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Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa 4.5

Varadero, Cuba

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Gorgeous, big stretch of white-sand beach on a calm cove
  • Huge buffet with show cooking and five dinner a la carte restaurants
  • Big main pool with swim-up bar
  • Chic Royal Service pool with ocean views
  • Clean rooms with traditional style and rainfall showers; some have ocean views
  • Upscale Royal Service rooms with huge jetted tubs and outdoor showers
  • Gorgeous luxury spa with outdoor pool and hot tubs
  • Huge modern fitness center
  • Baby club for ages one to four, kids' club for ages five to eight, and a video game area
  • Quality evening entertainment at the theater
  • Wi-Fi available in the lobby; wristbands not required

Cons

  • Beds too firm for some tastes
  • Sprawling layout, and golf carts can take a while to arrive
  • Royal Service rooms a trek from the main lobby
  • Pool is chilly; no hot tub (except in spa; fees apply)
  • There can be long check-in lines
  • Some stains on linens and towels (common for Varadero)
  • Front doors in Royal Service rooms stick
  • Mosquitos a nuisance
  • Some poor quality food at buffet (though good selection for Varadero)
  • Royal Service beach section is coral
  • AC temperature can't be adjusted (just turned on or off)

Bottom Line

Following new U.S. State Department regulations issued November 9, 2017, American travelers are prohibited from staying at this hotel. Read the full list of restricted businesses here.The 794-room Paradisus Varadero is one of the area's top luxury resorts, and delivers plenty of wow factor, with a stunning lobby, large ocean-view pool, and beautiful white-sand beach. Rooms are clean, with traditional style and free minibar items; the Royal Service rooms are well worth the upgrade. The sprawling layout means privacy and a big stretch of beach, but also plenty of walking or waiting for golf carts. Food is above average for Varadero, if not as good as at other luxury all-inclusives elsewhere in the Caribbean, and the spa is one of the area's best. Those seeking a more intimate resort might prefer the Ocean Varadero El Patriarca, which has more modern style. 

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Scene

A sprawling luxury resort with broad appeal and plenty of wow factor 

The common areas are impressive at this sprawling luxury resort: the open-air lobby is surrounded by a massive reflecting pool stocked with koi

The Paradisus makes a terrific first impression, with its massive, open-air lobby bedecked with columns and crisscrossed with pathways over the massive reflecting pool stocked with koi. (Mood lighting makes it particularly lovely at night). Indeed, all of the common spaces impress, from the huge ocean-view pool to the beautifully tended grounds

After oohing and aahing over the lobby, guests might need to wait in a long check-in line, and wait again for a golf cart to ferry them and their luggage to the room, which might put a slight damper on things. Once there, they'll find rooms lack the wow factor found in the common spaces (for that, upgrade to Royal Service) -- though it must be said that they're still among the nicest we saw in Varadero, if not as modern as those at the Ocean Varadero El Patriarca

The Paradisus has one of the largest property footprints of any Varadero resort. It is possible to walk everywhere, but it should be noted the Royal Service section is a good 10-minute walk from the main lobby and restaurants, the meandering pathways aren't well lit at night, and signage can be confusing. The upsides, though, are a lack of crowds despite the number of rooms, a long stretch of beach, and some Garden View category rooms that still get a glimpse of the ocean. In 2016, the property added about 200 rooms in a dedicated "Family Concierge" section for families. The new section includes its own restaurants and the option of swim-up suites.

Location

At the newer end of the Varadero peninsula

Map of Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa

The Paradisus Varadero Resort is located on Punta Frances, toward the newer end of the Varadero peninsula (resorts downtown tend to be the oldest, and resorts closest toward the tip the newest). The peninsula curves slightly just beyond the Paradisus, and the Ocean Varadero El Patriarca is just next door. Downtown is a 15-minute (about 20 CUC) taxi ride away, or guests can pay 5 CUC for a day pass to the hop-on, hop-off bus that leaves about every half hour. The airport is about a two-hour, 100 to 120 CUC taxi ride away.

