Our stay at Valentin El Patriarca in Varadero, Cuba, spanned from February 16th to 23rd, 2024. This marked our second visit to Cuba since the onset of the Covid pandemic; a return to a destination we cherished even before the global health crisis.
Opting out of an upgrade to Alegance, we found solace in the modest size of El Patriarca. Its compact layout allowed easy access to key amenities like the pool, lobby, and beach—a blessing during my struggle with an inflamed herniated disc.
The pool, while not sprawling, offered a refreshing respite from the sun, albeit with caution due to its slippery ceramic tile bottom. Despite our preference for the beach, inclement weather limited our seaside excursions, with the pool area proving to be a more sheltered spot from the cold and relentless wind.
The beach seemed to have had a hard time during the last month. I've seen photos of it before all the destruction caused by high winds and rain storms and it looked a lot nicer than what we saw. There was so much wind, one day it had tons of jelly fish on the shore.
The next day there were just one or two that would pop up on the shore as with the waves.
I am sure on during regular weather it could be nice.
There is definetly not enough lounge chairs.
Everyone are probably up at the crack of dawn, is what we thought, to reserve their chairs so you have no chance to have a chair until late in the afternoon.
Same thing at the pool.
One day, we put our towel on 2 chairs, when we were able to get to the pool someone stole our towel and our chairs.
So another day, I took the initiative to wabble to the pool at 6 am to see if I could find a chair or two to reserve like everyone else. Not one chair was available, they were all reserved!
To my surprise, I did see a lifeguard putting towels on some chairs for patrons so maybe this is why all these chairs are reserved so early.
I guess you tip big you get a chair?
Our favourite place to eat was the snack bar near the pool.
They had hotdogs, amazing fried fish, chicken sandwiches, ham and chese sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, awesome spring rolls all served with a side of salad, cucumbers and super tasting mustard, spagetti 2 kinds.
All that and more everyday.
The only thing they ran out one day was the fried fish but it was probably because it was so amazing it "sold" out.
The buffet, every morning we had an amazing breakfast, omelettes, toast, pastries with coffee and fruit juices with excellent service.
One morning, they ran out of coffee so our waitress ran to the lobby bar to get us some.
Now that is amazing service!
After breakfast we would stop at Mike's Coffee Bar Grab a frozen cappuccino or framaccino? and sit in the lobby a bit before hitting the beach. They have tons of different kinds of coffee combinations. They ran out of frozen options one day during our stay and ran out of milk the last day. But that was probably only for the time we were there, cause there was milk at the lobby bar.
For lunch we would either go to the snack bar or the other restaurant near the beach.
At that restaurant, they had calamary, spaghetti, fish, chicken, pumpkin soup, drinks and other great stuff with once again, excellent service.
For dinner, the buffet was repetetive, but it's the same at all rersorts in Cuba since Covid and probably even before that. If you don't know this about Cuba before going, you did not do your research very well.
But with the fact that you can take advantage of 3 dinners at à la carte restaurants during your 7 day stay, just try to balance them out so you don't go to the buffet more than two days in a row you are fine. We actually took them 3 days in a row it was fine as well.
Talking about a la carte suppers, on the first night reservation we chose the gourmet restaurant. I do have to say i was disapointed with the service we got. Our waitress seemed very much in a hurry to get rid of us, she was very rude, no smile nothing. To top it all off, it was my birthday and usually on our birthday the staff sings happy birthday and comes out with a small cake for desert. Well, they did not do that for me. I was kind of disapointed since there was another lady there, it was her birthday as well and they gave her the bday treatment, the reservation just before us. She asked if we wanted a piece of her cake for desert and I told her it's fine because i'll probably get one as well because it's my birthday too. lol I couldn't have been more wrong. ON the other hand we went to the Oriental and the Italian the next 2 days and both had excellent food and service!
The lobby came alive at night with captivating entertainment, preferred by many over the formal theater shows.
