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“stay away until they fix the food issues”

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IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul
Ranked #27 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Reviewed 27 April 2012

trip date 11th of April to 24th

Food: we travelled with 7 other couples. that is 16 people in total... 5 were NURSES. 12 people got sick with diareaha and some vomiting, chills, severe stomach cramping and weakness...3 of these 12 were sick for 3 to 4 days....there is a major problem with food quality control at this resort...READ THE REVIEWS AND PAY HEED... WE DID NOT..TRIP ADVISOR REVIEWS ARE SPOT ON!!!! HEED THE WARNINGS... it is hard to enjoy your vacation from inside your bathroom..(or wishing you were inside it.) The buffet is pretty, but creepy...nothing is covered except the ice cream dispensor...the food is cold, or luke warm, appears re-heated from previous meals, taste is way off, NOT BECAUSE IT IS CUBA (really, give me a break) but because of lack of care in preparation, the age of the food, or too much re-heating...Pizza is good because it is fresh...YOU CAN SEE IT COME OUT OF THE OVEN...dont trust anything unless you think it through (when was it cooked? does it appear fresh? etc)....flies have freedom to land EVERYWHERE... and BELIEVE ME they DO...just watch them and learn...

the two side buffets in the smaller pool areas are more of the same..same issues same problems.
.
.. the a la cartes are good, food is tasty and is hot...but they are difficult to book...chances are if you are only staying a week you may only get a couple unless you book ahead...the BEST PART OF THE A LA CARTES IS THAT YOU AVOID THE BUFFET!!

water: bottled water is ONLY available in your room..at the bars it comes from a bar dispenser...not good...

rooms: they are very good (which you will appreciate if you get sick.)..any complaits appear to be handled well.... maids are awesome...tip them well!!!

service: overall not as good as at the resorts we have stayed at in the DR...(maybe they are paid better here then at the DR resorts and are not as tip dependent) many of the staff have an edge to them and dont appear genuinely pleasant. So you are never sure what response you will get when you make an inquiry... Having said that, our maid Lauren in building 18 was an absolute angel, and so was the very personable and friendly ice cream lady, Oneysis...At the snack bars Kensy, Yaima, Adiarys and Dairo were totally awesome....

The main bar is tended by very good bar tenders who are simply overworked as the main bar is understaffed at all times...so the wait for drinks is ridiculous...the waiters have no time to get friendly as they are much too busy trying to keep the service going...

lobby: this is a huge resort for kids and adults... the lobby at dinner time is simply unbearable...everyone is all dressed up with no where to go except to wait for the buffet or the a la cartes to open...this is the only place where a bar is open prior to dinner....if it is chilly or raining this is the only place to gather and it is not pleasant at all.. the noise level is unbearable... very litltle planning went into this design...it would be fine if the resort was half the size it actually is...this is actually a very big deal because if you are with a group, you must meet here everynite before your meals, as this is the only bar open at this time of day....so the evening starts with a strong potential for an unnecessary unpleasantness...which, incidentally, you paid for....duh..

shows: better than the DR resorts we attended, but believe -you- me that is not saying much..if you go to these resorts for these shows you are simply deranged...

climate: nothing to do with the azul, just a general comment on cuba.. I was surprised how much cooler than the DR it was, so bring a light sweater for the evenings...and on this pennisula there is a strong likelihood of high winds for most of your entire stay.


beach: I am a beach bum...i much prefer the puna cana beach in the DR to the varadero beach for many many reasons...but i am rating the azuls beach on a scale comparable to the overall varadero beach... i did walk the entire varadero beach twice ... like i said, i am a beach nut .....and the azul's beach portion i would rate as a 6 out of 10. It is spacious, the sand is clean, (there are lots of chairs, but NO cushions, towels are a problem as they run out so bring your own...this represents a big unnecessary problem, sitting on hard plastic chairs is not pleasant and demonstrates a lack of caring for customers, and lack of towel availability is just bad) sand quality is equivilent to that found in porta plata DR but not nearly as nice as puna cana...the beaches at resorts closer to varadero may appear nicer but i are in fact much more crowded...so the beach is not too bad... management needs to fix the cushion issue on the beach and the towel issue..

Summary: I have tried to be fair but the fact is we bought our package early and have been thinking and planning out this vacation for months...the food issue we ignored because we thought it was a bunch of whiners on trip advisor giving grief for no good reason... we should have listened... this resort has a food problem... stay away until it is fixed..



