Hotel Club Puntarena
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Travel Blogs from Varadero
Before I get to Havana, I want to show you how different publicity is in Cuba. There are no outdoor billboards advertising Coca Cola or Havana Club rum along the highways. In their place are signs advertising the glories of the revolution. It is as if the only signs you see on U.S. highways are praise for Barack Obama.
You will smile at some of the examples of the advertising arts that I have discovered along the way with my ...
... hamlets of the Black H’mong and Red Zao looks down to the Muong Hoa Valley and is one of the poorest communes to Sapa due to the thin and poor soil. Walking uphill from the road, one can see rudimentary houses built on the rocky farmland where the locals cultivate corn for their staple food.
After a busy day trek we got many things from Sapa. I had a big sleep ever in the train to comeback Hanoi. Of all, this was an incredible adventure and worth your time to ...
... this tour, couple jeeps, and sometimes we used to lost them, and going where we want to go. So all day, the jeep driver been our guide. He was friendly and was talking in English. During the day he told a lot about the life in Cuba, and same time driving like crazy.
After some kilometers we stopped somewhere to meet others and eat some fresh fruits. They been so delicious, bananas, watermelons, pineapples and coconuts. ...
I realized that sun is going down at seven o' clock and rising at seven in the morning. And everyday is the same. But strangely the morning starts very quickly, like half past 6 in the morning is so dark, and at seven sun is already shining.
We woke up at 5 am in the morning, due to time changing. And it was dark outside, so we had to wait, for the sun goes up. The breakfast starts at 7.30, so we been one of the first eaters. ...
... we have a day tour to Havana, the capital of Cuba, we are going to visit local rum factory, have a walk in the historical center of the city. On the next day we will have a boat trip to Cayo Blanco island, snorkeling, playing games in a boat, drinking rum and eating lobster and later watching dolphins show. On the next day we having swim with same dolphins and visiting Varadero center for shopping.
That is our plan for the next week.
How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Hotel Club Puntarena Varadero
Pretty Good for 3 Stars
Hotel: Rooms are clean, but far from soundproof. We could hear voices on both sides as well as TV's and every sound from the hallways. Our room came with a safe (no charge) and hair-dryer that worked well. Beds were comfy and extra blankets provided. The air conditioner worked well and wasn't noisy at all. Our room was on the 7th floor overlooking the canal, which wasn't a bad view at all.
Elevators: There are 3 elevators, of which one is permanently out of order. Due to lack of parts, it seems that the middle elevator has been stripped to keep the other two in somewhat working order, although one was often breaking down during our stay.
Food: Buffet is disappointing although you can usually count on the fish or pasta being one of the better options. There are open windows in the buffet that let in birds along with flies. There are no screens on any windows. The hamburgers at the lunch grill and outdoor snack bar were great, as well as the sandwiches offered. A la carte meals were so-so.
Pool: The pool is quite clean, but closes at 6:00 pm. In January, the water was very cold.
Beach: Lots of sand, but lots of broken shells too. No one cleans or combs this part of the beach and walking on broken shells can be hazardous to the bottom of your feet. Apparently the other end of the peninsula is better groomed. The water is great, although there were lots of blue jellyfish when we were there (end of January).
Entertainment: Very basic and unprofessional, unlike the 4 and 5 star hotels. But the animators and MC's have personality and you get to know them all during your stay. Animators arrange for the young people to visit different discos and outdoor "raves" during the week, charging 5 CP per person for the taxi and 5 CP to get in. Considering that the hotel has its own disco, these extra trips can get quite costly at 10 CP per night plus drinks. Daytime activities include exercises by the pool, beach volleyball, and salsa lessons, to name a few.
Staff: Everyone we encountered, including reception, was very pleasant and helpful. Don't forget to tip. One of the best things to bring the staff is panty hose, which is in short supply along with toothpaste and other person hygiene items.
Not to be missed is the day-trip to Havana (less than 70 CP per person). If you hire a taxi yourself, you night save money, but you won't get the colorful guided tour that comes with the full excursion arranged through the hotels.
Browsing and souvenir shopping in the town of Varadero is a must. Take either the double-decker bus or the green train (one ticket per day gets you on and off as often as you like). If you take a taxi, bargain for the fare or insist on the meter.
