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Reviewed July 9, 2015

Let me start with saying that I knew going to Cuba not to expect a lot. I never read reviews or put much into it as often I don't care about the things other people do. That being said, this hotel was TERRIBLE! I am okay with the food being plain. I brought my own condiments and seasoning. However, a lot of the food was very undercooked. We cooked our own hot dogs every day, just so we knew they were cooked!

I hear the a la cartes were good, if you could get in them. Every day we tried to get in (even booking a couple days in advance) it was always full and they had no room.

Cleanliness was the worst. I am pretty sure my bed sheets were not even clean when I got there. Everything smelled very mouldy and musty. It took us 5 days of asking repeatedly to get clean beach towels. Towels in our room - we left in the bathtub so we could get fresh ones. They just hung them up to dry.
One day we watched one of the ladies wipe down a couter with a cloth that was so dirty it was black. She immidiately put down some fresh pizza's for people to eat! So gross!

Bars were okay. If you could get something to drink. It depended on who was working, for what they had available. Some nights all they would serve is beer. Other nights you could get any of their selections. Not that there was a lot to chose from. They didn't have blenders, so don't expect a lot on the fruity drink side.

The beach was nice. The water was fantastic. They always had music playing which was fantastic. That was definitely the highlight of this resort.

Utimately if you are going to Veradero, I would advise you to look into other options. This hotel is not worth the money they charge to stay with them!

Date of stay: July 2015
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank Corrine D
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Director D, Director General at Iberostar Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded July 13, 2015

"Dear clients,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your review. However, we feel sorry that our hotel was not up to your expectation. We assure you that improvement, in all our services are an ongoing process and our priority is guest satisfaction. We do hope, to have another opportunity in the near future, to make your holiday unforgettable. If you decide to give us another chance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards,
Online Reputation Manager"

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 7, 2015

Last week my family (myself, wife and 2 teenagers) stayed at this resort. It was our first time in Cuba, so we were not sure what to expect. Friends had told us that the food was not great, and sure enough, that wasn't the highlight of our trip, but it's not as bad as you might hear. Vegetables are generally fresh and plentiful. Everything is organic by default. Specifically about this hotel, they have a japanese "a-la-carte" restaurant that is excellent - they cook the food right in front of you in a bit of a show. The Cuban restaurant also serves a great grilled lobster. Other than food: rooms were generally clean, the pool is very large so you can hang by the wet bar, dance with the entertainment team or simply find a quiet spot to relax. Waiters keep coming around bringing drinks to people at the pool as well. The beach was very nice too - the sea is calm and clear. They offer a free 20-min hobbycat ride, which you can extend to a 1.5 hour snorkeling tour for a fee (we did it and it was great). There's a bar right on the sand too. The hotel has a large patio overlooking the pool which is a great spot to have a drink at the end of the day (the drinks served at this spot are really good). There are shows every night at the theatre, I particularly liked the rock show, where a live band accurately played AC/DC, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Scorpions, Pink Floyd - this was a trip down memory lane for me. But the most remarkable quality to me was how Cubans seem to care about the well being of tourists. Sure, they might be doing this for the tips, but it's a bit different there - it seems a lot more genuine and from the heart. Bottom line: if you expect true 5-star service, maybe Cuba is not a good destination for you, no matter where you stay. But if you're interested in connecting at a human level and enjoying nature, this hotel is a safe bet.

Room tip: Stay near the "quiet pool" if you can. It's not too far from the main facilities and generally quiet all day.
Date of stay: July 2015
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
6  Thank CLMello
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Director D, Director General at Iberostar Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded July 13, 2015

"Dear clients,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your nice review. We all are hardworking people always seeking the best for all our clients. Should you choose our hotel, or some other IBEROSTAR Hotels, for your next vacation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards,
Online Reputation Manager"

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 7, 2015 via mobile

So many issues with our recent visit it is hard to remember them all. From the cockroach we killed in the bathroom on our entrance to the room that was never cleaned up (cockroaches ok, but sitting there all week?) to the stained and torn room towels, if it wasn't for the beach (no thanks to Iberostar-that's natural), the excursions (again, not Iberostar) and our ability to laugh at many of the situations, the vacation would have been awful.

Other issues include mold in the bathroom and moody smelling "fresh" bath towels replaced infrequently, no clean beach towels available many days, no plates available at the buffet, no clean glasses at the buffet, a ceiling fan so wobbly it was inoperable, noisy bar fridge, tiny disposable plastic cups (bring your own travel mug), dirty coffee cups "washed" or rather dipped in a jug of water on the buffet patio, dried and reused.

We expected lacklustre food, but hoped for something reasonable, however the massive reliance on canned vegetables or mush frozen was awful. At the romantico restaurant the duck breast was fantastic, but having it placed on a bed of salty and mushy canned veg was shocking. Fresh fruit at the buffet was unripe at best, and fresh vegetables were never seen. Chicken from the buffet grill was even mostly uncooked one evening. Pasta at the Italian restaurant was not cooked, and every sit down meal had something unavailable (pork substituted for steak, no salad, etc).

