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Blau Varadero

June 2008
Flight – Sunwing – Meals served there and back. Left on time, arrived 45 minutes early. Coming back, left 60 minutes ahead of schedule and arrived 60 minutes early. Flight time was approximately 3 ½ hours from Toronto.

Airport – Sunwing representative was there and directed us to our bus. I had time to go to the currency exchange booth, in the departures section of the airport and bought 150 pesos for $170 Cdn. – that’s an exchange rate of 1.1333 which is a good rate. I would later learn that our hotel used an exchange rate of 1.2048 which means that the 150 pesos would have cost $181 Cdn. And if you had only US cash, the 150 pesos would cost $188 US. They don’t accept US credit cards – like American Express. You have to pay a departure tax of 25 pesos per person when you leave, so put that with your passports on day 1.

Hotel – Blau Varadero – nice hotel as expected - built in 2005.
Brought our own Baileys and Rye & Ginger. Hotel didn’t have these items.
But their cerveza, and pina coladas were very good.
Satellite TV, only 3 channels in English.
Guests are Russian, Canadian, British, Irish, Scottish, and others.

We are a couple in our 60’s. We were on the 10th floor – non-ocean view, which would have cost (at the time we booked) an additional $500 for the week. The spacious room had a large balcony.

King size bed which was almost as hard as the ceramic floor, and had a rubber mattress cover, which caused me to sweat a lot since we slept with the balcony door open – this shuts off the air conditioning automatically. There is no screen where the balcony door is and mosquitoes came in when the door was open, even though we were on the 10th floor. The room comes with 2 bath towels, 2 face towels and a bath mat. There are no face cloths, fortunately we brought our own. The room has a safe, no charge. Electricity was 220 Volts but bathroom had an outlet for electric shavers at 115 Volts. Did not attempt to charge our camera batteries. We drank bottled water, although we brushed teeth with tap water. Did not get sick.

Regarding the food, the buffet was edible and once in a while, they came up with some really good items – especially some breads and cookies. They did not serve any kind of lettuce. They do have ketchup. We went to the two ala carte restaurants which were a notch better than the buffet but very small quantities, which is all we really need anyway.

Beach – Lovely. Nice sandy beach. Good walk-in – sandy bottom, no rocks, sandbars, relatively long way out before it gets deep. Some days calm, some days waves – lots of fun. Turquoise, warm water.

Pool – appeared to be well maintained but there were some guests who must have been rejects from a pig farm (due to unhygienic behavior), so we stuck to the beach.

Our room had a huge abstract painting (3’ X 4’) of a woman which was weird. The dining room also contained a painting of a tree which had all of its’ branches cut off and no foliage or leaves. When you think of how beautiful women are and the natural beauty of Cuba, you have to ask yourself why these paintings are there.

Internet – there is a small room near the entrance to the hotel with 3 computers, one of which was missing its’ mouse. The deal is that you purchase an access card (good for 60 minutes) from the front desk for 8 Pesos, scratch to reveal the access code and key it into the computer and follow the prompts. The computers were painfully slow and it took us about 45 minutes to be ready to send an email. For some reason, the computer allowed us to add some email addresses on our contact list but not other email addresses. For the email addresses it would not allow us to add to our contact list, it would go directly to the email page and we could type our message and send it to that email address. For the contact list emails, it would not take us to the email screen at all.

Hotel bug spraying – some evenings were worst than others for mosquitoes. At 7:00 a.m. one morning, there was a man driving a tractor pulling a trailer which was releasing a cloud of insecticide at our balcony side of the building. The two security guards on duty every day, remained at their post while this was taking place.

Chanter –

several mornings (7:00 a.m.) and evenings, we had the pleasure of listening to someone on their balcony, chanting their (we assume) prayers, over and over and over.

The hotel has an open atrium design and while it appears beautiful, the sound from the entertainment room on floor 1 resonates throughout the entire building. This can be annoying. On one evening, when we had the air conditioning on, we noticed that cigar and cigarette smoke was coming in through the ventilation system and we had to open our balcony door to clear our room. Other nights were okay.

Classic Cars – there were a few 50’s cars in front of our hotel for short periods. I believe they were taxis. They always seemed to be there at inopportune times for us – we were either going someplace or too tired to go out and hire them to take us for a ride around the area. Sorry we missed the chance for a ride in such cars.

Entertainment – the hotel provided some form of entertainment, pretty well every night. The magic show was well done, but it was done by amateurs. Unfortunately, the auditorium allowed smoking and was not air-conditioned, although there were open windows – watch out for those mosquitoes.

Sunsets – one evening we went to the beach at sunset, but it wasn’t a great view and the mosquitoes were bad at that time.
We did however, discover a very good vantage point for sunset watching on the 9th floor on the West side of the hotel – at the end of the hall. (same for 7th and 8th floor) Havana Tour – we took the one day Havana City tour which cost about $150 for the two of us. We left at 8:00 a.m. and returned at 6:00 p.m. Havana is approximately 2 hours from our hotel. The small bus was very bumpy and had no toilet on board, but it was new and had good air conditioning. There was a rest stop at the one hour point going to Havana.

Our tour guide was young but knowledgeable and polite and patient when the same questions were asked by people on the tour who were not paying attention.
The tour was a real eye-opener – both from a visual perspective as well as the information provided by the tour guide. From an historic viewpoint, Havana has many building dating back hundreds of years. Parts of Havana also have buildings which appear ready to fall down.

There were many beggars in the streets, who are very difficult to just walk past without giving them some money. Several times, our group was converged upon by people asking for money.

We went to a museum and we were not amused by the way things were conducted there. We were sent off on our own to the 20 rooms in that building. Each room was cordoned off by a red rope and had an attendant who would invite you in for a closer look and volunteer to take your picture beside a painting or object. Afterward, you were expected to provide a tip, which is fair ball. But after this happened 5 times (sometimes with 2 attendants coming at you) and the rooms weren’t overly interesting, you just want to get out of there, which we did.

We were relieved to get back to our hotel.

Gifts as tips for the hotel staff – we took with us to Cuba, items purchased in a dollar store to give as tips or to be added to cash tips. At first we were reluctant to leave these items on the dining room table. But after talking to our Sunwing rep about it, we had no problem distributing the items and believe all items were appreciated.

All in all, we had a good vacation and found that the staff at the Blau Varadero were very helpful, cheerful and polite.
Blau Varadero

March 2008
We have just returned from the Blau Varadero. This resort should definantely be rated a 5 star. The property is amazing, very clean , great food for all and the staff,oh the staff they will do anything to help you enjoy your stay. We were laying on lounges at the beach when out of nowhere came one of the staff with lounge mattresses shortly followed by refreshing drinks. We travelled as a family of 5 , 2 late 40's 2 seniors 70's and our child she is 7. We have stayed at 4 other 4 star properties in Varadero and this is by far the best (which is why I dont understand the 4 star rating). The food was awesome from a full roasted turkey (whole bird) to roast beef to ham seafood etc. etc. and the deserts (to die for). We absolutely had nothing at all to complain about and this was our best trip ever to our beloved Cuba. I should also cover the entertainment again breathtaking. The "aqua ballet" in the deep pool was stunning! (pure Vegas style) as well as the acrobat show at main stage incredible. I would highly recommend this resort to families or for a romantic getaway. Any questions or comments feel free to ask. garywoods@sympatico.ca
Blau Varadero
Kim and Mike 
Brampton, Ontario
March 2008
I always rely on the opinions of others before booking our vacation, so I thought that I would return the favor, sorry for the delay in posting this review, but I thought better late than never.

We were a group of 17 made up of adults, teens and pre-teens staying at the Blau from March 30th to April the 6th, our tour provider was Air Transat which we booked thru Bel Air travel. I would like to give my opinion of our trip, however I will keep it very brief...

Bel Air Travel
We have used their service a few times and have never had any issue's at all, their sales staff have always been very helpful, and our trips have always gone as expected with no unwanted surprises.