Had a great time
Hola! Myself and two of my girlfriends stayed at the Puntarena from Jan. 11 to Jan. 18. We had a great time.
The resort itself was beautiful, and clean. The staff was friendly, (except for the lady at the front desk). Some of them may have even been too friendly.. LOL.. watch Reuben at the bar. .he's a cutie and a flirt, and he also makes a great sangria.
The rooms were clean and quite spacious. We even got 3 beds instead of the the 2 double that we were expecting.
We overheard a few complaints about ants in the rooms,, we did a see a few in the washrooms, but big deal. It was just a few ants.
All you had to do was look out at the ocean and it was worth the couple of ants!
The food in the buffet room was not all that good. Bland I found, and they served raw cabbage with everything, breakfast lunch and supper. My two girlfriends are picky eaters and ate like birds. I did try abit more of the food as I am willing to try new things.
The beach restaurant was always good for lunch, they were open from 12-3 daily, serving a small buffet, and cooking pork, fish or hamburgers for you on request.
We tipped our maid Digna everyday with little gifts, and she was wonderful. Kept our rooms clean daily and left beautiful designs made with the extra blankets and towels on our beds.
Small tip for going into varadero: The cab is cheap, 5 pesos one way, but the horse and buggy is fun. Just be sure to ask all cab drivers and horse and buggy drivers how much BEFORE getting on. The first time we went to town we paid Pedro 10 pesos each for a tour of varadero, plus he stopped and waited for us to shop at one of the markets, then dropped us off at the doors of Puntarena. It was great. We the made the mistake of assuming that all rides would be the same and got soaked for 20 pesos each for a 10 minute ride.
The beach was amazing, although we couldn't swim for the first 2 days. The waves were high, and there were blue jelly fish, being washed to shore, but after that the ocean was fairly calm and warm.
We paid $785 canadian for this trip and we all believe it was well worth the money. You will love the atmosphere of this hotel and the people.
Cheap...Make your own fun !
Okay so past reviews on this place are good and bad and they're all true. If you stay at this resort you have to really look to make your own fun. Just got back yesterday from a week stay at this place with my best friend. I had read the reviews and I didn't have many high expectations hoping not to be disapointed. The check in process went very quickly which was good however when asking for information the receptionists were very rude and snobby . The Beach is full of broken sea shells that are a pain in the arse to get off your skin however the water and the beach itself was spacious beautiful and the water great. Lots of shade if you want and lots of beach chairs as well. First couple of days rough water and lots of wind however the rest of the week the water was spectacular with juts a light breeze which was pleasent cause it was soo damm hot ! . Warm weather which was unusual for Jan according to locals. The pool was always a great option as well. It was a good hang out spot for the late afternoon listening to spanish tunes and just to hang out and chat with people. Food was pretty much the same almost everyday with a couple of changes and variations. Lots of fresh fruit which we both feasted on. The 24hr bar was by far the best at making drinks! I would definatly recommend trying the hotels signature Drink the Puntarena and of course the other special cuban drinks like Sangria and Mojitos They were FABULOUS ! We went to the downtown clubs and had a blast. Take advantage of the bus that picks you up at 1115 for 5 pesos and picks you up at 3 am which gives you lots o time to have a great time with 1 dollar /pesos drinks. 5 pesos to get in pretty damm good compared to Toronto Clubs !! On the Negative side there wasn't much to do during the day other then lie around on the beach or by the pool. There was beach vollyball everyday in the morning however the entertainment staff disappeared until late afternoon. I noticed a lot of guests looking over to the neighbouring hotel when they started their activities (which can be seen easily from our pool area as they share the same pool with a small wall that divides the two hotels which staff hopped over to chat with staff friends from the other resort). Rooms were clean but need lots of work. The water preasure and the hot and cold water was a problem, figuring out the correct combinations was time consuming. The paper thin walls and the slamming of the doors was REALLY annoying. We had some insect problems but it wasn't a big deal. The elevators were a bit scary and dated and we got stuck in one for a few mins. Games room (lobby) consisted of some old pool tables and old pool cues with missing tops. A ping pong table that you could never use cuase some dorks kept hidding the ball so they could play when they wanted and a air hockey table. This was allright and filled in the gaps between waiting for dinner and winding down in the evening. The shows were "INTERESTING" the dancing shows were cool and there were the audience participation ones that were fun as well. We didn't try any of the excursions however we did take a horseback ridding trip along the canal and then on the beach with Vlad which was a great fun experience. Speaking about the canal some of the nights and early mornings you can smell a real strong egg like odour which isn't that bad and you get used to it. Its not all the time though so it wasn't a big deal. The worst thing i guess you can say about this place from our experience was the lack of activities and the remote location. It was the last of the resorts far away from any others in the downtown area. I don't think I'd go back to this place but definatly back to cuba.
