Located on the gorgeous Varadero Peninsula on the northern coast of Cuba, is the all-inclusive family-friendly Iberostar Varadero resort. It has a particularly idyllic seafront location with a pristine soft-sand beach. Indeed this is a beautiful undisturbed wide-brimmed ribbon of bright beige sand that curves into the distance. It is sandwiched between a lush green backdrop and the lapping of sparkling turquoise waters and dotted with thatched or white parasols that throw shade over cushioned sun beds.
The warm Caribbean climate offers sunshine throughout the year and getting there is a two-hour or so drive from the capital, Havana, passing some simply sensational views.
The welcome is full of fun and staff exude a happy, almost theatrical, vibe to set the holiday scene. Happiness is, after all, contagious.
The lobby is spacious with fountains, salmon-hued columns, chandeliers, live band music and flowers that together offer a sense of grandiose yet calm gaiety. There’s a lobby bar too where many a pre-dinner cocktail or a just-for-the-hell of it tipple is imbibed.
This is an all-inclusive family-friendly resort with plenty of entertainment for the kids. With 650 guests, the kids will almost certainly find playmates and be encouraged to join in the daily pool side games.
The resort has 386 rooms including doubles, family rooms, junior suites, spa junior suites and presidential suites. These are spread over 11 low-rise three storey buildings set out in a particular formation so nowhere is more than a few minutes walk. There’s no lift, so if you don’t like steps, ask for a ground floor room.
Rooms are generously spacious and washed in warm sunny colours and come with balconies and glass doors to let in the daylight. Most have lovely views.
The housekeeping staff seem to have origami skills which they demonstrate by leaving towels shaped into animals to decorate the beds. Sometimes a rose would be left too.
The rooms come with spacious bathrooms with power showers and mod cons such as an ironing board and iron, umbrellas, slippers fluffy bathrobes, towels and a hair dryer and a mini bar.
There are three outdoor pools surrounded by tropical gardens; a quiet pool for quiet moments and a fun one with a swim-up bar in the middle where you drink as many drinks and tipples as you like. Family friendly water games are in full swing every day and anyone can join in or not. However, you won’t be disturbed with splashes as it is simply huge. It looks pretty too with its bridges, a colonnade and a gazebo. At night the lights shine romantically on the water and this makes for a lovely stroll.
And of course there is the well-manicured beach which is connected to the resort via arched wood bridges. The sea has shallow waters for quite a way in and with no rocks underfoot it’s safe for kids to enjoy. There are plenty loungers so you will be sure to find one. Once settled, waiters are continuously on hand to refresh your drinks. The sunsets here are pretty spectacular, so keep your camera handy as dusk creeps in.
The kids’ pool is pretty exceptional with a large waterfall and flumes in a circle-shaped water park. An entertainment team turns up every day from 10am to 5pm at the Kids’ Club to keep the kids busy.
Evening entertainment is a staged show which is colourful, lively and fun even if it is a little cheesy. And there are kids shows too which they seem to love. The kids can head to the mini disco and boogie under colourful dancing lighting from 8pm. Adults too can dance the night away.
The Spa is pretty extensive with a a relaxing beauty salon and spa which is elegant both visually and aromatically. It comes with two saunas and two jacuzzis and a varied menu of treatments including facials, massage and reflexology. I enjoyed two reflexology sessions which offered a welcome and affective respite for feet that had swelled in the heat but heard the couples massage was, well, relaxing.
There’s a gym too and a personal trainer who will walk you around the modern equipment. Other adult activities include crazy golf, water aerobics and even salasa dancing.
Oh, and there is also a shady space tucked away in a quiet corner with several hammocks. I enjoyed a wonderful siesta there so be sure ask about that just in case you need an escape.
Food and Drink
It’s impossible to go hungry or thirsty at Iberostar Valedero. Waiters are always on the look out for people to serve in all the eight bars and various restaurants.
Cuba has never been at the top of the gourmet ladder but the food here is pretty good. The buffet – which can get a tad busy a peak times forcing staff to flit around pretty quickly – is where you are likely to take most of your meals especially if you have the kids to feed. It offers six cooking stations with meals, including seafood, lobster, various meats and as they prepared on request, the meal is freshly prepared. I particularly loved the omelette and pancake stations.
Gourmet dining is available at La Dorada a Mediterranean restaurant, the Gourmet and the Japanese restaurant. I took breakfast at La Dorada too one morning for a more quiet change of scene from the buffet. For dinner, it’s probably best to make a reservation as soon as possible after checking in as these restaurants tend to get booked up quickly.
The poolside restaurant is more fastfood and desert oriented. There’s a micro buffet by the beach as well – think burgers. The lobby, pool and beach bars are all great places to drink a tipple of just get hydrated.
Every day there is a small table in the lobby with champagne and small pastries.
Yes, but the internet is regulated by the government. So you need to buy internet cards which costs a CUC for an hour. You can buy as many as you like to access Wi-Fi in the lobby area.
A night at Iberostar Varadero starts at £176 per night.
If you need a change of scene hop on a tourist bus (5 CUC) which arrives in front of the resort every 30 minutes or so and takes you around the Varadera strip. You’ll come across plenty of souvenir shops with interesting items to take home. A 15-minutes walk away are some caves you may like to explore. However, if your trip if for a week or more, you may like to consider doing a day trip to Havana – ask about this tour at reception.
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