Air Transat
No delays leaving or returning, seating is a little cramped and meals could be a little more appetizing but overall pretty good, very friendly staff.

Airport / Hotel Transportation
No real issue's with clearing customs, but I must say the customs agents do make you feel uncomfortable, not sure why, but it almost made me feel unwelcome to be visiting their country.

Bus to hotel was easy to find and the trip to the Blau is maybe a short ride of about 30 minutes.

Check In
No problems with language, check in went smooth and quite fast, rooms were ready when we arrived which was late afternoon.

We were fortunate to be located on the main floor outside the piano bar, this worked out well because the lobby, piano bar and buffet where all on this floor and we did not have to use the elevators at all which was very convenient.

Room was a nice size and very clean, we faced the pool / ocean which I highly recommend.

Maid service was excellent, we always left a small gift and a dollar or two tip, and she always left a thank you note and a nice towel figurine.

Hotel / Restaurants / Bars
Hotel was a high rise with a huge atrium that ran the full height of the building (quite impressive) and was always clean, no complaints at all, the beach snack bar which is open 24 hrs. a day was great for a late night sandwich or light lunch. Main buffet was a little repetitive but overall good quality and you could always find something to your liking, we only tried one ala carte and even though the ambience was great our choice for dinner was not very enjoyable and was left almost untouched, we left without desert so I can't comment on that.

Lunch at the pool buffet was ok.

Bars never waited long to be served, tipping the servers always help though they never expected it, I'm sure it was always appreciated (the staff work hard and long hours)

Pool / Beach
Pool was fine nothing spectacular I'm more of a beach person so the majority of my time was spent there. the beach what can I say fantastic !

I felt not quite as good as Punta Cana, but certainly better that the Mayan Riveria, water was warm and calm, aqua in color and no rocks or coral to speak of, great for those long walks when contemplating life.

Some of our group did the catamaran trip and some went to the dolphin aquarium, both were great from the comments I heard.

We rented scooters and visited a local school with school supplies we brought for the children, what an eye opener, I suggest for anyone wanting another prospective of how children are taught in other countries this would be a nice side trip. The children were impeccably dressed in their school uniforms and exceptionally polite, how refreshing to see children entertaining themselves by playing soccer, baseball, kite flying and tag. The staff were very friendly and welcoming, we had to sign their guest book, and we took plenty of pictures.

Shopping in Varadero, we took the double Decker bus from the hotel into town, which was a lot of fun, shopped at the markets, had refreshments at a local snack bar, never once felt uneasy about being away from the hotel, people were always very friendly.

Trip to Havana
What can I say... A MUST VISIT !

The history, the architecture, Revolution Square, The Rum Factory, The Cigar Factory or just walking through neighbor hoods giving young children gifts and watching the expressions on their faces (priceless)

I said I would be brief and here I am still going on, if going to Varadero book the Blau you won't be disappointed, I know we weren't, and we look forward to our next visit there.
Blau Varadero
February 2008
Arrival - Good bus service with Sunwing Vacations. We had a good ride from the airport to nearly the far end of the peninsula. The ride was fast, warm and we had beer.

Rooms - Nicely appointed and modern. The shower head wasn't quite up to par, but I fixed it and had no further difficulty. I had an oceanview and was very pleased with the balcony. The maid could have worked a bit harder, but she did ok.

Restaurants - Standard fare for an AI. There was nothing notable from any of the restaurants. I did get into Varadero for a few meals and found them vastly better. Even a simple hamburger was better offsite. I'm not faulting the resort, as they all seem to produce pretty much the same buffets.

Bars - Great staff! We had service beyond expectation. Mind you, we did tip quite well. The stock was better than I expected and I did find a 12 year old single malt for nightcaps.

Beach and Pools - I only walked past the pool, so I can't even comment on the temperature. It looked nice. The beach is excellent! It would be even nicer with a bit of grooming, but people were making an evident effort to leave it fairly clean. Lots of chaises and shade. Nice water and a great place for a long walk.

Grounds - Attractive and well maintained. The was always someone sweeping the walkways. They take pride in the grounds. The elevators suck.

Activities - We didn't participate in any of the activities. There was enough to be done simply meeting people, tanning, bar-hopping and relaxing.

Tours - I took a day trip into Havana. You have to do this! We booked a cab for the entire day (150 Pesos, total) and were given a fantastic tour of the city. Our driver (Jose Paul) spoke enough English to work out what we wanted to see. He delivered and I couldn't have asked for more.

Conclusion - I thoroughly enjoyed staying at the Blau. I recommend it to anyone. The value was better than expected and I'm rather frugal. My next trip to Cuba will center on Havana and I'll only spend a few days at a resort. I've never seen so many smiling faces!
Blau Varadero
January 2008
Arrival - January 11th at 11pm. We were met at the airport by our rep and taken to our hotel. Check in was easy, quick and friendly. Any questions that I had were answered at the desk, and my bags were taken to my room by a bellhop who explained the safety deposit box and the other room features. Staff at the hotel are friendly and in most cases they say hello (Hola) without prompting although some are more shy likely due to lmited english, but they will say hello when prompted at all times. Just ask any question, and they will politely answer you to your satisfaction.

Rooms - Room was on the eighth floor, it was clean, overlooked the south ocean (non-beach side). It included a balcony that had an excellent view of the ocean, marinas, etc. Television with satelite, bar fridge with water, cola, and beer, stocked daily. Maid was excellent, I left her a peso/day and she kept the room tidy and made up the room with special touches

Restaurants - There are 3 restaurants and two bars. The main restaurant is in the hotel, and is buffet style. It is open for breakfast and supper. Plenty of selection. It is typical of Cuban hotel fair, nothing terrible and nothing absolutely spectacular. For those people who complained, perhaps they should stick with Canadian vacations or pay the extra and go to Barbados. This is an isolated socialist 3rd world country that prepares food as they know how, and it is certainly acceptable. The other restaurant is for lunches. This one tends to be busier so get there 5 minutes before they open and you'll be fine. Otherwise wait until before closing. They offer a range of grilled foods, pastas, etc. The third location is near the beach and they offer snacks and drinks.

Bars - There is a bar by the pool which is heavily used, and the lobby bar which is much larger and located in a great atrium with an excellent breeze from outside. Many seats are available. They make an excellent capucino or expresso which is nice because the restaurant coffee is weak. You can pick up a drink at the lobby bar and take it in plastic wherever you need to go.

Beach and Pools - Beach and pool are both great with many chairs. It is best to arrive early in the morning as the choice locations get taken up by 9:30am and beyond. Beach is nice to walk along the ocean in the mornings.

Grounds - Grounds are well cared for, with extra lounge chairs away from the beach and pool under trees where it is nice and quite to read or rest.

Activities - I spent time in town with some friends of mine so I didn't partake in hotel activities.

Tours - I took the day tour to Havana which takes all day, includes a 2 hour ride (one way), with a stop half way for washroom, pina collatas, etc. Our guide was great. You go to Old Havana, museums, parks, new Havana, Revolution Square, Cigar Factory (not Mondays), and stop for a full lunch with drinks included. Culture is amazing, and this is a busy town to be sure. Old cars, horses, people, all make for interesting things to see and experience. I enjoyed it.

Conclusion - I really liked this place. I have been to Cuba on many occassions, and will always go back. I have been to Dominican Republic and while the beaches are nice, you are isolated, and it can be boring/quiet, whereas, Varadero is bustling, completely safe and fun. There is plenty to see and do in Varadero itself.

Anyone who complains doesn't understand Cuba, and should really consider whether they want Canadian standards or Cuban. I would highly recommend Varadero and the Blau to anyone.
Blau Varadero
Beamsville, Ontario
December 2007
Arrival - December 16th to 23rd. Jane and I arrived in excellent weather and were processed with minimum delay through customs and directed to a waiting bus that took us to the hotel. We were processed at the hotel by friendly front desk staff.

