Cuba is smiling again with the return of visitors as the country (and world) emerges from over two years of COVID pause. I was one of them, having attended the recent 40th anniversary of the island’s annual travel trade fair FITCuba.
Taking place in Varadero, Canadian delegates (transported courtesy of Sunwing), learned that, while shuttered during the pandemic like most countries, Cuba certainly wasn’t idle – including a complete makeover of the famed beach resort town, which I hardly recognized, despite having been there many times.
During my visits to Cuba over the years, I’ve stayed in most of the Melia Resorts on the island; this time it was the newish five-star, all-inclusive Melia International Varadero, built in 2019.
Boasting a beach in front of the hotel that is considered the finest stretch of white sand in Varadero, the central building has 11 floors divided into east and west zones with 946 rooms, most with ocean views.
Other amenities include six swimming pools, tropical gardens, beach area, panoramic lifts, shopping gallery, and spacious lounges.
Of course, there are extensive dining options with 20 venues that include buffet, à la carte and off-menu restaurants, as well as several snack bars and themed bars situated in a dining “boulevard” in the central building.
The rooms have been designed with avant-garde flair and are equipped with the most advanced technology (and free WiFi!). Fortunately, the bell captain taught me how it all worked, and when I had to call the front desk for additional instructions, they picked up immediately and explained patiently how to do it.
The Level and The Level Adults-Only floor is known for its premium services and facilities and the top-floor YHI Spa has an infinity pool, dedicated teen zone, and stunning views of the beach.
The hotel also has a large area equipped with all kinds of facilities for children and families. I loved watching the children playing hour after hour in the huge kid’s pool.
And in the centre of the enormous adult pool, they put a barge out for a live band to perform, which meant I could sit on my balcony to enjoy it.
The property also features a modern Conference Centre and space for events and weddings.
Next to the hotel is the new Continental Cabaret Nightclub, a real highlight of Varadero nightlife.
Naturally, there are other venues in town to be enjoyed, such as Xanadu Mansion, site of the Canadian reception at FIT, and boasting eight rooms that can be booked by your clients.
Indeed, visitors to Varadero will have trouble deciding which watering hole to visit – from the Parador Fotografico, to Factoria Varadero, Bodequita del Medio, and Bar Floridita, the list goes on.
First published at Travel Industry Today