I am often stumped about how to start articles like this so I will give you the bottom line up front: Ocean Vista Azul Varadero was everything I expected and more.
Our dedicated readers will already know that Linds stayed at Ocean Varadero El Patriarca back in December. You can see her article about that resort here. Of course then, when we were planning our trip to Cuba in February, we had to check out El Patriarca’s sister resort: Ocean Vista Azul.
This hotel was different from anywhere I had ever stayed for three reasons: the clifftop location, the infinity pool, and because it was only built around a year ago.
Whereas most resorts in the Caribbean are situated on the beach, the lobby of this resort is situated on a cliff overlooking the ocean. You have to take a short walk to the left or right of the lobby to access either of the two beaches, which are fairly sheltered by cliffs on both sides. I must say, it was a welcome change- gorgeous!
I was blown away from the infinity pool. I have never felt so luxurious in my life! Imagine waking up, drinking a coffee on the balcony, and going for a swim in an infinity pool while the sun comes up. You can see that dream realized at Vista Azul.
Previous to my stay at Vista Azul, I had only ever stayed at older resorts (10-15 years). Since Vista Azul was only built about a year ago, it is much more contemporary than most all-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean. On the other hand, their recent construction has caused the vegetation to be sparse and multiple maintenance issues.
However, when maintenance issues arise, the staff are very accommodating. During our stay, our patio door wouldn’t lock. The staff responded immediately and helped us to switch rooms with no questions asked.
The rooms. We were very kindly upgraded to Privilege rooms, but unfortunately, the Privilege suites at Vista Azul do not have the ‘two double bed’ option. As we were three people sharing a room, two beds were necessary, so we voluntarily moved into regular deluxe suites.
The Privilege suites are beautifully situated in private buildings along the cliff, parallel to the lobby with stunning ocean views. My parents were able to keep their Privilege suite, and we often enjoyed quiet nights on their private patio, which is much larger than those in the Standard suites.
The Deluxe Standard suites are located behind the lobby, in large buildings overlooking the pool. A perk that comes along with staying in the Standard suites is that you can access the wifi (which you purchase in the lobby) from your balcony. Pictured below is our room, complete with a comfy chair, breakfast table, coffee percolator, and safe.
The food. This being my first time in Cuba, and after frequently hearing that the food in Cuban resorts is not great, I was pleasantly surprised. The buffet had a very wide variety and changed up the options for every meal. There was something there for everybody! I visited the omelette station almost every morning- they were very tasty and the lady who made them was such a doll!
The a la carte restaurants also had delicious food, except you often had to have your waiter explain what the menu items were because the English translation was poor (how could we have known that ‘Fish Carpaccio’ meant raw fish with parmesan cheese?!) I was also disappointed that there were no reservations for the restaurants, meaning you often had a 30-45 minute wait for a table.
Order the Caprese Salad in the Italian restaurant, it is scrumptious!
The beach. We spent a lot of time at the main beach. This is the bigger beach of the two and is where the water sports are. The sand is soft and white, and you never have trouble finding a chair. I love how water-sport rentals are included in the all-inclusive package; they offer sea kayaking, guided catamaran rides, paddle boats, and snorkeling gear.
We never spent much time at the small beach, but it is beautiful as well! It is more sheltered than the main beach and there is a snack bar there, except we found the snack bar had strange hours.
Okay, story time: a few times throughout our stay, there would be a man on the beach sitting on a bucket of fish and surrounded by pelicans. It was hilarious- he would whistle and they would come flying to him! We decided it would be cool to get some pictures and he offered to let my mom feed them. She took the little fish and one of the pelicans snapped it right out of her fingers! They snapped again at her leg, drawing blood, so we gave the guy a peso and walked away. She ran out into the ocean to clean up her cut in the salt water, and all we could do then was laugh because she was okay, but we all knew it could have been a lot worse.
Bottom line: don’t feed the pelicans at Vista Azul!
Our trip to Vista Azul was unforgettable. Although there wasn’t much nightlife, the shows were fabulous and the dancers, who are star quality, are very interactive with the guests. We went to the theater almost every night. While I was staying there the hotel was booked to capacity, and yet I didn’t even notice- it wasn’t crowded at all!
I would recommend Vista Azul in a heartbeat. The staff are super friendly (ask for Laura at the front desk, she is a sweetheart!), the pool area is lively, the rooms are clean, and the food and drinks are good (and they aren’t cheap on the alcohol, so keep an eye on how much they pour in your drink!).
Are you planning a trip to Cuba? Where are you staying? Let us know if you have any questions about Ocean Vista Azul or El Patriarca, or travel in Cuba in general! We will do our best to help you out.