Rooms - The room was on the ground floor. It was spacious, clean, air conditioned and contained a fridge stocked with water, pop and beer.

Restaurants - The Carribean Restaurant produced excellent cuisine. However, the International Restaurant was the highlight of our trip. It was a wonderful fine dining experience. A stringed quartetto serenaded us with violin and cello music that enhanced the dining experience. I classify The Buffet Restaurant experience as adequate. The staff were friendly and well trained. However, I found the food boring because they served the same menu over and over again. There were no culinary surprises.

Bars - We spent our evenings at the piano lounge. The service was excellent and the music relaxing. The pool bar served both hot and cold beverages. I expecially enjoyed the expresso coffee. Although there were two other entertainment areas, we did not use them because we were too busy enjoying other areas of the hotel.

Beach and Pools - The beach was a highlight of the hotel. There were lots of lounge chairs. We spent much time reading by the ocean.

Grounds - The grounds were clean, manicured with much of the grounds wired with decorative lighting. The view is spectacular at night.

Activities - We passed on a lot of the activities and chose to stay at the beach and relax.

Tours - We took a day trip to Havana. It was a two hour one way trip hosted by an excellent guide. Part of the day trip was a walking tour of Old Havana. It was fun to walk the busy streets of Havana. If you enjoy a mixture of old world architecture blended with the new, this is the trip. The Cuban's are masters at making these type of transitions. Later in the week we caught a bus and went shopping in Veradero.

Conclusion - This was our 5th trip to Cuba. Previously, we have been to Cayo Coco and Holguin. In all fairness, I cannot compare this experience to previous ones because Cuba is a diverse island. Veradero is much different than the other locations that have been mentioned. It is the perfect staging point for those who want to visit the capital city while at the same time enjoy the beach at Varadero.
Blau Varadero

December 2007
15 November 2007 to 29 November 2007.

Had two weeks at the Blau and would definately not go back - not just to the Blau but also Cuba.

We had an enjoyable time but it certainly does not compare to the Casa Del Mar in the Dominican Republic which was superb.

We got to the hotel at around 9.45pm after an all day trip to get there. We checked in and waited in for our luggage to be delivered to our room. We were given no information at all about the hotel facilities nor was there any information in our room. Once the luggage was delivered and we'd changed, we discovered the restaurant had closed and as we'd had a very long journey we were hungry. Neither the reception staff nor the restaurant staff could tell us how to get to the beach bar (I only knew of the bar after reading the reviews on this site before I booked the hotel). We walked around outside but there were no signs for the beach. We then bumped into to an Irish couple who'd been on our flight who were also looking for the beach bar. We eventually found it and had some food.

The next day was spent getting to know where everything was as we received no information. I asked at reception and they said they'd run out of the information packs!!

The beach was amazing, lots of sunloungers and plenty of shade for those who want it. The beach bar was not particulary great, it always smelt of rotten meat. However, it was quite handy if you wanted something to eat after the restaurant closed.

The pool area was nice but the pool itself was freezing. We only ventured in there once.

The food was ok but very disappointing for a 4 star hotel. We discovered quite early on that food that was not eaten in the evening (ie sprouts, spring rolls and even carrots) was put back out in the morning for breakfast and vice versa!!

Some staff were really quite rude especially on the bar by the entertainment room. During the afternoon my Husband and I would play cards at one of the tables and we would have such a long wait at the bar to be served by one of the two miserable women.

However, the bar staff by the piano in the evening were brilliant and we wouldn't even have to leave our seats to get another drink, they would keep bringing over more.

The cleanliness was not very good. The toilets by the pool are disgusting, they always have a cleaner's trolley outside but no one ever seems to clean it - never walk in there without shoes. Also, do not use the lobby toilets before 9am as they do not get cleaned after 5pm the night before and they are in a terrible state by the morning, so much so that my Husband would go back to our room rather than use them.

The excursions are really good value for money. We went on a day trip to Havana (via the tourist guide in the hotel as we could go to the cigar factory whereas with Thomas Cook you had to go on the two day trip) which was great - the tour guide was brilliant. We also went on the speed boat adventure and deep sea fishing which was fun.

The main reason I wouldn't go back to Cuba is the tipping. It's ridiculous, everybody expects a tip for doing nothing. In Domincian Republic nobody was tipping and no one expected it and they are far poorer than Cubans. Most of the staff only pretend to be friendly and are constantly muttering things to each other in Spanish about the tourists (some other tourists we met on the deep sea fishing trip spoke Spanish so could understand what they were saying). Everything is such an effort, especially true with the reception staff - they were terrible.

I purchased an internet card but it didn't work. It took me several attempts for them to sort me out with another one. I made them aware that it didn't work in the evening, they told me the woman who looks after the internet is in at 9am the next morning. I went back to the desk at 9 and they tell me her bus gets in at 9 but then she has to have breakfast so won't start til 9.20! Eventually she turns up and gives me a new card - why on earth did I have to wait for her to do it?

The actual hotel is pretty amazing to look at and is very modern but unfortunately that is not enough. The hotel was very quiet in our first week and the service was ok, the second week was extremely busy and the service was non-existent. I ordered a sprite from 3 different waiters during one lunchtime but not 1 arrived.

As I previously said, I would not go back to Cuba but I'm glad I went to Havana and the cigar factory which was a real highlight. I definately do not recommend this resort.
Blau Varadero

November 2007
Just got back from two weeks and the Blau. It is our 8th time to Cuba, we are not newbie's.

If you have booked this resort don't worry, it's fine. But it's not great. It could be, but some work is needed.

Beach - nice
Pool - nice
Food - bad, even by Cuba standards
Room - nice, could use a ceiling fan
Shows - really very good
Staff - some great, some bad
Cleanliness - really really bad

Here is where the Blau really blows it. The pool looks clean but all the way around it the tiles are never washed. You stick to everything, because split drinks are not cleaned up. The chairs are dirty, the plastic tables are dirty, the cushions are dirty. And they have about 200 chairs locked up in a shed they do not bring out, so you can never get a seat.

The bathroom by the pool is the worst. Three stalls, one of which the two ladies who are to clean the bathroom use to store there supplies. So now there are two stalls. With two ladies to clean them. They sit there all day. But never ever clean them. Take my advise and use the ones in the lobby.

Even if you are the first person to the buffet, and it looks nice, you will have to brush crumbs and dirt off your chair.

It may seem like a small thing, but this resort is less than two years old.
It can't be that hard to keep it clean. Two years from now, I would not even dream of going here.

This place is very pretty to looks at, supper lobby bar, great atrium and very modern. That alone is not enough though. I would say this resort was about %50 full when we where there. That is about all they can handle. You will spend a good part of your holiday lining up for anything, and it will be a real fight to get a seat at the beach or pool or even the lobby bar.

I would not go back, we had a goodtime, one always does on vacation, but I would not recommend this resort.
Blau Varadero
C and L 
Toronto, Canada
May 2007
My wife and I stayed at Blau Varadero May 12 - May 19 and had a blast! This was our 2nd trip to the Varadero area and 5th trip to Cuba.

We were flown down by way of Sunwing and the entire experience was great. The meals were enjoyable, the flight crew friendly and on board movies (both ways) were good. The only issue we had (probably along with some of the other passengers) was the duet by 2 screaming babies most of the flight down. It's certainly not their fault but it was still a relief to finally get off the plane after 3 hours of this.

Getting through Varadero airport was a breeze and we were quickly whisked away to the Blau. We had a late flight so we didn't actually arrive at the hotel until after 10pm. Once we walked in through the front lobby area it was just amazing to see the design. It was quite vast and esthetically pleasing.

Check in was also very quick and we quickly made our way to the room, which was also beautiful and spacious. Rooms did have in an room safe and fridge stocked with beer, pop and water daily. There is also a hair dryer with a 110v plug, which was nice. We brought our converter anyway, which we used to recharge our camera in the main room outlet.

