More about Iberostar Laguna Azul
Spent the week of Oct 24-31st at this awesome hotel!!! It is gorgeous, brand new and of course spotless!
The rooms are elegant and the service outstanding!
The beach is groomed and beautiful but there is no beach bar or snack food yet. As the hotel is still under construction there are a few things that need doing. ie. walkways, lighting, organized activities. We didn't care about any of those and just enjoyed the luxurious ammenities that were in place.
The a la carte restaurants are beautiful, elegant and the food is to die for! The Italian and Romantic were especially pampering and delicious!
One of the areas we enjoyed the most was the NON-Smoking, small, intimate,air-conditioned bar just off the lobby....what a view....and totally professional service!
The buffet restaurant is lovely and air-conditioned with plenty of food choices.
The fresh all day baked bread was mouth -wateringly delicious.
We were also fortunate that the resort was only running at a quarter capacity so it was very spacious, quiet, and almost more employees than visitors.
When this resort is complete it will definitely be the best in Cuba!!!
I spent Nov. 3 - 10th at this beautiful resort and only have great things to write about! Although we lost 3 days with tropical storm Ida, it did not take away from the relaxation and tranquility of this first class resort. The room was perfect, top floor, no mosquitoes and a beautiful view of the ocean. Although not at full capacity, there were about 200 of us at this new resort, it was perfect and we were spoiled by the staff and animation team. The beach was beautiful, ocean warm ~ you could walk in for quite a distance before it got deep. We didn't do the a la carte as we were happy with the buffet; there was a little bit of everything for one's palate. We had a seaweed wrap and a massage at the spa and was well worth the $. A little pampering goes a long way. I would not hesitate to return to this resort. They are still finishing up a few sections but this did not interfere with our stay at all. The swimming pools were great as was the hilltop jacuzzi. The Cuban people love Canadians and it was evident. We did a little shopping at the big flea market in Varadero and the prices were great. I would recommend this hotel to honeymooners, families and even a solo vacation.
Good Resort that will hopefully be a 5 Star Soon!
We spent a week at Iberostar Laguna Azul (Nov 3-10) and we flew there via Westjet! It was myself, DH (both in our mid 30s) and DD who is 7 years old!
It seemed to be at the end of Varadero, where the hotels are not crowded on top of each other which was nice. Its about 30 mins away from the Varadero airport, so a nice short and pleasant ride to and from the airport. We took a cab into Varadero and it was $20 CUC with tip.
We all know this is a brand new hotel and yes its BEAUTIFUL. Its all quite clean and no wear and tear yet! The lobby is very comfortable and spacious. Its a large sized resort and nothing seemed too far away from the main area.
The beach is very nice. There are workers there to get you beds and the padding.......however a few times I had to get it myself and when he did reach me he was annoyed I was doing it myself......seriously I would rather do it myself then wait around like some people would do. The frontage of the beach for the hotel is nice and wide, you can't see another hotel's beach area very well so the beach is not very busy. They do have guards at the beach that will tell locals to keep walking which I LOVED. I hate being bugged and harrassed by locals when I can trying to enjoy my vacation. The sand is nice and white, yes there is some seaweed but it is the ocean, DD enjoyed playing with it! The ocean water was warm and so pleasurable! There is no beach bar which is a bit annoying. A 5 star resort shuld definately have a beach bar and I never saw any waiters taking drink orders on the beach ever.
This resort has many pools, some were never being used while we were there. The main pool with the swim up bar is the most used. Next to it is the pool with the waterfall and above the waterfall is the hot tub. The pools were always very clean and the water warm, except for the few days we had hurricane Ida come through, that really cooled down the pool water temperature! The swim up bar servers were just okay. Since the resort was not very busy, they were just standing around talking to each other and they would take a long time to serve you even though they saw you there. That is annoying and terrible service for a 5 star!
Our room was very spacious. A great balcony facing the pool/beach. It had a large bathroom with a great tub and shower. We never had a problem with water temperature or pressure. But wow the toilet paper is so hard. The toilet paper in the public washrooms was actually good but the ones in the rooms was very hard. Not sure why they can't use the same toilet paper! The mini bar was good and replenished when you used it. The safe was in a terrible place, it was very hard to reach. DH had to take a door off the closet just so we could access it. The beds were small......it was like a 3/4 and very uncomforable if it had 2 adults in one. Luckily the room had 2 beds. We also found the beds a bit hard! The maid service was okay, they don't sweep and dust well enough though.
