We had a wonderful Cuban vacation – although it was too short! Next time, I think we will be going south for 2 weeks. I thought since I do review blogging, I would write a review about our experience on this vacation.
We booked with Sell Off Vacations. This is the 3rd or 4th Vacation I have booked with them and they were great! I even had to make a change to our itinerary (after I was told that no changes were allowed) and there was no cost (in fact, the change made things cheaper). My aunt that lives in Ontario decided that she was going to meet us in Cuba, this meant that my Mother’s trip went from being a single supplement to double occupancy. Paul at Sell Off Vacations was really nice and made the change. I just wish he could get my aunt some parking coupons for the Toronto airport. We made the reservation a few months before leaving and from my experience, Sell Off Vacations has the cheapest prices for southern vacations.
The vacation that we booked was with Air Canada Vacations. The customer service left a few things to be desired, everything from the counter agents to the flight attendants. My aunt who was travelling alone was even left at the airport in Cuba alone, while the other 12 people that were going to the same hotel hopped into a bus. She ended up having to take a taxi alone to the Hotel. Air Canada Vacations really dropped the ball on this one. However we didn’t let that get us down, because the service at the hotel we were staying was incredible.
We stayed at Sirenis La Salina Varadero Beach Resort in Varadero, Cuba. This is quite a large resort, so make sure to bring your walking shoes (along with your bathing suit). We stayed close to the main reception building which was very close to the quiet pool (yes there are 2 very large pools, one is quite and the other is the entertainment pool), and also close to the buffet. This was so convenient for us because at only 19 months it was sometimes hard to get DD to walk. If you plan on bringing your young kids to this resort, I would suggest also bringing a good quality stroller.
We spent most of our time at the quiet pool and the beach. The quite pool was full of ready to learn swimmers because the water is only toe deep. So my daughter made a tonne of pint sized friends while they played with their buckets in water wings while learning to swim. The water gets slowly deeper and throughout the week as the kids were more brave they were jumping off the “deep end” (about the height between my knees and waist). There is also a swimup bar at this pool, and the whole pool is fairly shallow.
There is actually a kids/baby area where younger and older kids can play inside or outside while an employee of Sirenis La Salina takes care of your kids . I took my daughter there one afternoon, but stayed with her. There is also a kiddy pool, but it was out of order as the kids broke the motor after throwing sand into the pool. It would have been nice for this pool to be up and running because it was small, shallow and it would have been really warm.
The beach was a little disappointing. The surf has really taken a beating on the beach and there is a large drop off of sand. However, just a few feet away the beach is flat. My husband and I took a walk along the beach and the hotel next door (Iberostar) had a much nicer beach. But in all reality, the water is amazing, that nice blue/green, and was way warmer than the waters we have here on the East Coast of Canada. So, anything is better than what we have here in March.
The service was amazing at Sirenis La Salina. All the hotel staff were incredibly nice. I speak a bit of Spanish so I had fun practicing with them, but if you speak solely English or French nearly all the employees are bi/trilingual, and may even speak more languages like German. We left tips for the maid, bartenders and waiters just to be nice, a peso here and there was an easy way to get the employees to remember us and our drinks, and the maid left us cute towel animals.
The food was just ok. But who really goes to Cuba for the food?!? We always found something to fill out tummies, but it just wasn’t something that you would find at a gourmet 4.5 star hotel here in Canada or the US. My daughter really liked the food, she ate about 4 boiled eggs, yogurt, bananas, bread, veggies and pasta nearly everyday. Since adults have a bit of a more refined pallet it was a little harder to find some really yummy food. However, the customer service at the buffet was spectacular. The head chef was always around the buffet asking people how things were and if they needed anything. Sometimes bananas were not at the buffet and all I had to do was ask, and I had a handful of the best bananas you have ever tasted. We also went to 2 a-la-carte restaurants in the evenings. We went to the Mediterranean (seafood), and the French, both where ok, we went to the buffet afterwards to get dessert.
We didn’t really go to much of the evening entertainment, we were beat by the time nighttime came along and just wanted to sleep. We did manage to get a few shows in, and they are entertaining. The dancers are amazing, and the lip-sync show was really funny. There is also a mini disco for the kids to attend before the adult show. The kids go on stage and play games and dance, my daughter loved this. She got on stage, ran around, jumped and danced like a trooper. She had a blast and so did we while watching her.
Overall, it was an incredible vacation, we could have easily stayed another week. I think if we did stay another week, my daughter would have been swimming.
We didn’t have any negative experiences at all. Before leaving, I was consuming myself by reading reviews, they seemed to all have complaints from cockroachs to leaky toilets to maids stealing towels, we didn’t have a single negative experience! Maybe we are easy, but I think some people expect way too much.