There IS a 24 hour snack bar near the beach which serves sandwiches all night long (boy did they come in handy on several nights!) Please say hello to our buddy Ismeal, great guy!!

When daylight arrived we were definitely spoiled by the awesome landscaped grounds and general resort layout. The pool was fantastic and very warm! We generally spent our time down at the beach, which was AMAZING!!! Gorgeous white sand and beautiful turquoise water, just amazing! I will agree that had it been high season, there definitely would not have been enough palapas but no big deal. We were celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary and had the pleasure of seeing another couple have their wedding on the beach the same day.

The food , in our opinion was great, lots of choice at the buffet, which was also beautifully decorated. The wait staff here were also very professional and pleasant. We ventured into both al la cartes, the International and Cuban. Gotta say they were both great, we really enjoyed our dining experiences there and would definitely recommend trying them out. Do yourself a favour though and book early.

The shows were entertaining and we enjoyed the lobby bar at night afterwards. We did not do any excursions as we had done several on our previous visits to Cuba so this was more of an R&R vacation. However, we did go into Varadero once for some shopping at the markets, which was enjoyable, as you can freely walk among the locals and not feel intimidated or get hounded by beggars.

Overall our vacation was awesome, we met some fantastic people from all over, including England, Germany, Australia as well as other Canadians. I would think this resort gears more toward travellers who want more of an R&R vacation, rather then a party hearty vacation. It may have been nice to have a Disco on site but again no big deal. We did go to La Rhumba once and it was alright. Things there are certainly changing to reflect more like home as there was a $10.00CUC cover charge and $2.00CUC per drink once inside, although we were pretty sure that only the tourists were paying covers and not the locals...oh well.

If what I have described sounds like a spot you'd like to vacation at, I would not hesitate, book now!! We'll definitely be returning!!
Blau Varadero

May 2007
We just returned from a week at the Blau Varadero and wanted to rave at how much we loved this resort. It helped that the weather was fantastic.

The resort was beautiful, well-maintained, very clean and easy to get around. The staff was helpful and most spoke better English than other resorts we have been to. The pool is larger than it looks in pictures with varying levels of depth and activities at various times during the day. The rooms were fabulous and had a terrific view. The cleaning staff was very appreciative of “small tokens” of appreciation left for them daily (gifts from Canada.)

However, we spent the majority of our time at the unbelievable beach. The resort is in the middle of a stretch of white sand and clear blue sea. There is no seaweed; only that that floats in with the waves. The bottom of the ocean is pure sand. The only consideration would be that the wind can pick up and the waves come in strong. It’s great for body surfing or if you can pack a boogey board. There is really nothing to see if you like to snorkel.

The food was fantastic. The food in Cuba doesn’t have the best reputation but this was beyond what we could have ever hoped. The buffet and a la carte’s are modern, clean and provide lots of variety. If you can’t find something to eat here then just pack your cup-of-soup because you are far too hard to please. I am not a “picky” eater per se but I do have pretty high standards for food and I was extremely pleased. Try the blue cheese – it’s to die for. And the bananas in rum sauce for dessert – yummy!!! A small amount of money as a tip at various eating times is although not expected is much appreciated and may help make your stay more enjoyable as the people will remember you.

There are really not a lot of activities outside of those planned around the pool and not much for kids to do. There are many excursions to choose from but this year we decided to skip leaving the resort.

A few tips to keep in mind – chair pads can be picked up behind the washroom on the way to the beach but get there early to get one; if you want shade at the beach make sure you reserve your beach chair before 8:00 am; if you are looking for souvenirs you are better off to wait until you get to the airport or shop in town as it is much cheaper off the resort.
Blau Varadero

April 2007
My husband, sister and brother-in-law and I all stayed at the Blau April 4, 2007 to April 11, 2007.

This hotel exceeded our expectations, the hotel its self was beautiful, clean and modern. The pool was awesome a bit cold but very refreshing on a hot day. The beach was well what can I say, it was just perfect. The food was on par with what we have come to expect in Cuba, there is always something you could find to eat. The a la carte restaurants were really nice their presentation was so nice I hated to cut into it. The best of all was the staff, the service was the best I have had in all my years going to Cuba, and they served with a smile and never expected a tip, but were very appreciative when one was offered. My only negative thing I would say about this hotel is the entertainment was week, they are all very young and require more experience under their belt but I am sure that will come with time.

The weather was sunny then entire week, it was raining on our day of departure, we also had no electricity that morning of our departure, we got breakfast because we were down early, but I suspect many did not get much to eat in the way of breakfast, I hope that the power failure did not much longer after we left.

We will be returning next and I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone that is thinking about going.
Blau Varadero

April 2007
We stayed at the Blau Varadero from March 24th - 31st. It is a wonderful hotel. It is more of a hotel than a resort which was fine for us. The rooms were wonderful and quite large. The bathroom was extremely big. As far as the food goes, you can always find something to eat. Cuba is not known for its food that is for sure. The resort is spotless. The people were fantastic. I would highly recommend this hotel. The only negative has nothing to do with the hotel but the weather. It was extremely windy the first 3 days. The beach itself is spectacular.
Blau Varadero

March 2007
Hello Debbie,

Came back from one week vacation in Varadero Cuba. I stayed at Blau Varadero, new hotel, big, huge lobby, great bars inside, big pool, great beach.

Room: Very clean, spacious. When I go for vacation, my only concern is the room. I want it clean. And our maid was very good. I gave her some presents the first day and she cleaned my room twice a day (once before 5 pm and once between 7.30-8.30 pm) So I always had clean towels and clean washroom. from 1 to 10 I give 10 to the room service.

Beach: Was clean, but compare to Barchelo Solimar, the space was smaller. The weather was mostly windy the time I stayed but one day was good so everybody left the pool to came to the beach. There were not enough umbrellas, and you can't stay all the time under the sun at least the first three days. From 1 to 10 I give 9 for the beach.

Pool: was good, clean, deep and big.I did not use it more than three times. I don't pay 900$ to take bath in chlorinated water, but for salted water. The only problem, if you have a child under 2 year you should be careful. There is no border around the pool to prevent the babes from the water. I can not understand why. From 1 to 10 I give 8 for the safety.

Food: Was good. You can always find something to eat. There is grilled fresh fish, pork, lamb, French fries, rise, vegetables. There are also hamburgers and hot dogs, but ....... I can not understand people that eat hot dog for lunch while there is fresh grilled meat and fish ?????!!!!!! From 1 to 10 - 8 or 9 for the food. Can not expect more from this kind of resorts and for what you pay.

Drinks: A lot of variety. From 1 to 10 I give 10.

Service: Was really good. The servers were polite. There was always somebody checking on them (probably a manager). They deserved the tip. From 1 to 10 I give 10 for the service.

As a conclusion, I think Blau Varadero is one of the Best Hotels in Varadero. Especially when you buy last minute it really is worth.
Blau Varadero
Montreal, Canada
February 2007
We stayed at the Blau Varadero Feb 4- 11, 2007.

We were in Cuba once before, at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria. Both hotels were fine, but for different reasons. If you are reading this review, you will have read other reviews on this web site. You will therefore have an idea of what the Blau offers as its strong points and weak points.

The hotel is an avant-garde architectural delight. However, it is more suited for Las Vegas or Miami Beach. The entire building is closed, unlike the MCSM, which is open air. In the latter, one walks to the gym or dining room and so forth, along meandering paths. The gym and spa are each seperate buildings, surrounded by windows that let in the ocean breezes.. The dining room has 4 meter high windows on three sides. The main bar is open. The Blau, on the other hand, is closed at the front of the lobby. The back of the lobby has open walls that are four stories high. Unfortunately, the wind screens remained down all week, blocking the view and giving a closed-in feeling. ( all the photos I viewed in the review show the screens closed). The reason for the closed screens? "it is winter for us." Well, for us, the temp.was 28 degrees for several days with no wind. But apparently, the guest is not always right, so the screens stayed down. As well, the dining room at the Blau has one meter high windows on one side only, with the view partially blocked by plants.