Well we all know Cuba food leaves alot to be desired! The main buffet was very disappointing at breakfast. Usually breakfast is the best buffet meal but not here. Their french toast, pancakes and waffles are just disgusting. They also have no syrup! Also their pastries are not very good. The bread is great, freshly baked, we enjoyed that. The egg stations took too long, there were always big lineups. They also could not cook an omelete, it was terrible.
Lunch buffets (there are 2) are both OKAY. Honestly I could not eat their meats, they just taste off.....not seasoned.....very meaty! Their fish was always delicious.
Dinner buffet, again like lunch it was just okay! Oh there is a pasta station and alot of the times the guy would only have one burner on. The line was huge. Yes the pasta was good but you had to wait a long time to get it!
We only ate at one a la carte, the Italian. It was Excellent! Th service was excellent, the food was devine.....we were very shocked!
Service at the buffets were not the greatest. We did find one waiter that was EXCEPTIONAL......we then would sit in his section and he would have our drinks waiting for us and refills were there before we asked. SERIOUSLY this is what a service at a 5 star is suppose to be like. He was the only one to give us this service. Yes we did tip him well and I have no problem tipping for good service but the other waiters wanted a tip for doing nothing.
Okay seriously we had a huge blow up here. We asked reception the day we got there when the scuba diver was at the resort (in the brochure it says there is scuba divng available at this hotel). Now my DH is a DiveMaster and has dived amazing locations and has done alot of dives so we picked a hotel that offered this even though we knew there wouldn't actually be diving at the hotel for him but atleast an expert in the field to direct him to a dive shop that he could get a charter out of. So we asked reception and they said he was here everyday by the pool around 10am. Fine, the next morning we stayed by the pool purposely so we would see him. Well nobody showed up. We went to reception at lunch and asked. They told us to talk to the tours person. So we went to her and she said to be there the next morning in the lobby with all his gear b/c there is a bus that comes by every morning at 9am to take scuba divers diving. Seemed a bit strange but okay. The next morning DH was there at 8:30am and waiting until 10:30am.....nobody showed up. He asked the tours person where they were and she was clueless, honestly she acted sooooooo mean, she is not someone that should deal with people. DH then went to reception to complain about what just happened and they said he has to talk to the tours person. He explained the situation and that she is doing nothing about it (she wouldn't even make a phone call to see where the dive guys were), reception pretty much strugged DH off. We were very ANNOYED! That evening I went to ask reception to get me the phone number for Barracuda Dive Shop (luckily I did some research before I left and found the name of a local dive shop in Varadero but I forgot the phone number). Well the lady asked if its for the Barracuda Restaurant and I said no Barracuda Dive Shop. Well she told me to come back because it was not on her list and she would have to look for it. So we went for a drink and came back and she had a number on a piece of paper. The next morning DH called the number and it was the Barracuda Restaurant.............seriously, what is wrong with these people at reception. So DH decided to just ask a cab to take him to the dive shop and yes they did. But now we have wasted 3 full days that he could have been diving because this hotel has no clue to scuba diving and the reception employees have no customer service knowledge at all! Honestly we will not return to this hotel because of this!
So after our blow up with the hotel, I called my Westjet Rep since the Westjet brochure specifically stated there was scuba diving at this hotel. Well she said she would leave me a note with info. Obviosuly we did not wait for her and good thing we didn't . The note arrived 3 days later, right at the end of our trip. Seriously where is the customer service in Cuba! I was not impressed with the Westjet Reps note!
DD went to the kids club a few times but not for long. There really isn't much for them to do there. They need to get more toys and activities there. She was not impressed!
It wasn't bad!
Now we have travelled alot and have been to Cuba many times and while I really did enjoy the fact that the hotel is brand new, it is definately not a 5 star resort. They need to improve their customer service!
Very nice place but slightly disappointed
Stayed there from the 7th to 14th of November 2009...
