More about Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa
Loved the staff at Princesa del Mar
We stayed at Princesa del Mar over Christmas 2004 and found the staff to be absolutely terrific. We were always treated with the greatest consideration - e.g. our waitress would have our preferred table ready for us each morning, often set with fresh flowers. We spoke at some length with the staff throughout our trip and felt that we were able to learn so much about Cuba despite being at a resort.
The hotel itself was lovely. The room was very pleasant and, thanks to our hard-working maid, utterly spotless. The food was decent and plentiful. We particularly enjoyed the more traditional Cuban dishes that were served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
We are looking forward to returning to the Princesa del Mar.
Great resort despite the weather
My boyfriend and I stayed at the Princesa Del Mar from Jan 15-22 and had a great time. I have been to many different resorts in the Caribbean but this resort definitely deserves a high rating compared with most.
The room was beautiful, very clean and well maintained. The tub and shower were much better than at home! And there was lots of hot water so no worries there.
The food was very good; often times salty and sometimes a bit oily, but mostly there was good selection at the buffets and you could feel satisfied without being stuffed. The a la carte restaurants were hit and miss; definitely the Japanese (Sakura) is one that you should not miss. We went there twice! It's done Beni Hana style, with the chef cooking up food right in front of you..a meal easily worth at least $100 in Canada. The Italian was not very good (but what do you expect in Cuba) and the Port Royal was mediocre. The buffets are a good way to go for most meals so don't get too upset if you can't reserve the a la cartes. Also, be prepared for 10:00 pm sittings if you don't like to get up really early (like 7:30 am) to stand in line for reservations.
Order the ice cream whenever you can.. delicious!
The service in the buffet restaurants was not very good; the waiters would stand on the sidelines a lot instead of greeting people and pouring drinks. Many times we just went up to the bar ourselves to request drink service. There are also many empty tables even when there is a long line of people waiting.. turnover of the tables is just SLOW. The service in the a la cartes is much better.
Drinks are very good, particularly if you order the international brands.. they have Bailey's and Amaretto and Jack Daniels.. you name it, they can probably make it. The Princesa Del Mar is a good rum drink and they make very good chocolate and banana shakes. And don't forget that you can order champagne any time, anywhere.. it's great! We even had a champagne cocktail ready and waiting for us when we arrived at the resort, even though it was around 1:30 am. Plus our tour operator had already checked us in so no waiting in line. That is what I call a warm welcome!
Also be prepared to get up at the crack of dawn to get a chair by the pool; people reserve them (with their towels) very early in the morning and keep them all day, even when they go away for hours at a time. Even if you find a chair, you may not be able to get a pad for it. Best bet is the beach; people are hired to get your chair for you, clean it off and position you anywhere you want.
Weather: First 3.5 days were cold (highs maybe 70F) and extremely windy. Pack warm things if you're going in January! The last 3 days were nice, warm and sunny, highs maybe around 80.. still not the heat of Jamaica or Aruba, but nice. No rain, fortunately.
Lots of things to do on the resort.. pool tables, tennis, ping pong, games.. the whole resort is well maintained and even though the resort was full during our week, it didn't feel too crowded. It would have been nice if the jacuzzis were heated (they're COLD) and also if the pool would have been warm enough to venture into. We noticed on the last day that the concierge guests had their own HEATED pool and their own HOT jacuzzi.. I guess we weren't good enough for those amenities. Very strange.
The "Havana Special" tour is GREAT!! This includes a full day tour of Havana including lunch and dinner as well as the show at the Tropicana Club. Don't miss this one.. it is well worth it.
All in all, a very good resort well worth the low price we paid for it.. I can't imagine the price will stay this way forever. We spoke to many other people who stayed at other resorts in Varadero and this sounds like one of the absolute best you could find. ENJOY!
Great place to stay!!
We were just at Sandals Princesa Del Mar from Jan 16-23 and we had a wonderful time. There were many people saying many negative things, we think that they're people who just can never be pleased.
Resort: The resort is beyond beautiful! We stayed in the concierge room and it was very luxurious. From speaking to others staying in the garden rooms they were very happy as well.
