What you get for 5 stars
In was a 5 star hotel they said.... It was my first experience in an all inclusive, but almost everything was exclusive. Many of the imported inclusived drinks were out. The food was repetitive and only on the snack-bar at the lobby we could get some real good meals. The maids weren't in a hurry to clean your rooms ( in the first day it was 4 p.m. and the room wasnt cleaned yet). The staff didn't seem to be friendly. The beach was ok and the lounge chairs were enough. The animation was very poor.
Just returned from Melia Las Americas. This resort was fine. All the reviews we have heard before we left made us a bit nervous, so I had written to the hotel stating my concerns. The day after our arrival the manager came to see me to make sure everything was alright. The service was great, and we have no problems at all. The beach is beautiful, the staff friendly. We were able to book all the a la carte's with no problems when we arrived, and we had no trouble booking tours. Although we did not golf the course looked great. The only disappointment was we booked dinner at the Dupont House and it was not worth it. I would not hesitate to go to this hotel again.
Had wonderful time
Our trip to Melia Las Americas in Veradero was wonderful. A real 2nd honeymoon. It was 25th wedding anniversary. The staff, rooms and surroundings were wonderful. The hotel overlooks the golf course from one side and the other side the pools and beach. Dining - food was more than enough, and displayed well. The way to go at the resorts is fully inclusive. We did not know the concept from here., (South Africa) and booked on a dinner, bed & breakfast basis. Fully inclusive means drinks and lunches included as well. (When you are not used to paying for water you only realise how precious this is.) Your drinks and lunches can be expensive if you are paying out your pocket on a daily basis.
Hotel Nacional is beautiful. A real star attraction. While we were there they hosted an international film fair. The people attending were amazing. They came from most Latin American countries. The suites at this hotel are fantastic. We however stayed in the hotel rooms. On first time there the room we was clean. ie. linen, bathroom. The carpet is old and needs replacing, this is what gives off the musty smell. On our return from Veradero the room we had was much nicer and no musty smell.
The different rooms dedicated to the stars etc. are a must.
Cuba is a must see. People, music, sun and sea absolutely wonderful!!
For a completely different experience
Just returned from Varadero and a stay at the Melia Las Americas. We were a little concerned, after reading a few reports about the hotel and their recent transformation to All-Inclusive. After seeing that the reports were primarily written by "central Canadian residents", we decided not to worry, and I am so glad we did!
The hotel check in was perfect and we got exactly the room and view we had paid for. The bellman was great - told us how everything worked and didn't even stand there waiting for the tip (don't worry - we still did).
We tried out the lobby bar right after check-in - it was 2 in the morning, but they are open 24 hours and we could have received anything we wanted - food or drink. Throughout the week, we received prompt service at this bar and reasonably prompt at two of the others. We did find that the bar service at the Beach Bar/Pizzaria relatively slow, but when you sat at a table both the restaurant and bar service were very quick.
The food at this resort was excellent - I really didn't try or get anything that was "mystery". We could have used the A La Cartes as many times as we wanted - as long as we had a reservation. Reservations were easy to get - only once were we turned down and that was for a Thursday night, on Wednesday at about 5. Give them 48 hours notice and you could usually get into whereever you wanted.
The entertainment at all restaurants was very classy - 3 or 4 string quartets inside at both, and then a five piece band outside at the Grill. Some of the bands asked if we wanted to buy their CD's, some didn't. Some were very classy about it - just displaying them at your option, and some were hesitant to even ask. We dined & drank twice off of the premises - once at Xanadu and once in Havana and it seems EVERYONE has a CD to sell.
The hotel gives credits for 4 games of golf and towards the Xanada Dupont mansion if you wish to give it a try. The golf is worth it, although I had quite a heated discussion with another Canadian who was quite disgusted that I enjoyed myself. The greens are bermuda grass and impossible to put on - slow and anything but straight. But come on - take the games for what they are, leave your betting at home (along with your Calgary Flames shirts!) and just have a good time. Gimmes make things a whole lot more fun. The course is a challenge, and each day, rounding 13 we started to call 14-16 Cuban Amen corner - we had a blast.
The service at the golf course pro shop is poor - you can wait in line forever. It's a business process problem - they have to enter the info 3 times - Cuba doesn't seem to do well with Credit Cards, and they also have to go back through the vouchers for hotel to credit everyone appropriately.
One of things I'd skip is the dinner at Xanadu Mansion. The food is absolutely nothing special and they charge for both water and B&B (buns and butter - we took a while to determine what that could be on our bill). The trek up into the lounge was neat - they seem to force everyone to have a drink even though the restaurant isn't full.
We enjoyed our pool, and the availability of chairs, pads, and polopas on the beach is the best I've seen at a warm destination. You can get whatever you want.
Tip for anyone staying - get your free bottles of water at the lobby bar - for the first couple of days we used them from the mini bar in our room, but were never charged. They are happy to give you water to go to golf, onto the beach, wherever you want it and as much as you want.
The gift shop in the hotel was probably the best shopping we saw - the mall has gone down hill - not much to buy. The entertainment in the hotel was probably the biggest disappointment. We stayed at Breezes last time, and while the food was far superior at Las Americas, the animation team were virtually invisible. There was a little bit of dance lessons on the beach on our last day but there is almost nothing at night. The pianist and sax player in the lobby playing Jazz three of the happy hours we attended were out of this world, and there was one three piece at La Arcada - the specialty restaurant that were amazing.
If you are looking for a young crowd, this is not your hotel. People are primarily in their sixties, with a few 30-50's sprinkled in. There is a high volume of flight attendents, pilots and Eurpean's, so some of the manners and attitudes differed than what we are used to in Western Canada.