Well, like some other poeple said before, this is not a five star hotel yet. My main disappointments were the overall food and the service given from the front desk.
we had to rely on a few wake-up calls (no alarm clocks in rooms) and it's pretty much a coin toss about actually getting the call. They failed to call us on the last morning when we had to get on the bus going back to the airport at 08h00 and woke up 5 minutes before the bus got there...and failed to call us another time during our stay.
Another thing about them that pissed me off was that they received my lost suitcase sometime the next day but failed to inform me about it (they told me that they would notify me if and when it arrived (at this point the airline and tour rep had no idea where it was so I had little hope in seeing it)). They had it for almost 24 hours when my girlfriend asked them about it on the Monday...
As for the food, I wasn't expecting much but the main buffet and snack bar were lacking...so we got most of our food from the grill in the back (fish and pasta).
I've been reading here that the Italian "a la carte" restaurant was fantastic and we reserved twice there but swapped the second reservation because we simply didn't enjoy it. We found the "Romantico - gourmet" restaurant much better instead.
As for the rest, I found it all very good. Cleaning staff need some improvments in properly cleaning a room (like taking away empty/dirty glasses) but that did not bother me much. The hotel itself is very nice, rooms also very nice (ocean view room without having to ask for it), pools, beach area, night entertainment, bartenders, etc.....all was in order.
There was some seaweed on the beach but we got there on the tail end of the Ida hurricane (cloudy and very windy for the first 3 days) so it was expected.
So...would I go back? Probably, but I'd be hoping for some improvement at such time...
Great Time, Great Resort, Awesome Staff
My husband two children (ages 13 & 11) and I just returned from Cuba. We were there Nov 7-14 and stayed at the Iberostar Laguna Azul.
Where to start!! Check in was smooth and although we did not receive adjoining rooms, they said to come back the next morning (we arrived at 9pm) and they would see what they would do. Sure enough the next day we moved to our adjoining rooms. My husband & I had a king size bed and the boys' room had two double beds.
As mentioned by others the hotel is not 100% complete, but this did not in anyway interfere with our holiday. In a couple of places there was scaffolding, but not in any main areas. From time to time you could hear a bit of construction, but I think it was from the neighbouring resort which is being built, more than it was from ours. It was not a problem to us at all, we rarely heard it.
I really do not understand the complaints of some of the previous reviews. All of the hotel staff we met were wonderful. At the buffet they were constantly clearing our dirty plates and refilling our drinks. We staked our spot at the pool and each morning were brought cushions for our lounge chairs. The boys thoroughly enjoyed the water baskeball, the pingpong, shuffle board and giant chess/checkers game. They loved the icecream bar as well.
I was pleasantly surprised by the buffet. I knew Cuba was not known for its food, so we went with relatively low expectations. There was lots of variety and food for even the picky eaters. It was nice to have the a la carte choices to give a bit of a break from the buffet. The Italian restaurant was excellent the steak one not bad, but we never did get the meat cooked the way we asked. We were a bit disappointed the Japanese restaurant was not yet open as it is still under construction. Definitely the food was not the same as at home, but part of going to a different country is experiencing their food in my opinion.
The pool area was awesome. Plenty of space for everyone, the water was warm and as a previous review said, two pools that we rarely saw anyone else in. The beach was also nice. Endless stretches of beach for walking and very warm water. We were impressed with the non pushyness of the people selling things. Two carts were set up on our beach with items for sale. You could feel free to look and buy with absolutely no pressure. Occasionally you would see someone walking down the beach selling conch shells or huge star fish. They would carry one in one hand and if you looked at them they would hold it out to you. If you said no, they just kept walking. Nice touch to have things offered, but we never felt bothered by them.
We all enjoyed the hobie cat rides. One day we payed to go out scuba diving. It was 20 cuc per adult and 10 per child. They took us out on the hobie cat and then ancored quite a ways out. They gave us bread and you could hold it in the water and hundreds of fish would be swimming around us. It was quite amazing and well worth the money. Our guide Raphael was very informative and at one point he dove down with us and showed us various things on the ocean floor. We were out there a long time and only came back in when we said we were finished. The whole thing including the ride out and back lasted close to 2 hours.
