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Barcelo Solymar
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Reviewed 3 April 2015

Just returned from Varadero for the 4th time. Stayed at the Barceló Arenas Blancas. I stayed from March 22 - March 29. The weather was amazing all week with the exception of a storm on the last night, which made for a very cool next day.

Beach - AMAZING !!! The beach is always the best part of Varadero no matter what resort you stay at. Beautiful white sands and clear, turquoise waters. 5/5

Grounds/Pools - The pools were awesome, very clean and comfortable and never crowded. Perfect for relaxing in the morning or afternoon. Grounds were very well kept and clean. I was happy to see more plants and flowers around as well, it really makes you feel like your in the tropics. 4.5/5

Room - The room was nice. AC, Hot Water, Balcony door all worked well. It was jept clean on a daily basis and we even received a bottle of rum !!! Our maid also gave us a wooden mug as a souvenir !! Thank You, Yadira, for making our stay much more pleasant. 4.5/5

Lobby/Reception/Public Relations - Lobby is always a busy place. But there is never a long wait for anything at the reception unless there is a huge check in/out going on. Everyone at reception is very polite and always smiling. I like that. Nancy in public relations was a godsend. She took care of my every need and went above and beyond to help with everything. Thank You Nancy !!! The lobby area was open and breezy and there was never a lot of people except just before supper around 7pm. Open concept design is awesome. 5/5

Bars/Restuarants - The bars are very good. The drinks are made strong which I like, but they will accommodate as long you ask. I was however upset to see that after 4 years, the drink menu has not changed and nothing has been added, as well there were no menus to look at. They had one menu for the whole bar, and it was falling apart and was sticky (not a complaint, as I know whats on the menu ... but for someone who has not been here before it was kind of a let down). The buffet was the same as usual. Always a great variety and always something delicious to eat. The al a cartes were great this years as well. We dined at the Spanish and enjoyed a delicious and tender veal cutlet. I was surprised to see that 2 of the restaurants, the Mexican and the Italian, were free for all, no reservation required and go as often as you like. The Mexican was not as a good as when it was an reserve only, but still great. The Italian was still just as good as ever. The staff of the buffet were always very nice, pleasant and helpful. Thank you Rosa for all of your help and kindness, I am always happy to see you every year. 5/5

Hotel Amenities - This hotel has always had something for everyone to do, and this reputation has not changed. The disco was great and drinks there were awesome. Music was great. The addition of wifi was great as well. You no longer have to wait for the computer room to free up (three computers, older than dirt), you can now use wifi from our own devices anywhere in the lobby, great touch. The massage parlor was also amazing. Marisol is one of the best parts of my trip every year. She is very talented at what she does and prices are reasonable as well for what you get. The only complaint regarding the hotel amenities, would have to be the gift shop. PLEASE if you have a sign that says open until 9pm, stay open until 9pm. When you really want a taste of home, coca cola, pringles, ice cream, etc. it would be nice to go to the gift shop at 8:30 and have it still be open. 4.5/5

Off Resort - Varadero always has exceptional off resort options as well. We dined at the Barbacoa Steak House just 2 minutes from the hotel. Steak was amazing there (do not add salt). They had really good dessert as well. I like dessert, and, in my opinion, it is not something Cuba does well, but the desserts at this restaurant wee exceptional. We attempted to go to the Lai Lai as well (the best Chinese food you will fine anywhere in Varadero), but unfortunately they were closed due to not having any water. We also visited Josone Park, where we enjoyed a REAL Pina Colada. As always, Varadero is extremely safe and easy to navigate. 5/5

Sunwing Rep - Yordi. The most amazing person ever. Great to talk to, very knowledgeable, and able to arrange anything you need. Thank you so much for arranging our late checkout, even after the reception said no.

Overall, I had an excellent trip. I would recommend this resort to anyone and would encourage people to return again.

Another huge thank you to all staff of the Barceló Arenas Blancas, with special shout outs to:

Yadira (Our Maid)
Marisol (Massage)
Rosa (Breakfast/Dinner Buffet)
Nancy (Public Relations)
Yordi (Sunwing Rep)

Matthew Moores

Room Tip: Always ask for a room on the 3rd or the 4th floor of the hotel. A balcony is a must, and if you don't pay for it, there is always a chance you will get an oceanview. Rooms higher up are quieter as the lobby can get loud at night from people and entertainment.
  • Stayed: March 2015, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
10  Thank MattMoores
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2015

After being warned by friends not to spend our entire vacation in Cuba at an all-inclusive we were happy we took their advice. In Cuba, their standards for a 3-star resort are nothing like North America. Everything looked nice from far away, but if you look up close, everything is falling apart!

The pool felt dirty and tiles were missing everywhere. It was also almost impossible to find lounge chairs that weren't sagging! Food was barely edible. Meats are so oily and slathered in mystery sauces, "salads" are old canned vegetables with iceberg lettuce, and desserts tasted weeks old and bland.

Honestly just avoid the buffet and reserve as many nights as you can at their seafood restaurant- we had lobster and it was delicious.