The gym, which has half decent equipment, has but two non-opening windows. Through one window, you have a view of a service entrance. Through the other window, a view of the end of a corridor.

The whirlpool is in closed windowless room in the basement. At the MCSM, the whirlpool was outside, next to the pool.

The rooms are clean and bright. They are identical to any hotel room you have stayed in throughout North America. (At the MCSM, the guest rooms were very large and had windows on two sides).At the Blau, the balcony has a clothes drying rack, so bring some clothes pins. There is no coffee maker or ironing board and iron. The toilet is a two button affair - one for a mini flush and the other for flushing copious waste. (why can't we have those in Canada, instead of the "low volume" which generally require two flushes?)

If you like a view, go for an upper level room. BUT, this is not for those with a fear of heights (believe me,I speak from experience ! ) Go for rooms in the "wings" for peace and quiet. Remember, the 14 story atrium is a very large echo chamber. Avoid room on floors 1,2, or 3. They are in high traffic areas. Each elevator is smaller than a twin bed. As well, they take eleven seconds to line up with the floors. Add 10 - 15 seconds to load/unload, and you have an elevator trip one way, taking just short of six minutes ( to carry 6 -7 people / trip )

FOOD: Generally better than the average hotel in Cuba. There is a large variety from which to choose, and it is presented in an attractive manner. There is something for everyone - choices in fruit, vegetable, fish, meat, bread, salad, cheese, cold cuts, and desert categories.

Int'l restaurant - great duck ravioli, good beef Wellington, dreck soup. Avoid tables by the windows as the chairs there are quite uncomfortable. At the poolside restaurant at lunch, eat later to avoid the long lines that move at a snail's pace when lunch is first served. Long trousers are required at dinner - it was nice to see most people gussied up. While we were there, the dining room staff and the bar personnel were short staffed and very overworked.

The International a-la-carte restaurant has very good service. The building itself looks like a ski chalet If you eat at the a la carte restaurants, be prepared to answer the musicians' query for your musical request. There are two bars in the hotel - the Main Bar on floor one (where smokers abound) and a quiet Piano Bar on floor three The area around the piano bar is very large and has many sofas & easy chairs. . We found the nightly entertainment very loud and quiet un-imaginative.The Circus Show, though, is quite good.

The beach is 20 km. of fine powdery sand. You can wade a long way out. On sunny days, there are not enough palapas to serve every one. Most of the guests were over 65 or young families with children under 5 years. There was no consistency in time guests spent at the Blau. At MCSM, most folks arrived on the weekend and stayed for one week or two. In this way, a relationship was formed between the staff and guest. At the Blau, people checked in and checked out every day of the week. They stayed from one or two days to two weeks. The guest list was international. Aside from many Canadians from western Canada, there were people from England, Italy, Germany, Japan, Latin America, Holland, Russia, etc.

There are three shops on floor two; a souvenir shop, a purveyor of liquor and cigars, and a boutique with women's fashions. The prices are, for souvenirs, nearly twice the price of the airport and town. Itinerant vendors stroll the beach with reasonably priced goods. There is also a convenience store with a wide variety of goods. This is neither advertised nor visible from the hotel. We only discovered it while boarding the bus to leave for the airport - it is accessibleonly from the driveway only.

The best deals are at the Artisans' Markets in town.Take the open-air bus; ride & reboard at will; however, the bus is cramped at certain times of the day. Quite often, another couple is heading out to the bus - split a taxi instead, it is only five more pesos AND you can generally have him take you around and the back to the hotel for another 15 pesos. You can "do" the town and transport to and from the hotel in about three hours. TIPS: all Cubans work for the state in this communist country and are paid fifteen pesos per month. Stuff we take for granted (pencils, kids' paint sets, nylons, etc) are either not available or are prohibitively priced. Tampons are only available at doctors' offices AND cost about four pesos (about one-quarter of a month's wages). Dollar stores are a great source of gifts- bring wrapping paper if you want to make your tip "nicer". Some repeat visitors with whom we spoke, told us they bring a suitcase of gently used clothing and shoes. They give this to the front desk which will distribute the items. In reading many other reviews, I feel I must point out two things. ONE: the Hotel is not responsible for the airline, the airport, Cuban customs and immigration, the bus ride to the hotel, the weather, or the state of the ocean. TWO: people must learn to spell properly (" the room was two beauful for a word").

If the idea of a high rise hotel appeals to you, I would not at all, hesitate to recommend the Balu Varadero.
Blau Varadero

February 2007
Hi, Debbie,
Here are some interesting and pertinent impressions first hand of my recent Cuban holiday:
We were very happy wth Blau Varadero, 4* all inclusive Jan 22-Feb 05/07.
Direct flight from Winnipeg to Varadero going, leaving Varadero via Holguin for Winnipeg.

-was excellent and very healthy, fresh fish and shrimp bountiful, as was chicken, lamb chops, roast turkey occasionally, pork chops, as well as hamburgers (huge!) and large weiners at the beach bar.
-Two a la carte restaurants, must reserve between 10 and 2 pm, : La Palma Real, where I really enjoyed the appetizer of crab on cucumber, moist baked salmon filet wrapped in bacon, and the desert made of whipped cream in a chocolate cigar. Classical music played by Cubans (yes- very talented and highly trained!) on cello, viola, and violins, added to the enjoyment. Impeccable service!!!
-Also enjoyed excellent services in the Grill, which was Cuban food, but still fairly good. Red and wine readily available and excellent in all restaurants, also champagne, beer, etc.

Cuban night is Thursday in the buffet, where there is an awesome variety including many fresh and cooked vegetables, some lettuce, desserts that were not all that sweet, except for ice cream, toppings: chocolate, kiwi, etc.., and the very best were the fried bananas, with honey, butter, cinnamon, and you could pour on some coffee or chocolate liquor if you wished. Chef was very accommodating, since my dairy intolerant friend asked for no butter, so the chef used orange juice and honey instead. My friend had a card typed up in Spanish, and laminated, to show the chef, who toured her around and told her what had dairy in it and what did not.

The best I have experienced, with very very fine white powdery sand that seems to go on and on forever. Very clear waters, many colors of turquoise. Red flag (no swimming) appeared twice, yellow 3 or 4 times, green mostly. Watch out for jellyfish during and after high winds. Very nice boardwalk with rails to beach, and bar with grill there also. Lovely to walk/jog along the beach early in the morning and see the sunrise, also sunset around 6:00 p.m.

-Ocean view, were also excellent after the first night, when we had a tub that leaked when showering, since there was a chip off the enamel, but we were moved at our approval to another room also with an ocean view. I do not recall paying extra for ocean view initially.
-Rooms were very clean, bathrooms also, with a very adjustable makeup mirror and also shower. Maid service good, with some neglect regarding placing of water and beer in our fridge despite tipping. Swans, etc. on our beds frequently made from towels. Once we were given towels that refused to dry, likely polyester, but replaced with 100% cotton after we mentioned it to our maid.
-Balcony with chairs and table, also mini-clothesline, which was very useful for light travelers.
-Air conditioner works nicely, and if you leave your key in the pocket just inside the door, stays on for the duration. If you pull it out, it soon stops, as does the lighting, to save electricity - but very soon cools down - terrific!!! We left our key out to help keep global warming to a minimum.
-Front desk more than helpful. Bellboy sent birthday cake up to our room for one of us!
-Glass elevators worked well but I liked the stairs, and got to doing them most of the time, which adds to fitness levels! Some there in wheelchairs even. Highly accessible.

-Cuban Convertible Pesos, pegged to the US$. Exchange rate was .74 CUC for $1 Canadian, and was the same at the bank in Varadero, our hotel, and the airport. Change $ as you go, since CUC are not useable anywhere else in the world except Cuba. Credit cards recognized must have no affiliation with American banks or the USA, Visa and Mastercard okay if they fit that category.

