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Choosing your hotel in Varadero

Choosing a hotel can be a complex task!

Here are some research findings to help you make an informed decision.

Establish a budget and criteria

The first tip travel experts will give you is to set a budget and specific criteria. There’s no point looking for five-star hotels if your budget is $800 per person during the peak holiday season! Then you can decide which criteria are essential to you and which you could compromise on. For example, it may be crucial that the hotel is on the beach, but you might be willing to sacrifice proximity to the city center. For others, the situation could be completely different!

Of course, our realities, needs and expectations vary greatly! The criteria I would choose for traveling with young children or people with limited mobility would be different than for a group of young adults looking to have fun. An "ideal" hotel for me might be the worst choice for someone else, let's keep that in mind!

Here are some criteria you might consider:

  • Resort size (to avoid long walks from the hotel to the beach, for example)

  • Old hotel but with character or recently renovated

  • Proximity to the city center (often associated with an older hotel) or remoteness on the peninsula

  • Direct access to the beach or possibility of crossing a street

  • Room types available: ocean view, beachfront, garden view

  • Number of floors or buildings (to avoid elevators)

  • Number of swimming pools, bars, restaurants (buffet and a la carte), etc.

  • Services available such as kids clubs, gym, tennis courts, spa, butler, introduction to scuba diving, etc.

  • Possibility of reserving a bungalow (with or without swimming pool)

  • Level of entertainment at the swimming pool and on the beach

  • Room capacity: for three or more people, availability of connecting rooms

Consult a travel specialist or do your own research

Then you have two options: contact a travel advisor you trust or do your own research. In the first case, it is best to find someone who has visited or stayed in several hotels in Varadero.

If, like me, you prefer to do your own research, you can use our exclusive comparison tool to make an initial selection.

Next, I recommend checking hotel descriptions on the sites of two or three tour operators (usually Air Transat, Sunwing and Air Canada - note that some hotels may not be offered by all tour operators).

Also on the Air Transat website, you can usually find the resort map which can be very useful.

Visit review sites

For our group, do a search with the magnifying glass by entering the name of the hotel to bring out all the comments on it. I will also consult our members' photo albums on our website.

The other challenge with comments is the qualifiers used: very, much, perfect, abominable, etc. Few people have exactly the same level of appreciation! A very comfortable bed, is it a bed with a super soft mattress or on the contrary with a very firm mattress? The more the comments are based on facts (and not opinions or assessments), the more relevant they are to me.

Of course, the ideal is to know someone or spot a member who likes the same hotels as us for the same reasons. In such a case, there is a good chance that we will pay more attention to their comments since we know that our assessment criteria are quite similar.

Here are examples of the type of information I'll be looking for in comments, but they are based on my own criteria:

  • Small site (especially not large hotels with many floors and a very large surface area!)

  • Sufficient number of palapas on the beach

  • Clean sheets and towels - but don't need to be changed daily

  • Not a bed with springs going up in the back

  • No significant amounts of mold

  • Functional air conditioning and hot water without problem (or little problem at least)

  • Friendly staff (for the majority - there are always exceptions)

  • No exaggerated entertainment, especially noise and in the evening

This corresponds to my "ideal minimum", but if I found a great price, I might be ready to make concessions...

Comments that I don't usually remember are:

  • Repetitive buffet - they all are except perhaps in the 5* and even then! / We plan a small budget to eat at a restaurant in town once or twice a week if necessary.

  • Smell of humidity when entering the room - this is often the case / We ventilate well and if necessary, we put a sheet of Febreeze at the air conditioning outlet.

  • A few "bugs" - just like in Quebec, there are insects that infiltrate our homes and buildings / We bring mosquito repellent that we can spray near the patio door and/or the window.

  • Fridge in the room (be careful, it's different from a mini bar!) not filled every day / We have no problem getting our bottles refilled at the hotel bars (filtered water).

  • Swimming pools - we never go there so the reviews don't matter to me.

Small note : On Monarc, the comments are “certified” meaning that an agency sends us a link when we return from our trip so that we can comment. If we have not been to this hotel, it is impossible to make an assessment. On TripAdvisor, anyone can post a review. Note, among other things, the "laudatory" comments that follow a less good review... It is sometimes clear that one or more people are in collusion with the hotelier to counterbalance the bad comments... We see this in the shares facts and writing style. You therefore have to be a little more careful with the comments you find there.

Last step: contact my travel advisor

If I want to try a new hotel following my research, I will discuss it with my advisor. Sometimes travel specialists have up-to-the-minute information or insider feedback from returning customers. The restaurant will be closed for renovations, the new manager doesn't seem to be in his business, etc. This might influence my decision.

Even if I return to the same hotel, I use her services to make the reservation and for her to transmit my "special" requests (she cannot guarantee that they will be respected, but until now, we have always got what we asked for). It doesn't cost me more than booking directly and I know she will be there to help us if anything goes wrong.

So with these recommendations, am I sure I will find the ideal hotel?

No ! In my opinion, the only way to find the perfect hotel for you is to try it. Once we find ours, we often want to go back. And again, depending on the dates, the staff in place, the customers staying there... our experience can be completely different from one stay to another.

I would say that it is easier to avoid a stay in a hotel that would not suit you at all than to find the hotel that will suit you perfectly. And again, it will be for a stay, at a specific time.

The important thing is to try to make an informed choice and not hesitate to ask for a change of room (or even hotel) if it does not suit you. For the rest, the beach and the sea will be beautiful and we will be on vacation. So you might as well make the most of it by experiencing it all as a great adventure!

Choosing a hotel can be a complex task!

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