Service around the resort was almost nonextistent. All of the staff appeared miserable.
The only decent service we got was from the bartenders in the "night club". Yes they have an in-hotel club. It isn't anything special at all, basically just a big dark room with speakers and a dance floor. You'll find better bars in town.

We had booked our room in the newer building (they are two resorts in one) and they moved us to the older one with no explanation. The receptionist provided no help and we weren't the only frustrated guests. Also, when we checked in there was garbage on the floor of our room. As an experiment we left it there and it wasn't cleaned until 3 days later!!!

The beach is gorgeous but there are other resorts in Veradero! Just spend the extra money and stay at a 5 star if you are planning your whole week in an all-inclusive. If we hadn't been stayed only 3 nights we would have checked out and moved somewhere else!

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank Sarah W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BarceloSmAb, Director General at Barcelo Solymar, responded to this reviewResponded 1 April 2015

Dear Customer,

I want to express thanks for taking your time to write a review about Barceló Solymar Arenas Blancas; but I would like as well, express regret for haven’t made this vacations an unique experience, the way we like in Barceló Hotels.

Your review has been very detailed, be sure I will bring it over all the departments heads, and the appropriate measures will be taken.

Again, thank you for your nice feedback.

Have an amazing week!

Juan Marqués
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2015

If you are looking for a beautiful beach, pristine sands, friendly folks and inviting pools...look no further! The beach was a surreal experience for me, however this was my first vacation south. In asking around, other vacationers advised that the location we stayed was a favourite and preferred beach to visitors over Dominican, Mexico, Jamaica and St. Lucia!

Keep in mind, this is Cuba, not the Hilton. Wifi in the lobby (prepay) & only if available...the tub drain was clogged, there was a funky smell in the evening air, birds and lizards sat table side with you at the buffet, I couldn't gain access to a writing utensil for almost 24 hours, bed was a bit hard, and most items are dated.

More positives...this resort was large and fairly well maintained, two or more of everything: pools, buffets, evening shows, a la cartes, hotels, and bungalows. Unfortunately the roof was leaking on us during one of the shows so we exited early, but overall my experience was fantastic!!! For all of the oddities, the experience was well worth it. I would return in a heartbeat!!!

  • Stayed: March 2015, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Lisa H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 March 2015

We stayed at Barcelo Arenas Blanca from March 18-26, 2015. We chose this resort because of the proximity to the town of Varadero and our previous stays at Barcelo resorts in the Riviera Maya and Punta Cana.
We paid for ocean front rooms and requested rooms away from the pool and bars.
Both couples were assigned ocean view rooms on the 3rd floor facing the pool.
Our room #5305 faced the outdoor stage and was above the outdoor lobby bar.
It was very loud until the shows finished at 11:00 pm. The bar was opened until 12 pm so if you want to sleep before midnight I would not recommend this part of the resort.
The night we arrived they had a water ballet/synchronized swimming performance in the pool. This was our favourite show.

The beach was absolutely beautiful. The water was crystal clear and shallow. The first day we went down to the beach most of the palapas and loungers were already reserved but a worker found us a palapa. We tipped him every day and realized he was putting towels on some of the loungers. We had assumed the guests were reserving them all. The pool water was warm and inviting. Like the ocean, the pool was shallow and very gradually got deeper, but under 5'.
Waiters served drinks at both the beach and the pool and there were bars nearby.
If you like blender drinks or tropical drinks you will be disappointed, but if you like rum and cokes, beer or mojitos the drinks are fine. Bubba kegs recommended.
They also serve coffee and specialty coffees at all the bars.

The rooms were fine, if somewhat outdated. The beds were comfortable but the pillows were lumpy. The AC worked. The bathrooms need a fresh paint job. The rainwater showerheads were clogged and the water was luke warm.
The maid cleaned the rooms daily. Our room was always cleaned before noon.

The buffet at the Solymar had more selection and better service than the Arenas Blanca buffet. We ate at the buffets every night except once when we ate at the Italian restaurant. Service at the Italian Restaurant was swift. They did not offer appetizers or salads and dessert was self serve.
Service at breakfast was very hit and miss at the Arenas Blanca buffet. Sometimes we were offered coffee the first few days. There was a change of waiters after the weekend and service improved.
Service was much more consistent at the Solymar buffet. Service at the bars at both resorts was good.

This resort is right next to the town of Varadero. We enjoyed walking into town to sightsee and shop. We recommend taking the double deck bus once to see Varadero as well as all the resorts further way from town.

The exterior of the Barcelo needs to be power washed and painted. Having stayed at other Barcelo properties, we were surprised to find this resort did not meet the company's usual high standards. There were missing toilet seat covers and/or toilet paper in many of the public washrooms.

I would rate this resort as a 3 overall based on the inconsistent service and the cosmetic deficiencies. However, I would rate the beach and the location as solid 5's.
We loved the town of Varadero. We felt very comfortable and safe walking in town and would definitely return to Varadero Cuba.

