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View Full Version : If you've been to Cuba, ......



Bill Nash
10-05-2011, 12:37 AM
.... then I want some info. I am going for the first time this February, but I want some insight as to the best places.

Do I need to go with a 5 Star place?, .... Should I be close to Havana?, ..... What about food?, ..... What should I bring?, .....

Any input is welcome. I am sure this thread would help a lot of people, .... so let 'er fly, ....

Cher
10-05-2011, 07:18 AM
Varadero is close enough to do a day tour or overnight tour to Havana- do the overnight tour with the Tropicana show.. the beaches in Varadero are THE best...
Stay at a 4 or 5 star- I would recommend Sandals.. LOVED it there... Food is usually 6-10/10- not world class cuisine- but this is a third world country- my husband did have THE best steak in his life in one of the restaurants however...
Go on a Catamaran tour- swim with the dolphins- so worth it!!!!
Varadero is a nice little town to take a horse drawn tour, the bus or taxi's are plentiful- haggle on the cab fare before you get in... trip advisor has lots of reviews (some of mine included) check out reviews of where you want to go and do your research.. the Mansion Xaradu has the best pina coladas and a spectacular view- ensure you go there..
Bring pantyhose, school supplies, small chocolate bars to tip your maid, bartender, and they will treat you like royalty- I usually bring old clothes and leave them behind too-

Cher
10-05-2011, 07:20 AM
Geesshh.. how could I forget Josone Park???? Beautiful park in the middle of downtown Varadero.. free to get in, shops and restaurants in the park.. beautiful area for a nice afternoon after doing a little shopping downtown... :)

autum1
10-05-2011, 07:31 AM
My husband and I have gone three times and plan on again next spring. We fly into Holguin and the resorts are about 1 hour on a bus. What do you like some action, or a quiet beach holiday with a couple of day trips? Where we go is fairly quiet and not alot to do. Just the way we like it, we can snorkel off the beach and we do sometimes twice in one day.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g285732-d263971-Reviews-Paradisus_Rio_de_Oro_Resort_Spa-Holguin_Holguin_Province_Cuba.html
This is where we stayed the first year 5 star very nice.
Sol Rio Luna y Mares Holguin Cuba
This is where now stay its just down the beach from the other one. The beach is the best I have seen in the 6 years we have been traveling. Its cost less then the the five star one next door and we were able to bring our daughter , she really enjoyed it. pm me if you want further info.

H.E. Pennypacker
10-05-2011, 09:20 AM
we stayed here http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g147275-d1520230-Reviews-Iberostar_Laguna_Azul-Varadero_Matanzas_Province_Cuba.html it just opened in 2009

The 6th Member Of AC/DC
10-05-2011, 09:36 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v736/habby67/243.jpg

TNT
10-05-2011, 11:11 AM
Bring little canadian souveniers from the dollar store. The help/staff LOVE it!!! They work thier asses off for peanuts and really appreciate the little things people give them. My mom one year brought little scrunchies for the maids...it was like christmas for them!!
Have fun, bring tons od sunscreen!!!!

jennyt
10-05-2011, 02:06 PM
I have to agree with Cher, the catamaran is so worth every penny! We also did the jeep tour and it was great too. We took our 8 yr old daughter too and she loved it. We won't be doing it this year though (jeep tour) because we will be bringing our 4 yr old and I think that would be way too much time on the go without a break! Have fun and enjoy!

gouligann
10-05-2011, 02:58 PM
We also went on the jeep tour. Fun day. (make sure someone can drive a standard, they have stick shifts lol)
Catamaran tour is fun. The lobster at the half way point is excellent.
As the others say, bring stuff from the dollar store for the maids, gardeners, etc. They love gum and hard candy. Oh and shampoo~! The workers love shampoo and soaps. (must be hard the get there?)
Don't go less than 4 star, 5 is better.
If you like garlic or seasonings on your food, bring some and carry it with you to the restaurants to shake on. We had other Canadians borrowing our garlic powder from another table lol The food is very bland.