We were there with Signature Vacations and the reps were readily available and very accomodating. We did not want to do the group tour to Havana, but on one day when the weather wasn't as nice we decided we would like to go in to Havana. Our signature rep got us an English speaking taxi driver who drove us and dropped us off where ever we asked. He waited for us and when we were ready took us to the next spot. For us this was a better way to see Havana as we could see what we wanted and at our own pace.
The bus ride into Veradara was 5cuc each and it gave on and off privileges for the whole day. The kids enjoyed finding some treasures at the market and everything was very reasonably priced.
We did not encounter the mosquitos other spoke of. Could have been because Ida had just gone through and it was still a bit breezy.
If I had any complaint it would not be about the hotel, but rather about all of the smoking guests!! We enjoyed listening to the music in the lobby in the evenings, but with so many people smoking it made it less enjoyable.
All in all we loved our trip to Cuba and the Laguna Azul. We will have many fond memories of the resort, and the people. The lady at the ice cream spot, and the guys at the club house were awesome and our kids enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
We would definitly recommend this resort to anyone.
Two thumbs up for Ibero Laguna Azul
This was our first trip to Cuba and our first stay at an all-inclusive resort. We were at Laguna Azul from Nov.07-14, 2009. It was great.
Before going we read a bunch of reviews of Cuba and Laguna Azul on this site, and we did have some reservations based on what we read, but we went for it anyway.
Before I get into the concerns, a little about the resort. It is a palace and it is large. Because it is not yet finished, every room currently available is either a junior suite or better. The standard rooms will not be available until the bungalows are finished. We didn't pay extra, but we had a very nice room with a seating area (couch, chair, coffee table and desk), and the bathroom had a very large tub/shower enclosure (part glass, part curtain). It is a very new and very clean hotel. The staff were beyond helpful and courteous. In the buffet, the minute you were finished your plate or drink, they were right there to take it away and ask if you needed anything else. As advertised the pools were fantastic, but the ocean was actually warmer (and more fun for us) so that is where we spend our time. There was a tropical storm hitting Central America and the Northern Gulf while we were there, so we had a mixture of sun and cloud (which was fine for us pale Canadians), and the surf was kicking up quite a bit. 5 out of 6 days had heavy surf, but the ocean is shallow enough in front of the hotel that you could wade out and play in the waves with no problem. There is a sand bar about 50 metres out, and while the waves looked huge, they were actually in water about knee or hip deep, so it was a lot of fun. The gounds of the hotel are also beautifully landscaped.
Our biggest concern was all the reports about mosquitoes. We went down with 30% deet spray, and a mosquito net for our 1 year old baby, but we didn't use either. For the first 6 days we only saw two mosquitoes. They were in our room, but weren't buzzing or biting us (we killed them away). It was on the last night that I discovered the mosquitoes. I had been staying in at night with our daughter while my wife went to the shows in the outdoor pavilion. I went to the one on the last night and noticed mosquitoes buzzing around my bare legs. It wasn't until we were back home for a day that I noticed the itching and the bites. So my review of the mosquitoes is that they are absolutely no problem during the day, but cover yourself or use spray if you are out of doors at night. We spent most of our daytime on the beach rather than at the pool, and the sand ticks were not a problem either (didn't see any, and didn't get bitten).
The other concern we had was the food and water. The travel rep on the bus from the airport to the resort said right off to stay away from tap water because while it was fine for the Cubans who are used to it, it would make us NA's sick. So we took the advice and had no problems. The food was a bit scary at first because we didn't want to get sick and didn't know what to eat. It was decent, and once you sample to see what you like, I would say it is good. And we didn't get sick. In the buffet there are tables were you can serve yourself to already prepared food, or you can go to the area were they prepare the food while you wait. The fish, roast beef, omelets, pasta were all very good. The dessert area was great, and if you have a sweet tooth, expect your pants to be a bit tighter when you get home.