Never mind value for money, it doesn't mean we must put up with very ordinary ! Which this Hotel certainly is. Maybe a one star in reality ! That includes food, decor, cleanliness, game facilities and noise.
However we were directly next to a beautiful sandy beach / lovely warm sea water and majority of the staff are very friendly, but then that is Cuban nature we feel.
Change as much money as you can or think you need in the airport upon arrival, for the peso. There's a room safe deposit box so it cartainly saves considerable messing during holiday. To do some trips and tip regularly we needed around £700, for two of us over a fortnight.
Quite often there can be a very pungent smell that lingers in the hotel, some say this comes ashore from the oil wells out in sea, whatever, it remains with you on your return !
Take fly spray and ant powder / spray.
Great Value, Great Vacation
There are two forums going for the Puntarena resort. I realize that it was once part of a larger resort now split into two. So I posted on the other forum as well.
There are many wide ranging reviews, and I read many if not all of them before we left. Take the bad ones with a grain of salt. This hotel is not fantastic, nor is it terrible. BUT, I just returned 4 days ago from the Club Puntarena Resort and my wife our 20 year old daughter and 19 year old son had a great time!!!!
We booked the Puntareana because it was a great price. We didn't expect a 4 or 5 star hotel. For 800 bucks a week it was an amazing deal and a fantastic vacation. I guess it all depends upon your attitude.
The bus from the airport was great, a modern air-conditioned coach. In Mexico we were picked up in a mini-van and too many people were crammed into the vehicle that was driven by a maniac.
The hotel's location at the end of the beach is closer to the main village than many of the newer hotels. It's quiet and only traffic for the hotel comes to the end of the road.
Yes making phone calls from the hotel is expensive. Have you ever found one where it isn't?
Yes the hotel is somewhat dated and in need of some investment. BUT it was clean, the staff very friendly the beach was great (do you really think having sea shells in the sand is un-natural? or a negative?) Duh! The food was fine and there was plenty of variety so you have lots to choose from.
The staff at the bars, the coffee bar, the restaurants, the outside grill, the pool, the activities, the housekeepers were all amazing.
Our housekeeper came up to my wife and daughter very apologetic asking our forgiveness for breaking my daughter's eye glasses. She had knocked them while cleaning around the items on the night table. Well the glasses were already broken before she had touched them! Talk about honesty and taking reasponsiblity. She also warned us that our kids had left the room safe unlocked.
Things are different! Remember you are in CUBA, not Canada. In tropical countries they don't use carpets in the hotels. I've stayed in Club Med resorts (for more than triple the price) and the rooms at the Puntarena are very comparable, acutally even larger. Club Med didn't have safes this size, or refrigerators in the rooms, like the Puntarena, and yes their rooms were also stucco walls and tiled floors.
In all of the places I've stayed in Mexico, Nicaragua, Cayman Islands, Honduras etc, the rooms were similar. I don't expect or want my hotel to look like the Sheraton in Toronto or Calgary. When I travel I want to experience the difference.
I will agree that the doors in the hotel are very loud and when slammed they make a very big noise. And we were woke several times by partying neighbours yelling. But I guess it would be easy to blame the hotel not the "guests" for slamming the doors and yelling. Probably were some unruly Canadians. Damn them.
We swam in the ocean, suntanned, relaxed by the pool, took scuba lessons in the pool, went on a catamaran trip, swam with the dolphins, scootered around the countryside, shopped in the market, snorkeled in a cave, took a taxi to wonderful historic Havana, helped change a flat tire on the highway, marvelled at the old cars, scuba dived in the Bay of Pigs, ate lobster and shrimp on the beach, travelled to nearby towns away from the tourism and felt safer than at home, danced in a packed night club, met many friendly locals, watched some funny shows, gave many presents to deserving people, watched the sunset with a father and son fishing by our hotel, ate well, drank too much, what more can I say.
