|OUR CASA LIST BEGINS HERE||REGIONAL MAP HERE|
Anyone writing about Cuba cannot avoid the Peninsula de Hicacos better known as Varadero if only because its 20 kilometers of beaches attract one of every four tourists to the island.
As elsewhere in the name of a religion, the Spanish conquistadores chased out the indigenous Siboney tribes who had been here for centuries. In the Ambrosio cave wall drawings describe these massacres (matanzas); in the Los Musulmanes grotto, it is said bones were found which were dated to the year 500 of our era.
It was on December 5th 1887 that the nearby Cardenas city council gave Varadero the status of burrough where fishermen already lived and which developed eventually into a bourgeois neighbourhood with large wooden houses, some of which remain, built by the founding families known as "los decenviros".
These casas particulares (see old photo below) were rented to tourists and Habaneros; ie, the first casas in Cuba rented were here in Varadero where, only since January 2011, it is now legal to do so.
SELLING THE FARM
The rich owners (rhum distilleries, coffee plantations, sugar mills) had been living here since 1828 and had settled in a community by purchasing the land tracts of Finca Varadero from its owner Don Bernardo García Carrillo located today between (calles) 30 and 49 streets.
With the exploitation of the local salt reserves (found in Magon lake), workers started populating the peninsula.
The name Varadero refers to the movement of fishing boats on the sand, a natural sanding process while hicacos (Chrysobalanus Icaco) is a fruit which grows on the chonta palm tree which grew abundantly on local land.
As the regional roads were not yet solid and the peninsula was separated from the island (the bridge was not yet built), the only access to Varadero was by a daily steamboat, the Caridad, which left from Cardenas.
The next major event was the building of a private compound by the Iturrioz family in 1910 the space is today called Parque Josone.
After the first local hotel was built in 1931 (La Torre), the Cuban bourgeoisie stopped traveling to Europe because of the second world war (1939-1945) : these two events starting the (beach) ball rolling.
A DOZEN IN 48
More than a dozen (private) hotels in the area were in operation by 1948, about the time when Varadero was officially designated a tourist zone, the first in Cuba. Although the mafia ran the casinos in Havana, there were none here but many were planned in the late Fifties, just before the Revolucion kicked the gangsters out.
It was only in 1976 that Varadero became a municipality. Four years later, the government built the first two hotels of the Revolucion, the Siboney and the Atabey.
Since June 2009, with the opening of yet another 400-bedroom luxury hotel, Varadero boasts 17,430 bedrooms spread over 50 hotel properties of which 87% are rated 4 or 5 stars. The three Cuban hotel chains which own and run these hotels are Gran Caribe (with 33% of rooms), Gaviota (32%) and Cubanacán (28%).
Ecology-wise, about 54% of the Hicacos land mass is now man-made and close to 20% still made up of protected areas.
Helping develop the hospitality industry are the Spanish Sol Meliá, Barceló and Iberostar chains, the French Accor group and the Jamaïcan Superclub and Sandals properties which are all involved in joint ventures with the Cuban hotel chains, whether in co-property or management of some 30 of the peninsula's resorts.
The airport is 23 km west and, since January 2009, Cuban authorities have begun an expansion program which aims to eventually double the number of the aeropuerto's users.
Today, some 22 international airlines bring in about 50 flights each week. The airport is far from an attraction as its passengers spend on average about 18 minutes on its premises.
Viazul Bus with four departures to/from La Habana via Guanabo, Matanzas and the airport; new route leaves here for Santiago in the East (Oriente). See above
Besides offering harbor to the dozens of pleausre boats from numerous countries, the local marinas also serve as Centros de Buceo (Scuba Diving Centers) where equipment rentals, basic or specialized lessons are given and where trips are made to offshore reefs. No need to go far to see the beauty as some 40 types of coral and 70 of mollusks. but who's counting ?
