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Reviewed 22 March 2011

Though it's been a while since we stayed at Palma Real I thought a review would be useful as we have stayed in several all-inclusive resorts in Cuba with various price points -therefore can make some comparisons. This resort provided good value for the money. We booked on-line and it was less than $1000 CDN per person taxes in and a direct flight from home city. Our room was very small and did not have a good view but it was clean and served us well. We only slept there, afterall. The resort is an older one relative to some that are further up the Varadaro Peninsula. There seemed to be repeat visitors there and the staff were relaxed and chatty, moreso than at some other resorts we've stayed in Cuba. The food is usual Cuban resort affair -always something to eat but often bland and the shellfish is not like we are used to in the North Atlantic (we are spoiled with very good seafood in Atlantic Canada so no comparison). The beach was a short walk -about 5 minutes and across a street - and was large and clean. Not easy to get a beach chair but can sit out on a towel in the sand if you really want to just sit. A few vendors were there in the afternoons selling trinkets and lovely crochet tops and dresses. Everything is inexpensive. Generally you should avoid buying large wooden products as customs (in Canada, at least) is iffy about allowing it pass.

Cuban people are gracious and generally friendly. They will always treat you with respect but will really try to make your trip memorable if you discreetly offer them gifts of things. Soap, shampoo, tampons, toothpaste and brushes, Advil, Tylenol, wind up flashlights and small tools are great ideas. I even pick up used children's clothing at the thrift shops at home to bring. These things are more useful than tipping with money as most can not spend convertable pesos themselves. They will try to pay you back with kindness, great bar service, special treatment in the restaurants, an invitation to meet their families, whatever they can do within their limited means. While this may seem weird if you are used to travelling in other countries it works in Cuba and they appreciate it. This gift giving is not expected however, and you can have a perfectly good time without bothering with it.

Political change in Cuba is evident. It is a communist country but seems to be relaxing over the past 6-7 years that we've been visiting.

Date of stay: April 2010
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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1  Thank KanefromNL
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 21 March 2011

My wife and I had a great vacation at the Bellevue Palma Real. The beach is one of the best I've ever visited. The facility is immaculate; the staff is friendly. They even attempt to produce an entertainment show each evening.

Some people thought the food was bland, unimaginative and just plain bad. They were primarily correct; however, those people should have researched the country they were visiting. In my experience, Cuba does not have great food at buffets. That's the price you pay for a great rate on the package.

This hotel's food was acceptable; breakfast was fine. We looked at lunch as a means to sustain ourselves, so we could spend time on the beach. The beach bar has decent cheeseburgers, etc.

Veradero's a beautiful little tourist bubble town, with plenty of restaurant options. The streets are safe. The prices are reasonable, too.

Our best decision was taking a tour of Havana, from a guy who operates out of Veradera. "George" is as adept at Havana's and Cuba's history as anyone you could probably meet.

George took our party of seven to Havana for less than 50 pesos a head. He has a definitive strategy on providing a thorough tour, and he's a hilarious, bigger than life character. George's cell: 05-311-5895

He took us to restaurant that he called, the best restaurant in Havana: Dona Carmela. Wonderful food, lobster, chicken, shrimp, pork and octupus, all good. The side dishes just kept coming and were delicious. Nine of us ate with one drink each for 180 convertible pesos. Reservations seemed to be required. Cell: 05-291-9269, email: beatrizbarletta@yahoo.com

We were accommodated overnight by a Cuban household that operates a travellers' hostel: We had breakfast; the accommodations were clean and hospitable. Maria Liberstad Franco Gonzalez, Calle 19, #806, 537-833-5481

Our hosts directed us to a bar/restaurant with a live band, two blocks from their home called Dona Juana, We had excellent food, marlin with shrimp, and drank for three hours, probably five drinks apiece. There was a seven piece band that far surpassed our expectations. The tab for seven people after three hours, including dinner was 90 convertible pesos. Calle 19, #909, Cell 05-270-7833

All of these people asked us to share their contacts, "Please tell others to come," they all pleaded.

Veradero was a great vacation, but the Havana experience really made our trip unforgettable. I highly recommend each element of our experience to anyone wanting to experience the best of two sides of Cuba.

