Arrive at the resort Thursday Feb 7 at 10:00pm walked all the way to building 15 opened our door first step in saw a bag took another step and saw a man sleeping in our bed. Went back to the lobby they put us in a new room building 20 3rd floor go to open the door key won’t work tried again and door just pushed open! Went back to the lobby they sent someone to fix our door as it would not lock and the key was not working. The room smelt like mold, the air conditioner sounded like a jet engine taking off and the safe would not work. The next morning talked to the Sunwing rep and she had the general manager come talk to us told him everything they upgraded us to diamond club and said our ac unit was fine and I said not to worry about the safe we won’t use it now. Our patio door did not lock but it wasn’t an issue as we were on the 3rd floor. Everyday we tipped the cleaner and left gifts for her and her 2 small children and not once did we have towels to shower with, we never got clean beach towels, the bed was only made never changed the bedding. Not a drop of hot water for a single shower. And with diamond club we were told we would get soda and water in our room and that never happened. The general manager came around and was asking how everyone’s trip was and I told him he said he would look after it all. That night we went to go to sleep we had 2 clean beach towels and they took our bedding. So myself and 2 children had to sleep with towels for bedding. I am not one to complain this was my 2nd time at this resort the first time it was absolutely amazing and no complaints at all! I could have fought and been rude about what was wrong but let it go and made the most of our trip! The food is Cuban food! They did not have any eggs and butter was hit or miss! Only 1 day on the buffet there was hardly any food but we didn’t starve! The Valentine’s Day show was absolutely amazing!!! The day time activities is very minimal. They ran out of soda daily if they even had any. Which again is cuba! This resort is under new management and they seem like they are trying to make it better but this experience I would not recommend it to anyone! We saw the local who was in our room roaming around the resort several times and even provided a description to management of what he looked like. We never have high expectations while travelling to Cuba but sadly this resort has gone downhill a lot in 1 year! We slept with our ironing board to lock our door
Management the photo of the man at the bar is the one who was sleeping in our room at our arrival!
Unfortunately management said they would make everything right but that was not followed up on. And travelling alone with 2 children I did not cause a scene because we wanted to enjoy our vacation!
Feb 15, 2024
We booked a two week vacation online from Jan. 30-Feb. 13, 2024 through Redtag Vacations with Sunwing to Grand Memories Resort in Varadero, Cuba. We have been to Cuba numerous times in various locations at resorts and Casa Particulares (Cuban B+Bs).
The main reasons we chose to return were the Cuban people, direct flight and reasonable price.
We paid the extra charge for Elite-Plus designation with Sunwing which entitles you to a bit of extra baggage weight, seat choice, and priority check-in and boarding. It was worth the money for the option, especially the priority boarding in Varadero where the long line at the airport looked like a nightmare. Travel in Cuban airports is always an adventure??, with gate changes, delays, and zero communication. The one improvement I would like to see is a permanent Sunwing rep on the secure side of Cuban air terminals to assist with the inevitable problems that arise on every trip we have ever taken in Cuba.
Our arrival at Grand Memories Varadero started with a little bump when it became obvious by the front desk employees reaction that our names were not on the arrival list, or that we had paid an extra cost for “Diamond Club” which includes a room upgrade. This is when we met Alfredo, our Diamond Club concierge. Alfredo is a gem! With his movie star good looks and calm demeanour he is a rock that the waves of customer complaints break themselves against all day…every day. He efficiently solved the problem caused by others and quickly had us in a lovely room in Building 24 near the beach. It goes without saying that two years of Covid and the implications for Cuban travel have been hard on resorts. There were daily reports from travellers about non-functioning, missing, and broken facilities, but our room was very good. The one issue we did find was running out of basic items intermittently in our room like bottled water, fresh towels, and soap. Also, the trip sold to us on Redtag Vacations promised a stocked mini-bar fridge restocked daily which this resort definitely doesn’t offer. Again, we just reminded ourselves that in Cuba, life has been extremely difficult and the things we take for granted are just not available there. The employees are not “holding” them back, or failing to do their job….they have no control over the availability of some items.
About the “Diamond Club”. We would advise not paying the extra money right now. There are no obvious advantages. The spot at the beach has no waiter, the bar frequently runs out of various items, and the beer is served into tiny plastic cups out of two litre water bottles carried back and forth from the snack bar. There is a small private breakfast area, but it offers exactly the same items as the buffet and we found the service at the buffet much faster and more efficient. Again, this might change as Cuban resorts recover.
Speaking of the food…in our multiple trips to Cuba, the buffet at Grand Memories was probably the best we’ve ever had! Like most buffets, the choices are repetitive, but there was always lots of fresh food, vegetables, fruit, and desserts. The staff was always helpful, cheerful, and worked diligently to feed the crowds day in, and day out. The a la carte choices were identical to the buffet except with private wait staff and a small change in presentation. Hopefully after some recovery time the a la carte situation can improve.
The grounds and buildings of the resort appear to be in good shape and there were workers actively making improvements to them. Removing/replanting trees/flowers, painting, repairing, rebuilding, cleaning, and general maintenance. I’m sure as soon as more construction/maintainence materials become affordable and/or available, the problems mentioned earlier inside the buildings will be looked after as well.