-most days 24-30*C, one or two days were very windy, and cold, about 15*C. Light jacket recommended, I used polar fleece jacket.

-buffet dining hall has no swimsuits or shorts, and must have shoes/sandals. A la carte - men must have collar on shirt, and long pants, again, no swimsuits or shorts.

Suggested tours:
-Hector's overnight to Havana was excellent, with walking tour of Old Havana, Municipal Museum, the old square, with Tropicana show, rum factory tour, cigar factory visit, lunch at Aquarium, market square, and other items of interest. Our guide spoke excellent English and was very helpful. Alberto was a very good bus driver also, considering that many use horns and not brakes!

Take the double decker bus by walking out to the end of the road by the resort, and for $5 pesos, you can ride all day, ask for transfer. Goes to Varadero and to the other end of the peninsula. In the rain, go to lower level, and expect to be very crowded - about 100 people jammed in!

Small train - open air - can be covered in with plastic if rainy, costs $4 pesos.

Taxi - agree on price and itinerary before entering into agreement, $10-12 pesos for trip to Varadero, regardless of how many in the taxi.

Hope this helps others to enjoy their holiday.
Blau Varadero
Terri and Jim 
Brantford, Ontario
February 2007
Dear Debbie, My husband and I stayed at Blau Varadero from January 19 to January 26. Let me just say that all the negative reviews that we had read previously to going were completely unfounded! The hotel was wonderful! We had one of the best vacations ever and are seriously planning to try and go back! The rooms were spacious and clean. The bed was wonderful. For the first time, in all our trips to the Carribean, I did not feel icky when getting into bed! The bedding was always clean and fresh, likewise the towels, we even appreciated the night maid who always kept the room sparkling, fresh towels, wonderful towel art ect!The staff was very freindly, always smiling, we did leave gifts for the maids and tipped the wait staff in the buffet and bars often. They never made you feel like it was expected, however, and were very appreciative.We discovered a wonderful bar on the third floor for after dinner where you could go and have coffee, or drinks and listen to music played by a 3 piece quartet, and just generally relax.Since we were looking for just that, relaxing, We were fine with the fact that there was no disco, or a lot of music played during the day.Younger people, might want to research this before going, as everything seems to shut down at midnight! Apparently you could take a cab to a club just ten minutes down the road, as many people seemed to do.The beach and pool was perfect, sparkling clean, and we never had any problem finding chairs or shade at any time of the day.The food was good, although, you had very limited choices as to where to eat. Only two al a cartes. One buffet for breakfast and dinner. Only one place to go for lunch. I did not mind, but for some this might get tiresome. Also, please note: the dress code is in affect for the buffet. Men must wear pants when going for dinner. They will not let you in! This happened to us, my husband had dress shorts on, and was refused at the door. We were not impressed as we saw other people in torn jeans, sweat pants, ect, but whatever! When in Rome!!!!!! All in all, I would rate this hotel as 4+ if they would work out a few things, such as more eating places, ect. it could easily be a 5 * in the future! Would definately recommend this property!
Blau Varadero
Ontario, Canada
January 2007
We have been to Cuba before and when we booked this trip we thought this would be out last trip to Varadero, only because we had been there so many times.

Well let me tell you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was the best vacation we have ever had. We are already planning another trip back.

My husband and I traveled with 5 other family members. When you have that many people of different age groups (2 ½ to 72 yrs. old) it is very hard to keep everyone content, but you know what? We all had a great time!!!!!!!!! The hotel is magnificent.

Blau Varadero is a beautiful hotel. Very clean, great food, staff is wonderful, amazing service; Pool Bar is open 24 hrs. You can also get snacks at the pool bar also 24 x 7. What more can you ask for? .

Our room was on the 12th floor sometimes we had to wait a few minutes for the elevator! But who cares, WHEN you are on vacation! Who is keeping track of time? !!!!!!!!!

Rooms are large and clean and comfortable. Each room has a safe which opens using code numbers of your own choosing. There is a mini fridge in each room, that is restocked each morning with coke, bottled water and beer.

The Beach is separated from the hotel by natural vegetation. Magnificent white sand beach, water was clear, clean and warm. I found the Beach to be a little far (10 min. walk from the lobby) but think of it this way! With the large selection of food for Breakfast, lunch and dinner, it was a good thing that there was a bit of a walk to the beach!

Everyone is friendly and extremely helpful, from the cleaning staff, to the receptionists to the waiters and bartenders. The maids take an extra step and do Towel & Blanket Art. They would make different things everyday, for exp: they make elephant figures, swans, hearts, flowers, out of towels and blankets. It is so pleasant to go back to your room and find this art

Just remember to tip, these people work so hard for so little!!!!!!!!!!

I just can’t say enough good things about this hotel.

The only thing I really missed was a good cup of coffee. Although the espresso & cappuccino was very good. (I had to stop off at Tim Horton’s on my way home from the Airport0

I highly recommend this hotel
Blau Varadero
December 2006
We went to Cuba from Nov 26th to Dec 2nd this year (2006). We've been to Cuba before so we knew what to expect, but I wouldn't go back to Varadero again, and especially not the Blau hotel again. It's a beautiful hotel - but that's just it, it's a hotel not a resort. So, the biggest disappointment was the lack of night life or entertainment. The nightly shows were not that great at all, and the entertainment crew lacked enthusiasm (plus there weren't many of them). I found that the hotel died at night time. There was no music, no excitement, you could sit around and drink but that was it. Even the snacks were pretty boring, ham and cheese sandwiches! Man oh man, after a few nights of those, you've had enough!

During the day, the weather was fantastic and the beach is amazing. But the pool area is pretty dead, and no one even really uses the pool because the temperature of the water is just slightly too cold. If you look at any pictures, you'll notice the pool is ALWAYS empty. I found the hotel was geared mainly to an older crowd, so it was pretty quiet. The cuban staff weren't overly friendly - which surprised me, because usually you can meet quite a few people that make lasting memories! And even if you tipped them they would hardly ever come back. I just felt that we weren't being appreciated and they weren't too friendly.

The food was okay, typical buffet stuff. And, Varadero itself is not bad, and the trip to Havana was nice...but nothing to get too excited about. Last year we went to Cayo Coco area and enjoyed that much more.
Blau Varadero
December 2006
Just got back from a week in Varadero Cuba. We stayed at the Blau Varadero Nov 25 - Dec 2.

First I'll say we travel a lot. We've been to Cuba three times previously. Twice to Cayo Gullirmo and once to Holguin. So we are very aware of what to expect in Cuba. Actually we love Cuba. But.

I'll never go back to Varadero again. I found the people very un-inviting and full of thirst for money. They have tasted the desire of greed/money, handed out by the daily routine of tourists, more than willing to shovel out pesos, for every little action. Even going the bano/toliet demans a peso Everywhere you turn, someone expects a tip. (Somewhat like Cancun). This is not the real Cuba. This is Cuba's Disneyland. You only have to step outside the glass bubble of Varaderos's appetite for the CUC, to really see what Cuba is like. But far too many tourists don't travel outside the comfort zone. This has made the people of Varadero very out of touch with the rest of the population. Also the average tourist, coming to see the real people of Cuba, will be disapointed.

This leads me to the Hotel. The Blau Varadero. First I'll say, it's a very buitful place. It's an amazing marvel, of what looks to be a Mayan Indian mathematical design. ( The power of three) Glass. Marble. And wonderful plants that have yet to grow in the the atriums and grounds of Blau. In a few years the plants, including the hanging vines from the glass roof tops will look wonderful. Here is where I put the "BUT" in ...again.

The staff look burned out. There were only two or three staff that looked like they truly enjoyed working here. The older blonde lady in the lobby bar, and my chambermaid. They were both wonderful. The rest of the staff looked like they were ready to join the "workers union". Fake smiles. The bartender at the pool bar is one odd character. He would "act out" in verbal spews laughing at his own jokes or teasing his co-workers, but in a condescending way. This happened every day. This guy is defiantly not happy there. The staff work hard, but hell, so do I !...That's why we call it work!. I got the feeling that "I" should feel guilty, cause these guys where working for me. I guess that's because the hotel is probably very hard on them. But man, they get good tips. Lots of people tipped.