We would go back in a minute.
-A happy Canadian and his family.
Puntarena was the best!!!
My girlfriend and I just got back from a week all inclusive vacation to Puntarena in Varadero and I got to say that it was the best vacation I ever taken. Like most people I had read the reviews before booking my trip and read some really nasty critisism about this resort, but I did not let it get to me. I have no clue what these people are talking about....Puntarena was the greatest.....the buffet was awsome...i mean i didn't get tired of the food. They had agreat variety of food and the best was the deserts...mmmmmmmmmm!!!
The staff was great and friendly. The grounds clean. The beach was gorgeous. The room comfortable and both views, the canal and ocean view, were amazing.
We took a guided tour to Havana, we went snorkeling, pedalboating, kayaking, which is free for the first 30 minutes. There's so much to do there.
Those who gave it a bad review are those who are spoiled and can't appreciate something good.
My girlfriend and myself on the other hand the time of our lives and we can't talking about it. We miss it and would recommended to all of our family and friends. And for the price...you can't lose!!!
AND...by the way...we spoke to other people on the plane who went to 5 star resorts and we had a better time than they did...so take my word for it!!!
Tip: The hesitate to get out of the resort to truly experience Cuba. Don't worry...crime rate in Varadero is 0.
Hotel needs a major renovation
We went with a group of 13 people, got the hotel for a good price and at the same time didn't expect too much. We left fairly satisfied.
Upon arrival and seeing the room i was pretty shocked to see the condition of our room and a few others. Not out of the ordinary to see a few holes in the wall, missing lights in the bathroom, poor water pressure and no hot water if the person in the adjacent room was using the shower at the same time. There was also a period of 4 hours where there was no running water in the hotel at all. Fortunately that was in the middle of the day while we were at the beach though.
The food itself is sub par. I'm not a picky eater and managed to get by, but i found myself eating the same thing for lunch and dinner throughout the week. There isn't much variation.
As for the positives I must say that the staff was real friendly (except for the lady at the front desk). The entertainment staff was real good too and did their best to keep everybody going. The pool, landscaping and beach was real nice too and nicely kept by the maintenance people. Although the hotel is alittle dated, it is kept very clean. Like I said, there were 13 of us, and finding some fun wasn't very hard.
All in all, I'll just say you get what you pay for.
Puntarena was the bomb!!
I read the numerous bad reviews posted by other travellers and must tell you all that they are unfounded and unjust! Myself and two friends visited Puntarena in early Jan 07 and had an extraordinary vacation!
We are all in our twenties and decided to jet down to Varadero for some fun in the sun. Not only did we get what we were looking for, but we made numerous friends from around the world and employees from the resort!
One point to remember is that you are responsible to make your a la carte and special night reservations! We overheard some people complaining but really, whatever! Its your responsibility.
The beach is absolutely gorgeous, although it does take a little while to get used to the shells that are mixed in with the sand... but hey, the shells make fabulous souveniers!
There are tons of things to do around the resort and many different excursions you can book with your travel reps. We booked two of these, one was the Discover Tour which is definately recommended. The second was a day tour to Havanna city, which is a must if you are already traveling half way across the world!
The Discover Tour involved jeeps driving through crazy country dirt roads(4 ppl per vehicle and there were 8 or 9 in our group) and then we went to a marina where we all got into boats and cruised up the river. We then stopped at a papaya ranch (out of season in January) and had lunch, road horses, played with an alligator, and then we all jeeped over to a cave full of crystal clear water in which we swam! Amazing experience!!
In addition to the two excurisons we booked, we also took the free pool scuba lessons from Jesus and signed up to actually scuba at a reef the next day. It cost us 70 CUC but was worth every penny in my book. Our divemaster Jesus was very fun but also very professional. We saw so many interesting fish and coral, I can't wait to go back and do it again.
As far as Puntarena goes, we loved it! The staff is amazingly friendly and just smiling and being cheerful goes a very long way. I believe we tipped everyone for the first three days and then after that we did it more sporadically. Our maid on the other hand received tips of money and knick-knacks every day and she was amazing and kind. Mayday (our maid) treated us like we were the specialist people she knew and it made us feel very welcome. We left everything from ponytails, barrets, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, candy, and soap for her, as well as a few peso each day.