With a stay of 7-10 days you are allowed to book 3 dinners at the a la carte restaurants. When we were there you could choose from the Italian, Cuban, Gourmet, or Steakhouse restaurants. The Japanese restaurant was still until construction. We chose the Italian, Gourmet and Steakhouse restaurants. The Gourmet (Romantica) was real fine dining. This restaurant could stack up with the best in Toronto. The Italian was also very good, but not to the level of the Gourmet. The Steakhouse was awful. The meat was as tough as leather and the veggies were soggy and cold. Don't know about the Cuban. If you choose the Gourmet or Italian for all your a la carte meals, you will probably end up happy. I would give this hotel 5 stars if it were not for the variability in the food.
We tried a couple of morning to get our act together and hop on the bus to Varadero, but our daughter was not cooperating, so can't comment on the town as we spend the whole time on the resort (they have a cigar store in the lobbying; a Cohiba Esplendido which would cost you $60 per single in Cda was about $24 USD or $22 CUC per single at the hotel store).
We are guessing that it was due to construction, but twice for a short period during the day, the water was turned off, and once for the electricity. Other than that, whatever construction was happening was both out of site and earshot.
If the price is similar next year (approx. $800pp ex tax) we would definitely come back to this resort.
Beautiful hotel, wonderful staff, food somewhat lacking
We were there from Nov 3 - 10.
The facilities are luxurious, with new towels and linens and no sign of wear and tear. Lovely rooms and public areas, including the spa. Staff are very friendly and accommodating, I never got the impression I need to tip anyone. Cubans are wonderful, warm friendly people. My main complaint was the food, its just not good enough. Cuba was an experience and its a unique destination, but we will not return simply because of the mediocre food.
The best rooms are in blocks 15 or 16 oceanview 5th floor. It was magical to see the ocean infront of us every day. On the 5th floor you look over the roof tops of the other buildings and see the ocean a lot more. Blocks 15 and 16 are both sides of the lobby and are facing the ocean. On our last day, we had a 10 25 pm return flight and we needed to be out of our room by 12 noon. You take your bags down to the bell hop and they lock it up to the left of the check in counter. They did offer us a courtesy room to shower and get ready in, just before we had to head to the airport, which was great. The courtesy room was very close to the lobby and very convenient. Highly recommend to ask for one if you have a late flight. Bring an alarm clock and conditioner. No coffee machines in room although someone else said you can ask at check in for a coffee machine. Power outlet in bathroom has 110 volt on the hairdryer, we didn't use it as we thought we needed to bring an adaptor, it seems you don't need to buy an adaptor as that one outlet has 110 volt. Rooms are big and spacious, the bed was a little bit too hard to my liking. In the room you have a free safe, umbrella, 2 gowns, an iron and iron pad. No need to bring wash clothes as you get 2 every day. Bring mosquito repellant and remember to wear it in the evenings ! The bites are nasty and very itchy.
Beach : The beach are wide, the water is warm. We swam often and loved it. You can walk out far as there is a sand bank deeper in which was very nice to play in the waves. We enjoyed the free rides on the Hobie Cat. They offer 2 services, one is a free 20 min ride with a guide to steer it for you. You cannot take it out by yourselves and then they offer a longer excursion for 20 pesos. We opted for the 20 min free ride which turned out to be fantastic. Take money and things to trade everyday to the beach, we tipped the Cuban who took us on the Hobie as we loved it. Some locals walk the beach with beautiful shells, they want clothes and shoes as a trade but if you don't have that, they are also interested in shampoo and lotion from the hotel if you don't use the hotel toiletries. Also a bike type of vendor parks some days right at the waters edge and you can buy souvenirs there. It was easy to find a shady spot under a palapa and the beach cushions are very nice. Don't need to bring insulated mugs as the glasses for drinks are big and nice. No one hassled us on the beach, we spend most of our time there.
Exchanging money : We exchanged money at the hotel, got 81 pesos for $ 100 Cad. The Sunwing rep said if you use your credit card at the hotel, you can get 88 pesos for $ 100 Cad. If I can do it all over again, I will exchange money at the airport on arrival. I will drop off our bags at the bus and have my partner wait in the bus, just incase and I will exchange money while the bus waits for everyone to clear customs. I am not sure about the exchange rate at the airport, it might be slightly better than at the hotel. Ask for a lot of 1 peso bills, its handy for tips. Everyone has to pay 25 pesos p person Departure tax upon leaving the country.
