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“Paradisus Princesa del mar or Sandals Varadero”

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Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa
Ranked #10 of 64 Hotels in Varadero
Reviewed 20 February 2012

Last year we went to Sandals and this year to Princesa del Mar, mostly because we couldn't decide between the two, and Varadero presents an easy to reach [ from Toronto] clean and warm destination for a winter relaxation break. And, unlike so many places now, it is safe.

Both of these hotels are excellent value, wonderful for couples who don't want to have small children running around, and five-star, that is, Cuban five-star.

Here is our comparison of the two:

The Beach:
Both involve a few yards walk through the barrier vegetation. Both are excellent, with warm water and clean sand and lots of places to sit out. I would give a slight edge to Princesa, because it is huge and very long and seems a bit more isolated

The Beach Restaurant
Sandals definitely has the edge. It is open is one of the evening specialty restaurants, and during the day it is much more accessible on the seafood is much better. The Princesa restaurant is fine, just not quite as extensive a menu, and a bit further back from the beach

The Pool;
at Princessa the pool is kept absolutely immaculate, there are more palapas and lounge chairs. At Sandals the pool is lovely, especially the tiny tiles shading from green to blue, but was not quite as large and it not kept quite as clean. On the other hand, the large hot tubs worked at Sandals, but were part of the renovation process at Princesa.

Swim up Bar
Sandals was better. As usual they have the higher grade drinks available everywhere, if you ask. The staff at Princesa swim up bar was a little slow at times, maybe just because one bartender seemed more interested in chatting up other staff personnel.

The Rooms
probably about the same at each. We were in the concierge level at sandals, and so had a lovely quiet room. You can't really see the beach in any event, because of the barrier trees at both. At Princesa we had upgraded to an ocean view, and they put us in one of the hilltop suites, from which you get an credible view of the ocean, except that right in front they are now undertaking construction of a new suite area. We thought we would asked to be moved after a day or two, but found the few great, the noise fairly limited even at night when work continued, and the late afternoon observation of the workers hilarious. So we stayed in the lovely to room suite . One night there was a bit of a sewage smell, probably because of the construction, but otherwise it was great.

Upgraded service
the concierge level sandals was well worth it, because of the champagne in the room and the easier access to the specialty dining. They also had a rum tasting event one evening that was very well attended and a lot of fun, just for the concierge guests. The Butler at Princesa did get us our dinner reservations, although he was never able to obtain one for the French restaurant, and there was only beer and pop in the room. Hard to compare because the Hilltop Level service is not available.

Entertainment
about the same at both hotels, amusing but not something you would go out of your way to see.
Still, this year, they are allowing groups to produce their own records, and that was good to see.

The Food
it's Cuba. The food is getting better compared to several years ago, but still not at the level of five stars at other Caribbean locations. The fancy restaurants were about the same: Italian, French, Japanese. However, for some reason there was rarely any lobster at Princesa whereas it was frequently on the menu at sandals. We were there at the same time of year, but maybe the catch is down this year.
Overall I would say that the food was quite good at both but definitely more variety and better seafood at sandals.

Staff:
Absolutely wonderful at both. We felt they were genuinely friendly and interested in our well-being, as we have always found in Cuba. The Sandals does allow tipping, unlike Sandals in other countries, and at both places staff are very grateful. Whatever your politics, or views on bringing gifts, I have and continue to find stuff grateful for gently used clothing, base ball caps, and other items they can't get.

Gardens:
beautifully tended, with hibiscus and bougainvillea everywhere, even in this dry season. Sandals has some very interesting local trees, and the gardeners are willing to talk about them if you speak Spanish. At Princesa, you will find a gardener named Alexis, who was always working amazingly hard and meticulously. He made us a small cricket from palm leaves, and has the most joyous smile when you speak to him. Do say hello/hola.