Now the people. (tourists hotel guests) At this hotel, they where so embarrassing. Bloated wealthy swine, full of deluxe rudeness. Most were ungracious. Cheeky. And sometimes just plain uncivil. Plowing past me, banging into me, spilling my coffee to get to the cheese counter. Not saying "sorry sir" is just plain "swineful" as far as I'm concerned...

....or the woman who pushed up here nose, because the chef had a few wrinkles in her "over easy" eggs. PA- LEASE PEOPLE!!!...your on holidays!!! I was so embarrassed for the human spirit.

But there where a few people who were a pleasure to meet. The Canadian from Vancouver who listened with curious eyes to our debate on global economics. Or the couple from Edmonton, Canada who loved the Humble Pie that was playing on my radio. Or the two old Cuban women, who cooked us dinner in their home. They were truly warm and inviting spirits. Thank-You ladies.

But as far as the Blau goes. If your rich and over 50 years old, with habits of privilege, and like to stare at each other's bling, then you'll probably love this place. If you have kids, you'll probally "like" the place. If your a couple or young singles...forget it. You'll be bored by the third night. They have nothing to bring strangers together. (Pool Tables, Shuffle Boards, Disco, ect) Or if your like me, an average working bloke, looking for a nice experience of meeting new people in the sun....you'll hate it.

We like to meet people from different places and countries. We found most of the guests stuck to themselves. ( a symptom you find at larger resorts than this)

...so... although the food was great, the hotel clean and new, and the beach amazing. The overall experience and atmosphere was a letdown. I'm not a pickey person, but apparently many guests at this hotel are pickey. And they keep to them selves. The "looks" we would get, as we walked up to the lobby bar, from some the guest, was so rude. Privalged rich guets seating and judging ALL again. I'm used to that, living in a big city, but on holidays it's pathitic. Shame on you.

6.5 out of 10

Ohhh I nearlly forgot...no swim up bar, and the pool was cold.

Next year it's back to PCV in Holguin VIVA CUBA!!!
Blau Varadero
Western Canada
December 2006
Our one week at Blau was great, food good, service the same, weather three days O K 3 days not good but what can you do. So we went shopping at the mall & markets in Varadero rented a moped for $ 15.00 that was fun. Money is a little confusing one C U P is $1.08 US $ So you have think U S $ plus about 10 points. Do not take U S $ as they discount them 20 % CDN is fine. Only negative is the coffee at this hotel. I tipped every one they work their buns off.
Adios Amigos
Blau Varadero

October 2006
We are two 30 year old women who just came back from the blau. We spent 7 days there, and we were amazed. It's both our 6th time to Varadero, and we thought this was the best hotel we've ever been to. The hotel is beautiful, it's new, very clean, there is honestly no way anyone can find anything wrong with it. The food was good, we always enjoyed our meals.
In our opinions what makes this the best is the staff. Everyone is friendly and extremely helpful and will always go out there way to make your holidays the best... Honestly, everyone, from the cleaning staff, to the receptionists to the waiters and bartenders like their jobs, and it shows.

In many other hotels the staff will get to know you and ask you for stuff, at the Blau, never will they take advantage of you in any way.

There is one downfall to this hotel, and it's that you cannot drink after 12am. All the bars are closed, but you can still get food at the pool bar (Ham and cheese or tuna sandwich). I have also seen customers bring their own rum and party around the pool. The staff is very tolerant of tourists, and won't put a damper on your day.

We met many wonderful people from Austria, England and Spain. Hello to them all, and thank you for making our holidays the best...

If you are curious about the nightlife, here are a few places we went, Pirates Cave, Mediteraneo, Josone Park, Kastillito. Ask the animation team and they will tell you what places to go and more than likely go with you.

I am sure that tipping helps, and honestly I hope you will tip. Not for you to get better service, but to treat hard working cuban people with respect. They work very hard, long hours, have a lot of travelling time to go home, and have to spend 12 hours a day smilling, and taking care of drunk tourists that are demanding.

SO please for their sake, be generous, you have a lot more than they do. You should also leave some stuff behind, when you go. They will gladly accept your older clothes, or left over shampoo...

The shows were good, and the animation team will always try to get you involved without being pushy if you just feel like relaxing...

If you have any questions, feel free to email me, stephanieacuba@hotmail.com
Blau Varadero
April 2006
The Blau Varadero is a new resort that has all the amenities of a Canadian Hotel. It does however have more of a Hotel feel than a resort feel. This hotel has no disco and the bar apparently closes at midnight, but that was great for us as we went to relax only.

The food is very good. Dinner was the best meal each day. They always had a large selection and you could always find something to eat. The service was good. This is a new resort with some of the small details not completly worked out yet but a great time was had by all.

Would I go back to this resort?. In a flash. Would still love to be there right now. If you are looking for a 24/7 party place this may not be the place for you. This is a more reserved and relaxing atmosphere.

My advice is to tip the staff. These workers make very little money and tipping is now legal in Cuba.
We tipped a couple of CUC's every meal and left money and things for the maid. Also (VERY IMPORTANT), Please tip the other workers at the resort that do not regularly get tipped such as the Security Gaurds in the Lobby and Beach, the gardners, lobby cleaners, pool staff, etc. These people help make your vacation just as safe and enjoyable as the more visible resort workers.

Overall, had a great stay and would definately go back to this resort for a relaxing week.
Blau Varadero
Toronto, Canada
April 2006
Just returned from a week at Blau Varadero. Booked this hotel because of the reviews on your wonderful web site.

The Blau is certainly excellent value for the dollar - however I noted that as a woman sitting by myself in the dining room, I had to go to extra lengths to get the attention of the wait staff - or eventually help myself. I was not alone in experiencing this. A woman who was traveling with her husband went for breakfast on her own and noticed a marked difference in the level of service she received. Can't say it is much better in restaurants in Canada - but that doesn't mean we accept it.

The meat and fish in the main dining room was often overcooked. There are no lemons or lime for the fish - so I found it pretty bland. Omelets made on the spot were excellent, very nice cheeses, sausages and breads available. Spring Rolls were at the buffet 24/7 - which made us laugh. Not a breakfast staple where I come from!

The Blau is short on chaises for the beach. There is of course the issue of guests putting towels/personal effects on seats to reserve them (as early as 6:30 a.m.) and not use them for hours - most inconsiderate. Hotels should find a solution to this problem. I noted the hotels on either side of the Blau seemed to have more than enough for their guests.

Since I ended up sitting on a towel on the beach, I quickly noticed I was surrounded by cigarette butts. It was like sitting in an ashtray! Disgusting! I moved to another patch of beach only to experience the entire area so littered. Tour operators should say something to guests during orientation and the hotel owners should provide disposable beach ashtrays to encourage better behaviour. Stiff fines should be issued for littering such a lovely stretch of sand.

These problems can all be easily solved and I will pass my comments on to the hotel head office. They have put a lot of money into this property and I hope to see it thriving in the years to come.
Blau Varadero

February 2006
We just got back from a week at the Blau. (Feb.16-23/06). The vacation far exceeded my expectations and I would highly recommend it to anyone. The beach was magnificent, the water was clear, clean and warm, and the food was good and the rooms large and clean and comfortable. Lots of hot water and great service from the staff. We travelled with 3 other couples and the dining room staff always made a huge effort to seat us together. The steps around the bar got all of us at one time or another, and most of us were nondrinkers so that was not the problem. The pool was warm and a very comfortable depth. We walked on the beach, swam in the ocean and pool, enjoyed the hobie cat, kayak and pedal boats. We had no Spanish speakers among us but the staff were very patient with us and tried hard to understand us. We saw no jellyfish, no bugs except for a few (maybe 3 or 4) flies and thoroughly enjoyed our vacation.
Blau Varadero
February 2006
The Blau Varadero (Blau rhymes with "now") is a new four-star resort located toward the end of the Varadero peninsula, though still some distance from its tip, a $10 CUC taxi ride from downtown Varadero. We chose the Blau after lots of research on Debbie's forum and in the reviews, where not only do you get answers to your questions, but you discover things you'd never have thought to ask about in the first place -- and also on the advice of our travel agent, who herself had just returned after staying there a week. We went January 23 - 30.