Dave Mills
Stephenville, NL.

Room Tip: 3rd or 4th floor ocean view.
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  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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10  Thank David M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Director A, Manager at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded 5 May 2012

Dear "David M"

First of all I would like to thank you for choosing an Iberostar resort for your holyday.

We apologize for all of the inconveniences you mentioned and we are very sorry that the service received was not up to the standards you expected and deserved.

We sincerely thank you for your comments. Please be assured that we will take them all into consideration, in order to improve our services and make Iberostar Laguna Azul a better choice for our clients.

Best Regards

Management.
Iberostar Laguna Azul

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2,997 - 3,003 of 7,154 reviews

Reviewed 26 April 2012

I have never been In any Resourt like it: Ibero Star Laguna Azul is a remarcable Resourt
we have the dream of our time, from tithy room, in general in everything, the food was excellente
Whow, what else people can ask for it, to us was Heaven on Earth, all kinds of pools fpr children excellente day care, children Show was a blast, i am going again this year and I can hardly wait for it, I have been all over Mexico, Villa Dell Palmar Cabo San Lucas Los Cabos, Acapulco Costa Club, a few times but since Ibero Star open nothing can compare, Been In Portugal, in Azores, but Cub is a dream come true I Love it

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled with family
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8  Thank Maria S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 April 2012 via mobile

This hotel so far ive liked the best. The best part about this hotel is the entertaiment, the games at the pool are super fun, the staff interact with you and the overall entertaiment was excellent. Even the club got pretty full at night. The lobby is beautiful as is the hotel itself the sax and piano at night are great and the cocktail waitresses tend to you efficiently.

Now the bad: fresh pool towel run out hold on to your own, the front desk staff is the only staff of the hotel that is not helpful and rude. I had to chage a guest for another and they wouldnt give the contact info of my travel agent and pretended they didnt know it(they had my copy) I had to pay 10cuc go online write it down and call my travel agent haf to argue his way to the manager to make it happen. It was resolved in 3 hours but they made it as difficult as posible. And the last thing on the last day the jacuzzis where all cold. But everything else food, games, night life and service was very good

  • Stayed: February 2012
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5  Thank Esanz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2012

This was our fourth trip to Cuba and had stayed in an Iberostar facility before.

On the positive side, this hotel was nicely laid out, had several pools throughout the resort and all were clean, the animation staff were entertaining, the beach was nice with good lots of umbrellas, the beach chairs were plastic, but some of the best I have seen and the service was good.

On the negative side was the food. As I mentioned above we have been to Cuba on three previous occasions and were quite aware of what to expect as far as food was concerned, however the Laguna Azul fell well short of the worst we had experienced in the past. With the exception of the Japanese restaurant even the a-la-carte restaurants had nothing going for them. Although the selections was generally very good, almost everything was consistently cold and greasy.

Unfortunately, even though everything else was fine, for teh food alone, we will never return there.

Room Tip: Buildings 10 and 20 are furthest from the noise, but furthest to get to anywhere (even the beach)
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  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank Mark686
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Director A, Manager at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded 5 May 2012

Dear "Mark686"

First of all I would like to thank you for choosing an Iberostar resort for your holyday.

We apologize for all of the inconveniences you mentioned and we are very sorry that the service received was not up to the standards you expected and deserved.

We sincerely thank you for your comments. Please be assured that we will take them all into consideration, in order to improve our services and make Iberostar Laguna Azul a better choice for our clients.

