breakfast and had a great movie onboard.

Hotel:
The hotel is very large and yet so easy to get around, even our 10 years old was able to manage on her own. We had 2 rooms on the 4th floors 1408 with one king bed and 1401 with 3 twins. (1401 had an aunt infectation and also the air-conditionning unit suffered condensation leakage) Our room was on the side of the road and the kids room was on the pool side, great view for evening shows but really loud. We found the hotel staff to be non smiling and non helpful. The rooms are large but be warned to bring your own pillows, their are hard and causes stiff necks in the morning.

Food:
My husband ate very well on our trip but then again, where there is beer food doesn't matter much...the kids on the other hand, ate poorly. They were disapointed that the milk didn't taste the same and that it wasn't cold. They pretty much ate white rice and bread all week.

Beach:
The beach is just wonderful, we had some heavy waves at times, great hot sunny days between 28-30 every day. We took a trip on a Catamaran for $15cuc to go snorkeling close by.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Charm & Zeph 
Canada
May 2005
As this is the second time that DH & I have done this exact trip, I feel it's about time I post a review.

We travelled between April 16 - 30th, flying from Toronto to Varadero with SkyService, passengers of Conquest.

I should point out that we booked in October because we were married at Villa Cuba and had 22 guests at our wedding from various locations including Toronto, Halifax and Montego Bay.

Our itinerary, after I shook some people up at Conquest...was for us to spend the first 7 days in Habana and the latter 7 in Varadero. Conquest did not originally offer this, but I complained and they got me what I wanted. about the hotels:

Habana Riviera: there are 3 simple reasons why we like this hotel...it's location in Vedado makes it easy to get just about anywhere in Habana; it's location...on the Malecon; and finally, the salt-water pool. The Riviera is aging and certainly isn't anything more than a 3 star hotel, however, the staff are friendly, helpful and are not rude to Cubans when they enter the hotel. As we have a number of friends in Habana, it's great to be able to host them in our hotel without getting "special permission" or a flat-out "Cubans are not allowed"!

Giselle the Cubatur Rep. is charming! See her to book a tour or even just to find some interesting things to do. The rooms are large and spacious, the beds are firm, the in-room safe works and the only thing that really needs an immediate upgrade is the hairdryer (I think I would say this about all AI's in Cuba though!). The views from just about any room at the Riviera are fantastic: ocean and city combined, either watching the sunrise or the sun set...

This hotel offers breakfast only with your booking. The fare is what one might expect in a Cuban hotel buffet: lots of eggs and fruit, fried meat and cereal, yogurt and sweets. I should note here that on Tuesday they asked us to fill out a questionnaire...in one of my comments I suggested the need for less fat and more vegetables. The next morning the buffet was full of green vegetables and lots of tomatoes, steamed potatoes, etc. We were impressed with the quick response!

The Riviera is not for every traveller, but for folks who've been to Cuba before and want to take a step back into the fifties and understand things a la Cubana...this is a great middle of the road hotel at a great price. If you must be pampered, then the Melia Cohiba is right next door...pay them a visit.

Hotel Villa Cuba has a special place in my heart because it's the very first place I ever stayed in Cuba exactly 15 years ago. Now it's a special place because I was married there on the 27th of April! I'll have to post a separate rating of the wedding coordinating, but just for the record here, it was FANTASTIC! They were amazing!

The Villa Cuba has changed dramatically over the years and all for the good! The hotel, the bars, buffet and restaurants! Wow! The staff are terrific! I somehow managed to get into an argument with one of the staff and it was all she could do to work to resolving our conflict! The management team to the gardeners have all become friends and even if we weren't getting married, they would have been just as "interested" in us.

Because of the wedding, we were upgraded to an ocean-view, jacuzzi suite and the view was spectacular! Having the suite really came in handy for entertaining all 22 of our guests!

We have eaten at all the restaurants on-site except La Fonatana (Italian) because I am of italian descent and hate the way Cubans cook pasta, generally speaking. The others offer good food and service that is a nice break from the buffet. Speaking of which, the buffet gets better all the time: it offers a lot of vegetables, fresh grilled fish, (actually, a number of freshly grilled things), rice, potatoes and pasta bar. For lunch though, I would say that the grilled chicken with Morros y Cristianos and salad, at the beach bar "El Sitio", can't be beat! If you ask the bartender (Ray) for a shot of lime juice and sprinkle it on your meal, this is the closest you can ever get to a 'real' Cuban meal at any hotel in Cuba!