Room Tip: Ocean view room not facing pool or Solymar bungalow.
  • Stayed: March 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
8  Thank coldincanadaOntario
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BarceloSmAb, General Manager at Barcelo Solymar, responded to this reviewResponded 31 March 2015

Dear friend of Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas:

I would like to thank you for writing this review about your holidays at Varadero.

It's always reconforting to know our clients appreciate the spot, the hotel and the ambient; we will keep wprking to make your opinion improve next time.

Thanks again from everybody here, you have the doors opened to come back whenever you wish.

Have a nice week,
Juan Marques
GM

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Reviewed 28 March 2015

We stayed on the Arenas side and were worried because of some reviews but the price was right and we wanted to be able to walk into Varadero everyday/night if we wanted to. We had heard that the local restaurants and nightlife was worth experiencing and happy to report NOT disappointed! We are in our 40's and our 18 year old son came with a group of his friends - something for all of us.
CHECK-IN: no complaints, pleasant staff who really tried their best to attend to your needs.
ROOMS: we had 3 rooms in 4000 block which might be the best part. There was no issues with noise from the shows (not that it would bother us) but the disco can get loud. Our king bed (room 4145) was comfortable and the room was very clean. Everything was working and there was always hot water. I was told the issue with hot water was on the Solymar side. Room have been a little upgraded and certainly nothing to complain about.
POOLS: very nice and keep clean. The only issue we had and others complained about was the lack of chairs around the pool. There is definitely space for more so get there early and reserve with a towel. Irritant with other travellers - those who put towels at 6 am and don't show up until late afternoon. What is your deal folks?? Like please use your brain.
BEACH: spectacular with white sand and the famous blue/green clear water. Chairs are in serious need of replacement (dirty, stretched and worn out).
FOOD: the buffet was fine folks and believe me when I say that there is something for everyone. All the teenage boys even found something that satisfied them and we were all patient at the omlette and grilling stations for really tasty items. We all had our share of really good burgers, pizza and poutine at the pool bar (both sides of the resort have it). We loved the food & service at this little place by the beach attached to the Spanish a-la-carte with tables/chairs overlooking the ocean. Order at the window or they provide service at the tables....try the chicken fingers....NOT what we expected. They are actually chicken tacos and we all loved them! Went to Japanese a-la-carte and it was nice but we liked the Spanish better. Great meal and fantastic servers :)
DRINKS: meh...not sure what to say except they are mediocre. If you don't like beer then you are left with the sweet drinks. They are always generous with the alcohol but the slush machines rarely work properly and I found not a lot of options. I asked for a chocolate martini and the lobby bar but they had no idea. They serve them in Cayo Santa Maria and they are popular. Just a suggestion to the resort to expand on the drink list maybe.
RESORT: Arenas side has had some upgades and we thought it was totally fine. Met people who were at Solymar side and they had to switch rooms 4 times. So many issues with mold, broken door knobs, worn out beds, etc....apparently the bungalows are desperately in need of TLC. The Solymar lobby was a more happening place and enjoyable. The pool and beach on Solymar side are more for the activities, loud music, games etc. The Arenas side is more family oriented. I would say a little paint and maintenance would go a long way to bringing this place up to a bit of a higher standard. The structures are great but some money needs to be spent to keep people coming back.
SHOWS: we attended a few and enjoyed them. We like the water aqua show one evening best....amazing, don't miss it on the Arenas side.
SERVICE: There were soooo many wonderful people working on this resort. We encountered the odd one who was not so happy but honestly I think it's because of the way some travellers treat them. I was a little taken aback by some fellow Canadians (won't name specifically from where but many of you will guess) who didn't tip EVER, were demanding, and frankly often rude. I don't understand this type of behavior and it was sad. Luckily the majority of tourists were good people and patient with language barriers, service, etc. Good on ya ;)
LOCATION: The BEST! Took strolls into Varadero almost every day. Ate at Dante's Italian restaurant in the gorgeous park beside the Beatles Bar....recommend you find it and go there. The view is lovely. Tried other restaurants on the strip....YUM and cheap. The boys went to Calle 62 for street party, live dancing, music and then to the Havana Club nightclub in the back down the street from C62. The had a blast!!
TOURS: Did the Havana Special which included the Tropican Show...spend the money and do this at least once!!!! The Jeep Tour (jeeps, boats, cave) was excellent so say the boys lol.
WIFI: in lobby for $$
SUMMARY: GREAT value for your $$!!! I would recommend the Arenas side though but whichever you choose, I don't think you will be disappointed overall. Lots of new resorts under construction so in a way it's good but in a way I don't ever want the culture and beauty to change. Love Cuba!!

  • Stayed: March 2015, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
13  Thank MinStoon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BarceloSmAb, General Manager at Barcelo Solymar, responded to this reviewResponded 30 March 2015

Dear MinStoon:

Thank you very much for writing this review about your vacances with us, it means a lot for all the people who work in the Hotel.

We appreciate the detailed info about the spot, it's really useful for all the people willing to come here. We will be looking forward your next visit.

Have a wonderful week, your sincerely
Juan Marques
GM

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