Best Regards

Management.
Iberostar Laguna Azul

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2012

Was at the ILA from April 17 to April 24th and we had a fabulous time !! First, I did some research on trip advisor, to see what people comments were about this resort before we left. Realizing this is a busy time for the resort and that they'd be very full, I contacted the resort via email and requested a room in building 18, 4th floor, king size bed. Guess what? that's what we got ! Also requested they book my a la cartes in advance . Guess what? Got 4 a la cartes, on the days and times I asked for !! So a little homework and some emails will get you what you want... then you arrive, check in, and relax :)
Our room was fabulous... ocean/pool view. Yes, 3 english channels on the TV, but not sure who goes to Cuba to watch TV?? Maid service was great... clean towels (swans) everyday. Just be aware that they do not change your sheets everyday, but I don't do that at home either. I read some reviews about bugs in bed, and I am pretty picky about where I sleep, so I took all the sheets off and checked the mattresses.... nothing ! This resort has an open concept throughout so yes some bugs might make it into your room, but no more than what you get in the maritimes, In fact I can count on one hand how many bugs I saw over 7 days. I saw more lizards than bugs(outside of course).
I didn't encounter any rude staff at all... very friendly and helpful.
So here's some tips:
Don't book excursions through your travel agency. Much better/cheaper to ask a staff member about doing it private with a local. We booked the catamaran through air transat. We didn't get to see the dolphins (it was closed) and the tour bus left without half of the people !!! after waiting for over one hour, we took a cab back to the resort, It sucked.You can book your catamaran right at the marina. It's cheaper.
Jeep tour was awesome, snorkeling was great too. We also went to Havana (4 of us, 150 CUC total) in a car similar to the VW golf. Our very own tour guide, Victor, took us where we wanted to go. Went to the cigar factory (tour), had a great lunch,saw old havana, bought 5 bottles of rum for 29 CUC. So if you are interested in this tour (he picks you up at the time you want at the resort), check with the bartenders in the lobby bar. The other tour guy is Julio. So just mention their names.
Okay, for drinks... never a problem!! For the best drinks, you MUST visit the cigar bar... it's not too smokey in their and it's the ILA best kept secret... best drinks in the resort by far. Find Pavel in the cigar bar and get him to mix you the best drink you ever had. I drank the banana daquiris, my husband loved the ceasars and the iced coffee with Baileys is to die for !
So the only problem we had on our vacation was the tour bus leaving us behind :(
We visited the resort next door, La Salina, to get some money off our credit card (they have a bank that opens at 7pm) and we met a couple in line. they were disappointed with La Salina resort because they ran out of beer !! and the staff was not friendly. Not to mention this same resort had a big gas leak the last night we were in Cuba (the smell was aweful and we could smell it in our room). We sat with a lady in the plane on the way home that was staying there and she told us the smell was a gas leak and they didn't evacuate anybody !! scary...
So read the reviews, take everything with a grain of salt, and judge for yourself. Take a close look at the complaints, towels? bring some towels if you want. TV? just stay home if this concerns you. Food? again, stay home and eat McDonalds I guess. You are only there for a week, the drinks are great, the food is decent. You won't die without your big mac for a week.
This place is great, so relax, go and have a blast :)

Room Tip: Rooms 18402 or 18408 (close to lobby but not too close). Quiet at night.
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  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank Angela L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2012

We just got back from the Laguna Azul and had a great week!. I’ve read a lot of complaints about this resort but I think that people need to realize that if you want a 5 star resort that you should perhaps go somewhere in North America ant not Cuba. The food from the Buffet was really good, I did not like everything but that happens even when you go to a buffet in Canada. The best things at the buffet are the Omelet station, Pizza great friendly personalized service from both, pastries, pulled pork, bacon and the coffee is amazing!!!

For a late night snack after 10pm, I suggest going to the snack bar closest to the beach for a toasted Ham and Cheese sandwich complete with the best French Fries south of North America.

The check-in was fast even though there was quite a few people at the desk and cocktails were served :). There was no need to wait for assistance to be walked to our room, there is a map and the hotel is very well laid out. (We checked out the Riu & Sirenis next to us, not as nice, and they lay outs are not very good)

Currency – Be prepared to bring as much spending cash as you think you will need and take advantage of the bank at the airport as the exchange rate is much better than that of the hotel. There is a resort across the road (Sirenis) that does have a bank (open 22hrs/day), however, I’ve heard that it is being taken over by new management in May 2012 and may be closed for a bit. If you don’t bring enough cash, you will have to go to town to get more and the banks are very slow. If you take too much, make sure you spend it as the currency is supposedly changing soon and CUC will be worthless and the exchange back to CAD is ridiculous.

Room – We had a King Size Bed in Building 18 had a wonderful view of the pool/ocean. Our housekeeper Lauren did a great job and made some cute towel art. If you like face cloths I would suggest you bring your own as I do not think this hotel has many if any at all. Our fridge was always stocked with water and on every second day refilled with beer. There are no clocks/alarms in the rooms.

