Review of the Starfish Varadero Resort – Varadero, Cuba

by GO GlobeHopper

Approximately 45 minutes from Varadero airport and nearby to a marina, Starfish Varadero Resort sits on scenic grounds with tropical gardens, a gorgeous courtyard patio surrounded by palm trees, and a poolscape featuring plenty of sun lounges and 2 beautiful pools.

To allow adults the enjoyment of the pools without fear of children screaming and splashing, there is also a kiddie pool on the premises, along with a Kid’s Club.  For this reason and many others, this resort appeals to a wide range of vacationers, including singles, couples, and families.

Situated right on Varadero Beach and only minutes from downtown, the location of this resort is truly convenient – it’s secluded enough to be relaxing, while simultaneously close enough to downtown Varadero for plenty of things to do.  These things include visiting the local museum, taking a horse and carriage ride, embarking on a Jeep tour of the area, renting a scooter and exploring the countryside, or simply walking around the small but quaint town and gathering unique souvenirs from local artisans at the market.  If you’re a golfer, you can enjoy 18 holes at Varadero Golf Club, one of the very few golf courses in Cuba.

The city of Havana, which is rich with history, is approximately 2 hours away, where double-decker bus tours and mopeds are available for sightseeing, as are the infamous classic car tours.

Starfish Varadero is a 24-hour resort that includes 411 rooms, 4 restaurants, and 6 bars, and has on-site watersports and land sports facilities that include tennis and beach volleyball.  Daily activities, as well as nightly entertainment, are all part and parcel of the all-inclusive experience.

The hotel rooms here are simplistic and, to be honest, are in need of an update.  On the plus side, however, they are spacious, bright, and clean. Rooms feature a Satellite TV, a safety deposit box, air conditioning, a hairdryer and telephone, and a mini-fridge, which is convenient. Guests get the sense of being given a personal touch due to the innovative ways the bath towels are folded each day and laid across the bed, often spelling out words such as LOVE or CUBA. And should you need anything above and beyond what housekeeping has provided, I found the staff to be extremely friendly and anxious to please.

Of the four on-site restaurants available, the daily buffet is, of course, the most frequented and crowded since it is part of the all-inclusive package.  As with most Caribbean resorts that offer international buffets, the selection and quality here can be somewhat disappointing depending on your personal taste and expectations.  In my opinion, the buffet leaves a lot to be desired but it’s definitely better than some I have experienced.  One thing this resort does extremely well is seafood so I will give credit where it’s due.  Of the remaining à la carte dining options, my absolute favorite was the Italian restaurant, which offers the best homemade pizza I’ve ever experienced.

As for the beach, it’s quite beautiful with clean white sand and clear turquoise water.  Thatched umbrellas are available to help shield beachgoers from the sun if they desire, and the same blue lounges that are available poolside are available at the beach as well.

PROS: Budget-friendly.  Beautiful beach and pool area. 

CONS: In need of repairs and an update.  The buffet is often of poor quality.

On the whole, the hotel definitely could use a little tender loving care in the form of some repairs and updates.  This is evident in the rooms, the restaurants, the hotel lobby, and even throughout the grounds. Though listed as a 4-star on some vacation booking websites, it leans more toward being a 3-star.  If you are someone who expects a lot from your accommodations, then perhaps this is not the destination for you. However, if you’re looking for an economical getaway, this resort will nicely fit your budget and will provide a lot of what you would expect from an all-inclusive property. And you certainly can’t go wrong with the views, the pools or the beach.

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