The beach is like none other - need I say more? The sand feels like silk between your toes and the water? It's unmistakably, the colour of Windex every single day!

I have never been in the pool as I prefer to be a beach bum, but friends says it's great because it's not as strongly chlorinated as ours in Canada.

Villa Cuba calls us back time and again for one other simple reason: when I go on vacation I want to KNOW that there are a number of "animacion" options available to me, but I don't want to be hassled to get involved if all I really want to do is lay under my favourite palm tree and have a nap. Villa Cuba staff are great at determining the entertainment needs of each and every guest and respecting your choices. I really respect this!

The only criticism I have is again, the hairdryers...I will bring my own on my next Cuban adventure!
Hotel Villa Cuba
John & Rina 
Grande Prairie, Alberta
March 2005
We read the reviews on Villa Cuba after we had booked our trip and felt very uneasy about going to this hotel. We have traveled extensively in Mexico, Dominion Republic, Europe and South Africa but this was our first trip to Cuba. Well, let me tell you, we were pleasantly surprised. The resort was far above all our expectations. We thought it was a beautiful place. Yes, it is an older resort but the surroundings are beautiful. The beach and the ocean were the best we’ve encountered.

The room was huge with two double beds, two comfortable armchairs, little table, large dresser and TV. A safe right in your room. Large bathroom and thick white towels. A balcony with a table and lounge chair. It was nice and clean. The pillows on the bed were thin but we brought our own.

Our first room was located on the south east end and was close to some very noisy fans. We could not open the balcony doors or sit on the balcony because it was too noisy. It took a few days to get another room on the beach side. Nice and quiet and a beautiful view. I did meet one rude lady at the front desk but the two gentlemen I dealt with in regards to the room change were courteous and accommodating. I wish now I had written down their names. We are seniors but purposely used the stairs instead of the elevators as we need the exercise.

We found the food at the buffet very good. There was always lots of fruit and vegetables and delicious freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning. The tablecloths for breakfast were not always the cleanest. The fish, pork and chicken were very well prepared. 95% of the staff was courteous and polite.

We did rent a car for three days. There is not much traffic on the road, you just have to watch out for bicycles and horse and buggies. If you are going to drive you better have a good sense of direction as road and town signs are few and far between. It is so interesting to see all the old cars and trucks from the fifties.

We also took a few tours and found the guides very pleasant and informative. We took the Matanzas/Bellamar Cave tour ($25) one afternoon. If you go to the caves make sure to take some disinfecting wipes along to clean your hands after. We also took the all day tour “Guima Steam and Sugar” ($59). Both tours were well worthwhile.

We flew with Air Transat from Edmonton and found the seating room a little better then when we went to the Dominican Republic with Sky Service last year.

We hope to go back to Cuba and would certainly stay at Villa Cuba again.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Mike and Raija 
Ottawa, On.
March 2005
Check in was fast, but they didn't explain where our room was, and with 30 people waiting behind us in line we decided to find it on our own. Sounds simple, but this resort has a very strange layout. With no idea where we were going we got lost, befriended a stray cat, and eventually found our room with directions from the pool boy who spoke no English. Lugging our bags around the resort at midnight was not the best way to start our vacation.

The room was very plain, but functional. We shared a small twin bed with the world's most uncomfortable pillows, and a noisy air conditioner. Intermittent cable TV and a very leaky shower were bothersome, but we got by just fine. We were fortunate to have a room free of bugs. I spoke to two separate guests who had cockroach and ant problems in their rooms.

Our first day's meals were fine, but on day two we realized the variety was over. Every meal is exactly the same, only the type of fried meat changes. If you are a vegetarian, or don't want fried meat for seven days then choose another resort. The desserts were very plain, and the bread was always stale. The a la carte restaurants offered a break from the buffet, but were nothing to rave about. The service is excellent at your table as long as you tip, which is typical of all our service at the hotel, and indeed all of Cuba.

