Returning to Cuba
TL;DR: would recommend, plan to return
We recently returned from a one week vacation at Melia Internacional Varadero. As a family, we've been to Cuba more than half a dozen times, but have not been since before the start of the pandemic.
This was our 1st visit to Melia Internacional. This is an older hotel that was purchased by Melia and renovated in the last couple of years. As a result there is a mix of new & old/established.
The hotel is huge with over 900 rooms.
3 main pools as well as a kids pool with pirate theme and slide, great for young kids. There's also a small wading pool for infants as part of the playground near the Cubamigos kids' club.
In addition there's another pool for the adults only (cannot speak to as we were not in level or adult).
The rooms are great with awesome view regardless of which way you're facing. Unfortunately there is a mold problem in the bathrooms, especially those equipped with bathtubs. This is in part due to the fact that the hotels were closed for so long during the pandemic. A proper treatment of the mold should be undertaken and it is truly the only thing that needs improvement in my opinion.
Did not get too check out spa this time.
The main buffet Merkado always had a decent variety of options and had the main stations: fish, meat/chicken, and pasta. We had exceptional service from two wait staff: Aidi and Alicia! And Yaime on the fish station was very attentive!
We had three a la carte réservations but only went to two of them.
HACIENDA (Mexican): the mini burrito appetizers and the nachos were AMAZING! I was content with the main and the service by the staff was great!
CASA NOSTRA (Italian): in my opinion, this a la carte is a must go! The food and the service was amazing! The hostess who seated us was also very attentive and considerate (unfortunately don't remember her name, visited on May 31). The pizza, the pasta and the seafood were all incredible. Even the picky eaters enjoyed it. The tiramisu was delicious, even better than some I've had in Canada.
We also went to a restaurant in town which was only a short walk but due to the rain we took a taxi.
Overall, we did not go hungry and we did not get sick from any of the food. No complaints at all.
The entertainment staff are always a pleasure and make the trip truly worthwhile.
We participated in Aqua gym, trivia, dancing lesson, and have contests. All were lots of fun!
Exceptional staff is definitely Yosbel! He has so much energy and really gets you excited about participating.
Bebe also got my kid dancing which was great.
David, Daniel, and Rosalba also were good entertainers!
We did not attend much of the evening entertainment but what we did attend we enjoyed. Whether it's a trio band at the Blue Sky Bar or an entire dance party in the Red Bar, or a solo singer. There was also amazing musicians serenading the entire resort from the Gaia bar by the pools (one time it was a clarinet player, another it was a flute player).
Overall entertainment was great, caught a glimpse of the kids evening and daytime entertainment and it was also excellent and fun.
CLUB HOUSE: towel exchange with Yoel; always a smile and pleasant service.
Amazing attentive staff with two absolute favourites are Claudia and Sergio. We also had good service from Heidi. Drinks were great and delicious.
All the staff are always willing to help but Alicia often went above and beyond. Truly grateful to her!
BELLHOP: Osdany went above and beyond and we also received great service on departure but I don't remember the name of the fellow (lanky/tall/glasses).
ROOM CLEANING STAFF:
We had amazing experience with Yalennys; making fun designs with the towels and leaving a thoughtful note.
RESTAURANT BOOKING: Rosemarie helped us so much with booking our restaurant reservations absolutely fantastic customer service skills!
PUBLIC RELATIONS: Kandy was pleasant via email and resourceful when we needed some assistance.