Travel Blogs from Varadero
... off then!
Two days in Matanzas is probably enough to see what’s there is to see unless you are here to learn Spanish or the Rumba so we’ve decided to cut our 4 nights back to 2 and will head back to Havana tomorrow – there’s still a lot we haven’t seen. I think we’re going back to the same casa as before (emphasis on think)*. After some failed attempts at calling them yesterday (Cuban telephone congestion) and then being ...
Today we decided to head out to Matanzas, a coastal city two hours east of Habana, to see a baseball game and check out the beaches (Matanzas is 30 min west of Varadero, a famous beach resort in Cuba). There were tourist buses going to Matanzas but we decided it was faster and cheaper to ask a taxi driver on the street to take us there. Luckily we found a really nice guy who took us to the baseball stadium and the beach ...
... so. As I am fully aware that this blog has mad scientist across the world gripped, I will say it in advance, you’re welcome. While all kids of the modern world should avoid Cuba; I’ve seen no laptops (other than my own), nobody has a mobile phone and the internet is near on impossible to access; which frankly makes me writing this blog right now pretty pointless, I’m off back to the pool!
I’m now continuing this on the plane back to Canada, I ...
... the ride was only about five minutes, and now that we lost our Brazilian counterparts, we too were ready to get off the bus for good. It truly had been an eye-opening experience that I will take with me in my personal and professional life. Even the inevitable bus ride to the airport has been an experience in which I find myself reflecting on often. However, I hope that one day I will have the privilege of returning to ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
- Swimming pool
- Fitness/Health center
- Free parking
Historical Traveler Reviews Playa Caleta Varadero
We just returned from a weeks stay at SuperClubs Puntarena.The hotel is in need of some work but the services and staff were just great. The activities staff and the bar staff are what makes the hotel fun. Constant activities and 24 hours bar service, you are never far from a cold beer. We have been to Cuba before and did not expect much in the way of food but were pleasantly surprised. The food in the buffet is OK they have different menus every night. But the real good food is in the Casablanca and Dragon restaurants. The Dragon is in my opinion one of the best oriental restaurants I have eaten at. At the Dragon we were surprised that they did not even accept a tip for letting us in without a reservation.Do not buy cigars from the beach vendors; the ones they sell are counterfeit. Spend a little more and buy them at the Hotel Store. You must visit Havana and the Tropicana Show there.We will be returning to Cuba soon.
We hear a lot about this Punterena from a family member who has travelled to many other islands.After their eight trip to this hotel we joined them last June. What a blast..People are wonderful Decided that we will be joining them again in June. We love it.
Loved every minute of it...
Our hotel was great. It was clean and bright. The staff were completely AMAZING!! They were helpful, very curtious and sweet. The night life was fun and the bar was open 24 hours. The buffet wasn't that great but it actually got better as the days went on. The pizzeria was pretty good and the eggs were great! :) We've all been to a few different places and all said that we'd go back to the Puntarena in a heartbeat. The staff really made our stay quite enjoyable. :)
Great Time in Cuba
We had a great time in SuperClubs Puntarena. The staff and food are what made it wonderful. The property needs so remodelling it was like 'welcome to the 70`s' as far as the decor was. It was great for the amount we paid.Great beach, great bartenders many of the beautiful women. I loved Havana, a great city that is in the process of being restored. Only bad part was that security would not let you bring Cuban guests into the hotel.We were nervous as we are US citizens but it seems people go out of their way to take care of you when they know you are American.
We had stayed at SuperClubs Puntarena about 3 years and were not overjoyed that we were returning, we were part of a wedding party. But we were pleasantly surprised. What a change, the food has gotten much better, service was friendly. It seems SuperClubs has finally brought this hotel up to its standards. The activities staff was great and everybody went out of their way to take care of you. Does need some work as it is an old hotel and starting to show it age.