There are numerous bars around the resort but only the Cascada is open 24 hrs. The live show is on at 9:30 every night and goes to approx 10:30pm. There were a few ones that we not that interesting to me but most were funny and involved some crazy dancing. There is a disco that opens at 11 until 2 which got pretty happening the nights we attended. If you are looking for a totally killer party, there is a bus that comes to the lobby at 11:15 pm every night and takes you to a club (varied every night). The bus costs 5 CUC but also picks you up at 3 am and brings you home! It also costs approx 5 CUC to get into the clubs but they are soooo fun! It is a great place to party with locals as well as tourists from other locations. A Crystal (cerveza) costs 2 CUC here.
I am not sure what else to write. Most of the food was good, some not the best but every thing was edible. I am a picky eater and I definately did not starve, there was always so much offered! One travel companion of mine is vegetarian and there was always loads of no carne dishes (meatless). One thing I must mention is that none of us went there for the food and you definately shouldn't be expecting a 5 star meal.
This whole trip was wonderful!!
I was really worried en route to Varadero because of the nasty reviews posted about Puntarena and was astounded by how far off they were! This place was amazing, the staff was great, pool was beautiful, grounds were immaculate, beach was gorgeous, and the view was breathtaking.
Please keep in mind that negative moods affect others. If you are expecting to be babied and pampered to the point of special dishes or what-not then I advise you book a 5 star resort. A bad attitude not only ruins your vacation but for those around you as well!!!!
We will definately be revisiting the Puntarena! Thanks to everyone who works there!!!
Fabulous trip...wonderful staff...can't wait to go back!
I was at this resort last year on January 21st for a two week stay. It was fabulous. I went to Cuba with absolutely no expectations other than to relax on the beach and take in the scenery. That is exactly what I got and more!!! I would really suggest that people go to this resort during high season where you are sure to get top notch service and good food as the hotel would be at full staff.
The Hotel is located at the beginning of the canal opening. It is away from the town but it is easily doable by bike or walking. There is a tourist double decker bus which for only 5 CUC you can get on and off at your leisure.
The beach is a feet from the hotel. There are paths leading to it. It is a jaw dropping view. I will never forget it. Nicer than any beaches in Florida. The pool is very nice but cold. The ocean was warmer than the pool. Games are available and run by the entertainment group...loads of fun. Volleyball and basketball and soccer was being played daily.
The food at the buffet is fine. The restaurants are very good. I loved the breakfast buffet....eggs, croissants and fresh fruits galore. IF there is no freshly squeezed orange juice - don't be shy...ask for it...they will gladly get some for you. The coffee at the 24hr bar is the best - as well as all the drinks.. My favorite place to eat and get great drinks was at the Ranchon Tropical - the beach bar hut. Fabulous drinks and excellent food - salads, fish, chicken and fruits, fruits and more fruits....
No preservatives anywhere made it for one the most healthy vacations i've ever had! (minus the booze lol)
The rooms are nice an roomy. Never had hot water issues or saw any bugs (thank goodness!) the housekeepers were wonderful..friendly, accomodating and took pride in their work. I tipped them well...nothing is better than coming into a nice clean room after a long day on a hot beach.
Just get use to "Cuba Time" it takes a bit longer to get things done or brought to you but hey i didn't care...i was on vacation!. I loved the water sports and toys....loads of fun. I bring loads of sunscreen as it costs a fortune in Cuba. Bring candy and tums and immodium. I chose this hotel because i wanted peace and serenity and i got it!!....as well as wonderful memories and great friends, local and tourists.
Can't wait to go back!! - March 1st!!
My husband and I stayed at Club Puntarena on Nov.18th.
Let me say that we were not impressed at all. This was our second trip to Varadero and it will be the last.
I would suggest to pay a little more money and stay some where else. For an all inclusive resort they didn't have much to offer.
The bars only had rum and beer. And no diet Pop. It just got real
blah. The bar by the ocean did make a good pina colada.
Be careful on what information they give you. They tend to lie.
I had to see the doctor there. They told me they took Visa but in the end they didn't you had to pay cash. So they left me strapped for some money. I was not happy. The woman at the front desk
could be very rude. You felt like you were bothering them when you needed something. The entertainment was not good at all.
So I suggest you should stay somewhere else for your holidays.