The bars are great as long as you like rum and beer, there were few international drinks available. They serve very small plastic cups, but would gladly fill any container you had brought with you. I would recommend you bring a large travel mug, this way you will spend less time waiting at the bar. Don't be surprised if the bartenders offer to sell you rum/cigars/personal tours. This seems to be a lucrative side business for them. We bought rum and cigars from them at below half the government regulated price, and although we were warned by our tour operator that they would be confiscated at the airport, they were not.

The website listed the resort as having multiple pools, but in fact it is one large, shallow, unheated pool. The ocean was much warmer than the pool was. If you want to sun by the pool then claim a chair on your way to breakfeast. Sun chairs are comfortable, but limited and usually full by 10am. Don't expect any to free up before sunset. They have signs posted that you can't claim the beds unless using them, but this is not enforced. I did like the towel service they offered - we got fresh towels every day on our way to the beach. Lots of people brought their own towels, but this isn't necessary.

The evening entertainment was family oriented, I thought it was boring, but some people liked it. The best entertainment was the live Cuban band that played at the bars all day long. They were also in the restaurants, and were great to listen to.

The beach is why you are there, so make use of it. The beach is spectacular, and definitely the nicest one I've been to down south. We always got a sun chair, and an umbrella hut to keep the sunburn at bay. The ocean is clean and lots of fun to swim in. They have plenty of volleyball, but I never saw any of the aquatic 'non-motorized' sports they wrote about on the website.

If you buy tours for off the resort make sure and ask about the prices. We were given two different prices for the same tour from the same person, so be persistent and get the best price you can. If you are going on the Havana tour ask about the price w/o the lunch included. It was $27 off if you brought your own lunch (which is almost half the tour price), and we just brought food from the buffet. Be on time, and make sure you ask each tour guide as they get off the bus which tour they are running. This was the worst organized tour system ever - about 20 buses pulled in over 20 minutes, and the tour guide would get off but say nothing, they expect you to ask them if that's your bus. We spoke to people who waited patiently for their tour to be announced, and their bus left without them. Luckily the person who sold us the Havana tour saw us waiting and stood with us until our bus arrived and pointed it out, if she hadn't we would probably not have gone on our tour. When we bought tours in Mexico they clearly announced (in English) which tour each bus was for, and checked your name against the list to make sure you got on the right bus.

Money - make sure and get plenty of cash when you arrive. Nobody accepts credit cards, and you can only get cash if you have your passport with you. Our resort would change our currency, but would not sell us any money. Luckily the bank was next door, but be prepared for a long lineup, and don't forget your passport.

Checkout day came, and although our bus didn't leave till 8pm we had to leave our room at noon. We swam that day, and needed a shower so we inquired about the hospitality suite. There was a lineup of about 20 people waiting for it also, most of whom waited in vain. If you get the room you keep it as long as you want, and some kids were partying in it and wouldn't leave we heard. We rinsed off at the pool showers instead, which was our only alternative. You have the option to pay extra for a later checkout which I would recommend, or make friends with someone else who paid and use their shower. They will hold your luggage at the front desk, which was convenient.

Overall Pro's: Clean, and amazing beach. Good place to go and relax.

Overall Con's: This is an old resort, not well kept up. Very poor variety of food.

We would recommend Veradero as a good vacation destination, but would not recommend this resort.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Wayne and Pat 
Sherwood Park, Alberta
February 2005
I have read many reviews on this place, some good and some bad, here are our thoughts!!

FLIGHT: The day finally came for our vacation. There had been a snowstorm the night before but we made it to the airport. The flight was 2 hours later leaving but your on vacation so what does it matter, at least it wasn't cancelled!

ARRIVAL: It took about an hour to get through customs and then our luggage. We found our bus and we had to wait for other people to get on. There was a trailer just near our bus and they were selling beer for 2 dollars a can. I didn't have any Cuban money yet but they take Canadian money there. It was a nice drive to the hotel. The agent who went with our bus was very informative. Booking in took all of two minutes and we went to our room and dropped our luggage off and went for a couple of beers and some supper.

RESTAURANTS: Now you have to remember that you are in a third world country. There were alot of different things to eat. We always found something good to eat. We have been to the Dominican Republic threee times and we have gotten sick every time but this time in Cuba we never got sick at all. If worst comes to worst you can always have alot of desserts. One night it was fish for supper and hamburgers and I had had a hamburger for lunch so I just had some bread and some french fries and had alot of the desserts.