Just got back from Varadaro- we stayed at the Puntarena Hotel. We feel we got our moneys worth. We went with another family- They have 2 teenagers & so do we- they had a ball. Lots to do if you want to. Staff was great, food was okay- no one was sick- we ate everything & drank the water. We didn't like the smell at night from the refineries (might not return for that reason, but like to try different places each time anyway.) Didn't smell during the day- pool was clean- felt very safe when we went into Varadaro. Stay away from anyone that says they can get you a car to go touring. Not legal. Made that mistake & did not reach Havanna. do not like taking tour buses so thought we would hire a driver- not a good idea. You have to be liscenced to take people on a tour. We did not know this. Take the tour bus. We got back to hotel safely though. The guards watch out for everyone. There are no guns with the guards. We were expecting that but seen none. Went for the horse ride which was fun- were gone about 3 hours for 15.00 a person. Swimming with dolphins took a long time but the catamarin that we went on was great. I think that was $70 a person. Open bar & lunch & a little snack on the way back- was an all day event. Train ride to Varedaro was fun- went to flee markets & rum factory.(that was included with your hotel) The open bus for 2.oo all day was also great- can get off & on whenever you like. Stopped for supper- missed the bus so we came back to hotel by horse & carriage. Felt very safe the whole time.
Just come back from Cuba,hotel ok but the food was terrable.The buffet never had much choice and the food was never hot.The a la carte restaurant ok if you like packet mash potatoes and frozen mixed veg.Would never go back to Cuba.
The hi-lite of our trip had to be Havana. I am a fan of Cuban music with groups such as Bueno Vista Social Club with stars such as CompaySecundo, Ibrahim Ferrer etc. Their influence is widespread. The Spanish architecture is also spectacular but unfortunately the funds aren't available for needed restorations. This was a bus trip costing 33.50 US and the tour guide, also a school teacher,was a very informative individual with the exception being on his constant mentioning of US shortcomings towards Cuba. I wasn't impressed.The accomodations in Varadero are nothing to write home about and like a previous reviewer remarked, we were hit by very strong winds and rather cool temps. during our first 2 days. Our main beefs was that the queen bed we were promised never materialized and the 3/4 beds in the room were uncomfortable. There was a strong disinfectant smell also which was rather unpleasant and reminded me of my army days when using the latrine. The food was acceptable and voluminous(you can drink yourself silly), the beach great for gathering sea shells, entertainment sometimes great, sometimes so so, restaurants(reservation only) the best being Casa Blanca. Do not care much for Varadero as a town, probably would have enjoyed Matanzas (provincial capital). Did enjoy the dble decker bus for $2 but also enjoyed the 3 wheeled orange open air taxi. Got a great ride from the main shopping plaza to the hotel for $5 (the official rate is $8 but will negotiate quickly if you turn away) Was amazed by the large contingent of my fellow Canadians which represented every province and for some reason, a lot from Vancouver. All in all the price was right, and in the back of my mind there is a yearning to discover more about Cuba eventhough it is a closed in island on which an ordinary inhabitant cannot leave and is somewhat monitored. We overheard a conversation between a lifeguard and some young Canadians during which the lifeguard mentioned that they were being watched much to the surprise of the naive Canucks.