Best is the Barracuda Centro de Buceo (40cuc per dive) using three dive boats. Centro de Buceo Acua on avenida Kawama is a good alternative.
Aeropuerto Juan Gualberto Gomez about 18km (11 miles) west, towards Matanzas. Taxi fare : 20-30cuc. Tel. (45) 61-3036
Cubataxi (45) 61-3674, Transgaviota (45) 61-2620, Transtur (45) 61-2133
|HEED THE HINTS IN THIS FINE PRINT ::: CAVEAT EMPTOR ::: BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED
::: Make sure that in your first email or phone call you specify that you want to book a room in that particular casa and that you will reconfirm your booking on arrival in Cuba. Unless you only want a room in any house which may be of the same quality, not the specific casa you booked through photos on these websites ::: So as to not abandon expecting owners with empty rooms, reconfirm (or call ahead to cancel) your booking by phone as soon as you can after arriving in Cuba ::: Please write or phone a casa owner to cancel a booking. As late as it may seem, it allows them a chance to rebook. ::: Children under the age of 16 may share a bedroom with adults for free. Specify the child's age when booking. ::: Since October 2010, maximum bedroom capacity is not limited to two adults ::: Also, large casas are not limited to renting only two bedrooms per night. ::: At the end of the casa name, the V signals the casa was suggested by travelers or owners but not verified by the website staff. If you try it and like it, write us about it. ::: Unless otherwise mentioned, the average room rates and service prices are : 20-25cuc per bedroom per night [up to 40+ for 4 in a room]; breakfasts 3-5cuc, dinners 7-10cuc ::: Any casa particular anywhere in Cuba must have a hot water shower, otherwise it cannot have a permit to rent ::: Please share your Complaints, comments & suggestions webmaster [@]cubacasas.net
||BOOK BY PHONE
• From Canada and the USA : 011 53 (add phone # preceded by 45 for Varadero) • From Europe, Great Britain, Scandinavia and Mexico : 00 53 (add phone # preceded by 45 for Varadero) ••• HOW TO DIAL A CUBAN PHONE NUMBER HERE ••• CELL PHONE NUMBERS on our town lists and casa pages are preceded by 05 for calls originating Havana; from anywhere else in Cuba, dial 015 + the 7 digits of the cell.
BOOK BY EMAIL :
Click on logo to open a message addressed to that casa in your email application; or right-click to copy address. Spanish vocabulary here. Google translate here.
Three ac bedrooms, two in back, ensuites
Carlos Cesar López Lermo y Maylin Reina Ros.
Avenida 2da (Segunda) No 2308 e/ 23 y 24, located some 100 m from the seadise and from Parque de las Artesanías. Tel. (45) 61-2848 cell 05-292-9272
Avenida Playa # 3902 e/ 39 y 40, upstairs, town center, only 20 meters from playa. Tel. (45) 61-3437 cell 05-349-6002
Rates : 25-60cuc
David Estrada y Marta Alonso
Calle 17 Nº 103 e/ 1ra y 2da Avenidas some 50m from the playa and close to handicraft center or Parque de las Artesanías; near the discoteca FM 17 and El Criollo restaurant. Tel (45) 61-0103 or (45) 61-2479
María Dolores Cruz
Calle 55 # 114 entre 1ra y 2da Avenidas, close to Museo Municipal, the Parque JosOne and the Mediterraneo restaurant.
|ORLANDO TRUJILLO GONZALEZ V
Calle 59 #201, entre 2da. y 3ra Avenidas, right smack in the nightspot area (calle 62), two blocks from the beach and 20 m from Parque JosOne.
|AMIGO'S HOUSE - LUIS y MARIELA V
Quarta Avenida (4ta Ave.) #2103 e/ 21 y 23 Tel. 45 61-3631
Lovely senior couple speaking English well, offering two double bedrooms with separate bathroom, air conditioning, garden, about 5 minutes walk from the beach. Excellent affordable breakfasts for 4cuc, no dinner served. Prices per room per night 30cuc.