Internet:
it's slow. The Cuban people are denied access to the Internet, which is sad. You may want to bring them any Spanish newspapers or books, or even English books as English is now taught in schools as a second language.
At Sandals there is Internet in the lobby bar, but you need an access code from the front desk. There is also a Internet room if you didn't bring a laptop or iPad. At Princesa there is no wireless anywhere, but there is an Internet room, even slower than the one at sandals!

Would we go back?
Definitely. Probably to sandals, but then again, by next fall when the new area is finished at Paradisus...... it will be hard to pick. You will definitely enjoy a relaxing vacation at either place.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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11  Thank exeter_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 20 February 2012

Our group of six people stayed at this resort from February 11-20th. We arrived at around 8:45pm- check in was very quick and the front desk staff did a good job of explaining the things we needed to know (pool towels, where the restaurants were-times of operations etc). We were taken to our rooms promply on golf carts by the Bell Hops and our luggage was taken up to our room for us. The layout of this property was well thought out-everything is very close and feels like you are central to everything.

Rooms-we stayed in the 2200 block. The room was spacious and extremely clean. Our chambermaid- Maria Elena was excellent. A few times during the week we had to go back to our room during the day and we saw she had put all the furniture up off the floor while she scrubbed every square inch of room. Clean towels everyday and there was always hot water. The mattresses on the beds are hard but my personal preference is for soft mattress so this is no fault of the hotel. No towel art from our chambermaid which I do like, but frankly I would prefer a clean room over dirty room with swans on my bed! There were some reviews that talked about the construction-yes-there is a large expansion to the resort which is being worked on 24hrs a day but we never heard it.

Food-there was a lot of choice in food. The a la cartes were good-I especially enjoyed the Italian, but the show at the Japanese restaurant was great. We ate at four of the a la cartes. Book on your first day because there is limited availability. The buffet was good as well-the hamburgers at lunch were amazing-tasted like home! Some of our group suffered from a few minor stomach problems, but this is not unusual for us when we go on vacation. We do not feel it was a result of the food as much as it was a result of different food/cooking oils etc...

Pool/Beach-never a problem to find a chair by the pool or beach. A lot of the chairs have seen their day and need to be retired, but the beds around the pool were fantastic for an afternoon siesta!

Service-this is what makes this hotel fantastic. The service was amazing. Buffet-Liuba was the most amazing server in the whole resort. Our breakfast and lunch service was amazing. Even on her day off-she ensured that her colleagues took good care of us and they did. All the staff in the buffet was excellent, but Liuba was fantastic. Pool/Beach Bar-Nacho was great-always smiling and happy-always happy to get you another drink and have some fun! Activity Staff-Felix & Mayelin - we had so much fun participating in a few of the activities with them. Even when we didn't participate in the day's activity-Felix always made sure to say hello and stop for a chat when he saw us. My one and only complaint at this resort was the lobby bar service-it was poor-very very slow (even for Cuban pace) and sometimes we felt ignored by the servers.

Tipping-We never felt pressured to tip at this resort. The staff appreciated the tips we gave. Come on people....it is a normal practise to tip in Canada, so don't be cheap-dig in your pocket and leave some pesos when you receive good service. We were so disheartened to see a lot of people that would not even leave one peso at the buffet restaurant.

Overall-I would highly recommend this hotel and I can't wait to go back and enjoy a nice quiet, peaceful relaxing holiday at this location again.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with friends
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2  Thank Susan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 February 2012

The food and service was excellent! The room was spacious and clean! We stayed in block C which was very close to the beach. The selection at the buffet was impressive - had lobster on most days. We went to all the a la carte restaurants except for the french one. I would highly recommend the japanese and the hilltop restaurants! This was defintely not a party resort. The nightly entertainment was less impressive then other all inclusive resorts I have stayed at but we were there to relax and enjoy the beach. We had a couples massage at the spa which was great. The gym is well equipped. Day trip to havana was well worth the trip. I would highly recommend this resort. The staff are all wonderful and the resort is beautiful!