On our check in, there were no resort maps available, so we were on our own to find our way and sort out restaurant schedules and locations. It wasn't until check out that we saw a paper map.

Service is pretty bad, staff generally lack initiative, and cleaning is minimal. We understand that Cuba is lacking in many things, but the Iberostar is generally lacking in a proper cleaning regiment. This was demonstrated by the cockroach dead in our bedroom all week, dirty glasses in our bathroom on arrival, our bottle of water in our room having a broken seal on arrival, dirty plates in hallways all day. And kitchen staff cleanliness consists only of a single sink with running water for the grill cook, no soap in sight. Scared to imagine behind the scenes. Also, many days we had to swap cutlery from our table as it had not been properly cleaned (and we saw many other guests doing the same). This may account for the two of us getting sick while never drinking the tap water and before our excursions from the resort. Lastly on cleanliness, the pools had scum films and often many cups floating in them, so we avoided the pools entirely.

Getting a coffee at breakfast or a juice was often a long wait, even though the restaurant was quiet. One evening a broken wine bottle sat shattered on the patio in pedestrian traffic for about 1 hour before being partially cleaned up/swept into the garden with guests having to walk through the broken glass. One morning the milk for coffee was so sour it was lumpy going into the the cup, the waitress hesitated for a moment, then kept pouring! We asked for a new cup of coffee, which never appeared as she seemed surprised we didn't want to "eat" that cup. Smiles from are very few and far between, triggered only by a tip, which we ended up giving when some service was at least there. And believe me we understand the importance of tipping in economies like Cuba, and always have cash on hand, but here we were so unimpressed we had a hard time finding good staff to tip. When we did, we kept to their areas.

We have travelled to other resorts and backpacked through Asia, travelled first class to staying in cockroach infested huts and typically have our expectations in line. Our biggest surprise was that the place generally felt dirty and there is no need for that. We accept run down, limited resources, limited menus etc. it is Cuba, but there is no excuses for the lack of cleaning (pools, bathrooms, dishes, etc.) and lack of service. Compared to many similar level family trips to Mexico (including other iberostar resorts), the Iberostar Laguna Azul does not compare.

Date of stay: July 2015
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
7  Thank Ben M
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Director D, Director General at Iberostar Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded July 13, 2015

"Dear clients,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your review. However, we feel sorry that our hotel was not up to your expectation. We assure you that improvement, in all our services are an ongoing process and our priority is guest satisfaction. We do hope, to have another opportunity in the near future, to make your holiday unforgettable. If you decide to give us another chance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards,
Online Reputation Manager"

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 7, 2015

We went at the end of August so of course it was very warm. That is supposedly hurricane season and the weather network called for storms every day but we only had a light drizzle one evening around 9 pm that lasted 5 minutes.

The room was pretty good but the bed was uncomfortable. The house keeping staff was excellent and they replaced the bed linens every day, but they were wet (maybe due to the humidity at that time of year).

We booked through Westjet vacations and the reservation said tips are included, but we made sure to regularly tip the staff. Make sure you bring cash so you can pay for things such as tips, internet use, phone calls, etc.

There is a little boutique where you can buy toiletries but the quality of the sunscreen isn't very good, so make sure you bring a ton of sunscreen.

The food was not great, but they have a wide selection of choices, and the servers were very friendly once you got to know them.

The property is well maintained and it has two huge pools. The resort is also located on the beach, which is gorgeous. The sand is pure white, the water is turquoise and there is no seaweed! However, there were a ton of cigarette butts and plastic cups littering the beach chair section. I was very disappointed that the tourists didn't clean up after themselves!

There are various activities available such as dance lessons in the water, windsurfing, catamarans, shuffle board, evening entertainment, etc. They also have a small gym with AC. It was a really nice way to start the day.

Our favourite part of the trip was a day trip to Havana that we booked through Westjet once we arrived at the hotel. It included lunch with live music and dropped us off at various tourist attractions. Don't miss this!

We also took the double decker public transport bus into Varadero to walk around and do some shopping. There wasn't much there but it was still interesting to see it.

Date of stay: August 2014
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank JML109
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Director D, Director General at Iberostar Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded July 13, 2015

"Dear clients,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your review. Priority in our hotel is the improvement of all our services and continuous work to obtain our guest satisfaction. We have taken all your comments and suggestion into consideration and we will do the best we can to improve all the mentioned points. However, if you decide, to visit us again in the near future, please do note hesitate to contact us.