Food: We only ate at the buffet the first day for lunch and one breakfeast. We really were very displeased with the food only because most of it really wasn't anything that we recognized. Pizza and pasta where ok, everything else look dipsleasing. It took me three walks around to manage to have something on my plate. We did speak to many people that loved the buffet for dinner; they were serving lobster and shrimp most nights.
The French restaurant was good but avoid the pork as it was all-fat and no meat, I had to order a second dish. The Japanese is OK, the entertainment of watching your food being prepared made for a great night. The Italian was great but the service was slow and portions are small. The fettuccini was creamy and tasty but if you're making this an entre order two, believe me you'll be sorry if you have to wait.
The rest of our vacation we ate at the HillTop, the atmosphere and level of service was truly lovely. The dinner menu does change every night and they'll try and accommodate if you don't like what's being served.
Alcohol: Drinks are good; I'm not much into variety other than wine and beer, so really can not comment. The service from the piano, racket club are very good. We really didn't hang around the others to comment. The private pool you'll be served continuously once they know you're out there.
Weather: We would never go back in Jan. The weather is way to unpredictable.
Activities: The piano bar is the spot to hang out in the evening.
Beach: Thought the beach was great, we really didn't hang out there but the water is beautiful.
We really think anyone staying at this resort should if they can afford it pay for the concierge upgrade. The benefits are many: rooms ready when you arrive, check out from your room when you leave the resort (7 PM which made our last day so much better), taxi for two-- to and from the airport, HillTop restaurant, private heated pool (unbelievable view of the grounds and the ocean), 24- hour room service, full bottles of anything the resort offers such as Chivas, wine, champagne, no line ups to make dinner reservation, golf, probably many more things but that's all we can come up with for now.
We have stayed at other resorts and we think that if you're the type that can relax and not worry about getting served within a minute of asking, you'll love this place and the people. We do believe that they are working very hard to get their people trained and this place will be a gem of a resort as time goes on. We don't think that the price we paid this year (cheap) will be offered again next year. P.S. anyone going this resort and eating at the Hilltop should bring the staff for dinner a box of turtles, we gave them a box of chocolates our last day and we couldn't believe how appreciative they were for such a small gesture. It may not be prefect but I would go back in a heart beat.
Princesa Reservations for a la carte restaurants! Our observations
I agree with everything that the lady wrote in her Jan. 16th, review of the Princesa. We arrived New Years eve! We enjoyed a lovely dinner in the French restaurant and then participated in a very memorable New Years eve party in the square. New Years day we booked our reservation for an a la carte restaurant. The only one available was the Bamboo at 9 pm. We accepted that reservation. On our way to the restaurant we walked through the Buffet and it was almost empty and not much food or staff left!!!! They were actually putting food dishes away. The pasta bar was completely closed down and being washed down. On we go to the Bamboo, only to find it closed. We aren't complainers so we went to the Italian Restaurant as when we walked by it, it was half full. We were told that it was fully booked and to go to the Buffet. I struck up a conversation with the hostess and told her that the Buffet had very little food left and was almost closed. I also asked her that if the Italian was fully booked then where are the people? She did not understand us. We were not being miserable but just asking a valid question. She told us to wait and called the front desk. The front desk sent down a young lady who spoke very good english and apologized for the mix up and told us that there weren't enough people booked for the Bamboo so they didn't bother to open it. We discussed with her our disappointment as we were told when we reserved it that it was almost booked up full and 9 pm. was all that was left for us. She said, "follow me", and we proceeded to follow her to the front lobby. She kept saying, she was very sorry for the mix up. We arrive in the front lobby and she called for a golf cart. She then informed us that there was space available at the Hill Top (concierge restaurant) and that she made arrangements for us to eat there. She accompanied us and we had to wait about 10 minutes at the bar, but then enjoyed a lovely dinner. Again not without mix up! My husband ordered fish, I ordered the fillet mignon. We both received fillet mignon. We didn't complain, just enjoyed. When we returned to our room, there was a bottle of champagne waiting with a note attached, saying "Sorry for the inconveinece". The next morning, I'm in line in the lobby at 9 am. for the restaurant reservations. There are 63 people ahead of me! When it was my turn, it was the same lady that took care of us the evening before. Again every restaurant was booked almost full and only a few 9:30 pm. spaces available. I chatted with her about this and about the evening before. I suggested that maybe on the