Bill Nash
10-06-2011, 01:03 AM
These suggestions are all great, .... thanks loads, .... keep 'em coming!

steve
10-06-2011, 05:22 PM
Change your money at a bank(one in airport)......hotel will soak you....Tuxpan has bank in it and i bet a few others,for 60 cuban pesos 6 of us went on a horse drawn carriage ride through Veraderothen back to the hotel,yes the park is nice,Al capones old home is there,go see a baseball game is you can,if season has started, we bring our own heinz ketchup,and maple syrup.People are great there.

autum1
10-06-2011, 09:41 PM
yes they have no maple syrup , but the banana syrup is great too on pancakes and waffles, and who needs ketchup! Tips are great if you don't remember to bring stuff. Buy some rum cheaper at the duty free shop at the airport. Take snorkel equipment , the resorts masks tend to leak. Don't forget $25 for your exit tax per person at the airport. Learn a few Spanish words, the locals love it when you try to speak their language. Go explore the country side. Cuba is really quite safe to be off the resort. Last trip we rented a taxi cab and a driver for the day and went to a fishing village for the day. Had lunch at a Casa, family home, our driver knew. Wonderful experience. Try to do the non tourist stuff. Go for a walk , talk to the locals , hit a local bar.

Soonet-china
10-07-2011, 03:43 AM
Bring that big cup and drink all day and nite is the best advice !

The 6th Member Of AC/DC
10-07-2011, 08:53 AM
Only exchange money if you have to. The staff on the resort will gladly accept Canadian money as tips.

steve
10-07-2011, 03:45 PM
Bring that big cup and drink all day and nite is the best advice !

you are right!!!!

MagicFingers
10-07-2011, 05:17 PM
don't give canadian change as tips they can not exchange it or use it. but after talking on with locals and the resort staff they prefer to get tips in the form of goods...IE soap, toothpaste, pencils, pens, note books, perfumes whatever as opposed to cash. The government makes them claim their tips at the end of each shift and they lose almost all the tips to the government but they don't have to claim gifts such as soap and stuff and since each family of 4 is given one bar of soap per month they love getting that stuff it means more to them then the cash and it is peanuts to us. At the end of our vacations I always leave the rest of my shampoo, and any medications I have IE tylenol, pepto, gravol, immodium,hair spray, spray deodorants etc. I will also go to dollarama and get the mini body sprays, perfumes, toothpaste, nail kits, first aid kits and give them to the hotel staff. Bunch of candy as well to the kids on any of our tours. as well as school supplies, pencils erasers, pens, notebooks, coloring books crayons.

Oh and if you have a sweet tooth take some of your own snacks. You have to darn well mortgage your house to buy a chocolate bar, same with a can of real coke or pepsi, and even a can of pringles is like 15 bucks.

However I would be willing to give you the money to bring me back a jar of honey. I love their honey but not going back this year to get any. last time i was there i got it on my resort it was 1.35 pesos which i believe is like less than 2 bucks canadian....it is called Apisun looks like it is in a bear squeeze bottle yellow lid. I would appreciate it if you could bring some back for me I will give you the cash upfront.

yoda
10-08-2011, 12:15 AM
we were there in the spring and the bartenders asked us if we any peso's left that they could give us in exchange for Canadian funds that they had received as tips. They had a jar full... I assumed that they would not get the same exchange rate as us. I asked the bartender if they had to claim their tips and he said no, the only ones who did were the people who drove their own taxi's or the vendors on the beach etc.
Oh ya, forgot to mention the bartender was a physician trained in France. He made more money bartending then being a Dr. to support his family.

autum1
10-08-2011, 08:42 AM
That is normal, a dentist, dr. or professional person makes less than the resort staff. Because of the tips the resort staff make more money. That is why a job at a resort is highly sought after.

MagicFingers
10-08-2011, 09:31 AM
I was told by the bartender and the maid that the hotel took half of their tips every shift and it went to taxes. Maybe they lied maybe that is just that hotel's policy unsure. And yes one bartender at our resort was a doctor as well. We talked to one of the grill cooks. From what I understood the government tells individuals what they will go to school for, the government will pay all the schooling and in exchange they have to work for (cant remember 4 or 7 years) both numbers stick in my head in that field the government will pay for their housing but if they do not work in that field they will be cut off all government supports. That is what I understood. But yes there are many many professionals working on the resorts.