Stayed at Superclubs Puntarena for 2 weeks Jan. 20 - Feb. 3, 2003 and very much enjoyed it.We were a little worried about the hotel after reading some of the negative reviews. I do not understand some of the bad reviews unless people were expecting a 5 star resort. The Rooms: Paradiso tower had only the first 3 floors open as they were supposedly renovating the other floors. Rooms were basic but clean. TV had CNN, ESPN, HBO and another english channel as well as spanish and german channels. Soap seemed to be in short supply for a few days. I asked the maid for another bar and she had none. I then checked with the other maid on our floor and she had only 1 bar left which she gave me. I guess everyone else was out of luck. Next day we had only a little scrap left but after that there was always new bars in our room. We tipped the maid money, shampoo, make-up, Motrin ect. and she seemed very appreciative and left fresh flowers in our room almost daily. We had booked a canal view room but were given an ocean view, which was a nice bonus. Our biggest complaint was the beds. They were soft and the springs were starting to poke through which meant stiff and sore backs the next morning but they were far better than the hard rocks that we have experienced at 2 different resorts in Mexico. The Hotel: The pool was huge and very clean but cool. You could always find a chair. There is a pool bar that is open until 10:30 PM. The grounds were very well groomed and had many large palms. No complaints here. There were 2 bars and the disco in the Puntarena tower and 1 bar in the paradiso tower. The bar staff for the most part, were friendly and getting a drink was quite fast compared to the lines that we have experienced in Mexico. Most times the bartenders seemed to know who was next to serve. Some nights the disco was quite fun but it never was really busy. Bring an insulated mug so your drink stays cold and the little plastic cups are such a waste.The Food: We were very happy with the buffet. There was a good selection and most of the food was very good. Some of the items were strange, like peas and carrots in the scrambled eggs and chic peas for breakfast but it was tasty. The bacon was the best I have ever had. Many buffets get repetitive but after 2 weeks here, we were not tired of the food. Excellent shrimp and mussels and a good selection of meat except beef which was chewy and tough when they had it. The exception was the Cuban shredded beef. Very good. The deserts were excellent and they had 15 or so items to choose from. No dried out cake and jello like some places. The Chinese a la carte was all right but the portions small and was Chinese in name only. Many people liked the Casa Blanca but I ordered beef (big mistake) and was not thrilled. They opened a Cuban a la carte in the paradiso tower the second week we were there. It was different but good. Our only complaint was that the food in all restaurants and buffet was often cold and getting a knife and fork was difficult sometimes. A waiter told us that they were short of utensils. The 24-hour cafeteria was very good for sandwiches, fries etc. The cook/waiter who worked the graveyard shift was like the soup nazi from a Seinfeld episode. Was funny to watch him serve people. Also don't miss the fresh squeezed Orange juice in the ice cream parlor. Many people didn't seem to know about this.The Beach: Very long and wide but the sand was not the nicest. Also you could not go in the water very far before it was up to your neck. Plenty of chairs and privacy if you want it. The beaches get better as you go closer to town.Entertainment: Some of the evening shows were very good while others were rather boring. Not bad overall.Havana: This is a must. We took the Viazul bus for $20.00 US return. If you take Viazul get off at the first stop in Havana, which is in the old city or you will have to back track to see this area. We walked all over the city and never felt unsafe. You will be approached by guys, who will ask where you are from and no matter what city you say, they will have a friend there. They will try to sell you cigars etc., will ask where you are going or if you need a place to stay and will want to show you around for a few $. You have to firmly tell them, no thank you, or they will follow you trying to chat. In the tourist areas of the old city there were police on the corners but off the beaten track we hardly saw the police. Contrary to some other reviews we never saw anyone getting arrested for talking to tourists. I believe some people have a problem with the political system and write reviews making the place sound terrible. We walked to the Vidado area, which is full of turn of the century mansions and found a Casa Particular ( like a B&B ) for the night. Huge beautiful mansion but was falling apart like so much of Havana. Family was very friendly and it was an experience staying in a Cuban household. We were suprised there was no toilet seat. We were told that most toilet seats were stamped with "American Standard" brand name and Castro ordered them all destroyed so many homes still have no seats. Not sure if this was true or not. Next day we caught the bus back to Varadero. Amazing and busy city. The wawa buses are funny to see but they get people around.Noise: The doors slam non-stop it seems at the Puntarena. If you are a light sleeper be prepared for little sleep. If people would only quitely close the doors. The maids also yell down the halls at each other all morning.Overall, we would return to the Puntanea if we got another cheap last minute deal (...) but the noise is the major downfall at this hotel. The staff and Cuban people in general are the upside. Any questions email me.p.s. the refinery smell was briefly noticed a few times. We were told it was closing and sure enough one of the towers came down while we were there. Not a major problem but would be nice to see it close.