ROOMS: Our room was on the top floor, king-size bed with an ocean view. It wasn't our beach but the one across the street. It was just beautiful!!!! It was quiet at night as we didn't have the entertainment noise. Plus you could just sit on your balconey and watch all of the cool cars going by.

BEACH:It is just as beautiful as everyone has said. I think it is the nicest one that we have been on.

ENTERTAINMENT: You can never be bored there. If you want quiet,you've got it. If you want to be active all of the time,you've got it. It is all up to you. There are three different bars that are off the hotel and they are still close enough to go there at night. You can walk to Varadaro. It is about 45 minutes away. We would walk there and about halfway there is a bar so we would stop and have a cold beer. We always took a horse and buggy home. It costs about 4 pesos. We also took a little cab, it looked like an old orange juluis machine, to the shopping center. It is about ten minutes away by cab.

SUMMERY: We went there for two weeks and they had to make me leave kicking and screaming because I didn't want to leave. Everyone is so nice and we didn't have a bit of trouble with anyone. Next time that I go I will take some extra sunglasses. You can get them cheap at the dollar store and everyone who works there would really appreciate them. We also brought hats and they really liked them. We never saw any kids while we were there.

So go and have fun. I know we did!!!!
Hotel Villa Cuba
Canada 

February 2005
Hello. We just returned from Villa Cuba this morning (Feb 13 2005) and wanted to write a review while everything is fresh in memory. My boyfriend has been to Cuba 7 times and this was my 4th time. We are early 30's and like to have fun and relax. We also had a friend travel with us and he is 30 and single so he was hoping for some fun nightlife.

We flew Cubana Airline and have no complaints. There seemed to be plenty of leg room for us all, the guys with me are about 5'11. The airline staff were very friendly and spoke clear english. We would fly with Cubana Air again.

We booked over the internet Sunholidays and they were fine but Hola Sun was the provider. We booked a 8 night all inclusive for about $1100.00 taxes in. We were aware that the return flight left from Cuba to Toronto at 4:30am. That wasn't a problem but as I said we booked for eight nights which is misleading because we had to check out of our rooms at 12:00pm with no exceptions and no available late check out at any price(not that we should have to pay). We had to check out of our room at 12pm and didn't leave for the airport until midnight. 12 hrs was too long to not provide accomodations to guests.

We read many reviews before we booked our trip. Reviews were mixed. We love Cuba and have kept going back. If you don't expect too much from the food and the accomodation we have always found that the people, the weather and the beautiful country will give everything and more you are looking for at the right price. That is not to say that you don't get what you pay for. It is my experience that you can't go below a 4 star in Cuba, period.

HOTEL VILLA CUBA - My overall advice...go somewhere else. This hotel is not a four star. We have stayed at, and loved, Breezes Jibicoa, Beaches Varadero, Playay Pesquero. Villa Cuba is old which is fine if maintained but it really wasn't. The pool is clean but not very appealing, the overall layout just didn't seem to make the most out of one of the most used areas of the resort. There is also a shortage of chairs at the pool. The main buffet restaurant was very basic, but the table cloths were not kept clean. The food is fine if you stick with the basics, omlettes, pasta, chicken, rice etc.

The beach - beautiful. It's Varadero of coarse it's beautiful. There are lots of chairs available.

DON'T STAY IN AN OLD VILLA , ie, 3350 - stay in the hotel or new villa if possible. We were booked for the hotel but they put us in a Villa. It had no glass in the windows, just wood slats which meant the room was open to the outside. The room would have been perfect if there were windows. It was an old room but large and usable. But by the second night we had been eaten alive by mosquitos and were not getting any sleep. There was a large dirty fish pond in the lobby area of the villa which is probably where the mosquitos come from. We could not get any sleep between 7am and 1am. There were roosters in the early morning and entertainment in the evening. You couldn't have down time in your room during the day because of the roosters and noise from the pool. We managed to switch rooms on day 3, after getting attitude and the run around from the front desk staff and were put into a three storey walk up villa. The room was not nearly as large but the room was much quieter. The pillows on all beds are brutal, very thin. The bed sheets were clean but the bed covers were very dirty, several stains and marks that grossed me out. The rooms are kept clean and the maids were very nice and appreciative of tips and gifts.