Date of stay: March 2011
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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5  Thank JeffreyAlanPayne
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 21 March 2011

Room ~ Clean, comfortable beds and pillows, We had the ocean view but also had the highway traffic so we had to sleep with the balcony door closed. Our maid was very accommodating she held the room for us 1 hr past the 12:00 check out time . No problems with our room, really good water pressure and lots of hot water

Food~ I only eat healthy food and never had a problem with the food. I really enjoyed their fish and salads. One must remember that they have to cater to different Cultures so they did serve meat and potatoes for breakfast but that was not my forte. The only a la carte we enjoyed was the Chinese however I must say the the Pizza was good for a snack in the afternoon if you missed the buffet
All the waitress's gave us good service with a smile. We sat in the same area at every meal so we could just deal with a few staff who we treated.

We went to Al Capone's and had Surf & turf which was really good however it was $30+ and the wine was $35.00+ when converted
We hooked up with a friend who took us to a Lobster Rest for 10 pesos it's called D' Ranchon @ Calle 29 and 3rd , we ended up eating there twice. They also had good Red Snapper , We walked to the restaurant the first time, it's just off the main street in Varadero. A Taxi cost 3 pesos
The best Pina Colada is at the entry of Jorone Park which is near the Hotel, if you go by the beach it's up by the Blue wall and across the street.

I had a 45 min massage for 10 pesos on the beach , he was good, told me he had his lic for 18 yr, He works independly from the resort near the blue wall on the beach,

Bring your own TP if you go into Varadero or any trips. We never got caught without it.

Gifts~ Since all the people working in the resort are given things
we went on the street and gave stuff(soap,toothpaste,brush,clothing ect to the young street cleaner just down from the hotel then we walked into
Varadero and went down the back streets and gave stuff to the people
sitting outdoors then all the neighbour's saw us and came out , some
became a little aggressive even going into our nap sacks since there
were 3 of us each with a nap sack. When we took stuff away from them
they were o.k. A little boy about 6 yr old also went into our napsack
when we took from him he was ok as well
We enjoyed sharing with the Cubans and intend to go back to this resort

I would be happy to answer any questions.

Date of stay: March 2011
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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2  Thank traveller649
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 18 March 2011

Just as you are settling down on your sun bed with your book after your bland, unimaginative,tired lunch the music starts up at 1000 decibels with an irritating womans voice comparing a Salsa lesson, so go to the lovely beach.
The food was so bad we ate out at dinner time [nice resaurants in park with lake] so much for all inclusive.
In the evening is a noisy bar by the reception akin to a refugee centre with terrible orange lighting. In the later evening more deafening music plays from a night club untill 3am.We changed rooms but it didn't make any difference.
Plus sides, nice big clean pools, lovely staff and Alex the best rep. in the world.
Trips...swam with dolphins and ended up with a very badly cut and bruised leg caused by the dolphins tail.[you have to sign a disclaimer, which was a bit worrying] I was treated very off hand by the staff and the first aid just put a bandaid on and said it would be better by manana.I had to have the wound dressed twice daily and take a course of antibiotics, so no more swimming of alcohol, it actually ruined my holiday, and it is still painful 2 weeks later.
Do the overnight trip to Havana it's just fab wonderful experiences packed full.also you stay in a fantastic hotel!!with first class food.
We upgraded to the Paradisus Hotel with the help of Alex and finally had the holiday of our dreams.

Date of stay: March 2011
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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4  Thank garybell
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 17 March 2011

The Palma Real is a dump to be blunt !!!! I could write a 1000 words on how bad it is but will be brief. We are not picky people but had 5 different rooms whilst we were there, problems with the smell of sewage, broken furniture, mould in rooms, doors not locking, the list goes on and on. Aside from this the hotel food is atrocious and uninspiring and covered in flies. The staff try hard but aren't trained. The hotel needs to be completely overhauled and to be honest this should not be on Thomas Cooks books as a destination 3 Star as it isn't !!!!!!
Save yourself the money and go anywhere else but here..........

Date of stay: February 2011
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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1  Thank mctraveller1000
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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