Cleanliness (my big thing)Certainly our room was clean , but there were corners indifferent spots throughout the facility that could have been justa little cleaner. for example dead flies on windowsills in the restaurants. The public bathroom by the pool was revolting. Overall though it was pretty good and people cleaning all the time. No mold or mildew obvious although "fish ponds" were less than fresh and smelled a little. Pool The pool was huge, and was clean. It was cleaned every day. Lots of comfortable lounge chairs and good towel service ($10.deposit)Beach It is a very nice beach with lots of shells which make it interesting – also a little harder on the feet. Grounds There is shade and grass, but not particularly scenic – or interesting from a horticultural standpoint but depends what you are going for Recreational facilities Exercise room is very clean, good equipment (better than 4.5 starwe stayed at)The mini golf – forget it. Disco - Varied from night to night but it was alright and convenient. Don’t go looking for Cuban music though. Mostly stuff we hear at home. It never got too crowded while wewere there,Pool Tables -There are a few dotted around, they do the trickfor all except the pool sharks amongst us. Gathering places to meet people -Plenty of them and some are moreactive than others as one building is still under going renovations from hurricane in 2001 Room Comfortable and functional. Pillows as always are very thin but you get two each. Bedding was very clean. No plug for the tub and no TV remote until mid-week (tipping got this??) Plenty of toilet paper, towles but take your own face cloths, shampoo and soap etc Smell No problems there. No obvious mold or mildew. and no smell from refinery although it was windy when we were there. One night we did smell some kind of insecticide but not sure where it came from Staff Friendly and pleasant without being intrusive. At first to the uninitiated to Cuba they can be “reserved”. Entertainment Low budget, earnest and good fun but a little on the“tired” side.Bars Plenty of bars (six I counted) with a good selection. You need not go thirsty and drinks did not seem to be diluted. Safe in the room was Included Weather - no control over this but it was cool and windy in 3rdweek in January - it was much nicer in Late February) It is not unusual to get a cold front for a couple of days at this time ofyear but this one lasted! BuffetI rated as very good value for the dollar, especially if you likefresh fish and seafood. There was a good variety out at each mealand it varied form day to day. It was perhaps a bit on the blander side overall but nutritious and plentiful. There was always lots of fruit. You did have to line up if you went early in the "shift" for supper or late for breakast. Good time to chat and meet new people at the resort. Snackbars Also quite good, one could always get a meal if needed Restaurants (a la Carte)Disappointing, the food was good in the Chinese restaurant with excellent service but as expected not “real” Chinese food The other restaurant was rushed service, cold food, poor selection and what was served was not particularly special. Stick to the buffet. Tough to make reservations at either – do it as soon as you get there at the reservation desk if you insist on trying it. Massage/Hair dressing - Excellent Value for the money Proximity to town -$3.50 - $6.00 taxi ride depending where youare going or $2.00 bus ride (new service in Varadero this year and not always on time)Tips Nobody holding their hands out, but from experiences in Cuba we budget a number of dollars a day to tip. You don’t have to tip every time, but it would not hurt most of us to set aside $5– 10 dollars a day for tips. Also take along items such as soap, cosmetic samples, shampoos samples, small toys, childrens shoes and clothing if you have, hair clips, pens, notebooks, sunglasses, baseball caps, over the counter medicines Band-Aids and the like to leave with your tip. You will get superb service and feel good about putting some hard-to-get supplies in peoples hands. The Cuban people in the resorts share their good fortune with many other families, by sending money etc.I have stayed at 2.5 * and 3.5* (Puntarena) and 4.5* for the uninitiated to Cuba looking for an economy vacation, going wiht an open mind to new experiences (this is not home) this was great value for the money (we got a deal in January)entertainment off site:Take cab ($4.00) at 9:00 pm to Calle 17 and visit outdoor dance/bar- Usually live music, dance acts, magician sometimes(very good) for free, just buy your drinks ($1.50 for a beer) it is a good time. enquire about their dance lessons in the afternoon - free - but we did give them a few dollars - great chance to talk to Cuban people not hampered by "resort" policies Also heard good things about the Disco at the Marina (Disco leRada - or something like that) - ask the cab driver ($6.00ride) - go later in the evning - $10. gets you in and pays for all your drinks - typical latin does not start to 10:00 pm