HUMBERTO y BABY SUAREZ V
Calle Tercera (3ra) #3403 e/ 34 y 35. Tel. (45) 61-2531
stefanloose dec 2012
CHEAP HOTEL LODGING
There are affordable hotel rooms to be had locally; below, a handful of our hotel recommendations.
HOTEL DOS MARES - 34 bedrooms
Calle 53, entre Avenida Primera and the playa, neighbour of the Pullman and about 90 m from the beach. (45) 61-27-02 (same as Pullman)
Really not your typical seaside resort. Au contraire, painted yellow and white, it looks like a huge casa on the Aegean sea.
Bedrooms are small and there's a cosy bar in the semi-basement.
Rates : 50-60cuc for a double room. Web page here.
Rough Guides says :
" Atypically for Varadero, this agreeable little hotel feels more like those found in provincial colonial towns. What it lacks in facilities it makes up for with plenty of character and a pleasant intimacy. "
|crystalicious says :
This hotel is a jewel. Seems to be newly renovated, and the only place of the three hotels I stayed in Cuba that had hot water. Room was small but freshly renovated with new windows, paint, super clean and fresh bedding, and new ac. It cost me 80 Canadian for 3 nights!! No extra charges at all.
The location is in the heart of things. If you are seeking an inexpensive super clean place that is not all inclusive pick this one. Supposedly they had a great complimentary breakfast but I never woke up in time :) from crystalicious tripadvisor, feb 2010
HOTEL PULLMAN - 16 bedrooms
Avenida 1, entre 49 et 50. Tel. (45) 61-27-02 (same as Dos Mares)
Some say its tower gives it a toy-like look and its atmosphere is more city-like than sea-like.
It is rather modern with a nice patina and its exterior with recognizable arches; located downtown, it's only a few meters walk from the sea. The staff shows a welcoming hospitality and exudes calm and respect. Relaxed service.
Air-conditioned bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, satellite TVand telephone. Other features : restaurant, bar, snack-bar, currency exchange, jacuzzi, parking and taxis at the door.
Rates : 50-60cuc for a double room. Web page here.
The larger bedrooms are well worth the extra 10 cuc per night, according to Nigel Hunt of CHB.
|Very cute and comfortable hotel
" After reading the previous review from the other travelers, I did not know what to expect. However, when I saw it with my own eyes, I found this hotel perfect for most people. It's clean, safe, centrally-located with good service : cozy and comfortable. The hotel is only CAD $70 or (CUC$40) per night. " greentree10 de Vancouver on tripadvisor, 280309
In the budget range the best of a bad bunch
We stopped here for two nights as part of a 4 week independent tour of Cuba. We looked at the four cheaper hotels in the town Pullman, Heradura, dos Mares and Aquazual and this was the best based on the rooms we were shown. We had a room in the main building not the annexe which was not very nice... 21.03.11 Trip Advisor
VILLA SOTAVENTO - 107 bedrooms
Avenida Primera entre 13 et 14, in the Acuazul group of buildings. Tel. (45) 66-71-32
The Sotavento is made up of an ensemble of 6 buildings including about 25 casas located on one or two-floor buildings located seaside.
Each unit has its own private bathroom, satellite TV, telephone, air-conditioning and wall safe, beach chairs.
On the premises, guests can find a minimart, tennis courts, foreign exchange, travel info, taxis and a hairdressing salon. Restaurant services are shared with the Acuazul, the 78-bedroom hotel which is part of this complex; also, Aparthotel Varazul with 69 apartements. The Islazul hotel chain (previously named Horizontes) runs the place.
Web page here.
|Rough Guides says :
" These charming, mock-colonial, story-book-style houses are divided into apartments with dining rooms but no kitchens. The reception desk is in Acuazul, just over the other side of Avenida 1ra, whose facilities are also available to guests. 60-80CUC "
HOTEL ESCUELA TURQUINO
Avenida 3 (Tres), e/ 33 y 34 or Calle 34 entre 3 y Autopista Sur (33), whatever. Tel (45) 61-3796 Cuc 15 per night
"I stayed here for a long time ago for a week, under some very unfortunate circumstances after spending a week at Sirenis La Salina.