Wish you all the best

Kind Regards
Online Reputation Manager"

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 7, 2015

Wrote a glowing review of this hotel 2 years ago. We were excited to return, but were quite disappointed with the decline in overall quality. I was expecting to write another 5 star review, but I honestly can't.
First the pros:
- Lisel at the front counter, Boris at the beach towel hut, Kenia our maid, and the bartenders at the lobby and swim up bars were wonderful
- beautiful beach and hotel. A grand staircase leads to a spacious outdoor patio. A lovely place to sit in the warm evenings.
- Star Friends amazing...as always!
- once again, the Cuban a la carte served a tasty meal...very good lobster here.
- flew with Sunwing. No problems except the seats are so narrow and I'm an average sized person. Can't imagine sitting in those seats any longer than 3 1/2 hours. Yilian (pronounced Jillian) was our rep
- we ate at Jesus restaurant just outside Varadero. Excellent food! I recommend it highly!
Now the cons:
- no response to our e-mails before we arrived. We wanted a room on the second or third floor. Finally, my husband called them with a prepared speech in Spanish written with the help of a friend who speaks Spanish. After 3 calls and being disconnected, we finally spoke to someone at the front desk who assured us we would have a room "high up." We did get a room in building 14 on the second floor, but the ac didn't work and the room smelled moldy. My husband began sneezing right away. We immediately went back to the front desk to request a room change, and were given another room in building 19 on the third floor. Much better and the ac worked. A response from management to my last review of this hotel indicated that if we wanted to return, just contact them...we did...no response!
- we were told by our rep that we could pay for a late check out and we could get a courtesy room to shower and clean up before we left (our bus arrived at 7:00 p.m. the day we left and check out is at noon). So, bright and early the morning of our last day, we went to the front desk to purchase a late check-out. Not only were we denied, but we were told there's no courtesy room. We can use the spa showers. I approached a manager who got us a 30 minute reservation in the courtesy room at 5:00. Since it was scorching hot, we used the spa showers, which are not private and are small...bathrooms had no toilet seats and the cubicles so small you can hardly fit into them. I did, however, decide to purchase a 30 minute massage, which turned into 40 minutes and was quite enjoyable. My husband and I then sat in lounge chairs by the spa which is located on the fifth floor. There was a breeze and we didn't drip in sweat. At 5, we went to the front desk to get a key to the courtesy room. The same girl who denied us in the morning greeted me by practically yelling at me to use the spa! Didn't get her name as her "high on the head" pony tail draped over her shoulder to conveniently cover her name tag. I told her we had been given a 5:00 time for the courtesy room...and with a lot of eye rolling and talking in Spanish to another worker, told us to sit and wait. We spoke to our rep about this and she said she has never heard of guests being denied a late check out during "low" season.
- Poor Boris at the beach towel exchange hut. He was inundated with complaints and harassment because clean towels were not delivered. One day he had called up to the main hotel at noon and was told the towels had been delivered to the hotel and he could expect them within an hour. Four hours later...no towels! Not Boris' fault, but he treated guests with respect.
- the food was pretty good, but the service horrible! There were constantly no plates, cutlery, glasses in the main buffet restaurant. Tablecloths were filthy by the end of the day! I was given cutlery from the table beside us after the guests at that table left. There were about 3 serving utensils for 5 dishes, so people were using one utensil for multiple dishes (cross contamination). Smaller spoons were used for some of the jams and they fell into the jam. People picked out the spoons with their fingers! Gross! We have never waited so long for servers to refill wine glasses or clear the table or bring a coffee or tea. We usually went looking for someone to get refills. The juice in the morning was basically Tang. Servers did not try to engage in conversation with guests...except the Cuban guests. We sat for 1/2 hour while our servers (as well as servers from another area) chatted and laughed it up with a Cuban guest...until finally a manager came over and broke it up.
- bathrooms around the resort had no toilet seats and often no toilet paper or soap.
- we love the Cubans...they are so friendly, but what happens to them when they come to the resort? I went to the pizza counter but there was no pizza, so I chatted with my husband who was next to me at the bread counter. When the pizza came out, I moved over to get some, only to be accosted by a woman and her family. She actually put her arm out and hit me in the chest in an effort to prevent me from taking any pizza...until her brood had finished and there was none left!

I'm going to stop complaining now. Sorry for this long review. I never thought an Iberostar hotel would be so lacking in customer relations. We've stayed at the Iberostar Varadero 3 times and we received welcome fruit plates and rum on our second and third visits because we were returning customers.

This hotel has certainly deteriorated in the last 2 years. Maybe it needs a management overhaul. We will not return for a third visit. Next year we'll be back at Iberostar Varadero.

Room tip: building 18 or 19... at least third floor in the summer when it's hot.
Date of stay: June 2015
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
3  Thank Struzina
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Director D, Director General at Iberostar Laguna Azul, responded to this reviewResponded July 13, 2015

"Dear clients,

On a behalf of the staff and management here at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul we would like to thank you for your review. Priority in our hotel is the improvement of all our services and continuous work to obtain our guest satisfaction. We have taken all your comments and suggestion into consideration and we will do the best we can to improve all the mentioned points. However, if you decide, to visit us again in the near future, please do note hesitate to contact us.

Wish you all the best

Kind Regards
Online Reputation Manager"

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