This following bit is the part that wrecked it for us. As we said we love Cuba for it's people. This was the first time that the staff were the problem. There were some nice ones but overall we found the staff were not very friendly, especially in the main restaurant, pool bar area and lobby desk. On the resort you couldn't go an hour without someone offering you cigars at a good price or an offer to buy something of yours they really liked. I had a insulated mug that I stopped taking the bar on the second day because of this. The bottom line with the staff is it was tooo much.
The lobby desk staff were not helpful and always said "come back tomorrow" when asked about room change and trying to get a late check out. Do not let them get away with this.
Now saying that, we did end up taking one of the entertainers up on an offer to take us to Havana and it was a good time. We saved about ten dollars a person.

We met several other people from Ontario on this trip and we all felt the staff and resort was not up to par. One girl had stayed at Villa Cuba a year earlier and loved it so much she had returned, but now said she regretted returning and would not come again after this experience.
The Hola Sun info page stated select international drinks were available. This is not true, there is just domestic drinks which we found very disappointing. The nightlife is what you make it, the disco at the resort is not a happening spot, but the entertainers kept us informed about other discos to go to on different nights.
We still had a good vacation but overall we do not recommend this resort. If you do go here do not spend more than $1000 taxes in.
Hotel Villa Cuba
Wayne & Judy 
Sherwood Park, Alberta
February 2005

The Flight Wow! We traveled to Cuba on the above dates and had a wonderful time. Flew Skyservice direct out of Edmonton to Varadero. Flights were on time and all the things you have heard about skyservice are probably true. Very cramped seating, 3 bathrooms for 300 people, incredibly uncomfortable seating, and classic airline food are true. Having said that the crew were friendly and helpful, we traveled with our two ten year olds and two seniors and they made sure we could sit together on both flights. You have to pay for headsets($5) which you then get to keep but I would recommend bringing some as most of us own them anyway. The baggage restriction had me sweating as the $7 CDN for each kilogram over is a hefty charge. we called skyservice from home prior to leaving and were told each persons baggage would be weighed individually....not the case. Both trips our baggage was weighed as a family and we were well under the 20kg per person...even though I had taken a case full of goods for the Cuban people on the way down.

Entry
Immigration took about 1 hour as another flight had landed just before and after us...long wait as it was warm and we were dressed in long pants but tolerable. The immigration people just looked at the paperwork and you...not a word was said! A bit unnerving but they take their jobs very seriously I guess. We grabbed our bags, no problems there and off to the bus.

Money
We did not have time at the airport to exchange $$ as we were one of the last to clear immigration and the buses were ready to leave. We did all our money exchange at the hotel as the banks were a bit of a hassle. They close at noon and they line ups we saw were outrageous. the hotels do charge a 3% commission but I was on vacation and avoiding line ups is my mandate in life. The hotel desk clerks were always able to exchange and we did not get shortchanged at all. We only exchanged as much as we needed as the week wore on. All our excursions we paid by credit card with no problems. Credit cards must be issued by a Canadian financial institution--US affiliated credit cards will not be accepted. The exchange rates are clearly posted at the desk for you to check the math--please do as I did hear people complaining about some shortchanged exchanges.