reservations they should have a note regarding "no shows!" and a time limit, then allow guests who couldn't get a reservation earlier to be able to take the space of the "no show". She thought that was an excellant idea. I then asked her how come the restaurants fill up so fast? She then showed me the reservations sheets. I asked her why some room numbers had 6 reservations attached to them? I said, my understanding is that there are 2 persons max. per room. She ageed, but then said, that they wanted their friends to eat with them. That is all well and good but there were no room numbers for the friends. I told her that maybe part of the problem and maybe only 2 persons should be booked at a time. I reseved my 9:30pm. reservation for that night at the Japanese. We went to the piano bar for a drink prior to dinner and I started to talk with another guest who had been staying at the Princesa for over a week. I asked her if they had problems with reservations. She told me that they go and book for party of 6, then another group that they met while on holiday also book for a party of 6. Now the third party of friends also go and book for a party of 6. That way they have 3 different restaurants to choose from for that evening. Do the math! They secured reservations for 18 seats total at 3 different places - then pick the one they want to dine at or time that suited them. The other 12 seats are then not filled but the restaurant considers them filled. NOT Fare!!!! Day 3, I was able to book for two nights! Wow! Day 4 - we receive a note to our room of a new policy on booking restaurants. Bookings would take place in the lower level. Your could now book for three days in a row. When I asked one of the staff about this new procedure, she said, there would be four tables with four girls to make processing faster. I arrived on day 5 bright and early! Same long line up but not single file, mostly in fours! When it's my turn, yes there were four tables and four girls but 3 are observing what girl number 4 is doing! I did get bookings for 3 nights, all at 9 or 9:30 pm. Also on the bottom of the reservation was a note: "If you are 15 minutes late then your reservation is not valid." I wasted alot of time over the course of 5 days waiting in line. I had not visited my holiday rep. yet as when he was there, I was always standing in the reservations line. Day 5 - I caught up with him on his last 5 minutes at the hotel for that day. I politely told him about the situation and he said, "He understood and acknowledged that it was a problem at the hotel." He then offered to move us to the Sandals Hicacos for the remainder of our two week vacation. We took him up on it and enjoyed Cuba! When you are on holidays, you have no time to stand in lines for a dinner reservation and why should you have to jump out of bed early in the morning to do that? The Princesa is a lovely resort with a few wrinkles to iron out! Thanks for listening! and don't be afraid to go there. Right now the price is right and when the wrinkles get ironed out, we won't be able to afford this place for a two week vacation!
Very Bad Service
Stayed at the hotel from Dec. 29 - January 5th. The hotel itself was very clean and maintained. However, the beach area did no have soft sand but rather it was very rough and had to many broken seashells. The ocean was to wavy and the staff did not clean the sea weed that came up overnight. However, they did start cleaning it because people must have complained. As well as, distance to the beach was close but very dirty. It was almost like you were walking through rusty ground - no grass - no sand. The water activities were never open. Checking in wasn't too bad, bell boy was very helpful. The first day we were there there was no entertainment during the day, weather was horrible - raining - windy. Lobby is not well maintained, floors gets really sliperpy and dangerous. Bartenders are really slow and rude, took ten minutes to get a drink, always interacted with eachother in Spanish and they talked about you. There was no nightly entertainment, some nights they had a jazz band downstairs in their so called club which was humidy and stunk. The room service as exceptional, accept for the last couple of days, there were no clean towels and the cleaning lady folded dirty towels as if we would not notice. As well, cleaning lady had eaten all of our chocolates in the friddge over the week. The Service at the buffet was horrible. There were dirty tables and no where to sit down. The waiters did not collect plates or bring drinks, had to get my own drinks - coffee. Staff did not know how to speak english. There were huge line ups at the buffet to get pasta, and the grilled stuff. Cooks did not cook large amounts but served one person at a time, you can imagine how long it took. Waited in line for pasta for 20 minutes. Japanses a la carte was excellent, do not go to the oriental - morning lunch food mixed with sauces. The buffet had a line up, when i went to tell the person that was managing the buffet, he did not do anything - majority of table were empty and dirty. New Years program was not interestubg. Did not feel like new years. They had a Gala dinner, but not enough room for everyone to sit down. Heard a lot of people were complaining. The hotel is really far from the downtown area, 20 dollar cab ride. The food was OK, served shrimps and lobster. Been to cuba 5 times before and never seen such horrible service. I would not recommend coming to this hotel. For sure not a 5* hotel.