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank El F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 February 2012

My husband & I decided to go to Cuba as a last minute destination. We were looking for a quiet and relaxing beach vacation with good service and good food. We are pleased to say we found what we were looking for at this resort. There were only three negatives, first our room wasn't ready upon arrival and the front desk reception wasn't the friendliest plus our room had a musty smell which was cleared up by opening up the sliding glass door to our balcony. The staff in the restaurants are great, always welcoming and very attentive. The selection of food was quite impressive (grilled lobster for lunch yummy!) The only two restaurants we didn't try were the French and Cuban but we are sure they wouldn't have disappointed us. The ladies in the Racquet Club are the greatest, always looked forward to going there. A mention has to go out to the Bell Hops - never before have we had such prompt service. The gardeners do a wonderful job at keeping the landscaping and grounds so beautiful. The beach is wonderful we enjoyed many long walks and a lot of restful hours there. Entertainment was great and we especially liked the design of the courtyard. I am already missing that delicious Cuban coffee I enjoyed every morning on our balcony. We look forward to visiting this resort again.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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13  Thank Barbara M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2012

We stayed at this resort Feb. 2, 2012 to Feb 9, 2012. We were originally put in Building 4 first floor right by the stairs. This proved to be very noisy as guests were coming and going from their rooms. The resort had no problem moving us to a 2nd floor room in Building 3.
The rooms were very clean. The entire resort was extremely clean and well-kept.
The spa was an incredible experience, best massage I've ever had, worth every penny.
The food was excellent. There were plenty of choices and only drawback is that most times any beef was overcooked. Lobster at the French A la Carte is a must! Everything at the Italian A la Carte was awesome. Buffet very good.
This resort is a 5-star for service, the staff are wonderful!
Everything at this resort is a 5 min walk or less from every guest suite. 5 min to the buffet, 5 min to the beach, 5 min to the pool and the restauarants.
Shows on resort were good. *** One Negative *** The Captain Morgan Club is out-dated and no one remained there after the shows were over at about 11pm. Even though we could have stayed and danced to the DJ's music, no one did. It is a small, dark place and the DJ had no interest in taking requests. Not much to the nightlife at this resort if that is what you are after.
Went to a local club in Varadero and had a great time, $15 pesos one way.
The gym is very well-equipped for a resort and Yoga classes with Felix were fantastic.
For us, the only other negative was the Activities Staff/Programs. There was very little to do throughout the day. Volleyball at the beach really only offered for one hour a day. They offered Bocce and Tennis. There were kayaks, paddle boats. There were no jet-skis or wake boarding. If you are super-active person, this is not the resort for you. This is the best place though to relax by the pool/beach and do nothing if you are so inclined.
Scuba diving was elusive as it seemed no one at the resort could tell us how to meet the people running it. On the 4th day we finally found that someone walks through the lobby at 9am and yells "Scuba". That is who you are supposed to go with. I still don't know where, we didn't go.
The beach was beautiful, the water was amazing, great swimming!
Went on the tourist bus to Varadero, only 5 pesos there and back, 20-25 min trip. Fantastic shopping and sight-seeing. Felt very safe.
We have been to Cuba before, first time for us in Varadero. This resort is definitely a 5-star.
Hopefully they will gut the Captain Morgan Club and work on some nightlife... but if you want total relaxation and a relatively early bedtime, this is the place.
Based on service, cleanliness, food, and comfort, we absolutely recommend this resort. It is truly beautiful.

Room Tip: Building 3 was great
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  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Jenn T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Director Genera... P, Director General at Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 30 May 2017
Google Translation

Le agradecemos por reflejar en este sitio sus impresiones sobre su estancia en nuestro hotel, las que hemos leído con detenimiento para poder enfocarnos en los aspectos donde sus expectativas no fueran colmadas cada uno de ellos será debidamente solucionado, gracias igualmente por resaltar los valores positivos que nos distinguen, los clientes serán nuestra principal razón y la satisfacción de los mismos es el objetivo fundamental ,lo invitamos a que efectúe un nueva visita a nuestro hotel en la cual de seguro podremos superar sus expectativas.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2012

I would highly recommend this resort, It was amazing in every way, from the staff to the food and service, it was the best vacation of my life!
At the cigar lounge, Erick and Julio made us the best drinks I've ever had in my life!
Everyone was so nice, we left with memories I will never forget and lifelong friends.
At the buffet, we were always well taken care of by Diane and Eddy and many many more.
I plan on returning here as soon as I can!!!