Our room was great. Air condtioning worked fine. If yours doesn't work, make sure your patio door or windows are well closed if not the a/c will not work. The room was cleaned everyday. The sheets were not changed everyday, but I don't change my sheets at home everyday either. There wasn't anything put in the fridge so we would leave a note and a $1 USD tip and would ask for 4 bottles everyday. The towels were not changed but the lady at the public relations said we could ask to get them changed and they should change them for us. I was more comfy in that bed than my own at home.
For tipping, everyday for my room attendant, I prepared a big freezer sized ziplock bag filled with all sorts of treats, essentials and one un ripped, un pleated canadian $5 bill. For all other tips I would give USD.
Despite the minor hiccups, our holiday at Valentin El Patriarca was nothing short of amazing. While we typically seek new adventures, this resort would undoubtedly be our top choice for a return visit to Varadero, Cuba.
Feb 24, 2024
We had an excellent family vacation! The hotel is a little bit run down, however, what it lacks in infrastructure was definitely made up by lovely staff. Everyone is kind and does their best to help you whenever you need it. The young lady Veronica at the front desk was particularly lovely. She helped my family acquire everything we need and gave us great rooms. She is a gem. The two gentlemen working at the pool bar were also fantastic! Very quick and also very kind. Overall, we had an excellent time there, and we would definitely recommend it!
It is Cuba, Be grateful you got to come here.
Kearnsy Consult... K
Feb 23, 2024
Henry at the allegiance bar was the highlight of my trip. He went out of his way to help me get a tour of trees that doesn't actually exist, with the gardener. Veronica and Lia at the front desk were so wonderful. We will come back here because of them.
Feb 22, 2024
The staff are very kind and hard working. Hector in the lobby bar was great! He knew my family’s drinks, and he maintained order. He was part of the reason that my family had such a great time!
The beach was beautiful too. Great for swimming and for walks.
Second and Last Visit
Feb 21, 2024
Have been to Varadero 3 times, including at Valentin El Patriarca 7 years ago. Enjoy the bungalow concept here instead of the usual high rise apartment. That said, have noticed a decrease in staffing, food and cleanliness since the last time. The staff were friendly and helpful as always but one front desk person at all times is just not enough. Check-in can take 1 1/2 hours thanks to the lineups. We had paid for the Alegance upgrade but were given a regular room the first night. Went to the desk the next morning to get that corrected and that took lots of back and forth. Weren't able to actually get into that new room until late in the evening as there were no clean towels available (laundry facilities weren't working so things had to go offsite). The rest of our stay, I had to keep asking for clean towels. Otherwise, we just kept getting the same towels for 4 or more days. And same sheets for our whole 10 day stay. I know it's Cuba. Trust me, we had left our high expectations back home. That said, there was a definite reduction in the resort from last time. We heard of some folks who arrived from the airport in the morning, only to have no room ready until 9 at night.
We always bring Immodium. That's just the way it rolls there. But when I noticed staff leaving washrooms twice without washing their hands, well, let's just say it had me being extra careful...
Brought a suitcase of things to give to people there that I know they can use (tooth paste, shampoo, soap, tooth brushes, razors, bottles of spice, balls for the kids). Best thing you can do is hire a driver to take you down to a poorer neighborhood in town and hand the stuff out there since hotel staff get more stuff than they can use. Our driver, Alex, was amazing and friendly. Found him through one of the travel people in the main lobby. Would recommend seeing things that way rather than with a bus tour. Cost is similar if not cheaper than taking a bus tour and you can tailor it to what you want to see.
Best restaurant at the hotel? Italian. Also the Alegance and Gourmet. We got some bug bites. Nothing crazy. Off didn't seem to do much to stop them. Get your beach or pool loungers by 8 am max. Alegance pool and bar were the best. No pina coladas available at all for several days. No butter either. That's the kind of stuff you expect there.
Still do love Cuba and her people but would recommend trying a different resort.