Of course the highlight of the resort, like every Cuban resort, is the beach. The beautiful calm turquoise water, sugary sand, and swaying palms are hypnotizing. Days of lounging under palapas reading a book, snoozing, with the occasional volleyball game is good for the soul. On windy or rough days we found lots of room at the beautiful pool and enjoyed the snack bar (grilled chicken wings with Franks were awesome) and drinks from the pool bar. Again, there were no waiters patrolling the pool, but maybe someday they will return. Walking for the occasional drink was probably good for us??
We particularly enjoyed the coffee bar in the lobby bar area and also enjoyed sitting in the lobby bar each night for people watching and playing games. Most evenings there was some type of music playing and lots of happy people. The bartenders are kept hopping with colourful drink orders and did a good job keeping up. Again, rotating shortages of soft drinks and liquor seems to be a problem.
Overall, Grand Memories delivered what we have come to expect from a Cuban resort. Beautiful beaches, Caribbean weather, and smiling friendly Cuban workers. It’s obvious they are hurting and recovering after Covid and some storms have given them a beating. There was frequent shortages of many food, condiments, and drink options but that’s always been a way of life in Cuba to different degrees.
We will always support Cuba and Cuban people. Their resolve during tough times is something we respect, and if we can help make positive changes to their lives by travelling to Cuba we certainly will.
Special thanks to the following people for their hard work and dedication to making our vacation better:
Alfredo-Diamond Club concierge and solver of all problems.
Larissa,Carmen,and Gabriella-our wonderful hard working waitresses in the buffet dining room.
Letiana-lobby coffee bar and Spanish teacher??
Yohamel-lobby bartender and a fellow silver haired wolf ??
Gilberto-buffet grill. Who else could do this hot, difficult job and display such enthusiasm and a million dollar smile.
These Cuban people and many others like them ARE the main reason we keep returning. ¡Buena suerte y nos vemos algún día!
1 star resort
(Riverdale Park, Maryland)
Feb 15, 2024
Second bad experience in Varadero. This is now in my no-go list for me or family. I wasted my money coming to this place. I have not seen roaches on a beach ever! I was a night out at the beach and roaches were lurking around like an army. Rooms terrible. Staff screaming at each other super loud during the day when cleaning buildings. Food was like going in a diet during our vacation. At some point a staff from Sunwing cut the line in front of me to get herself ice cream. Food at the grill near the beach was uncooked and plenty of flies and bugs. Hell, I will never go back to that location
Unfortunately, 4* is far from an accurate rating.
(Eastern Passage, Canada)
Feb 15, 2024
We were housed at Grand Memories Varadero while travelling with a group. Our reservations were supposed to be for Sanctuary.
* The wait staff at our specific private buffet for the group were amazing
* Occasionally you would have good wait staff in the main buffet
* The grounds keepers worked very hard to keep things clean and looking good
* The pool staff was very nice and helpful
* Service was minimal at best - we tip well for service and 99% of the time it was non existent.
* The first room we physically entered was full of mold - not musty, mold!
* The second and final room we were in prior to upgrading to Sanctuary was in building 21 and it was room # 21205 - it smelled musty which was to be expected but the bed was absolutely disgusting and seriously stunk of urine. There was also a small single cot style bed in the room and it was full of bugs. (while waiting to speak with a front desk person we also overheard a man complaining about having been bit multiple times by bed bugs in his room)
* We spoke with guest services trying to get our Diamond Club Upgrade we were supposed to receive as part of this group - the man we spoke with refused and said we hadn't paid for it and he couldn't give it to us. When we upgraded to Sanctuary they confirmed we had in fact paid for the upgraded service.
* One bottle of water daily is all that was provided, nothing more.
* If you were lucky enough to have towels they consisted only of hand towels, no bath towels unless you were lucky enough to catch the cleaning staff after they received a clean shipment of laundry.
* Our shower curtain was full of black mold
* The toilet seat was beyond stained and I was grateful I had brought cleaning wipes although that just alleviated our minds as it did nothing for the deep stains.
* Cleaning staff only made your bed if it was unmade and at best swept the floor. The bathroom was not cleaned at all.
* Someone had cut themselves and made their way up the steps to the second floor, the bloods stains remained there the better part of the day.
* There were many shortages - within the first 48 hours the lobby bar was out of red wine, white wine, vodka, gin & beer. Alcohol was hit or miss throughout the entire resort.
* Other shortages included eggs, butter, bread, toilet paper, towels
* Most public bathrooms did not have toilet paper or paper towel available.
* The beach, which is typically one of the main reasons we have gone back to Varadero so many times, was littered with broken seashells and glass. - If you still plan to go to this resort bring water shoes!
This resort should NOT be rated as a 4 star. We were in Sanctuary in 2017 and as part of that we had access to this resort as well. It was bad then, it's absolutely horrible on many levels now.
I have always loved Cuba and the Cuban people have always been so wonderful - I understand they are having a very difficult time right now which is one of the reasons we were so shocked that they weren't more eager to get tips. I literally only expect you to ask if we need a drink, be friendly. Check back occasionally to see if we need another drink. Unfortunately most service staff did not even provide the bare minimum. Those who did were tipped repeatedly. We also brought 100 pounds of donations to give out to everyone.
Feb 13, 2024
Entertainment staff was amazing ..Liliana and Elicier along with Jogito did an awesome job..Always smiling and making us feel so welcomed.This people are what made my trip memorable.I definitely am looking forward to my next trip there and to be able to chat with them and hopefully make some more memorable memories