The trip to Havana was great - one thing to note was that things have really changed. Everyone wants to sell you something the minute you step off that bus, where the last time we were here we were never approached once. We took toys to hand out in Havana and they were happily accepted. We had museum staff asking us if we brought them gifts after they seemed overly generous in the pictures we were allowed to take and places we were allowed into.
We brought gifts for the maids - toys for the kids, both girls and boys, lingerie, nail polish, hats, candy/gum, hair accessories. They were incredibly appreciative and even tried to leave us notes telling us how nice Canadians are in English.
Summary - I'd go back if I were returning to Cuba. The golf and the food were worth it at this hotel, and I'd just plan a few nights at the off-site discos for night life. No need to be afraid of the change to all-inclusive.
Another note - if you are going with Sunquest/SkyService, plan that your plane will be really late, you'll have trouble getting your drinks on the plane, and the Cuban airport will try anything to tell you that your baggage is overweight. They couldn't really enforce it, but you have to know very well what you are really allowed. SkyService are far more interested in selling duty free than anything else, and could care less about helping you get the baggage sorted out once you are in the airpot.
With the right attitude there is really nothing to complain about
I will never understand how I can be at the same place as someone else at the same time yet have a completely different experience. We were at Las Americas from the 15th to the 22nd. Other than the odd staff member who wasn't overly chipper I found most staff to be at least polite and many very friendly. And yes I was wearing the blue wrist band. Here is my what our experience was like:
Hotel - we had a bungalow and it was fine. My wife left little gifts for the maid and she took good care of us. The gym was excellent and the layout of the properties was nice. You were never very far from the beach or the hotel amenities.
Beach - very nice since you were only sharing the beach with the Melia Varadero next door. This meant that the bungalow area was the least busy on the beach as it was some distance from the front of both hotels. Enough has been said about how beautiful the beaches are in Varadero. HOWEVER - it is common for them to be very windy. From the 15 to the 18th last week winds were in the 40 to 50 km/h range - hence the reason for no water sports. I also did not see anyone in the water from the hotel next door. The beach was red flagged for 5 days.
Food - the ala carte L'Arcada was excellent. On par with most 4star restaurants back here in Canada. La Robleza was very good also. We took advantage of the supplement to go to Xanadu (Dupont Mansion) next door and it was a very nice dinner with a romantic atmosphere - not to be overlooked (only accepts cash - no VISA). The buffet is what you would expect from most all inclusives but it served us fine. The pasta bar was very good and there was always a good selection of meat and seafood.
Activities - LA is a golf resort and appears to cater to an older more relaxed clientele. There were very few kids and almost no teenagers to be seen. There were dancing lessons, beach volleyball etc. by the beach. Tennis was available next door at Melia Varadero. The pub had entertainment every night and they was free pool. There was singing (opera recital) one night in the lobby and there was a jazz group one night in the pub. However - there is no shortage of entertainment off the resort. We hit the Mambo Club a short cab ride away. $15 all you can drink and a fabulous house orchestra/band. Varadero is only $6/$7 by cab and there are many clubs.
Service - I noticed that the simple use of "ola", "gracias:, "cervesa" goes a long way. Some of these people are shy about their English skills and appreciate you efforts. Tipping helps as expected but that's no different than here in Canada. Service in general is slower, but keep in mind you are dealing with a different culture and besides, you are on holiday. I found it best to make friends with staff during less busy hours and with a few nice tips they remember you during the week.
Juan Carlos at the Lobby bar was great, Luis on the entertainment staff was very friendly. The front desk did seem a bit standoffish but I have never found any front desk anywhere to be the most friendly people.
I simply stayed away from those who were less friendly.
As for supplies running out we did not experience that but then we weren't specific about about how our drinks were mixed and also stuck to the Cristal and Buchanero beers. I do remember once at the pool bar being told they were out of pina colada mix but it never happened again.
There is a large plaze next door to serve any other needs. Good supply of wines and liquors from around the world and you could get coke, pepsi etc. The is an official cigar store there too. Same prices as in Havana factory stores. There is an ATM that will accept VISA but not your PLUS bank cards. Remember this as bank lines are very long and the ATM systems go down often. Keep in mind when as you need 25 convertible pesos to leave the country. The day we left the ATMs were down and some people were scrambling at the airport to get money to leave.
Depsite the weather - it was very windy and never warmer than 23 degrees - we had a very good trip. I found the Cuban people very friendly and there music very good. Cuba is very safe. There are uniformed police/army everywhere and many more undercover. We were told that a first time stealing offence gets you 20 years in jail. You never feel threatened whether in Varadero or Havana.
People need to remember you are in a communist country and these people live in a much different world than us. It is very hard to find a place in our so called free world where everyone smiles and treats you like gold given that our standard of living is so much higher. Given their political environment the Cuban people are great. Go out of your way to sit down and talk with them and you will see what I mean. This is a place where you have almost no choice of where to live and need connections to find a good job which will still have low wages. In the service industry tips are how they make there money.
Finally - take up your beefs with the management while you are there. You would be surprised how much this helps
I will go back to Las America one day - just not in January!
sol sirenas coral!!
Any6body been to this resort?!
RE: sol sirenas coral!!
Yes i just have been last week. This is quite old and i would definitely not recommend it!!
They are doing works currently and some of the things are out of order.
Food is not the best, it is not very clean - you always find surprises in the toilets when you look for one in the hotel.
And the mineral water i ordered had a fishy odour...
Well stay away.
Rather pay some $ more and go to Melia Las Americas or Parador Varadero, the best in the area. The Melia's is the best in Cuba.
RE: RE: sol sirenas coral!!
thanx for your answer