Rooms

Classic rooms with free minibars and balconies; some have ocean views, and Royal Service rooms have more space and extra perks

The Junior Suite incorporates classic style in a bright, vibrant color palette, but rooms are not without maintenance issues, and lack the wow-factor of common spaces

Rooms at the Paradisus Varadero are classic in style, with red and white patterned bedding, decorative drapery, tile floors, and separate living room areas (sunken in the standard Junior Suite Garden View Rooms). All have 32-inch flat-screen TVs with 12 channels, including options in Spanish, German, Italian, and French, minibars stocked with soft drinks, water, juice, and beer, coffeemakers, and free safes. Bathrooms in the standard rooms have walk-in showers. The entry-level category is the Junior Suite Garden View; because of the sprawling size of the resort, lucky guests might snag a room in this category that has a partial ocean view. Rooms in the Junior Suite Ocean View Category have excellent direct views of the ocean. 

Rooms start at 40 square meters (about 430 square feet) and fit a maximum of three adults, or two adults and two children, though only one extra bed or crib is allowed (so a second child would need to share a bed). About half of rooms have king-size beds, and half have two single beds. There are also Family Junior Suites (two connecting standard Junior Suites) that can fit six.

The upgrade to a Royal Service Junior Suite is well worth it, and will get guests not only a larger room, but a huge bathroom with two-person jetted tub, outdoor shower, extra items in the minibar, 24-hour room service, the option for in-room breakfast, access to a separate pool, and to an exclusive a la carte restaurant for all three meals. The private stretch of beach for Royal Service guests is coral, so most will want to head to the sandy stretch in front of the main resort area. The biggest downside of these rooms is the location; they're a ways away from the main lobby and restaurants. It's possible to get picked up by a golf cart right in front of your room, but one one occasion we waited 30 minutes for it to arrive (we learned that walking is often faster than waiting). 

During our visit, we experienced issues with the air-conditioning in our Royal Service Junior Suite (we couldn't adjust the temperature so it was either freezing or too hot), and were devoured every night by mosquitos. There was a small blood stain on our comforter and rust stains on our towels -- common issues in Varadero, where laundry service is far away and new fresh linens can be hard to obtain. We also encountered several maintenance issues: our door had swollen from the humidity and stuck in the frame, making it difficult to open, and the toilet area of our bathroom flooded. Other guests report similar incidents, and some reported issues with getting hot water (which we didn't experience). Note that the plugs use 220 voltage but can fit North American plugs (it may be a good idea for North American guests to bring a voltage converter, though many electronics are already multi-voltage).

 In 2016, the property added a "Family Concierge" section for families. There are four configurations: Junior Suites, Junior Suites with swim-up option, and One- or Two- bedroom Master Suites, all of which have pool views, free Wi-Fi, and concierge service. This section includes exclusive access to four restaurants and five bars.

Beach

One of the best and deepest stretches in Varadero

The stunning beach has calm, turquoise water for swimming and plenty of loungers and palapas along the white sand shore

The beach at Paradisus is stunning -- fine white sand, calm turquoise waters, and a particularly deep stretch with plenty of loungers and palapas. Because the beach is along a calm cove, we did see a bit of seaweed along the shore, which we hadn't noticed at other resorts -- but it wasn't enough to be a nuisance. There's a beach bar near here serving drinks and lunch. The closest public bathroom is in the lobby. The stretch of beach for Royal Service guests is mostly coral, and extremely uncrowded. 

Pools

A sprawling main pool with swim-up bar (but no hot tub) and a smaller, chicer pool for Royal Service guests

The sprawling main pool area includes a swim-up bar and a shallow splash area for children separated by pillars

The big main pool is attractive, with an infinity edge and zero-entry areas (nice for little kids). A shallow splash area for children is separated by short pillars. Some of the loungers are wooden with actual cushions (a step above the blue mesh and white plastic variety), and there are also some shaded daybeds. The freeform layout is meant to resemble a lake, and lush palm trees and vegetation add to the tropical ambience. There's a swim-up bar (open until 6 p.m. during our visit) and the temperature of the water was a bit chilly. 

The Royal Service pool is smaller but even chicer, with lots of daybeds and fresh fruit passed around in the afternoon. There's another pool bar here (not swim-up). Both pools have ocean views.

Towels are provided in rooms and can be exchanged at a hut.