A La Cartes – The best A la carte is the Japonese, our chef was amazing and the food was delicious, We also had steak at our second a la cart the Romantico and it was also delicious and not rough at all. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on the Tex Mex and didn’t know what to expect but it was just as good as the rest of the a la cartes, I ordered the beef tacos and they were spicy and delicious!

Pool – There is 3 large pools each with a hot tub, if you are looking for a quiet day I would suggest going to one of the side pools, all the fun happens at the main pool. Had a great time watching and listening to the “Star Friends” dancing to Heyy Baby!! And Step class/Water aerobics. The main pool bar has decent service but was disappointed compared to the garden club bar which has friendlier staff and makes better drinks. Keep a close eye on your towels as they are 10 CUC and ours was stolen.

Cigar Bar –This is the ABSOLUTE BEST BAR IN THE HOTEL, If you want a great drink and can stand the cigar smoke you must go and see Pavel, he is the drink master and will greet you with a friendly fist pump!. Geidgy often works the cigar bar as well and is very friendly/polite and also mixes a great drink. Favorite drinks of the week Cesar, Iced coffee with Baileys, Banana Daiquiri

Star Friends – Very fun and catchy activities. By the second day you will want to sing and dance along to the fun. I must admit, by the end, it will probably drive you a little mad as it is very repetitive day to day. Same songs, same activities, but very fun people/staff. We only caught the end of one show and it looked pretty cool, the drinks were not the best at the theatre, I hope next time we can catch a show!

Ice Cream Bar – So Yummy a must visit, the worker is so nice!

Beach – When I was there the beach was wonderful. For the most part it was very calm with waist high waves, however, 1 or 2 days were very rough (red flags) but still swimmable with severe caution. Always lots of chairs and umbrellas for shade available. Do not need to arrive early, unlike the pools. Beach bar is best served by Yuriel. He is very friendly and flirty. He will take care of you and your drinking needs. There are beach vendors who will lightly solicit, however, it is not bothersome as they will only come over if you seem interested.

Going to Varadero – Taxi’s are a peso a km, you can also take the hop on hop off bus into the market for $5CUC pp, its about a 15-20 bus ride, I would highly suggest stopping at Casa De La Nostra in town its close to Calle 52, ask one of the locals they will know where its at. The Staff and the Pina Colada’s are the best and we ordered some great authentic Cuban food.

Going to Havana – Your tour company will offer you a tour to Havana, however, much cheaper you can get a private taxi that will bring you around the city at your own leisure and will make all the same tourist stops as the busses and more should you prefer. Going this route offers a quicker trip should you prefer it, less attention from locals that swarm tourists at popular local attractions, and typically half the price. Look to pay around 150 CUC per car load.

Overall the resort with great staff!!!!!!!

Room Tip: Try and get Building 18, Quiet, has nice views, and close to the main lobby
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  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
8  Thank DandKtravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2012

just got back from Iberostar Laguna Azul in Varadero. It was our seventh trip in Varadero and we really know the place,people and town. This hotel is excelent,very clean and with a great staff. The evening show and the music are great and there is always small bands that play around the hotel so if you are cuban music adept that place is for you. The animation staff is very energetic and you can move your feet and dance a lot if you like to. The sign in and check out was fast and with no problem. All in all a very great place! Viva Cuba!

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Robert M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul

Address: Autopista Sur Km 17 | Punta Hicacos, Varadero 42200, Cuba
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 Business Hotel in Varadero
#7 Family Hotel in Varadero
#8 Romantic Hotel in Varadero
#9 Spa Hotel in Varadero
#20 Luxury Hotel in Varadero
#24 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
Price Range: $216 - $554 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul 5*
Number of rooms: 814
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in Varadero beach. Approximately 160 km from Havana and 20 min from downtown Varadero. It has 814 rooms allocated in different buildings, 24 are suites and 8 are for handicapped. Reception 24 hrs. open, currency exchange, internet 24 hrs. Buffet restaurant with show cooking and 4 a la carte restaurants and Ranchon near the beach. Lobby bar, Cigar bar, aqua-bar, and 2 snacks bars at the pool. Conference rooms, SPA, gym, and beauty salon, 2 tennis and paddle court. Ice cream saloon, animation theatre and disco. 5 outdoor swimming pools. Miniclub (4-12 years). ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Iberostar Laguna Azul Hotel Varadero

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