Gifts to bring: They are very appreciative of anything you have. If I can do it all over again, I will bring tons of gently used clothes and shoes ( its very expensive in Cuba) and peanut butter and hair accessories from Ardene's. The female staff just loves those hair accessories.
Nightly entertainment : The nightly show was so so. It starts at 9 45 which is late and it was not well attended the night we went, there might have been 30 people watching the show which was mostly dancing and some singing. We went only once. In the evenings there is a women playing the piano in the main lobby and she plays till 9 pm, great music. We bought a deck of cards from the souvenir shop at the hotel for 5 pesos out of pure boredom and played cards every night in the main lobby area or in the lobby bar, which is a very nice bar, as its smoke free. The disco opens late, 11 ish pm and only a few people were in there.
To get reservations in the restaurants was very frustrating and difficult, we manage to only get 2 reservations as they said that for our 3rd reservation we need to come back and stand in line again in a few days as they were not sure which restaurant were to be open later in the week. On Sunday morning I took pictures of the line up to book the restaurants, the line up was long and it took more than an hour to book it. Crazy and totally unacceptable. The food was very good in the Italian, the portions were huge.
Food : The food overall were not great, I would say the food were just ok. I have been to a 4 star all incl in Mexico and on 3 cruises so that is what I am comparing it to. By day 3 we were tired of the food. There is a big selection of food but very few things I could actually eat. An example is warmed up frozen mixed veggies at the buffet for breakfast ! It seems they cook a lot of Cuban food and it seems very few guests in the hotel are actually Cuban. So there are plenty of food, its just not things we like to eat. I saw one night at the buffet they had a carving station and in all the time we were sitting there, no guest actually had anything from that carving station, as that food just looked weird and the poor woman who were manning that station looked so embarrassed that no one opted for that selection. They have a nice selection of freshly baked breads, however no jam. Nice pizza station as well where the guy makes it fresh there right on the spot. Lunch buffet opens at 12 30 every day and evening buffet at 6 30 pm.
Additional pics : As pics of this resort are not abundant as of yet, I saw some very nice picture on flickr.com. Just type in " Iberostar laguna azul " and you will see a lot more pics there.
Flew with Sunwing, great service. Once at the Varadero airport, the ladies bathroom are shocking, very stinky and run down and no soap to wash your hands, although everywhere else in the airport all officials wear H1N1 flu masks !
Sunwing rep meeting day after you arrived : Ours was scheduled at 10 am and it was not worth attending. He tells you about the different excursions offered. The rep is at the hotel every day in the mornings for about an hour and if you have a question or concern, you can always approach him. When the bus back to the airport will pick you up, the front desk has that info as well, as the bus comes every day at the same time and they are very familiar with the different pick up times.
Exploring Varadero on the red double decker bus : To catch the bus, just walk down from the lobby towards the main road till you get to the round about. The bus will stop there, service is from 9 am to 9 pm almost every 30 mins but there is no fixed schedule, just wait and the bus will arrive soon. Its 5 pesos p person, hop on hop off, good for the whole day. The bus gets very crowded, make your way to the top floor. Do the whole bus loop for some great sightseeing, it does stop for 10 mins at the house with connections to Al Capone and you can also ask the driver to let you off near the caves, someone said it was well worth a visit at about 3 pesos each, there is a guide. The bus also make stops near Jusone Park, where you can ride on a camel for 5 pesos each. And just 1 or 2 stops further to the right there are 2 craft/flea markets, the prices are good here and we bought all our stuff here as we didn't see anything worthwhile on our trip to Havana, except buying cigars and rum.
Day trip DIY to Havana : We got talking to one of the hotel's employees on the beach which brings you the beach cushions, and he offered us a guide to take us to Havana. We were a party of 4 and it was 45 pesos each. Our guide, an employee from another hotel, rented a nice car and took us to Havana for a unforgettable day of sightseeing. He was very knowledgeable and took us to all the main attractions and also to a very nice Cuban restaurant, we paid for his meal. A very nice meal is available for 18 pesos max, which includes a 10% tip that is already included in the price. This was the best food we ate all week. I would highly recommend going to Havana using this service, all in all it was a much better deal than renting a taxi or going with the organized tours. He picked us up at 8 30 am and we were back at the hotel at 6 pm. We saw tons of things and he was very flexible.