The Hotel
The Villa Cuba was a wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone I liked. (Kidding) It was great. Check in was quick and painless. The hotel itself is showing it's age a bit but was generally well kept. It was clean both in the public areas and the rooms. However it is listed as a 4 star...remember this is Cuba. If you expecting the New York Hilton you will be disappointed. We went realizing we were going into a very poor country and were pleasantly surprised. I've stayed at worse places in Canada!! There are 3 bars--lobby bar--beach bar--and the ninth floor bar. Amazing sunsets from the ninth floor, awesome cafe con leche ( coffee with milk ) at the lobby bar, and great rum EVERYWHERE!! They have a drink menu in English at the bars...try them all...they are free!! They also have a drink called "Disco", kind of like baileys, I liked to dump in my coffee it was great stuff. The rum flows freely at all the bars light/dark whatever your pleasure. The bar staff was great and we never had a problem getting a drink. The kids found slushies at the pool bar and consumed lots of those. They had lemon and strawberry...with rum or without for the kids. We did tip at all the bars one to three pesos per visit depending mostly on what was in my pocket and I can't say the service changed with the tips but I know these people need the $$. The room was a bit of a surprise. We had booked as 2 triples to get the children's discount on both our kids. one child eats and stays free with 2 paying adults. At the advice of our TA we booked as the 2 triples. Well we got just that....2 rooms 1409--1414 with 3 twin beds in each room. Kids really wanted to sleep together in the same room and you cannot have more than 3 people per room. They were unable to give us adjoining rooms although they did say we could get one later in the week...we chose not to move again. Well to make a long story short...my hubby and I slept in a bed each and the kids shared one bed...good thing they are tiny!! My parents then stayed in the other room...so if you are traveling with more than one child keep this in mind. We were on the road side versus the pool side which at first was disappointing but once the evening entertainment got going we were glad...VERY LOUD! Much quieter on the side facing the road. The rooms again were clean and the maid was awesome! We left little gifts for her each day and she made towel animals and left us notes! Prior to leaving I read multiple tips on what to take...I must say the thing that seemed to be most appreciated was the Tylenol and other medicine I left for her. The showers were great...always warm and lots of pressure. Air conditioning worked well as did the fridge. Lots of storage space and a TV with some kind of cartoon channel for the kids at quiet moments like when we napped..lol. We were told by our TA that there was no elevator in the hotel which was a bit of a concern traveling with seniors...they were 4 elevators and the facility is completely wheelchair accessible for those requiring it. The hotel is multi tiered and there are lots of stairs. The steps on the stairs are all different heights and we did come across some people that had fallen with wounds to prove it...I suggest taking the elevators if you have difficulty walking (either rum induced or not). Check out was just as painless...check out is noon but we asked to keep our room till our bus came at 3pm to take us to the airport and there was no problem. The staff are friendly and try to be helpful although I must say I did encounter staff that spoke only Spanish for which a smile and a wave seemed to suffice. We were told they was a kids club...not much to it....just some younger resort staff monitoring the recreation area. Our kids are pretty good on their own so it was not much of an issue...we felt pretty safe as long as we were close by and knew where they were and they were together. The pool was cool and clean....kids liked it on warm afternoons. The beach as expected was awesome...crystal blue water...white sand...and chairs for all....one word for us pale northerners...SUNSCREEN! The water is great but snorkeling is horrible....really no fish. I understand the reef is about 1.5 km out and that was a bit too far for the kids so we just played in the waves. Oh and for those that found bugs in their rooms--we did have ants on the balcony but none in the rooms.

Food
We did not eat at any of the alacarte restaurants as we were unable to book at reasonable times. We ate most of our meals at the buffet. The food is not anything to rave about but we always found something we liked. The beef was awful, pork and fish very good as was the chicken. The fresh bread was great and plentiful at all meals. Vegetables and fruit were good as well. I had taken salad dressing and ketchup that we did not use as even the kids were able to find things they liked. The pizza's were great as well. Service was excellent and we did bring gifts for the wait staff we saw most often near the end. We also left a tip at each meal which I understand the "team" of wait staff split between them. the fresh squeezed orange juice at breakfast was awesome!

Entertainment
Well...hmmm...always something going on at the beach or pool. Evening entertainment was painful same thing night after night...follow the leader, leader.....who let the dogs out.....HANDS UP, HANDS UP!! Yeah if you miss it not to worry. Kids liked the magic show. Very loud!!

Excursions
We did three excursions during our visit. The dolphin swim--not to be confused with the catamaran/dolphin swim. We spent about 40 minutes with a group of 5 people and 2 dolphins in the water. It was awesome...we swam with them....got pushed through he water and up by them...the actually close their eyes when they hug you....69 pesos each. Note that you have to pay to bring your own cameras in because they take your pictures and then want to sell them to you. The pics are $10 each and the video $35 in pesos. Well worth it and we watched the video today at home...great memories. There were people that went to the catamaran/dolphin swim that spent 2 minutes with the dolphins...just enough to take a pic and sell it to you. just so you know what you are getting. We then watched the dolphin show...it truly was an experience of a lifetime. Did the Havana day trip...without the Tropicana....tour guide was awesome...spoke English very well and was extremely well informed...67 pesos per person and included lunch...which was really quite good at a nice place in Havana. Then booked a snorkeling/ranch tour from the hotel. It was okay..they took us to a freshwater cave to swim, and then to another cave where we walked 200 steps and one kilometer in and out...make sure you're fit enough to get out the 200 steps once you are in!! Then to a ranch by boat for lunch...breathtaking views on the boat. Lunch was very Cuban....rice, beans, chicken. Beer was good though. Then horseback riding for about 7 minutes on some very thin horses. Wanted to give them my rice and beans...lol. Yeah and the snorkeling never happened. Apparently most snorkeling is cancelled during the winter months due to rough water...as the coral is fire coral and only 30 cm below the surface which makes it quite dangerous if the waves are rough. Again just so you know what you are getting. 45 pesos per person.

