Princess Sunshine, my mother and I just returned home from a wonderful vacation in Varadero. This is actually our second time visiting the area, if it wasn’t for the incredible last minute deal we got, we probably wouldn’t have returned. Thankfully, we’re up for giving everything a second chance, because the vacation at Palma Real was a trip I will never forget.
After reading the BelleVue Palma Real reviews on sites like Trip Advisor, I really started to scratch my head and wonder if we were making the right choice. The Palama Real is only a 3.5 star resort after all, and generally we haven’t been anywhere under a 4 or 4.5 star. However, after experiencing the Palma Real for myself, I can tell you, some people are expecting the Ritz Carleton – please remember, were talking about Cuba here, not Paris or New York.
The hotel is perfectly fine, the rooms are super clean, although a little dated – but really how much time do you spend in the room? Not too much besides sleeping when it’s dark anyway.
The beach is incredible! Yes, you do have to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get to the marvelous light blue ocean, but we’re not exactly talking about the 401 here. It’s very rare that we even had to stop to let a car go by, it takes about 3 or 4 minutes to walk to the beach from the front of the hotel – big deal. There is a snack bar at the beach that has hotdogs, hamburgers and ham and cheese sandwiches (as well as unlimited drinks), so there’s no need to head back to the hotel for lunch time. We had a picnic on the beach nearly everyday.
The food… So no one really goes to Cuba for the food. However, I have to say, the food at the Palma Real was absolutely fine! I’ve been to Cuba 4 times and this is by far the most palatable food I’ve had yet. There was always something for all of us to eat, even Princess Picky Eater. At breakfast there were eggs, omelettes and the most delightful bread as well as fruits and even fresh made smoothies each morning.
I loved that the BelleVue Palma Real was super close to the city of Varadero. We could walk or take a horse and buggy to the town. At many resorts, it feels like you’re trapped in one area with no where to go for a whole week other than within your complex, at the Palma Real, you were pretty much free to go where you’d like. Dinner at a local restaurant, the market. We even went to a local church for Easter Sunday mass, it was a great experience being with the local people.
If access to the outside world is important, it’s 10 CUC an hour to use Internet and 2.30 CUC per minute to call Canada. Needless to say, I enjoyed the down time.
I will go to the Bellevue Palma Real again, the hospitality was fantastic, the beach was amazing and the food was more than manageable. I will however bring more things from home for the locals next time around. Basic necessities like clothes and shampoo are common requests from the local people. They really have very little of the necessities let alone any luxuries. I’m going to start putting away a box of goodies for our next trip. Oh, and another small tip… If you leave a few dollars for your maid, bartender, beach chair guy, gardeners (for fresh coconuts) and servers, they will make your experience even that much better – guaranteed.
The place isn’t perfect, there are a few broken tiles and like I said, It’s a little dated, but overall value for dollar, the Palma Real is totally worth it – just don’t expect a 5 star resort on a 3 star price. My only wish is for a mini club for the kids and they should have had more people at the reception desk when we arrived.
If you head there, please tell Jesus and Jorge (the lifeguards) I say “Hola”! Oh, and look out for the flag at the beach, if it’s red, stay out of the water… it can be dangerous, I lost my Sunglasses in the waves.