The best part of the day in Havana was the part away from the Old historic area. He drove with us up and down newer areas ( still very old areas but hugely interesting to see where the locals live and shop) which was close to the old part. I would highly recommend everyone seeing the area away from the Old city. Our guide told us the tour buses don't show that part to the tourists. The organized tour at our hotel through Sunwing was offered at 60 pesos which included a meal. It seems the price came down as it was previously 67 pesos.
All in all a great holiday at a classy resort, its very unfortunate that the food is so lacking.
West Jet Rep Sucks
Hotel location, design, condition, staff, amenities, excellent.
Buffet food plentiful, but boring, and in some cases tasteless.
Booking for al cart restraunts horrible! Under staffed, causing long line ups to book the alternative to boring buffet.
Booked tour to Havana with Westjet rep...was a mistake.....Poor transportion, bumpy two hour ,uncomfortable, uniformed ride. Tour guide could not make herself understood (Gloria) spoke English, but no one on the bus learned a thing about Havana from her. Poor time management meant places of interest not seen. Rep was unresponsive in time.
We stayed at the ILA from Nov.7 - 15.First off the resort was only about at half capacity which was nice although it seemed to get busier towards the end of the week.The grounds are very clean,workers always doing something.It will be nicer once the vegetation matures.The beach is the one thing I was really disappointed in,it had crushed shells all over it,I actually almost stepped on a piece from a broken glass and picked up a couple large pieces of a broken plastic glasses.I know that's not the resorts fault but you think they would have someone cruising the beach picking up whatever.The rooms are very clean,we were in just a standard room on the ground floor facing the main pool,very nice,close to everything.We did have our share of issues though.We had to have our shower head hose changed 3 times,it kept bursting.The sliding door lock broke as well.It was all fixed in short time though.Hopefully it's just growing pains.All the buildings are connected so to speak by a narrow breezeway so to get to the lobby if it rained you don't get wet which is kind of nice.The lobby bar is nice and quiet or the cigar bar is even quieter if you don't mind a little smoke and you are in Cuba so why not try one.The food was so-so.The buffet got kind of tiring.Hopefully when the resort is at full capacity they will have more choices.The a la cartes were hit and miss.The Cuban was good but the Steakhouse was terrible.We had the rib eye and the tenderloin and did'nt finish 3/4 of it.Not the same grade here at home.The staff were fantastic,some of the friendliest people we have met in the Carribean.The shows were OK.Pretty much the same you get in the Mayan or DR.All in all it was a good trip,beautiful resort,fantastic service,friendly people,food left a little to be desired and the beach was not what we expected.If the beach is high on your list as it is mine it's a toss up.I think next time we'll stay closer to town in an older resort in return for the nice white sand beach(I'll have to talk the wife into it though she's a pool person).Hope this review helps you out.Cheers!Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
We arrived home from the Laguna Azul last night, and I felt it would be best to share our objective opinions about the resort while they were still fresh. The first few reviews we checked out before booking our vacation at the resort were so lopsidedly positive that I felt an update might help prospective travelers.
After a pleasant 45 minute bus ride, we pulled up at the resort. Upon arrival, we were impressed by the buildings themselves - elegant and well-designed with stucco and subtle lighting. We were checked in relatively quickly, and were given an arrival cocktail while in line. Our room itself was tasteful and clean, although a lack of quality materials and workmanship was immediately evident. This is just part of the reality of life in Cuba, and we didn't really hold it against the resort as much as we chalked it up to the effects of a trade embargo.
Other good things:
- bar service by Addiel in the lobby bar was spectacular
- cigar bar was a great little hideaway, with bottled beer, nicely made pina coladas, and a happy atmosphere
- nightly entertainment was amazing (and I could normally care less about resort shows)
- beach was very good, albeit a bit more coarse sand than other resorts along the strip
- pools were nice, clean, fun
- salsa lessons on beach were fun
- great beach for a long stroll
- fun games put on by the entertainment crew late afternoons
- resort is relatively small, so buildings are convenient
- night club is what you make of it - we had a great time, although some younger guests were less enamoured with it.