This hotel had horrendous service - absolutely unbelievable that it calls itself a 5* - never seen anything like it. It should be a 2*. Even the hotel manager said he would put it at no more than 3* right now.
I thought that Sandals were meant to be wonderful. The food was really mediocre too even if you queued for 2 hours for an a la carte restaurant.
DON'T GO THERE
Could use some work
Went the week of the 15th-22nd.
We would actually give it a 3.7 out of 5 to be specific.
Weather - Not the hotels fault but the wind was non stop from morning until night. It put a damper on suntanning or doing the water activities. You could pretty much wear a sweatshirt for the first 4 days we were there. Needless to say, we made the best of it. By the end of the week, it got warmer and less windy.
Hotel - Beautiful! It seemed almost like a little utopia town.
Food - We give the food 5/5. All the a la cartes are good except the Bamboo which I didn't try just because I heard it was the only one that wasn't very good. We avoided the Buffet, what we called "The Trough" as much as possible, it seemed people were pushy and hoggish so to speak. I don't think a lot of people realized that The Rock House served not just a continental breakfast but full on service, we went there every morning to avoid "The Trough"and had eggs, omelettes, tea, coffee etc...served to us. We would come out and see people lining up to get in the buffet! The Japanese is the best!! Entertainment by the chef as well as lots of delicious food including steak done in garlic butter, chicken, shrimp and snapper as well as an assortment of veggies..oh and sushi too.
Booze - Go for the premium drinks. We drank Malibou Rum, Tia Maria, Baileys and Amaretto all week and avoided the cheap tasting Cuban rum. The house wine is quite tasty as well, especially the red. The French restaurant has the Big Boozer wine glasses and is nice to have a big glass or two of red there!
Beach - Nice long beaches, can walk for miles although not very scenic, didn't see any crabs, or little birds etc.. Ocean is rocky on the bottom if you go swimming, wear swim shoes, we went snorkeling and saw about 30 urchins close to shore, I'm surprised when we were swimming earlier we didn't step on them. They are white and the size of a bowling ball. Try snorkeling if you get a chance, we saw star urchins and fish as well as a speckled sting ray, quite exciting!
Swimming Pool/Jacuzzis - COLD!!!!!! For a 5 star they should at least heat the Jacuzzis, there's only one that is hot but its small. Its hidden behind the fitness centre.
Service - Hit or Miss, We found the Rock House the best. Everyone seems to expect a tip. If you tip, you will get better service. Some servers were really nice and some really rude. The Racquet club was the worst for rudeness and lack of good service.
Bars - We didn't go to the Disco, we just never made it there. We mostly spent time in the Piano Bar, a nice atmosphere and lots of good drinks. The Cigar Bar (La Corona) was kind of cool too, just went there in the afternoon for Spanish Coffees! YUM!
People There - We found that some people were a little nervy and rude demanding bottles of booze for their room and treating the servers badly. If you do this, you won't get good service. I was embarrassed by the way some people acted. I'd say more then a few handfuls of pretentious people were there. However, we did meet a few nice couples at the Japanese restaurant and the Piano Bar. 85% Canadians.
It was our first time to Cuba, overall the place will be a lot better in hotter weather and when the admin staff are trained properly and more organized. We made our own fun when things weren't going right! We like more adventure though so not sure we would go back, not a lot of interesting things to see on the beach etc.. They also appreciate little gifts, I had a bag full of goodies to give our maid and she really apprecaited it!