Bill Nash
10-08-2011, 09:38 AM
However I would be willing to give you the money to bring me back a jar of honey. I love their honey but not going back this year to get any. last time i was there i got it on my resort it was 1.35 pesos which i believe is like less than 2 bucks canadian....it is called Apisun looks like it is in a bear squeeze bottle yellow lid. I would appreciate it if you could bring some back for me I will give you the cash upfront.

I'll have to try the honey, and if I think it is pretty normal, I'll bring some home for you. If, on the other hand, it is a great as you say, ..... maybe I'll just share a wee bit with you, ......

verotik66
10-09-2011, 12:40 AM
I have to agree with Cher, the catamaran is so worth every penny! We also did the jeep tour and it was great too. We took our 8 yr old daughter too and she loved it. We won't be doing it this year though (jeep tour) because we will be bringing our 4 yr old and I think that would be way too much time on the go without a break! Have fun and enjoy!

Our 3,4,5 year olds hated the food, cuba has the worst food of any holiday destination, we all had fun, but they would rather go somewhere with good food next time. We stayed at RIU Varedero, brand new, if you go there book the royal suites, for the private extra pool and bar/restaurant, it was worth it.

I enjoyed the sugar plantation tour, and drinking the fresh cain juice, the kids were happy to munch on the raw sugar cane.

We brought the max, 10 kilos of medicine including antibiotics, the church that distributes them in downtown Varadero was very happy to get them, they were most pleased to keep the backpacks, i had paid 2 bucks i think when one of the drug stores were closing.

If you go and overnight in havana, which you should, and go enjoy the show at the tropicana, you can bring some sax reeds with you, the band will be quite happy about that.

dont expect 5 star anything, cuba 5 star is about 3 star elsewhere, realize the place is poor, don't buy booze or cigars on the beach you will be smoking banana leaves and drinking piss.

bring your own ketchup if your kids like it on their food.

we gifted the help daily with trinkets, as others say a pack of gum, i gave a guy some fishing line and some tackle as well one day.

verotik66
10-09-2011, 12:44 AM
buy and insulated mug at canadian tire, i bought the biggest bubba i could find the 64oz one so i always had beer going in me, i had to keep the fluids up, the bar service is slow if you throw them a peso they are happy to fill up your big mug, they called me the milkman coming in for the refill on my mini keg, it was a good mohito glass too! haha

The 6th Member Of AC/DC
10-09-2011, 11:59 AM
The sky is falling!! The food isn't as bad as people think it is. There was plenty of good food.

Krysta
10-09-2011, 04:45 PM
We went to Veradero last April and stayed at Sirenis La Selina's.
Huge Huge resort if you love walking and site seeing on the resort.
If your not a walker definately not for you, way too big.
However it has 2 pools one has a water slide and in ground cave bar With water falls over it. Loved it!
We loved it so much we are going back this coming April with a large group of friends.
They had syrup and Ketchup not as good as ours but it did it just fine.
Bubba Kegs Great to have!

The 6th Member Of AC/DC
10-09-2011, 05:55 PM
We went to Veradero last April and stayed at Sirenis La Selina's.
Huge Huge resort if you love walking and site seeing on the resort.
If your not a walker definately not for you, way too big.
However it has 2 pools one has a water slide and in ground cave bar With water falls over it. Loved it!
We loved it so much we are going back this coming April with a large group of friends.
They had syrup and Ketchup not as good as ours but it did it just fine.
Bubba Kegs Great to have!

O rly

jennyt
10-10-2011, 01:14 AM
We stayed at the Sirenis 2 yrs ago and it was great. We wouldn't go back to that one though. The walk to the main lobby was 30min from our room and was not fun with a child. It was also full to capacity when we were there so there was no chance at a seat anywhere near the pool! It is an amazing resort though, with great staff! Every bar my little one would go to the bartenders had her virgin Stawberry Daquiries(sp) waiting for her!