- waitresses/waiters busted their butts to serve food and drinks, cleaning plates away promptly and maintaining smiles despite long shifts and hard work
We were disappointed to find out that each guest could only book 3 A La Carte meals per week...which would be fine if the buffet food had any flavour or variety. The consensus among every single guest we spoke with was that the resort was poorly lacking in variety of food options. It should be pointed out that every single day featured nearly identical buffet options - I've never experienced this before. It may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn't. The fact they carted out the exact same stuff every single day was a running conversation piece among visitors who expected even just a bit of creativity, flavour, or effort. Glowing pink hotdogs were sliced and mixed in with gravy and vegetables...undercooked pizzas with toppings of canned corn were among the most popular choices at the buffet...fish was prevalent, but was bland and flavourless...shrimp only made an appearance once...desserts were bland and lacked creativity...the juice was simply flavourless. Breakfast was the only meal they pulled off at a tolerable level (in my opinion), but it was more of a greasy-spoon-style offering than a high quality breakfast. I've read reviews on Trip Advisor in the past where people talk negatively about the food, and I've always felt the person was exaggerating or being unusually picky. If you feel that I'm guilty of the same thing, you may be right...I don't know. I just know that the boxed mini-pizza served on the flight home might have been one of my favourite meals consumed in this lifetime.
Other bad or annoying things:
- the cook at the beachside grill grabbed my hamburger patty with her bare hand, slapped it on the grill, then served up the nearly raw burger to me with the same hands a moment later.
- main buffet was open from 1-3 for lunch, which was a bit tight
- many guests had issues with mosquitoes and sand fleas - one poor fellow with diabetes had to return home early due to dozens of bites up and down his legs
- although television-viewing is hardly a priority on holidays, our cheaply-made Korean television had a fairly scratchy picture. On the other hand, I laughed about how I had a better variety of channels than I have here at home
- beach loungers were cheap quality and uncomfortable
- front desk staff were generally cold and unresponsive (except for a couple of nicer ones who seemed concerned about guests' well-being)
- the toilet paper is best described as a slightly scratchier version of a paper towel
- the exchange rate on Canadian to Cuban Convertible pesos at the resort was brutal - exchange your money at the airport Cadeca
- meals at the a la carte restaurants were pretty mediocre.
- whatever you do, do not order the ravioli at the Italian a la carte. ( I think I discovered what they do with their leftover pancakes from breakfast, mashed potatoes from lunch, and ketchup.)
There were a few things which happened this week which I think you might agree were undesirable and unfortunate.
- on 3 different occasions, my travelling companion had dangerous objects in her food/drink. First, she found a chunk of jagged GLASS in her Pina Colada. The next afternoon, she found a ROCK in her bean salad. Not a little pebble - a bean-sized rock. Two days later, she had another ROCK in her Pina Colada from the same poolside bar. Mistakes can happen, but when your girl finds a bona fide shard of glass in your drink, you can understand the level of concern you would feel.
- despite leaving generous tips for the cleaner every day (including toys, candy, and money) she forgot to leave us towels once and water 3 times. As you may know, a water bottle in your room is essential for tourists, as local water can cause problems with our digestive systems.
- when I went to the front desk to request towels and water, I was told to wait there - a maid would deliver it in just 5 minutes. After 1 hour and 15 minutes of infuriating delay, the maid arrived to hand it over.
- On Thursday, our generously-tipped maid still hadn't cleaned our room at 6pm, but promptly cleaned it up when we interrupted her chit-chat with another maid.
- our flimsy toilet seat broke the first time I sat down, and was not replaced until it literally broke in two and we placed it on the floor - took 3 days for it to be replaced. We spoke with several other guests who went through the same experience
- Staff blatantly asked me to give them my Blackberry cell phone a number of times
- bartenders had a generally smug demeanour, except for my good buddy Addiel
I guess the easiest way to sum up this vacation would be to say that if we expected a 3 or 3.5 star level vacation, we would have been quite pleased. We're not new to resort vacations, and found this experience generally mediocre at best.