Food

Better than at most resorts in Varadero, worse than at luxury resorts elsewhere in the Caribbean 

Food is above average for Varadero (and Cuba as a whole, and Ara Buffet restaurant serves a massive spread with several show cooking stations

The food at Paradisus is some of the best in Varadero. The buffet is massive, with pre-made hot items, a fresh fruit area, and several show cooking stations where food is cooked to order. At breakfast, guests can expect sausage, bacon, croquettes (spam or potato), cereal, bread and pastries, crepes, and eggs and omelets cooked to order. At lunch and dinner, there are meat, fish, and pastas cooked to order -- the cooked-to-order food is usually the best. The pizzas are also surprisingly good, and there's an extensive selection of meets and cheeses. The salad bar was a disappointment, as fresh vegetables were entirely absent (we found this to be the case at almost all the resort salad bars). Wine and beer are available here, and poured by the staff. The buffet is open-air with ocean views and ceiling fans; though some guests complained of flies being an issue we didn't notice that during our visit. All in all, it's one of the better buffet spreads in Varadero -- but it's not as good as the buffets at luxury all-inclusives on other Caribbean islands, including the one at excellent sister property Paradisus Puna Cana.  

The restaurant by the pool serves a la carte food 24 hours a day; for lunch there were items such as hot dogs, sandwiches, and burgers. There are also grilled lunch buffets near here with kebabs and the like, as well as afternoon live music. The beach bar also serves a lunch buffet with grilled seafood. Drinks are served 24 hours in the lobby bar; attentive servers often swung by the couches to ask for orders. (We found service at the buffet and pool restaurant significantly less attentive.) 

There are five a la carte options for dinner: Mexican, Italian, fusion (a mix of Asian and Caribbean), Japanese, and romantic. The Japanese is teppanyaki style and is the most popular, for good reason; the entree here was one of the best we had. The fusion restaurant also impressed, and the Italian was satisfying. The Mexican entrees were all various types of fajitas and the food wasn't very traditional, but it was still a step up from the buffet. Royal Service guests get preferred reservations at the a la cartes; regular guests will need to make reservations as far in advance as possible (any time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.) and will be more limited by availability. 

Royal Service guests have their own a la carte restaurant for all three meals with some of the resort's best food; the smoked salmon at breakfast is excellent, and there are even crepes and eggs Benedict. There's also 24-hour drink service at the lobby bar here. Overall, though, Cuban resorts are not known for their food, so guests should adjust their expectations accordingly.

There are also four restaurants and five bars exclusive for guests staying in the Family Concierge section.

Features

One of the best spas and gyms in Varadero

The on-site spa is one of the best in Varadero: an outdoor courtyard houses two pools and hot tubs that overlook the ocean

The spa here is seriously pretty. The outdoor spa courtyard houses two pools of varying cool temperatures (part of a hydrotherapy circuit), two hot tubs, and amazing ocean views. There are four individual and two couples treatment rooms, both with jetted tubs and ocean views, plus six palapas. Inside there's a Balinese sensation shower and a sauna. There's also a salon (the resort hosts many weddings). 

The gym is likewise one of the best in Varadero. It's huge and air-conditioned, with wood-beam vaulted ceilings, wood floors, four bikes, two elliptical machines, one rowing machine, and a separate connected side with free weights, lots of strength training equipment, and weight benches. There's a water jug with cups.

Family-friendly amenities includes a separate baby club and kids' club, playground, children's menus in the restaurants, two kids' pools, a game room, and cribs and babysitting services available on request.

One scuba diving immersion is included, and non-motorized water sports equipment such as kayaks and catamarans can be used free. Wi-Fi is available in the lobbies; it's 2 CUC an hour (typical for Cuba), but Royal Service guests get unlimited free login cards. Wristbands are not required.

Entertainment

Quality evening performances and daily activities

Live shows (such as a Michael Jackson impersonator) are held nightly in the theater

Daily activities include aqua aerobics, Spanish lessons, and salsa lessons, and the evening shows at the live theater are high quality (the Michael Jackson impersonator is particularly popular). There's also Arieto Fun Pub with music and dancing, open late. 

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Address

Punta Frances, Varadero 42200, Caribbean

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