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with friends
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2  Thank Melissa G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2012

I stayed at the Paradisus Del Mar from Feb. 3 to Feb. 10/ 2012 and this was my first time taking a trip to Cuba for much needed r&r after a 5 year lapse of taking any kind of real vacation. i had researched in various travel guides along with trip advisor and booked my trip right before the new year. Well this resort did not disappoint, this resort with it's plush gardens, white sandy beaches and excellent accommodations not to mention the day and night activities the beautiful centrally located pools and the finely manicured grounds, you can tell that this is a resort that the owners put a lot of time and effort into to please a discerning clientele but i will tell you what makes this resort extremely special, it is the people that serve you and take care of you. i believe that these people should be recognized for their unparalleled service in catering to our every whim with a smile and thanks. First there is Fernando at the front desk, he bent over backwards to change my first room because there was construction going on of a new addition to the Del Mar and he felt this wasn't right for my vacation of r&r and within 2 days had switch my room to an ocean view, he also arrange taxi's for me, made bus arrangements for me to go into Havana and even comp my room for late check out before i left. If ever you go to the Del Mar, Fernando is your go to guy. I like to train at a gym on a regular basis ans booked this resort because they had a full gym and i trained 5 out of the 7 days and this is where i met Pedro a true trainer and friend that was always looking out for me and was quite knowledgeable of all aspects of training. Thanks again Pedro. Other notable people worth mentioning for their great service in the various restaurants around the resort, Yicel at the Racquet Club, Yeni, Tereza, Rafaela, Mairelys and the beautiful Marlen at the Bamboo, Yanisleidis and Kaizen chef Alain that made it fun evening at the Sakura. Liuba, Eddy, Yianella and Issi at the Grand Terrazza buffet by the way Eddy makes a great brandy Cappuccino. Neibys, Misleny, Mayrelis and the unforgettable Nadima at the Hilltop, 5 star service. Sandy, Yaimara, Katia and Marialys in the Hotel Lobby bar always at your service. Chamber maids Tatiana and Yaldrey cleanliness and perfection beyond reproach. Reynar providing security on the beach friendly with a watchful eye.and Grisell who handled all my restaurant reservations. Also worth mentioning is the dancers for a band that came to the hotel to provide nightly entertainment with the band Y la Contelacion, Martha and Dania very friendly and good dance teachers made my evenings unforgettable. This is what made my vacation memorable, the sweetest nicest people i ever met. Thank you all for a great vacation. Gracias, Horje

Room Tip: Rooms on the North side have ocean views on the third floor.
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  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled solo
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5  Thank Georges P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa

Address: Auropista Sur, Ctra. Las Morlas, KM 19 1/2, Varadero 42200, Cuba
Phone Number:
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 Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Spa Hotel in Varadero
#3 Romantic Hotel in Varadero
#3 Business Hotel in Varadero
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Varadero
#6 Family Hotel in Varadero
#8 Luxury Hotel in Varadero
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
Price Range: $293 - $782 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 630
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Paradisus Princesa Del Mar Resort & SPA is located in Varadero Beach, the Cuban sun and beach tourist destination for excellence. This stunning Ultra All-Inclusive 5-star hotel is designed for adults only over 18. The property houses 630 rooms equipped with modern comforts and provides a varied gastronomic offer, daily activities, swimming pool and meeting rooms which convey an ambiance of quietness and service. Discover the magical peace of this paradise, recommended for weddings, honeymoons, incentive trips and spa/wellness. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Paradisus Princesa Del Mar Hotel Varadero
Paradisus Princesa Del Mar Resort And Spa
Paradisus Princesa Del Mar Varadero
Paradisus Princesa Varadero
Princesa Del Mar

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