Things we didn't use -
The gym, steam room, disco. Cant review on these. The gym however looked nice, but Id rather fast walk on the beach!
incredibly poor service for a 5 *
This hotel does not live up to sandals reputation.We just returned on the 22nd jan from a weeks stay. The majority of staff cant speak any ENGLISH, unfriendly,lazy and totally ignore you.First the Good Things,gym is modern, Hotel and grounds are new and beautiful. Now the Bad, Maid service, maid ate my chocolates in fridge, never swept floors and some days at 6pm rooms hadn't even been tended too, mini bar never restocked even when we left a note. Buffet restaurant sucked, line up morning noon and night, there were empty tables that hadn't been cleaned and the staff were standing around talking, no labels to identify the food. People got so tired of waiting in line they would walk right in and take a plate and eat in the lobby or around the pool. The Japeneese and the Italian restaurant were edible but they got the orders mixed up and we didn't get soup or dessert and the next table to us got our soup and dessert. The lobby bar you were totally ignored when you went up for a tea, its like you didn't exist you ordered and it appeared they listened to you yet 10 minutes later you still had to ask again and again. The pool forget it it is swamped by chair horders as early as 6:30.am.One hotub open with the same 10 people in it every hour every day the other hot tubs were empty with no water in them. The commen topic with others was how bad the service was. BEACH HUT WHAT WATER SPORTS THE GUYS SLEPT IN THE HUT AND IF YOU DARED DISTURBED THEM YOU GOT A LOOK AND WERE TOLD ITS TOO WINDY OR TOO WAVEY OR WATERS TO ROUGH. It was closed 6 out of the 7 days. I do not recomend this resort as we were on other side of island in a 5* and it truly was a 5* We would return to cuba but not this resort.
Varadero - my views are very mixed.
My Cuban experience wasn't at all helped by the fact that Paradisus Varadero decided to override my reservation (made sometime between March and May 2007 for a late December stay) and re-allocate me to their sister hotel Paradisus Princesa del Mar (which is to Princesses what Princess Fiona is to Princess Diana) without my consent!
The beaches are indeed stunning. I would happily have languished here for days had the weather been clement, but we found ourselves caught in the most winterlike conditions that Varadero has ever experienced. Temperatures dropped to a miserable 6 degrees for three wild and windy days. It was warmer at home in Ireland.
One invariably uses Varadero as a base from which to explore the more infamous high spots of Cuba, as we did. However, we did so when we could as I spent three days in bed suffering from some sort of tummy bug, which I attribute more to the "Princess Fiona" Hotel than to Cuba itself.
AI Varadero Help: Mid-Twenties, Romantic, Good Food
Looking for recommendations for a resort in Varadero. When I went in 2004, we stayed at Beaches, but I was with my sister and my aunt and uncle.
My boyfriend and I are in our mid-twenties. I'm looking for something romantic, but not filled with people in their 50s and up.
I was looking at Princesa Paradisus del Mar, but think it might be a bit old for us. Something of similar quality would be nice, but perhaps something a bit younger.
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
Re: AI Varadero Help: Mid-Twenties, Romantic, Good Food
Hi...have U considered something different from Varadero? If U're looking for beach then U've around 3000km to choose from ;) I recomend U Cayo Levisa, a quiet, not crowded and non turistical 4km long cay in the north of Pinar del Rio, not far from Havana. Maria La Gorda can be another good spot, it has an international diving club and is also quiet and romantic. Ancon, Guardalavaca, Jardines de la Reina and many more...U've plenty of places to choose from. And finally I recomend U Havana... it can be really romantic if U want to... good luck!
Re: AI Varadero Help: Mid-Twenties, Romantic, Good Food
Havana is full of young people, clubs, bars and also beaches not so very far away, the city also has some of the best music in the world.. it is also more of the 'real cuba' and not just a resort, maybe you can meet some of the great cuban people ;)
Re: AI Varadero Help: Mid-Twenties, Romantic, Good Food
Yes, true if you go to Havana you have it all. i allways go to the next beach there if i feel like a day on the beach..Santa Maria playa de este. you can check my pages about cuba..i stayed the first time in Varadero too..but the last few times allways in Havana:)