Tips to go
We unfortunately had 2 episodes of norovirus on our trip. My Dad on day 5 and myself on day 7. We spoke with several people that had the same thing in our hotel and others...I suspect the high volume of tourists are bringing it in and passing it around...WASH HANDS...WASH HANDS. Took pepto...gravol....immodium...and tylenol...resolving slowly. Medication is difficult to get but I was told the hotel nurse had stuff if we needed it....I am a nurse and we got by on what we had...these things for the most part run their course in 24 hours or so but the medication made it bearable..glad I took it. I don't believe this had anything to do with the hotel or the food it is just simply a byproduct of living where thousands of others have been. Next time I would bring some bleach wipes to wipe a few things down and hopefully lessen the chances of this happening again. All in all a wonderful trip...not a drop of rain and very warm...Cubans are warm and friendly people and their country and way of life carries lessons for the rest of us!
Hotel Villa Cuba
Tim 
Canada
January 2005
My wife and I have just returned from Cuba after one week. This was a first time for both of us, and we both plan on returning. It was Fantastic. Our short time there was from Dec 6 – 13 / 04. We are both in our 40’s, very laid back people, like to relax while on vacation, but also like to have fun.

The Flight: Left Vancouver on time in the morning flying with Air Transat for the first time. The airline was clean, but very cramped. Who cares we were going to Cuba! I must make a point of saying that one steward and one stewardess on this flight should really find another job. They were the rudest people in the hospitality industry I have ever met. All of the others seemed very friendly. We watched two re-run movies, and the next thing we knew we were in Cuba.

Entry:I was amazed at how small the airport was in Varadaro. We cleared customs no problem, it was quite speedy actually. Then off to find our luggage. That took about an hour before we finally found our bags.All there and all intact! Then it was out the doors to find our rep. and find the proper bus to catch to the resort. We were escorted to the nice comfy bus, and while we waited for all of the other passengers to board ( about 45 mins) we were offered beer 2 for $5 canadian. Emmmm Beer!!!!! Now we are off to the resort, aprox 30 mins with all the other drops.

The Resort: After being dropped at the Villa Cuba ( pronounced Billa Cuba) we stood in line for about 15 mins to get checked in. The others we were meeting there had already checked in and were waiting for us Pina Colada’s in hand!!!!!! We could have stood in line all night as long as the free drinks kept coming!!

The Room: We were in the main hotel, room # 2516. I recommend this room if you want to have a real nice view, but don’t want to be kept awake by the live entertainment out side. It is a nice quiet part of the resort. The room was huge and very clean. The air conditioner worked, the fridge worked, and all of the lights worked. The beds were two twins, and actually quite comfy. There is a safe in the room to keep all of your valuables as well. One very large closet , a dresser , and color t.v.
The ONLY complaint I had was the first night it was hard to get to sleep because the pillows had a very musty smell. Not because they were dirty, but because of the humidity. We had planned ahead by reading tips from other travelers on Deb’s site who mentioned bringing bounce sheets. We did, and was I glad we did. I put 2 sheets inside each pillow and the problem was solved. I slept like a baby the rest of the trip!
Our maid was an absolute doll. Every day we would have new huge bath towels laid out on our beds in the shape of hearts, or ships, or swans. We left her notes and goodies each day, and she would do the same for us. She had mentioned that most of the guests would not talk to her like we did, and she really appreciated us for doing so. So remember…. Talk with your maid, you won’t regret it!

