Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
Everything about Muthu Playa Varadero is inviting. The location: Varadero is a vibrant resort town on Cuba’s Hicacos Peninsula, a narrow strip of land between the Straits of Florida and Bay of Cardenas. The scenery: The recently renovated hotel looks like it sprouted from a tropical garden by the sea. The buildings: Muthu Playa Varadero has a playful air about it, from its pastel-coloured buildings to its nautical-themed lobby. And last, but certainly not least, the staff: Guests can expect smiles everywhere they turn at this friendly resort.
Adults will enjoy choosing from a broad range of drinks. That includes at the disco, where admission is free. As for children, when they’re not building sandcastles or splashing in the pool, they’ll want to hang out at the kids’ club. Who can blame them? Drawing castles and chasing new friends never gets old. Plus, it means mom and dad can relax at the beach bar or go for a romantic stroll. And if anyone feels peckish late at night, that’s what 24-hour snacks and drinks are for.
The notion of “ocean view” takes on a whole new meaning in Cuba, where every vista is like a postcard of crystal-clear waters and palm fronds swaying in the breeze. And for the rooms facing the gardens or pool? With the hotel’s pink and white facades, soft-green rooftops and poolside paving stones, not to mention greenery every few feet, there’s no such thing as a bad view here.
Amenities include an in-room safe, air-conditioning and satellite TV, as well as nice touches like a work area and mini-fridge. Also practical: Families can ask for an extra bed or crib ($).
Food and drink
A wide range of guests calls for a wide selection for eating and revelry:
Thing to do
At the resort
The hotel offers live Cuban music for dance classes and performances in the lobby. There’s a multi‑purpose theatre for events and dinners with shows. Aquatic fun abounds, with everything from aquafitness to snorkelling to pedal boats and catamarans. The same goes for land activities, which run the gamut from board games to dance lessons to Spanish classes to tennis.
Near the resort
Did somebody say golf? The 18-hole Varadero Golf Club is a 6-minute drive away. As for excursions, guests can sail on catamarans and swim in colourful coral reefs, visit the UNESCO-declared Old Havana (with its colonial charm and historic monuments), wander on modern Havana’s seawall promenade, see the countryside by train and visit a sugar factory, spend a night in the mountains or, even, follow in Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps to his favourite haunts in the country he held so dear.