The Blau is impressively designed, huge and bright, and set in landscaped grounds that are not yet mature because the complex is still so new. There are fourteen stories of rooms. The upper floors have a great view, but people in those rooms are sometimes inconvenienced by long waits for the elevators, which are also small.

The beach is separated from the hotel by natural vegetation, with access provided by a wooden boardwalk. At the beach end of the boardwalk there is a bar/grill, and nearby are the many loungers and palapas (shade huts), and also the watersports equipment such as kayaks, pedalboats, and Hobiecats that are part of your all-inclusive experience. The beach has fine white sand, and the colours of the water change depending on the weather, with varying shades of blue and green. The water is shallow for a long distance out, and nice for swimming or watersports, but of course on windy days the red flag goes up and people should stay out of the water. Some defy the flag and go in anyway, to wave hop. There were a few jellyfish washed ashore on red flag days. On green flag days I question the wisdom of trying to snorkel directly off the beach. This is not only because there isn't much marine life to see, but because of boat traffic, even powered boats from nearby marinas.

The beach stretches forever in each direction, and you can walk for hours, as we did, preferring that to lying in the sun. But keep a couple of things in mind if you do. One, there are occasional places where you briefly have to negotiate some rocky surfaces with sharp ridges that may be uncomfortable barefoot, so you should bring or wear shoes. Two, you can carry along water or other beverages, but your blue wristband from the Blau won't get you access to the bathrooms at other resorts. There could be exceptions we were unaware of, but be prepared.

The rooms are spacious enough, and well laid out. Each room has a safe which opens using code numbers of your own choosing. As I'd learned from reading reviews of other resorts, inserting a spare card in the receptacle by the door will keep the fridge and a/c running. The TV has quite a few channels, but we hardly watched at all. The maids do a fine job of cleaning and making towel art. The fridge is restocked daily with cola, beer, and bottled water, at no charge. The air conditioning is adjustable for temperature and airflow, though why the bathrooms don't have exhaust fans must have more to do with design regulations than logic. There were never the problems with hot water that are reported in reviews of other resorts.

On one side of the hotel the rooms face the pools and the Atlantic. The rooms on the opposite side face the road, which is quite far off so there is no traffic noise. Those rooms have a view not of the Caribbean, as people think, but also of the Atlantic (after all, Varadero is a narrow 30 km peninsula sticking out like a long finger into the ocean).

The buffet, which provides breakfast and dinner, but not lunch, is spacious enough to afford a wide selection. In the morning the orange juice is as exquisite as the coffee is bad. Coffee lovers would typically finish their breakfast in the buffet and then go for an espresso or cappuccino at the lobby bar. I'm not sure any visitor would recommend against a hotel strictly on the basis of the coffee, but if there was already dissatisfaction in a few other areas, then the coffee issue could be the final blow. In fairness, I'll point out that it was the Canadians who were commenting on the coffee. I don't know if Europeans held a different view. People do buy packaged Cuban coffee in stores and duty-frees to take home, so I don't really understand about the brewed coffee in the restaurants.

With both breakfast and dinner, you'd hear people occasionally mention that the food wasn't hot, but realistically you shouldn't put the hot items on your plate and then walk around for a while surveying the beverages and desserts. The quality and flavour of the food exceeded our expectations, and the staff were attentive and friendly.

The lunch buffet is by the pool bar. Selection is smaller, but there is enough variety that everyone should be able to find something to their liking. Pizza was deservedly popular. The pool bar is also where you can get a sandwich in off-hours, which not everyone was aware of.

Dinner at the a la carte restaurant is available by reservation one evening per week as part of the all-inclusive package. The service and food were very good and the ambience was really nice as a string quartet played throughout the evening.

The bars are all well stocked with international brands. The pool bar seems to be the prime area for fellow vacationers to meet and socialize.

Though I myself did not use the sauna or jacuzzi, others in my party did, and loved them. I worked out in the fairly well equipped fitness area, which has wall mirrors that magically make you ten pounds slimmer. My wife had a massage (extra cost but reasonable), which she greatly enjoyed.

The nightly entertainment was presented with much enthusiasm. Performers usually used the stage, while occasionally singers would venture out among the tables. Most nights a band played Cuban and international music, and the lead trumpet player is a master. Fabulous tone. Unfortunately the vocals, and the emcee's spiels as well, suffered because of poor acoustics in the room and/or lack of skill on the part of the sound mix guys.

Our vacation package was through Conquest, whose local reps Hector and Susan were a great help to us. Also, Hector and a rep from another company, Yvan, get a big thank-you for lining up a taxi on short notice for a day trip to Havana. We had requested not just a taxi, but a spacious one. In Varadero many of the taxis are smaller Skodas and Citroëns with small back seats, not ideal for a two-hour trip each way. We had also requested a knowledgeable, English-speaking driver/guide. We are pleased to recommend to anyone the services of Tito -- not, as he said with a smile, the former Yugoslavian dictator -- and his Hyundai Sonata from TaxiOK. He'll take you around to see as many highlights of Havana as you want to visit, all the while entertaining and informing you, and amazing you at the number of people he knows. You can request precisely what you want, or leave it all to him. The cost for three or four passengers works out to be cheaper than the bus excursion, and the flexibility can't be beat.

Now, a couple of cautions about the Blau.

First, WATCH YOUR STEP around the pool bar. Coming or going, you could trip or miss your footing because of an inconspicuous step. We saw a woman twist her ankle badly enough to require medical attention, ending all pleasure in her vacation.

Also, in the area off the lobby where the tour representatives offer excursions and where the internet terminals are located, PAY ATTENTION if you walk toward the adjacent sitting area, because there is another inconspicuous dropoff, this one deep enough to cause real injury.

Speaking of the internet terminals, here are tips to minimize frustration. If you're going to the Blau (and perhaps this applies elsewhere as well) and plan to use the Web, I suggest you print this paragraph. First, $8 CUC at the front desk buys you a card for an hour of internet time, which can be used all at once or in different sessions. On the card are a username and a password. When you arrive at the terminal, the screen may be dark, but that's just the screensaver. Press a key. Instructions will tell you to press F10 to begin, and you get the log-in screen. Some people find they can log in effortlessly, while others can't get in after repeated tries. Here's a trick. Type the PASSWORD into the username window, then select (highlight) it, and Ctrl+X. Then type the username correctly in the username window and click on "accept" -- the box on the left. Then you are prompted for the password, but if you don't see a cursor blinking, click where the window should be, then when the cursor is there, Ctrl+V, and your password will paste there as asterisks. Click on "accept." If you see a message saying contraseña incorrecta (wrong password), immediately click on "accept" again, and you'll shortly get a blue-colored screen and you know you're in. Next, near the lower right corner you'll see an MSN icon. Click on this. A small menu pops up. Click on the top choice -- página principal de MSN. The Spanish MSN homepage loads and from then on it's familiar sailing. However, to end your session, another trick is required. First close Explorer normally, and you'll be back to that blue-colored screen. There will be a menu on the left. Click on the bottom choice (unfortunately the Spanish word escapes me now), and wait. Sometimes, it will take its sweet time to disconnect, with the clock running all the while. Don't leave the terminal until it does disconnect, or the next person will use up your minutes.

The all-important question always, bottom line, is whether a guest would return to a particular resort. Because we're people who prefer going someplace different on each trip, a better question would be, would we recommend the Blau Varadero to a friend or family member. Absolutely without hesitation.