The Resort: It is very open, clean, colorful, and tropical. Multi tiered, and very LARGE!! Words can’t describe this place. To get it’s full beauty, you will have to e-mail me for some pictures. There are bars everywhere so finding a free drink will not be a problem!! Also shops in the resort to buy pretty much everything you need. You can buy Havana Club rum for under $4.00!!! Get your rum there before you leave. It’s cheaper than the duty free. The 9th floor bar has the most amazing sunsets, and Pina Coladas that you could imagine. My only bad experience in the resort, and it may just have been a mistake, was one of the times changing money at the front desk , I was shorted about $30 on $100. It was my fault as I am so trusting that I didn’t count it at the time. Lesson learned. Count your money at the time of your exchange or your wife won’t like you for the rest of the trip!!!! ( Just kidding!)

The Food: I can’t see why people say the food there sucks. I thought it was great. Every morning we had omelets made to order, and some fried bread sort of thing that was sooooo good, and freshly squeezed O.J. The coffee was the best I have ever had. Lunch would be either chicken fish or pork, and these little pizzas that were awesome. Dinner pretty much the same thing. We did eat at the other restaurants in the resort, but we all found the buffet to be the best food of all. All you can eat , all you can drink, very friendly bus boys/girls, and no dress code. Who could ask for anything more?!?! You must eat out of the resort at “ Don Queoties?” I’m not sure of the spelling, but it’s right across the street from the resort. The atmosphere there is great, and the lobster is to die for. It was the best lobster we have ever had, and HUGE tails. Another thing is the ice cream in the buffet …… soooooooo creamy ! YUM!

The Shows: The first one we watched was entertaining, but all of the rest were pretty much the same. “HANDS UP, HANDS UP, HANDS UP”……. You will know what I mean by that if you go there !

Recreation: They have 2 pool tables, one table tennis and foose ball table. A so-so Gym, and massage area. If you are going here and like pong, you may want to take your own paddles and balls as they only have two. Then you could leave them there and be treated like a king !!! On the beach they have a few paddle boats, and kayaks, and volley ball court.

The Beach: T’was my happy place! White sand, and clear aqua water, with a nice beach bar only steps away!!! Make sure you take large insulated travel mugs with you, so you don’t have to make so many trips back to the bar. I took mine everywhere , and left it there when I left. They were most happy. I found the food in the beach bar not to be that great, as did none of our friends. Others liked it though so it’s up to the individual. We took our own masks and snorkels and I recommend doing that if you are into it.We found many live sand dollars while looking for dead ones to bring home to our wives for souvenirs. Tip …… if you dive down for a dead white sand dollar, be very careful as they are very fragile. I found that out the hard way! We also handled many different sizes of star fish, and saw a little sting ray. I almost picked it up thinking it was a sand dollar! I almost swam into a small jellyfish but saw it at the last second and was able to avoid it. The other interesting fish was a barracuda that was very interested in us! He/she hung around for about 20 minutes. I was starting to get worried about my toes!!!!! If you swim way out to where the water looks dark you will see all kinds of little colorful fish. We figured that the dark water was the big drop off, but actually it is the start of the reef, and it actually gets a bit shallower. My friend was brave and went out aprox. 1 km further and he said that the water depth never really changed. All in all the beach and water were fantastic.

Leaving Cuba: Well the day came that we had to leave, and a sad day it was! We were dropped at the airport, and took our luggage in to be checked. The line up was unreal. I mean it was worse than any line in Disneyland! There were 3 agents open taking baggage and seat selections, it took aprox 1 hour to get through this line. Then it was off to pay our departure tax. ( Very quick) Then through customs ( Also quick) After passing through there , it was through the metal detectors before boarding. That was a bit of a joke! They ran my wife and I through the detector at the same time rushing us in a big way. The alarms went off as we were trying to get the coins out of our pockets, and they didn’t even care! All of the bags going through the x-ray machine were piling up they were pushing us through so fast. It was like they couldn’t get us out of the country fast enough!

Flight Home: Air Transat again. Nice flight but the food was even worse on the way back to Vancouver. All that I talked to agreed that they should just drop the food, and give a little cheaper flight. The food on the way home was DISGUSTING.

All in all I would defiantly recommend the Villa Cuba Resort to anybody thinking of going there. It was in my opinion the best one week vacation I have ever had , and the people, food, booze, and beach were outstanding.I give this place two thumbs up.

If you would like to see pictures of the resort e-mail me at jtshaffer@shaw.ca. I will answer all e- mails with questions about this place. I hope this review has been usefull to all that happen to read.

Happy New Year………………… Tim