This is obviously not a resort or a high quality hotel, however, the staff is soooooooooooo nice and they really try to help. The room was decent and cleaned every day. " Boki from Toronto Sept 2010
"I understand big guides like L Planet can't be too critical of individual hotels but this hotel was dreadful. No food, cockroaches, a thief, a galvanised rod curtain rail that knocked me out... ok it was clean and there was good hot water and it is close to the beach...only for paupers." January 2012 - Snobbish and Jaded
VILLA LA MAR - 260 rooms
Avenida Playa, e/ 28 y 30 Tel (45) 61-4517
Close to the Tuquino (above) this small property is also a bargain, very basic with a dining room/snack bar.
Problem might be the Cuban clients who unfortunately tend to demand (and always get) noisy music up to the wee hours and the buffet is awful; luckily, nearby restaurants are much better : Lai-Lai, El Toro.
But the swimming pool is nice and management is renovating all rooms as of Spring 2010. Web page here. (mouseover pix at right is new bedroom).
Detailed report here
HOTEL LEDO (or Lido, whatever)
Avenida Playa, e/ 43 y 44 Tel (45) 61-3206.
According to Rough Guides : "A tiny, slightly cramped but likeable hotel over the road from the beach.
It has only the bare minimum of facilities, but it's one of the cheapest spots in Varadero and a good choice if you want to avoid the larger, uglier, dated hotels in the same price category. Rates : 50-60cuc"
Others say the Ledo rents apartments which rent for $35 per night. *also spelled Lido
|RESTAURANTS IN VARADERO
#1 La Gruta International Parque Josone Tel: (45) 667228
#2 Kiki's Club ave Kawama Italian & Pizza
#3 Varadero 60 ave 60, esquina Tercera - International
#4 Casa del Chef Cuban, Italiano & Chinese 1 Ave y Calle 12 Tel: (45) 613606
#5 Barracuda Cubana 1 Ave y Calle 59 Tel: (45) 668991
#6 Coral Cubana Calle 15
#7 La Habana - Cubana, Internacional - Hotel Melia
#8 Casa La Fondue - Primera Avenida y calle 63
#10 Salsa Suarez - Cubana, Italiana, Japanese, Mexicano - Calle 31 # 103, e/1ra y 3ra Tel: (45) 612009
#11 Pizza Nova Pizza & Italiano - Plaza Americas y Autopista Sur Km 11 Tel: (45) 668181
#12 La Campana Cubana Calle Primera
#13 El Caney Cuban & International Playa y 43
#14 Paladar Nonna Tina Italiano Calle 49 n. 207 entre 2da y 3ra
#15 El Rancho Internacional - Calle 58
#16 Lai Lai Chinese 1 Ave y Calle 18 Tel: (45) 667793
#17 Dante Italiano Parque Josone Tel: (45) 667228
#18 La Vicaria Cuban 1 Ave y Calle 38 Tel: (45) 614721
#19 Meson del Quijote Spanish & International Ave Las Americas, Reparto La Torre Tel: (45) 667796
#20 Casa de la Miel International 1 Ave e/ Calle 25 y 26 Tel: (45) 667736
#21 Bodegon Criollo Cuban Playa Ave y Calle 40 Tel: (45) 667784
#22 Terracita Québec Internacional avenida Primera, e/3 y 4 Tel: (45) 610092
#23 El Toro Steak House & International 1 Ave y Calle 25 Tel: (45) 667145
#24 Mallorca Spanish & International 1 Ave y Calle 62 Tel: (45) 667746
#25 Esquina Cuba Cuban 1 Ave y Calle 36 Tel: (45) 614021
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